Friday, 29 November 2013

29/11/13 - LOUD NOISES!

I miss loud music.
When I was a kid there was loud music everywhere, and never any fear of irritating anyone with it. Quite often I’d be woken up on a Saturday morning by the sound of the Stones or Graham Parker booming up from the living room - my dad loves to crank the tunes up, it’s entwined in his DNA. His heart is a bass driver. If he was cooking dinner, the kitchen would be blasting out a bit of Dr Feelgood, or if he was out working on his kit car there’d be some choice Elvis Costello coming from the garage. It instilled within us, my sister and I, a culture of enjoying music at a decent volume. Family trips in the car would involve a bit of ‘you ask him,’ ‘no, you ask him’ back-and-forth in the back seat to get dad to turn the stereo up yet further, but he never needed asking twice. And so we listened to loud music in our bedrooms too. Music is better loud, that’s just a fact. And ‘loud’ was the default music setting for us – you’d only have something on quietly if there was a damn good reason. What’s the point of having something on anonymously in the background? Don’t you actually want to listen to your music, rather than just vaguely hearing it? It’s thanks to that sort of attitude that everyone in Coldplay has a bigger house than you. Pay more attention.

When I was fourteen, I saved up all my pennies and bought a pair of massive speakers for my room. I couldn’t afford the disco-spec Jamo floorstanders that I really wanted, so I got a pair of Tandy’s own-brand replicas. (I can remember very clearly that the CD I took to the shop to test their various speakers was The Wildhearts’ ‘Don’t Be Happy… Just Worry’. The elderly shoppers of Herne Bay High Street seemed nonplussed by ‘Splattermania’, although I think ‘Nothing Ever Changes But The Shoes’ went down OK...)
Say what you like about the now-defunct Tandy, they knew how to hammer together a good speaker – I’ve still got them now, and they still sound ace. They’ve got louvred, ferrofluid-cooled tweeters, perky mid-range units, and 12” woofers. When I was a noisy teenager with a bedroom full of Guns N’ Roses records, this sort of extraordinary punch was necessary. But I live in London now, and I honestly couldn’t tell you the last time I turned my volume dial above about 25%. And that’s kinda sad.

You see, everyone lives on top of each other in London. I don’t want to annoy my neighbours – they irritate the piss out of me sometimes, so I don’t want to give them any ammo – and we’ve got people below, people either side, and also a shop below at the front. My bassbins lie fallow, yearning for those halcyon days of irresponsible, ear-violating volume. The only times I ever get to listen to loud music are in the car and on the bus. And they’re both flawed options. If I’m alone in the car then yes, loud music happens, but I don’t find myself driving around solo that often – there’s usually a little person in the back. And it’s not really fair to kick out the jams when she’s trying to have a nap.
And yes, I can max the volume on the bus, but only if there’s no-one else around (people with no awareness of how everyone can hear the tinny beats seeping out of their headphones are, well, twats), and even then it’s hardly the last word in high fidelity. An iPod, playing through cheap Sony headphones. There’s only so much bass and clarity you can get from a 40mm driver unit.

So what’s the answer? Well, you tell me. Ideally I’d live in a detached house (unlikely, unless my EuroMillions numbers come in) and drive to work every day (again, unlikely – I’ve been here seven and a half years and there’s still no sign of them giving me a fucking parking space), but assuming my life isn’t going to radically change any time soon, what are the alternatives?

Extreme soundproofing

Louder music would be a possibility at home if I were to put some thought into hardcore soundproofing. But this’d have to go some way beyond mere egg-crates stuck to walls and suchlike. It’d probably involve building a sort of cage of false interior walls, padding the cavities between them and the outside ones with glassfibre and expanding foam, and nailing a load of pillows to the floor and ceiling. Although, on a practical level (ha!), this would result in a room so small that it would be ear-bleedingly painful to twiddle the volume dial further than 25% anyway. Might be a waste of effort.

Hiring out a room somewhere
An events venue or conference room would be a good place to go and get noisy. No-one would object to me playing loud music in a room above a pub.
But no, it’s not just the loud music I miss, it’s the ability to easily integrate it into daily life on a whim. Having to go somewhere specifically to do so would be a bit pointless. I’d just be sitting in a noisy room on my own, and that sounds like an Irvine Welsh breakdown fantasy.

Being obnoxious
I could just stop giving a shit about annoying my neighbours (or fellow bus travellers) and listen to music as loudly as I damn well please. Stop pussy-footing around and get the retaliation in first before they’ve got the chance to somehow annoy me. Yeah?
Unfortunately, Britishness stops me from even contemplating this option. Imagine if one of them looks me in the eye and challenges me. I might just shudder and cringe myself to death.

[4th option]
No, that’s all I can think of.

None of that seems to work. Maybe I’ll just have to sit closer to the speakers.






Thursday, 28 November 2013

MusicVille couch gag

Wonderful.

Slightly Wrong Quotes

This is utterly magical. Clicky.




Dramatic YouTube comments

How to fight a baby

The kid's finishing move is unbeatable.

Top 200 Reddit posts...

...presented interactively. Interesting. Clicky.


Mad Men, without the smoking

Waiting in Line 3D

The most gripping game you'll play today. Clicky.


The internet: a warning from history

Abandoned places

Abandoned buildings fascinate me. They clearly fascinate this guy too; check out his constantly gobsmacking Flickr stream - click here.
(All rights reserved by odins_raven)






Befuddlement

Agreed. In the Night Garden makes no bloody sense. It's this generation's Magic Roundabout.

Status Update

Lovely little short, this - Facebook status updates coming true.

WINNER SPECIAL JURY PRIZE - STATUS UPDATE - a facebook fairytale from Director DANIEL REISINGER on Vimeo.

Friday, 22 November 2013

22/11/13 - Student fritters

About a year ago, the theme of JuicyPips was ‘what I spent my student loan on’. Look: http://bevis-juicypips.blogspot.co.uk/2012/10/261012-student-loans.html
Well, dear reader, you’ll be thrilled to learn that a mere ten years and five months after graduating, I have indeed paid the whole thing off. All of that snakebite-and-black I bought is finally my own legal property and nobody can say otherwise. If only I hadn’t pissed it all out and flushed it away. I should have retained it all in some sort of vast rubber bladder, I could have something to show for it all.
The crux of that post last year, if you can’t be arsed to click the link and see for yourself, is that I principally spent the money on four things: cars, CDs, shit clothes, and booze. But now, since I can finally draw a line under the whole thing, and the Student Loans Company can’t cast any aspersions over my character for frittering away the cash they lent me in good faith on stupid things, I can now reveal the other things I blew my student loan on…

MiniDisc player
Don’t laugh. At the time, MiniDisc was the Next Big Thing. I was (and still am) an enthusiastic record collector, and much of my time as a teenager was spent happily crafting mixtapes. MiniDisc seemed like an almost magical way to evolve the mixtape format – not only could you splice together all of your favourite songs, but they were all in proper digital quality (even if you recorded over them a hundred times), there’s was no click-thump between tracks from where you’d pressed the pause button, you could easily swap tracks around if you fancied, you could label them digitally, it was all very clever.
At the time, though, I had a midi system, and bought the MiniDisc deck as a hi-fi separate that I plugged into it. This wouldn’t do at all. So it wasn’t just the MiniDisc deck that I bought with my loan, but a new amp too. And a new CD player. And so on.
To be fair, I’ve still got the separates, and they all still work. This was by no means a waste of money, and it was worth living on Super Noodles in order to have a decent stereo. No regrets.

Gigs
I went to a lot of gigs as a student. Portsmouth, for all its many, many faults, is at least rather well served for concert venues. There was the Wedgewood Rooms for small, intimate (and very, very sweaty) gigs, the Pyramids on the seafront for bigger bands, and the Guildhall in the town centre for big-hitters. And all my favourite bands of the era were keen to come to town – Mansun, The Wildhearts, A, Supergrass, Muse, Idlewild, Vex Red, Placebo, The Cooper Temple Clause, Reef, The Jeevas, The Electric Soft Parade, Sum 41, 3 Colours Red, Soulwax, The Datsuns, Terrorvision… you name it, I was there, drunkenly leaping around. It was a weird badge of honour to go to the Student Union straight from a gig, wearing your freshly-acquired bootleg band t-shirt (that you bought from a street vendor for a fiver as the official ones were twenty quid), all sticky and reeking of sweat. I don’t go to a lot of gigs these days, so I’m glad I did it loads when I was younger. Happy memories.

Playing pool
I’m not very good at pool. I don’t even like it that much. But in my first year at uni there was a grotty little pub at the end of our street that never had anybody in it aside from a smattering of aged regulars, so we spent a lot of time playing pool and listening to Blur on the jukebox. (I don’t remember why it was always Blur – maybe we didn’t like any of the other records in there.) I got to be quite good at it for a while, but it’s a skill I rapidly lose. To be honest, pool is something that I get better at the more I’ve had to drink. Like darts. Or perhaps it’s just that the more drunk I am, the better I think I am (and/or the less I care about winning). There were pool tables in the union too. We even went to an actual pool hall a couple of times, by choice, for whole evenings. Seems like a massive waste of time now. The kind of people you meet in pool halls are not, by and large, the kind of people I want to hang out with. I’m not interested in fighting, spitting, racism or tracksuits.

Imperial Leather Foamburst
For some reason I thought this aerosol-propelled shower gel was brilliant. I used to buy it all the time. In hindsight, that was a massive waste of money for a student. An absurd extravagance. What’s wrong with a bar of soap, you fancy sod?

Going to Plymouth

One of my housemates was from Plymouth, and he convinced us all to go on a road trip down there for a night out. The memories of it are hazy, and somehow in my mind they’ve melded with that road trip they take to Warwick in The Inbetweeners. But in short, Plymouth is a dump.
Well, maybe that’s unfair. We didn’t see much of it. We arrived at his parents’ house on the outskirts after it had gone dark, got a bus full of shouty yobs into town, went to two of the bleakest and stickiest nightclubs I’ve ever encountered, then all went back to his house and slept on his floor. It was pretty awful. The next day, before heading back to Portsmouth, we were all paraded into town in order to visit the shiny new branch of TK Maxx, which is apparently something that the people of Plymouth are very proud of.
On the whole, it’s probably one of the most expensive nights out I’ve ever had. And I still can’t really work out what the point of it was.

So, a bit of a mixed bag all in all. I think the positives outweigh the negatives though, and hey – I actually properly own my ten year-old MiniDisc deck now. Hooray!






GTA V - Prostitute Division

Hey, digital whores don't just happen.

Histagrams

History depicted as Instagrams. Simple. Clever. Very well observed. Clicky.




Foot Locker's Week of Greatness

Tyson returns Holyfield's ear. Brilliant.

Real-life Instagram

Nice idea, this. Clicky.




Ladies of HR

The horrifying truth about those annoying office birthday collections.

Streetview maze

Fancy finding your way through a corn maze on Google Streetview? OK, here you go...


Princess Machine

This is ace. The fluffy pinkness of girls' toys really irritates me.

Friday, 15 November 2013

15/11/13 - Neon

Neon signs are one of those modern(ish) miracles that we take completely for granted, but they really are clever little things. Well, not always little. Massive, sometimes. Piccadilly Circus or Times Square would be anonymous junctions without their vast swathes of shiny coloured lights, and the ubiquity of the neon light over the decades demonstrates just how versatile and well-liked they are.

The way they work is this: neon is an inert gas, a chemical element that exists within the Earth’s atmosphere, and when neon is sealed in a glass tube with a metal electrode at either end, you can chuck a handful of volts at the electrodes to ionize the gas, causing it to emit light by fluorescence. Now, the natural colour of a neon light is red. So why do we so often see them in other colours? Painted glass? Clever tinting? No, it’s because other gases can be used to create different colours – mercury for blue, helium for yellow, carbon dioxide for white – when we talk about ‘neon lights’, it’s actually a pretty non-specific (and frequently inaccurate) term.

Neon itself was discovered in 1898 and, impressively, was pressed into the duty of creating light almost immediately - William Ramsay and Morris W. Travers, the discoverers, tested its properties in an electrical gas-discharge tube and were mesmerised by the crimson glow. By 1902, a chap named Georges Claude – often dubbed ‘the Edison of France’ – was experimenting with neon lighting at his Air Liquide facility, with the company producing industrial quantities of purified neon. In 1910, Claude erected two mighty red neon tubes at the Paris Motor Show and immediately had the world’s attention: people could suddenly see the commercial possibilities. He was quick to patent the tech in the US, and basically monopolised the industry over there through to the 1930s.
In 1913, Claude and his associate Jacques Fonseque developed a huge sign for Cinzano in Paris, which caused a few jaws to drop, but it was the US that really embraced the new tech with gusto…

In 1923, businessman Earle C. Anthony ordered two custom neon signs for his Packard dealership in Los Angeles. The Angelenos were so astonished by this heavenly glowing vision that the signs literally stopped traffic; indeed, police had to be drafted in to control the hysterical crowds. Presumably Anthony shifted a few extra Packards off the back of it too…
By 1931, the neon sign business in the US was worth $16.9m, in large part still controlled by Claude Neon Lights, Inc. However, Claude’s patent expired in ’32, opening the door to all manner of manufacturers and distributors – the 1930s really were the golden age of neon, with companies and advertisers experimenting with countless styles of signs – movement, fog, sound effects and scents were all tried with varying levels of success.

The US may be the spiritual home of the neon light, but the rest of the world have had their fun with it too. France will always be its true home, of course; one notable early example is that in 1925, André Citroën rented the Eiffel Tower and had it emblazoned from top to bottom with the ‘Citroën’ name in glorious neon. It proved so popular that he kept doing it until 1934. And naturally there are the incredibly long-running signs of Piccadilly Circus – Coca Cola have been advertising there since 1954, McDonald’s replaced BASF in 1987, and TDK’s sign, installed in 1990, remained unchanged for twenty years before someone saw fit to remove the bit that said ‘audio & video tape’ and ‘floppy disks’ beneath the logo. (Incidentally, the site currently occupied by TDK was owned by Schweppes from 1920-61, then BP, followed by Cinzano, Fujifilm and Kodak.) There even used to be a huge moving Guinness clock, artfully crafted from neon tubes.

My favourite neon sign, however, is altogether more subtle. Forget Vegas Vic, the 40-foot high cowboy on the Pioneer Club in Las Vegas, or the Coppertone girl in Miami – I like the Lucozade sign on the M4. It’s on the side of a building in Brentford, visible to traffic travelling towards London. It was installed as a sort of ‘kinetic sculpture’ in 1954, and remained there until 2004 when it was given to the Gunnersbury Museum. Local residents were miffed at losing such an important icon of local history, so an identical sign was made up to replace it, and there it remains to this day. (See here.)

Neon lights are quite retro now, of course. The enthusiasm for bending glass tubes into weird shapes really began to wane in the 1970s when it became more popular to employ fluorescent-lit plastic tubes, and the old signs are increasingly being replaced by LEDs today, which are considered less wasteful in terms of energy. All of which means, naturally, that vintage neon signs are true collectors’ items, reminiscent of a more excitable age. So if you want to liven up your padded leather bar in the corner of your living room, you’d better go and pinch the Guinness lights from your local dive bar’s window, before the things die out entirely…



The Tea Song

Very, very Britishy.

Ads of the Wrong

Simple and effective. Nice. Clicky.



Gymkhana Six

Ken Block's latest viral. Plenty to enjoy even if you're not into cars.

'The Hare with Amber Eyes and the Bear Called Pooh'

Waterstones' take on the John Lewis Christmas ad.

Say it with sea otters

Motivational stuff. Click here.




Little Jimmy Page

Aw, he's all small.

Dinovember

This is a really lovely idea. Every November, these parents dedicate a lot of time and stylistic flourish toward convincing their kids that their toy dinosaurs come alive at night. In their words, 'in the age of iPads and Netflix, we don’t want our kids to lose their sense of wonder and imagination'. Laudable. Click here to see.




Friday, 8 November 2013

08/11/13 - Forklifting

I have a forklift licence. Well, actually, no I don’t. I thought I did.
After I graduated, having spent a couple of months washing cars on the forecourt of Perrys Vauxhall in Canterbury (a solid use of an English Literature degree, that), I got a job at Impress Publishing, a charity Christmas card fulfilment warehouse. This was also a great use of my shiny new qualifications.

Impress shifted a lot of units, so there were a couple of warehouses full of stock, with more being delivered by lorry at regular intervals. All of this necessitated a number of people who could operate forklift trucks, and I was one of those people. So they gave me a load of official training, made me take a forklift driving test with an external examiner, and gave me a certificate. Check out the hilariously gory safety video that was an integral part of the training – this was shown to us, subtitled, in total seriousness:


However, I have subsequently learned that my certificate only actually allowed me to drive forklifts while I was employed by that particular company. I’m not sure why this is. I used to be allowed to drive ’em, and now I’m not. Officially. But anyway, I did a hell of a lot of forklifting in the eighteen months that I worked in that cold, depressing warehouse, so here’s a handy JuicyPips guide to Things You Shouldn’t Do With Forklift Trucks

Donuts
A colleague had a special method for pulling the perfect forklift donut. You need to put the steering on full lock, tie a strap through the wheel and around the frame, and thus make it steer itself in a circle. Then you put a box of Christmas cards on the throttle and stick it in Drive. That way the forklift performs its own donuts with no driver input at all, allowing the driver to climb out, hang off the side and wave at passers-by. This is, of course, tremendously dangerous.

Catching the corners of pallets on things
This is just annoying, really. Pallets of Christmas cards arrive tightly bound in shrink-wrap. This is like a big roll of industrial cling-film, and its strength lies in its many layers. But this strength can only survive so much punishment. If you’re absent-mindedly forklifting a pallet off a truck and haven’t noticed that you’ve caught the corner on another pallet, or on a bit of the truck, the shrink-wrap will start to stretch and split. And if you keep pulling it’ll fail entirely, meaning that as you lift the pallet down, thousands of Christmas cards will scatter all over the loading bay, greeted by a boisterous, laddish ‘waaheeeeeeeey’ from everybody around, like when you drop a pint glass in the pub. And none of the bastards will help you pick it all up.

Skewering pallets
Surprisingly easy to do, this. You see, the forks are adjustable in a number of directions. You’ve got one lever to move them up and down. There’s another lever to shift them back and forth. And there’s a third lever to tilt them to various angles. So you’ve really got to keep an eye on where you left the forks before going on to the next task, as it’s annoyingly easy to run the forks into a pallet, thereby destroying thousands of pounds worth of stock. Those hefty forks melt through Christmas cards like a hot knife through expensive, festive butter.

Lifting people up on the forks
This is number one in the Big Bumper Book of Really Fucking Stupid Forklifting Errors. But the temptation just proves too great. I mean, how hard can it be to stand still on a steel plank while someone lifts it up towards the ceiling?
We all did it, of course we did. But imagine if someone had lost their balance? What an embarrassing way to die.

Skidding back and forth
This is fun. Really only works on a gas forklift though, as they’re a lot more powerful than the crummy electric ones.
Basically what you do is this: floor the throttle, then stick it in Drive. Then immediately put it in Reverse, then Drive, then Reverse, and so on and so on. It’s the closest you’ll get to pulling a burnout in a forklift, and in the stimulus-bereft environs of the warehouse, well, it’s something to do. There’s a certain amount of kudos to be earned from owning the largest, richest skidmarks on the warehouse floor.
But management know where those marks come from. And they’re not at all happy about it.

Driving through a shutter
Yeah, don’t do this. I’ve never done it, but I’ve seen it happen.
Warehouse loading bays often have huge rolling metal shutters that can be pulled down to keep the wind out, and raised when loading/unloading is going on. These shutters are pretty expensive. And if you drive into one with your forks, they’re totally unyielding.

Stoppies
Oh, you really shouldn’t do this. Only a fool would take a long run up, raise the forks, get the forklift up to maximum speed, jump on the brakes to throw the tail end right into the air, then quickly adjust the height of the forks to balance the weight and freewheel along on just the two front wheels. That’s asking for trouble.

Actually, you’re probably best off just watching that safety video again. There’s a very real danger of getting sliced in two.





Glasgow fireworks

Debate rages as to whether this was intentional (and thus incredibly clever), or simply a wonderful accident. Either way, it's the best thing ever to happen to the world of small exploding things in the sky.

***edit*** Someone's just pointed out to me that this is a fake. The world is a little darker now.

Abandoned places

I'm endlessly fascinated by abandoned places, and this Flickr stream is a joy to behold.
(All photo rights reserved by Reginald Van de Velde)






The petulance of Huey Morgan

Huh. Huey used to be awesome in the nineties, but ever since he presented that shit animals-doing-silly-things clip show with right-wing cake-botherer Liza Tarbuck, his credibility has been on the wane. And look, he's a total dick now.
(Interesting side note: Rizzle Kicks turn out to be witty, sharp and likeable. Whodathunkit?)

'We ate your Hallowe'en candy...'

Hilarious, cruel and sweet in equal measure.

Cats Wearing Tights

They're cats. In tights. Look.


Old masters, animated

Some brilliantly Gilliam-esque animations from the Australian comedy show The Elegant Gentleman's Guide to Knife Fighting.

Yorkshire tearjerker

Educating Yorkshire has been a thoroughly enjoyable series. And if this clip doesn't bring a tear to your eye, you're dead inside.

The Rip-Hoff

The Hoff sings the Fresh Prince. Glorious.

The Rip-Hoff pt.1 from Matthijs_Vlot on Vimeo.

Tuesday, 5 November 2013

05/11/13 - Finality

I think I saw someone die this morning.

As I approached the bus stop I spotted a small crowd on the other side of the road. Somebody, who had presumably been knocked off their bike, was lying on the pavement under a blanket. A number of cyclists had stopped to help, along with a chap on a motorbike, although it wasn't clear what had happened to leave the poor guy so helpless. But it was clear that he was in trouble.
After a few minutes an ambulance arrived. The paramedics rushed to his aid, immediately beginning CPR. That brutal, punching-him-in-the-chest style of CPR that signifies a certain desperation and urgency, with it ebbing away hope. It went on for several minutes, indicating that their efforts were proving fruitless. As my bus drew up, a second ambulance arrived.

I've often thought about what might be the 'correct' way to die. To me, it seems that the best way is at a ripe old age, with the minimum of discomfort, in your own bed. Just slip gently away, as if going to sleep.
For others, a certain gravitas is required. Remember Lieutenant Dan in Forrest Gump, screaming that he should have been left to die with dignity on the battlefield as his forefathers had done? 'I hope I die before I get old,' sang The Who (a hope that appears to have gone unfulfilled, presumably to their great relief). Live fast, die young, leave a beautiful corpse.
Some want to go doing what they love - sailing, flying, driving. Some wilfully spiral into self-destruction. Everyone has their own view of what may be the preferred way to shuffle off this mortal coil.

But I doubt anybody hopes for their final moments to be spent desperately clinging to the last shreds of existence, flat on their back on a bridge over the Thames on a drizzly Tuesday, a crowd of gawping onlookers trying to glean the juicy details of what just happened. That's a shitty way to die.




Friday, 1 November 2013

Ohio State University Marching Band

This is incredible stuff. I mean, it's impressive that they can be this coordinated at all, but they're playing instruments as well! Clever.

Red Dress Manor

There are a number of photosets floating around the internet of the Red Dress Manor (so named becuase of the dress hanging in the wardrobe, and seen in framed photos in the house), and this is one of the better ones. No idea of the circumstances behind the building's abandonment, but it's eerily full of stuff. Click here. (All image rights reserved by Antonymes.)




Homelamb

Sesame Street's Homeland parody is wonderful in many, many ways.

Funeral selfies

Awful, awful people, being awful. Clicky.




#VXsafetydance

Virgin America’s new safety video is just perfect.

VW, Estrela

A lovely (if slightly depressing) story. Watch with English captions.

Tiger Mike

The endearingly angry Edward 'Tiger Mike' Davis, CEO of the Tiger Oil Company, here remembered by his aggressive memos. Clicky.




Referee's revenge

Now, I don't know a lot about football, but I'm pretty sure this isn't allowed.

Sealion yoinks fish

What’s more notable here – the theft of the fish, or the bearded man’s total absence of wit?