I had aspirations of writing some kind of add-on for WordPress so I could list stuff which I’m currently liking, however it seems a lot easier at this juncture just to write a blog post about it. And why not, eh? Here goes… (the links are all in the titles – for some reason this stylesheet’s made links the same colour as the normal text. Because that makes sense…)
Band: The Beyonders
Bouncy but versatile rockers Mark, Pato & Jorge have been getting a good bit of rotation in my iTunes lately – keep an eye out for their “Alaskan Devil”, and the slightly more laid back “Supersensation”. They’ve got quite a few gigs coming up in London, so get in for a look!
T-shirt: Drink Beer and Carry On
An extension of the charmingly stiff-upper-lipped “Keep Calm And Carry On” rediscovery that’s been doing the rounds here lately, the Drink Beer & Carry On shirts remind us of that quintessentially British quality, especially in the face of the swathes of pubs that are closing weekly at the moment. I’d like to see a lot of these shirts out & about this summer – people getting on with the business of drinking British beer at British pubs.
Something: Neuro Linguistic Programming
NLP techniques can be quite an effective way to re-train your brain into the way it responds to an idea – the concept being that if you want to change something about your life you decide what it is, then apply NLP techniques to get a better result more in-line with your current goals. It’s not about controlling people or making them do things against their will.
Skeptics say there’s no proven neurological basis for these things, but if the techniques work effectively with no negative effect or self-deluding belief being formed, then that’s good enough for me.
I recently did a week-long NLP Practitioner course, run by JAM Global. Already I think it’s helped me get on top of a couple of long-standing issues, and given me an insight into interpersonal relationships. Plus it was a really cool group of people.
Band: Coppers For Karma
These three blokes make a quite pleasing racket, and crucially give a break from the tedium of the 8 or 16 bar 4/4 introduction. Their song “Talk To Frank” pleaseth me greatly. Heard live they’re even better – big-sounding basswork that sounds like it knows where it’s going.
Pub: The Gunmakers
Life seems more “normal” when you’ve got a regular pub to go to, and despite not being anywhere near where most of us need to be, The Gunmakers has become ours. And by “ours”, I mean “mine” (plus the lucky individuals I manage to convince along on any particular evening). It’s just my idea of a perfect boozer though – the beer’s always in spectacular condition**, the food is consistently excellent, the level of service is far and away better than any pub I’ve been to in London yet, and it’s just generally a nice place to be. Sometimes it’s a little crowded, but during the week we’re not talking ludicrous gladiatorial crowds – just enough to have a nice buzz going. And the landlord & his staff seem like top sorts.
It’s located on Eyre Street Hill, Clerkenwell – not open on weekends though.
Band: David Goo
Saw these at the same time as The Beyonders & Coppers For Karma (qv), and was perilously close to heading home for the evening, when The David Goo Variety Band took the stage blew my tiny mind. There’s about 9 of them (which always impresses me to start with, because it shows a high level of calendar wrangling) on various instruments – in addition to the usual rock lineup there’s notably a cello. We’re talking a Frank Zappa influenced Mr Bungle like sound – a highly skilled and regimented anarchy, but always listenable. The songs on their Myspace aren’t nearly representative of how well they play live. Am DEFINITELY checking these guys out again as soon as possible.
(starts about a minute in)
Podcast: The Bugle
Massively underrated comics Andy Zaltzman and John Oliver take propogating authoritative-sounding bullshit to the next level in their weekly “Audio Newspaper for a visual world”, described as political satire. I just can’t get enough of this stuff – so much so that I thought I’d provide an example, and started typing out one of Zaltzman’s pitches. Halfway through I realised just how much he actually talks, and I’m now including it not only because I find it funny, but also because it took me bloody ages to type.
Welcome to February. This is the first February broadcast of the 2009 calendar year. February of course the newest month of the 12 current first choice months being used at the moment. Roman king Numa Pompilus invented February , and its close buddy January, when he realised that the Romans were wasing the first 59 days of the year sitting around doing Sweet Jemima Crankshaft waiting for March to begin. Now of course being the last month to be discovered February had to make do with the last few remaining scrap days left over after the other months had had their fill, plus 12 days given to it by September, which until then had clocked in at a big fat distended 42 days. For more than a thousand years February was roundly teased by all the other months until St Valentine, the patron saint of hackneyed chatup lines and clumsy parties posted himself anonymously to a nun he fancied on the 10th of February one year, arriving by second class post 4 days later, a hungry, cold, and urine-soaked Valentine tumbled out of his cardboard & bubblewrap package onto the dance floor and recited these lines: “Roses are red, Violets are blue, I’m a rhino in bed and I’ll bet you are too, Love from – guess who”… before the nun smashed him over the head with a bronze Virgin Mary trophy she’d won the previous day as Miss Chaste for 53 AD. Valentine slumped to the floor, mumbled “I wouldn’t mind breaking YOUR habits”. She clonked him again, he burbled “Sister? Sizzler , more like”. She booted him in the side of the head with her size 9 Magdalen-3000 Nun Boots, and he whispered, “I love you so much, I’m falling to bits – now whip off your wimple and show me your-“, at which point she bodyslammed him, whilst screaming “Hail Mary, full in your face!”. And Valentine died instantly, but happily. Of course the big saint was then commemorated by Valentine’s Day, which along with February’s relaunch as the “end of winter month” thrust it into the mainstream as a month, where it has remained ever since. It’s been Month Of The Year of 14 occasions, most recently in 1935.
Software: Google Analytics Reporting Suite
Anyone who’s interested in looking at their website stats can now free themselves of having to click through the Google Analytics web interface, thanks to the sexy Flash-based offering of the Google Analytics Reporting Suite. It makes pretty graphs, as well as easily providing a way to navigate around all the information in there – and crucially it provides easy access to multiple website stats!
Fairly tediously, I’d started writing all that, and was just firing up the program to get more specific when I learned that the authors have concluded their beta phase, and have released their software as a commercial offering – entitled “Polaris”. The new interface sucks, and is wholly less functional, and extremely irritatingly you have to pay for the software if you want to be able to view multiple sites’ stats. Thankfully the free single-site-view product shows me all I need to avoid wasting money on the multi-site one. Unlike its namesake missile, which was surface-to-surface, I think the best thing for this software would be to fire it irretrievably into space.
So they can piss off, anyway.
One of the cool things about living in London is that there’s so many things going on here all the time. One drawback though is that there’s so many things going on it becomes tricky to filter out the interesting stuff from the rest. This is where Londonist comes in – the writing team keep an eye on what’s going on out there and sift out the finest nuggets to share with the readers, covering theatre, music, art, food, history, and various other miscellaneous stuff. You can frequently learn stuff from reading Londonist – one of my favourite series of posts was a foot journey following the now underground Thames tributary, the River Tyburn.
Comedians: David Mitchell
He doesn’t really need any extra linking, but I’ve got to acknowledge the genius of the man – after gaining popularity with the excellent & bizarre Peep Show, and widespread coverage in the Mac vs. PC commercials, Mitchell’s turning up all over the shop: Mock the Week, Would I Lie To You, The News Quiz, Just A Minute, The Unbelievable Truth… His chief appeal appears to lie in his fact-based intolerance of contemporary pointlessness, and the outraged tirades based thereon.
He totally cracks me up: I’m not sure what other people get out of his work, but my primary reaction is elation that someone’s saying these things, and jealousy that I couldn’t say it the way he does either in terms of method of expression, or firm grasp of the facts making up the basis of the rant.
OK, well that’ll do for now. I wouldn’t want to give the impression I’ve taken to just liking everything.