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Blog Archive: May 2018

It's Only (Just) Rock And Roll (but I liked it)
Last Friday The Wildness Of My Horses and I went to a nearby music venue to see a local blues band play a few numbers, for LO! The Rolling Stones were playing at The Olympic Stadium and we had tickets!

We arrived just in time to miss Florence and The Machine and got ourselves settled into our seats. We'd picked a place similar to where we usually try to be at the O2 for gigs, so it felt a) quite like that and thus b) a bit weird to see daylight coming through the roof.

Not long after we arrived the Stones came on and were...well, a bit ropey really. It was all Quite Odd. These days when you go to big gigs you expect it all to be super slick, but this was definitely NOT that. For the first few songs they were all over the place, out of time with each other and clearly struggling a bit. I did wonder if maybe something was up with the sound, as irrespective of performance it wasn't perfect, but the fact that they got it together as they went along, but then still went off the rails every now and then, made me think it was probably just them being ropey. It was sort of endearing in a way, in that they were more like the slightly hopeless under-rehearsed "real" bands that I see and play with/in rather than a West End show, but the fact that we were paying about TWENTY TIMES as much to see them than some act first on at The Buffalo Bar did make me think they might have practiced a bit more! It's all well and good when ONE song descends into chaotic noise for an ending, but when they ALL do it you start to think it might not be an Artistic Decision - I was particularly annoyed with Mr C Watts, who spent the whole show looking like he'd rather be elsewhere. Come on Charlie, you're in charge of the rhythm up there, get it together!

The reason I could see Charlie's ennui was because of the GINORMOUS screens that were set up at the rear of the stage. These were AMAZING - there were four of them in a row, one for each Official Stone, each screen about five times taller than they were wide. At various points the Vision Mixers were able to dedicate a screen to each band member, in Portrait Format, so they looked MASSIVE. As The Tumbling Of My Dice said, it made it all look a lot more Dynamic than it would have been if we'd just been watching the band, as Mr Wood on Guitar and Sir Ian McKellen on Other Guitar did not exactly move around a lot. Ronnie looked like the guitar was a bit heavy at times, in fact.

Sir Michael Jagger, however, certainly DID move around a lot - he was BLOODY BRILLIANT! Having the huge screens meant you got to watch him UP CLOSE working the crowd, which he did EXTREMELY well, also VIGOROUSLY. You'd never guess he was 103! He was also EXCELLENT at between song chat, treating the whole thing half like a stadium gig, half like the back room of a pub, chatting casually about how difficult his shirt was to put on and then saying "Great to be back in Newham - a beautiful part of the world," which is not a sentiment which I think has ever previously been expressed in such a way. He also said "We came here on the ... JUBILEE LINE!" (which evoked cheers - again, not something that usually happens when you mention the Jubilee Line) "Yeah! From Canary Wharf to... STRATFORD!"

The songs might have been a bit ropey but it was GRATE to see the band, although I did have to keep reminding myself that I was there, Actually Watching The Actual Rolling Stones. I think I've seen those images of Mick strutting across the stage, or Keith GRINNING, or Charlie wondering if the shops'll still be open after, SO often that it was slightly ALIENATING to see them live. "This is not on telly," I had to keep reminding myself. "These are the same people who played Altamont, and Hyde Park, and went to the Day In The Life sessions!"

They played a LOT of The Hits too, including a rather good version of "Wild Horses" with the aforesaid Florence, and basically everything you'd expect them to do, including "Satisfaction" at the end with FIREWORKS (which we'd seen from our flat at the end of Tuesday's show)! Hearing them all in a row like that did make them all sound a BIT all the same, but HEY! That is the BLUES!

All in all we were glad we went - they are, after all, LEGENDS, and it does mean that I only have Paul Simon left on my Big List Of Greats To See Before They Die - but we were glad too to have paid for the tickets WELL in advance. If the memory of handing over a TONNE of CA$H for tickets had been fresher I don't think I'd have been quite so forgiving!

posted 30/5/2018 by MJ Hibbett
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More Moor
Last night I met with The Hewitts in fragant Islington, where we had tickets to see Mr Ben Moor's show "Pronoun Trouble". SPOILERS: it was GRATE!

I've seen a few of Ben's shows over the years, and they are always LUXURIOUS experiences, featuring a flow of ideas, wordplay, mental images and EXQUISITELY delivered, elaborately constructed, happily silly, GAGS. It always feels like thought and care has gone into every single word - if stand-up comedians are cowboy builders, Ben is a MASTER CRAFTSMAN.

This show was similarly MARVELLOUS, although in a slightly different format from previous ones I've seen, which have tended to be STORIES. This was structured as a lecture about "The Hunters Trilogy" of Bugs Bunny and Daffy Duck cartoons, with a seperate narrative alongside it and various interludes of Other Topics (notably the spelling of launderette/laundrette) along the way. The odd thing about THIS was that the lecture section was eerily familiar to the actual real-life genuine lecture I went to in Tuebingen about the contemporaneous "Duck Amuck" cartoon. THUS when people were LARFING at the very IDEA of taking cartoons like this seriously, I was pondering the Genuine Issues And Points Raised. This meant that I probably LARFED less than other people there as I was instead nodding my head and COGITATING!

It was a beautiful thing and came, as all shows surely should, with a reading list and/or bibliography at the end. We went downstairs to the pub full of JOY and had a jolly discussion with Ms J Gilroy (who had also come along) and Mr D Greene (who was doing the TECH that night). As part of his usual practice of being A Society Host, Dave introduced me to the comics writer Mr Keiron Gillen, who was also there and who turned out to be a DELIGHT. I found myself, as I often do when talking about comics, saying things OUT LOUD that have only ever previously lived in my head, and may have got quite animated about the nature of Victor Von Doom's facial scarring.

It was, all in all, a pretty GRATE night out. Ben's doing a few more shows around the country and I would HEARTILY recommend going - there's details of dates and so forth on his web page, as well as the reading list!

posted 25/5/2018 by MJ Hibbett
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The Fair Play Trophy (Again) (Again)
One of the things I'm working on at the moment in my NEW and ACTUALLY QUITE INTERESTING job is a presentation comparing two examples of Research Data in the ARTS, one from now and one from the PAST.

The item from NOW is VR, and I got a TONNE of information about it from our Head of Museum & Study Collection the other day. It really is DEAD GOOD working in an Arts University, as every time you go for a meeting with somebody a) it is about something Quite Interesting and b) they tend to show you their ARCHIVES afterwards. In this case I didn't see an archive as such, but DID have a quick look round the MA Art show what is being set up AND get to talk about the ISSUES to do with archiving a technology that is developing SO VERY QUICKLY that something which is cutting edge in July is obsolete by Christmas. It is, as I say, Quite Interesting.

The project from the PAST I've been looking at is something called "ROCOCO", which ran in the 1990s, looking at ways in which, in some KRAZY FUTURE WORLD, designers might be able to work together in remote locations by using some kind of "video chat" and perhaps a "shared tablet". What were they thinking eh? The actual DATA from it was a pile of boxes containing approximately 200 VHS TAPES, unindexed and unevenly labelled, which featured footage taken simultaneously from two different cameras at each site of the designers working together. See above re: QUITE INTERESTING.

Anyway, the reason I mention it here is that the above project COLLIDED HEADLONG with my current life in ROCK the other day, in the form of The Validators doing some pretty flipping amazing Online Collaboration ourselves. We had been talking the day before about maybe re-re-re-re-releasing The Fair Play Trophy (Again) as a single on iTunes and Spotify, as it doesn't seem to be available there in any form (it got left off of Forest Moon Of Enderby, the collection which included the rest of Shed Anthems because I was heartily sick of hearing it at that point!). I'd gone home and listened to the MANY versions of it, and was surprised to find that I actually quite liked the THIRD properly recorded one, from 2004. Further investigation revealed that these days you can do an online single for only 25 quid at only 72 hours notice, so I thought "Why not eh?"

THUS the next morning at work we embarked upon one of our periodic ONLINE POWER DISCUSSIONS via email. I tell you what, if The Validator ever turned our minds to EVIL the world would do well to QUAKE, as we are Quite Good at this sort of thing - over the course of the morning we had considered ALL of the pros and cons of the plan, agreed upon a b-side, and bashed through SEVERAL versions of the cover artwork. Tim suggested a FONT and Frankie (who was working from home) went into his garden to take a PHOTOGRAPH for the cover, which we critiqued, he re-did, and then I assembled for various drafts of the image until the final one was done.

It was all RATHER efficient, and satisfyingly similar to the DREAMS of the Rococo project all those years ago! THUS I can reveal that on Monday 11 June we will be re-releasing The Fair Play Trophy as an online single, backed with In The North Stand (maybe in a new mix, if we can get round to it). It will look like THIS:
There'll ALSO be a version on our bandcamp page which will include EVERY SINGLE VERSION of the song EVER - that's the studio versions from 1998 and 2002, me live on Steve Lamacq's show at the end of (I think) 2003, AND all of the various re-writes I did for him during the 2004 Euros. It is a LOT of versions which, when heard all together, do perhaps go some way to explain my thinking when I didn't put it on Forest Moon Of Enderby!

On top of all THAT it'll also be included on the DOWNLOAD version of 20 Golden GRATES (and thus also free to anybody who buys the cassette too) for the entire duration of England's World Cup Campaign which I, of course, confidently predict will last well into July.

If only the devisers of the Rococo Project had known, back then, what would be possible now, surely they would have jumped (remotely) for joy!

posted 24/5/2018 by MJ Hibbett
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Daisy From Dubai
It's all fairly quiet here at the moment - we're off to CORNWALL at the weekend and then when I get back I've got two days of WORK TRIPS, so I'm beavering away here trying to get a) WORK and b) PhD stuff done before I go, which doesn't leave much room for ROCK THRILLZ.

In all of this gainful employment though there have been a couple of moments of UNUSUAL ACTIVITY, mostly due to a young woman known to me as Daisy From Dubai. She first rang me a couple of days ago - or, rather, she rang one of the people who used to have my phone number. There seem to have been at least three such people over the past few years, and whenever someone rings for them I say that they're not here anymore and suggest that perhaps they could try emailing them.

Normally this is fine, but not for Daisy, who insisted that I try to contact them myself. I explained, again, that I just had their old phone number and didn't actually know them. At this point she OPENLY LAUGHED at me. "You don't know your own (Person's Job Title)?!?" she scoffed, as if this was the single most ludicrous thing she had ever heard. I did not think this was very polite, but I laboured on, explaining that it is a Quite Big University with six sites, so I didn't actually know everybody who works here, but from that point on she treated me like a poor ignorant fool, asking very slowly if I could find out where the other person was and put her through to them.

I looked said person up on our internal directory and gave Daisy that number. It took several more minutes to persuade her that I couldn't take a message, what with not knowing said person or working in the same office, but eventually I got her off the phone. That, I thought, was that.

Five minutes later she rang back - it turns out that I'd given her MY number again, as it's still listed as that person's number on our systems. I felt a bit daft for giving it out, but I don't actually USE my own number and, hang on a minute, shouldn't Daisy have realised she was ringing the same number again? Either way, it took AGES to persuade Daisy that I *was* the same person, and I'd given her the same number again by mistake. To be honest, I don't think she believed me - I guess she thought I was a PA who didn't want her to speak to my boss? I suggested again that she could email, but Daisy had already done that and wasn't happy that she hadn't had a reply yet, so demanded that I do so instead. I thus took her number (which is how I know she was in Dubai) and email address and promised to forward it to the person in question. That, I thought, was that.

An hour or so later Daisy rang back AGANE, this time irate that the person had not contacted her yet, and wanting me go round and talk to her. It was here that she told me she'd spoken to somebody ELSE the day before who claimed that they HAD known the person in question and promised to pass on the details to her. This meant two things: firstly, that somebody had answered my phone for me and Daisy the situation before I'd even got involved and secondly that this was thus the THIRD time she had re-rung a number that she had been told was not the right one!

At this point I was getting a bit annoyed, but I maintained my professional COOL and explained, AGANE, that there really wasn't much I could do. However, ten minutes into this conversation (Daisy really didn't like taking 'no' for an answer), a LIGHT shone through the clouds - an email arrived from the very person we were discussing, with her mobile phone number in it! I passed this on to Daisy - who did not seem very grateful, and seemed to want ME to ring it for her - but it did at least bring the conversation to an end. That, I thought, was that.

The next day the phone rang. 'Will it be Daisy?' I thought, and LO! it WAS!! She'd left a message on the person's answering machine but had not yet had a reply, so for some INSANE reason had decided to ring ME to try and get ME to do something about it! I couldn't believe it! I explained YET AGAIN - VERY politely - that I did not know the person, did not work with or for them, and could not be expected to be in personal touch with all of the several thousand people who work here, and Daisy DID NOT LIKE IT. "I must say this is very unprofessional," she said.

THAT was it. "What I think is unprofessional is ringing somebody who has told you several times that they do not know this person," I said. I could hear the GASTING of FLABBER all the way over in the UAE. There were ACTUAL GASPS of DISBELIEF, which felt SOMEWHAT unfair as she had been rude to me FOUR TIMES already. It was actually quite comical, like an elderly Dame in a black and white film being confronted with a used condom in her cream tea. I began to feel a bit sorry for her, so suggested, firmly but fairly, that she wait AT LEAST A COUPLE OF HOURS to see if the person DID get back to her, and then maybe ring again ON THE CORRECT NUMBER.

I put the phone down. That, I thought, was that, and so far, it has been. The person she was trying to get hold of has since been round to say sorry for all the hassle, but I said it was fine as it had actually been quite jolly, especially towards the end. I don't know if Daisy ever DID get in touch with her, but I do know that she hasn't rung me again since.

I think I'm beginning to miss her.

posted 23/5/2018 by MJ Hibbett
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Practicing Wot You Preach
After spending the past few weeks up to my ears in GDPR, LEARNING about it and Assisting Others To Meet Their Legal Obligations, I thought that it was probably a good idea if I did the same for my OWN dataset i.e. The Database of ROCK which powers the newsletter.

I thus went through EVERYONE who recieves it to check that I had Legitimate Reason for doing so. Happily most people on it DID, mostly because they'd Positively ASKED to be signed up for it in the first place. The lovely thing about checking through THAT data especially was that there is a bit on the sign-up page that asks people how they first heard of us, and reading through it reminded me of all the different ways we have been INFLICTED on others. There were certain things that cropped up a LOT - b3ta, 6music, indietracks and so forth - but also a surprising amount of people who said one of their friends had forced our music upon them. To all of those people, whether enforcer or victim, I say THANK YOU!

This still left quite a few who I did NOT have proof of consent or legitimate reason for, and THUS I sent out an email (which I'm allowed to do for the next week and a bit!) to all of them asking for the aforesaid consent. This in turn led to a delightful trickle of emails from people asking to stay, which was lovely!

There's still quite a lot of people who have NOT replied, but then I imagine loads of those will be from ancient email addresses that don't work anyway, and others will be people who weren't interested in the first place. I think it's going to lop off about 10% of the total list in the end, which is fine with me. If nothing else it cuts off 10% of the time I have to spend hand emailing it all out every month! Thanks The EU! We love you!

posted 14/5/2018 by MJ Hibbett
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Through The Barricades
Yesterday I went for a meeting (which I seem to be doing a LOT of in my lovely new job) in London's fashionable SHOREDITCH area of London. The meeting itself was a DELIGHT but CRIKEY it wasn't half a palaver getting into it.

For LO! being in Shoreditch meant it was in one of these modern WORKSPACE spaces, which aren't boring old traditional offices like what the likes of me work in, but EXCITING new fangled ZONES with Breakout Areas and Free Coffee and thrillingly different ways of doing things. One of their new ways of doing things was NOT to say the name of the building anywhere on the front of it, for instance, or to say what companies were based there. I guess not knowing if you have come to the right place is a brilliant way of encouraging original thought.

I would have ASKED if I was in the right place, but I could not actually GET IN. I mean, I got through the door OK but then there were GATES to stop intruders entering the THORT CULTURE. Here in the boring old-fashioned world of DULLNESS we have things like RECEPTION DESKS and/or STAFF at such gates to welcome/help visitors, but here there was nothing so fuddy duddy. I could see a desk about twenty feet away, on the other side of the gates, but there was no way to GET to it, and the person sitting there was studiously NOT looking in my direction, so eventually I had to flag down one of the thrusting young types who were zooming through the gates with their staff passes.

"How do you get in?" I asked.

"With my card!" he said.

"How does ONE get in?" I clarified, and he went over to the desk beyond the gates and pointed me out. Someone opened a gate for me to come through, and then QUICKLY LOOKED DOWN again as I approached. I had no idea where in the building to go next so was forced to impose my OLDE WORLDE ideas of communication upon him. I said I had come to see somebody and he presented me with a TABLET, which asked me to enter my details and the name of the person I'd come to see. This was all fine, except it would only accept certain people's names, who were registered as full time workers there, whereas the person I wanted was part-time. His company rented most of a FLOOR there, but that was not good enough, as it had to be a specific name.

I asked for help, several times, until he deigned to respond, and then called over - amazingly - THE RECEPTIONIST. She was an actual person who was standing even further away from the gates, chatting to somebody, and was not happy to be disturbed by a request to actually RECEIVE somebody. When she eventually came over to speak to me I felt OBLIGATED to try and find out how this was all MEANT to work. Surely, with my old-fashioned ideas and practices, I was missing something?

"How are you supposed to get in?" I asked.

"Through the gates," she said, looking at me like I was an UTTER FOOL.

"But what if you haven't got a card to get through?"

"You ask at Reception."

"But that's on the other side of the gates."

This appeared to be the most obvious, stupid, thing an individual has ever uttered. "Yes," she said, as if talking to a baby who had just seen a sheep and said "MOO."

"So how do you get through the gates to ask reception to let you through the gates?"

APPARENTLY either nobody had EVER visited before OR they were all Olympic High Jumpers, as she visibly BOGGLED at this question. Eventually she said "Well, then you just wave and we'll come and see you?"

"But I was stood there for ten minutes trying to get through, and nobody saw me," I said, NOT adding "Because you were round the corner chatting to someone and your colleague was staring anywhere but at the door" because I am POLITE.

She then said that most wonderful of phrases which never fails to quell discontent and spread a mood of lighthearted JOY to all concerned: "Well it's always worked before."

Honestly, it was all I could do not to burst into SONG and SCATTER PETALS around the general area at such a helpful remark. In no way did I have to contain myself from going on a DESTRUCTIVE RAMPAGE, casting thousands of pounds worth of edgy, ergonomic furniture around in the CHAOS. If I had, I might have hurt some of the PROBABLY THOUSANDS of other visitors who had failed to get in and had instead formed their own communities of the lost and unmet outside.

What happened instead was that the person I HAD come to see arrived, said "Hello, I think you've come to meet me," and led me upstairs to be confused by funky coffee machines instead.

Several hours later, when I left, the gates opened automatically to let me out. I was almost disappointed.

posted 10/5/2018 by MJ Hibbett
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A Night With The Orchestra
On Saturday mighty forces gathered at The King & Queen in London's fashionable Fitzrovia area of London, for an event that will go down in history as BLOODY LOVELY.

For LO! The Validators AND A Little Orchestra were joining me there to play the 20th Anniversary gig of the aforesaid Validators, and we had picked a GORGEOUS day for it, the sort of day when you think "Sod it, let's just sit around and drink beer and have a natter in the sunshine."

There was work to be done though, so after a SMALL beer interlude we all headed upstairs to get set up for the evening ahead. As it was NOT an official Totally Acoustic gig I had BORROWED a PA system from Mr Shaun Hendry (who runs the Scaledown nights up there), as I am aware that an orchestra, even a little one, in full swing is FLIPPING LOUD!

It took a while to get the whole lot of us set up, but once done - in one big long line, basically, we had a practice of the whole SET that we'd be performing together. This was EXTREMELY useful, not least for me as I always find it dead confusing knowing when to come in, and unlike with The Validators, the other people involved couldn't just change things to fit in with ME!

Once done we all went in different directions, for lunch and, in my case, to GREET the many many lovely people who rolled up. I must admit I got a bit GIDDY with the excitement of it all, like I was the HOST of a fancy party full of people I really really liked!

Soon it was time to head back upstairs where, for a PACKED room, myself and The Validators performed a set of HITS (taken from our GRATEST HITS album which is out now!) thusly:

  • Hey Hey 16K
  • Payday Is The Best Day
  • Easily Impressed
  • The Lesson Of The Smiths
  • Billy Jones Is Dead
  • Being Happy Doesn't Make You Stupid
  • 20 Things To Do Before You're 30
  • We Did It Anyway

  • It sounded FAB, especially as a) we had the PA so I could SING rather than BELLOW and b) Tim had augmented his CAJON with CYMBALS, so he could SIGNAL to us during the songs. It was strange doing Easily Impressed and The Lesson Of The Smiths mid-set, as usually they're at the end, but other than that it was GRATE. I was astonished to find that I made NO mistakes until the very very end, when we had to do an extra chorus of We Did It Anyway because I'd got the words wrong. Pretty impressive!

    After a break we came back on, this time with A Little Orchestra, to do THIS:

  • It Only Works Because You're here
  • Cheer Up Love
  • I Want The World To Stop
  • Girlfriend Alarmed
  • We Can Start Having Fun
  • Two Nights, One Pub
  • One Last Party

  • It is an old adage that It Will Sound Different When People Are In, but goodness ME it was true in this case, as the musical extravaganza sounded EVEN LOVELIER with the audience there. Having the practice earlier meant that it wasn't quite such a SURPRISE to me how fab it sounded, though it seemed to be to the audience who were in AWE of the CLASSICAL MIGHT in front of them.

    Halfway through we also announced the SECRET PROJECT which we have been working on together i.e. that we're going to do a WHOLE ALBUM together, and will be setting up a Kickstarter campaign to do so. I have been in discussion with Ms A King of the Orchestra for some time about this, and we have MANY PLANS about stretch goals and incentives and all that sort of thing. It is going to be GRATE, I feel, and I will surely be talking about it MUCH more in future!

    With the gig successfully completed we packed things away and then returned downstairs to the pub, where a THOROUGHLY delightful evening drew to an equally delightful end. I would like to express heartfelt thanks to the orchestra, to The Validators, and indeed to the AUDIENCE for making it so - if the ACTUAL ALBUM we make is even half as GRATE as the evening was, it is going to be INCREDIBLE!!

    posted 9/5/2018 by MJ Hibbett
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    Like several of the regular visitors to this blog, I have spent a lot of time recently learning all about GDPR. When I say "several" I mean, of course, the tiny minority of you who have Grown-Up Jobs. Most people coming here are, I assume, groovy young hepsters who spend all their time listening to "Pod Casts" on their interweb walkmans while roller-skating to the local "Pop Up Shop" to buy wax for their gender neutral moustaches, but I suppose some of you must be as OLD as me. You know, in your mid-thirties ish.

    ANYWAY, like those people I have recently been thrown into a series of webinars, blogs, instruction pamphlets and COURSES all about GDPR which comes in in a few weeks and has, apparently, only just been announced so that nobody knew about it, say, two years ago nor had any other time to prepare. As far as I can see it can be summed up in one of three ways, thus:
    1. Like The Data Protection Act, but more so.
    2. You've got to tell people what you're up to.
    3. Don't be a dick with other people's information.
    (I am available for in-depth web-learning sessions).

    In order to learn all of this AGANE I went to an ALL DAY event at one of the UK's leading Data Archives last week. I actually quite like repeatedly being told the same thing in this way, as it means I eventually REMEMBER some of it, but I was somewhat surprised to find, as the day progressed, that I appeared to be a GDPR EXPERT compared to some of the other people there. The course was for Research Data Managers, like what I am now, so you might have expected everybody to have at least a certain level of knowledge, but GOODNESS ME no.

    Not only were some people not up to date with current thinking, they were not up to date with approx the last TWENTY YEARS of legislation, and were very keen to point it out. At one point, when talking about VERY VERY BASIC levels of Good Practice someone raised their hand and SCOFFED, as if highlighting a particularly ludicrous example of PC Gone Mad, "Surely you don't expect us to lock our computers every time we leave the room to go to the bathroom!!!"

    The course leader looked AGHAST, but MANY other people nodded earnestly, as if that was precisely the kind of silly nonsense that professionals like them were having to deal with all the time. Another person - who, judging by his Loud Confident Tone Of Voice had trained as either a MEDIC or a Conservative MP - stoutly defended the practice of bunging all and any data on any Cloud system he saw fit to. "It's like using a bank," he said. "I put my money IN the bank, they use it how they see fit, loaning it to other people, and then when I need it I take it back. Why shouldn't I do that with my research data*?"

    (*i.e. sensitive information about other people which he had collected).

    The whole day was an extreme exercise in self-control, both for the course leaders who managed not to STRANGLE anybody, and also for ME, although I did at one point VERY NEARLY SHOUT at the aforesaid over-confident data spreader. I returned home EXHAUSTED from it all but, I must admit, with a new found sympathy for the many many courses and Explanatory Documents that I've been wading through lately. It turns out some people DO need telling!

    posted 8/5/2018 by MJ Hibbett
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    20 Golden GRATES is out TODAY!
    Shout it to the very rooftops: today is the day when our GRATEST hits album 20 Golden GRATES is officially released to the world! On CASSETTE!

    Speaking to people this past week TWO (2) things have become abundantly clear to me. Firstly, many seem to be put off from purchasing it due to the simple fact that they do not own a cassette player. This is entirely understandable, and I think demonstrates that I should be saying "It comes with a download code!" much more loudly. It comes with a download code!. This means that you can slot the whole lot into your music player of choice (in your file format of choice too), while also having the BEAUTIFUL ARTEFACT that is the actual cassette to love and keep.

    This leads me on to the second thing, which is that the tape looks RUDDY GORGEOUS. I mean, look at it!

    You can click on the pics for bigger versions. It really is a lovely item, inside and out - every time I hand one over I LOOK upon it in wonder, and it's made me think that maybe I should also be telling people that it's a beautiful item in its own right a bit more loudly. It's a beautiful item in its own right!

    As stated, it's available to buy directly from us over in our online shop for just 8.99, with postage and packing FREE wherever you are in the world. If you get yourself one I hope it DELIGHTS you, and if it does please tell other people!

    posted 7/5/2018 by MJ Hibbett
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    The Avengers... Or Did I Dream It?
    Last night I went to see "Avengers: Infinity War". Or at least I think I did.

    It's a film I've been looking forward to for ages, in that weird way what one does for these sort of films, wanting to know as much as possible about it whilst also simultaneously NOT wanting to know. This led to me being desperate to go and see it as soon as possible purely so that I could get it out of the way - usually with the big superhero films I enjoy them LOADS more on the telly, but I feel I HAVE to go and see them at The Pictures just so that I can look at the internet again without panicking about SPOILERS.

    I had big plans to go and see it at the slightly grotty little Odeon on Tottenham Court Road, as that is where I have been to see the majority of superhero films over the years. It's a GRATE place to go because it's (usually) near my work, so I've been able to go to earlier screenings when it's not so busy, but ALAS my plans fell to DUST yesterday when I ended up having to sit and do WORK a bit later than usual. This was all a bit upsetting, as my next chance to go would have been next week, but then I remembered that there is a GIGANTO cinema 10 minutes from my front door, in Westfield Stratford, so booked a ticket for that (with QR code ticket on my phone! So futuristic!) and off I went.

    It was, as everybody else has said, dead good, although I had to keep reminding myself that I was actually WATCHING it. Always, with these films, I find myself thinking "Wow, imagine if this was a REAL THING and there really WAS a film about The Avengers" because it is SUCH an incredible thing. It was difficult enough when the first film came out and had Iron Man AND Thor AND Captain America AND The Hulk all together, but now it is getting ridiculous. If you had told ten-year-old me - or twenty- or thirty-year-old me, for that matter - that there would one day be a film where the BIG STARS would be The Guardians Of The Galaxy I would have LARFED in your face. The idea that it would also star Black Panther and Doctor Strange, and that the absence of Ant Man (and the Scott Lang version of Ant Man too!) would be REMARKED upon would be utterly ludicrous, never mind that FACT that it's one of the biggest selling films of all time.

    The daftest part of it all is that there are now SUPERHERO PROGRAMMES on telly that I don't even bother to watch. Fair enough when it's the DC shows, but there are whole SERIES of perfectly good television programmes about Daredevil, Luke Cage, The Punisher etc that I have not even got around to looking at yet, such is the DELUGE of such programmes! I guess if they had more MASSIVE TWISTS to avoid then I would!

    This film had its fair share of surprises, but mainly I enjoyed it for the way it mixed up all the characters. It reminded me - A LOT - of The Wedding Of Sue And Reed in Fantastic Four Annual #3 what I wrote about a while ago for my Marvel Age Doom blog. This was the moment when Stan Lee and Jack Kirby got to REVEL in the gigantic storyworld they had created by throwing EVERYBODY into the mix (even Millie The Model!), and even, much like in "Infinitiy War", giving reasons for the lack of presence of the few missing characters. Both comic and film are JOYFUL explorations for all the different ways these characters could work together, and it's especially COOL in the film to see them simultaneously mixing together the different TONES of the different stories too, like the COMEDY of "Guardians Of The Galaxy" rubbing up against the psychedelic effects of Doctor Strange, or the politics of "Captain America".

    It was, to be clear, GRATE. I can't wait for it to pop up on Amazon Prime so I can watch it all over again!

    posted 2/5/2018 by MJ Hibbett
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