Saturday, March 31, 2007

At Home With The Bloggers

From left to right:

1. Your correspondent, coyly engrossed in a copy of Tim Cultural Snow's magnum opus, Welcome To The Machine: OK Computer And The Death Of The Classic Album.

2. The lovely James Blue Cat, reading Katy Newton's contribution to Shaggy Blog Stories: A Collection Of Amusing Tales From The UK Blogosphere.

3. Fairy lights (model's own).

4. Some IKEA bedlinen (model's own).

Not shown: A Habitat mug, some Tea Tree Oil Mattifying Moisture Gel*, the Eiffel Tower, Benjamin Franklin inventing the lightning rod, weevils, Superman.

In the foreground: my MASSIVE SCARY HAND.

Bloggers reading books by other bloggers while in bed with other bloggers are so hot right now.

* Whose name suggests that it exists in several physical states simultaneously, thus contradicting all known laws of physics and making it a possible contender for the 'philosopher's stone' long sought by medieval alchemists. If only they'd thought to look in the Body Shop, eh?

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Monday, March 26, 2007

Things I Don't Want To Think About Too Closely


Me: I'd like a Nostrana salad, please.

Waiter: Um, sorry, we can't do that, we don't have any boiled eggs.

Me: Oh, right, oh, so I can't have a Fiorentina pizza either?

Waiter: No, that's OK. We've got eggs. We just don't have any boiled eggs.

Me: Um...

Sunday, March 25, 2007

Why I Don't Like British Indie Bands

I was pleased and surprised to find a private message for me in the other day, asking if I'd be interested in writing for, a Welsh-tinged music website.

Sadly, I can't write about music for toffee. I can't even tell the difference between a harmonica and an accordion, as I discovered recently while planning a post containing Three Great Songs With Accordions In Them, so it's best all round that I politely declined.

Of course this doesn't stop me from writing rubbish about music on my own blog with merry abandon, which is a good thing, because I have been ruminating for a while on the contentious topic of Why All* British Indie Music Is So Crap.

After much thought, I have decided it boils down to four things:

1. Lack of musical expertise. I want my indie bands to be able to play proper instruments, and lots of them. None of this two guitars and a drumkit crap. I want cellos and kazoos and trumpets and pedal steels and double basses and timpani and accordions (yes) and harmonicas (which are not the same as accordions) and klezmers (whatever they are**) and glockenspiels and instruments I've never heard of. If possible, all on the same song. Ideally accompanied with bleeps and samples for a full-on rich tapestry effect.

2. Lack of lyrical expertise. I want my indie bands to have actually gone to school, and to have paid attention in their English classes. Or their French classes, or their Spanish classes, I'm not fussy. And if they didn't go to school, that's fine too, but I still want them to have a bit of sensibility about our fine and versatile language. I want them to think about their lyrics, and stop writing facile clichéd crap, especially facile, clichéd crap that doesn't make any sense, NOT EVEN METAPHORICALLY, and is just there to prop up a dull, samey song played on two guitars and a drumkit. Mainly I want long, clever words with lots of syllables in them, arranged in some kind of pleasing and original order, dammit.

3. Lack of female vocalists. British indie music is just way too blokey. I want to hear female vocals in there too, thank you very much. If no girls want to be in your band, perhaps you could just try singing like a girl occasionally, to break up the awful monotony a bit.

4. Improper motivation. Honestly, sometimes I think some of these bands just want to sell records. I want my indie bands to be psychologically driven to make music, even if no one buys it. Writing songs should be an unstoppable cathartic impulse, not a way to make money because no one will give you a proper job.

With these considerations in mind, I propose an instructive evening in front of MTV2 playing British Indie Band Bingo. That should sort the Shortwave Sets from the Razorlights. Scoring goes like this:

1. Band features instruments other than guitars, drumkit and keyboard: ONE POINT

2. Band has mixed gender line-up: TWO POINTS

3. Band has male and female vocalists: THREE POINTS

4. Band's lyrics do not make you wince, roll your eyes, or shake your head sadly: FOUR POINTS

Ooh, this might actually make watching MTV2 bearable.

* Not *all*. Just 'most'.

** Apparently not an instrument at all. See?

Saturday, March 24, 2007

Tim Jonze Please Take Note:

1. Comment is Free is not a blog. It's a newspaper website that allows moderated comments. It isn't updated by a single person or identifiable group of people, it doesn't link to other blogs to form part of a community, and its posters rarely converse with - or even acknowledge - their commenters.

2. People who comment on Comment is Free are not 'bloggers'. They are 'commenters'. They may also be bloggers, but you have no way of telling, unless they specifically type their blog address into their comment. Unlike proper blogs, CiF doesn't automatically link to commenters' homepages. This sends a subliminal message to CiF commenters that says: 'although we spout off a lot about how democratic we're being, we actually think you are inferior to us, and your paltry amateur websites are not worth linking to'. This is probably one of the reasons CiF commenters get so riled up.

3. You are not a blogger. (You think you are, because you sometimes get paid to write on the Guardian Arts blog, but in my book, that makes you a journalist.)

Honestly. I don't know what Emily Bell et al have been telling the staff, but almost all Guardian/Observer hacks seem to be under the impression that the Guardian invented blogging, in some sort of brave and pioneering foray into democratic media, and that CiF is the only 'blog' in existence.

Maybe one day one of them will accidentally stumble into the wider blogosphere, like Jodie Foster in Contact, and discover it teeming with highly intelligent alien life.

And speaking of alien life, it's all gone a bit psych-rock here at Quinquireme Towers, as we interrupt our boycott of British indie bands to appreciate the mighty cosmic genius of The Aliens. Here, have a track off their new album 'Astronomy for Dogs', which manifests a particular awesomeness from 3m12s onwards:

The Aliens - Only Waiting (mp3)

Monday, March 19, 2007

Dot Dot Dot

Sincere apologies to anyone coming to this blog from the link at Troubled Diva, expecting to find a rollicking hotbed of hilarity and stuff.

Soon* my dealings with the French tax authorities, mairies, notaires, sous-préfectures, déchetteries etc. will come to an end, and I will be able to write inconsequential nonsense** and post twee indie-pop mp3s on here again.

In the meantime, many, many thanks to everyone who has commented and emailed, it has meant a lot to me.

* Although 'soon' in French bureaucratic terms may be taken to imply 'sometime this century, if you're lucky'.

** I can't guarantee it will be funny, though. Oh, the pressure...

Friday, March 16, 2007

Books Of Blogs Are Evil...

...except when they're for charity, then they're very good indeed.

That's why everyone should proceed immediately to and spend £8.96 on Shaggy Blog Stories: A Collection of Amusing Tales from the UK Blogosphere, which Mike at Troubled Diva has heroically spent the whole week creating.

You get a lovely book of funny blog posts to keep for ever and ever, Comic Relief gets all the profits, and no one has to wear a red nose. Everyone wins!

Go to it!

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Monday, March 12, 2007


I am sorry to report that my mum died on Saturday night, peacefully in the local hospital in Béziers. My brother and his partner were with her; I had gone home to sleep.

Your comments are very welcome, but please bear in mind that this blog is read by a lot of other people who knew and loved my mum, who spent an enormous amount of time and energy looking after her during her illness, and who will miss her very much.

Normal service will, I hope, be resumed shortly.

Thursday, March 01, 2007


It is officially Yummy Mummies and Tigers Week in the blogosphere:

1. Rafael Behr* has a highly amusing definitive guide to 'Yummy Mummy lit', a genre whose existence I had hitherto only dimly surmised. I don't think I really need to know any more about it now.

2. Spin has a fabulous deconstruction of some self-congratulating yummy mummy's bleatings in the Guardian.

3. Tim has some pictures of some lovely tiger cubs**.

Yummy Mummies and tigers are so hot right now.

* A rare and admirable example of a national newspaper journalist who properly understands this blogging lark, and who doesn't go on about it, either.

** Apparently there are monkeys in these pictures as well, but I am notoriously monkey-blind and therefore cannot see them.