Singles Awareness Day


…not recognised in this parish. But I thought this was funny, anyway.

For those who feel the urge to submerge themselves in pinkness and fluffyossity, I offer up Calamity Jon’s Deadwood Valentines.

Got Live If You Want It

I’ve had a bit of a musical epiphany. For a while now, friends who are more musically savvy than me have been raving about Wolfgang’s Vault, a depositary of live music that is heavily skewed to the golden age of bootlegging, the 70s. It’s been one of those sites that, while I can see the benefit, I never really found the time or energy to register too much of an interest.
A couple of things have changed that. Firstly, there’s now a Vault widget available for the iPhone, allowing you to listen to the archive on the move – a brilliant idea, which seems to be optimised for either Wi-Fi, 3G or even Edge browsing, making listening to concerts on the train completely doable. Like Last.FM, this now means I can carry an absolute shedload of music around with me without maxing out the phone’s hard drive.
The concert that finally got me listening to Wolfgang is the almost legendary gig Bruce Springsteen did at the Winterland just before Christmas 1978. Almost three hours of the Boss at his best. It’s worth signing up to the site just for this, but any music fan will find something to tickle the interest.
If that’s not enough, a bright spark called Dean Putney has written a friendly front end to’s Live Music Archive at Dewey Music, making it easy to hunt out a ton of good stuff, including a rather neat search on concerts from today – an interesting spin on the “on this day in history” search. Deeply, deeply rummageworthy, Readership.
Finally, I’m gonna show the love to Dr. Jones, who’s doing some great work over at under the name Alison’s Army. Post punky goodness.

And of course… RIP Lux Interior.

The Sky Is Falling…


(photo from Lady Stevo for the Flickr Snowday London group)

…or so the papers and TV would have you believe, anyway. Heaviest snowfall in eighteen years, trains and bus services paralysed, roads gridlocked. Nightmare, right?

Well, kind of. Getting into work was slightly more problematic than usual, and I will admit to writing this on the train on the way home after a disgracefully short day. However, I managed everything on my schedule before I left. I just wanted to avoid any potential nightmares at evening rush hour while doing a sneaky half-day at the same time.

The most difficult part of the journey for me today was the walk to Reading station. Iced-up snow made the going underfoot slow to treacherous, and I slipped over once (and of course, got to my feet to hear a concerned voice behind me ask, “are you alright, mate?” Great, bad enough that I found it impossible to keep my balance, without a witness there to see the whole embarrassing spectacle). However, we try to remain graceful under pressure. I only nearly twisted my ankle. That would have been fun. I’d have had to limp home under the same icy conditions, and uphill. As it was, I virtually skated from Picadilly Circus to Wardour Street, and it’s getting glassier underfoot as the day wears on.

The thing that struck me was how easily convinced people have been that it’s OK to take a snow day. The BBC was practically encouraging it, which would have made an interesting conversation with your boss. “I can’t make it in today. Emily Maitlis told me not to.”

With that in mind, it felt like a Sunday in Soho. Everywhere was quiet. Shops just didn’t bother opening. There was nothing on the roads. Work was half-empty, and the receptionist was so glad to see someone that she gave me a hug when I got in.

It never ceases to astonish me how crap we are in bad weather. Stopping the bus services in London this morning was disgraceful, and even though I’m used to the tubes falling over at the first sign of anything other than dry, temperate weather, I would have been in real trouble if the bit of the Bakerloo line I needed hadn’t been running. A walk into work would have resulted in a snapped appendage at best, and oh yeah, no buses.

I find it hard to believe that there’s no bad weather plan in place, to prevent the PR nightmare for Bozo Boris the Comedy Mayor of news footage showing snow-covered buses and trains shut in their depots during Monday rush hour. Hardly good for business, eh? In fact, according to the Federation of Small Businesses, it’s going to cost us £1.2 billion per day in lost earnings while people don’t go to work – an estimated 20% of the population didn’t make it in today for whatever reason.

Maybe the ease with which most of England decided “sod it, let’s have a day off and build a snowman” is partly due to the prevailing gloom and dark mood. No-one’s really feeling too incentivised at the moment, so the chance to kick back for a day must have been too good to miss. If there’s the slightest chance that you could be delayed getting into work, or that the person you need to see won’t make it in, or if the kids school has closed and they need someone to look after them, then you’re going to take the day off, and all power to you. You know full well you’re not alone. It’s the perfect excuse. “Everyone else is doing it. Why can’t I?”

If there hadn’t been a train waiting at Reading when I arrived, I may well have decided not to bother.

And it is darn pretty out there today…

DISCLAIMER: of course, a ton of people have struggled to make it into work today in appalling conditions. Clare tried and failed to get out of a gridlocked Caversham for an hour today before going home, having a hot drink then heading into Reading by bus to get the train to Oxford. That’s commitment, peoples.

Finally, idiot question of the day. While waiting for the 23 home at Reading, a well-spoken chap came up to me and asked what bus I was waiting for. Then asked me if they were running. I was polite, and did not give voice to my immediate reaction, which was “well, if they’re not, we’re both going to look stupid and feel cold, aren’t we?”

A Couple Of Treats

I’ve been busier than you think.

First up, I’m pleased to reveal the Making Of Code Grey, a little something I’ve called Cut The Blue Wire.

While we were shooting Code Grey, we were lucky enough to have the talented, handsome and charismatic Simon Aitken with us, shooting behind the scenes footage.

He was foolish enough to let me have said footage, from which I’ve cut together this promo.

GASP at how hunky Clive looks in a bulletproof vest!

GOGGLE at Flemming’s inspired lighting setups!

WINCE at Rob’s pitiful attempt at directorship!

DECIDE to go and watch something more interesting on YouTube instead.

No, wait, come back, dammit!

Secondly, I’ve begun updating Satan’s Schoolgirls again, following some honest to goodness unsolicited enthusiasm. I’ve closed out Part One, and I’ll try to get back into the flow of putting up a new episode every Sunday.

It’s worth a look. And from here, it only gets weirder…

Vagaries of the spoken language vol.

In no particular order, and as they come to me:

My dad does not ask if I’ve watched a particular TV show or listened to a particular album. He asks if I’ve “got involved” with them.

Despite the fact that I have called myself Rob for forever, most of my work collegues call me Roberto. This has happened at more than one place. The only difference was at the lab I left this summer, where for some unknown reason I became Robski. Go figure.

When newspaper columnists use the phrase “Here’s a tip”, you can guarantee the advice that follows will be 50% more condescending and irritating than usual.

Bragging rights

My room, last week. Yes, it's usually this dark.

A couple of things that I have been involved in at a professional level have been promoted in the press recently. I figured I’d do my little bit to promote them too.

Firstly, there was a piece in the Observer yesterday on The Crimson Wing, Disney’s first natural history film in over 40 years. The article focuses very strongly on the environmental message of the film, which is great as the edit I’ve seen treats the issue of the pollution of Lake Natron in a way that’s almost too subtle for my mind. It’s an amazing piece of work, shot over almost two years, and deserves your patronage.

Next, an article last week on the Guardian focussed on the latest installation from The Wilson Sisters. This must have been a blast to make, as Jane and Louise were given full access to the Kubrick Archive in their search for material pertaining to Aryan Papers, the film he never made despite months of intensive research. I’ve worked with the Wilsons for years, and find everything they do to be atmospheric and deeply involving. I’m a bit of a fan, so to able to work with them, and to find that they are charming, down to earth and funny is a huge bonus. This looks like it’s going to be a good one. Get your asses to the BFI this February.

Finally, check out Science and Islam tonight on BBC Four (or later through the iPlayer) as I worked on the second episode. A smart and thought-provoking series that’s well worth checking out.

There. I’m done showing off now…