Monday, June 27, 2005

Not that this needs more advertising...

But here's a link to Eclectech and Doghorse's ID Cards Song.

Thursday, June 23, 2005

Have a story.

(This, incidentally, is my first evar fiction post on the Rhexis. It's a short, ~3,500-word tale inspired by Alfred Noyes' poem The Highwayman. Hope you enjoy it.)

STAND AND DELIVER

By Oscillating Hazelnut, June 2005

Martin Smith trundled down the Kingsway at half past eight on a thoroughly unimpressive Tuesday morning. The sort of morning that is more made of base metal than of gold. Grey. Slightly overcast. Wet. The Today programme exposing the latest government scandal (something about a mid-level Labour party minister caught embezzling public money and spending it on a half-million-pound luxury home) on the radio. The usual steel and aluminium sewage that was London traffic with its stench of smoke reduced his speed enough that he considered whether he really needed a flashy Mercedes-Benz sports coupe as there was just the one of him, and that progress down the street would be more fuel-efficient if he just got out and pushed. So all things considered, a very average morning.

Well, he would have considered it average up until the point at which he heard a gunshot about ten feet behind him, which prompted just about everyone stuck in the ubiquitous London traffic to turn round and gasp in shock. After all, commuters only believed that shootings took place after dark in “The Smoke.” What he saw was quite, quite, quite, out of the ordinary indeed, for approaching his window was a thick-set man riding a slightly decrepit – but serviceable - Harley-Davidson motorbike, wearing a black trenchcoat, jeans, heavy boots, and no helmet… but with a thoroughly anachronistic 17th-century era flintlock pistol in his hand.

“Ahh, what have we here?” asked the motorcyclist in a mildly amused tone as he thrust his weapon into the previously undefiled confines of Martin’s car. “Your money or your life.”

Martin was quite taken aback by this, as, most likely, were the hundred or so other commuters in the vicinity, several of whom had already, quite in contravention of the law, picked up their mobile phones to call the police about an armed robbery in process on the Kingsway. Struck dumb with terror, he reached into his jacket pocket and handed over his wallet, thick with banknotes, spare change, credit cards including an extremely exclusive Morgan Stanley Dean Witter “BLACK” card with a half-million pound credit limit, loyalty cards, driving licences, photos of his family, and suchlike.

“You’ll not get away with this, damn you,” Martin growled. “Those cards are useless without the passwords, you’re wasting your time!”

“I’ve thought of that,” said the highwayman. “Your pin numbers or your life,” he ordered, producing a notepad and pencil from his jeans pocket.

Martin contemplated the blank page for a few seconds, aghast.

“And now I know where you live,” continued the highwayman, examining Martin’s driving licence, and revealing his address to be 11 Waverley Road, Golders Green, “if any of those cards don’t work, I’ll go round your house and unblock your ears with my pistol, see if I don’t!”

Martin wrote down a series of four digits for each card, including his precious “BLACK” card with its half-million pound credit limit.

“Thank you, kind sir,” said the highwayman, and with a screeching of tyres he and his motorbike sped off through the traffic, weaving in twin plumes of smoke and dust between the other motorists.

Due to the traffic, bureaucracy, and the fact that half of Scotland Yard were attending a mandatory conference on race relations and equal opportunities within the police force for minorities and women, it was almost nine o’clock before any sirens were heard approaching inexorably to the crime scene, and the highwayman was long gone, much to the chagrin of Martin Smith, whose mobile phone’s battery just decided that moment to give up the ghost so he couldn’t ring the bank to cancel his cards.

“Fuck,” he swore.


About nine o’clock that evening, a ten-year-old (yet, thanks to Martin Smith’s bank account, reconditioned to almost new) Harley-Davidson motorcycle spluttered up in front of a small pub in the depths of Wapping named The Prospect of Whitby, and off said motorbike clambered a tall, heavily-built gentleman who, if Martin Smith had had the Prospect as his local pub, would have immediately been recognised as the same robber who relieved him of his wallet and pin numbers that morning. Entering the pub, he circumspected, the floor so familiar under his booted feet, which knew every individual bump and contour of it from intense familiarity with the establishment. And he strode up to the bar, his ruggedly handsome face and hearty smile warming the regard of the barmaid as she noticed him.

“Heya sweetie,” she greeted him, kissing him briefly on the cheek. “What can I get you?” She had long black hair tied back with a blood-red ribbon which he had given her as a love token two moons past.

“I think, beloved, I shall have my usual,” he replied.

“Oohh, so what is it you’re drinking these days? Fuller’s Pride isn’t it?” the barmaid asked.

“That it is,” the highwayman confirmed.

“Won’t you try something else for a change?” she joked.

“I’d best not,” he said, grinning. “You do remember, love, what happened when I tried that Asahi or whatever it was?”

“Oohh yes,” she grinned. What had happened was that he had pulled a face which, if her mother had seen her potential son-in-law’s aspect at the time, she would have told him that if the wind changed he’d stick like that forever. Then he’d spat it out onto the bar-top in a golden brown spray, causing a nearby builder who was enjoying his pint next to him to give him very dirty looks indeed.

So Lizzie, for that was her name, passed him a nice frothy pint of dark beer and asked him for the £1.60 she was due.

The highwayman reached into his jeans pocket and pulled out thick wads of banknotes fresh from Martin Smith’s bank account, smiling rakishly.

“Ooohh! John Myrick, you devil, where you get all that?” she squealed in excitement. “Where did you get all that?” she shrieked.

John, the highwayman, took her hands and leant close to her, looking into her big, dark eyes. “Ask ye no questions,” he said confidentially, “and tell ye no lies.”

“Oh go on,” needled Lizzie. “Did you rob a bank?”

John but smiled, and motioned her to come closer. “I might have done,” he whispered in her ear. Lizzie squirmed with excitement and charm.

Lizzie Williams was the perfect woman for the highwayman, he thought to himself. He loved women like her – pretty, easily charmed, romantic… and brain dead. The sort of woman who could be won over with dashing exploits and panache and charm, yet who could not bring herself to tip off any of the authorities about his exploits. Of course, he had the utmost respect for women; never would he dream of beating or causing deliberate harm to any lover of his. He preferred to bribe them with ill-gotten gifts from his ill-gotten gains. Rings, jewelry, expensive designer dresses and hand-crafted Belgian liqueur chocolates. Diamonds and rubies, possibly even a brand-new Bentley if the haul was big enough. It had worked so many times before.

It had also gone wrong once or twice, but if you valued your life you wouldn’t ask him about those times.


At precisely eleven o’clock, the landlord, who was also Lizzie’s father, an honest cockney working-class type named Jim, rang the bell and bellowed out across the crowded, smoky bar, “Time please gentlemen!”

At precisely eleven-oh-two, Lizzie ducked behind the bar and showed John the way up to the back rooms of the pub, which was also where Lizzie resided.

John threw off his weighty leather jacket onto an old but serviceable armchair Lizzie kept in the corner of her bedroom, and she leapt into his arms and mashed her lips against his. After all, it didn’t do to exhibit flagrant and passionate abandon in public, not even these days, even if neither of them had noticed that both the windows – and curtains – were flapping wide open. On the one hand, though, it allowed into the bedroom the pleasantly brisk night air which cooled their brows, hot and wet with the sweat of eager anticipation; yet on the other hand it allowed officious bystanders to blimp at their confounding of each other with each others’ bodies.

Not that they minded, considering that videotaping the goings on in an upstairs pub window in the depths of East London after chucking out time would probably get the offender beaten to a bloody pulp, and John and Lizzie knew that of all people. After all, this was very much the local pub of Sun readers. Back inside the air-cooled room, whose aged panel-flooring was bumpy and lumpy where air bubbles and damp had warped it, the highwayman and his woman had progressed to the tearing each others’ clothes off stage.

After all, Lizzie was overjoyed at her gentleman (thief) friend’s new-found wealth, and somewhere in the deepest recesses of her self, a rusty and ancient biological switch marked “Gold Digging” had somehow creaked itself into the “on” position, and she was determined to milk Martin Smith’s credit cards for all they were worth before their previous and rightful owner cancelled them. Already, visions of Gucci dresses and Louis Vuitton thongs and Prada shoes and Fiorelli handbags were dancing invitingly in front of her eyes, which could also be said for John Myrick’s manhood. Quite the coincidence, in her mind at least; after all, one ought to lead to the other in this instance.

Lizzie made to lower her sights, but he stopped her rather abruptly.

“Not tonight, I have a headache,” he joked.

Lizzie giggled back, “That’s my line!”

At this, the rogue allowed her to continue, and continue she did.


Now the first thing that one would notice about Andrea Dawkins, the local traffic warden in that particular enclave was that she was short. Five feet and no inches short, to be exact. But what she lacked in stature she made up for in bulk and hardness, and as such resembled a body-building elf, if that particular elf had completely gone to seed other than the iron-pumping for the past decade and was now reduced from being Mr Enchanted Forest to Mr Novelty Gnome Factory.

The other way in which she made up for her physical shortcomings was by the use of an officious and misanthropic streak about six miles wide, the gratuitous deployment of her book of tickets, and by an even bigger chip on her shoulder.

Not to mention a tremendous lust for Lizzie the barmaid at the Prospect.

So it was with extreme and malicious satisfaction that she noticed that John Myrick’s Harley was parked (almost) on double yellow lines and had no registration plate. Especially as, briefly glancing into the upper window to reveal the aforementioned John Myrick’s rear end bouncing up and down at quite the pace amid excitable feminine moans, she knew about her dashing rival in lust.

She grinned with sadistic pleasure as she reached under her jacket for a pen and the tools of her trade. Indeed, in writing out the ticket she had to restrain herself from adding “Kebabbing my fancy-woman” in the box for details of offences committed. With a smug grin on her features, she folded the ticket round the bike’s handlebar, and stepped back to feel officious.

As a result, she thus overheard the highwayman and his sweetheart in conversation, albeit punctuated with post-coital gaspings for breath.

“…what do you think of that then, beloved?” he asked her.

“Well… pumpkin…” she giggled. “I’m certainly up for it… in more ways than one!”

“Good to hear it… Then, I’d best get away then. The night is long, and I have work to do…”

“None of which is at all legal, of course, I’ll warrant!” Lizzie replied. Much to her chagrin, Andrea imagined her tousling his shaggy hair playfully at this comment. “You rogue, you…”

“So, watch for me tonight… I swear to you, my love, that I shall be back before the dawn, when we can elope far, far, away, and be together forever and want for nothing!” he said, rather grandiosely. “Martin Smith… whoever you are, whatever you do for a living… I thank you for financing me!”

Andrea could not have possibly believed her luck at this revelation. Her nasty mind, worthy of a petty official such as her, began to formulate a plan that would render that troublesome – lout – of a man that was John Myrick behind bars for a very, very, very long time, and that would render Lizzie hers. Better still, it might even net her a pay rise.

The sound of heavy boots clumping down the antique wooden stairwell inside the bar told Andrea that she should make herself scarce.


John was pissed – in more ways than one – when he returned to his motorcycle to find a parking ticket on its seat.

Although it wasn’t really a problem or anything, given he never really intended to pay any of them, it was the principle. It never used to be like that in the good old days; you could leave your iron horse out in the road tied up and nobody gave a damn. Thanks a million, London City Council. At least the work-to-rule little gobshite hadn’t clamped his mount. That would, at this juncture, have been an unmitigated disaster.

He vroomed off into the black London night, his coat flying behind him like an old 17th-century riding cloak, as Andrea Dawkins extracted her mobile phone to alert the police.

He wondered, on the way to pick up the chests full of Martin’s life savings that he had hidden out in Morden, for how long he would string along Lizzie the dark-haired, simple-minded, naïve and warm-hearted barmaid before he would ditch her. After all, he thrived on action and doing something, the thrill of the chase, the near misses, and the exhilaration of evading the law. You didn’t get that in corruption-rife banana republics, which was one thing you could say for the rainy, sooty, dirty writhing mass of humanity that was London.


Lizzie Williams stayed in bed, bare-breasted in the firelight, quivering with anticipation to when John would return and sequester her off to far-off lands. She had bitten her nails and napped half-heartedly, her dreams invaded by hopes of her and him lounging together somewhere hot and tropical. She had fantasised and all the rest that came with it about him and this life he would lead her into.

Then, in the distance, came the sound. The unmuffled roaring of John’s raw, rough-and-ready motorbike. Or something similar. Sighing with the pleasure that filled every corner of her being and the possibility of running away elsewhere, she ran to the window and looked about excitedly.

Indeed, she was so focused on the roar of a V-twin in the distance that she thought was John that she completely was oblivious to the chuggly thrum of a police van with its sirens off that came from the other direction until the stomping of many pairs of highly polished black shoes ascended her stairwell and burst into her room.

“Nah then nah then,” said the police officer who appeared in charge (because he had the big coat and the badge and peaked cap rather than the tight black jacket and the helmet.) “I am Detective Inspector Halewood, and you, Lizzie Williams, are under arrest on suspicion of aiding and abetting an armed robbery. You do not have to say anything, but anything you fail to say now on which you later rely in your defence may count against you in court. Now, what’s this stash about, eh?” he went on, as a uniformed officer who was young, zealous, and fresh out of Hendon Police College slapped the bracelets on her with a satisfying click as they locked and a self-satisfying smile that clicked on as she was thus restrained.


John Myrick parked his Harley by a disused lock-up garage in Morden. At least it appeared disused, in actuality it was, in fact, his stash and he owned the keys to it. Or at least he was in possession of them.

He dashed across the slippery-when-wet street and tripped, almost landing in an undignified heap on the pavement as his boots slid in the gutter. He extracted the key from his coat pocket and fumbled about with the aged, rusty padlock on the front gate as he frantically tried to turn the key every which way but in the aperture. Eventually the doors creaked open, and in he ran, grabbing a box of crumpled and half-torn banknotes. He ran back to his motorbike, the odd ten or twenty wafting away in the breeze, none of which he noticed. After all, when you have a few million pounds in used notes in your lock-up, who’s going to miss the odd likeness of Her Majesty? Besides, he considered the possibility of a tramp finding the stray currency his idea of “putting something back into the community.”

He stuffed the money into his saddlebags, which gave off a noise like a car running into a wall of feather pillows as the air in the bags was forced out. Just about tethering the unruly papers in said bags, he mounted up, spun in the road, and zoomed back towards Wapping with great velocity, the odd note drifting back into the blackness every few minutes.


The interrogation on the spot in the back rooms of the Prospect of Whitby lasted for some time, with Lizzie completely and defiantly silent, despite the best efforts of the Inspector and his colleagues. Eventually they decided to take her into the van, accompanied by two officers in bulletproof vests and with rifles, just as the unmistakable blowy burr of John Myrick’s motorcycle, combined with its single headlight, rounded the corner.

Instinctively she called out to him, “John! John! Help!”

“Not now dearie,” said the Detective Inspector as he bundled her towards the van with scant regard for her erogenous zones. Instinctively she lunged towards one of the armed officers, making for his rifle. And equally instinctively they clubbed her about the face, neck and body with its butt, followed by a good old fashioned round of what used to be termed “some serious wallop.”

By the end of this session Lizzie lay bleeding, broken and subdued on the dirt-caked floor just as John Myrick’s headlight shone upon the scene.

In shock he swerved way too tightly, and slid off his bike, his thighbone crunching apart as the heavy motorcycle landed on it. His pistol in his hand, screaming in shock to the high heavens. Lizzie did not, after all, look particularly alive as the policemen bundled her into the back of their van. In his wrath he discharged his weapon indiscriminately towards them, his shots gashing gushing red wounds in D I Halewood’s upper arm. Without further ado, the police shot him in the gut and throat where he lay in a legbroke and bloody heap on the tarmac, before clambering into the van and throbbing off into the dark without a second thought.

Ah well, his brain registered. ‘Twas ever thus. In 1760 it was the militia who left him for dead in the mud of the great Northern road. In 2005, the Metropolitan Police left him bleeding in the filth of Wapping Way. And in years to come whoever was responsible for defending law and order would do the same.

As he lay bleeding, the words of his first ever victim sprang to his mind, “You’ll be caught and damned well hung!” Yet in so many decades of his questionable trade, that was yet to happen… despite being shot, stabbed, imprisoned, trampled, run over… he still lived.

Perhaps being caught and damned well hung was his fate… some day?

Wednesday, June 22, 2005

Sabbatical

Some of you may have noticed my recent fall-off in posting. I have been released from my duties in the Marketing Department because the season opens on Friday. As such, I am no longer able to spend seven hours a day aimlessly drifting through cyberspace, and am forced to adjourn to the public library.

I will post when and where I can; however, be aware: Sable X. Veins is henceforth and indefinitely on sabbatical.

/SXV

Have A Link

Because I haven't posted anything here in a long time and I feel obliged to post something, here's a link:

Dave Devrie's Monster Engine.

An artist who takes childrens' drawings and turns them into fully-fledged, marvellously surreal paintings. Also, read the interview with the kid who drew one of the originals, it's great.

Monday, June 20, 2005

Some of you must like music...

...right?

(and yes, there are bits where it's out of tune. That's because primitivist-prog is meant to sound like that)

Sunday, June 19, 2005

Report from the Headsick Front.

Oh no.

Reading that was in fact one of the nastiest experiences of my recent life. It's the tone that does it; a horrible combination of faux-mid90's-skatertalk ("and a 'tude the size of New Hampshire"), nasty, nasty, wrong theorising about sexuality ("If you're a sissy, you end up gay 'cos you don't fit in and stuff"), really, really patronising down-talk, and Christian Fundamentalism.
I especially like "Hey, no wonder so many young people are struggling with their sexual identity!
It seems like many teens today haven’t experienced how awesome it is to be a guy or a girl. Have you? Do you realize your worth in God’s eyes?"
{insert wince here}

Nota bene also the "Hey, Bogus! Being Gay Kills You, Kids!" section, and the fact that despite the extensive bibliography, the Kinsey-refuting "more sophisticated research methods" are not referenced. I suspect that's because they're the sort of "sophisticated research methods" which involve listening to the little voices in your head or other such rigourous scientific techniques.

Perhaps the reason, O Family.org, that so many young people are struggling with their sexual identity is that organisations such as your good selves continue to spread misinformation and lies about the very nature of a large proportion of possible sexual identities?

[I'd really like it if someone with a better grasp of web-fu could come up with some refuting statistics, as I'm strapped for time at the moment...]

Untitled #1

Sorry. Bandwidth's probably died again.
[click for big]

This was made with watercolour and acrylic paints, nail varnish, oil pastels, biro, permanent pen, bits of newspaper and prayer book, orange peel, and Ronseal wood varnish, on a bit of cardboard box. And then set fire to a lot.

What do you lot make of it?

"The Dead Rose"

It lay on the counter, a perfectly preserved vegetable mortality. Its petals crisp, brown and delicately formed. The eye was drawn, dragged towards it - a morbid microcosm on featureless formica. Jane looked at it, and though about how it must taste of white noise. The crackling static of death's crenellated reminder. Fragmenting curvaceously on the tongue. Jane had the sudden urge to run and fuck, but not in the reverse order. The bell and the badge kept her standing (static again), floating in the shop and the summer's heat - a still-liivng insect in sap yet to become amber.
In some stories, an inexplicable object's appearance leads to a revelation of character or a miraculous quest. This is not one of them.

Image hosted by Photobucket.com

Thursday, June 16, 2005

Oh dear God, help us.

Come August you, yes you, will not be able to protest in a group or on your own near the Houses of Parliament, unless you have permission from the police.
Placards are an arrestable offence.
Does this extend to T-Shirts with political slogans on?

Anyhow, first week of the ban my family are probably going down to London to walk around parliament with political slogans on t-shirts. Anyone wanting to join may.

Tuesday, June 14, 2005

More music for you.

This may be a load of wank, but it might also be quite good. It's meant to be a sort of Libertines/Clash homage, but unfortunately both my microphones have started to distort if I sing loudly on the other side of the room.

Here you go


And furthermore, the vocals are meant to sound like that.

Monday, June 13, 2005

Oh look, me again. I must have a three-hour exam tomorrow.

How the BBC covers a story.
How MSNBC covers a story.

Direct quote from the latter:

"The candy report comes on the same day a top U.N. agency official said the food shortage crisis in North Korea is growing more severe by the day and the state is dispensing 'starvation rations' to its population."

This says more than I really want to think about.

Quote of the Week

There was much shock and embarrassment last night when the only Republican in theatre was discovered among our ranks. After several minutes of polite interrogation and disbelief...

"...but you're only a Republican because of economic policies, right?"
"No, because of all policies. Except for a few minor issues like abortion and gay rights."

Er...

/Veins

ID Cards Pledge

I don't know if anyone here signed the NO2ID pledge (someone said they wouldn't register for a card if three million other people didn't either), but if so it's been withdrawn as of today and replaced with a smarter and more achievable goal.

"I will refuse to register for an ID card and will donate £10 to a legal defence fund but only if 10,000 other people will also make this same pledge."

— Phil Booth, NO2ID National Coordinator

And if you didn't sign the first time round - when I signed this morning only thirty-odd people had done so, and now it's over seven hundred. Keep it up?

[Clearly, I am revising hard. Er.]

Friday, June 10, 2005

Will be an accompanying image...

...but I probably need to draw it before I can post it, sorry.

He rises from his bed, after lying for what seems like an hour but has more likely been several, and allows the quilt, which before had so effortlessly mirrored the peaceful cosmos a few miles above him, to lie crumpled and discarded on the floor. He looks down at it, feigning pity, trying not to notice that he’s only wearing one sock because the other, which did not match in any case, is now awaiting collection by a maternal figure as it sits dejected a small distance away from the dirty linen basket stained in the blood of his dog who spent the latter half of the afternoon befouling the air by coating his injury in saliva.

He turns to the window and gazes out seeing the still lit rooms of those across the street and a sole streetlight infinitely reflected in the gleaming metal and glass that makes up the neighbour’s car. His eyes switch focus to his reflection in the glass, momentarily admiring the muscles on his chest before realising that the only illumination in the room is a lava lamp, that increasingly swiftly becomes the temperature of molten rock, and the small pixels of light blue and green that hypnotically flow across his monitor in an endless loop: which causes the areas of shadow and light to tighten the distant contours on his torso. He sighs and sits down on the swivel chair which has managed to get its wheel caught on a discarded piece of paper that was probably something important and still is, but if he doesn’t read it then it might as well not exist for its intended purpose, but only to make the act of sitting down slightly more hazardous, but not hazardous enough to arrange an incident of any real comedic value. He utters a previously amusing but now overused profanity and places one hand on the mouse, the other on his keyboard.

He stares blankly at the screen for a couple of minutes before the screensaver again kicks in shunting him out of his stupor and causing him to jerk the cursor, shattering the hypnotism. He ties his hair back in anticipation (his hair being long enough to cause small children at the stage in life where men should have short quiffs and wear blue and play football and women should wear short pink skirts and very pale magenta tights and have long blond hair that many would compare to a shower of gold, which indeed it resembles, to look round and snigger, but not long enough to make him attractive) and immediately opens "Word", typing the first sentence of a short story. He pauses and reads it back to himself. Something vaguely exciting is happening that the reader won’t fully understand that he can then elaborate on, setting him up for a very long description of the surroundings which have probably been cleaved rather ineptly from Tolkien. He closes the program and sighs.

Rising from the chair he takes one step across to his bed and clumsily sits down on it, staring down at the crumpled cosmos as he attempts to remove the feeling of someone tuning his brain like a guitar purely through concentration. He thinks very precisely and slowly in his mind, as if instructing a particularly stupid child, not to stand up so quickly.

He removes the hair tie and slips it over his wrist, inadvertently pinning several stray hairs helplessly to his arm, and rocks backwards a little way.

Sighing, he reaches down and grabs two of the four corners of the cosmos and rather dramatically swings them over the bed, expertly swivelling and laying down. A stinging cry of shock at this sudden manhandling rings out across the room, and no doubt the entire household, which is followed up by quieter cries of varying pitch. Eventually the noise dies down and the shadows across the ceiling stop dancing.

Fucking windchimes.

Wednesday, June 08, 2005

Breaking News: Pope Still Wrong

*Head-desk*

"...The different current forms of dissolution of marriage, such as free unions, trial marriages, and even the pseudo-marriage between persons of the same sex, are actually expressions of an anarchic liberty..."

I don't know about you, but that sounds good to me. Honestly, what with all those declamations about the essential nature of human beings, you'd think he'd actually look at the anthropological studies of cultures that haven't been infected with his twisted patriarchal-authoritarian worldview. But then again, if he did then he'd realise he's actually Wrong, given the various permutations of human societo-sexual behaviour worldwide. And then his head would explode or something. I mean, who died and made him the supreme arbiter of human moral behaviour?

Yes, I know the answer is "John Paul II", but that's not the point.



It's lucky he doesn't look more and more like a megalomaniac with a tenuous grip on reality who believes that his imaginary friend talks to him every day, really. Otherwise I might be a bit worried...

Tuesday, June 07, 2005

Humour me as I rant about adverts

This will be an Internet First, I imagine, as I intend to write this post without once mentioning C**** F***.

The bastarding adverts on Classic FM have started to dissolve my mind. Not that I voluntarily listen to the "Smooooth passage to the afterlife" station, but during the unfortunately-quite-frequent times when I have to, the adverts really get to me. And the reason is this: they fucking.cut.the.adverts.at.random, and often play the same one over and over again. (I assume this is to prevent you just tuning out.)

So your typical ad break will sound something like this:

"By donating to JudaeoChristian Aid, I helped to sponsor Gerald, a poor Lithuanian boy, to b-LOVE HORSES, BEST OF ALL THE ANI-o you get tired of those stereotypical youths with their nasty hoodies and sexual liberation? Buy this week's Mail on Sunday, and get a free truncheon, which which to-LOVE HORSES, BEST OF ALL THE poor Lithuanian boy, Gerald, a poor Lithuanian boy DAIIILLLYY MAIIILLLLOVE HORSES"

Something along the lines of Finnegan's Wake, as written by advertising executives keyed into the right frame of mind by having been kept in a urine-smelling room and fed only Werther's Originals for several months. WHY MUST THEY DO IT WHY WHY MY EARS.

Furthermore, I think I'm going to introduce a weekly slot around here, with a different writer each week. Possibly with a set theme. What do you lot think? [Get on with it then - Subed]

At the risk of being too fanboy-ish:

just bloody read it, all right?

On Giants

I went to see a talk on H.G Wells the other day. It was a book launch of some description, and the event was a sort of presentation spotlit between a well-meaning but entirely charismaless chap whose name escapes me, Michael Foot, and China Miéville - both of whom were fantastically entertaining, especially the latter, who took obvious pleasure in getting to say the immortal line "...and so, with this story about killer squid, H.G. Wells predicted the First World War". For those of you who don't know: Michael Foot is a thousand years old, was given the gift of eternal life by Karl Marx himself at the Beginning of Time, and has "British Socialist" printed all the way through him, a bit like a stick of rock. If that stick of rock had met Gorbachev (of which more later) and led the Labour Party, that is. China Miéville has written several existential-surrealist novels of affecting and tragic beauty (which he has cunningly disguised as a fantasy trilogy with giant whales and anthropomorphic cacti), a treatise on international law, and stood in the last general election as a far-left candidate somewhere in London. (He's also a frighteningly sharp literary analyst and a brilliant raconteur. And no doubt a gourmet chef too). And these peopel were talking about H.G Wells, a man who (re?)invented the science-fiction novel, hung about with Bertrand Russell, met Lenin, met and argued furiously with Stalin, and also wrote respectable novels for the upper middle classes to enjoy over tea.

The point being: these people are giants.

One thing that really struck me at the Wells presentation was the moment where Foot casually mentioned having met Gorbachev, and having forced a particular Wells political novel on him.

The point being: these "giants" have a spectacular, polymathic effect on the world - the impression you get is that they must never stop, but instead toil throughout the night, one hand scratching away at a smoking manuscript, the other holding a phone connected to at least one world leader.

The point being: Bertrand Russell.

Not only did this bloke make a really good stab at solving the major ontological and epistemological problems of his time, he also had the sheer batshit insanity to attempt to reduce mathematics to pure logic. (Which admittedly failed, but I suspect that's because it's impossible rather than because Russell wasn't smart enough.) Furthermore, he was imprisoned twice by the government, first as a conscientious objector to the First World War, and later for protesting against nuclear weapons in the '50s. At the age of 87.

The point being: we're poorer these days. Or so it seems, anyway; in the glorious past we had Russell, Ayer, Wells and the like, pushing the borders of just about everything while doing their damnedest to intimidate a corrupt and reactionary hierarchy into eventual submission with pure determination.

These days, we have Michael Moore.

This, of course, is unfair. The examples of Miéville and Foot alone clearly illustrate that all is not lost - we still have our giants. However, they seem to be fewer and further between.

This should not be the case.

I do not for one moment believe that the World and the Arts can't be changed, nor that there's a necessary distinction between the two. I don't believe that Art, or indeed Anything, can be separated from Sex or Politics or Religion, and I think that is a good and vital thing. I believe that if every time you were about to sit down in front of the television, you went out and made, or saw, or did, or wrote something instead, the world would be a better place, and maybe we could all be giants.

Enough of this. I go to put my money where my mouth is.

Monday, June 06, 2005

Mashup Mania Malarky!

Franz Ferdinand vs Rasputina

EDIT: If that doesn't work, try this (.wma for people with mp3-encoding problems).

Other samples include Alisha's Attic, some guy called "saney", and David Byrne. Download, enjoy, and don't tell the RIAA.

Furthermore, Rasputina can be heard and read about and things here.

Saturday, June 04, 2005

~#angelnova#~



Click for big.

(The idea was to make some sort of modern, female version of the Vitruvian Man, but I got (a) bored and (b) carried away with pretty computer colouring and things. Everything's computerised apart from the original ink outline.)

Have an art

This is the first frame of a graphic novel I probably won't get around to doing anything with. It was more fun than revision and therefore more important to my education than fucking Ancient Roman politics. Err, yes. I did it with the use of a black marker, a normal ink pen, a very small amount of watercolour and vast quantities of water. Whoot. Apparently you should click the link so that Andrew doesn't skullfuck me.

Friday, June 03, 2005

Some Old Culture for you

Jimmy Page's discarded score for Lucifer Rising (scroll down for the mp3 download).

What do you think of it? Tell us in the forums.

Jenny Everywhere

You may be interested in this...

"The character of Jenny Everywhere is available for use by anyone, with only one condition. This paragraph must be included in any publication involving Jenny Everywhere, in order that others may use this property as they wish. All rights reversed."

" Though the character of Jenny Everywhere is vague enough to allow for many different interpretations, there are a few things that define who she is. Do all these signifiers need to be represented? Absolutely not. But the fewer that you use, the less likely that your character will be recognized as Jenny Everywhere.

She has short, dark hair. She usually wears aviation goggles on top of her head and a scarf around her neck. Otherwise, she dresses in comfortable clothes. She is average size and has a good body image. She has loads of confidence and charisma. She appears to be Asian or Native American. She has a ready smile.

Does Jenny have any powers?

Jenny Everywhere exists in all dimensions at once. She has the accumulated wisdom of all her other selves, and she can potentially shape or change dimensional properties. Her powers basically allow her to have wildly diverging storylines without having to worry about continuity. Her powers aren’t the reason for the story, they’re the means to get to the story. Since she exists everywhere at the same time, you should have no trouble throwing her into any situation you choose, be it riding dinosaurs in the Wild West or arm wrestling Richard Nixon on the moon. For the Shifter, any adventure is possible.

Some people may want to explore her powers further. Keep in mind that your story does not have to showcase any overt uses of her powers at all. In fact, though her powers may be put to use in a fair number of ways, the concept behind Jenny is that she prefers to get out of dangerous situations without the use of these powers. She thrives on the thrill and always plays fair, even if it brings her close to death."


Image hosted by Photobucket.comJenny Everywhere in 'By the Book'"

This was written by grant and drawn by me. And I'm really happy with it, so there.

Thursday, June 02, 2005

Agh! Defamation!

A miscellany gathered by Googling "rhexis" and our related keywords...

1. Top hit for Googling "rhexis" is [[The Rhexis]]

2. Eponymous authoritarian right-wing forum member

3. This may well be him again - this Mac doesn't have, and can't get, Java

4. Just in case you weren't sure what a rhexis is, read this COMPREHENSIVE definition from the "Dictionary of Difficult Words"

5. The evils of Attack Journalism

6. Sometimes I wonder if Transmet really is fiction...

7. Gah! Fuck! Wishy-washy hippy bullshit brings shame to the name of Counterculture!

8. Possible misunderstanding of the term "counterculture" - or possibly they just don't understand the prefix "counter-"...

9. Take note, saney

10 St. Hunter - an interpretation for online journalism

/SXV

Identity Cards Bill Update

NO2ID NEWSLETTER - Supporter's Newsletter No.21 - 31st May/1st June 2005
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For a fortnightly newsletter to be nearly two weeks late is embarrassing, and it's all my fault.  (Not the regular editor's.)  I held it up initially to get the details of the Queen's Speech in, but since then a lot has happened, as I hope you have noticed.  The question of ID control is now top of the agenda.  It has made us rather busy.

Nevertheless, my apologies  - Guy Herbert, General Secretary NO2ID

+ BLAIR MAKES ID-BILL "VIRILITY TEST"
Of all the dozens of Bills announced for the coming session, the Government has made it clear that the Identity Cards Bill will be the flagship.  It is the most "modernizing", the one that is most Tony Blair's personal project.  Which means that the Prime Minister has a great deal invested in getting it through.  It is really hard to guess how this will play politically:  Will uneasy government supporters be pushed back into line in order not to embarrass the administration?  Or will those in the Labour Party who don't care about ID but don't much care for Mr Blair take the chance to weaken him?

+ THE SAME AGAIN -- OR IS IT?
The "new" Bill was published on 25th May.  It is to be found here:
http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm200506/cmbills/009/2006009.htm

The changes are trivial.  As ever, the Home Office is ignoring its critics.  It has not even had the decency to change what the House of Lords Constitution Committee called its "misleading" title. However, NO2ID has been well prepared for the battle this time.  We wrote a letter to every MP immediately after the election, tailored to each member's individual circumstances and providing a summary analysis of the issues.  We are in touch with a lot of new people.  We are gaining momentum, and the Government seems to be losing some. The demonstration on the morning of the Queen's Speech that we mounted in association with Liberty did not itself get huge coverage.  But it was the springboard for yet more access to the media.  Thank you to everyone who took part.

+THE MOOD HAS CHANGED
Our continual efforts to educate the press and public are paying off. Last September when NO2ID was getting established, there was no public interest.  The introduction of the Bill in November was eventful only for the confusion in Tory policy.  By the eve of the election everybody but the Government agreed the proposals were "controversial", but few were quite sure why. Now the press and opposition parties are united in their condemnation of the project.  (All plausible Conservative leadership candidates are bitter opponents of the scheme, and the party's opposition to big government now looks coherent again.)  It can only be pushed through by the Government machine with passive public acquiescence. The announcement of an increased estimate of the cost "of the card"-really of a registration-seems to broken the threshold of public consciousness.  Now people are interested.  That has been the trigger for the media to start carrying stories about the database, which they only rarely did before.

+ WHAT YOU CAN DO
You too, are a key player in the education process.  As we always say to journalists and parliamentarians, state ID management would change our way of life fundamentally, so it ought to be discussed at every table and every bar.  So engage your friends and acquaintances.  Write to the local press.  There's a list of thongs you can do here:http://www.no2id.net/getInvolved/other.php But for the parliamentary battle that is to happen shortly, there is one thing above all others...

+ CONTACT YOUR (LABOUR) MP NOW
Almost all the parties are now committed to oppose the Government's legislation when it is brought forward again.  But we need Labour backbenchers to rebel or Labour ministers to think better if it is to be stopped in the House of Commons.  This is now a real possibility. So if you are in the majority of the population whose Member of Parliament is on the Government benches, then get in touch with them and tell them what you think of "Labour's Poll Tax".  MPs do listen to their constituents.  Even though a party loyalist may write the standard, approved, letter back, he or she will take notice, and might be influenced, if not to vote against, to find something very important to do elsewhere on the day of the debate.  If you are a Labour Party member, or Labour voter, or former Labour voter, as many of our supporters are, so much the better.  Do let them know how this legislation contradicts the interests and principles that you share. You can contact your MP without leaving the computer: http://www.writetothem.com/. What are you waiting for?

+PETITION PUSH WEEKEND
Our recent request to supporters to get friends and acquaintances to sign the petition resulted in nearly 2000 new supporters for the campaign in a week.  Now we have nearly 15,000 supporters, we are taking the campaign off the web and on to the streets. Next weekend, 3rd/4th June, NO2ID local groups will be making a coordinated effort across the country to collect names and addresses ofopponents of the legislation across the country.   Do help if you can: http://www.no2id.net/localGroups/index.php. Our target is to double in size:  15,000 new supporters is easily possible.  It will show the Government the depth of opposition yet to be mobilised. It isn't necessary to have a recognised NO2ID Group to collect signatures.  Every day's post brings , the petition and supporters forms that (sometimes unknown) individuals have taken round their acquaintances or collected on a street corner.  So please have a go this weekend.

http://www.no2id.net/downloads/forms/NO2ID%20Petition.pdf
http://www.no2id.net/downloads/forms/supportRegForm.pdf
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+ NO2ID LOCAL GROUPS
We now have 70 local groups.  The latest ones are in Bedford, Fulham, and Swindon.  Oxford, Leeds, and Sheffield are growing.  Liverpool has lots of activity, and should soon have a group.  Still there's a bit of a gap in the East Midlands, but there seems no particular reason why. If you'd like to become a local contact for your town, you should be a member and be prepared to be contacted by supporters and local journalists.  We'll give you advice, some starter materials and a no2id.net email alias, but it will be your show.  It is quite easy to make a big impact.  This is a topic that people care about.  Read our campaign guide at: http://www.no2id.net/downloads/index.php to see how it is done.
------------------------------------------------------
++ "ID" In the News

The Queen's Speech: I.D.IOTIC  - Daily Mirror
"The battle for British liberties began yesterday following the announcement of a compulsory ID card scheme"
http://www.mirror.co.uk/news/tm_objectid=15528684&method=full&siteid=94762&headline=labour-s-3rd-term--the-queen-s-speech--i-d-iotic-name_page.html

Price of ID card soars - Daily Mail
http://www.dailymail.co.uk/pages/live/articles/news/news.html?in_article_id=349971&in_page_id=1770#

When the eyes don't have it - New Statesman & Observer
"This card will open the door to disaster"
http://www.newstatesman.com/Ideas/200505300020

+ US Congress Passes REAL-ID Act
Analysis from the Register
www.theregister.co.uk/2005/05/11/real_id_makes_terrorists_happy/

+ Dutch biometric passports to be introduced in 2006 - EU
Government Reform Minister Alexander Pechtold  says biometric passports will come in in 2006.
http://europa.eu.int/idabc/en/document/4240/194

Government in ID card talks with firms before Bill passed - The Times
http://business.timesonline.co.uk/article/0,,8209-1633485,00.html

More ID News at:
http://www.no2id.net/news/newsblog/index.php

(Please send me any items of interest you encounter - Editor: newsletter@no2id.net)
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Publication details:  (c) NO2ID 2005 - This document may be freely redistributed in one-to-one communications or physical copies as long as it is reproduced in its entirety including this notice. It may not be mass-mailed without the prior permission of NO2ID.

NO2ID, Box No.412, 78 Marylebone High Street, LONDON W1U 5AP
------------------------------------------------------

I apologise for advocating action when I intend to take none myself; my mitigation is that I will be completely unable to partake of demonstrations, local campaign groups, et cetera, due to currently being employed overseas. As far as talking to the local press in Albion is concerned, The Rhexis has a team of writers and societal commentators, many from my local area, who are more than capable of doing so in my stead.

I have, of course, taken the minimum action and "signed" the online petition. I have also emailed my local MP (Dominic Grieves, Con-Beaconsfield), and I suspect (or rather hope) that Withiel has too (Paul Goodman, Con-Wycombe).

Get busy, lady and gentlemen.

/Veins

What a Load of Nonce-sense

For someone arrested in connection with any offence relating to child abuse or similar, the Police might as well amend the caution to something like this:

"You do not have to say anything, but anything you fail to say now on which you later rely in your defence may cause the gutter press to draw an inference from that and hound you for the rest of your natural life."

This is old news (December 1999), but it's highly illustrative of the overzealousness surrounding the Wonderful World of Child Abuse Allegations.

That the West Virginia state police were actually willing to press charges in this instance worries me. The comic page in question was in no way, shape, or form criminal (other than the fact that it was from the New Blood EQ series, which is generally considered a low point. Hey, what do you expect, they had been Marvelised when that edition was printed - which can often be the kiss of death for indy comics). But - OH NOES! Because it features even slight nudity and was sold to a minor, the person responsible was OBVIOUSLY a kiddy-fiddler, wasn't he, especially as he collected comics, and only perverts and weirdos do that, don't they, children? Who knows what foulsome hentai nastiness he could have been fwapping over in his garage! Thankfully, the courts saw through this charge of obscenity distribution for what it was - a scam perpetuated by a rival of the defendant.

The article states that "The charge of obscenity was just another weapon in this feud, close at hand, easy to use, and potentially very damaging. It can be leveled at a safe distance, and personal motivations can be concealed under concern for what may be harmful to minors." I cannot say I agree more. Accusations of paedophilia or child abuse can be - and are - used simply to damage peoples' reputations, especially here in the UK, where tabloids such as The Sun bandy about "sicko," "pervert," "monster," and suchlike upon even the merest whiff of suspicion. Even when the accused are found not to be guilty, there will still be hounding by the gutter press, claiming that the "nonce" in question escaped on a "mere legal technicality" and howling that there must have been a "miscarriage of justice". The local community won't be too much kinder to them, even if cleared. The fact that the person in question was simply accused of it means that he must have been up to something dodgy, or so think the locals. If one is accused of kiddy-fiddling and one lives in the proximity of Sun readers [you are never further than six feet away from one in the city - Subed.], one might as well emigrate.

Society has always needed bogeymen, and there's nothing more terrifying to a parent than the possibility that someone might rape their kids - and that it might be someone next door. By playing up this idea, and with concepts such as "Megan's Law" and its UK counterpart "Sarah's Law", and the baying for blood that the shit-sheets embark upon after even the most spurious accusation of child abuse, any lonely, slightly eccentric men who have slightly - erm - esoteric pastimes become easy targets, and it only takes a small amount of low cunning to find something which could be tenuously interpreted as "smut" involving children.

The whole affair reminds me uncomfortably of modern-day witch trials.

Wednesday, June 01, 2005

Commeducation

Like beggars groping blindly in the twilight,
In search of riches lost they'd never gained,
So do we stumble, through a red room, lost, unknown, in fright,
Pursuing love's fruit just beyond the hand.

But then again, when we depend on friends
To spend and lend, and share where lovers smother,
And make it known our brain and bone be not alone,
We find ourself at loss to credit others.

Through isolated lights trav'ling in parallel,
We lecture out our blank communications
To minds that we can see but never touch,
And try to see theirself in our reflections.

All one, we know that we will never know
Whether others lived, and lived just as alone.


/Veins

This is the completed version of the half-sonnet I posted last month. To read a rehearsal draft of the play of the same name in which it is embedded, email sable.veins at gmail.com