Monthly Archives: June 2007


I found a wee cupboard today. Cosy looking, has a light but no windows. I think it’s meant for servers, but they’ren’t any servers in there. Just next to the kitchen and there’s plenty cereal. I could hide in there and it would be nice for a time. Could read magazines and stuff. Be dead good.

comedy and hangovers

A week of hangovers and not learning to stop drinking. Here follows some talk about pre-Edinburgh festival shows.

Lowdown at the Albany

Nice pub, Albany. Downstairs in the cellar bar (hence, “Lowdown”) is the classic setup, 70 people sweating in a tiny basement bar. A stage in the corner is big enough to swing a squirrel through maybe 270 degrees.

daniel kitsonI’m fully expecting Daniel Kitson to go through his new show, It’s the Fireworks Talking. After the poignancy-bomb of Stories for the Wobbly Hearted last year, I am excited.

I am rapidly disillusioned. Kitson has perfected that particular piece and has no need to polish off any rough edges on us expectant four-pound-paying plebs. He admits as much – “I thought I would be working on a show… this is the gig I didn’t want”. So he keeps the gold for Edinburgh and we get a ragbag of natter instead.

For the first 45 minutes he rambles and rails about minutiae, chiefly around what he last made for his tea. He fucks about with random objects. He fucks about with the PA. The air conditioning. Something in his eye.

Amazingly it’s still worthwhile. The delivery is confident and relaxed, though it seems his stutter is magnified when he’s not delivering prepared monologues. He gives us well over an hour, perhaps to make up for the lack of structure. The audience are involved and leave happy.

The rule still applies – always go and see Daniel Kitson.

Old Coffee House

It’s an odd transition. From the super-cool Soho street (just around the corner from Carnaby) you squeeze up the OCH’s narrow stairs to emerge in your Gran’s spare room. Old pictures, prehistoric wallpaper and just 24 rickety chairs, packed in three rows so that the front row actually have their knees touching the performer. Every Tuesday they run a warmup for Edinburgh shows.

josie longJosie Long is charming. Her beaming chat is infectious, matey; your talented best pal spinning anecdotes and weaving a theme together. Now and again glimpses of the real theatrical talent and clever wordsmithing. You want to pick up her mannerisms and use them. Exemplary deployment of swearing.

paul footPaul Foot is a walking apoplexy. Picture Edmund Blackadder (between series 1 and 2), give him a Parkinson’s judder and you’re just about there. The precise, affected speech of an Edwardian city gent. Somewhat eccentric, seemingly free of self doubt, some naivety. A very long section on being gay – I wonder if this his first ‘out’ routine. Again the crowd leave happy, buoyed by his ceaseless, random movement and energy.


sad iPodSad news – he’s dead. My little silver buddy, stalwart yeoman of iTunes, is no more.

Ed Is dead. Merry go bye bye.

My iPod has finally shuffled off this mortal coil and gone to join the choir invisible. And gone so young! After just two short years of life.

Sure, there were good times, bad times. Even violence. But this morning on startup I felt his cold silvery back, and there were none of the usual good vibrations – the hard drive was silent; flatlined.

In an effort to find the cure I’ve tried charging, resetting, diagnosing, disk mode – but nothing works. The wee sad face remains inconsolable. It’s hard not to feel rage against the machine – I mean hey, that’s no way to say goodbye.

My only option now is to follow the trail of dead iPods to the Apple store and buy a new one.

London and laptops

I haven’t got the hang of the London summer weather yet. Because it’s always tropic-ass warm I just whack the T-shirt on with scant regard for rain forecasts. And get surprised when I’m pishing wet and my specs a blurry aqua mosaic.

[techie blethers]

poundMajor decision of the day: after looking at notebooks for ages, I’m buying a Dell XPS M1710. I decided I might actually die before the Alienware M9750 (dual core CPU, dual SLI cards) arrives in the UK. The other SLI setups (e.g. Alienware M9700) are pish and CPU-bottlenecked – you need the top end CPUs.

Tough choice between the Dell and the Rock Xtreme CTX Pro, which had a keypad, better disk options etc. Apart from build quality and quietness, the real clinchers were

  1. If you phone up Dell you can get a Blu-ray drive in there, w00t.
  2. If you Google enough, you can dig up shady Dell coupons – I got 10% off. Had to bluff it though, “Where did I get my coupon? *thinks* Uh, I can’t remember, was it Sky? Sorry mate, do I get my 10% off then?”. The guy checked with his manager then actually went, “You’ve just got your blu-ray drive for free, congratulations”.

[/techie blethers]

Got a bitchin’ hairchop at TaylorTaylor from a wee spanish dude. Taking a wander around Spitalfields is an experience in itself. Lots of near-Nathan Barley style going on. It’s great, but there are trade-offs in choosing where to be in the big city.

My necka the woods is pretty, modern and quiet, but at the same time crawling with tourists and kind of sterile; lacking in style. Good for a first effort, and close to work, but not where I’d want to be for much longer. When you go somewhere cooler though, the flats get more decrepit, the streets noisier, the tube harder to get to *bitch* *moan*


swedish flagDid you know that the Swedish celebrated midsummer? Neither did I.

In London, several hundred of the handsome peoples congregate in Hyde Park, forming a sprawling blue and yellow uber-picnic centred around a flower-decked maypole.

There is drinking. There are outdoor games of the throw-things-about variety. Stocks of marinated herring are decimated. The best bit though is watching the traditional maypole dances.

AkhilleusDepending on the level of drunkenness, everyone jigs or stumbles around in a circle singing children’s songs and doing all the actions (hopping about pretending to be a frog… then a duck… and also – inexplicably – a rocket). Kind of like getting pished on Buckie down the park with your pals and singing Bobby Bingo, or maybe Heads, Knees and Toes. There is some photo evidence.

I recommend it, contact your local Swede for details. Actually I was asked if the Scots have any similar pagan gigs, and only remembered afterward Beltane (especially the Edinburgh version).

I was also impressed with the super-manly statue of Akhilleus down by Hyde Park Corner. The big lad was apparently forged from French cannon captured after Waterloo, which resonated pleasantly with me as I’m reading that Jonathan Strange book just now.

I also used a bicycle to get around London for the first time. Pretty good fun in a small convoy, running red lights, dodging taxis, not being broken like a rag doll by buses, that kind of thing. Actually having to navigate above ground was a novelty, Morlock tube-dweller that I am.

unremitting bleakness = panic

manhuntFirst of all, pull on your tight, black, leather gloves and have a sinister chuckle at our previous Manhunt post from 2004.

The unrepentant sequel, Manhunt 2 is due out in July. Hint: no gold-coin-collecting and princess-saving in this one either.

The real shocker this time is not the level of violence – predictably high – but the reaction of the BBFC, who have decided that only an outright ban is appropriate for the UK public.

No game at all. For anybody.

Bad puppy. As they say:

“Manhunt 2 is distinguishable from recent high-end video games by its unremitting bleakness and callousness of tone in an overall game context which constantly encourages visceral killing with exceptionally little alleviation or distancing”

Speaking personally, any game featuring – unforgettably – ‘unremitting bleakness’ is on my buy list. You can get some of Rockstar’s response, which is as rational as you might expect but will achieve little.

The first game to get an outright ban – ridiculously in retrospect – was Carmageddon, for the concept of reward for *chuckle* running over blind pedestrians. Back then in 1997, the publishers appealed, and actually overturned the ban.

That’s unlikely to happen in this case.

cleaverBut they can play it in the US, right?

In the US they have a classification, Adults Only (AO). The only game to get this rating to date is… GTA San Andreas. But only after the foot-shooting Hot Coffee debacle.

Unfortunately, while this classification makes sense, Sony and Nintendo have self-censored and made it their policy never to allow AO titles to run on their kit.

This is predictable from Nintendo (SNES Mortal Kombat), but Sony? Ouch.

Why god why?

But is it really more dangerous than the first game? Tim Smith presents more plausible reasons for the ban of a game which – very likely – is no more in need of censorship than the first:

  1. Fear of media response. The Daily Mail effect.
  2. Atonement. Simply ‘correcting for’ their leniency with MH1.

The point the BBFC is really making is that their classification system just doesn’t work, and that we need a further measure: PG, 12, 15, 18, outright ban.

And how many outright bans of books or films end up looking ridiculous after a short span of years?

All of them.

band shrapnel

wolfJonathan Fire*Eater were great. Their singer Stewart Lupton yelped and yowled his way around some truly great couplets. The organ and drums were distinctive and made your eyebrows vibrate and limbs itch respectively.

When that band fell apart in 1997, most of them survivors formed The Walkmen, who turned out to be great in their own way. Lupton himself disappeared for ten years, which was a tragedy of minor proportions…

Only for him to reappear a few months ago as part of new outfit The Childballads. After all that time, I move to London and hear about them too late, missing the comeback gigs by six weeks. Sigh.

In a similar fashion, anyone fond of defunct ultra-literate “post-hardcore” band Million Dead might be interested in their offshoots The Quiet Kill (noise instrumentals) and Frank Turner (appalling acoustic, it seems).

PS. got Sound of Silver today. All My Friends couldn’t be more like Secret Machines if they tried. Really hard, with a special device of some kind.

just the stats, ma’am

graphWith the newest version of the can’t-praise-it-enough WordPress, we get statistics and some insight into what people are actually doing reading taking fire.

At the moment TF averages between 60-90 hits per day (general upward trend, with a record 96 hits yesterday). Lots of hits are from people coming in to old entries from search engines.

things people search for

People search for very weird, puerile things. And the results frequently point to TF, which probably says something about us. Recent sampling with links to entries:


And then of course there are the searches for names which have been mentioned on these pages.

  • Yvonne Dagan is a popular term on Google, believe it or not. Thanks to bean we are the sole hit on the web for this lady.
  • Dave Draper should also be unnerved by the fact that people are searching for him, and coming here.
  • Last but not least, I am amazed by the enduring appeal of Eileen Kinnear, a Google search that leads here at least 2 or 3 times every day. Totally justified though.