Local Commercial Radio Playlists

180px-45rpmI’m listening to a lot of stupid pop these days, seeing as my downstairs is frequented with workmen that need constant nurturing with  sugary tea and very loud radio. And by the way, they are all doing a fabulous job, and I don’t begrudge them cuppas and pop.

BUT Oh dear god. I am now intimately familiar with the playlists of Radio Cambridgeshire and Heart FM.  I think HeartFM is run by a Winamp playlist of, tops, 30 songs, with occasional advertising and promotional interjections.  Every once in a while, someone presses the “shuffle” button.

Songs I wish they would stop playing on the radio
  • Belinda Carlisle – Heaven on Earth. Unpleasant raspy voice.
    Whoever told this lady she could sing at an impressionable age has done a great disservice to the world. Her video is all cute and 80s though. She keeps rolling around in a dark corner, and making f*ck me eyes at the camera.
  • Daniel Merriweather – Red. It just goes on and on and on and on.
    Daniel doesn’t agree with some lady’s style decision. She paints his thing red or something, and he says that it was perfect the way it was. And then he gets all whiny and upset about it and calls her a crazy, lying bitch, where he’s all “you’re just making all of this shit up” and “I’m doing all the work round here”, and “you’re a bitch”. I paraphrase.   Daniel should stop wasting his time with this lady who treats him bad, and stop singing this damn song.
  • Madonna – Like a Prayer. Something about the slightly sharp “Life is a mystery” at the beginning causes fingers to curl.
    Madonna has always struck me as a good for Media Studies GCSE and filling middle-brow newspaper columns about “post-feminism” and “women on top”, but ultimately she makes crappy music. I liked her on Letterman
  • TI ft. Rihanna – Live your life. This combines many annoying components of the modern pop song.
    1. Rihanna’s odd nasally monotone lingering on D.
    2. The rap hook of crowd shouted “hey” and “ho” in the chorus.
    3. Overuse of autotune pitch corrector.
    4. To top it all off,  borrowing a hook from the Numa Numa (Dragostea din tei) song
  • Sugababes – About You Now. Very repetitive. Boring after a while. Oh yeah, and all that auto-tune. I kinda like the raw cutting synth in the background, my electro receptor nodes in my brain gets all excited. Oh and the video is good, apart from the scenes with the Sugababes in them, which are annoying and plays badly visually with the dynamic outside urban setting of the rest. I quite like the remixes though. Like this one!

Oh there are others. Will just have to wait til they annoy me again so I can write them down.


On stripping wood

Don’t do it.

So you might be preparing to decorate, and you might cast your eye around your staircase and notice maybe the thickly and sloppily painted staircase posts, maybe the slightly hairy and grubby skirting on either side of the steps and think ‘hang on, that looks like really nice wood’.


I know what you are thinking. You are thinking wouldn’t it be nice to strip that back, maybe stain it and give it a few coats of varnish.

Really. Stop right there.

You might be embarking on a journey that will last at least three weeks, and make you grubby, sweaty and miserable, probably give you lead poisoning, ruin all your clothes, take you on countless trips to the hardware store, go through acres of sandpaper, seas of paint stripper, and increasingly expensive machines for stripping and sanding.

Yes children, it happened to me. and my hell is not yet over.

The tragedy is that the finished effect (if it does finish) will probably not inspire a great deal of comment, appreciation or admiration of anyone. It won’t look particularly special for all the hard work. The only people that recognize the hard work for what it is and the curse you voluntarily took upon yourself will be those that trod the path before you. They might give you sympathy, a chuckle of shared knowing. But that is it.

So by all means, sand a little to take the decades of painty hair and fluff off.  Fill a little, to smooth out the chips in the remaining paint. And then do the only decent thing to preserve your sanity. Paint the f*cker white again.


Cambridge Geek Night! Two!

Cambridge Geek Night 2 in the Cambridge Evening News on 4th August

The second of the Cambridge Geek Nights, organised by Vero ( after the successful Oxford geek nights, was last week. Again I was one of the few women at a techie event. It was a popular, lively evening, and I am definitely looking forward to the next one.

There were some interesting talks, including one by Michael Brunton-Spall of the guardian open platform. Of course, as an audience we were particularly warm to him as his employer kindly picked up the bar tab – particularly yummy cocktails at the Maypole! Richard Boulton gave a good introduction to open source search library that he is coding, Xapian. There were some lawyers who talked about IP too.

There was a write-up in the Cambridge Evening News on 4th August, disappointingly I could not find reference online. Vero, thankfully tweeted about it and posted a scan on flickr. Here it is!

Geekettes at the Cambridge Geek Nights


One Rule to a Flat Stomach: Obey

Here it is:

Eat less and be more active.

No good sitting around on the sofa watching telly and eating chips. The fat’s not moving until you do.

Those ads that you see everywhere, on Hotmail, MSN, Facebook…simple. That’s a scam scam scam.

That acai berry extract and stuff labeled ‘colon cleanse’ really won’t help, sorry. Unless you take them as part of a calorie-controlled diet and increase your physical activity, of course…but then you are really just getting into stone soup territory.

Oh, the free sample is just a hook. How do you think they get money to stick their offensive but highly effective ads all over the internets? Easy! They take your Credit card and whap a bunch o charges on it. Oh and another thing, Judy isn’t real. It’s not a blog. It’s a ploy to give the scammy advertiser the personal touch, to connect with you. Just like Mike Smithson and his money site.

Really you just wanted to look at more pictures of the fat chick that’s fatter than you, right?

Yep that’s why I’ve clicked on those ads. Maybe 20, 30 times…

It’s just shocking to me that so many mainstream and successful websites are OK with taking their dirty money, and so encourage their unsuspecting and eager users to play into the hands of con-artists. Yay commerce. Yay unregulated markets.




Update: I followed the link to ‘Judy’s blog’, and noticed that the British version (unlike the US version – same text, different images) has trademark information, terms and conditions printed at the bottom:

All trademarks, logos, and service marks are registered and/or unregistered Trademarks of their respective owners. is an affiliated website, marketing the health supplement products “AcaiBerry Exclusive” and “Effective Cleanse”. …You will be charged the super low price of £79.00 at the end of your 15-day trial period…Unless you call to cancel, you’ll continue to get a fresh one-month supply of Life Cleanse every 30 days for the low price of £79.00 (+£3.95 shipping and handling).

That’s good that they give this information, not all of the ads do, albeit couched in some odd salesmany words. £79 for powdered acai doesn’t sound like a super low price to me. In the year 2088 perhaps that would be a bargain. But not today!

Poor saps that don’t scroll to the bottom and read what they are in for are suckered out of an astounding £82.95 every thirty days unless they call a telephone number to cancel. I’d imagine if the company was really shifty they might never answer the phone or put callers into a monstrous call queue. But…they wouldn’t do that, would they?

Economics Philosophy Politics

Buy More Stuff

Buy Less, Sing More anti-capitalist choir took to the streets and the shopping arcades of Cambridge on Saturday 1st August 2009, singing songs from Rev Billy and the Life after Shopping Choir songbook.

Image courtesy of Cameraboy, reprinted from Indymedia
Reprinted from Indymedia UK
Courtesy of Cameraboy, reprinted from Indymedia UK
Reprinted from Indymedia UK

I managed to convince a few friends to accompany me in a placard-waving counter-action, to encourage people instead to Buy More Stuff. Given the number of glum-faced people with chain-store bags and scurrying in and out of shops, I think we won!

Have your own campaign in your own hometown, or stick posters up in your window. Remind others to strive for validation as consumers and surrender unto Mammon!

Click on the images below to download the pdf for print-ready A4 size versions, or feel free to create some yourself!





You can also download all of the above ‘buy more stuff’ posters as a zip

With many thanks to Michael Holden who organizes Buy More Stuff campaigns in and around Seattle, whose idea I ‘borrowed’

Reprinted from Michael Holden's website
Reprinted from Michael Holden's website

I found this lovely video on the youtubes. Enjoy!


Public Service Announcement – A ba boop a boop boo boop

That song on the video, it keeps playing when you are watching streaming media on the web in the UK, before and after and between, you’re dying to know what it it is, aren’t you? It’s jazzy, scatty, dancable and ohmygod catchy. You’re walking down the street and all you can hear in your head is ‘ababoop boo boo boo’. What the hell is that music?

You’ve even gone to the website, and visited the Late Rooms Press Releases area, but that too is extremely unhelpful. Don’t artists have to be attributed? Isn’t that the deal?

What the hell is that song? What’s he saying? Baboo? Ba Boo boo? You do a web search. Bah boo. Abahboo? You can find anything on Google. Baboop.

You’ve always been pretty good at finding things. You keep getting results for Betty Boop. Wow. That’s a weird cartoon. Was everyone on drugs?

Did they really show this to kids? So many questions.

There’s loads of sites that are supposed to list musicians and writers for the soundtrack of adverts, and when you look up ‘Dizzy with Choice’ – you’ve at least found what the ad men are calling it – and little comes up. Some helpful person might have mentioned that the song was Bring Your Daughter To the Slaughter by Iron Maiden, which was quite funny actually. But surely someone has the actual information and put it somewhere accessible? What is going ON?

Every time a Levi Jeans commercial came on the TV, suddenly the associated single was played everywhere and immediately available to purchase. Legions of artists had their careers boosted or revived beyond all reason because their song was accompanying the suggested unbuttoning of flies. Hey Babylon Zoo anyone? *snigger*. Hows about Smoke City? Actually that song was quite good (Underwater Love). And I’ve actually got Mr Oiso’s album on the strength of a head-banging puppet, Flat Eric.

So if the song has been driving you mad, you’ve been searching for long nonsensical scat phrases, and nothing has come up so far, this is for you.

  • Baboop
  • Ababoo
  • Abap-boo Pudup Boo-Poo
  • Boobooboo
  • Jazz it up
  • Dizzy With Choice

Ready? Yeah because I have been dragging this out a bit, it’s my blog, I can do what I like. Ha.

Artist: The Real Tuesday Weld. Album: ‘The London Book of the Dead’. Song: ‘Cloud Cuckoo Land’.

It was used in an awesome animation called ‘Last Time in Clerkenwell’ by Alex Budovsky. If the song from hell is not in your head yet, it will be after you watch this.


Unofficial art spaces, unsanctioned community centres

bingo_hall_cambridge_183There are many buildings here in Cambridge and elsewhere that were purchased for development but are standing empty and unused since the economic downturn. It’s going to be interesting to see what happens to them.

A group of local young anarchists are set on turning these fallow buildings into resources for the community. They squatted the proposed site of the Tescos on Mill Road, tapping into the anti-Tescos sentiment in the area and grassroots political action. For four days this week, a number of people squatted the old Bingo Hall on Hobson Street, with their first poetry slam/spoken word event planned last night. Unfortunately, they were forcefully removed from the premises the night before by at least 50 police and tactical units in riot gear. Talk about overkill. From the Cambridge Freespaces blog:

The fire officer who accompanied the police said that the occupiers would have to immediately remove the metal grills covering fire doors to make the building safe. This was planned for the following morning, and the occupiers and fire warden agreed that this could happen immediately, however the police accompanying the fire officer made it clear that this would immediately lead to arrests for criminal damage.

It was obvious from the huge number of police in attendance that the outcome was already set, and that the only result the police would tolerate was eviction. Given the recent reputation of police actions against political protesters, the occupiers left for the own safety rather than keep the doors secured.

The building is a glorious Art Deco affair, built as a cinema. The original building on the site was Cambridge Motor Service Co. which converted to a cinema in 1921. In 1929, the first sound synchronized film was shown, The Broadway Melody. This was the first of a hugely popular series of movies made by Metro Goldwnn Meyer, that broke new ground by not only being the first all-talkie feature-length musical film, it also featured a technicolor sequence.

Also in 1929, the theatre may have burnt down, the current building was built the following year,  in 1930. After many decades of shifting cinema technology, ownership, and the occasional fire, the cinema closed down to become a Bingo Hall in 1972, and remained as such until a few weeks ago.

Step forward to Tuesday, 14th July last week, where I and a friend explored the many floors and passages and rooms, went on the roof. It had been occupied for a day or so, and all the people I met were smiley, excited, and full of plans and hope for the space. They were talking to various fine artists, musicians and cinema aficionados, all were eager to work in the space. Given that it’s the 80th anniversary of the showing of The Broadway Melody this year, and as homage to to original use of the site as a cinema, the film would be shown one evening soon.

All talked about community dictating the use of empty buildings in the area. Instead of neighbourhoods becoming riddled with swiss cheese holes of unused sites and spaces, we would fill them with art and activities. Provide shelter for people that needed shelter. Have shared meals, get to know our neighbours, work together to make the world better, one district at a time. It could happen.

At the meeting outside of the building last night – which was orderly, passionate, respectful – while the private security guards were inside behind the security screens and grates, there were talks of next steps.  There were charges against the original occupiers of the building – they were named on documents taped by the door. Though squatting is a civil matter, it becomes criminal if there is any damage to the property, and very serious indeed if trespassing takes place while the building is occupied by people working on behalf of the landlord. So the building is a no-go. That big, beautiful, central, part-of-Cambridge-history building will have to stand fallow until it gets knocked down. The building is ‘of historical interest’ but not protected.  We will just have to transfer our plans to another venue.

I took a bunch of pictures on my phone, I regret the quality is not good.


Self-focus self-conscious

I’ve always had a thing about taking photos of people. I feel self-conscious – people always behave oddly when there is a camera around.

I am so used to wandering around on my own, snapping textures, close-ups of things, buildings at odd angles. When I am with a friend in a  place of note, I’ve often forget the protocol – you take a picture of your friend in or next to that place of note. You do not blithely snap away with them rubber limbed standing next to you.

People like pictures of themselves. They might not, at the time, say so. Especially if they are English. English people tend to get a little shy around the camera, giggle and shift about, look away, and stiffly grin. But in ten years time, they will surely appreciate that picture. How young, how sexy, how beautiful they were.

When you take a picture of a friend, you are engaged with a dialogue with them through the lens. They know you are taking a photo – that’s often part of the deal – and more often then not they are staring directly at the camera. And saying cheese.

When you take a picture of strangers, there is no dialogue. You actually don’t want them to know that you are taking a photo of them at all. Ideally, you want them to  continue just being, to carry on with what they are doing. You are a fly on the wall. They are the place, the picturesque location.

So you want the camera to be as unobtrusive as possible. That is, unless your name is Bruce Gilden – his pictures are violent, dangerous, intimate, shocking, forcefully taken – you take pictures like a psychopath, without pity or empathy or shame. Oh by the way, he is one of my favorite photographers. I love his work, his pictures are powerful.

What do you do when you want to observe people? You have more ethics than Bruce Gilden. Its not polite to stare – people don’t like it.

As a member of the public, you often just take glimpses of the people around you, short fleeting looks. Even if you are on the public boat to Guidecca, and there is a goth lady with painted on eyebrows buttoned up in black with spider-web legs in 85 degree heat, eating an apple with fierce concentration, and you really want to take her in, visually. No! short, fleeting looks. Your eyes may settle on her briefly, almost in spite of your efforts, while your gaze wonders up to check on the next stop. Was it casual enough? Did she notice?

My new technique is to get the camera to stare for me. I set up the shot in a casual way, looking down, at an angle, then look elsewhere and take the picture. It’s a little bit of a splatter-gun approach to photography. You get a lot of rubbish, you need to edit furiously afterwards. Rarely are the pictures in focus or framed right if you are working quickly. But you get interesting results, for the 1 in 24 that comes out ok. Dammit, if I only had a decent resolution and it was in focus.

<object width=”425″ height=”344″><param name=”movie” value=””></param><param name=”allowFullScreen” value=”true”></param><param name=”allowscriptaccess” value=”always”></param><embed src=”” type=”application/x-shockwave-flash” allowscriptaccess=”always” allowfullscreen=”true” width=”425″ height=”344″></embed></object>

Odd things that I’ve noticed about Venice

decay is quite pretty
black-face is still offensive
home security can be decorative
  1. The keyholes are often SIDEWAYS
  2. Cruise ships are TALLER than the buildings
  3. Decay is quite pretty (elegantly slummy)
  4. Black-face‘ is offensive even when black men are doing it.
  5. European empires have always plundered the Islamic world culturally, artistically, materially.
  6. So much water – where are the ducks?
  7. Opera makes no sense if you don’t know the story. Or the language they are singing in. Or the language of the subtitles.
  8. Paint a turd crackly gold, tie a ribbon round it, and a tourist might buy it.
  9. Pasta with tomato sauce is not an adequate veggie option.
  10. White bread is very very white. And very very tasteless.
  11. You can get lost even though you have a map and you are looking at it.
  12. This is not a night-time party town.
  13. A thunderstorm is a weather state, not an event.
  14. Home security can be decorative.
  15. Not a great place if you get sea-sick or you dislike strong smells. Or you are vegan.
  16. A great place to get ugly oversized knock-off designer handbags after midnight any day of the week.

Bridge of OH F*CK its full of ads

Just. Amazing. Appalling. If I ever bought Sisley shit I would boycot Sisley shit.