Wednesday, August 31, 2005

The New Yorker: The Talk of the Town

Lillian Virginia Mountweazel, a fountain designer turned photographer who was celebrated for a collection of photographs of rural American mailboxes titled ?Flags Up!? Mountweazel, the encyclopedia indicates, was born in Bangs, Ohio, in 1942, only to die ?at 31 in an explosion while on assignment for Combustibles magazine.?

A sudden flurry of Nihilartikel related goodness via the marvellous Mr Begbie.

Marvellous. I'd rather like to photograph rural American mailboxes and set up a fake exhibition.

Sunday, August 28, 2005

Life Preserver

There may be an excessive ammount of jam,chutney,preserve and bottling related activity around these parts, imminently. I'm on a promise with my boys to make them marmalade (they tried the pink grapefruit and ginger my ex made, with me helping out...) and possibly jam, too.I however have a yen for chutney; preferring savoury preserves at present.

I've emarked a jam pan. I've got my mother's 1960s MAFF guide to preserving (and will OCR and publish to the web imminently...). Comedy disaster will ensue, but I'll feel like a domestic godess in the process.

Its a side of me that - when discovered - usually surprises people; certainly at work, people are amused to uncover my home-body leanings. It's something that is spectacularly hard to avoid when you're the offspring of a proper, oldskool Home Ec teacher. As I type, her old sewing machine is set up on the dinner table, and I've broken off from taking up a pair of jeans. Badly enough that mum would look down her nose at my shoddy technique, but well enough for me...

Gosh, this is rambly. But it ties up, really it does - with a rather charming new article about some 34 year old chutney that was confirmed edible by some Home Economists.

Conclusive proof that it won't be the cockroaches that take over the world in the event of a nuclear holocaust; it'll be the W.I.

Thursday, August 25, 2005

The Casual Passer-By

The Casual Passer-By

Oh, it's Art. I was expecting some kind of Christian evangelism, personally. I'm quite disappointed.

Punding Beading

Boing Boing: Sheriff: tweakers compulsive seek out ancient indian arrowheads

An ex of mine was a Meth addict.

Her particular thing was beading; she made dresses for drag queens for a living, and used to sit up for nights on end sewing bugle beads on to her creations.

One of her dresses is still worn by a Bette Middler in a Vegas drag show. At the time, my ex was so skinny that the dress actually weighed more than she did when finished.

Wednesday, August 24, 2005


Boing Boing: BBC punks Wikipedia in game marketing ploy? (UPDATED)

The following is, of course, nothing to do with the views of my employer.

And that's the point - how can my employer have a 'view'? It's an organisation of twenty five thousand people. I have problems getting a meeting of three of them to agree sometimes.

One of the interesting things about the way that people respond to our activities is that 'The BBC' becomes seen as a coordinated individual. A Corporation, in the literal corporal sense of the world - we're embodied. 'The BBC' does this, does that, thinks this. You see it a lot with companies that people have a very strong emotional reaction to, or investment in: other examples would be Apple, Google (Google does no evil you know. Well, appart from contributing to the worlds carbon burden by running so many PCs, or something) or maybe Exxon on the nasty side of the fence.

It's very upsetting, then, when you suddenly become the 'face' of a corporation. I've seen it happen to several of my colleages, and most recently to the lovely Matt. The light of scrutiny swings on to you, and it's not the most comfortable of positions to be in.

Poor lamb. He's going to be notorious for a while. But I'd like him to take comfort in the fact that he's part of a long, long tradition.

It wasn't marketing. Hell, I'm about to take over the marketing role in our department, and I can tell you we ain't that organised. Really.

But think about it - Matt works for a corporation that makes stuff thats so good, he cares enough about it to run with a joke he finds on a collaborative site on the web. So, he's involved enough with web culture that he 'gets' wikipedia. Spend enough time around media folk, and you'll realise that people like him are gold dust. Don't go hard on him - and don't go hard on the BBC. We aren't a faceless organisation; we're a collection of people who care enough about the products, and public service broadcasting, to work at less-than-industry-rates-or-so-I'm-told.

Look at Look at the creative archive. Come on, guys; we're really trying. And we're not just having to work hard in the public arena to remain clueful; we're fighting these battles on the inside of the organisation too. We need you behind the people who will make the good changes.

Part of me hopes Matt is enjoying his new found notoriety, though. At least he hasn't been rung up by the singing potter from Moffatt.

All the nice girls love a WREN

Guardian Unlimited | Special reports | How the air force kept secret watch to track down lesbians: "A secret 'observation list' of women engaged in 'suspected unnatural female friendships' was maintained for more than 40 years by the Women's Royal Air Force, according to Whitehall files released at the National Archives."

Amusing in retrospect. Particularly the bit about riding britches.

Google Talk

So, it looks like Google are launching their own IM client, with internet telephony combined in to it.

Not at all the most obvious move, but I suppose you can string targetted ads along side the text content. Couple to that the ability to perform speech-to-text on the fly (presumably part of Google Video in the not too distant future) and suddenly, your personal phonecalls become searchable from your desktop.

I find this a strange, yet useful concept, as i am notoriously bad at remembering verbal information, yet spectacularly good at remembering clues from text.

The thing that is beginning to concern me is that there doesn't seem to be a plan behind what google is up to. Do all of these products integrate? Seing as Gmail is only just searchable through their desktop search bar, I'm sensing that maybe the searchmonster is beginning to split into seperate fiefdoms, and develop lots of systems that aren't even loosely joined.

God, that sounds depressingly familiar...

Thursday, August 18, 2005


A good day.

First - standing up straight lessons. I'm still amazed at the change that Alexander Technique is making to my physical wellbeing. I'm really happy I took the plunge and got on with it.

Then - shopping and a beautiful lunch; vegetarian thali at the indian place in soho - with the most extraordinart vegetarian curry I have ever tasted; beans and greens and banana and gorgeous. Followed a marvellous lunch up with coffee in my favourite cafe; as usual, the eccentrics were in. An elderly gentleman, skewed of trouser and hard of hearing came in asking for apple pie; not something they stock. The proprietrice took him calmly in her stride; being charming and straightforward as he explained the cost and significance of all of his jewelery - worn in the manner of a retired soho spiv, it should be said. He went on to talk about knowing how to say goodbye and thankyou in Spanish and Italian being a vital skill; except ciao came out as 'Cee-Aye". He ambled off, with his potatoes (actually, palmiers) eventually.

One of the things I love about soho are the little pockets of culture that are unchanged since the 50s. In particular, knowing the foibles of these old places amuses me; one should never ask for a pint in the French, nor Cappuccino in Maison Bertaux. Quite how these traditions promulgate I don't know; I feel they're a joke on par with Mornington Crescent, a peculiarly english form of in-the-know humour.

The most marvellous thing, though, was a trip to see the Rebecca Horn show at the Hayward Gallery. Horn really is one of my favourite artists, and whilst this show was a slight dissappointment after the retrospective at the Tate a few years ago, it was still magical and unsettling to see her work again.

The compelling aspect of Horn's work is it's coded sexuality. She is one of the group of artists who rejected the cold calculatedness of minimalism and concepual practice in favour of a personal language, and an exploration of internal myths. Like Beuys, she draws on a personal object code, which is (to me, at least) all but impenetrable. Books, mirrors, reflecting pools, the symbolism of alchemy, eggs, suitcases... all of these appear regularly in her work. For her, they are part of a coherent personal language, which is what I have no access to. But those very objects are also numinous for me; they have a resonance and heft to them that sparks associations, semi-conciously. Her show at the tate was the first time that work has given me a sexual buzz in a gallery situation; her feather masks that enclose the face, and the head of the lover-being-kissed are perverse and beautiful and erotic and disturbing, all at once. Along side that are her twitching objects... that shudder slowly in to life, then so slowly ratchet themselves up to a shuddering release; watching them is like watching the mating dance of violins, or witnessing the erotic reverie of a carving knife. It feels voyeuristic, and intimate, and suffocating. I love it.

I wanted to sit and watch her films - but the sound was terrible. And frankly, they were like watching Fassbinder, and I am not clever enough.

Finally, after Pimms with mr Binding, we finished off the day with a trip to the cinema. UNplanned, so we went to see The island. I don't think I can possibly do the film justice by describing it. Suffice to say that it does away entirely with a second act, instead replacing it with a car chase and a lot of explosions. A LOT of explosions. And a car chase that was obviously conceived by watching the car chase in the second Matrix film, and deciding to piss on its twitching corpse, before packing it with semtex and blowing it up. And then blowing up the scenery. And driving through a building. Which blew up. With a sponsors logo on it. Madness, but enjoyable nonetheless.

Yes, a good day indeed.

Friday, August 12, 2005

Lost Vagueness

I'm at the end of a week off work - with another to come. Having a fortnight off work is luxury - I've been exceptionally fried recently, so I'm hoping this will get my Foo back. It's maybe not the most relaxing leave ever, as I have a website to build, a strategy document to finish for a friend, and spent the first three days of the week preaching the future to the great and good of UK TV drama.

Well, when I say preaching, I really mean standing in a rather well-appointed diningroom in Soho House, waving small shiny boxes at a variety of TV bigwigs, whilst physically shaking with terror. It didn't help that one of the people I had to convince about the changing way that people consume telly and narrative stories was Gareth Neame, who would last have known me as the slightly mad secretary in the office next door. As it was, he said hello, and then wandered off to talk to someone more interesting; let's hope he doesn't remember. Or was filled with terror that the young turks are at the gate, or something. After all, I had been for a drink with his ex-secretary the previous week, who is now head of development at a film company, completely changing their business practices, and being invited to parties on Paul Allen's yacht at Cannes. Besides which, frankly, mad armwaving girl in Soho House looks like abject failure.

The other of the terrible PA trio is also a head of development, and has just finished her first screenplay.

Must. Try. Harder.

Life does have a way of changing in odd ways though, and I'm hoping an upcoming change of job will also help to blast me out of my rut. As ever, the sides are particularly steep and slippery at the moment, as I find myself in a proper relationship. Does anyne else find that the fact of having another friendly body around the place seems to sap their will to do anything remotely constructive with their time? And just when I was looking forward to a year or two of creative singledom, too.

And so to my current situation. I am sitting in a rather untidy livingroom in a small flat in Brighton. The cricket - the cricket - is burbling away on the tv in the corner, and my boyfriend - my boyfriend - is noodling around sorting out camping equipment somewhere in the environs. We're off to Lost Vagueness, a weekend festival of... well, I'm not sure. But it does involve dressing up, some of my favourite new friends, and dressing up. Ah, the dressing up.

This moring was spent running around Brigton like loons, collecting random items of clothing like power-ups in an early platformer. Our booty consists of:

A Vintage sheepskin Flying Jacket
A pair of beige combat trousers
A pair of Khaki Shorts
A Dinner Jacket
A Tweed Riding Jacket
A German Army Peaked Cap
A Shirt, White, Mens, RN *
A pair of Russian Goggles
A Leather flying Helmet
A Scarlet Bow Tie

So, yes, the holiday has begun, we're off to endulge our love of dressing up like eeediots in a field (with GIN! Rah!) and I'm very much looking forward to it. Keep your eyes on the flickr stream for pictures of us making tits of ourselves on monday...

* An observation; all military clothing is labelled as if by taxonomists.

Tuesday, August 02, 2005

News Just In - Hell Frozen Over

Apple - Mighty Mouse

Oooh, a two button mouse. From Apple. Well. We live in the end times, apparently.

I'm very, very suspicious of its little nubbin. Looks like RSI hell, to me...

Monday, August 01, 2005

Bangs head against desk

So the boy and I spend *all* weekend sorting out my parents' new PC.

And then, tonight, this. And my dad just swore at me a lot down the phone. It's bad to hang up on your dad, right?

The computer switches it's self on, Found it flashing and whirring , but comlpletely siezed up.( Continued by Ma)......Dad says tha when you left you said - no need to switch off at the wall socket. He then switched off at the extension socket.
Dad continues, but I cannot make head nor tail of it so he says can you get in touch urgently - doesnt matter how late. We are trying to scan the plans dad has drawn for the neighbour!!!
On again showeed a blackand white, Ide check " Master disk check disabled PCI Device 16 !lots data Now responds to mouse, turned off came back showing a bit of XP very dim screen a few random keys showed

THey've moved over from Win98 to XP. This should be easier, right? It's the fear of the unknown that seems to get them - and when something untoward happens, they go straight into panic mode, with no way of beginning to diagnose the problem whatsoever.

The last thing I want is to have to spend another weekend sorting out a borked harddrive from powering up and down...

Just so you know

Version: 3.1
GCA/FA/MC d++(--)@>--- s:+(++)>-- a C++(+++)$>++++ !U P+? L>+ E? !W++(+++)$>- N@ !o K-? w O? M(+)@ V? PS>++ !PE Y+ !PGP- t$@ 5- X$@ R@* tv-$@ b+++ DI D G e+++ h-@ r+++()@* x++**(+++++)@

In advance of the London_Girl_Geek_Dinner I thought it best to lay out my credentials.

Beau Brownie

Beau Brownie

Oh, wow.

Via boingboing. I saw one of these in Portobello market a few years ago, and have regretted not buying it ever since. So beautiful.