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Friday light night was a bit of a washout, so apologies to people who I a) encouraged to go or b) tentatively planned to meet up with (damiancugley for sure). We got off the bus and freshly iced rain sheeted down, accompanied by slap-in-the-face gusts of wind. Attempts to shelter in doorways or get under cover resulted in us being chased out of fire exits because timscience had a cup of (very nice) mulled wine. Eventually mulled wine was finished and ruffled fluff was smoothed by an earnest young man with an enormous camera asking to photograph us listening to a Memoryphone, probably because of the fairy lights round my hat. If I ever turn up that picture I shall caption it with what we were saying at the time which is "Is this one just recordings of silence?" and "No, I think the storm broke it." We never made it out to the most distant Memoryphone (outside the Said business school we thought? The map was a bit abstract) but we had already stuck our heads in three of them by that stage (big head-height metal gramophone horns which burble away in themed soundscapes from different cities - church bells, museums and which look very much like a public information service for canal locks from a world where we like posters less and listening to instruction more) so it made sense to stick with the OCM Sound and Light Trail despite the weather.

It was scattered. We squelched up to the Natural History Musueum for Phantom Field, which ran really well on a dark windy night, Cicadas (arranged in a tuned circle in Wellington Square, with and enboothed DJ sparking up the excitement whenever people turned up) and then yomped back down to Pembroke College for Piano Migrations and Music box migrations, which were enchanting, magical and somehow appropriately seeping and sticking in the rain - after all, migrations don't stop when the rain comes down. (video links so you can see what's going on)

migration music box swallow piano
sparkpipes windphones

We caught a glimpse of the light-up umbrella spectacular in the Castle complex, but none of the parade, and spent a blessed ten minutes warming up in the Museum of the History of Science, watching projections of Northern Lights through the brass instruments. It was good, but without the contribution of the BEST PIE it would have been a sad cold end to the night. As it was we ended the night full of beef-chilli-cheese pie and the sort of chocolate brownie that suggests someone took a really long time getting it just right.
So, my four day's enforced leave have been pretty good actually. I've thrown a bunch of crap out of the studio (including various pens I never really got along with), done an underwear audit, nuked the toilet into some form of cleanliness and finally got a bloody haircut. On the fun side, I also watched Cinderella (drippy; scary; not enough villain), an experimental ballet/juggling show called 4x4 that was fresh from the Fringe (oooh gosh very experimental) and up-and-coming band Autobahn play Guardian's gig of the week, which as usual for Oxford was an empty room full of electrical fail. But once the guitars were mended, it was awesome!!!

Other things:


I got out the 3doodler again, to try making little black birds. This one stands up! And then I decided it was probably time for another weekly strip, now I have a tidy workplace to work in.

That's not at all recent -- if you look at the file names this one dates back to 2013, but the colouring was today and an attempt to work fast. I soundtracked with a Skrillex album as it was included on Prime. Unexpectedly, some of it was orchestral. But I think it did help me to work fast.

May compilation - all about the NO

Yes, I know it's September, but I got hacked off while setting up the May compilation playlist (I'd inadvertently included a rare remix of a song that is nigh-intolerable in every version available on Youtube) and between that and the broken scanner it sat sadly semi-finished for months. Visually it's an uninteresting piece. The cover is meh, and the only modern video worth a watch is Blur's Ong Ong (there are classics from Blancmange and Untravox, although both may lead you to marvel at how far video technology has advanced in the past twenty years). But as an exploration of the Negatory it is quite interesting, in particular the barnstorming Catch 22 from ravers Sheep on Drugs, for which I broke my five minute rule (it's worth it). Here's the full playlist:

If you fancy a listen, here's the Youtube playlist. I've subbed in a Marsheaux remix of Client for the Cherry Stone remix which is NOT ON YOUTUBE, which works OK, but for ARMS - well, only the Passion Pit remix would do:

Let's scan again

So, this morning I woke up to the distinct sensation of a spider wandering over my neck. "Formication" I thought to myself, "Liminal hallucination" and went back to sleep again. Then came the tickle and twitch of a spider walking over my face. This time my reaction was swift, physical, and led to me hunting around for bits of spiders (it was a big one, and it fell to bits when I hit it) while I tottered queasily to the loo. Where's a kitten spider hunter when you need one? Still, she probably would have jumped all over my face.

Never mind that, though, this:

I can has sca!!!!nner

After the disaster that was the Dell all-in-one (finally lost to the permanent, unshiftable "incorrect printer cartridge installed, please insert a genuine Dell printer cartridge" error, although it had been showing scan errors for a while, as well) I have upgraded to (drumroll please) the only affordable A3 scanner. It came well packed but minus software and manual. Still, I've got it talking Twain, so we're cool.

and because it seems mean not to, why not an as-yet-unseen weekly stripCollapse )

Royal Academy Summer Exhibition

Late summer holiday continues apace. An extra visit was required for the slightly saddening, slightly maddening* Joseph Cornell exhibition at the RA because the Summer Exhibition, even without consideration of the Humument in its entirety is too exhausting to allow for anything else the same day.

There was a weird buzz about going to an exhibition where almost everything is for sale (prices from under a hundred to the low millions) - the kids especially were madly window shopping, "can we take this home"? The chairs I only know the prices because a lady who was either rich or faking it like a boss went and asked at the desk - ask at desk is code for "substantial investment". There was plenty of the weird and horrible on display, including a creepy porno/soldier theme which saw pornish women justaposed against men exploring the horrors of war and/or depicting the weight and complexity of modern soldiergarb so repeatedly it had gone through theme and tired trope and emerged deep in the fields of creepy insistence. The presence of so many different genres, mediums and even sizes - architecture, sculpture, collage, tapestry, installation, painting, printing, clothes woven from the artists' own hair, etc. - was bewildering. You had to have a strategy. And so it was that timscience and I strode round each gallery in semi-opposite directions picking favourites.

I drew a scribble in my catalogue next to everything I liked - Tim seemed to be using his memory. We didn't agree about everything but there were some clear winners, mostly already sold.

Fancy a wander? The whole thing is online, and here are my picks, plus one Tim wanted to buy (it was sold out), minus a couple I didn't care for in the cold light of the following week, and with duplicates (two by the same artist) stripped out. Highlights include a neon football stadium, twenty-six geese, a couple of nice vases of flowers, various cats and what appears to be a tribute to Bananarama/80s fashion magazines. Go the RA.

*Although I do love Cornell I find him relentlessly melancholic, and all the little boxes look like places I end up trapped in in anxiety dreams.
For our wedding anniversary this year we went to the Southbank to be locked in the Hayward Gallery overnight, and sleep in moving sculpture/installation Two Roaming Beds (Grey) by Carsten Holler. This was part of larger exhibition called Decision, which is entered via door A or door B. You've paid in advance, and there's a huge queue behind you so you can't baulk at the doors. You have to choose.

In the spirit of the show, I have two perspectives, so you can choose which/order to read.

full superman

Carsten Holler : The Future is Toyetic

locked in fiction, toothpaste conundrums, harvested dreamsCollapse )

delighted ceratopsians, uncertain sauropod

Carsten Holler: Dinosaur Decisions

the dinosaurs in the galleryCollapse )

the restaurant dream

Looking outside, it seems the perfect weather to be reviewing garden Shakespeare (my plan for this evening) but I digress:

the restaurant dreamCollapse )

Some may have reconstructed from the echoes that timscience and I went to the Hayward gallery and were locked in for the night and left at the mercy of two (thankfully benign) robot beds. It was an interesting night, but I'm still digesting the experience and will talk about it later.
It got properly muggy today for the first time this year; at work, we were all unplugging the phone and laptop chargers and plugging in the fans. I got in this morning to find three cucumber plants by my chair and a parish magazine ("The Sprout") on my work scanner. I felt well village.

My work scanner is old and slow, but not broken, unlike my home scanner, which is now stuck permanently on the dreaded Dell invalid ink cartridge error. No amount of power cycling, jiggling, or inserting another completely valid Dell ink cartridge (I only have completely valid Dell ink cartridges) will shift my Dell all-in-one from the terrifying conviction that I am monstering it with a knock-off cartridge, and must perforce be prevented from using the scanner (I only ever use the scanner) until I have restored its entirety with a new and intact printer cartridge. The scanner had an irritating judder in the bottom left-hand corner, so I probably should have replaced it ages ago, but still. List of things I am never going to buy again: an all-in-one, a Dell Printer, anything by Dell.

So, another significant purchase. After the Wardrobe and the Sofa (IKEA had finally exited their muesli and tears colour scheme phase and emerged into a world of bright block colour, so we had to take advantage) I have significant purchase fatigue. And also significant purchase build up, as along with the scanner, there's a long list including things like kitchen, mobile phone and car (all still just about functioning, though their last legs have long since become no legs). Still, the sofa is beautiful.

Music of the spheres Ladybirds by post

Above: visiting Music of the Spheres and Ladybird larvae by post. I thought I'd lost them all (there was a gust of wind when I was gently shaking them out of their box) but I looked at the rose bush that got the lion's share of the beasties today and all the greenfly are gone.

March compilation comes in a bit late

I started using this is my jam this month, which I thought might replace these compilations; but fundamentally it doesn't do the same thing, and nice as the jam is, I'm ready for a full 17-course meal now.

So, March: I was insanely busy at work, my commute the quietest bit of the day, with every day more spring to be seen on the tow-path. Similarly the songs are light, bright, with as much brass as wist (although Damon's homage to the ephemerality of your sexts is pretty wistful). It also includes a clash of colossi feminin - Gaga and Beyonce, whose song Ego lead to lols so mighty they caused a coughing fit. Though Gaga (of course) wins the video. I also broke my 5-minute rule on Holy Ghost!'s Dumb Disco Ideas because I wanted more cowbell.


Full tracklist and Youtube playlist under the cutCollapse )

slow TV, swallows and the stinky compost

BBC4 is doing a season of Slow TV at the moment. They're being a little non-literal (three hours of making a knife compressed down to 30 minutes, for example) but the aesthetic is there; an absence of music or voice-over, the soundtrack instead comprising of ecstatically detailed ambient sound; movement of viewpoint and focus minimised or eradicated; the hyperreality of blown up HD close-ups; an almost unhealthy obsession with the moment. This being BBC4 (home of the documentary) there are some facts in some programmes, presented as captions, which (for example) in the Dawn Chorus identify the birds. I did offer to pause it for timscience (cooking at the time) when a particularly handsome pheasant hopped up onto a branch, but he declined. "Isn't the point of Slow TV that you don't need to do that?" he asked, "You can just dip in and out as you please." Hmm. Or staring transfixed at perfect glistening dew-drops while trying to untangle the songs of a Stonechat and a Willow Warbler, maybe. Of course I'm vulnerable to this sort of thing anyway. I spent half an hour watching swallows being nearly blown into the Thames this evening (the swallows are back) (air-punch).

Then we watched an episode of Gotham to bring ourselves up to operational speed again.

Over the weekend I bought some New Horizon peat-free compost which the apprentice in the garden centre carpark assured me me was "uh, yes, fine for potting". It hasn't done a great job on the seedlings, but it has filled the shed and the verandah with the aroma of parmesan and startled cat. It's my usual brand for general use but this is the first year I've used it for potting. Maybe the last. Could just be a bad batch.

Election wipe has just finished. And tomorrow: the election.