Monthly Archives: June 2010

My 11 most despised ever Desert Island Discs ‘luxury object’ picks

If you live down a well with no radio, on Desert Island Discs famous/important people pick eight pieces of music they’d take to a desert island. Then at the end of the programme they pick a book* and a ‘luxury object’, meaning something that won’t help them escape or communicate with the outside world but will improve their stay on the island.

My 11 most despised ever Desert Island Discs ‘luxury object’ picks:

Gok Wan – lip balm
What a spluttering gasm of fool. Mind you, the number of fashion and media thickies who’ve picked one or other named brand of beauty product makes me want to throw up.

Anthony Julius – San Pellegrino water on tap
Because a familiar tasting brand of springwater is just that tiny bit nicer than, say, completely new water such as an actual spring. Or learning to de-salinate.

Piers Morgan – a cricket bat
No ball or stumps, nobody else there to bowl to him, just a cricket bat. Perhaps he’ll roger himself with it. Several other people have taken complete cricket sets but they’re usually smart enough to include a bowling machine.

Vince Cable and George Michael – an Aston Martin
Huh!? On an island with no roads? This isn’t Top Gear, are you just going to sit in it?

Ruthie Henshall – a jar of Mayonnaise
Aw Ruthie, you’re a genius. One jar. No fridge. Catching and cooking your own food. Two weeks later, driven insane wishing over and over again that you’d picked something less stupid.

Pen Hadow – a six inch nail
Almost impossibly brilliant. I have no idea why he wanted this, perhaps he just got bored doing the interview? No hammer, either.

Antonia Fraser – strings of false pearls
What an absolutely stunning fucking psychedelic numb-nut.

Paolo Coelho – a trip around the desert island on Concorde
And in one fell swoop, I travel from being completely disinterested in Paolo Coelho to wanting to stab him repeatedly in the face with a blunted, slightly rusty model of that aeroplane. He wants a flight on Concorde around a small desert island?

Jan Morris – a hot water bottle
It’s a desert island Jan, not Snowdonia.

Fred Hoyle – a big photo of a lot of people at a race meeting
I know it was a long, long time ago, the Internet hadn’t been invented and he’s a man from a different age. But this is just shit.

Sir Aaron Klug – a pile of mixed Greek and Imperial coins
Mind you, I don’t actually know who Sir Aaron Klug was, perhaps he made beautiful intricate steampunk statues entirely out of ancient coinage.

By the way, since I was trawling Desert Island Discs archives, here’s:

My 10 favourite Desert Island Discs luxury object art thefts

Dame Stephanie Shirley – Henry Moore’s Madonna and Child
Nice.

Mary Beard – The Elgin Marbles
Presumably to stop any chance of Greece ever getting them back.

Colin Pillinger – a picture of Clifton Suspension bridge
Almost made it into the top section it’s so daft, however I have to accept it’s a nice bridge.

Posy Simmonds – the Crown Jewels
Hahahaha. She’ll probably use them as dildos. Cornelia Parker gets an honorary mention at this point for somehow getting away with asking for a solar-powered vibrator. AND that was back when Sue Lawley did the interview.

Monty Don – Rembrandt’s Hendrickje Bathing
I really thought Monty Don would’ve picked something less aesthetic, more grubby and real.

Jack Vettriano – Francis Bacon’s Triptych May-June 1973
“Please sir, I *am* edgy”

Christopher Frayling – The V&A
Because one art theft just isn’t enough. What a greedy guts!

Christopher Ondaatje – Justin Deranyagala’s The Blue Nude
Classy

Bob Champion – a bronze statue of the racehorse Aldaniti
Again, nice.

Arthur Scargill – the Mona Lisa
I fail to understand why Scargill would pick not only a painting but such a boring shit one, surrounded by minging tourists.

Ps. I found three particularly sad ones:
David Walliams – gun to shoot himself
Nigella Lawson – liquid tamezepan, to give her the possibility of a ‘pleasant exit’
Stephen Fry – a suicide pill

*as well as the book of their choice, they’re given The Complete Works Of Shakespeare and The Bible, or occasionally an alternative religious book of their choosing. Although several guests have picked Darwin or Dawkins as their book choice, so far nobody has tried to argue that they should get this *instead* of the religious book and still get another book.

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New fambly member: introducing Songnostic

Announcing the birth of a younger sister to BlognosticSongnostic is my new blog specifically about songwriting and music-schmindustry related topics.

I’ve been trying out posts for a few weeks, partly because more and more often I’m being asked to get involved with workshops, which I really enjoy. I want somewhere to chuck down the ideas that arise from those – and also thoughts that may be useful to other people trying to write songs or make music.

I know Blognostic is feeling a little nervous about this new addition but I’m hoping if anything it’ll be easier to write non-music blog entries for Blognostic, as they’ll be a bit less tangled with my music making.

Anyhoo, I’d appreciate any comments or criticism – already worrying that it’s too po-faced and ‘sensible’ for me. I’d especially appreciate your comments if you’re a songwriter yourself and also if you know of other blogs about songwriting that I can link to, because I’ve struggled to find any that aren’t horrifically corporatist.

That link again: SONGNOSTIC

Cheers. x

what augmented reality can do for real reality

In a conversation with Anth Melton a couple of months ago about augmented reality, Anth said something that turned my view of the technology on its head. It’s stuck with me, got to be shared and he won’t be bothered, so here goes.

We tend to come at augmented reality from the point of view of the benefits ‘within’ it, ie. what it does for you once you’ve got your Google Goggles or iSpecs on and you’re wandering around a world you’ve programmed, seeing a range of content and adverts picked out and filtered for you. But Anth suggested we should regard the development of AR from the other direction, from a town planning / eco-improvement perspective. Perhaps it offers an incredibly powerful tool (or at least impetus) to sort out the real physical world. I honestly haven’t heard this perspective on AR anywhere else and it amazes me, the more I think about it, it’s almost Mayer Hillman counter-intuitive.

You know the way that sometimes urban spaces look suddenly, unexpectedly beautiful if you look up above the ground floor? The truism that if you’re walking around a shoddy town centre, overcrowded with consumers, full of advert hoardings and with every building covered in shop signage, that the buildings themselves are actually gorgeous? You just have to look slightly upwards – to the first floor and above – to get smacked in the face by how lush these streets of varied historic architecture are, especially at a quieter time of day. For me Oxford Street and in particular Charing Cross Road are like that early morning, when there aren’t the usual bucketloads of numpties. Brighton is like that too because we have ramshackle, alleyway architecture which fades into the background when the town is rammed brimful of tourists and shoppers.

So what we do is migrate all extraneous commercial and social signage onto augmented reality, provide everyone with the means to view it when needed, then enjoy an improved real world that we can drop in and out of as suits. I’ve been thinking about this a lot over the past two months, imagining the extent to which the exodus online of commercial industries could go hand-in-hand with renewal of (both urban and rural) spaces. Someone needs to get the ball rolling with a trial space.

Pick an area, such as a small progressively-minded town. Then digitise as much commercial traffic and transaction as possible, not simply to improve its efficiency or make the same advances everywhere else is trying to make, but with a conscious aim of ‘cleaning up’ the physical world. Trial this small town free of any advert hoardings or roadsigns, which are all in a town-planned augmented reality space. It becomes illegal to drive a car without your council-supplied AR iSpecs on.

Go nuts. Hoodied yoof gets hold of special AR spraypaint apps to graff up the ARscape. Gig promoters and theatre managers flypost and billboard their shows in the same ARscape as newspaper sellers posting up their headlines. The only dogs you’re allowed to walk around town exist in AR, so the shit is deletable. Political campaigns and letterbox junkmail are in that space too. Parents can limit what their kids’ glasses pick out, so that they’re not exposed to the more adult-oriented promotional material, while similarly filtering the childrens’ adventure games out of their own AR.

Meanwhile we can switch civilisation off and opt out, temporarily or permanently as we feel, choosing to breathe in an uncivilised alternative.

Just for a start, out a little challenge to all the hi-tech digital conventions (that may be inevitable anyway): run your events with no physical invasion of the space you’ve descended upon, other than the people themselves. Imagine South By Southwest 2012, not a single leaflest, nor goodie bag, nor poster. Just hundreds of geeks in shades, knowing slightly more (and deliciously slightly less) than the rest of us.

Anyway, I liked it. Only downer is, it reminds me of the paperless office that never happened. But never mind, it has staved off post-tour blues for half a day.