Archive for August, 2005

Back in business

Wednesday, August 31st, 2005

After a swift bit of haggling, bordering on dodgy – Quote: “You’re not a tax man are you?”
– I am now the proud owner of a space age lumbar support unit.
I’ve justified it to myself [the following is to remind me why I’ve been so extravagant]:
I need to remain mobile into the foreseeable future.
People are relying on me to produce top quality stuff for them.
My bottom likes it. What price posterial gratification?
My back likes it – that hideous pain has already diminished after a few hours.
It’s a design classic which will last a long time.
I got it very very cheap [ relatively speaking, cough cough ].
I’m worth it.

Woop de doo
“I’m sorry, the number you are calling is using a non-microsoft compliant phone. Please advise the callee that they need to upgrade to MS Phone 2005.”
Lets all sign up for the Microsoft phone service !

I’m in heaven, my back supported, neck no longer creaks.
Now my bum is happy on this chair so sleek.
It’s no longer squashed up badly cheek to cheek.

Back in July 04 I wrote up my trip to the Saul Bass exhibition at the Design Museum. I recently came across a new site that documents all of the Saul Bass movie title designs and has a useful slideshow of each. I guess copyright prevents a full video / audio stream – which would be just brill. Thorough stuff and recommended for movie titles or graphics geeking. Striking how Bass continues to influence contemporary graphics.


Monday, August 29th, 2005

OK, I’m slack. I’d better get that out of the way before someone says it. You may remember back in June my writing about the office chair saga. How my body was beginning to reject the inadequate seating arrangements I’d foisted upon it thanks to Habitat. Unbelievably I am still sitting on that same chair two months on. I am now suffering more than I was then. It is time to act. No really, this time it is. I am now faced with the choice of forking out a large wad for the US made carbon fibre contraption I lampooned in June or a slightly smaller wad for a GB made [ie China] slightly less appealing, slightly less functional, contraption. Unbelievably I am agonising over the decision knowing full well that I may end up needing surgery if I go on like this. I don’t know why I’m agonising – I’m in enough agony as it is without creating even more. It’s not too serious I think, I’m fine as long as I don’t need to move. I should just get on with it and buy it right? Can’t help thinking about all of the gerbils I could rehome for that money though…

Try these.
I’d like to know how you get on.
Purely for research purposes you understand.
Are you a gerbil ?
If so, what type of gerbil are you ?

Bonk Holiday roundup

Monday, August 29th, 2005

Ken Clarke, Michael Owen, Notting Hill Carnival, Exam results, Anthony, war filums.

I tasted the difference
Strawberry and cream scones at Sainsburys are recommended with a nice cup of tea.

On the Victoria Line. Bruce Kent with a ladeeee. Looking good; fine figure of a man for 76 years. Go Brucey.

My linkage is in flux. Times are a changing it seems. Better do an update soon.

Eugene’s got a new website [ looks strangely similar to the old one ] + a front cover on Heat Magazine.

Tatlin’s tower
…was a utopian Soviet structure designed in the 1920s. Intended to celebrate the idea of uniting all people. Higher than the Eiffel tower, it was never built but has since come to symbolise for many designers the idea of the ‘ideal project’, always just out of reach. This lot have decided to get bits of the tower built by whatever means they can, wherever they can in the world. They hope, in finally realising it’s physical form, to transform it’s symbolic nature. It’s all very cosmic and they’ve put nice posters up on the tube. Worth a look.

Modern musing
Talking of Utopia. Diary dates: 6/4/06-23/7/06. Modernism: Designing a New World – the next stunner at the V&A. Linked BBC TV series coming along too. [ drD loves modernism. drD loves the V&A. I wonder if Eugene will be there?]

We are wondering
Wo ist Douglas?
How long can this stunning weather last?

Andy ‘ousehold ‘int
When sterilising a toothpaste tube cap following fly related dormitory activities – immerse same in boiling water. This has the added bonus of dissolving those crusty accretions that make one’s toothpaste tube a complete social disgrace.

Watching, From Russia with Love I was struck by the remarkable likeness borne by Kronsteen, or “no 5” as he is known within SPECTRE, to Russian premier Vladimir Putin. I wonder if they are related?

Dats all for now.

Sunday, August 28th, 2005

Life on earth
It’s like zoo watch here. There’s a bloody cat screaming it’s nipples off out back. I just found a blue bottle asleep on the toothpaste cap [ euugggghhhh ] and a giant spider millimetres from my hand as I fumbled around for my keys. Whatever can this mean?

A nice garden with a large MOUSTACHE detached

Sunday, August 28th, 2005

After many many months of anticipation the new garden at the Victoria and Albert Museum was opened on the 5th of July by HRH Prince Tampon sans HRH Duchesse du Cheval. The Garden is part of the V&A ‘FuturePlan’ [ TrendySpellingBewareBulls**t]. The museum is planning to spend large amounts of public dosh to “re-order the Museum by thinking of it as a city with a series of quarters.” I always thought of it as a museum hactually but no matter, they are building more shops and doing it up so I suppose it’s good [?]. One of the things I’ve noticed about the V&A over the years is that they know how to waste money. When they do it they do it with great style, employing the best architects and designers that [public] money can buy. Actually, no that’s not strictly true. They often use sponsorship money from multinational corporations too. Back in 1987 Pirelli sponsored the redevelopment of the garden space under the aegis of Sir Roy Strong – he of the unfeasibly large MOUSTACHE. I remember him using some of the wax left over from his MOUSTACHE to lyricise about the beauty of the new Pirelli – [of Rubber fame] Garden and how it would become a green heart for the museum and remain for ever a thing of beauty, inspiration and loveliness for our children and their gerbil’s children. Alas, it was not to be. I blame Alan Titchmarsh. For the Pirelli Garden and it’s fine [exceedingly expensive] cypress trees – [ quite MOUSTACHE like come to think of it ] – has been expunged from the collective unconscious like Gorbachev’s birthmark on an official Soviet Scratch n Sniffski Souvenir Serviette. Having received another enormous load of dosh the garden is now the John Madjeski Garden. [He of Auto Trader Magazine]. It’s filled with 22 glass planters containing lemon trees. Loads of lovely expensive stone paving. Assorted shrubbery. The inevitable latte lounge [£2.50 a shot]. Aluminium furniture a’ la Homebase and a big oval paddling pool reflecting pool / water feature / multipurpose performance space. It’s a very simple design and you can enjoy the fancy terracotta decoration of the surrounding buildings whilst sucking your froth in the sunshine. I bet they agonised for months over the design of this garden. I bet there were endless committees and public consultations picking over each and every detail. I’m not sure if the Madjeski Garden is better than the Pirelli Garden. When I visited the other day there was the usual collection of Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall-Trumpington-BumpingtonandWife types. Too many four year olds running around in the multipurpose performance space and falling over – [ Diana Memorial Fountain anyone? ] – and bemused looking tourists not able to find their way out. [ There is presently only one tiny door to give access. ]. It’s a nice place to sit for a while away from the busy London streets. No sure if it’s worth two million quid though. I’m sure Alan would’ve done it cheaper and we could’ve all watched it on the telly when they surprised Prince Tampon on the way home to his horse. Neighver mind.

Herzog and de Meuron

Saturday, August 27th, 2005

Hard to believe that it’s ten years since Tate Modern was commissioned.
The architects, Herzog and de Meuron, have been given the splendour of their own Turbine Hall to mount a display of their work on the numerous projects that have followed since they completed the power > art transormation in 2000.
Buildings, by their nature, can be things of magic. Design and construction process often hidden in architects offices or behind hoardings. They are revealed to us in ‘finished’ form. I’ve a fascination in the processes that lead to this. How ideas evolve into environments. Understanding the process. This show, then, seemed at first like my dream show. A vast quantity of the creative detritus left over from numerous projects is scattered on tables. Models, sketches, samples of materials, prototypes, mockups and the odd photograph provide an overwhelmingly detailed view into the way in which buildings are evolved. But, like looking through someone else’s photo album, it was impossible to grasp the whole story. I longed for a video to pop up and tell me what the twisted piece of metal was or why the styrofoam beam was angled at 37 and not 39 degrees. Impressive for the vast creative energy it represented. I enjoyed most seeing the wire coathanger models used to design the Beijing Olympic Stadium – displayed in the shadow of a full scale mock up of one of it’s structural trusses. It will be a monumental sight if this was anything to go by. Tate Modern is not typical of the H&D approach. There is no discernible style. If anything, the buildings seem to be about their materials and the use of them in innovative ways which express the nature of the building and it’s environment. Because of this, there is integrity and this makes the buildings very satisfying to understand. There are many layers of meaning but the layers are very intelligently made and arranged. Marshalled with great precision to do their job.

Education news

Thursday, August 25th, 2005
Featuring hovertasticâ„¢ technology

This is the best ever year for exam results.
Don’t panic if your results are not what you hoped for.
We have the best education system in the world – the statistics prove it.
Whilst standards have risen, a hard core group of special needs pupils continue to cause concern.
Pupils are getting more intelligent.
Teachers are working harder than ever.
A record number of students have achieved ICT qualifications.
We’re now into the university clearing season.
Oxbridge welcomes clever pupils from all backgrounds.
Why not check out our 98 page exam results special!


Wednesday, August 24th, 2005

What is wrong with the British Medical Profession? There are constant messages about how people should look after themselves and take an active interest in their health. Now the BMA have started warning people about the ‘dangers’ of private health screening and self testing. If you are trying to take an active part in looking after your health it follows that you will want to take advantage of anything which will give you the information you need to make informed decisions. My experience of NHS health professionals is that they often have too little time to spend with you and do the minimum to address the issue you’ve consulted them about. I know that other developed countries have a far more proactive approach to health care and will often carry out batteries of tests to give a full picture of what is going on. In the UK the approach seems to be to fob you off with some pills or a pat on the head until you go back enough times to convince them that they really had better do something about your weird pain. Now the ‘professionals’ take it upon themselves to remind us that they know best and we really can’t be trusted with information about our health. I accept that most people are not sufficiently knowledgeable about the implications of some of the more sophisticated tests and screenings that are available. However, rather that warn us off why don’t the BMA develop a more comprehensive approach to health management with back up from their members to help people take control of their own health issues instead of making them afraid to ‘bother the doctor’. Sadly it seems that you have to create aggro if you want to cut through this smokescreen of inertia and constructive healthcare rationing.

Rome revisited

Tuesday, August 23rd, 2005

One of my favourite TV shows ever is the BBC series, I Claudius based on the classic novels by Robert Graves. [ We used to call it “I Clavdivs” – check the book cover. ] When I first saw the show I was enthralled. It brought Roman history to life vividly. Most recently, whilst in Rome and perigrinating around the Palatine I came upon signs to the House of Livia. Immediately flashed into my mind the character of Livia portrayed by Siân Phillips in the series. Of Livia, her son Tiberius is heard to say, “They say a snake bit her once. And died.” She is deliciously evil as she plots and schemes her power games. Derek Jacobi who was made a star by his role as CCCClaudius, trod a line of exquisite tension between outward idiocy and shrewd politicing. My favourite character was John Hurt’s Caligula. He played it with a committed madness that terrified, yet compelled you to keep watching to see what appalling thing he would do next. [ The disturbing ‘Cesarean aftermath’ scene with his sister Drusilla was especially vile ]. Shock: John Hurt is now 65. Somehow he always seemed old – I think it’s the nicotinised vocal chords. Shock 2: The series is nearly 30 years old – TV history history. Looking at it now, I’m struck by how cheap the sets and costumes look. What makes it, of course, is the quality of the writing and acting.

Excited then to hear about the new HBO/BBC series ‘Rome’ which premieres in the states on Sunday and here in November. The excellent website gives a flavour of the lavish production values. A five acre replica of the Palatine and Roman Forum was built with what look to be stunning recreations of Roman buildings. The depth of research appears painstaking and given the quality of previous HBO/BBC co-productions, I’m keeping November evenings clear. I bet it won’t be as good as I Claudius though.

Retail for those that may need therapy
Taking the p**s.
Macabre serial killer accessory?
Five in only one sofa bed – and it’s inflatable.
Hot dog.
You will learn how to discover an inspiring life purpose that will add a greater depth of meaning to everything you do.

Monday, August 22nd, 2005

Greyful head
I’ve noticed quote a few silvery highlights appearing uptop during the past few months. I think this is rather amusing. It reminds me of when hairy things started to happen in my teens. Your body is playing out this magical program that you don’t really have much control over. ‘And for this year’s trick it’s funny grey bits’. Beware of buttock sag. Ho hum. Not too keen on grey eyebrows though – they always remind me of those wadding plugs that dentists shove in your mouth to mop up stuff. Don’t want to look like him though. I’d better start planning a new look.

Note to self:
Try to get to bed before 3am when you have to be up at 7.

You know know you’re getting older when:
Someone says that you are ‘young’ and you take it as a compliment.

You know things are looking up when:
A client phones you and offers to pay you up front for a chunky job because they like your work. [ Thankyou God ].

I’ve long thought that many of our supposedly ‘sophisticated’ behaviours are pretty chimpy. Particularly when it comes to mob mentality. As a dedicated contrarian I’m always uneasy with the way in which people, who are as individuals rational and intelligent, can be transformed into scarily conformist drones. How did the nazis do what they did and, at the opposite end of the scale, why do British people queue for everything? This research appears to confirm the simian tendencies underlying our desire to conform even though we inwardly think better of it.

“Knowing the alternative method yet still converging on the group norm shows a level of conformity we usually associate only with our own species”

Can’t help thinking of a certain shrublet