Monday Morning “Impediment to Productivity” – 20080324


Well it’s Easter, season of eating chocolate and watching bad television. Except that this year instead of doing just that we drove up to the Hills and visited Doreen (we have mentioned her before) so Jools could have a chat with her about her art and we spent the day actually exploring her world and doing stuff. You can see what we did over at Jools Pontificates . It was a hoot.

On a far less salubrious note, The Guardian had an article about how the director of forensic sciences at Scotland Yard, says primary school children should be eligible for the DNA database if they exhibit behaviour indicating they may become criminals in later life. Now I don’t know about you but it seems to me that English government is going out of it’s way trying to prove that George Orwell was a bloody optimist.
Not convinced? Then try this from The Telegraph. ”
domestic passengers at the new Heathrow Terminal 5 will be fingerprinted and photographed twice, to “ensure the passenger boarding the aircraft is the same person.” The airport says they’ll only keep it for 24h — unless the police need them to keep it longer.” Scary stuff folks.
So the score so far George Orwell and the Optimists (great band name that) -1

And if that wasn’t enough to make you wonder the Vatican has issued an additional seven “social sins.”
I would like to point out that they have probably one first prize in the first stone throwing competition. I just saw the “front office” on the news tonight and I reckon that they are doing pretty well on breaking 5, 6 and 7. Talk about pots calling the kettle black.

Seeing as how I missed St Patrick’s Day last week here is a rendition of Danny Boy that will bring tears to your eyes (tears of laughter). Turn the volume up for this one. I love Animal

Billy Bragg performs Waiting for the Great Leap Forwards from the album Worker’s Playtime live at the 2008 South by Southwest Music Conference.
He then followed it up a week or two later with an OpEd piece in the New York Times. What’s your opinion folks?

Futurismic is a blog that covers scientific advances; new technology and technological products; news about technology companies; descriptions of people impacted by technology; emergent cultural or social phenomena; or political issues that couldn’t exist in the absence of any of the above. It has tarted up it’s original fiction section with a short story by Eliot Fintushel, who is a funny and a tad weird sf writer. The story’s called “Uxo, Bomb Dog.” Spotted at Boing Boing

UXO, BOMB DOG by Eliot Fintushel

Duggup this week was fun.. Jools posted “My Morning Jacket” who are absolutely great, I found “Papercranes”, “Birdmoster” and “Fiddlers Bid”. Papercranes are brilliant. Head over and check it out.

Flash Game Time: So your childhood doesn’t include the Samurai and bad Japanese movies, think this makes you impervious to the allure of being a ninja. Bad luck, Ninja Rampage is an incredibly simple timewaster; your ninja only has a few moves: jump, crouch, walk, and stab with your sword. Don’t be fooled the game rockets along and before you know it, it’s Tuesday. In Ninja Rampage, your goal is to move from the left side of the screen through the right side without getting killed by guards or booby-traps. Like all good ninjas there is no limit on the number of times you can die and try again. Oh wait, as that ninjas or the Phantom?, who knows. It’s like that scene in Monty Python, one more try sir, one tiny little go, what can it possibly hurt.. you could do worse than Ninja Rampage.

Well that’s enough for this week. Have a good one.


{Currently listening to Jose Gonzalez and Jackson Browne (the solo one) }
{Currently reading: Old Robert Heinlein (it’s fun)}
{Quick Status Check: Hell, they’ve taken all the sugar out of Coco Pops, damn nanny state.}
{Crop Circle Status: It’s not long to May now (about 38 sleeps) and the games will begin again. }


Monday Morning “Impediment to Productivity” – 20080317


I finished messing with the promised recording of “Mad Violet and a Zoom H4”, the problem was that every time I started work on it I would just end up listening to the concert and forget what it was I was supposed to be doing (er. that would be picking a track and editing it), finally I decided to go with the last song of their set as pretty representative of what they do. I had fun.
I also forgot to mention that back in January, the fabbo Atlantic Monthly magazine has dropped its “pay to play” model, switching its 150 years of archives over to an ad-supported model. So I now have the New York Times and the Atlantic Monthly to feed my information habit. To give you an idea of why I wax lyrical about this magazine read, it’s an amazing article and you will sort of see why I like it.

And with the unrepentant soundtrack of ice clinking in a glass of single malt it’s time to “Allez Sillies”

Lets start the sillies with YouTube this week, Jools found this and then sent it to me. I fell of my chair laughing (monitor warning. do NOT be drinking coffee while watching this). In all honesty I had forgotten about this band (Jools now wishes she had)
“You could consider this as a MMI. Every one of the RAC boys has a microphone for goodness sake = I’d hate to be the foldback mixer for this little gig.
Love, Jools ”

Cai Guo-Qiang is an artist who in his current exhibition at the Guggenheim merges Mythbusters and Top Gear, performance art with a new matrix of cultural meaning, as he pursues the idea that conflict and transformation are interdependent conditions of life, and hence art. This is especially true of Inopportune: Stage One, Cai’s largest installation to date, which presents nine real cars in a cinematic progression that simulates a car bombing, occupying the central atrium of the Frank Lloyd Wright rotunda.

The video at
documents the incredible installation process of Inopportune: Stage One, which Thomas Krens, Director of the Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation, says “may be the best artistic transformation of the Frank Lloyd Wright space we’ve ever seen.”
I would so love to be able to see this.

Subterranean Press has produced a free MP3 audiobook of Charlie Stross’s comic science fiction novella “Trunk and Disorderly.” Think P. G. Wodehouse meets Robert A. Heinlein as filtered through Mr. Stross’s sensibilities. You can find out about Charlie Stross here
You can hear the stories (or download them for you MP3 player here

Steampunk Magazine Issue 4 is out. I have mentioned this one before. Full of steampunky goodness, stories and biographies, an interview with New Weird shakers Ann and Jeff VanderMeer and makers Donna Lynch and Steve Archer, DIY millinery, making a Jacob’s Ladder, learning to plate stuff with brass, and the straight dope on Victorian trance machines. If you like it, slip them a few bucks.

You so want one of these. I quote from the hype on the site.
“Most doormats are about as interesting as…erm, doormats. And anything that veers from those boring, brown, bristly affairs usually features some twee Stepford-style message. So thank goodness the chic Space Invaders LED Doormat has dum-dum-dummed its way down to earth to inject a dash of quirky cool into the foot wiping arena.”
Alright then, I want one of these.

Duggup this week was fun.. Still bouncing around across and following up some little nooks and crannies. continuing it’s eclectic romp through music. So what’s there this week? Jools found Anchorsong (who I also thought were spiffy) and my favourite this week was Josh Ritter. Stroll over and check it out.

Flash Game Time: Spin the Black Circle is this weeks offering. It gets of to a thrilling start with a disclaimer claiming no responsibility for anything you might do out of frustration when playing the game. This turns out to “honesty in advertising” , it is challenging and frustrating game but it’s a hoot to play (and a serious time soak)

The concept of the game is fairly straightforward. Large black hole, green ball, sharp pointy bits and a target. You can rotate the entire circle either left or right, and it moves at a constant speed. Inside the circle is a ball that is subject to the law of gravity, and the object of the game is to rotate the circle to guide the ball past various hazards to the goal.
We wont talk about my pathetic score, but I have a “Jack Kerouac” approach to these things now, “the journey is more important than the destination (read loser.. big time)

Well that’s enough for this week. Have a good one.


{Currently listening to Nightnoise and }
{Currently reading: Still on the godawful SBS2003 manuals}
{Quick Status Check: Held over by unpopular demand. Micro$cum manuals are hell}
{Crop Circle Status: It’s not long to May now (about 45 sleeps) and the games will begin again. }


Mad Violet, The Front Row, Foldback Wedges and a Zoom H4

About a year ago I wrote a quick review over at duggup of Mad Violet, a killer duo from Canada.

So I was absolutely chuffed when I got a note from Harmony Row @ Albert Park announcing that Mad Violet and Kristina Olsen were going to be playing there. A quick call secured tickets and then it was just wait…

Mad VioletFirst up on the night was Mad Violet. After waiting over a year to see them play, tonight’s the night (good title for a song). Soundcheck was just finishing when we arrived and the sound straight off the stage bodes well.

Albert Park Lounge is a squarish room with a low ceiling, the stage is a small riser and the PA speakers are set wide, in front of the stage were 2 powered foldback wedges. So where did we sit? That’s right… front row centre just behind the gap in the wedges and where did I put the Zoom H4? On the top of my bag angled up towards the mics. Going well isn’t it?

The funny thing is, that live the show sounded great. Brenley MacEachern and Lisa MacIsaac are just fantastic performers. From the moment they started the first song they just owned us. The audience went wherever they wanted to go.

The track I picked to put up is the last one of the set. Brenley is playing a 1957 Harmony semi acoustic tenor guitar and Lisa is on her Taylor for the song and fiddle for the set of tunes.

Never Saw The Ending” and Tunes [audio:MadVioletLive@AlbertParkFeb2008.mp3]
There is a lot of the room in the recording but it will give you an idea of just how much fun they were. The tunes especially are just awesome.

If you get a chance to see them ask them to sing “Ransom” it’s a nice shiny new song that they were playing for the second time and it will break your heart when you hear it. This one sounds amazing as a duo, and when they record it with the band… wow .

Second Bracket is Kristina Olsen & Steven Tabener on double bass
Kristina is an engaging performer with a deep throaty blues voice and brilliant guitar skills, I fell in love with her bright red fibreglass body “Beltona Hi-Life” resonator guitar (Yes I want one). Her bracket like the “Mad Violet” bracket before it went so quickly. Head to her MySpace site and have a listen to “How I Love This Tango”, it was my favourite song on the night.

Steven Tabener on upright bass and occasional vocal gave Olsen’s songs a broader dimension, especially on the blues pieces. He gave them a punch that allowed Kristina to stretch a bit.

So the lesson from the evening? Zoom H4’s don’t like sitting on foldback wedges (go figure), Mad Violet were fantastic and Kristina Olsen is a great performer and I want to hear more of Steven Tabener playing bass.

All in all a good one.


Monday Morning “Impediment to Productivity” – 20080310


Ah the joys of a long weekend. Kicked back on the chaise lounge (all right it’s actually the couch) and rummaging through the Inbox. God I get some crap… but before we get to the usual silly stuff lets start with a farewell. Last week Gary Gygax passed away. Who? Gary Gygax co-created the game “Dungeons & Dragons”, and in the process changed the world, as the New York Times op-ed piece by Adam Rogers noted

“We live in Gary Gygax’s world. The most popular books on earth are fantasy novels about wizards and magic swords. The most popular movies are about characters from superhero comic books. The most popular TV shows look like elaborate role-playing games: intricate, hidden-clue-laden science fiction stories connected to impossibly mathematical games that live both online and in the real world. And you, the viewer, can play only if you’ve sufficiently mastered your home-entertainment command center so that it can download a snippet of audio to your iPhone, process it backward with beluga whale harmonic sequences and then podcast the results to the members of your Yahoo group.”

It works for me.

The promised recording of “Mad Violet and a Zoom H4” will be up later this week at later this week and the concert review over at duggup.
I love a public holiday.

And with the unrepentant soundtrack of ice clinking in a glass of single malt it’s time to “Allez Sillies”

Lets begin this week with something totally useless. Cool, but useless. So what does it do. Burning text. Fiery words on your desktop That’s it. That’s all it does. (Oh it does one other thing, if you install this at work it will drive your network support nuts… I should know). There are a bunch of things you can do to customise it just how you want.

Curious about the whole viral marketing thing? Here is how it works, you go to say play with the kittens, think it’s totally hilarious and send it off to everyone you know. There by becoming
A: a spammer and
B: indirectly responsible for me receiving 27000 copies of this in my inbox over the next month. Isn’t the internet fun?

From BoingBoing – StarShipSofa is a weekly podcast that has started to put out Hugo Winning audio stories for free. Last week we put up David Brin’s 1985 Hugo winning story “The Crystal Spheres.” This week we put up Bruce Sterling’s 1989 story “We See Things Differently.” Other narrated stories include 2007 Hugo nominee Peter Watts and Michael Moorcock. A host of SF writers have offered to let the StarShipSofa narrate their works. Writers who have already donated their work include Ian Watson, Pat Cadigan, Harry Harrison, Joe Haldeman, Joan D Vinge, Norman Spinrad, Ian MacDonald, J D Nordley, Gweneth Jones, Alastair Reynolds, Jerry Pournelle, Landon Jones, John Varley, Pat Murphy, John Kessel, Laurel Winter, Jeff Vandermeer, Kevin J Anderson, Bradley Denton and Matthew Hughes. I personally loved the Bruce Sterling piece.

Let’s try for some irony this week. I am not a big fan of J.J. Abrams work. He’s the dude behind Alias, Lost, Mission Impossible III, and Cloverfield. BUT he gave a talk at TED last year that I found fascinating and the ideas he espoused keep banging away in my brain.
Abrams starts his talk by showing a wrapped box he’s owned for decades. It’s a “mystery package” he bought from a magic shop in New York. The kicker is he’s never opened the box and says he never will because then the “magic” will escape.

“It represents infinite possibility; it represents hope; it represents potential… mystery is the catalyst for imagination… maybe there are times where mystery is more important than knowledge.”

I still don’t like his shows but I have a whole new slant on how to watch them

Video here: and just the audio here

The recent Joint Mathematics Meetings in San Diego featured an exhibition of work by forty mathematician/artists. Science News (which is a regular on my reading list) looks at several of the artworks that draw from dynamical systems, topology, and fractals.
Some of this stuff is just wonderful, have a look at Sarah-Marie Belcastro’s knitted topologies or Douglas McKenna’s “Modern Art” Totally captivating and wow does it mess with your head.

Speaking of messing with your head, Jools covered Devandra Banhart last year in duggup. The Eternal Children is a documentary by David Kleijwegt about the contemporary freak folk scene, starring such musicians as Devendra Banhart, CocoRosie, Antony & The Johnsons, and Vashti Bunyan. Head over to YouTube and have a look. There are six episodes of about 9 minutes or so each. Worth a look and I will bet it stretches your definition of music and performance.

Speaking of duggup (nice segue there what?) continues it’s an eclectic romp through music. So what’s there this week? Jools found Bob Fox and my favourite this week is Jose Gonzalez, don’t let the name put you off. he’s from Sweden and you have heard him before think Sony ad with lots and lots of bouncing balls. Stroll over and check it out.

Flash Game Time: Jools strikes again…
“And then there is this – if this is not an Impedimentia I don’t know what is. A tad slow to load and the cartoon violence is pretty umm gruesome.
Love, Jools ”
This is really fun in a “Road Runner and Coyote” kind of way.

Bonus Flash Game (Public Hols and all that). Grid16 is a weird little combination of mini games for people with short attention spans. oh that would be me. A grid of 16 squares, and each has its own game. All you need are arrow keys and good reflexes as the game’s “camera” moves from mini game to mini game.

So you may start out playing a Brickout-type mini game for a few seconds, then switch to a game where you must move a small square to avoid walls. The game steadily increases the speed at which it moves you between mini games, which gets tricky since you pick up the games where you left off when you start the mini game again. You are so gonna hate me for this one.

Well that’s enough for this week. If you are in Melbourne, I hope you enjoy your day off and if your not. what the hell chuck a sickie.


{Currently listening to Feist and Lunasa}
{Currently reading: Even drearier SBS2003 manuals}
{Quick Status Check: As noted many many times before, Micro$cum manuals are hell}
{Crop Circle Status: It’s not long to May now (about 52 sleeps) and the games will begin again. }