Simon’s Backup Weblog


Of course…

Posted in Uncategorized by Simon Bisson on April 30, 2002



What else…

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Definitely a bad month for SF…

Posted in Uncategorized by Simon Bisson on April 30, 2002

It appears that one of the masters of the cosy catastrophe has died. Richard Cowper (the pen name of John Middleton Murray Jr) wrote some of my favourite books of the early 80s, including Profundis and the White Bird of Kinship trilogy.

April 2002 has seen the deaths of Cowper, Knight, Effinger and Lafferty. Four writers whose works will live long after them.

The strange secret history of the Royal Family’s secret vampire slayings…

Posted in Uncategorized by Simon Bisson on April 29, 2002

…was inspired when we spotted the title of a biography of the Queen Mother: My Darling Buffy: the Early Life of the Queen Mother in a remaindered bookshop on Charing Cross Road.

Did the Queen Mother really live her early years in California, fighting vampires and demons? What deep dark occult secrets do the Royal Family hide? Is there something evil lurking under the new monuments on Constitution Hill? Did the artificial hip help aid or hinder her slaying? Who is the Slayer now that Buffy is dead? Or are Prince Charles and the rest of the Scooby Royals now working dark magics to see the return of Buffy from the grave?

We can only speculate…

Click this…

Posted in Uncategorized by Simon Bisson on April 29, 2002

Today’s fun link – Waiting for Godot: The Adventure Game

On a lighter note…

Posted in Uncategorized by Simon Bisson on April 29, 2002

Krazy Kat is back in print! A whole new volume of Sundays has just come out.

Another sad day for SF…

Posted in Uncategorized by Simon Bisson on April 29, 2002

Damn. Another great writer gone, this time George Alec Effinger. I loved the Marid Audran books. And enjoyed pretty much everything else of his I read.

This isn’t shaping up to be a good year.

Playing with technology

Posted in Uncategorized by Simon Bisson on April 28, 2002

One of the advantages of having a sideline career as a technology writer is that you get access to all sorts of new tools. So I started playing with something I’m not allowed to talk about until Tuesday, and tweaked myself a more apt minifig image…

lego me

I’m quite proud of the NTK T-shirt… I spent ages trying to get it right in Paintshop Pro – in the end this new piece of software (which rocks, just like the other tools in this family!) took only a few seconds to do the job. It also handled the rounded edges of the PDA really well, as well as making layers easy for a non-visual person like me. Way to go (company name deleted)!

Truth in advertising…

Posted in Uncategorized by Simon Bisson on April 28, 2002

Walking through Covent Garden yesterday we spotted a mobile phone shop that offered “free partial advice”…

Nice to see honesty at work at last!

Telling the time for 10,000 years.

Posted in Uncategorized by Simon Bisson on April 26, 2002

Another link found on Boing Boing: The Long Now Foundation has an online store. It’s not your usual t-shirts and tat – this store sells bristlecone pine cones, and bits of the Clock and prototypes of the Library. Of course there’s also a shop where you can buy more affordable things, but the limited edition section is just so wonderful I had to share it…

The Equation of Time Cam is a wonderful piece that shows how science and technology can be art. It’s intended to handle solar deviations and make sure that the Clock stays on time.

Now if only LJ let us post times in Long Now format. 02002 is a much better way of showing that we are part of a continuum – that 2002 is not the end of time, just another step on the march through history.

The fine art of re-mixing

Posted in Uncategorized by Simon Bisson on April 26, 2002

One of the finest pieces of Trance is one of the oldest. Dating back to 1993, Union Jack’s Two Full Moons and a Trout is a powerful and melodic piece of music that still holds its head up high amidst the fractured soundscapes of dance music in 2001.

It was the 12 minute long Caspar Pound mix that caught my attention back in 1995, when I bought the Megatropolis CD collection in a Bath record shop. I’d been listening to a lot of ambient music, and to be honest, only bought the compilation for its ambient CD. In fact I only listened to that disc for a couple of weeks… Then one day I accidentally slipped it into my CD-ROM drive.

Wow.

This was something different. Music that grabbed you and tried to throw you into an altered state of consciousness.

Then I got to the last track on the CD.

It started slow and quiet. Electronic music segued into chanting voices again and again, each time adding new layers and building into an ever more coherent and cohesive whole. The music orchestrated its way through my soul, dragging me with me as it scaled its peak. And then the sudden end. And the realisation that 12 minutes had passed with you dragged into a musical other world. No wonder they call it trance.

I played it again. And again. And again.

Since then Two Full Moons and a Trout has become my test piece of music. I use it to try out new equipment, and to show people just what dance music can be when you let it sneak up on you and around your musical boundaries.

I’ve listened to other mixes, hunted out original white labels in obscure Fulham second-hand record shops, but that Caspar Pound mix is the one I go back to. The way the original piece transcends its boundaries in the capable hands of the mixer never fails to astound.

So I guess that this is what dance music does to me, why I listen to it more than any other genre, despite my eclectic tastes – it gives me other worlds to explore. I don’t go to clubs, I don’t wear the fashions (though I do have a Platipus Records T-shirt…). Instead I put on a pair of headphones, drop in a CD, and listen. I don’t need to go deep into the music – as I type this I’ve got a CD in the laptop’s drive and I’m writing with Chicane gently playing at a low volume…

Is it any surprise that Two Full Moons and a Trout was one of the first tracks I put on to the iPod?

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