olafur eliasson

a man walking his tiny digger down Oxford Street

November is dark space. We swim through layers of brown leaves, grey skies, falling rain, year after year of bad things happening at this time of year. But in the winter, we walk after dark, we walk in the wet, we walk in the murk and the twilight and the fog and the failing light. I was up at the allotment this week, pretending it was light for long enough to put in the winter peas, the winter beans, while allotment cat jingled through the tumbledown weeds in my wild borders, her white fur luminous in the dirty dusk.

But here and there comes a moment of unalloyed absolute joy:

the workmen and the digger

close up of the happy couple

I love tiny diggers and I cannot lie....
RUFF

build it up, tear it down...... the

Paging cleanskies, motodraconis, timscience, t__m__i, bibliogirl and emperor, and anyone else who might be participating, I'm finally publishing my #tenovertwelve compilation this morning. I was reluctant to publish it online because although it does match the theme ("build it up, tear it down") and in fact that was the theme I suggested, the subject matter is one of those that brings things knocking, not just from the anonytrolls hand helpfulstrangers but also from reasonable I've-never-experienced-that friends and surely-that-never-happens acquaintances.

heshelping.jpg

Thanks one and all! Lots of the comp is from comps people gave me, so thanks for the help too. You should be able click through to read the sleeve notes in full, but in case anything is unclear, I copy it again here:

This compilation, on the theme of build it up, tear it down, was inspired by the Ryan Adams approach to mentoring female talent. For those who this story passed by, musician Ryan Adams rhapsodised in an interview about how much he loved mentoring female musicians. In the wake of this, various women described how the experience had felt from their end; pursued sexually, mocked, belittled, work dangled and then withdrawn, cut off from other contacts, held back, thwarted, blocked, some exasperated into exiting the music industry altogether. Adams hit back, calling them embittered and mediocre, low in talent and high in resentment, frivolous cultural lightweights, irrelevant. Baby’s on Fire, track 2 on this compilation, takes a visceral run through this minefield, rolling in racism as well as sexism on the way. Other tracks explore insecurity, double standards, sexual pressure, toxic relationships and male privilege. Some of the lyrics are deeply queasy. But with those reservations I love every track, even as I feel the ambiguity - he’s helping. Yes. No. Not.



As ever, if anyone wants to discuss my interpretation of Brian Eno, wonder why on earth The Emperor of Oranges is on my playlist (Steve Whitaker gave me a copy of a mix CD he made for someone else, and it was on that), get a link, share another appropriate song or say why "numberwang" would have been a much better theme - head to the comments!
Na Vecne Casy!

It's time for the next mix CD for tenovertwelve

But what will the title be? After the massive success of last month*'s theme, Garden Pests, I've decided to go for the traditional poll solution. Sadly, Facebook appears to have taken this moment to remove "Post a poll" from my available post options. I'm doubtless in an experimental group of some sort where they're reducing choice to see if it results in boiling anger a smoother user experience. However, I want to this now rather than wait for when FB decide to switch me from the B list to the A list. So - welcome to tenovertwelve May (I know there's only a few days left in May, but it is still May!)

You can vote for more than one, and the most popular shall win. Not sure you have time to take part (answer: you probably don't)? You can still vote. Not taking part? You can still vote. Not sure you want to take part? You can still vote. Not even sure what's going on here? You can still vote.

Poll #2093072 Tenovertwelve

What should be the title of the next tenovertwelve mix CD?

Go Dog Planet!
2(16.7%)
When the madness has died down
0(0.0%)
Tiny Audibles of Love
1(8.3%)
Spring is in the air (bee emoji) (flower emoji)
0(0.0%)
Running, Jumping, Standing Still
1(8.3%)
All Covered up
1(8.3%)
Little moths
1(8.3%)
Numberwang!
3(25.0%)
Build it up, tear it down
3(25.0%)
More panic than anything else
0(0.0%)


*May have happened more than a month ago.
hoodie

The James Kochalka Puppet Theatre

Oh. My. Gosh. Rich from the James Kochalka Puppet Theatre has put up a micromentary about these chaotic cardboard performance stalwarts of many a small press comics convention/day festival/happening. Many a time I enjoyed the explosions of cardboard violence, donated monkeys/robots to the fray, etc. I may even have some bits somwhere, though they normally ended up quite trampled and beery. Very pleased to see that the video also features me in one of my best-loved roles: woman with blue hair sitting on floor surrounded by a chaotic mess of artwork(s). Back in the day!

Neon bitch

this month's compilation : Do you think this world is yours?

It's actually February's compilation, of course, as it was selected on the way into work/on various bus journeys during February. The theme (Garden Pests) was suggested by compilator in the other other place. Improbably, several of the tracks I'd selected had an insectile or greenish theme, so having started by thinking I'd need to add a few things, I ended up thinking - no, that's fine as is. Of course, YMMV. Here's the tracklist:



Protextor & Brother Bear (the openers) probably turned up in the context of CupcaKKe (she helpfully gives a pronunciation guide in the (explicit lyric) track on the comp) and make up the contemporary contribution here. Other than that there is not a lot new on this mix, as I'm still digitising the mix CDs from the compilations shelf. So this is a compilation of compilation tracks, tracks that meant enough to someone else to put them on a comp, and then enough to me to include them on this one.

Here's your Youtube Mix:



Of the videos, the Eels track has a nice we-just-sprayed-ideas-at-a-wall vibe, the Lesbo Pig track (Where it's At is subbing in for Bed Bugs, which is less appropriate for the theme but a lovely slice of history) is sweet and sparkly and Dinosaur Egg explores the extreme lo-fi zone. The Robbie Williams track has a pretty good video too, of course. It's from his purple phase, and borrows heavily from the Pet Shop Boys, including bringing in their dancers, though they don't stick around - most of the video is not so much moody as in a colossal foul mood. The other really significant substitution is for a track called "The theme from The Bean" by a band called "Lovely Andy Roberts". It was off an old comp from the right era and it sounds like the guitar might be my dear departed friend Andy Roberts, but I think the lead vocalist is not him, probably the band only briefly existed and the name was a joke (Andy was lovely of course). I couldn't find it on Youtube so I dropped in a disreputable track called Charlie by an urban country artiste of the same name. Sorry about that -- if you want to hear the original just drop me a line.
Belleh

messing around with my selfie - February compilation

I'd normally draw a picture for the month's compilation, but I didn't this month as the image that occurred when I was listening to it was a selfie. It's a fantastically self-absorbed selection, from John Grant's me/not me of He's got his mother's hips (good video - watch the video) to the the performative angst of Kate Tempest to the adolescent poutings and writhings and screechings of Chai, the Overload, Robbie Williams..... The inclusion of a lot of the tracks (Robbie included) come down to personal history - from the lost seafront of teenaged boredom (hello Kim Wilde, Suzanne Vega) to dirty grungey parties (Transglobal Underground, Chemical Brothers) to walking in circles in muddy festivals big and small (from openers like Day of Grace and Shady Bard to headliners like Chemical Brothers and of course, Robbie). So I knocked out a five-minute spoof of a famous cover, why not:



The glasses look bigger than they are through tricks. This playlist managed to pull in everything (including some crazy obscure local bands so well done them (or possibly Youtube for their attempts to make anything you look for three times appear, like some form of data-fountaining genie) bar the play-out track where you have the rather more polished Gate Away instead of the slightly uncertain but absolutely ravishing Neighbor from Joy/Disaster. It's still a good track. Video-wise you should make time for John Grant, Chai, Circles (Kate Tempest) and probably Janelle Monae too. You might fancy revisiting the Chemical Brothers video too - I remembered it from the first time round. The rest of it can play in the background.



As ever, leave a comment if you want any details. I've had interest from a few people in the other places wanting to do comp-swapping, so we've restarted the #tenovertwelve comp-swap so anyone fancies doing their own compilation, this month's theme was "All is calm, all is bright" (as you can see, I adapted the theme a bit) and all entries welcome - post with the hashtag and tag in myself ( @cleanskies @mrsjeremyday ) or @oxfordhacker. We'll be announcing a new theme soon.
grinnybird

January with the Longbridges Crows

I'm worried about Gil. Gil is the youngest of the tow-path crows, a sqab from last year, with flight feathers still pale and sparse. When I glance back to see their slightly crooked imitation of the parents' expert solicitation flights, bits of wings turn translucent, the bitter white light of winter mornings shining through. Gil is Dave and Sal's first squab, and he (or she - it's hard to tell with crows) is small. I've seen them feeding Gil, wings a-flurry with frantic begging. But is that happening enough? I worry that they might be making rookie errors like "he's small, he doesn't need much food" or "not feeding her will motivate her better to find food". Dave and Sal, the Horse Paddock pair, were the only couple to breed last year. Harry and Em (the original Longbridges crows, an established couple and parents to Dave) didn't breed last year. I don't know why. 2018 is the first year they've not had at least one squab, in the years since I started feeding them.

Solicitation Flight: A curved flight made around a food source (in this case, me and my box of nuts) a bit above head height. They'll normally follow up by sitting on a prominent branch and cawing loudly. Once in a blue moon they'll shuffle their wings a bit, too, but that's really a squab move, and adults crows like to keep food transactions on the level.

When I first started feeding Harry, I had a feeling that I wasn't the first. This January I'm definitely not the crow's one and only. Someone is feeding them chopped nuts, millet, and what looks like mixed seed for larger cage birds. I wonder if my co-feeder is a bereaved parrot owner. A wandering parrot turned up on Nextdoor about a month ago, but the story went silent, as it often does when things don't end well. Crows are smart, sociable, garrulous and happy to interact with humans. They're the closest things we have to a parrot in this country, and while the Longbridges Crows aren't tame, they're comprehensively habituated. You could come to them to remember what it was like, having a bird of your own.

Habituated: Accustomed to human presence, will not flee when humans approach. Crows are discriminating enough that they can be habituated for some humans, or decide how habituated they are depending on what the human is carrying. One day I walked along the tow-path carrying a pull-up banner slung over my shoulder in a black carry tube. The crows would not approach and hid from me, presumably because Harry or Em knew what a gun looked like.

The Longbridges territory has four crows in residence at the moment; Harry, the patriarch and/or matriarch (it's hard to tell with crows) and their mate, Em, who regards me with suspicion. Max, their squab from two years ago, now a handsome, healthy, glossy sub-adult, and one of the twin squabs from the year before that make up the four. Arbritrarily I'll decide it's Leia and that Luke's the one that's turned up at the Cricket Field territory down the tow-path, but it could be the other way round. There was a fifth, who turned up late last summer when Harry was having a hard moult and disappeared for a fortnight, but they weren't popular with me or the family (I called him/her "bad smell" because of they way they kept hanging around) and they finally flew off in early January. The remaining four are harmonious and healthy enough that I have high hopes for this breeding season, though it's too early for them yet to be sprucing up the nest site (a tree in the nature reserve opposite Long Bridges).

Moult: All birds shed their feathers and replace them, usually annually, in late summer or early autumn. This is a pretty hard time for a bird; there are periods of being unable to fly, poor insulation and waterproofing, it's absolutely knackering, and they're very vulnerable to predators. When Harry disappeared for so long I worried that the moult had done them in, one way or another. Harry's no spring chicken, after all. When Harry came back I cheered and punched the air.

The Horse Paddock pair, Dave and Sal (again, I'm making assumptions - I first met one of them as Harry and Em's subadult helpers, Dave and Sue, and I'm assuming that it's Dave I'm still seeing, and that Sue has moved on) also nest in the Nature reserve, in another tree on the riverbank, but they're still having to give a lot of care to Max. I'm almost hoping they don't decide to breed this year, to give Max the best chance, but given that they managed a squab last year, with such terrible weather, maybe I'm underestimating them.

Subadult: Crows, like many intelligent animals, take several years to reach breeding age. During these years they will hang out with older relatives, helping with foraging, nest-building, cacheing food, mobbing predators and feeding any squabs. Subadults are little more slender than full adults, as well as being substantially dafter.

Down at the modernist boat-house, Luke (or possibly Leia, or possibly even Sue or Dave) has re-surfaced with a new partner. An adolescent crow gang hangs out in the cricket field beyond the boat house, and initially I saw them as a gang, but as January went on it became a couple, albeit not a very secure one, yet. I'm spotting a third bird, sneaking around the trees, curious about me, interested in the couple. I wonder if unrelated adolescents might join couples sometimes to become a helper/additional mate. You can easily see where the value might be for a young couple uncertain that they're successfully pair bonded.

Pair Bonded: Crows mate for life, with the usual provisos - some pair bonded couples will split up, if one dies they will (sometimes, not always) seek another mate, there will sometimes be swaps, changes, break-ups.

The Cricket Field Crow Gang has a mirror crow gang across the river, in university parks. One of them knows me, and drifts across the river for a chat and some nuts from time to time. That's probably the last of my original habituates - Luke? Sue? I'm not great at telling them apart.

Crows. They're handsome birds, but look very similar. A few of them have behavioural tics that help - Dave, for example, likes to rock on dead branches, and ocassionally breaks them off, and seems to find this funny. Harry is very big and has a human-pleasing strut, which I suspect he cultivates. Max does an odd little hop-dance when I glance back to look at them feeding, a little nervousness perhaps going back to their squab year, when they were kept strictly away from me, bar a single introductory visit.

I do wonder sometimes what they make of me. A food source, semi-reliable, garrulous and chatty? Walks, talks, throws nuts? A little too tolerant of the magpies? If they have a name for me (and why not, I have names for them) it's probably something like Bright-headed messy eater. Or maybe just nuts.
princess rosalind

hourly comics day : meet snow day

So, hourly comics day came, and so did the snow. I started off trying to go a bit more up-class than last year, with a stylish chiaroscuro image of myself being woken up with by an alarm clock, drawn in smart Sharpie shadows. But it wasn't right for the stuck-at-home, still-at-work, nothing-working, everything snowed-in nature of the day. I ended up screwing it up and chucking it away. And then retrieving it from the bin to look at it (all the while picking up my emails, running the checks on the websites, getting ready for Safer Internet Day, etc.) I went upstairs and pulled out all my half-used notepads. I found an AVG "Be Yourself" notepad I'd got free at a tech conference and a black bic biro. Ready to work the day. And what a day it was. Here, in a highlight scene, I am riding a giant grasshopper as part of a Brexit metaphor:

oh-grasshopper-colour.jpg

Read on for snowpeople, amazing cold weather fashion choices, the most amazing Eggs Benedict in Oxford right now, fancy tea, mysterious raptors, e-learning, experimental cocktails, macaroni cheese, and a child feeding a deer in a housing estate. Also, a lot of pictures of Scribble. Collapse )
princess rosalind

December's compilation: Strobe Lights | You're High

I find it strange how the songs that become truly attached to the grieving process aren't necessarily the ones which describe anything about what you're missing. Thus somehow Sleeper's Statuesque has become indissolubly attached to losing Harley, for all that it's basically a song about proposing a dirty hook-up in a hotel with someone you probably shouldn't. It's also a great song, and I won't lose it as something to enjoy, it's just become more weirdly complex, and maybe that is what the song is about, after all, how sometimes straightforward things like lust and loss are actually weirdly complex, and just get stranger the closer you look at them.

It was a sad end to the year, and herself is prominent of course, but I wouldn't call it a sad mix, to be honest. Toyah's bonker's space opera The Vow, the jittery dirty art-pop of Marie Davidson and B.E.D., Art Brut in an exuberant mood and the Willem Breuker Kollektief doing something unmentionable to Haydn. That said, I'd have a cup of tea handy, because there are sad songs. Some pretty good videos this time too - vintage footage of Toyah and the Smiths, some inexplicable videos (the one from Mirrors is especially eh....) - so you might want to window it and watch full-screen here and there.



There's a cover, which was hard to do. It's based on a dream I had. I used my beautiful new Neon ink set, with logwood black for the background. The front pieces are just sharpie on old photocopies, a comfort combination, because having sketched it once, I didn't want to draw it over again, so just went over and over the original rough.

picturedisk

november on the tow path - the light is fading fast

November was a hard month for me, even before my cat suddenly died. I was tearing into a series of complications and difficulties I had been carrying for years, from insomnia to childhood trauma to dental issues, and was busy, busy, busy at home and work. But no matter how rough the terrain, the soundtrack was spectacular. We went to some good gigs - Metric, Idles, Brix and the Extricated, Heaven 17. We were practising hard for our next gig, which suddenly turned into another gig in December after we played the November spot in the Cellar - the night the Cellar was saved in a crowdfunded frenzy which simmered through the day then exploded in the evening, as we played - I nipped upstairs to check the crowdfunder and it was done. Music was suddenly everywhere, consolation and commiseration, discovery and exploration.

November's compilation, The Light is Fading Fast, is a hard mix of peak and bleak:



Most of these tracks don't have videos or have videos of no great interest, so you can play it in another tab - your substitutions are Shit & Shine, who seem to be stuck in the "only full albums" phase of putting their stuff on Youtube, so I've put in something else that remixes some of their rhythms (or possibly another band with the same name as there seem to have been several) and The Victorian English Gentleman's Club where you have Impossible instead of Atchoo which is not the same but never mind sorted thanks timscience. Metric bookends the mix to soften the heartbreak. Oh, there was one video worth watching:



Hot Chip's One Pure Thought which, for a track that came out over ten years ago, really managed to capture the flavour of the moment, for me, at least.

ETA, I did a cover, too.

november-the-light-is-fading-fast.jpg