Wednesday, May 31, 2006

Out Of The Mouths Of Clients...

Part 1 in a probably very limited series.

"The blame culture here at MegaCorp* - it's all the sales director's fault."

* Names have been changed to protect the innocent. And me. Mainly me.

Tuesday, May 30, 2006

Note To J.M. Bernstein

If you really want people to read your scene-setting introduction to T.W. Adorno's essays on the culture industry, it might be an idea to start with something a little bit more jolly than this sentence:

The contentious arguments surrounding the idea of an affirmative postmodernist culture have brought with them a persistent theoretical depreciation of the claims of high modernist art as well as a positive re-evaluation of the character and potentialities of popular (mass) culture.

In fact, you might like to take a leaf out of extemporanea's book, who has subjected the poetry of A.A. Milne to a Marxist-feminist analysis, and unsurprisingly found him wanting. Great stuff.

Monday, May 29, 2006

Art Imitates Blog Shocker

Having written about it in this post, I was gratified to discover earlier that someone has taken the idea of Burne-Jones's Perseus series as a giant comic strip literally, and from this:

has created this:


More superheroes in artistic settings to be had here (via BoingBoing).

Sunday, May 28, 2006

Patroclus Gets All Confused. Again.

Settle in everyone, it's going to be a long story.

Right! I've just spent a highly instructive evening in Hammersmith's dingiest pub with my good friend the lovely S., and during the course of the conversation it transpired that while I've been merrily blogging away like some tedious Saturday supplement columnist about gigs I went to and showbiz lunches I had, there have been piling up around me in the 'real' world some Huge and Weighty Problems.

And in my usual 'oh, everything'll sort itself out eventually' kind of way, I have more or less completely ignored them in favour of blogging merrily away about gigs I went to and showbiz lunches I had. But as it turns out, these things probably won't sort themselves out without some kind of actual determined intervention from me. And possibly leading an increasingly escapist online existence isn't the kind of intervention that's required.

Which got me to thinking on the way home, with things being how they are just at present, is it really a good idea for me to keep this blog going at all? It's got to a point (and don't we all regularly get to this point?) where I can't write about any of the things that are actually on my mind, for fear of annoying, worrying or otherwise upsetting some or more of my lovely readers.

So I thought about starting again somewhere new, under a new name, where I could perhaps witter on at length about all the things that worry, annoy and upset me. And then I thought 'perhaps PP had the right idea after all, and I should just write it all in a book'. And then I thought 'maybe I'm just drunk and emotional' - but then I remembered I'd only had half a glass of red wine.

Right, er, now I'm not sure what the point was. Perhaps just to observe that what you read in here is not necessarily an accurate guide to what actually goes on in the World of Patroclus. Not that I'm assuming you were all that interested. I was going to say 'I might go away for a bit', but the last time I said that I was back within 24 hours, and that was when my marriage fell apart. And as the stuff happening at the moment isn't *quite* of that magnitude, it's safe to say I won't be going away at all, really.

So, er, there you have it. Patroclus: some issues, but not going anywhere.

Well, I feel better for that, anyhow.

You've been a lovely audience. Thank you and good night.

'Regular' As In 'Never To Be Seen Again'

And lo! we move on to a new Regular Feature, which will undoubtedly prove to be as short-lived as most of the other Regular Features I've attempted to introduce.

This time we rummage with our bare hands in the filth and mire of my Outlook inbox to fish out a selection of Superior Quality Emails.

Considering that I currently have 4,750 emails in my inbox, it's surprising how few of them have actually made me laugh out loud*. Here are four that make the grade, not all for the same reason.

Starting with the intriguing:

One day I'm going to work out how to sing a convincing version of "Money For Nothing" in Chaucerian Middle English.

And moving on to the disconcertingly ambiguous:

Fuck butler. Get it out.

And the commendably Norf Londonesque:

I met him in the Tesco Metro around the corner buying low quality sausages. "I don't normally buy these," he says. "I'm making a TV programme about them. We should go out for drinks."

Before finishing up with the somewhat surreal:

Do not worry about your dissertation as I had an important apocalyptic dream. Everyone was wearing ragged togas, the streets were made of dust, and there were VIRUSES which meant we had to wipe everything with Johnsons baby wipes. All children spoke as though they had been badly dubbed and there was a complex black market in peach-coloured bicycle wheels with square bits of wood attached. We walked from Oxford to London and were tired so we sat in a meadow with a gospel choir and had to beat a hasty retreat, followed them to a secret chair rental depot where we bumped into R. lying next to a huge green caravan with gold handles... I could go on but think you can understand the dissertation contents pale into insignificance.

More quality emails soon! Probably.

* Admittedly, making me laugh out loud is probably not the primary objective of most - or indeed any - of my email correspondents. Which is a very great shame.


Just counted up all the loose change in the flat. GBP 104.12, EUR 0.61, five lighters and an elastic band.

Now, what to do with it...

Friday, May 26, 2006


Enough of this rubbish. Back when I'm in a better mood.

Thursday, May 25, 2006

Rubbish Week

Warning: I'm always very grumpy in the summer. This is no doubt just the first of many whiny posts to appear before the season of mists and mellow fruitfulness descends upon us once more. And on that merrie note:

What a completely rubbish week it's been. Not only have I been going to bed when it's still light and getting up when it's still dark, but I've also received a court summons, growled at a colleague and accidentally ignited a Giant Internet Flame War in which I apparently upset a child and allegedly sent someone else a threatening email. Also, the cat has gone mad, I've run out of milk, I keep having panic attacks and the lights won't go on in the kitchen.

Apart from that, everything's fine and dandy. Hurrah!

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Saturday, May 20, 2006

Song Of The Week

In true local radio stylee, I'm dedicating this one to all my fellow mopy Green Wing fans who were less than pleased with the way the series ended last night. Don't worry everyone, all will be alright come the Christmas episode. I hope.

This song has got nothing to do with GW, but it *is* a lovely bit of uplifting indie-psych-pop from Grandaddy, whose entire now-finished career has inexplicably passed me by until this very moment:

Grandaddy - Elevate Myself (mp3) - courtesy of Everybody Cares

And just for Tamburlaine:

Grandaddy - Where I'm Any More (mp3) - courtesy of Bows + Arrows

Also, please welcome new additions to the ever-expanding blogroll: one-woman (although I could be wrong on both those counts) media empire Ceridwen Devi, and fellow W12 resident Oye Billy! Go visit, make friends, prosper.

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Wednesday, May 17, 2006

More 2.0

As if Monday's encounter with Bruce Sterling wasn't enough, today I found myself in fairly close proximity* to Ben 'Quite Famous Now' Hammersley, at the Blogs and Social Media Forum. And it's only Wednesday! I'm not sure how much more of this brave-new-world excitement I can take, to be perfectly honest.

As befits his role as standard-bearer for the New Social Revolution, Ben was decked out in full Web 2.0 regalia, which looks something like this:

Gentlemen, take a moment to check your attire. Are you wearing a skirt? Has it been fashioned in a kind of combat style? Failing that, is it made of pleated leather? If not, I'm afraid you are not eligible to establish any form of weblog or wiki wiki, nor to use the words 'interestingness', 'findability', 'frictionless' or 'astroturfing'. Your pathetic attempts at RSS syndication will fail. Do not try to pretend you invented the word 'podcast', because no one will believe you. You work in what? Television? Pull yourself together, man! The age of broadcast ended ten years ago! Where's my coffee? Where's my agent?

Apart from that, what can I tell you? Those of you with proper jobs will probably shortly find your boss frothing at the mouth about markets being conversations and blogs and wikis being the only way to do business in the modern era, and you'll all be made to write a blog post every day about how great your job is and how great your company's products are, while you're simultaneously threatened with the sack over that picture you posted on your personal blog of you lining the cat's litter tray with a copy of the annual report. So that's something to look forward to. Web 2.0 is fun, remember?

* In that he was sitting on a stage, and I was in the audience.

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Tuesday, May 16, 2006

Battleship Quinquireme

It's not every day you find yourself trapped in an upstairs room of a phenomenally posh pub with only one of the founding fathers of cyberpunk/steampunk to chat to.

But such was my fate last night, and as I'm rubbish at standing around with a drink in my hand playing at Who Can Say The Cleverest Thing, I instead chose to ask Bruce Sterling whether he thought that blogging might - in the immortal words of Ned's Atomic Dustbin - kill your television.

Anyway, the man from Austin/Belgrade/Viridian Design he say yes, blogging (and Flickr and and YouTube and *is* the new television. Unless you're a woman, or poor, or uneducated, in which case you're probably still slumped in front of the telly mindlessly absorbing the output of the Murdoch empire. Well. I can legitimately claim to be at least one of those things, but I haven't watched any telly (GW notwithstanding), for the last eight months. Perhaps that means I'm an honorary man. Not sure.

Prior to this conversation, Bruce had been preaching to the assembled crowd (which mainly consisted of educated blokes) about the New Social Revolution that is 'Web 2.0'. For the uninitiated, Web 2.0 is a handy term that's being applied to any web-based technology where the users get to create the content - like blogging, or putting photos on Flickr, or tagging things, or putting your band's music on myspace, or contributing to Wikipedia (pace Chuffy!).

Photo courtesy of Tom Armitage at Infovore

According to Bruce, this whole culture of mass participation means that there are 'no consumers any more', as we've stopped mindlessly buying/reading/watching stuff and started making it instead.

It's the Why Don't You? paradox made flesh!

While there are clearly gaping holes in this argument (like, you generally have to buy computers and stuff to even get on the internet, and there's ample evidence that the 'mindless consumer' never existed in the first place, plus there's the fact that 'Chairman Bruce' is still selling his books in ye olde paper format, presumably because that way they actually make him money), I do find it all terribly exciting.

I mean, when has it ever been this easy to be a revolutionary? In the old days you had to wear scratchy coats and rush about half-starved on battleships in the freezing cold, probably being shot at. Now all you have to do is post up a picture of two men kissing and a couple of sentences about getting on a train to Southampton, and suddenly you're the Great Destroyer of the Culture Industry. Brilliant!

As I haven't done this subject any kind of justice whatsoever, I recommend you get the proper lowdown on what Bruce Sterling said about Web 2.0 (and the threat of climate change, and futuristic RFID torture devices) by downloading his talk and the subsequent Q&A session as two podcasts here:

Bruce Sterling May 15 2006 podcasts

NB: This post has been brought to you by Tunng's splendid folktronica cover of Bloc Party's 'The Pioneers', which you can download for your aural pleasure here:

Tunng - The Pioneers (mp3) - courtesy of Lonesome Music

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Everybody Loves Dead Chatboards

This is probably only going to be of (possibly limited) interest to about five people*, but for those five:

Calm yourselves, it's the entire EHA archive!

For everyone else, normal service will be resumed. By which I mean me posting items that are of limited interest to about five people.

* So pretty much the entire readership, then.

UPDATE: By 'entire', I meant of course 'partial' and 'mostly broken'. But I did my best.

Sunday, May 14, 2006


Right, now I am going to get on a train to an unnamed destination Southampton, in search of Adventure and Excitement. Updates to follow, if I make it back...

Saturday, May 13, 2006


Or Reasons Why I Love Green Wing:

Surely not even Spinny can argue with that?

(thanks to smoo2 for the picture!)

Lyrics 'Not Meaningless' Shocker

Having listened attentively to that Okkervil River album all week, I feel I ought to apologise to the band* for Tuesday's fatuous suggestion that their lyrics are empty and meaningless.

In fact, 'Black' may be the only bouncy indie-rock song you'll ever hear in which the singer is trying to deal with the fact that his elusive not-quite girlfriend was abused as a child. It's not real (it's a concept album, so it's part of a story), but even so, does that make it wrong to enjoy it? You decide:

Okkervil River - Black (mp3)

* Because I've no doubt that they're avid readers of the Quinquireme.

Thursday, May 11, 2006


I meant to post these up on Monday, but somehow it's become Thursday without anyone telling me.

But here are some pictures, courtesy of the lovely S, of a giant robot elephant parading last Sunday in Horseguards, er, Parade.

What you can't see is that the Giant Robot Elephant was towing a live band behind it, which was playing Dramatic 80s-Style French Synth Music, making the whole experience slightly akin to having overdone it on the mushroom vodka at an open-air Jean-Michel Jarre concert.

In a good way.

I missed most of the four-day Sultan's Elephant show, so I don't really know what it was all about, but luckily the London Bloggers were out in force. So you can watch an experimental video at Annie's, see some arty pictures at longcat's, get your Marquez-magical-realism analogies (and celebrity sightings) at The Complex Christ, and look at proper professional photos at the London Daily Photo.

Oo, we bloggers like a shared experience, it makes us feel like a huge...errr...internet...bluebottle of eyes, buzzing annoyingly in the Established Media'

But that could just be the mushroom vodka talking.


Tuesday, May 09, 2006

Shoreditch Twattery


PATROCLUS and PATROCLUS'S COMPANION are sitting at a fashionably peculiar skinny wooden table in a Hoxton bar whose décor is quite long on exposed brickwork and oversized stainless steel air ducts. Critically acclaimed Texan indie-prog-punk-country-rock band Okkervil River are playing (or, more accurately, shouting and groaning) in the background.

Companion (morosely): These American indie bands all sound the same. I blame Generation X. If that book hadn't been written, none of these bands would exist!

Patroclus: How can you *say* that? How can you say that Okkervil River sound like Spoon, or that Spoon sound like Hem, or that Hem sound like the Decemberists?

Companion: This lot sound *exactly* like the Decemberists.

Patroclus: Yeah, they do actually. Good trumpets, though.

Companion: I thought the trumpets were crap. They only played one note. And these lyrics are empty. Meaningless. They're like metaphors stuffed inside other metaphors and the whole thing is an empty metaphor for the utter meaninglessness of all American indie music that's ever been produced since Generation X was written.

Patroclus: How can you *say* that? He rhymes 'wisteria' with 'seething bacterium'! That's genius!

Companion: Anyone can rhyme big words. It doesn't mean anything. What's that song actually about?

Patroclus: Not a clue. But it rhymes 'abecedarian' with 'magisterial'! And it has quite sinister overtones! And I like it! Isn't that enough?

Companion: There's just no originality in music any more.

Patroclus: Well, that's the postmodern condition for you.


Companion: Have we turned into a pair of Shoreditch twats?

Patroclus: It would appear so*.

Okkervil River - For Real (mp3)

* UPDATE: According to this New York Metro article that Dave put on his blog the other day, it would appear that I am, in fact, in a state of advanced gruptitude. Hahahaaa!


Saturday, May 06, 2006


Much excitement here on the good ship Quinquireme at the prospect (via NTK) of attending a talk given by uber-cyberpunk author and neo-green activist Bruce Sterling in a Belgravia pub the week after next.

Apart from anything else, the boy Bruce (or 'Chairman Bruce', as I believe is the customary address) is a top neologist, having coined the words 'spime' (an electronically trackable item) and 'buckyjunk' (something made of carbon nanotubes, named after geodesic dome enthusiast Buckminster Fuller). Although this doesn't detract from the fact that the dialogue in that book he wrote with that other uber-cyberpunk author is woefully unreadable.

Bruce hails from Austin, Texas, as do no fewer than three of my very favouritest indie bands; Voxtrot, Spoon and Okkervil River. Coincidentally enough, this Monday I'm going to see 'the' River play at Cargo in Shoreditch, which I'm very excited about too, because I missed them last time around, and because singer/songwriter Will Sheff has a fabulous way with lyrics.

Even more coincidentally, Spoon are playing at Koko in Camden the day after Bruce's talk. Expect the burglary rate in Austin, TX to skyrocket as all its showbiz residents swan about London Town.

Spoon are co-headlining with the New Pornographers, who don't come from Austin, being Canadian, but who do produce some marvellous indie-jangle-pop songs. Here's a splendid example, featuring what may be the best drum solo intro* since Elvis Costello's Watching The Detectives:

The New Pornographers - Electric Version (mp3) - courtesy of Good Weather for Airstrikes

Also not from Austin (Omaha, Nebraska) are Tilly And The Wall, who get Artwork of the Week for their lovely website, and Song of the Week for this stupidly infectious tango**-meets-60s girl group-meets-Riot Grrrl tune:

Tilly And The Wall - Bad Education (mp3) - courtesy of Everybody Cares, Everybody Understands

And that should surely be enough for anyone.

* According to Wikipedia, this song starts with 'an arpeggiated diminished triad—a rare and strange opening flourish for a pop song'. Ahem. I knew that.

** By which I mean some sort of Spanish/Latin American dance-type thing with handclaps and twirling and stamping feet and accordions, could be flamenco, any corrections gratefully received.

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Wednesday, May 03, 2006

It's The Quinquireme Super Free Music Giveaway!

It's springtime here at Quinquireme Towers (and possibly everywhere else in the Northern Hemisphere), and as the sun unfurls the sukebind buds in the verdant lanes and meadows that girt my stately pile around, my fancy turns lightly to thoughts of my blog readers and how loyal and tolerant they are.

'Time to give something back,' I think.

'Even if it's something they don't want,' I think.

As luck would have it, I had a very pleasant email correspondence last week with a chap called Patrick, at Future Appletree Records in Davenport, Iowa. Patrick's record label is home to a Chicago band called Track a Tiger, who specialise in twee acoustic harmonies with just enough blips and bleeps to keep the lo-fi electronica fans happy.

I was going to buy just one copy of their album, Woke Up Early The Day I Died, but Patrick was so lovely, and the current dollar-sterling exchange rate so great, that I ended up buying THREE copies, plus shipping, for the same price as you might pay - if you were so inclined - for ONE James Blunt album in HMV. Fantastic! From now on I'm going to buy everything on mail order from the States! Because it's cheaper than going down the shops!

Anyway, this means I have two spare copies to give away to the first two people who want one and are prepared to reveal their postal address to me by email. Unless I know your postal address already, in which case it'll be even easier!

This album isn't going to change your life, but it's full of sweet, melodic, country-ish, melancholy-ish songs that will make you feel oddly pensive and sad in a sort of happy way*, especially if you listen to it while having a bath or re-potting some geraniums, or doing the ironing. Or writing a rubbish blog post about how you bought some CDs really cheaply from America.

And should you want to try before you commit yourself, here are the first three tracks:

Track A Tiger - Glad To Be Scattered (mp3)

Track A Tiger - Sound As Ever (mp3)

Track A Tiger - Seashaken Heart (mp3)

The first two commenters to claim a copy get a copy. Go to it!

UPDATE: Copies now duly dispatched to long-time reader and super high-powered globetrotting chum Tabby Rabbit, and to newcomer Aimee (welcome!). Oo, that was fun, wasn't it? Might do that again sometime.

* Unless you're Betty, in which case I can pretty much guarantee that you'll hate it.