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Van Demons Allotment

I've been feeling a bit down this month, of what source I don't know. Obviously the denture is bugging me, and I got a bit ill, and I've been feeling the cold (although, as my mum reminded me, it's obviously got quite cold again) and there's a sense at work of a changing of the guard, what with my boss leaving, and a whole bunch of other people leaving, and me feeling like what I'm doing isn't exactly gripping me any more, or isn't quite in the place of what's happening that I need to be operating in any more. I need to not parlay this into leaving though; if I leave near learning I theoretically have to pay back tuition. So for the next 18 months to a year I'm doing what I'm doing, whatever it is that I'm doing. But I feel like I need something new.

So, the allotment. It turned up on the Yammer at work, in the manner of these things, just as I was fretting about a bunch of squash seedlings I'd just germinated and didn't have space for, and a blueberry bush that has outgrown my garden, wondering if anyone with an allotment might want to take them. Instead I took an allotment. It's on Van Dieman's lane, a tiny interstitial residential plot-set of about fifteen plots backing onto gardens with plumbed in water-troughs to fill your watering can (speaking of which, I need a galvanised watering can I can paint DAY on in rough red letters, where do I get one of those? Ebay?)

It's been a bit neglected for a few years, and it does need a bit of work. But the allotment sheds contain communal strimmers and a mower to get things started, and above all, it's a good plot. The previous occupants had left down a bit of weed supressor and the soil underneath was lovely stuff. Here it is:

There's a load of crap in there; paving stones, a sort of compost-y thing, some herb bushes. Discoveries await! Not tonight though because it's bloody freezing.
As for January, you have a few of my running tracks in the mix, but not till the speed-up at the end. There are a couple of great videos to get you started - first up Joe Goddard being all gooey in a kebab, and then Massive Attack doing their total unconcern thing - this time in the face of people breaking into their apartment with chainsaws. We have a couple of weird vintage items - Nik Kershaw's moderately successful single Dancing Girls with its VERY 80s video, and Lowgold's Beauty Dies Young, whose eye-popping video in its day (early 00s) was famed for its utter incomprehensibility and mismatch with song. Live shows this time are a vintage Bowie and some semi-pro live recordings of amazing new Natalie Sharp (Wrangler, Tuung, Benge) project Lone Taxidermist. In a category all of its own is David McCallum's Communication, from his Man from UNCLE spin-off music release "Open Channel D". My substitutions this month come from bands I know, suggesting I should spend some time uploading, but eh... it's not my music. So instead of KaitO's Bow Wow you have Shoot Shoot (also great) and Linus's Way on Down has morphed into the lovely Lovers of London. There is a tiny snippet of lum col con pix (experimental turntable serialism) instead of the full track on the original mix. It is a tuneful one, by lum col con pix standards, but this is probably best for a Youtube mix. I found a fan video of "I wish I was a polar bear" that's just footage of Polar Bears, but otherwise most of the end tracks you can just leave playing in the background - there's occasional pretty visuals, but nothing worth coming off tab for. Good luck staying still to the Skrillex/Nero track though - it's an everything accelerator.

Hourly Comics Day 2018

So, yes, Hourly Comics Day. It was a wee bit of a busy day for me, so I apologise in advance for the chaotic nature of the art. Oh bloody hell, livejournal, really??? Reverse order!!!!????

OK, let me just fix that....

Right, fixed. So, obviously I didn't ink anything, this is rough pencils. I've gone over it today where things were illegible or so badly spelled to be incomprehensible. Oh, and the final page, because I ran out of blank paper for that one and drew on the back of an old print-out and of course you need the pencil to be quite hard over that or the scanner sees the pencil and the printer ink through the paper as the same tone, making the post-process very hard. Equally obviously there were points in the day where I wasn't in a position to draw (the three hour meeting, e.g.) so some of the drawing was done in bunches. But it was all completed on the day - as my triumphant twitter post demonstrates. You've got a bigger picture on click, and there are some footnotes between pages to help out artfail/clear up ambiguities/make it clear that I'm a colossal Squirrel Girl fan.

Footnote break alert! I'm going to have a bath, then finish them later tonight.


I wasn't very clear about what a Butler Brush is.


That wasn't a great picture of our bread bin.


Read my review of Sweet Charity here, and check out Rich Man's Frug here.


That wasn't a great picture of my hanging basket - I got the handle wrong!! It's one of the stove top kettles I wrecked by boiling dry before I got over the whole stove top kettle thing. Caraway Beef is a thing.


Paul's bizarre and lovely floating led circles are part of our new huge commercial/entertainment space, The Westgate. I only have to alter my walk to work a tiny bit to swing by it. The Keep Cup test is how the baristas respond when you hand them a keep cup. Paul's made me an excellent cup of coffee and then asked me if I wanted them to put the lid on if I'd rather do it myself, which is a pass with flying colours.


This is a terrible picture of my cake-enthusiast colleague, and doesn't really do justice to the cake either.


That WTF moment should be familiar to anyone who's ever managed a website. I've just discovered that a database is not acting as expected, an hour before I'm due in a meeting twenty minutes away. Catch my earworm here.


Never seen a restorative window before? Knock yourself out, but keep it restorative!


My top actually has decorative lions and tigers on it, not weird squiggles.


Any wireless access which requires log-on via a web gateway is a colossal pain in the arse, even if you're not using a secure tunnel system plus a variety of secure long-on to web delivered systems locked to IP, which we are.


Very understated menstruation scene for an autobiographical comic.


I'm not working late (remember how late I got in) I'm working flexibly. I'm probably the only person in the world who calls work experience students WEx students. I did get through to him on the phone in the end. Eventually.


Here's the take me to the mountains lobster, over on @mrsjeremyday's instagram. I liked the paperchase own brand flexi fabric bound A5 blank pads, but those have been discontinued. What will I do my page-a-day in now?


We're doing Couch to 5K, in case that wasn't clear. Also: What could be better, than fighting fire with you?


In case you missed A Game of Crows.


They're actually called Chocolate Gemstones. Oh, and did you miss phenomenally stupid phone game Kleptocats?


I am wearing a Future of the Left t-shirt. Ooh look, the cat of the day calendar is still available. Tearevv is the Manchester tea blender. Ooh, valentine blends.


Photograph of the warring cats.
So, a sweet and farewell to 2018 and here's my last on-the-go-comp of the year. You have, I am sorry, a quantity of substitutions in December's playlist. But there are also some must-watches (including one of the subs) so that's OK. First up, bloody hell Fader (Benge's new project) just one track available to UK audiences? So I'm starting you on the wrong foot. You should be listening to A Trip to the Coast. Instead you have first light, which is still good, however. Hannah Peel, similarly won't let anyone in the UK watch Nailhouse II on Youtube. You have Harbour, which at least puts the sea back into the playlist. Lizzo isn't going to let anyone see Go in the UK - but my substitute (Humanize) is one of the three must-watch videos on the playlist (the others are Los Ageless by St Vincent and Nancy Drew by Sløtface). I'll also grumble at Autobahn, but only mildly as to be honest there's not a lot of difference between Vessel and Society. The mix ends with not one, but two torchsongs, because it's Christmas/the New Year, let's push the boat out. One is a second track by St Vincent, and she's playing it live, wearing latex arm warmers and playing a neon yellow guitar. The other has some crazy dance moves!

The title of the playlist may be based on the "I regret nothing but my regrets" quote by oh who honstly knows, but takes a different position, morally. I may regret many things - but I certainly regret my regrets.

In officially annoying news, he last itunes update broke burning playlists to discs. I don't know, I'm not sure why I'm carrying on doing it to be honest. It's a hack that makes me create a visually interesting artefact every month, but it seems a bit wasteful. Maybe 2017 should be my last.

November's playlist through new speakers

For the last year or so, my computer "speakers" (an ipod base station I bought from a cheapie bookstore for All Tomorrow's Parties many moons ago) have been increasingly problematic. It had always had a bit of an earth buzz, which I would dissipate briefly through unplugging, hand-earthing and jiggling when it peaked into serious badness, but in recent months the buzz had been unstoppable and I'd had to crank up the music to drown it out, at which point the deficiencies of the speakers became very obvious indeed. Today I listened through this playlist on brand new Yamaha computer speakers with a silky bass, sweet clarity and not a trace of earth buzz, a Christmas present from my dearly beloved timscience. This set is 100% no substitutions, I think - no, wait. You have the original of Ode to Boy by Yazoo, rather than the orientation-flip rework by Strange Angels - a gay man looking at a straight man instead of a woman looking at a gay man Alison Moyet looking at Vince Clarke. Both versions are great; if you've never heard Moyet's tense, almost angry tribute to her former bandmate, that's the song you should listen to, but listen to them all of course. The playlist is called Joe's Lonely Autumn after three-songs-on-the-playlist Joe Goddard of Hot Chip; he did a solo album this year. It's great.

the justified ancients of mumu dream

I just woke up from a dream in which I was infiltrating the Justified Ancients of Mumu. They were about their regular work, putting on experimental art shows in abandoned units off the side of recently set-up experiential science exploratoriums for children. I purchased a ticked from the Science Volunteer on the door.

"I know this sounds funny but is there any way you could take a child in with you?" she said, "It's just there's very limited space inside."
"It's OK," I said, "I know what I want to see. I'll go in, boom and done - like a surgical strike."

I stepped into the gloom. Already there were purple ponchos drifting about. But something had occurred to me. I popped my head back round the door. "Or you could give my plus-one to someone with a plus-two," I said to the Science Volunteer, miming a woman wrangling two children.

I trailed a purple poncho through a side door. Although the ponchos were supposed to be a leveller, erasing identity and status through the adoption of a common garb, they had instantly diversified. Some had comfortable, well-fitting ponchos which tidily shadowed the face and shrouded the form; officials of Mumu. Some were made of sweet fabrics and decorated with sequins; financing the gig, or art-scene accelerators. Then there were a lot shrugging into simple tacked-up stage-cloth ponchos, laughing and joking - roadies and art students, rolling cables and staplegunning protest to the walls. The stages and artworks were in busy set-up. It looked like fun. But I was on a mission.

I don't actually know who the enemy is, as the dream is operating on a need-to-know basis, and I don't need to know. Earlier scenes have suggested that it may be the Neo-liberal Techno-assimilatory elite; something about the unnecessary smoothness and elaboration of their weapons, and the way they always come from unexpected directions when they're trying to kill you.

What I need to know is that there is an operational machine gun waiting for me in a roof-height sculpture made of fused and melted weapons, covered in graffiti, and ammunition behind the toilet in an unused upstairs bathroom (accessed via the orange stairs). Further instructions will follow.


All of which suggests that the Drummond Dream Cannon (Patent Pending) is already operational.
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.


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.


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.