are the stars out tonight?

life and stuff

autumn almanack

autumn's already upon us the weather is definitely cooler than it has been, and i've now had a cold for a week and a half.

both my birthday and the beginning of the academic year are in september, so i've always felt like september marks the new year - in a way that january doesn't really. the demarcation between december and january isn't particularly strong, whereas august to september usually feels like a leap.

even this year - which should feel different because of the weather and because it's my first year of working full-time - it still seems like the beginning of a new stage of my life.

i started this blog to document the transitions in my life, and this feels like another to add to the list - turning 21, leaving university, starting my first job and my second job. i'm going to turn 25 tomorrow, and i'm excited about it. there are a lot of things i want to accomplish this year, and i'm glad the blog's going to be here to help me make sense of it all.

this is my last post before i reach my quarter century, which is a bit scary if you look at it like that. still, there are worse ages than 25 (15 for one).


i'm sick - like cough-cough sick, it's horrible. i hate being ill, it makes me grumpy and grrr. but what makes up for it slightly is listening to the new regina spektor album, which i picked up the weekend before last. i was never sure if i actually liked her - she's got an amazing voice, and she writes great songs, but i think the last album was just a little bit too weird for me. begin to hope, though, is fantastic, easily my favourite album of the year, though i think the camera obscura record comes not far off.

ink polaroid

i actually just wrote another post, but it didn't feel quite timely, so i'm going to save it for a couple of weeks. i'd intended to post photos this week, but i've been a bit lax about taking my camera out, and i always feel a bit weird taking pictures on my phone.

so here, instead, is an ink polaroid:

this is a picture of four passport photos i saw last night on the ground on my way home from work. it had been raining in the day and the asphalt was wet, there were already orange leaves on the ground. the man in the photos (they're the new-style passport photos, all the same on a white background and arranged in a square) looks weirdly familiar. but he's shaven-headed and tough-seeming. i bet he's pissed off to have dropped the photos, but in the pictures, he looks strangely serene, lying there surrounded by wet leaves.

vinyl fantasy IV

listening to late night radio in my teens, i picked up all kinds of weird taste in music. this is a song that i first heard on the mark and lard show, when they were still on the graveyard shift (which co-incidentally is the first place i heard b&s too).

the sweet were a glam rock band from the seventies, and that's, er, pretty much all i know about them.

but this is an absolute stormer of a track. and the opening makes me want to laugh like an insane person - there's just something resolutely un-glam about the names steve, andy and mick.

it mightn't seem like it really fits with my taste in music, but this is good fun. evidently, i liked it enough to buy it for £1 from the record and tape exchange (hmm bit of a theme there).

the sweet - the ballroom blitz [windows users - right click the link and "save as"; mac users ctrl-click and choose "download linked file as"]

and also i posted to mefi this morning. the thread has gone, ahem, completely batshitinsane in the interim. should have prolly thought out the consequences of that one.

vinyl fantasy III

anyone who's known me for any length of time will know that i am a huge pulp fan. when i exorcised my teenage poster collection, the only star whose face stayed put was jarvis'. and his autograph still takes pride of place in my room (with struan's and graham's).

i was extremely thrilled to find him on myspace, and he's now firmly in my 'top 8'. incidentally, the song on his profile is brilliant, but completely nsfw. just knowing that he's still out there making terrific music gives me a warm fuzzy.

because i was a bit of a late bloomer - musically - the first pulp song i really heard was miss-shapes, as it was the first song on different class, which i listened to obsessively on my walkman - at night, first thing in the morning, on the way to school, at lunch break... even now, i could probably recite the lyrics to that record from the first "miss-shapes, mistakes, misfits" to the last "let's go" (although i did just have to check wat the last lyric was).

after that i collected every record pulp had released - including it, the innumerable compilations of early tracks, and a few of the singles. but this song actually comes from the b-side to miss-shapes/sorted for e's and wizz, the double a-side single from different class.

it's classic pulp of the period - almost glam sounding, and jarvis' lyrics on top form, though i'm not massively surprised this didn't make the album!

pulp - p.t.a. (parent teacher association)

Vinyl Fantasy II

of all my mother's records, the one that really captured my imagination was original cast recording of hair. without really knowing exactly what the story was, the music really grabbed me.

hair is basically about young people rebelling against their parents a government they don't believe in, and against a war they don't want to participate in. so it still resonates today. which is why it's still being produced.

that's not to say that it hasn't dated appallingly badly. free love doesn't really cut the mustard in the post-aids era, and that hippie mumbo-jumbo (*cough* age of aquarius *cough*) is really old news.

what it does have is some really brilliant songs. there were so many i wanted to choose, but this is my favourite.

the sleve notes say of this song, that it "might be called a teeny-bopper's plaint. it doesn't rhyme at all. it is really the great american novel." it's sung here by shelley plimpton (the mother of actress martha plimpton), who played crissy in the original show.

shelley plimpton - frank mills

vinyl fantasy I

for quite a while now, i've had a passion for records that are older than i am. by which i mean actual physical vinyl lps. i put this down to dancing around to my mother's copy of please please me in my formative years.

in order to make my rather quiet podcast i bought a little bit of kit called an imic. what's good about the imic is that it can also be used to record from a turntable. and that means i can now bring you some rather strange highlights of my record collection.

because the albums are old and i am lazy, i fear the sound quality is not always going to be perfect, but it's pretty good on this first track.

this recording comes from a 1980 compilation album i picked up from the record and tape exchange on berwick street. the album's called band'its at ten o'clock, and it's a series of recordings by bands who played at the 101 club in clapham. there are a few well known names on there - the thompson twins and holly and the italians stand out - but this was always my favourite track from the album.

the scene were a seventies mod band from bradford, sort of a proto jam. the singer, phill harding, now has his own very interesting blog. and it looks like the band might be getting back together. i think you'll like this.

the scene - all people go mad [windows users - right click the link and "save as"; mac users ctrl-click and choose "download linked file as"]

edited 9.48am 8-08-06, because i had an email from the singer of the bradford the scene and this isn't them. there's absolutely no record on the interwebs of another band called the scene from the seventies/eighties, so who this band is is a total mystery.

atsot radio!

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you can also download it, and comment here. and - oh heck, let's be optimistic here - subscribe with your podcatcher of choice, with the rss feed:

and here's the embarrassing ask.metafilter post. that did make me feel a bit, er, dumb.

this is something i've been intending to do for quite some time now, and i hope you enjoy it. i'd love to get your feedback on it - it's the first audio i've really recorded, and i think the sound came out alright. sorry if it's a bit quiet - i promise it'll be louder next time.


for the last couple of years, i've been having my hair cut by a very nice man on gloucester road (jon). at the beginning of the year, he was away and i badly needed a cut, so i went to a colleague of his. and got a better haircut.

so on friday, i called and asked for an appointment with either. and got the second one. of course jon was there and we had a slightly stilted conversation about how incredibly busy we both were.

it was like running into your boyfriend when you're on a date with another man.

burnt out

this week, i've not exactly been burning the candle at both ends, it feels more like i've cut the candle in half and it's now burning all four ends.

i enjoy what i'm doing, but i do feel drained by the end of the day, at which point i often have to go to my other job (because i'm mad apparently). i pretty much feel like i want to crawl under a stone by friday.

weekends are too short at the moment. this is the first summer i've consistently been at work in the day. i could use a holiday.

silver surfer

i found my first grey hair when i was nineteen, and since then i've spent quite a lot of time pretending that i wasn't going grey.

i've declined to colour my hair, because i'm pretty aware that it will just lead to a forty year cycle of dying my roots before i am finally actually old enough to let myself go.

so i have to accept that rather than raven locks, my hair is distinctly salt and pepper these days. i like it though - there's something shocking about being a young person with grey hair, like shaking up stereotypes.

justifiable paranoia

every morning, i have a fifteen minute walk to work. i quite enjoy it - it's a bit of a rough area, but the streets are fairly quiet and i get to listen to my ipod on my huge headphones.

or i did. last week someone in my office said to me:
"you know, i saw you on my way to work, and i thought i with those big headphones you're a crime waiting to happen."

now i don't dare listen to my music. and the most galling thing is that he's absolutely right. i can't believe i've lasted this long!

Bloggiversary IV: Return of the Blogger

dear blog, this has been a funny year for us both. things have changed, and i've neglected you cruelly. i initiated the worst theme week. ever. and a couple of series that just never quite cut it.

i've learnt my lesson. no more blogging about what i plan to do, as it inevitably falls down. so i'm leaving it to you to work out what the festivities i've got in mind for this month. suffice it to say that there will definitely be more posting. i promise!

happy birthday atsot, i hope this year treats you better than the last.