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Friday, 27 April 2007

They're taking over!

I've just read an article in the culture section of the Times by Bryan Appleyard, saying that Blogs are "destroying our civilisation". Riiiiiiiighhht... Apparently the reason being that blogs are poisoning creative criticism because they give anybody a voice.

Kamm, of the Times, wrote "Blogs typically do not add to the available stock of commentary, they are purely parasitic on the stories and opinions that traditional media provide". Which really translates as "People with blogs are not educated enough to have a valued opinion on anything". Well, Mr. Kamm, I think you'll find there are educated people out there, and surely it's pretty easy to see how much 'value' you should attach to someone's opinion just by reading a little more of their blog. Mr. Kamm's problem, I fear is that up until blogs became really popular, opinion in the media was dictated by "the high-brows". Suddenly, everyone has an opinion about everything. Personally, I think this is fantastic. Suddenly, it's easy for me to see what the average Joe thinks about pretty much anything. I can do a blog search on Google or Technorati, and up pop 100 blogs, with opinions from a diverse range of backgrounds, race, gender, age etc. Let's say I want to watch a film. I've read a review in the paper that says it's a bit crap, but still, the storyline really appeals to me. So I look online for people that have already been to see it. Take a quick look through the blogs, and find that whilst women in general hated the movie, all the men that had been to see it loved it. I look at the newspaper review, and see it's done by a woman. I go and see the movie and love it. What I'm trying to say is that you have to remember that blog opinion is just that, opinion. Everybody is entitled to an opinion, the only difference is how you choose to convey it. Yes, there are a lot of blogs that talk shit around, but it's not really that difficult to tell which they are.

The other thing that the article seems to fail to take into account is the fact that while everyone can have an opinion, nobody is forced to read it. If anybody is reading my blog right now, it's because they chose to do that in the first place, not because someone was sticking bamboo under their fingernails (At least I hope not). I began to ask myself why it is I have a blog in the first place, and came to the conclusion that it's not because I want everyone to know who I am, what I think about everything and my every little intimate secret. It's because I want to leave something behind after I leave this place. There's my own little digital fingerprint left on the web after I go, this stream of electrons proves that I was here, that I was alive. It's my own little social commentary of what happened on this day in my life. It stops me having to send out those photocopied letters that your great Auntie Hazel does every Christmas detailing everything that's happened that year, and that are so bloody impersonal you just want to slap the person sending it ("James fell down and broke his leg in January, and had to be taken to hospital" - Yeah I know, Hazel, why the hell are you telling me this in December??). I read my friends blogs because I like to know what they've been up to - they don't have to email me or phone me to tell me every little thing, because it's all right there for me to read. It lets me know they're still about. I read Marisa's Blog because it reminds me of her and her little thought processes when I miss her, it feels like She's just telling me about her day.

In political terms, again, I think this is fantastic. For the first time, politicians can see what the people really think. Not just the people at the top of the food chain, but the people at the bottom as well. They don't have to rely on polls that give little to no indication as to why people think a certain way. By rights, politicians should be better informed about the inner workings of the common man than ever before. And if they don't choose to use this information to make the country a better place to live, then it'll just confirm what we all already knew: They don't actually care. If civilization does crumble around our very ears because of this, then maybe we deserved it.

Avril Lavigne is next to me...

In the iTunes charts that is. Right now I'm sandwiched between Avril and Tiesto. He keeps trying to get his grubby Dutch mitts on her, but I won't let him. Mwahahaha. Go take your sex festival elsewhere, you crazy Dutch bastard.

What I'm really trying to say of course, is that I'm higher than Dutchboy in the iTunes charts. You might as well pack your bags and go, old chum. Yeah, I'll play that show for you tonight, oh and if you wouldn't mind leaving that suitcase of cash as well.
Thanks very much.

Ninja #2

Thursday, 26 April 2007

The new spiritual home for Ruforia?

This could well be the new home of Ruforia in Leeds - I've been in talks with the owner about getting the night going there, and he's definitely up for it. I've just got to get a proposal to him for Monday, and all going well, we should be able to organize the first Ruforia UK night in about a month's time! If anyone wants to help out with this project, or just knows a shitload of people they can bring down, get in touch! I'm thinking the way I might work it is to charge £3 on the door, or free if you can get 6 or more people together (perhaps before a certain time). There will not be a guest list, but I will also not have people queuing outside if there is room in the club. There's also going to be drinks specials all night. Any ideas?

Fudge seems to have exactly what I'm looking for in terms of intimacy, atmosphere, straight/gayness (around 50/50), size, sound system, lights, and just general aesthetics. At first it will just be a once a month party, but if things go well, there's no reason why we can't make it once a week. I want the emphasis to be on just having a party and a good time rather than "going clubbing", that was how House Music started out, and that's how I want to keep it. Likewise, I will not be labeling the night with one specific genre of House Music, rather sticking to my "if it's good, play it" philosophy that's worked so well in my podcasts and previous Ruforia nights.

Wednesday, 25 April 2007

Killing me softly with condiments

In an attempt to create the ultimate spicy sauce just now (something I've been attempting for a long time), and in the testing thereof, I managed to give myself uncontrollable hiccups. The sauce was so spicy that I'm not only sweating and my eyes streaming, but worse, I had to remove my beenie. Disaster.

These are the ingredients in case anyone would like to make themselves hiccup (although I wouldn't recommend it: As a direct result of this sauce, I ended up spilling Ribena all over myself whilst trying to remedy the hiccuping situation):

  • Indian Curry Sauce
  • Soy Sauce
  • Mexican Chilli Sauce (Death sauce)
  • Heinz Tomato Ketchup (The upside-down squeezy kind)
  • Tabasco Sauce
  • HP Sauce
  • Brown Sauce
  • BBQ Sauce
These sauces were added according to spiciness. The more spicy the sauce, the more I added. This was served on pasta, although I don't think that was a mitigating factor in the hiccupping side-effect.

It should also be noted that I find none of these sauces on their own spicy at all, so I think there's a super duper chemical reaction going on that's activating the spice and making me taste it. Unless you come from Bradistan and were raised on curry, or have an aspestos mouth, I would not recommend you try this combination.


Restepah to the barman massive

I think my brain is going to explode. Last night I was just learning all the basics of the bar, I don't know how I'm ever going to cope, remembering where every single drink is, what it is, and on top of that, the 6 billion cocktail recipes. They also had me practicing pouring measures into test tubes. I don't think I have very good hand-eye-bottle-test-tube coordination, because I was constantly getting too much or too little in the test tube. If it wasn't going all over the floor that is.

Right now I think there's more chance of me joining the Corrs, settling down and having lots of little Irish babies with all 3 sisters (yes, I know there's a brother as well, but I think having babies with him is probably pushing the boundaries of chance, reality and heterosexuality a little too far, even for me) than becoming a good barman.

Afterwards I consoled myself by going back to Arron's house and eating about 57 chickens. My tummy did not feel good for that this morning, I can tell you.

My dental check-up consisted of the usual: have teeth and gums ripped appart, spilling my own blood everywhere in the dental surgery, foul tasting liquids, fat-middle aged nurses, wierd sensations, dark glasses and people telling me to drink less coca-cola and that I might need 20 fillings. And that was just the hygienist.

The dentist, who I saw straight after, was much nicer, and told me my mouth was fine (even though it was still dripping blood everywhere from the hygiene nurse's mini evil hook-claw-thing), and that I should rest up and take it easy. Actually he didn't say that, but he seemed like the type of guy that might. Then he gave me a lollipop and sent me on my way.

True story.

Tuesday, 24 April 2007

Erotic discourse in Cheadle

So I've got my first proper shift at Prohibition tonight - luckily I managed to find a black shirt this time, but it's one of those ones that have the sleeves sewn into a rolled-up state, so instead of looking like a ninja tonight, I look like a pirate. They're gonna think I'm some kind of one-man hippy fancy-dress parade at work.

No different from anywhere else I've worked then.

There wasn't any milk in the house this morning, and very little else, so I wasn't able to get my usual bowl of cereal. I had to make a rudimentary cheese and onion toastie from bread, cheese, and an onion. This wouldn't be a problem if I didn't have a dental check-up before work. It's always fun to be able to breathe onion breath all over the kinky young dental assistant. Or it would be if the nurses at my clinic were kinky. Or young. In reality they're all fat and middle-aged.

More onion please.

Darth Vadar

Sunday, 22 April 2007

"Maybe you should be interviewing the drugs, they have a lot to answer for"

For anyone interested in House, this is something really worth seeing - Channel 4's "Pump up the Volume: A History of House". It's a really well put together documentary that covers all the parts that I'm sad to say, I missed out on at the time it was happening. Didn't stop me catching up though ;) Enjoy.

Part 1

Part 2

Part 3

I really think this documentary does a great job of capturing the spirit of house - 'let it all out, let it all go, be free', and I think it's that spirit that I've been trying for so long to capture in my mixes. It's also totally right in what it says about the UK being so keen to label different genres of House, something that I've also noticed myself and have tried to stop myself from getting too pigeonholed - hence me changing the name of the podcast from "Funky House Music, but not as you know it!" to just "House Music, but not as you know it!". At the end of the day, house music should be funky, that's how it started out. Why stick an extra label on top of it? Right now the big label on everyone's lips is Electro House. Last year it was Tech House. Before that it was Funky House. As far as I'm concerned, all that matters is that I play Good House. Maybe I should start it as a new genre/label just to make Britain sit up and listen. The beauty of this music is that you can totally play a really soulful track, and mix it with a driving dark dirty nightmare of a track, and apart from a few factors, there's every possibility that you can make them go together. Why do people have this problem with it that you have to play one 'brand' of House all night? I think this has a lot to do with the fact that when I've been going out lately, I get bored quite easily. No wonder: The DJ's been playing tracks that all use the same synth patch all night because he thinks that everybody's into electro this year. At first, I wouldn't touch electro with a barge-pole, but I've since come to realize that there are some quite funky electro tracks. What I do disagree with, though, is feeling like I've been listening to the same groove for an hour. And if I'm thinking that when I'm off my nut, there's a problem.

One of the big things that I noticed about the 'States is the fact that the DJ's tend to play only what they think the crowd wants. They play the current sound, go through the top 40, and nothing more. I'm starting to see it happen over here as well - everywhere I go I hear the same tunes. All the DJs are starting to sound the same! What happened to DJs searching out obscure releases no-one else has? Playing about with samples and warping tracks almost to the point where you can hardly recognize them? Playing classics and giving them the credit they deserve as seminal pieces of musical history, instead of consigning them to the 'cheese' bin? I feel like the internet has played a big part in this building lack of respect for music. Whilst it's increased the convenience of finding any tune we want within seconds, and purchasing (or not, as the case may be) it there on the spot, it's decreased our respect for the track as an entity within itself. It stops being a living being, and just becomes another number in iTunes, lost among a fog of countless others. I even find this myself with my collection, and the only way I've found to stop it is to constantly keep going through my collection, and sorting things into playlists based on mood, instruments, groove, vocals etc. This is the only way I've found of helping me at a gig so that instead of staring blankly at a list of 15,000 tracks, each one standing out no more than the last, I'm only seeing a list of tracks that fit the style/mood/message I'm trying to convey.

The other thing DJs have lost sight of is the 'party'. House was all about creating that feeling of being at a house party, no matter how many people were there. Now everything is about the DJ, the club, and bar sales. We don't go to a club any more to have a party, we go to 'see' the DJ. I don't care about seeing the DJ, the reason I go there is to dance to the music. Let's not forget that ultimately, the DJ is playing other people's records, so unless he's actually injecting some of his own musical talent and style into the mix, there's nothing elevating him above putting the latest "Clubber's Guide" compilation on. Most DJs are starting to use laptops now, and this is good, as for too long DJs have clung to vinyl like a toddler clings to a comfort blanket. Good, so long, that is that the DJ is doing something that makes use of the extra features and convenience that laptop DJing brings to the table. The last 3 times I've seen Pete Tong (Who's now using Ableton), I was almost bored to tears. He was doing nothing that you couldn't do 2 with 2 turntables. At the other end of the spectrum I've seen guys play the same loop all night. Because they can. There's a good reason why James Zabiela is one of the very few big-name DJs to come out of our generation (That didn't start out in production at least), and that's because he's one of the few people who are actually pushing what the technology can do, but at the same time, not losing sight of the fact that people go to a club to dance.

The only thing that really disappointed me about this series was the fact that there was no interview with Frankie Knuckles himself. How can you have a documentary on the history of House music, without having an interview with its godfather? Frankie is to House what James Brown is to Soul, what Elvis is to Rock, what... well, you get the idea. It just seems strange to me that they would intricately explore every aspect of the genre, and leave out the very thing that created it. That's like having the bible without Genesis. You can't just come in halfway though, or everyone's sat there going "Wha... so how did all these people get here, ay?"

Having said that though, the documentary has definitely confirmed some of the things I already thought about House, and given me some fresh ideas for my own tunes :) It makes me excited to think that we have so much new technology available to us to make these tracks now, I can't wait to see what the future of DJing has in store for us. It was also heartening to see that it wasn't just me that "Strings of Life" had such a profound effect on, it's amazing how one song can evoke so many different emotions all at the same time, and yet still have no lyrics!

Double Decker Bus


Oh my god, I never thought I'd make it through tonight. My first shift at Prohibition was fun, but sooo hectic. I did not stop rushing round like a blue arsed fly the entire night. The place was rammed. I think they were pretty impressed though, so hopefully I'll get another shift. When I ended the shift, all I wanted was a curry, a joint, a shag and bed. I managed the curry. I'm about to manage the bed. The shag I'll have to wait 3 weeks for. I hope Marisa realizes she's in grave danger when she arrives in England.

Naomi is desperate for me to come and work at the Hard Rock Cafe, but I think I'm going to have to turn her down - for a start, they only play rock music in there, and I think it would probably drive me spare, and secondly, there's a girl that works in there that looks just like Marisa, and at a time when I'm already missing her bucket loads, that would just be rubbing my face in it I fear.

Oh, and just to rub salt in it (so to speak), Naomi's doing a nuddie photoshoot with the Marisa look-alike in a week. It's like I've seen the pearly gates. Except they're actually just made of plastic and I'm not allowed in either way. So here's what I'm thinking... Marisa look-alike can transfer to the LA Hard Rock, and finish off Marisa's degree for her. In the meantime, Marisa can come here early, and fill in for look-alike at the photoshoot, thus fullfilling not only my desire for Marisa to be here right now, and to have legit nuddie pics of Naomi and Marisa together, but Marisa's desire to be here right now too, and I'm sure look-alike might want to see LA (although how she'd feel about finishing off a pre 20th century English lit. course, I'm uncertain, at best). It's a win win win "what do you mean you don't know anything about Chaucer?" situation.

Saturday, 21 April 2007

Ninja Saturday.

They told me to dress in black for my first day at this new job at Prohibition tonight, so I managed to find a black tshirt and the only pair of black pants that still fit me. I look like a total ninja. It feels wrong. It's called Ninja Wednesday for a reason. Because it's not Saturday. I know I'm going to make a total arse of myself tonight.

At least I have curry with Naomi after I finish to look forward to afterwards. We always go to the grottiest curry house in Leeds, but they make the best curries, and charge you about 5p for it. It's a ritual.

Paris Hilton's Dog


Oh Ho Ho! Which piece of software has incurred my wrath today? It's everyone's favorite, iTunes! Yay! I put it back on my computer today, and presumably because it's been installed in the UK this time, it shows a completely different set of reviews for Ruforia than when I installed it in the US. Not only that, but the podcast charts are seperate as well! In the UK charts, Ruforia is currently #61, whereas it doesn't even register on the US charts.

I can understand them having seperate charts for paid music, but for free podcasts? And seperating the reviews just seems even stranger - surely 5*s means the same, regardless of the language the rest of the review is written in? (Yeah, that's a little cocky, I know ;)

Friday, 20 April 2007

Air Fresheners

Just as I thought. There's WD40 in my ear.

As you've probably worked out from the fact that my blog's looking less like a powerpoint presentation, I managed to get Photoshop working :) I'm a happy bunny.

I tried the new Photoshop, CS3, yesterday. It was pants. It ran slower than a dog with no legs. It was a beta though, but it doesn't seem to have that many new features that will make my life easier in terms of web design, so I might not bother looking at it when it officially gets released.

Actually, this is probably what will happen, my curiosity for all things new and shiny will get the better of me, and I'll install it anyway, then I'll find out that it still runs as slow as a dog with no legs, then I'll wonder why I bothered.

Why is it that as they get older, instead of getting faster (as new, faster programming techniques are discovered), programs get slower? Look at Windows... to a normal person, Vista doesn't do much more than XP (I think they might have upgraded solitaire), yet I could starve to death in the time it takes it to do most things. I think Microsoft have run out of ideas when it comes to Windows anyway, in which case, for the next version, please could you do absolutely nothing, apart from tidy up your programming and make it faster please? I really don't care about flipping things in 3D or translucent windows, not if it's going to make my system grind to a halt. Back in the day when I had a 33Mhz 486 running Windows 3.1 it used to take about a minute to load. Now I've got a 3.4Ghz Intel 4 with Windows XP, and it still takes a minute to load and it's supposedly 104x faster than that first computer. If Windows 3.1 worked on this computer, it should take around 0.5 seconds to boot.

Shame I don't have a floppy drive to install Windows 3.1 ;)

This doesn't mean we're friends, Bill.

Wow, I think that was probably the most painless installation of Windows I've ever done (And no, just because I'm saying "Wow" does not mean I've succumbed to installing Vista. I'd rather poke my eyes out with rusty nails). I think it was probably helped by the fact that when you get to my level of professional manhood (Or geekdom, delete as appropriate), you keep all your drivers in one place on your hard disk. Then whenever Windows asks for stuff so it can install your Graphics Card/Sound Card/Coffee Maker, you just tell it where they all are. I still think they should have a "I said HERE, tosser." button in the driver installation window though.

It's always very satisfying and exhilarating, booting up a clean version of Windows for the first time. You remember how everything should run, before you fill it full of crap. Which I'm about to do right now.

Pleeeeeeeeease work this time, Photoshop!

Messages from the 'Other Side'

I just tried to open DreamWeaver, and got this, possibly the strangest error message I've ever got. Maybe not quite as strange as "Error #2484, user has a beard." though.

Posted by Picasa

As my volume gently tweaks...

It's amazing how just switching my blog from mySpace to Blogger has restored a sense of equilibrium to my life. I woke up this morning positively bursting with energy. Well, maybe not bursting, but I kinda felt like a kid on Christmas morning, there was a buzz of anticipation in the air, and my sense of karmic flow seems to be heightened. I feel compelled to write in my blog again...

Why changing my blog would do this to me, I don't know, perhaps I feel less dragged down by mySpace's crap design, less constricted by its nazist censorship. Maybe I just get turned on by the fact that I can upload pictures to my blog from within Picasa now. All hail Picasa, I love you dearly.

Maybe I have a feeling of righteousness because people who choose to read my blog from within an RSS reader can now read the whole thing, and not just the first three words, without having to actually get dragged across the internet just to look at some arsebiscuit flash adverts telling them to chase a monkey for a free ringtone. Although yesterday I did notice that mySpace had finally implemented autodetection of their blog Rss feed. Well done myspace, now if you wouldn't mind making the rest of your site good, I might want to use you again. I can't see that happening though.

So with my newfound motivation I think I'm going to re-install windows on my laptop. There's nothing that would destroy my soul more, but it's something I've been putting off for ages, and I'm tired of MSN messenger trying to install itself all the time when I never asked it to, and Photoshop not working.

If I spike my hair up, I look like the nerd everyone hates from Spin City.

I don't know why I didn't move my blog over here sooner. Looking back at my old mySpace blog, it just looks old and nasty in comparison. I really am just a big bag of style and productivity today. Not only did I get myself some nice new trainers to replace the old Vans I've had for 5 years (I'll always remember you...), I also got myself a new job at the stylish Prohibition in Leeds. Swank McSwank.

Now I just have to save up for those million things I want... New phone, trip to Ibiza, Leeds Festival, new laptop, flat...

How do normal people cope????

Thursday, 19 April 2007

Victimized by MySpace for being useful.

Why is it, that every time, without fail, I want to post a bulletin, MySpace is 'fixing them', yet other people have no problem posting 15 in a row telling me nothing more than the fact that they're bored?

Does MySpace have built-in usefulness filters - if something is deemed useful to anyone MySpace will block it?? How many times does mySpace need to 'fix' their bulletins? And why were they broken? Probably too many people posting that they were bored. Do you hear me?? If you're bored, and you're on MySpace, don't feel like you have to tell me. I don't care. Really. Here's some interesting alternatives to boredom bulleting you might want to consider (hey, I had to get a bulleted list in there somehow):

  • Write a novel.
  • Saw someone in half.
  • Do naked handstands.
If you do any of these things, you have every right to bulletin me and tell me all about it (And in the case of the last one, if you're a good looking lass, you have my permission to send pictures as well), but unless you have something interesting to say, stay thy hand from ye poste buttone. It's stopping me telling everyone about my naked handstands.

Fuck it, I'm going to go poke someone on Facebook.

News just in: In addition to not letting me post bulletins, MySpace don't want me to write in my blog either. I think I swear too much or something. This is my new blog now. MySpace can go do illigal things with goats for all I care.