Thursday, 23 September 2010

New project #2: Project Airfix (the new album)

I'm very excited about this 2nd new project - my first proper album. But it's not just an album. There's 3 things that make this project brilliant.

I've been carrying around songs for over 2 years now, vaguely dreaming of making an album. Last year's "Without Fear" was an album, but it was semi-acoustic and an experimental project - and just as those 10 songs had to be on that album, most of these songs have been saved for this album. After recording "Dinosaurs", with rock guitars and drums and stuff, I'm ready to start on this album.

It will have big tunes. In fact, EVERY song will be a big tune. It's going to have a big, summery rock sound and feel. It'll (hopefully) sound like the Manics' "Everything Must Go" mixed with Muse's "Black Holes And Revelations". It will, in short, be awesome.

It will be called AIRFIX DEMOCRACIES.

I'm going to document the making of the album, from recording demos and the songs themselves, mixing, production, artwork, even developing the website at from a blank page into a living, breathing, dedicated website:

Under the title of "Project Airfix", you can watch an album being born. Aaaaahhh :)
To get updates, subscribe/follow the RSS feed, or my main feed

Yes, not only can you watch the album being made - by downloading the original files you can make the album yourself how you want to, your way. Along with regular updates on how it's going, I'll be podcasting and uploading the original material, from audio files of guitar and vocal takes to midi drum files to Photoshop artwork, so that you can mix and create your own version of the album.

I'm pretty pumped about this :) Keep watching!

Wednesday, 22 September 2010

New project #1: The new book

I have TWO exciting projects to talk about this week. This is the first. After the awesome dinosaurs single/video project and last year's EPIC finale to the "NO UP" trilogy, "NO NEVER" - which I realise I still have to put up online for your free enjoyment - I've been collecting ideas for the next book and mulling over what kind of book I want to write. That mulling is now over.

I can reveal the new book will be a proper length novel - 60,000+ words, hardly War And Peace but more than NO UP's 40,000. It will be FUNNY. Like actually laugh out loud, piss yourself on a sunny day watching the cricket funny. It will have ACTION. It will be for ALL AGES (of people who enjoy awesome books). It will be ENJOYABLE to read. It will even have STUFF TO SAY, but in the background, like a bonus thing for anyone who cares about that kind of stuff.

It will be about a man who wakes from a coma to a world gone mad. Not "violent armageddon" mad, more unicycling walruses, everyone-is-king, champagne rhinocerus morris club mad.

It will have coathangers.
It will have flashmobs, and even a flashmobster.
It will have classical music chavs.
It will have The Queene Of Englande.
It will have a ginger cat called Octave who can talk but is definitely not a robot.

It will be called HYPER.

This is project #1.

Paid by the hour? Don't expect anyone to hurry, then

More joy from the world of joblessness - yet again I had to call up an agency just to find out I hadn't got the role, when they said they would be in touch. It's a common occurrence and happens a zillion times more often than it should; at best it's careless, at worst it's inconsiderate. Yes, downright inconsiderate. Bringing out the colourful language today.

One day I will write up my temping memoires (21 months and counting), where I will describe my experiences in the Land of Zero Job Security, going through the many difficult aspects of the various clients I've had to work with (anonymously, of course). That day is sadly not here yet, as I am still well and truly without a proper job.

I just wanted to touch on one aspect of temping that I was reminded of recently. (Flashback time!) When I was 16, I did waitering for the old people on Saga holidays at the local agricultural college. What seemed crazy to me at the time was that we were paid hourly - so if we all busted a gut to try and clean up early, we were paid less than if we lounged around, mucked around and got out around 11pm. And so, similarly, I've been involved in a number of temp roles with a specifically quantitative task and been paid hourly.

Now I'm not saying I have an alternative. It's not like employers could look at a job and say "completing that is worth X hundred dollars, the sooner it's done the sooner you can go". Also, quality and accuracy are important factors in many of these data entry roles, and I'm frequently saying (often just in my head, in frustration, admittedly) that either you want the job done quickly or you want it done properly, because you can't have both. In a sense, paying for more hours means paying for a better job.  Neither am I saying I'm lazy or opportunistic. Even in my career as a temp, I've been honest and committed to the often less-than-exciting work I've had to do.

But I'm just wondering - does anyone else think it's strange to pay people less for doing the job quickly?

Saturday, 18 September 2010

Two of my heroes have a chat

Nicky Wire is the wordsmith + bass player in political rock band Manic Street Preachers, Tony Benn is the elder statesman of British leftist politics. I don't agree with everything they say all the time but it's marvellous to see them meeting and having a chat.

In Conversation: Tony Benn & Nicky Wire of the Manic Street Preachers from theQuietus on Vimeo.

The fellow moderating with the funny hair is music journalist Simon Price who has written the closest thing to official books about the Manics as there is.

Thursday, 16 September 2010

Transgender Democrat in Oklahoma

via Pharyngula
Being transgender doesn't make her a good politician, but she seems nice, and her opponent seems like a dickhead.

I'm also pleased to see CNN taking a generally balanced view!

Wednesday, 15 September 2010

Jesus and the All-Stars

Here's the 1st episode in a new series "Jesus and the All-Stars", starring Jesus, Buddha, Vishnu, Mohammed and David saving the world in a spaceship. It's very funny and just a 5-10min read. Enjoy!

Jesus and the All-Stars
Episode 1: Massive Squid Attack!

Far away, in a South of England school hockey changing rooms...

‘…So then I stabbed the yeti in the eye, pulled his pants down, and said “How do you like that, furball?’

The clustered girls burst out laughing, all beautiful smiles and glossy hair.

‘Oh Jesus,’ said one young brunette, ‘you’re so brave.’

‘And handsome!’

‘Oh behave ladies. More champagne? You know, this reminds me of the time I arm-wrestled a particularly rude polar bear—’

Somewhere a device went beep beep beep.

The girls all looked around at each other, but Jesus just sighed. He examined a chrome bracelet on his left wrist, flashing red lights at him.

‘Sorry ladies, I must depart,’ he said wistfully. The gathered beauties all sighed sadly.


‘Do you have to?’

‘I’m afraid I must. It’s this whole “saving-the-world” thing. They won’t start without me.’


‘Fear not, I’ll be back before you can say “Son of God saves the day”.’ He gave them a rakish wink. ‘Do help yourselves to champagne.’

‘Oh Jesus,’ pleaded a young girl, tugging on his white robe, ‘please stay safe, we love you—’

But he, and his robe, were gone.

Far away, in a San Francisco computer gaming lounge…

‘Goblin archers to the right! Scylarr watch that Minotaur!’

‘Where the hell is Dvorkin? We need a wizard on this!’

Buddha munched his fries with mayo, punching at the control pad as his wizard climbed the rock face on the computer screen. The secret cave was up here somewhere…

‘Hey man, you can’t eat stuff in here.’ The gaming lounge assistant towered over him, a lanky Italian-American teenager. He was glaring back and forth from Buddha to the greasy wrappers on the desk.

‘Dvorkin? Are you even here?’

‘I bet he’s looking for treasure again.’

‘Or getting another takeaway.’

‘Oh, um, really?’ said Buddha nervously. ‘I didn’t see any signs—’

‘It’s the second time this week man,’ the assistant snapped, folding his arms. ‘I’ve seen you getting grease all over the control pads, on the keyboards, bits of food under the keys…’

‘What’s going on?’

‘I’m hit! I’m hit bad! Catapults!’

‘Look I’m in the middle of something,’ puffed Buddha, eyes flicking back to the screen. ‘It won’t happen again—’

‘Too right it won’t. You’re clearing that up right now.’

‘Now look here,’ said Buddha in a voice tougher than he felt, ‘I, I pay to come in here, and—’

‘You pay to play video games,’ snapped the assistant, ‘you don’t pay me to clean up your mess.’

Beep beep beep.


‘Now either you’re going to throw all that in the trash, or I’m going to ban you from here, period. What’s it going to be?’

But the headset fell to the chair, and he was gone.

Far away, at a Tokyo technology conference…

‘Greetings, representatives of assorted technology companies,’ Vishnu intoned. He sat cross-legged in a huge white leather chair, all 4 arms relaxed, loose golden robes draped over his blue skin. A pair of silver wraparound shades flashed different colours when he spoke. ‘Vishnu is pleased to have you here. Vishnu is pleased to present global premiere of new product from VS Industries.’

A translator in a grey suit relayed his words in Japanese to the gaggle of grey-suited men and women.

‘Vishnu gives you the VS100R.’

The gathered representatives gasped as the device was unveiled: a small rounded pyramid, entirely chrome, floating a few inches above the cream plinth. Blue lights from above flashed like shards of diamond as it spun gently.

The representatives examined their specification charts on clipboards. One spoke to the translator, who turned to Vishnu.

‘He say, this device very impressive …’

‘Hai, hai,’ all the reporters nodded vigorously.

‘…but what does it do?’

There was a pause.

VS100R does everything. VS100R is navigational tool for life. VS100R revolutionises networking. VS100R has wi-fi.’

There was muttering amongst the assembled representatives as the translator spoke. He nervously turned back to Vishnu’s seated form. ‘They require more explanation. Please explain more details.’

Vishnu’s shades flashed angry shades of red. ‘Vishnu does not need to explain VS Industries’ latest innovation! Does Van Gogh explain his sunflowers? Does that tramp Tracey Emin explain her “art”?’

Beep beep beep.

Vishnu raised a blue arm to see the flashing chrome bracelet.

‘Vishnu will take momentary break. Vishnu hopes politely that upon his return you are more inclined to buy his products.’

The translator opened his mouth to speak, but Vishnu was gone.

Far away, on a deserted Australian beach…

‘Like, dude.’


Two bronzed young men lay with surfboards under a cluster of palm trees, each puffing on a roll-up. A tiny breeze blew their smoke down the beach.

‘That was totally a giant turtle we saw out there.’

‘Yeah man.’

A big wave rolled in, crashing down the sloping sand in front of them.

‘Like, I love this man. Being at one with like … nature.’

‘Yeah man.’


Beep beep beep.

Blinking, David looked at the red flashing bracelet with flecks of the same colour in his eyes.

‘Dude, what’s up?’

‘Shit dude, I got work.’

The Australian dragged himself up, his face a picture of utter confusion under his blonde dreadlocks.

‘Dude, you have like … a job?

But there was no-one there.

Far away, at a Tunisian market stall…

‘So are these eggs any good?’

‘The best! High quality Corsican eggs!’

‘No wait, you said you got them from Palermo for eight cents each.’

‘No,’ said the stranger, ‘I buy them from Corsica at four and a half cents each, and sell them under an assumed name in Cairo for eight cents each.’

The trader scratched his head under the shade of the awning, children running past and tourists haggling at the next stall. It was another hot dry day, and this stranger was trying his patience.

‘So what happens in Palermo?’

‘They’re sent by train from Albania to get cleaned for 1 cent apiece.’

‘And then…?’

‘Like I said, then I sell them in Marrakesh for six cents each, and buy them back at seven cents apiece.’

‘So how do you make a profit then?’

Mohammed sighed in frustration. ‘Look, it’s quite simple. I buy eggs in Palermo for three cents each and fly them to the Khartoum markets to sell them at four cents each, before buying them back in Damascus at five and a half cents and shipping them to Carcassonne for cleaning for a cent and a half, and buying them under an assumed name in Tripoli for seven cents so I can sell them to you for 6 and a quarter. Now do you want these eggs or not?’

Beep beep beep.

Mohammed stared at the chrome bracelet. ‘Oh no…’

The old trader stroked his coarse beard thoughtfully. ‘To be honest mister, I don’t think your economics stacks up.’

But he was gone.

‘What is it this time?’ said Buddha, a frown on his chubby little face. The All-Stars sat round the central table on their spaceship Gaia’s galley. ‘I’ve got 600,000 gold, I’m a level 37 mage, I’ve nearly unlocked the secret of Mishkronia and I get pulled up here.’

‘Vishnu was in middle of big technology conference,’ monotoned Vishnu, his wraparound shades flashing angrily. ‘Vishnu keen to make sale to Asian markets.’

‘My apologies gentlemen,’ cooed the ship’s computer Vivian. ‘You know I have no control over when peril strikes the world of men.’

‘Yeah guys,’ said David, puffing on his marijuana joint. ‘Just, like, chill out. Like.’

‘Chill out?’ snapped Mohammed. ‘Chill out? I’m in the middle of a key business deal that could revolutionise the whole of the African continent…’

‘Huh, could,’ mumbled Buddha.

‘...and I get called out for something that could probably be left to Interpol!’

‘Ha, those monkeys,’ chuckled Jesus.

‘Hey man, they’re good guys, like, give them a break.’

‘A giant squid is attacking New York city,’ said Vivian.

There was a brief silence. Buddha’s rolls of eyebrow-fat creased back into a frown.

‘A giant squid?’

‘I’ve seen giant squid. They’re like, 40 feet long.’

‘Yeah and they can’t even walk on land.’

‘Dude, like, use the metric system,’ protested David quietly.

‘David, the metric system’s great, but now’s not the time,’ said Jesus. ‘Vivian, how can a giant squid attack a city?’

‘My apologies gentlemen,’ cooed Vivian, ‘my vocabulary circuits are never perfect. This is by human terms, a giant squid. It’s 300 metres tall.’

A longer silence came down.

‘Now that’s the metric system.’

‘300 metres?’

‘What does she mean “tall”? Since when are squid “tall”?’

Video monitors flashed into life all around them, depicting a giant pink-white fleshy mass amongst the skyscrapers of New York.

‘Vishnu estimates 300 metres is approximately 0.6 Empire State Buildings tall.’

‘Thanks for that, Robo-god.’

‘Vivian!’ announced Buddha, jabbing a pudgy arm in the air. ‘Get us to New York! And step on it!’

Vivian pulled the ship Gaia to a sharp halt just off Manhattan Island, leaving Jesus splayed against the cockpit window.

‘Dude, that’s like, what seatbelts are for.’

‘Thanks for reminding me,’ gurgled Jesus, lips suckered against the glass.

‘Vishnu suggests there is nothing cool about not wearing a seatbelt.’

‘Yeah man,’ agreed Buddha, ‘even Mohammed wears his seatbelt, and he’s the most uptight guy ever.’

‘Yes!’ declared Mohammed. ‘I dislike your derogatory remarks and I may behead you later, but your support for seatbelts is to be commended!’

Buddha laughed heartily. ‘Oh Mohammed, I love it when you get angry. You know I just like to wind you up.’

Vishnu’s shades flashed. ‘Vishnu believes a large piece of—’

A crash rocked the ship, sending the All-Stars flying against the wall.

‘Gentlemen, can I please remind you of the colossal squid hurling pieces of skyscraper around?’

‘Like, dude, colossal squid is a species too.’

‘So how big is 300 metres anyway?’

They looked at Jesus. He shrugged. ‘Let’s get a proper look at this thing.’

David peered over the handrail at the crashing, flailing behemoth not-so-far below, thrashing against the skyscrapers. It let out a stomach-churning roar.

‘Man that thing is big!’ exclaimed Mohammed. ‘I haven’t seen something that big since Biblical times.’

‘What? There was nothing that big 2000 years ago,’ said Buddha, hovering back by the balcony’s doorway. ‘I was there!’

‘You didn’t live in Biblical times, Buddha,’ mused Jesus, looking down through a pair of huge binoculars. ‘They were heady days. Just because you’ve been around for 2500 years doesn’t mean you lived in Biblical times.’

Buddha looked over to David, open-mouthed in protest, but David just nodded.

‘He’s right.’ David’s eyes glazed over, as he stared into the distance. ‘You didn’t see what we saw, man. No-one saw what we saw.’

‘Where do you think it came from?’ pondered Jesus.

‘Dude, seriously?’ puffed David. ‘Like, the sea?’

‘Can I go back inside now?’ They looked to see Buddha sweating nervously, one foot inside the doorway. ‘You all know I don’t like heights.’

‘Buddha, is this a team effort or a go-home-and-cry effort?’

‘Vishnu suggests you fear not, friend Buddha,’ intoned Vishnu. ‘Gaia’s viewing platform was reinforced to take any weight, even yours.’ The others giggled.

‘Pfft, yeah besides it’s Buddha, he’d bounce anyway.’

‘That was rude and I find it objectionable.’

‘So how do we kill it?’

Mohammed grinned. ‘However the hell we like! By which I mean, lasers.’

The heroes all turned excitedly.

‘Yes I’m using the laser. And please, no cheesy jokes about calamari.’

‘Oh come on,’ protested Buddha. ‘How many jokes about squids and lasers are there that don’t involve calamari?’

‘Vishnu suggests first one to the laser gets to fire it.’

‘You’re on!’

‘Okay I’ve got a lock…’ mumbled Jesus, staring at the blinking cursor on the screen.

‘Vishnu suggests you stop hunching like that to prevent bad posture.’

‘Hush you.’

‘Vishnu suggests even the supposed son of god is not immune from back problems in later life.’

‘I am 2000 years old and you are not my mum.’

‘Fire the laser dude!’ urged David excitedly. The crosshairs blinked invitingly over the monster.

‘Okay, fire!’ yelled Jesus, possibly a little too loudly.

A vast beam of blue light shot from the spaceship and hit the beast, turning parts of its flesh blue and forming huge ice crystals.

‘What was that?’ cried Mohammed. ‘You fired the freeze ray!’

‘Oh not again,’ muttered David.

Jesus blinked. ‘I thought the laser was control plus L?’

‘Noooo, it’s control shift L.’

‘Here let me do it.’

‘You? I’m way better than all of you with the laser.’

‘Guys, guys!’ shouted Jesus, batting them away from the controls. ‘It’s a big squid. We can take it in turns like mature adults. Right?’

They mumbled agreement.

‘Right then. Fire! Zzzzzzap! Kazam! In your face, squid!’

This time a bright red beam shone instead, burning the air and bringing a loud, painful roar from the squid.

‘Remind me to get this thing updated,’ said Jesus. ‘Multi-billion dollar spaceship and we’ve still got the interface of a ZX Spectrum.’

‘Huh, something else that’s from Biblical times,’ muttered Buddha sourly.

‘Why is it always New York?’ wondered Jesus loudly, swapping the seat with Buddha. ‘Always. All the time. New York.’

‘Good point man,’ mused David. ‘You remember the giant robot? And those aliens, jeeeez.’

‘Fire! Shazam!’ yelled Buddha excitedly, bringing another bellow from the squid.

‘Vishnu agrees. There are plenty more significant urban centres those aliens could have attacked, yet somehow they chose Lower Manhattan. It does not make sense.’

‘Okay my turn, my turn!’ snapped Mohammed, ejecting Buddha from the chair.

‘I have detected a non-biological artefact on the mega-giant-huge-massive squid,’ buzzed Vivian through the ship’s speakers.

‘Hey she’s right!’ called Jesus, pointing wildly at another large screen. ‘It’s got a massive metal plate on it.’

‘Aw come on,’ snapped Mohammed. ‘Do I get a go or not?’

The view did indeed show a shiny chrome plate behind the creature’s eye, stamped into its vast mantle. A big red light flashed on and off.

‘This squid is no ordinary squid,’ mused Vishnu.

David stared at him with bloodshot eyes. ‘Dude, like, were you there for the whole giant-colossal conversation?’

‘It’s a remote-controlled squid!’ squeaked Buddha.

‘So,’ said Mohammed, enjoying the swivel action of the control chair, ‘all we need to do is pulverise that metal plate, and shoo the thing back into the sea? Right?’

‘Vishnu agrees, but suggests you hand over the laser to him. This requires someone who can actually shoot.’

‘Oh whatever,’ grinned Mohammed, zooming in on the screen. The crosshairs came to rest on the squid’s giant implant. ‘Kazam!’

The red beam blasted upon the squid, charring and melting the metal; the huge bulb shattered, dropping glass to the street far below.

The squid paused in mid-flail, blinking its vast eyes slowly. Its tentacles withdrew, dropping the various bits of concrete and detritus, and it let out a low mournful mooooaaan.

Then it drew itself together, and dragged its bulk back through the streets to the harbour, and vanished into the dark waters with a large splash.

‘Congratulations gentlemen,’ cooed Vivian, ‘the squid appears to have been vanquished. You have saved New York City.’

‘Yet again.’

‘So that’s it then?’

‘Well, there is as always the small matter of reconstruction in the post-disaster zone…’ mumbled Vivian sulkily, ignored as usual.

‘Man, this adventure was really easy.’

‘Yeah that’s one of the quickest ones yet.’

‘We’ve been doing this for years, and yet somehow this has felt like … an introduction.’

‘For who? About what?’

‘Vishnu has the strange feeling we will see this squid again.’

‘Whatever,’ said Buddha dismissively, ‘I’ve got a MMORPG to get back to.’


‘And proud,’ he beamed. ‘Come on, let’s go. Who’s going to sign out?’

There was a pause.

‘Not me.’

‘I did it last time.’

‘Vishnu finds it awkward and cheesy.’

‘Okay, okay, I’ll say it,’ said Jesus. ‘But only because someone has to. See you all next time … on JESUS AND THE ALL-STARS!

More short stories at under "Short Stories" :)

Monday, 13 September 2010

Saturday, 11 September 2010

New acoustic videos!

Posted a couple of videos on my Youtube profile from the Acoustic Lounge gig I played in June - first is a barnstorming rendition of "Sunshine", then an equally-good chilled "The Future". More to come, all kindly filmed by Veli from Hoccus Foccus. Hit him up!
@hoccusfoccus on Twitter

Wednesday, 8 September 2010

Sir 50 of Cent

Genius has landed - someone is tweeting 50cent's tweets in the Queen's English:

@English50cent My work continues. *laughs* Please refrain from pestering Soulja. He was conned by a female dog. Water barricades gladly received.
 But the best thing is when you look and read the original. Here's one of my favourites:
@50cent Busta still has the best show in hip-hop I'm not shiting on him. And I aint dissing serena either I said i gotta workout!yal be buggin
@English50cent I am sincere in praising Busta Rhymes' live abilities and Serena Williams' sexually intimidating strength. You resemble insects.
Unfortunately while looking I had the misfortune to look at 50cent's actual Twitter page, and nearly vomitted on my misanthropy when I saw his background. It consists of images of either wearing a suit or topless, playing baseball or basketball or boxing or simply looking meaningfully at the viewer, with the words CONFIDENT SMART RICH STRONG and I'M EVERYTHING YOU NEED GIRL. From anyone else it would be irony, but not Mister Cent. The fact the human race can produce such a massive cockface makes me want to kill absolutely everyone, including myself, to make sure no such motherfucker will ever grace the internet.

Monday, 6 September 2010

Back from holiday

New chapters to include in the biography of my life:
  • Orienteering Paris: How to see everything and kill your feet in 3 days
  • Aeroflot business class: 4-course meals all round!
  • This year's drinking fashions: denim, visors and fanny packs
  • Russia's new service economy: Shouting and no English
  • Essex: Visiting 2010 much nicer than Growing Up 1989-2003
  • Ordering Lobster in Barcelona: A detailed introduction to armoured marine biology
  • Shanghai airport: Transit? What transit?
  • "Transit" in Moscow: An all-new cattle experience!
  • When in Paris... eat snails and raw beef
  • August in Europe is the new Winter
  • Being an air passenger in the 21st century: Relinquishing your rights to know what the fuck is going on
  • Missed your connecting flight from Moscow? Join the queue. The long, long queue. And the next one. And the one after that.
  • Air conditioning on the Barcelona metro: Dear London, IT'S AWESOME
  • Metal cutlery in business class: Because terrorists only fly economy
  • 20 years of weekend closures on the Circle Line: This better be the most insane episode of Pimp My Underground Line EVER. I expect gold-plated carriages and neon fucking lights.
  • In Communist Russia, passport checks you - many, many times