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Amid plummeting levels of smoking in young people, the competition to see who can make the best, most appealing, health warning is hotting up. Health warnings need to take up almost half the packet now, and images of sores, cancerous faces and rotting limbs are out and more cerebral warnings are taking their place. This one, of a male model lying very still while made up to look a little grey/blue, is clearly tapping into the slaying and shagging demographic. Don't smoke kids! You could end up being a pretty corpse and scoring with all the frosty girls.

pretty corpse fag anti-ad

This one requires a little more interpretation. Has the slightly anguished gentleman below just received a cancer diagnosis? Is he suffering from erectile disorder? Has he just realised that it's four in the morning and the overnight garage is closed, and he's going to have to vape for his nicotine fix and the only mix in the house is his little sister's strawberry blackcurrant vanilla charm? Maybe he's worrying about hairloss. It's hard to tell, but he certainly looks like an Athena poster somebody had in the 80s.

warning against um...

In other news, there was a festival Oxford called Offbeat. I ended up seeing an experimental rewerk of Figaro starring Kim Kardashian and a woman called Amelia and a farce about a killer robot made of pink wheelie bins in the same night. Happy days!

Springwatch continues

blue beetle orgy

Turns out there were a few decent shots of the blue beetle orgy. Though I think they're Green Mint Beetles actually.

frog

Also, a frog.

Not quite up there with romping stoatlets and cute leverets, but I'm pleased.
Massive excitement today when I saw a Hummingbird Hawkmoth outside the front door, feeding on the Red Valerian I'be been too slack to weed out of the drive. Not going to weed it out now, that's for sure. According to Butterfly Conservation Migrant Watch (yes I'm the first sighting in Oxford - smugface) they have excellent memories and often return to the same flowers day after day, so I may be able to get a photograph at some point.

Conveniently, Springwatch also restarted today. If you missed it, you missed the Hairy Footed Flower Bees, and it's local so we have a Red Kite nest. There's also a Jay's nest, which reminds me, I have seen a lot more Jays than usual this year. Usually fighting with blackbirds.

Pleased to have another species for my garden list, which also includes Lesser Stag Beetles, Tree Bees and Blackcaps, among the usual suspects like Rats, Blue Tits, Goldfinches, Foxes and Sparrows.

I also saw a mass of blue beetles having a mass mating frenzy on a waterplant by the river, which was full of holes. Not sure what the plant was, something covered in fine silver hairs. Watermint? I'm having trouble identifying it as googling for blue beetle mating frenzy is throwing up some odd results, but it might have been Mint Leaf Beetles.

My camera let me down on both occasions. It's all just blurs.
The last person who watched one of these was jackfirecat I think.

Makes you think.

Maybe.


There's a substitution on this one. I couldn't find the Gazelle Twin/Wrangler He's a Liquid. So you've got the John Foxx He's a Liquid instead. It's still a good track, not the same track, but still a good track.

January on-the-go-compilation

I'm not going to be posting pictures of the physical artefacts this year for my on-the-go comps. They're going to be quite simple, apart from anything else - basic artefacts made from whatever I have close to hand. If there is one thing that is quite evidently true this year it is that I need to move faster, do more and recover more quickly. Everything must be streamlined, timesliced, unbracketed, tightened and shaved.

2017 is going to be a challenge. Anyway, here's January's playlist: little Jo makes up her mind.

tiny tiny kitten why are you so small

As promised, I looked out Scribble's diary. It was rather damp from where he'd trampled through his food bowl, and he seemed to be more interested in chewing than writing. A lot of it is smeared, torn and illegible. However, I did find this fragment:

Today lots of rug play with a new toy that shone a small light into my eyes! It had a string but not as good as the long feathery ones. Hello Lady! made purr noises sometimes and grr noises othertimes. I jumped out of the way of the light which I think was the game! Mostly because no attention sp

kitten photos, lots of themCollapse )

the kitten diaries ride again

For anyone who hasn't seen it on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter (probably?) or anywhere else, we've finally caved and obtained a small cat from a local rescue centre (kittens domestic shorthair, second down the page - Connie, Chloe and Cleo (the tortie) are still seeking homes, just saying). Naturally, our current cat is taking this somewhat ill. In fact, I found her diary today and it makes for incendiary reading:

dare you read the secret diary of a handsome black and white cat in the prime of her life?Collapse )

I'd give you his diary, but it mostly consists of the word wow!!!! interspersed with purring.

the weasel dream

I woke up from a whirl of strangely intense dreams this morning, including having a meeting with a colleague in pajamas and watching two black cats play in the sun against a mountain background.

But there came a moment when we clearly had to leave the house; the shadows were closing in on us and things were getting stranger and more threatening. I stepped backwards towards the group, and darkness came rolling in towards us. "We have to leave now," I said; and outside it was day, and bright, and nobody objected they just got their things and got ready.

But just as we were going to leave, I noticed a tiny weasel in a long narrow glass tank. It had a piece of string tied round its neck, like a lead, but this was too tight (it had grown while wearing the lead) and it seemed distressed. I took it out of the tank, and carefully eased the knot and slipped off the string. I noticed an even smaller tank it must have grown out of; this one was labelled "miniature weasel habitat". The weasel in my hands wasn't happy to be picked up, but wasn't biting yet, and seemed to have grown since I picked it up; its head was now the size of a walnut, and when I had picked it up it seemed the size of a marble. I slipped it back into its tank - still without being bitten - and we left the house.

But at the back of my mind was worry that we had abandoned a tiny weasel to dark forces unknown.
After my phone's last software upgrade, I was given a checkbox; activate life logging. Sure; why not; ever since ever my life has been recorded. So now my phone keeps an eye on my activity levels (though some of its conclusions are a little suspect - how did I manage ten minutes cycling, when I've not got on a bike in years?) and gives me prizes when I walk far enough. I opened the first few, before I realised that my prize for achieving an activity goal was then, was always, was every single time, an advert for a car. But it's nice to know I've been sufficiently active, I suppose.

In other news, David Bowie is still dead. My compilation for February reflects this somewhat, although I cruelly culled a great many Bowie tracks from the initial on-the-go, mostly for doing exactly the same thing as another Bowie track on the comp. As usual, there were compromises as I got to Youtube, though one of the great delights for any Bowie fan is his early, loving and enthusiastically sharing embracement of the internet. Never in your life will you go looking for a Bowie track and find the Youtube not-really-sorry face; want to see a video of the Bowie? A full concert? No problem, it's all there*. I could literally track down bits of Bowie online for years, I think and never, ever run out



So -- you don't have Taste of Honey by The Chemical Brothers. You've got the feat. Beck track with the weird hollowed out dancer instead (Wide Open). It doesn't have the compelling monotonous perversity of Honey, but it'll do. You're missing the Technova cover of Sisters Of Mercy's Temple of Love but I found a remix from roughly the same place. Red Lipstick (Naughty Club remix) by Vanity Kills is missing and I couldn't even find anything anywhere from the same Vanity Kills (it wasn't the metal band). So you have ABC's Vanity Kills instead, with its nods to (and indeed direct quotes from) Bowie. Extras: Look out for a Country and Western** take on one of the two Tin Machine performances (I've mostly avoided the well-trodden paths, bar Life on Mars) and a very wrenching guest starring from The Polyphonic Spree on a late, late Bowie concert. Here's the full track comp piece.



Initially I thought I'd decided to draw Bowie all wrong -- the wrong colours, the wrong pose, the wrong microphone and inappropriately in the purple rain. But it actually ended up looking quite a lot like the old Athena Postcards (which of course I owned).

*Almost all. That Spitting Image skit where he sings "Jealous Man" to Spitting Bryan Ferry - still missing.
**Yes, Bowie does a voice.
When I loaded my ipod for the new year, David Bowie hadn't died yet. Blackstar was keenly anticipated but not yet bought; and I was still listening to Sparks and especially FFS, dreaming of a wistful West End Post Punk musical set in the decaying music scene of a coastal town that ought to exist but somehow still doesn't. The first week of January was bright with hope; the second coloured with grief; by the third I was immersed in work, nose firmly set to grindstone. Somehow it seemed that very sweary, shouty ladies were fitting all these moods to a tee. Hello Peaches, Viv Albertine, Charlie XCX, Grimes, Gazelle Twin, Sleater-Kinney... Tracey Ullman?



Yes, Tracey Ullman. The video for sunglasses features Adrian Edmondson (in swimming trunks) in what I can only call a muddled narrative, reminiscent of that awful short-lived series which made modern videos to match classic tunes. Rather better is the doom-laden Sparks video - and the Kone video may appeal to fans of typography, minimalism and bright colours. Peaches and Grimes are vying for best dressed; I think Peaches wins, by a nose. Okay, it's not a nose. You've got quite a few live performances, as I was definitely picking from the bottom third of the albums this month, but I'm disinclined to apologise, especially as the version of Carrickfergus by Bryan Ferry is actually better than the one on the album (oh the harpist!) I had to sub in a couple of tracks after being presented with Youtube's copyright not-very-sorry face, so you have the still-in-the-same-vein but not as sparky Memphis Tennessee instead of Just Like Eddie by Silicon Teens, and Grime's Artangles has been replaced with the rather less chilled (but nevertheless awesome) Kill v. Maim.



The sleeve is an adaptation of the Penguin Cover of The Case of the Borrowed Brunette by Eric Stanley Gardner, design by Romek Marber. Here's the original. The reverse (not shown) features a piece of the Pelican paperback cover of Brown's Social Psychology of Industry, which features part of 'Junges Madchen vor Maschinen' by Raphael Delorme. I have a bunch of old covers from broken books waiting for similar treatment.