Nov 30, 2014

Blogging highlights 2004-2014

I've been blogging for ten years.

You remember ten years ago, right? Faded celebrities sat around in jungles, UKIP made significant electoral gains and some loons re-released the Band Aid song. Seems so alien now.

This blog reached its zenith in 2009 and 2010. Before and since, it has just been a fat man shouting down an internet tube at his own knees.

Here are my eight blogging highlights since the first post dripped out onto the web on 13th November 2004.

1. Getting the word electrostepgrungebass accepted into Blogger's spelling dictionary. Turns out if you post them enough nail clippings, they relent.

2. Actually moving into a grandma's basement so I felt included in all the tabloid comment pieces about blogging. She never found out.

3. The time when I was outed as Burial. Or that graffiti guy. I forget which.

4. Changing the name of my blog to (a) Fat Roland's Internet Sickhole, (b) Fat Roland's Cranial Discharge, (c) Vice Magazine. All at once.

5. Seeing my blog open on a laptop screen in the background of the Queen's official portrait. Still, it put paid to my theory that I can't be seen in paintings, like vampires.

6. Being the millionth visitor to the world wide web. I won a timeshare. Or a large bank deposit. Or willy pills. I don't know: I didn't click.

7. Inventing the "minternet". This is like the internet, only mintier. See also: cheesels (edible easels), hot dogdogs (actual dogs made from sausages), beef (this is just beef that I pretended to invent).

8. Accidentally downloading all the music. Well, almost all. Strangely, it left off all the U2 albums.

9. There isn't a 9. I said "eight blogging highlights". Scroll up. It's right there.

10. Seriously now.


Thanks for reading. I've had a decade offloading my mind-crap into your face. I think I will carry on because, why not. Blogging is dead and this is not Buzzclick-Viralworthy, but if you stick around, I'll keep tapping away. Here's to Band Aid 2024. *weeps*

Nov 23, 2014

Live latest: Royal Exchange, Mother's Ruin, the Spoken Word Showcase

Fat Roland performs. Photo: Pam Van-Damned Visuals.

Here is an update on my performance shenanigans.

On Hallowe’en night, I co-compered fiction readings at the Royal Exchange with my Bad Language hat on. It's not a real hat. Let's not get hung up on the hat. All the readers were great, but it was extra brills to have a Booker shortlistee read for Bad Language for the first time.

The place was drizzled in orange and green lighting, giving a suitably pumpkinesque sheen for the 160 or so that attended. It felt quite austere, as though we were inside an old novel or something.

I compered again at the King’s Arms in Salford for a Mother’s Ruin cabaret night. This was a chance to stretch my stand-up muscles, throwing in short routines, one-liners and, as usual, a truck-load of props. The night is described with aplomb here.

Incidentally, my previous appearance for Mother's Ruin got a lovely review on Manchester's Finest:
"It was then time for Fat Roland, a comedian who again reduced the audience to hysteria from the start and all done without uttering a single word. Silently he took the audience on a tour about Manchester from doodles he’d drawn himself."
Some of those drawings got a second outing at the Spoken Word Showcase in Salford. In some ways, this was the most interesting experience. I teased the audience with an idiot persona, with readings and doodles that were deliberately childlike. Once the audience was hooked – and who doesn’t love a low-status idiot – I allowed what I presented to become more skilful, ending on a dark and distinctly adult note that was entirely without punchline. Proper enjoyable.

I have three events this week, so you should choose one at which you can show off your best hat. On Tuesday, I will read a fiction piece at a Bad Language / Blackwell’s collaboration with Tony O'Neill and Bluemoose Books. On Wednesday, it’s Bad Language at the Castle with Ralph Dartford from A Firm Of Poets. And on Thursday, it’s back to Blackwell’s where I will compere an evening of intelligent talks based around the Very Short Introductions books, run in conjunction with Oxford University Press.

Photo: Pam Van-Damned

Nov 18, 2014

See this? This is you, this is

YouGov have this brilliant profiler in which you can enter a brand or an activity and it trawls their database to tell you who would be interested in that - on "average".

I entered 'electronic music'. It found 98 people into electronic music, which if you think about it is a lot of people. It constructed that data into one composite person.

In other words, this is you. This is what you look like.

I added the colouring because, y'know, you look a bit dull.

What else do the stats say about average-you?

You're a geeky boxing fan who owns fish.

You're a bloke (and you are a he) who shops at Dorothy Perkins, likes Tulisa from N-Dubz and when not shopping at Superdrug, reads Glamour magazine.

Creative writing is your fifth favourite hobby, but you prefer hillclimbing.

Your top ten programmes include Escape To The Country and Operation Hospital Food With James Martin.



Nov 16, 2014

Attaching a camera to a cat: in pictures

I attached a camera to a cat. Here are the pictures it took.

This is the return of Fractions, the video series that had its first run last winter. CatCam is an edit of a piece I did at Mother's Bloomers last week. Sorry for the popping: I probably need to get a decent recording device.

Click here for the rest of my video vomit. Meanwhile, happy viewing...

Nov 15, 2014

The Aphex Twins have released 30 new tracks

The Aphex Twins* have released 30 new tracks. Because there are so many people in the Aphex Twins, they are able to do this.

The Twins unleashed their new material during a lengthy two-part interview with Dave Noyze. I've not had chance to hear it yet - I'm still enjoying Syro - but I'm expecting electronic patches wigging out then tumbling over rough edges into half-formed gutters. Or something.

These are the numerous members of the Aphex Twins:

- Romeo Twin
- Asher D James
- Selected Lisa Maffia Works
- OxSyro and Digeri-Neutrino
- Kim KarDrukqsian
- Insert more puns here
- Fill this bit in later

In unrelated news, this blogger is sad to hear that So Solid Crew was just one person all along.

Sole member Paul Daniels revealed the news in an emotional interview with himself. He said he only ever intended Every 21 Seconds Counts, a surprise number one in 3,000 countries, to be the theme tune of his next game show.

* with apologies to Stewart Lee for stealing his 'the UKIPs' joke.

Nov 12, 2014

Fat Roland goes to Crosby beach

I got stuck in the sand at Crosby beach and nearly ruined my trainers. I swear the Gormley statues were laughing.

Before I sank beneath the fish-pissed sand, I took these photographs.

You can see all 33 meaningful picture captions on a special Crosby beach tumblr I made with my internet machine.

Ah, that Orbital one seems so dated now...

Click for loads more.

Nov 10, 2014

Christmas chart battles and the chamber of echoes

We all remember where we were when a Facebook campaign shot Killing In The Name to the festive top spot. It was Britain's JFK moment.

A whole nation gasped as Joe McElderry was denied chart's biggest accolade. Ticker-tape news channels covered it for weeks. The single was named The Climb. The irony of that title failing to reach the summit led to hundreds of floral tributes to be elastic-banded onto Simon Cowell's legs.

McElderry went the way of Steve Brookstein. He was last seen doing panto. His career became as successful as JFK's is now.

Enter this year's most interesting seasonal Facebook campaign:  LFO for Christmas Number One. 

LFO are sadly no more, after the death of sole musician and long-time Bjork collaborator Mark Bell (pictured above). He'll be sorely missed. LFO's Northern bleeps gave a voice to dour techno-heads and their eponymous debut on Warp Records should be regarded as one of the most influential electronic tracks of all time.

A similar campaign for Altern-8's Activ 8 (Come With Me) faltered in 2013, charting the single 30 places lower than its original peak in 1991. The LFO campaign has a memorial element, and despite the Facebook page yet reaching the tens of thousands of followers it needs, there are plenty of shares and likes.

Ah yes, the Facebook page. The other day, it posted a photo of Countdown lettersmith Rachel Riley displaying the letters L, F and O. All very amusing, Photoshop or no Photoshop.

Among the quips about consonants and vowels, there were comments about Rachel, both in the group comments and in the shares of the original post by ex-LFO member Gez Varley. About her. About her appearance. Boobs and oscillations and the like. You've seen the internet. You know what comments are like.

It made me feel sad. It reminded me that techno is male-dominated. It reminded me of the way debates are controlled and manipulated by men. It reminded me of pay gaps, of glass ceilings, of willies ruling all.

That's a lot to read into a small selection of comments that were nothing to do with the campaign.
But I like techno being a community. I liked going to a listening party for the new Aphex Twin album, or raving about favourite Orbital gigs, or gently prodding Venetian Snares fans about Westlife.

But when technoheads are being misogynist, where are their friends? Why aren't they being challenged? Are we as blind to our willy-powered echo chamber as the blunt-fingered keyboard warriors of #GamerGate?

I hope Mark Bell makes it to number one this Chrimbo. Meanwhile, I suspect McElderry's been more successful than this blog post has given him credit for. It doesn't matter. I'm still gaffer taping daffodils to Simon Cowell's hairy man tubes.