Tuesday, 30 March 2010

do you want the truth or something beautiful?

i spent quite a lot of time tonight, staring at a woman in extravagant clothing who sang with a voice more powerful than a circular-saw wrapped in silk. she was singing pop music, too. and at one point she had a bit of flesh on show.

now, i know what you're thinking, you're thinking, "but monster-boy, you hate lady gaga with the hatred of a thousand suicide bombers! what are you doing going to see her live?!"

i will inform you to rest your pathetic excuse for an investigative mind, and quit your jibber-jabber. i would never stoop so low as to bless that demented harlot with my presence. no. i saw Paloma Faith at the shepherd's bush empire. and, i know, it's not the sort of thing i would normally even give two hoots about. 'twas a stab in the dark, a present for a friend whom i had no certainty would enjoy it. thankfully, though, both my hoots and my stabbing device paid off, because she was marvellous.

bloomin' marvellous.

the lady gaga reference is not without relevance. paloma has been compared to the product-placing-sweaty-beast-cow more than a few times by celeb-loving journalists who don't really reserve too many column inches to fact. and in all honesty i spent quite a lot of the gig wondering what it was that made me vomit at the thought of gaga, but was slowly making me fall for the bundle of allure on stage before me. y'know, when supposedly one of them is the "british version of the other."

i posed the question to my companion (an ex-celeb journalist who went freelance to avoid having to talk to idiots), who summed it up with the following justifications:
because paloma faith has a personality.
because she looks like she's having fun, not just there to make money.
because she actually cares about whether the audience are having a good time.
because she makes good music.
because lady gaga's music is completely awful.
because she is actually engaging with the audience, instead of perpetuating the myth that celebrities are a different breed, or that they are earthbound deities.

that seemed like a good start. paloma was beautiful, wonderful, extravagant, but not 'other'. she was a performer completely engaged in making sure she put on an enjoyable show, for us.
and she was funny.
could you see lady gaga putting little amusing quips in between her songs?
quips, maybe. amusing... nope: because they would be quips written by a team of marketing professionals from walkers crisps or bodyform. or kwik-fit. or whoever the tramp-licker had sold her soul to that week.

this turned into a bit of a gaga-attack didn't it. not that that isn't admirable, but what i wanted to say was Paloma Faith is a joy. even if her music doesn't make you wet-at-the-knees, herself is just great. she has style and substance. she is warm and friendly. i like her.

Friday, 26 March 2010

the scorpion king

more stories from the dark end of the audio/visual world

“the first thing i’ll do is tell you that you won’t be able to read anything on the powerpoint slides. we’ve purposefully put loads of data on there, lots of number charts and things, so all the text is far too small to read.
but what i will say is this... it doesn’t matter.”

that’s how he started his presentation. he actually started by declaring that the information he was going to present “didn’t matter.” it was unimportant. it has no use. it could be ignored completely and there would be no loss or any ramifications.

... why put it on screen then?

i’m sure the 100 people in the room who were about to sit and listen to him for the next 6 hours were pretty excited by the prospect of a day without value. i know i was.

this was the same guy that came to me an hour earlier to have a microphone fitted. in the AV industry we call them ‘lavaliers’ and they’re the ones that clip to news reader’s neck-ties. words with more than 3 syllables tend to confuse a lot of the people I work with, so we end up calling them ‘tie-clip mics’ quite a lot. here’s the conversation:

HIM: hi, i’ve come to get a tie-clip mic please.
ME: yep, sure. let me put that on for you.

i begin fitting his lavalier mic by running the head (the mic bit) up through the loop in his tie; it helps keep it tidy. so far, so good.
i get to the suitable place, a couple of inches below his tie knot. normally i’d prefer to go a bit further down, but my work-place has piece-of-shit mic heads and a badly designed P.A. so you have to get as close as possible.

i start to clip the mic to his tie.

HIM: oh, you can’t clip it there!
ME: really? why’s that?
HIM: that’s my hermes tie.

this means fuck all to me.

HIM: it cost me a lot of money.
ME: oh, okay. in that case i can just place it on your lapel.
HIM: no, not there!
ME: an expensive suit, right?
HIM: yes. tell you what, i’ll put it on myself.
ME: no problem.

he lowers the mic head and begins to clip it to his belt buckle.

ME: sorry, i’m afraid it won’t work from there. It needs to be a lot closer to your mouth.
HIM: why’s that?
ME: that’s where the sound comes from.

he raises the mic again, and attempts to place it on his shirt, underneath the garishly patterned hermes tie

ME: oh sorry. that won’t work either i’m afraid. your hermes tie will just rub on the mic all day and all the audience will hear will be a scratching sound.
HIM: it’s a silk tie!
ME: yes. but it will be amplified through a large speaker system.
HIM: okay, i’ll just move the tie over to one side.

he does so… for a moment it looks a bit weird, his tie hanging to one side. not even worth the $180 dollars (i looked it up) it must have cost him.
then it slips back over the mic. i guess he expected gravity to bow down before his over-priced couture.

ME: hmmm.
HIM: well that won’t work.
ME: no. you’re right.
HIM: tell you what, i’ll just shout.

so here i am. listening to a shouty man present an illegible powerpoint presentation about something difficult to hear.
these are the days that make me proud to be an Audio/Visual technician. or if you remove the bits that I’m not really doing today… a technician. although i’m not really doing an awful lot of technicianing. except sitting here writing this blog.

never mind. it’s not like i actually bring a lot to the quality of the society we live in, doing this job. what i will say is, in the words of a great business man i recently worked with – “it doesn’t matter.”

i originally wrote this at about 9.30am.
at about 11.00am, the guy came over to me and asked for a tie-clip microphone. and i could put it on his hermes tie.

all he said was, "everyone will take the piss out of me if i don't."

Thursday, 25 March 2010

livin' on a prayer

this video is the entire of modern life in just over four minutes. see as i count the elements every 10 seconds.

0.00 disinterest / 0.10 excitement / 0.20 fear / 0.30 horror / 0.40 concern / 0.50 pain / 1.00 intrigue / 1.10 mirth / 1.20 amusement / 1.30 joy / 1.40 expectation / 1.50 apoplexy / 2.00 sympathy / 2.10 worship / 2.20 respect / 2.30 satisfaction / 2.40 comfort / 2.50 belonging / 3.00 empathy / 3.10 veneration / 3.20 intoxication / 3.30 indulgence / 3.40 alliance / 3.50 jon bon-jovi / 4.00 relief / 4.09 catharsis

Wednesday, 24 March 2010

the specialist

i know you love hearing about the mebs i work with, and their constant list of idiotic failings. i've got a real beauty for you from this morning.
here's it is:

the conference had started (late). it was an international one with audio phone conferencing from all over the world, and a video conference that was just to Poole (on the south coast if you're a foreign body).

during the conference they decided someone from india should do a presentation.

THEM: hey, could you go ahead and put india up on the main screen?
ME: no, i'm afraid not.
THEM: oh... why not?
ME: because they are on a telephone.
THEM: but don't you have video conference facilities?
ME: yes, but they are dialled in on a telephone.
THEM: oh. what does that mean?
ME: "dialled in on a telephone"?
THEM: yes.

person in india begins to speak over the phone to the auditorium here in london. my conversation continues at the back of the room.

ME: .... it means they are on a telephone in india listening to our conference, and if they speak we can hear them.
THEM: but we can't put them on screen?
ME: no. i'm afraid not.
THEM: but we can put Poole on screen?
ME: yes. they are dialled in on a video conference.
THEM: so why can't we put india on screen?
ME: they are on a telephone.
THEM: can we dial them in on a video conference instead?
ME: yes, but we will only be able to hear them.
THEM: oh really, why is that?
ME: because they only have a phone. a phone does not have a camera in it.
THEM: my phone has a camera in it.
ME: yes. i see that. .... it is very different technology i'm afraid.
THEM: but could i dial them with my phone, and then we could connect it up to our system here?
ME: uh... let's start from the beginning. what phone do they have in india?
THEM: i don't know.
ME: okay. what phone do you have?
THEM: a blackberry.
ME: right. well perhaps you should take it to india.
THEM: ha ha!
ME: yep. funny. also... irrelevant, as the person in india has finished what they were saying.
THEM: okay, thanks anyway for trying.
ME: no worries.

today i invented the word "meb."

meb pronounced /meb : a person of such stupidity that no other word will do. "look at that guy, he is such a meb"

Tuesday, 16 March 2010

your mother's got a penis

you are the victim of a very clever joke. in a world where corporate executives combine their forces with clever advertising companies to trick you into buying their sub-standard product, you have been sucked in by the very worst. we've already fallen to the Betamax vs. VHS fuck up. you probably - like me - bought an oasis album back in the 90's, when you could've spent the money on a second copy of blur's park life. you are more than likely guilty of watching humourless twat-machine the x factor a couple of times, rather than encouraging ITV to run much more superior repeats of Sharpe.
i bet you even favour ant & dec over charlie brooker, you dirty heaving travesty upon nature.

it's not all your fault though. you've just been manipulated by some terrible people with unlimited funds. you've just found your genitals trapped in the button-up flies of the lowest common denominator. it brings a tear to the eye, doesn't it?

but luckily, you have me to help. luckily for your soul and self-respect i am here to point out where you may fail as a human. phew...

with this latest example the whole ploy is a big fat joke: your hard-earned pocket money is the punchline, and the belly laughing audience are the freeloaders that run lady gaga's record company.

as we know from daily attack, success in popular culture has absolutely nothing to do with skill or talent. in sport you need to be good at your sport, but in pop culture it's much more about the media frenzy that surrounds you. just look at katie price - she brings nothing positive to society, yet is one of the most successful cartoon characters in history.

i'm interested in the limits of this effect, and that's why lady gaga is such a good test subject. lets look at the evidence.
gaga was plucked out of nowhere, and i've seen little or no evidence that she worked hard to deserve the plucking. no effort put in, seemingly she is just a mindless drone with no sense of self-worth, that would do anything she is told for money. a bit like a prostitute.
secondly, there was speculation a little while back when audience members swear they saw a hunk of man-meat slide out of her pants. of course it wasn't real, but boy did the internet catch fire with cockspiracy theories.
her album is called "the fame".
she always looks like a fucking idiot.
every act she puts on serves only to get herself in the press again, when what she should be doing is spending time improving her music.

which leads to me to the main point:
supposedly, her raison d'etre is as a music maker, that's why she releases singles. but her music is beyond terrible. far beyond. i had a motorbike accident once, it hurt, but when i overhear lady gaga songs (usually out of some cunt's over-pumped headphones on the tube) i tend to hark back to the much-more-pleasant feeling of tarmac wearing through through my knee-caps, and it calms the aggravating tinnitus of: "ma-ma-ma-poker-face, ma-ma-poker-face, ma-ma-ma-poker-face-ma-ma-poker-face, ma-ma-ma-poker-face, ma-ma-poker-face, ma-ma-ma-poker-face-ma-ma-poker-face, come on barbie, let's go party, ma-ma-ma-poker-face, ma-ma-poker-face."


and now this:

a clear demonstration of how no-talent, blot-on-humanity wrecks can make money by running their pinky around their sphincter and beckoning, and then not delivering the goods. metaphorically.

the most haunting memory i have of the whole piece of pointless film-making is the end, where it says "to be continued..." please, god, no. end it. end it now. before i put all my life savings into damaging you beyond repair.

there are 10 obvious product placements in that video. i don't remember the jam ever being in an advert for calor gas. or fleetwood mac eating at wimpy.

gaga is the embodiment of nonsense. watch any interview with her and you'll soon see she can't be any more than a cognitively removed corporate muppet, on permanent reception of hard puppet-fisting from a record company exec. her existence is basically pointless and only serves to hold back the human race.

"hey, i'm a a-vont guard artist. to prove my credibitlitty have a look at my pepsi-branded nipple."
- lady gaga

don't be the victim of this vicious practical joke. save yourself and those around you. edge around the trap. dodge the bucket of filth suspended over your doorway. don't sit on the shit-cushion.

consider yourself warned.
you're welcome.

Monday, 15 March 2010

romeo must die

last november i attempted to write a novel in association with nanowrimo, and failed dismally, managing to write only 10,482 words of my 50,000 word target. rubbish. stoopid social life.

however, if man were to have given up after his first failure we would never have invented the wheel, the internal combustion engine or pork pies. so i'm gonna try it again.

this time, i'm writing a script. 100 pages in 30 days. and i'll be writing in collaboration with the troubadour which is lucky, because he did actually manage to write 50,000 words in november (before having a mental crash and trying to invade surrey).

so that's the challenge.

i hope i make it.

i really hope actually, because - if the troubadour can get the last week of august off work - the organisers of the edinburgh fringe festival are expecting us to do more with our stage slot than just stand there with an apologetic expression on our faces.

no pressure though*.

(* i didn't breathe the entire time it took to type that)

Friday, 12 March 2010

the write stuff

any regular readers will be aware that i spend a lot of my time working with a bunch of morons. quite a bit. everyone does, i'm nothing special. it's hard to avoid when almost everyone is a moron.
i - for one - am one.

recently i asked for some pens for my department. some sharpie permanent markers to be specific. they're pretty useful in my line of work, for putting temporary labels on equipment and bushy eyebrows on sleeping technicians. and they're advertised by david beckham, a big player in the world of high quality stationary equipment, so they must be good.

so anyway, i asked for a few new sharpies as ours had all disappeared over time, probably accidentally home in people's pockets, into the arts & crafts cupboard in my lounge, or something.

after some filled-out forms and a few other levels of pointless bureaucracy my request was authorised and it looked like my journey to pen-ville was to be as smooth as a sea-lion's brunch.

imagine my surprise, when right at the last hurdle i received an email from an admin assistant asking me to justify my request:
Sorry for taking so long to get back to you. I have been on leave.
Could you give me more details as to what the markers will be needed for?

what? you want details on how i'm going to use some pens? when they've been authorised by three separate managers higher up than you?

the word 'details' jutted temptingly out of the email, and cheekiness beckoned like a pole dancer with a mortgage.

i replied:
hey there manuela,

you asked for some more helpful details on the use of felt-tip pens. please find some helpful details below. i severely hope they are helpful and detailed enough.

we use the pens for writing/labelling sound desks, microphones, screens, various bits of equipment. the unrivalled beauty of permanent markers is that they are able to write on PVC insulating tape (available in most good DIY shops), which is what we use as the basis of our labels. the labelling is likely to change many times each day, so it is not just a case of making a permanent label using a labelling machine (we do have one of these, but as i mentioned earlier in this sentence - it is not a perfect label machine for the labelling job).

a good black permanent marker on some PVC tape will provide a bold and clear label, even at times of low-light or dense atmosphere. it will also remain on the PVC tape when you use the equipment, rather than other pens which will rub off immediately after application. perhaps try to write on your PC screen with a biro, for a similar effect.

a première example of the PVC tape/permanent marker combo is for labelling our Sony UHF Synthesized Transmitter UTX-B1 radio microphones. you can mark each microphone with the name of a presenter, thus providing an efficient and professional service when multiple speakers are presenting at an event. you can also quickly change the labelling in times of rapid label-changing emergencies, so the whole procedure is frighteningly adaptable.

we will use markers for marking up sound desks, where the desk channels are regularly changing. please re-read the above paragraph for examples of just how good this system is. (remember to replace the words "Sony UHF Synthesized Transmitter UTX-B1 radio microphones" with "sound desks" or you won't gain anything.)

if you ask any AV engineer worth his salt he will name the following things as his most important tools:
PVC tape, Leatherman, Sharpiepermanentmarker-pen.
if he doesn't, you should take steps to get him fired. i hope you will.

in all seriousness, they are vital to our work, and they help us work to a high level. we've always had them. they are as standard as gaffer-tape and batteries. if there's an issue, perhaps we could have a barcode system where we sign them in and out. and/or have security check us each time we leave the building. i would happily swap someone rummaging around in my underwear for the ability to write names on stuff.

i hope this helps. i look forward to some pens.


events audio/visual team leader and all-round jolly nice bloke

the pens arrived three days later.
winner = me.

Wednesday, 3 March 2010

forget paris

picture the scene, it is thursday morning:

YOUR BOSS: what did you do last night, anything fun?

YOU: well, i did have the opportunity to go and see a comedy show filled with laughs and fun and improvising. and it was only £5. in a cool venue, surrounded by excellent people and a really exciting atmosphere. and really easy to get to, near London Bridge station.

BOSS: sounds ace! i wish i'd known about it, i would've definitely gone to that. did you have fun?

YOU: i didn't go in the end, i was a bit tired and couldn't be bothered.

BOSS: you are a stupid fucking idiot. i'm removing your holiday entitlement. go and sit in a cupboard.

see you at the show: