Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Mad about the books

The Reading Room, now turned into an inert monumentWith my love of reading, long life, tendency to hang out in libraries wherever I go, delight in the detective challenge of research, and tactile pleasure in books (I used to randomly search old bookshops with my dad at the weekend) – I ended up working in a library, with access to The Stacks (soon to move into another building – sigh) and functioning as an unofficial Archivist/Researcher for the Forum I spend most my free time in, at the Maybe Logic Academy.

One of my fellow students there sent me this link to ‘hot library smut’ (pictures of some of the finest libraries on the planet). I used to sit in the old British Library Reading Room with the ghosts of Darwin, Karl Marx, and so many others…thinking that the high dome got made to allow room for the ‘great thoughts’ hovering over people’s heads.

The link came from an intriguing blog called The Nonist. I roamed on from there to a wonderful essay on Arranging Books by Colour...which included this:
Georges Perec and familiar friend

My library is, to borrow from Georges Perec, "a sum of books constituted by a non-professional reader for his own pleasure and daily use." Perec's definition comes from a wonderful essay of his titled, "Brief Notes on the Art and Manner of Arranging One's Books", and includes such other quotables as "The problem of the library is shown to be twofold: a problem of space first of all, then a problem of order." I am well aware of both.

I remember how Penguin paperbacks had colour coded covers, in my childhood, and later I came across one German publisher, whose name escapes me, who used a spectrum of rainbow covers, and the shelves looked quite beautiful in the bookshops. Perec, however, liked the idea of books getting brought together that would not normally sit alongside each other.
My main shelf in the den

The central issue, as Perec warms us, is that "None of these classifications systems is satisfactory by itself," and he is right. But one idea from his list, "ordering by colour," seems to be gathering a small following of late, particularly among the visually-inclined.

Monday, August 28, 2006

Great Googlie-Mooglie

(spoken:)Man...You know I've been enjoyin' things that kings and queens will never have!In fact kings and queens can never get 'm.And they don't even know about it!And good times? Mmmmmmmmm-mmh!!

(sung:)I have had my fun, if I never get well no more
I have had my fun, if I never get well no more
Oh my health is fadin' on me, oh yes I'm goin' down slow

(spoken:)Now looka here...I did not say I was a millionaire...But I said I have spent more money than a millionaire!Cause if I had kept all my money that I'd already spent,I would've been a millionaire a looong time ago...And women? Great Googlie-Mooglie!!

(sung:)Please write my mother, tell her the shape I'm in
Please write my mother, tell her the shape I'm in
Tell her to pray for me, forgive me for my sin

Howlin' Wolf - Going down Slow

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Anarchy rules, OK?

I love getting to report good stuff. NoFit State excelled themselves this time. Apparently they won the Cavalcade (street parade) in Edinburgh with the best float.
Best Festival Float - No 46 - NoFit State Circus - ImMortal
Runner up - No 21 - Tempo Musical Productions
Best Community Float - No 55 - Edinburgh Chinese Community
Runner up - No 75 - Bo'ness Children's Fair Festival
Best Commercial Float - No 81 - The Edinburgh Dungeon
Best Speciality Unit - No 33 - Mirage Arabic Dancers
Best Walking Group - No 36 - Jump - Martial Arts Comedy
I find this particularly satisfying, after last year - as Ali says in the newsletter/blog:
Another prize for NoFit State
We are pleased to announce that we just won the best float in the Edinburgh Cavalcade ( Lord Mayors parade) This represents a huge victory as last year the company were removed from the parade by riot police after trying to join the back of the procession without officially entering. The publicity must have been good as the opening shows at the Fringe were all sold out.
heh heh

Review in The Herald

Review in The Guardian

For a longer discussion of what NoFit State attempts to do; and some context on New Circus, try Jeni Williams' article for New Welsh Review, issue 68, 2005 - "Circus with Heart"

Give Peace a Chance

half full I can't believe that after all these years I still have to mark the humans' report cards as 'could do better'. Oh yeh, I know - if I can't even keep peace in my own life, what chance do we have in the Middle East, where tribes have fought since the Old Testament times. I wouldn't mind, but they also managed to impose their god (cause of most of the fighting) on the rest of us. Yeh, yeh, right "All gods are mythical, except yours, huh". How many One True God's did you say existed? Next time you hear a sports person say God helped them, or Bush say 'God's on our side' or whatever - do me a favour - just replace 'God' with Zeus, or Apollo, or something. Apologies to all the gentle, peaceful, true believers out there.

Watching the wheels go round and roundAnger and depression alternate at my own stupidity and that of the whole human race. Despair may arise from internal chemical imbalances, external relationship imbalances, environmental stresses, national/racial/territorial issues, financial stresses and strains, etc.

Right now I find myself humming Lennon (as I often do when trying to cheer myself through glum periods) - jaunty tunes and miserable words (oh, and for those too young to remember - a really anguished scream or two):

Somehow the wires got crossed
Communication's lost
Can't even get you on the telephone
Just got to shout about it
I'm losing you
I'm losing you

worth a try
I'm so tired, I haven't slept a wink
I'm so tired, my mind is on the blink
I wonder should I get up and fix myself a drink

I'm so tired I don't know what to do
I'm so tired my mind is set on you
I wonder should I call you but I know what you would do

You'd say I'm putting you on
But it's no joke, it's doing me harm
You know I can't sleep, I can't stop my brain
You know it's three weeks, I'm going insane
You know I'd give you everything I've got
for a little peace of mind

I'm so tired, I'm feeling so upset
Although I'm so tired I'll have another cigarette
And curse Sir Walter Raleigh
He was such a stupid git.
now virtual lennon
You'd say I'm putting you on
But it's no joke, it's doing me harm
You know I can't sleep, I can't stop my brain
You know it's three weeks, I'm going insane
You know I'd give you everything I've got
for a little peace of mind
I'd give you everything I've got for a little peace of mind
I'd give you everything I've got for a little peace of mind

Saturday, August 12, 2006

Mobile Library

this trolley has definitely had enough
Well, the time finally arrived, and I find myself in the middle of moving the library into its temporary accomodation. You may well ask why the new library didn't get built first, so we could move straight in...

What Cardiff needs (apparently) is more shopping and less parking...(they plan to knock down the current library, several multi-storey carparks, shops, post office, Toys 'R Us, etc - to put up a John Lewis arcade).
We only moved in here 18 years ago
So we move into some breeze blocks (and the old Welsh National Opera rehearsal building) - and patiently wait until 2008/9 for our 'state-of-the-art library' to get built in the carpark of the Marriott Hotel... (sigh)
we have had a ruthless prune of current stock, just to fit into the temp building The regulars suffer most...we have always formed a safe haven for the poor, the mad, the old, the ill, the unemployed (as well as the students, housewives, researchers, etc) - and this month of turmoil has displaced everyone's routines.
half a million books,DVDs,CDs etc 100 computers, - no big deal
It does seem a shame that so many people now see us as irrelevant (see Love Libraries campaign). Why buy books, read them once, and clutter up your home with them gathering dust?

I love libraries because I chose the dangerous and impoverished path of the 'artist' so I have always believed that (to misquote The Furry Freak Brothers) "Libraries will get you through times of no money better than money will get you through times of no libraries."

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

His Bobness

how come people always thought of Bob as serious, even glum? A day off from work, and at 2:30 I suddenly remember that the timezones mean that Dylan's doing his radio programme on XMRadio - Deep Tracks - on the internet.

3 Day's Free Trial and I dive in for the second half hour...ending with "Dry your Eyes" by The Streets. I don't know if I can subscribe just for one hour per week, but I enjoyed hearing our Bob online as a DJ - with his dreams, schemes and themes - this week 'Eyes' next week 'Dogs'.

After the extraordinary autobiography, Chronicles, shorn of name-dropping or vanity, full of a muso's dreams, reflections, memories, etc. I love seeing and hearing him moving on. Some days I feel real old, so to hear my peer group still growing and changing helps a lot.

Stupidly, I got all frugal last time Bob came through Cardiff a few months ago, and told myself I didn't need a hit. (sigh). Anyway, we have Modern Times to look forward to - I put in my pre-order already. Amazon [click the link above] offer a video clip of a complete performance of "Cold Irons Bound" which may demonstrate to the unconvinced what a tight band he plays with. Fantastic!

Wednesday, August 02, 2006

Big Wide World

I have tried to diversify from just hanging out in one intelligent forum - and go to My Space, and Tribe, and a couple of other online forums - but it feels like trying to befriend (or at least care about) everyone at a rock concert. I can't do it. I have enough trouble acting nice to one new person met in a bar. So much of the online social networking arises from a younger crowd, anyway, so the games of 'You've Been Framed' self-videoing do not remind me of when I reached that same age as film and sound recording seemed hard and expensive back then - the brief air guitar in front of the mirror phase can now get passed to posterity.

I don't think I should just blame my age though. Just as tv news exposed my whole generation to a close-up view of other life-styles and events on the planet, so these later generations have both the tv and the internet - plus they don't only see the newscasts selected for our instruction by 'authorities and experts and journalists', but can make their own...

How many cute videos of someone's cat falling over, or of wild and crazy kids doing ultimate pogo stick, or whatever can you watch? Parallel to cctv recording a great deal of our street life, more and more cameras (on phones, etc) observe and record the world from every angle. In sports, cameras end up in helmets, cricket stumps, helicopters and air balloons, they can zoom in and out, and then the editing suite can cut and paste and interactive tv can offer you all the camera-shots that previously they only saw in the production gallery, etc.

The recursive nature of people taking pictures of people taking pictures, and the sensation that more and more of the world can get played back, seems to have changed quite a lot of our perceptions of the world...unfortunately, the ability to forget and move on may disappear. The Big Brother fear of surveillance and reality video 'evidence' gets balanced by the self-publicising aspect, and the photoshop FX thing - don't believe everything you see...
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