Archive for November, 2003

not me

While the cream of the UK blogging ‘community’ head for Clerkenwell to dance and argue about who is going to win the Guardian British Blog awards tonight, all furiously documenting the evening’s progress on their sites via bluetooth-enabled PDAs and GPRS-ready mobile phones, I’ll be wrapped up warm and snug at home with a copy of Tuva or Bust: Richard Feynman’s Last Journey, very kindly purchased from my wishlist by Barbara from South Queensferry (about ten miles West of Edinburgh, last time I checked). Thanks, Barbara!

Or at least that’ll be my alibi if I’m ever questioned about the series of seemingly random burglaries committed at the empty homes of British webloggers this evening.

do me bad things

In 1974 critic Jon Landau chanced upon a live show by a youthful Bruce Springsteen, immediately proclaiming him to be the ‘Future of Rock n Roll.’ Tonight at London’s Metro venue I saw witnessed Croydon outfit Do Me Bad Things, and while I won’t be risking my unfathomably enormous reputation in the fashion of the esteemed Mr Landau, I will predict that 2004 will be a very successful year for the band, a somewhat extraordinary combination of The Rocky Horror Picture Show and Queens Of The Stone Age. There’s three main singers: two men in Alice Cooper makeup and a girl probably called Aisha or Lakisha or Shemika or something who looks as if she’s left a Saturday job at JD Sports to howl like Mary J. Blige fronting the Spiders from Mars. She’s brilliant, blinged to the gills and sweltering the nastiest kind of sex appeal. The rest aren’t far behind, a unholy mix of council estate chic and glam rock penache. It’s as if the Polyphonic Spree have split into two, with a subversive splinter group electing to worship at the feet of Satan, experiment with crazy yet glamourous designer drugs and practice guitar with Eddie Van Halen. Quite, quite excellent – and remember kids, you read it here first.

I’ve just realised that there’s probably people reading this who have absolutely no idea what I’m talking about. Sorry about that.

uk blog competition 2003 – the facts

Now that the judging has finally begun, you can fully expect to see us proud members of the UK blogging ‘community’ begin to adjust the tone and content of our weblogs to reflect the fact that we’re now being read by the likes of Moby and that nice fella from Iraq (hey, Salam, loved your book by the way). I plan to quickly redesign my site to make it more acceptable to the panel, and to rattle on at great length about the semantic web and the life-changing power of rss (you’re not expected to follow either of those links, by the way).

Actually, I do have a serious point to make. Let’s pretend that it’s 1977. I’ve been blogging for close on three years which, using the standard analogy of three months on the Internet equating to a year in normal life, means that blogjam is 12 years old. This means that I am like Pink Floyd, formed in 1965, still reasonably popular, but a dinosaur nonetheless, ready to be cast asunder by the spotty new kid in town, punk rock. And do I care? Not a bit.

Let’s smash the place up, bring a little edge to the proceedings. Give the awards to people who don’t give a shit about the vital role blogging has to play in man’s exploration of the solar system or the importance of Google in easing the hardship of otter-farmers on the Scilly Isles. Kill the dinosaurs! Including me! And all those other monstrous leviathans, like Linkmachinego, Mo Morgan, Plasticbag and Haddock. Out with the old, in with the new! Let’s find ourselves a Sex Pistols, a Buzzcocks, even a bloody Sham 69, and get some bloody anarchy going. Bring down the aristocracy! Free Nelson Mandela!

What’s that? You want me to suggest a few possible blogs as suitable winners? Don’t be so fucking daft, I only update this page occasionally, and I certainly don’t read the damn things.

PS: And Moby – make another album like the last one (you know – noodly keyboard sweeps, half-assed drum patterns, sample-reliant twaddle) and I’ll send the boys round to make sure you don’t repeat yourself again. Do we understand each other?

numanoid crime

Every Friday the men from b3ta host a radio show on London’s Resonance FM, and in true b3ta stylee the show’s content and music is compiled almost entirely from suggestions from the site’s regular contributors. This week’s theme was Flatmates from Hell, and although I didn’t submit a story at the time, I do have a tale to relate.

Dave was a Numanoid. Every morning Dave would rise at 7.30 am, switch on his stereo, and play Gary Numan’s White Noise, an live album recorded at Hammersmith Odeon in 1984. Dave had been in the audience the night the of the performance, and had developed a particularly unhealthy relationship with the record. It was a double-vinyl release, and all four sides were rotated on a daily basis, each full of cheery synth gems like “Me, I Disconnect From You” and the equally uplifting “I Die You Die”.

As if this weren’t reason enough to throw the man into the street, Dave was also a thief. At first it was minor league crime – a missing pint of milk here, half a loaf of bread there, but eventually Dave went big-time, intercepting mail and stealing cash-point cards. We called The Police after another flatmate’s bank account was emptied, and Dave confessed all after being found with a bedroom full of stolen items (mainly road-signs, flashing hazard lights and traffic cones, as far as I can remember).

The next day Dave was taken away by his father, an extremely born-again Christian, who screamed and wailed and gnashed his teeth and railed at the rest of us for turning his “god-fearing son into an agent of Satan”. We never saw either of them again.

angry womble

I’ve met my fair share of famous people in my time, mainly musicians, although I did give Princess Diana the wrong directions to a street in Maylebone on one occasion, but that’s another story. The meeting that sticks most in my mind was with someone slightly less stellar in terms of celebrity, but no less oustanding as a talent – Mike Batt, the man behind the music behind The Wombles. In 1998 Columbia Records re-released the classic 1970′s anthem Remember You’re A Womble, and I decided it would be a great idea to have the composer personally deliver the record to an early-morning DJ at the radio station I worked for. The night before the event I begin to have doubts, however, worried that my desire to burst in to the on-air studio dressed in a seven-foot orange costume is rather at odds with the station’s strict alternative music policy. Eventually prudence gets the better of me, and I leave a message at the PR company cancelling the promotion.

The next morning I arrive at the office to find an extremely irate Mike Batt sitting in the reception area demanding to know why I’m two hours late and why I haven’t called to say I won’t be on time. The PR company hasn’t relayed my message, and he isn’t happy. What’s more, he’s been waiting for these two hours in costume and now I’m having a stand-up row with a highly successful musician dressed as a children’s TV character with a rather forlorn looking Womble head discarded angrily at his feet.

I tell you, I still wake up in a cold sweat.

spam wars

Spam is bad, and here at blogjam I’m determined to fight the spam wars in my own small way. I use a spam filter which catches about 99% of incoming adverts for phentermine, viagra, zyban, valtex, xenical, adipex, increasing penis-size agents, debt consolidation and cheap sluts with farmyard animals. On this site I’ve installed the mt-blacklist plugin which currently blocks about 5-10 attempts each day to leave spam messages in the comments. If you examine the source code to my homepage you’ll also notice the presence of a spidertrap, a link to a script that bars rogue web crawlers and address harvesters from examining the site in any great detail (don’t try to follow this hidden link yourself, you’ll just get barred from the site).

Now this is where it gets a little interesting (I’m assuming at this point that you, like me, don’t have a real life). Web crawlers run by reputable companies are more than welcome to examine my site – this is, after all, how blogjam appears in the various search engines and how online entities like blogdex and technorati are compiled. To ensure that these companies don’t fall into the spidertrap, I’ve got a small file that should be read by their robots. This file tells the bot where it is allowed to look – and where it shouldn’t, where the spidertrap awaits. The idea is that rogue bots and spam harvesters will ignore this file and fall into the trap, while decent folk like Google, for instance, will abide by the rules and happily proceed with indexing my site.

And the point of this inordinately dull rant? It appears as though I’m still losing the battle with the spammers. Every day for the last week I’ve received several hundred e-mails notifying me of delivery failure for e-mails that appear to have been sent from my own domain. Blogjam is apparently sending out thousands of spam mails with subjects like “Web Based Pharmacy Overnights Meds To You”, “Attain Prozac instantly” and “The Internet’s Best Pharmacy Choice” which generally point the lucky recipient in the direction of a variety of online American pill dispensers. My hosting company ensures me that these mails don’t actually come from my domain, that I haven’t been hijacked, and that the ‘from’ addresses are being spoofed, but it’s still a disheartening experience. All over the World innocent people are getting spam from ‘me,’ and my formerly unblemished reputation is in tatters. Naturally, I’m devastated.

Finally, apologies to the blogjam reader who accessed the site using Google’s HTML-WML gateway on a Sony Erricsson T610 at 21.28 this evening. The spidertrap wasn’t meant to catch you out. You can now try again.

secret santa part III

I hate November. Temperatures cool, the Christmas lights start to go up, adverts for Ferrero Rocher (the chocolate with a possibly ironic fanclub), Cointreau and Obsession for Men begin to fill up the TV advertising schedules, and the annual Secret Santa e-mail brings a dreaded reminder of the bleak and lonely Christmas to come.

No, wait. I love Secret Santa. So I’ve updated my wishlist. Let no-one say that I’m not willing to enjoy the festive season, even if it’s in perhaps a rather mercenary fashion.

vent 1000

i am the uggliest person alive. i am so ugly. just make me pretty. please, im begging you. have pity. i dont believe in god, but if there is some force out there listing or watching me type this right now, please, please just have pity on me and make me really pretty. not stuck up, just really pretty. thanks, if you are out there and you will grant me this wish. please, make me pretty sooon. before i go to school in a month or so. please, if your there, please make me pretty

Of course, a terribly sad quote like this can only mean one thing: Vent has been updated, and now contains exactly 1000 entries. To celebrate this landmark I’ve added a category counter, which reveals some interesting quirks:

  • parents do not generally vent about their children.
  • twice as many women vent about current and ex-boyfriends as men who vent against current and ex-girlfriends.
  • fathers are more frequently vented against than mothers.
  • the most popular category is ‘my friend’ followed by ‘myself.’

    Happy 1000th, Vent. Long may you host everyone else’s vitriol.

  • primal thieves

    Today I shall review the news, a bit like the way they do on the television.

    First up is The Independent. Yesterday’s edition saw an interview with Primal Scream frontman Bobby Gillespie, marking the release of the band’s new ‘Dirty Hits’ compilation, and one particular passage caught my attention.

    boogie wonderland

    Strangely enough, I lived in this very flat at the time and was also part of the shoot (on the video I’m the silhouetted dancer on the left hand side of the screen with the long hair, fact fans). What the journalist fails to mention, probably wisely under the circumstances, is that not only were we dancing to the Happy Mondays when the footage was shot, but the entire room was chanting ‘Booooooby Gillespie, is a wanker, is a wanker’ for much of the duration. It just felt like the right thing to do at the time.

    Meanwhile, over at the November edition of Maxim Magazine, the inside back cover features a hilarious quiz, the object of which is to differentiate between a series of murderous, civil rights-abusing dictators and a selection of homosexuals, simply be examining their moustaches. Priceless stuff indeed.

    ripoff

    Highly amusing, I’m sure you’ll all agree, and not at all like a certain online quiz I made last February, the object of which was to differentiate between a series of murderous, civil rights-abusing dictators and a selection of porn legends, simply be examining their moustaches. No, I don’t see any connection or resemblence there at all, none whatsoever.

    Someone’s making money here, and I want my cut.

    Bastards.