Sunday, 31 August 2008

Statistically Perfect but Sexually Confused

"Androgynous android, statistically perfect in physical appearance but confused about own sexuality, WLTM open-minded males, females and appliances for friendship, evenings out and no cables attached fun, possibly leading to LTR. Bristol, Bath, North East Somerset"

Advice from the Manufacturer

Each robot is individually hand-crafted and built to perform in a wide variety of applications, including entertainment, research, animation, and even consumer households. Over the years, we have mastered the art of bringing to life amazing characters by sculpting them into crowd drawing masterpieces. All HumanKind robots have the following capabilities:
  • Emulate over 62 facial and neck muscles
  • Embedded micro-cameras providing vision recognition
  • Utilizes the latest in A.I. software technology for face and speech recognition, eye tracking, and conversational operations
  • Capable of running in full autonomous or Robo-phone mode, meaning that you can turn off the A.I. to use the robot for local/remote pupeteering or even research
  • Portable and can run on up to 1/20 the power required for comparable products
  • Interface with standard computers (included with robot)
  • Can function in a variety of environments.

Well, you know what they say...
Nothing ventured, nothing gained!

Friday, 29 August 2008

Reputation Management

Have you ever done that thing where you type someone's name into Google, to see what you get?

Like, someone who you remember from your neighbourhood, when you were growing up?

Someone who used to hang out with one of your cousins, maybe? And you think they might have become successful, or famous... or notorious?

And have you then found them listed as "... is married and regularly takes it up the arse" ?


So it's just me, then?

Thursday, 28 August 2008

Glowing Green Bunnies! Glowing Green Bunnies!

This is Alba, an albino rabbit who looks normal in normal light, but glows phosphorescent green in the dark. She is the subject of the brilliantly titled chapter I wanted to read in that book about Queering the Non-Human (education is such fun!)


Alba was designed by Eduardo Kac, a Brazilian artist, and Louis-Marie Houdebine, a French geneticist. The rabbit's DNA was modified by the fluorescent protein EGP, a synthetic variant of a naturally existing gene from the jellyfish Aquaria Victoria, which was introduced through zygote micro-injection.

Apparently, Alba's "rabbit remix" was part of Kac's investigations into Telepresence & Bio Art, and she is supposed to entail some kind of statement about hybrids and creativity and integrating into society. I'm not so sure about it, especially since I read that the scientists involved fell out with the artist and claim that the publicity pictures of Alba were Photoshopped to make her green glow look stronger than it actually was.

Two Disapproving Rabbits

I realise that the queer sensibility tries to "ungird" and de-stabilize our sense of what is and isn't "natural". But I also thought that identity politics was about not letting other people define our identities for us? Genetically manipulating an animal, and then manipulating the photographs of said creature, doesn't really symbolize liberation and diversity to me.

God, as I understand Her to be

Hieronymous Bosch Action Figures

I've just discovered that the National Gallery in London is selling Hieronymous Bosch action figures. Can you think of anything more utterly cool than that?

Collect them. Play with them. Share them with your friends.

Re-enact your favourite monstrous mediaeval scenes of sin, wickedness, and folly! Preside over the Last Judgment, and witness the torments of the damned in Hell!

My life wasn't complete without this.

Wednesday, 27 August 2008

Women's Petition Against Coffee

I know I am depraved beyond redemption. It is not yet nine in the morning, and I am already sipping the rich, dark brew. And thanks to my habit, Thoufands of Buxome Good-Women, are Languifhing in Extremity of Want (sic).

Coffee was introduced into England in 1650, and clever people very quickly lost interest in the Civil War and became scientists and merchants and natural philosophers. The Queen's Lane Coffee House in Oxford was established in 1654, and I often go there when I'm in Oxford and feel like getting in touch with the spirit of the Enlightenment and dispelling a hangover.

But not everyone approved of the change. The Women's Petition Against Coffee is a satirical pamphlet about men who never fight with any weapon except the tongue, and are 'unfit to be the life-guard to a cherry-tree' (mmm, you bitch.)

The women's petition concludes with these stirring words:

Wherefore the Premises considered, and to the end that our just Rights may be restored, and all the Antient Priviledges of our Sex preserved inviolable;
That our Husbands may give us some other Testimonies of their being Men, besides their Beards and wearing of empty Pantaloons: That they no more run the hazard of being Cuckol'd by Dildo's:

But returning to the good old strengthning Liquors of our Forefathers; that Natures Exchequer may once again be replenisht, and a Race of Lusty Hero's begot, able by their Achievments, to equal the Glories of our Ancesters.

We Humbly Pray, That you our Trusty Patrons would improve your Interest, that henceferth the Drinking COFFEE may on severe penalties be forbidden to all Persons under the Age of Threescore; and that instead thereof, Lusty nappy Beer, Cock-Ale, Cordial Canaries, Restoring Malago's, and Back-recruiting Chocholes be Recommended to General Use, throughout the Utopian Territories.

In hopes of which Glorious Reformation, your Petitioners shall readily Prostrate themselves, and ever Pray,&c.

I like my coffee like my women. One or two, first thing in the morning, before I start work. Then another, a couple of hours later.

I am really not sure what a back-recruiting chochole is. It sounds a bit gay, if you ask me.

Tuesday, 26 August 2008

My Queer Studies

I hope you'll excuse me for deviating from my normal standards of trivia and frippery to discuss something that matters to me.

Some of you know, and some of you don't, that I've been working on a PhD thesis, and a fine old mad-making piece of merriment it has proved to be.

I've been researching Lloyd's of London: how the insurance industry negotiates contracts, and the difficulties of designing an electronic environment to negotiate in, instead of doing everything face to face in this fine, shiny building on the corner of Lime Street.

Over the weekend I discovered an important concept that explains something what I've been trying to explain. To my surprise, the insight comes from Queer Studies; specifically, it comes from the insights we get once we stop thinking about nature and culture as fundamentally separate, and look at meeting the universe halfway: how we perform the world into existence by the ways we study it, interpret it, and try to change it.

So there you have it: the application of Queer Theory to the insurance industry. For example, performing New Orleans into existence, again, after Hurricane Katrina. (That seems to be a very slow project.)

I shouldn't allow myself to get distracted, but there's another chapter in the same anthology called 'An Unfinished Conversation About Glowing Green Bunnies'. I mean, that's got to be worth a read, hasn't it?

Monday, 25 August 2008

August Bank Holiday

Grandma's got new dentures
To eat the crust on pizza
Been taken out by her daughter
Because she thought she oughter
The kids are eating snickers
Because they're so delicious
Then there's sticky fingers
And mother loses her knickers

Bank holiday comes six times a year
Days of enjoyment to which everyone cheers
Bank holiday comes with a six pack of beer
....then its back to work A.G.A.I.N.

Bar-b-que is cooking
Sausages and chicken
The patio is buzzing
The neighbours they are looking
John is down the fun pub
Drinking lots of lager
Girls and boys are on the game
And all the high streets look the same

Bank holiday comes six times a year
Days of enjoyment to which everyone cheers
Bank holiday comes with a six pack of beer
....then its back to work A.G.A.I.N.


Sunday, 24 August 2008

Beijing 2008

Move along please, there's nothing to see here

Friday, 22 August 2008

Now and then I cower

Now and then I cower and I
Need to find empowerment.

Empowerment is paramount
To how I can begin to mount
A plan that I can implement
To make a dent on ignorance

Instead of drunk belligerence
The dissidence of miscreants
Especially in this instance

With the never ending persistence
To use the words in each sentence
As if they were blunt instruments

To beat a hole in the defence
Of beauty and her innocence
Which serves to build resistance
in spite of all my good intents.

Scroobius Pip

Saturday, 16 August 2008

Top Ten Tips on Having Sex in a Taxi

1. Wear a skirt and no underwear. For this reason, we don't recommend attempting this act in the middle of winter--that's the last place you want frostbite.

2. Get in a bit of foreplay before you hail the cab so you're both raring to go when you get in: make out on a street corner, sit in the back row at the movies, exchange some dirty text messages...

3. You might be tempted to get so drunk that you have no idea whether or not the driver is watching, but we think this is bad manners. A drink or two to calm your nerves is one thing, but too much booze + motion sickness = not exactly your "Before I Die" fantasy sesh!

4. Oh, and he totally knows what you're up to, by the way. But isn't that kind of the point?

5. Unless you just decide to give each other a sneaky handjob, of course.

6. For something a little more, trying sitting on your boyfriend's lap, facing away from him. It's not exactly stealth sex--especially if you get caught at a red light--but at least no naughty bits will be on display.

7. If it's late at night and one of you is lying down across the seat resting your head in your partner's lap, this could be a nice segue into oral sex.

8. Don't expect a happy ending...this is more about the journey than the destination (both literally and figuratively). But even getting just a little busy in the back of a cab will provide you with fantasy fodder for years to come!

9. If you'd like a little more privacy (and a shot at that happy ending), then consider renting a limo with a privacy screen. Why not surprise your partner by picking up from the airport in one of these? It'd be just like prom night but without all the teen drama and bad hairdo's.

10. And most important of all: tip your driver!

Thursday, 14 August 2008

Drunk Emails

When we were kids, the television was our babysitter.
The Internet is not our babysitter.
The Internet is a drunk librarian, who never stops talking,
and is always trying to get into our pants.

When I send you drunk e-mails,
And you send me no reply,
Where is the love you feel,
That you give me in the daytime?

Yes these are loaded questions,
Sent to you late at night,
But baby I still need answers,
That I'll take to heart at sunrise.

When I send you drunk e-mails,
And you send me no reply,
Where is the love you feel,
That you give me in the daytime?

Chock-full of typos I know,
Language and grammar die,
Questions that must be asked though,
I won't have the heart at sunrise.

When I send you drunk e-mails,
Why do you not reply?


Thursday, 7 August 2008

Paris Hilton Enters Race For President

Last week John McCain put out an attack ad comparing Barack Obama to Britney Spears and Paris Hilton. Now, Hilton has put out a spoof video hitting back at McCain, the "oldest celebrity in the world" and a wrinkly, white haired dude, and declaring herself "totally hot" and "ready to lead".

Paris Hilton shows off her presidential credentials.
You can see more funny videos at Funny or Die

I think it's no more than McCain deserved. His team tried to portray Obama as superficial and inexperienced (he could have just said: young and popular, but that would have been too kind) and got bitten in the backside by a real celebrity. (Some men would pay good money for that experience...) I think Paris is not as dumb as she's made out to be in the media, and certainly knows how to milk a crowd.

So: what about Obama's riposte, that McCain was attacking Obama because the Republicans have no positive message, and are trying to scare the voters?

"They're gonna try to say that I'm a risky guy. They're gonna try to say, well, you know, he's got a funny name. And he doesn't look like all the presidents on the dollar bills and the five dollar bills."

McCain's people didn't like that one bit. Campaign chief Rick Davis said that "Barack Obama has played the race card, and he played it from the bottom of the deck." Really? Let's go to Union Missouri, and replay the video of Barack's bottom of the deck moment, courtesy of a local reporter. It comes after 19 minutes, so you can press fast forward, as Jay-Z says.

I didn't see any racial tension being stirred up there. I saw a black man telling a joke, and a crowd of white people laughing. Because it was funny. And true.

Britney Spears has a funny name, and she doesn't look like the presidents on the dollar bills and the five dollar bills.

Wednesday, 6 August 2008

Everyone Loves A Tortured Genius

I bought my original copy of The Beach Boys' 'Pet Sounds' in Reddington's Rare Records in Birmingham (the shop has now moved to teh interwebs, and the owner Danny Reddington has a show on a local radio station). I played it an awful lot in the awful empty space between finishing university and getting a job.

They say I got brains
But they ain't doing me no good
How I wish they could.

I was twenty-two; I'd been to school. I'd passed lots of exams. My parents were very proud of me. I had run out of instructions to follow. I had run out of childhood.I was finally free. Oh, fuck.

Brian Wilson, the ever-popular tortured genius.

I keep looking for a place to fit in
where I can speak my mind
and I've been trying hard to find the people
that I won't leave behind

they say I got brains
but they ain't doing me no good
I wish they could

each time things start to happen again
I think I got something good goin' for myself
but what goes wrong

sometimes I feel very sad
(I wish I had something I could
put my heart and soul into)
sometimes I feel very sad

I guess I just wasn't made for these times

every time I get the inspiration
to go change things around
no one wants to help me look for places
where new things might be found

where can I turn
when my fair weather friends cop out
what's it all about

each time things start to happen again
I think I got something good goin' for myself
but what goes wrong

sometimes I feel very sad
(I wish I had something I could
put my heart and soul into)
sometimes I feel very sad

I guess I just wasn't made for these times.


Tuesday, 5 August 2008

Smile Like You Mean It

What do you say when someone points a camera at you?
Do you say "cheese?"

This is Norman Parkinson, the famous fashion photographer. He didn`t like people saying "cheese" when he was taking their picture. He used to ask them to say
I don't know why, but he's the genius, not me. He won all the awards, he did lots of Vogue covers, and Pirelli calendars, and advertising for the Conversative Party (don't ask, don't tell). So let's see how that works in practice, shall we? You can join in at home, if you have a camera.

If you think this is a reference
to the Blues Brothers,
you really need to get Sky.

Here is a picture of a young Audrey Hepburn,
saying "lesbians" to a pony.

As is often the case in these pictures,
the pony really doesn't seem motivated.

This couple are running towards the camera,saying "lesbians" out loud. How happy they look!

A two girl scene from Swinging London, 1963.
It's not just the paint that's wet...

Here is David Bowie, in a portrait by Parkinson.
Is he saying "lesbians" under his breath? Or is he far too cool?
Or is he just completely off his tits on coke?

Jerry Hall saying "lesbians" under a monument to David Niven, the father of Russian communism.

Her Majesty the Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh. What lovely smiles they both have. But it would be improper to ask.

"The life of a world famous fashion photographer would appeal to many. But Norman Parkinson knew that without sausages, it was all meaningless.''

Sunday, 3 August 2008

Crawling From The Wreckage

Ever since I posted that Ida Maria song the other day, I've been singing it, and it keeps reminding me of another song from the punk era, and medleying into it. I always thought of it as by Dave Edmunds, but the internet says it was written by Graham Parker.

Either way, it's a total blam-a-lama pogo-ing and moshing job perfect for being dumped by your (in) significant other, quitting your crappy job, or any time you just feel like
walking out of the door
getting it out of your system!

In the best rock'n'roll tradition, this song advocates getting in your car and drving it very fast. If you decide to do this, remember that motoring is very liberating, but please drive safely, and don't hurt anybody. The clue is in the hook of the song: crawling from the wreckage, not into it.

Here's a YouTube clip from 80's teevee.

Got out really early from the factory,
Driving like a nut in the rain.
Don't think I was acting so hysterically,
But I didn't see a thing until it came.
Man, the drunks were verbal in the takeaway
Beating up the Chinee at the counter.
I put a few inside me at the end of the day.
I took out my revenge on the revolution counter.

Crawling from the wreckage,
Crawling from the wreckage.
You'd think by now at least that half a brain would get the message
Crawling from the wreckage,
Crawling from the wreckage,
Into a brand new car.

In walks Bud with his exploding nose.
He'd been giving it maximum today.
He shouted "How the devil? You in trouble I suppose?
But all you ever do is run away."
Gunned up the motor inta hyperdrive.
I wasn't gonna take any of that.
Don't get bright ideas about a suicide,
'Cause all I ever hear is zoom bam bam past me.

Crawling from the wreckage,
Crawling from the wreckage.
You'd think by now at least that half a brain would get the message.
Crawling from the wreckage,
Crawling from the wreckage,
Into a brand new car.

Crawling, crawling, crawling from the wreckage
Crawling, crawling, crawling from the wreckage
Crawling, crawling, crawling from the wreckage

Crawling from the wreckage,
Crawling from the wreckage.
Bits of me are scattered in the trees and in the hedges
Crawling from the wreckage,
Crawling from the wreckage,
Into a brand new car.

Nothing seem to happen that ain't happened before
I see it all through flashes of depression.
I drop my drink and hit some people running for the door.
Gotta make some kind of impression.
'Cause when I'm disconnected from the driving wheel,
I'm only half the man I should be.
But metal hitting metal is all I feel,
And everything is good as it possibly could be.

Crawling from the wreckage, crawling from the wreckage
You'd think by now at least that half my brain would get the message
Crawling from the wreckage, crawling from the wreckage
Into a brand new car

Crawling from the wreckage, crawling from the wreckage
Bits of me are scattered in the trees and on the hedges
Crawling from the wreckage, crawling from the wreckage
Into a brand new car.

Album: Repeat When Necessary

Self Portrait No 2

I am convinced, if I ever have a child, he or she will be like Stewie Griffin. For some reason, this makes me calmer and more optimistic about the future.

Saturday, 2 August 2008

A Dream With Teeth

"The Mind is its own place, and in itself
Can make a heaven of hell, and a hell of heaven."
(John Milton, Paradise Lost)

The telephone woke me this morning. I was in a very vivid dream about my teeth. A sharp growth had appeared on one of my molars, like a stalactite, and I needed to get rid of it. I was quite obsessed by it, and went to a chemist's shop, under a railway bridge, by the London Wetlands Centre. (How obsessed I must have been, to visualise a non-existent pharmacist's two hundred miles from my home. But that's dreams for you...)

The phramacist was American, and there was a bit of a problem. I was picking up packages from a shelf, looking at them, turning the box in my hand, rubbing the ugly stalactite with my tongue and feeling its coarse growth. But I wasn't allowed to buy the treatment in the box. The pharamacist explained that the shop wasn't supposed to sell those treatments anymore. He had been sacked, and was about to leave and catch a plane back to the States.

I got into my car and drove away, still nervously probing the sharp extrusion on my molar. I had to stop for a red light at the traffic lights by Olympic Studios, then I drove on to an empty road, and began to work my way west back towards home.That was when the phone rang.

There was nothing unusual in my mouth. I checked this out very quickly during the phone call, half-awake, fielding a telesales call from someone I didn't know, mistaking his voice for a friend, realising my mistake, saying 'No thank you'.

And two hours later, I am still probing that spot in my mouth, unable to accept that there is no sharp stalactite of bone sticking out. The mind makes its own reality, and is a most peculiar thing.