Monthly Archives: July 2009

The corrections

There is sometimes a sort of inverted cool about using a dead or dying technology. Several of my more artistically inclined friends at university and sixth form college decided that using bakelite typewriters to do assignments and essays was way cooler than using computers. For although the disadvantages outweighed the positives (monumentally so), it seemed to help them. They took their time with assignments. Knowing that a mistyped word was not instantly correctable or that a spilled drink would destroy the whole endeavour created a sense of concern and precision about the task that led them to become exceptional students.

To sound horrifyingly elitist and somewhat bourgeois, I (until recently) used an aging Russian built Zenit-E camera (see because the in built limitation of only 36 exposures made me think about what I would like to record. There was also a sense of excitement about dropping the film off at Boots and waiting a few days not knowing quite what the images would look like.

I think the blessing and the curse of the digital age is that we sometimes get too many chances to get it right. It’s a good thing in the sense that we get to replace mistakes. This appeals to my egalitarian socialist ideals. There’s nothing worse than a photo ruined because someone else walked in front of your camera at the wrong time. It’s reassuring to know that something isn’t lost forever due to careless mistakes. But every now and again I can’t help but think I might be slightly more careless than I used to be…

The death of the independent record shop

Well news has come to me recently that EMI are refusing to sell stock to independent record shops from now on (source

I guess the music industry got tired of shooting itself in the foot with DRM and file sharing and decided to machine gun its whole leg off instead. Well done EMI. If the music industry is dying it’s due to frankly stupid decisions such as this.

Not to be a complete music snob but many DJs, vinyl enthusiasts and music lovers still used independent record shops. There are plenty of good reasons to keep using actual shops rather than say iTunes. You don’t for instance lose your whole damn record collection if your hard drive fails. The staff are knowledgeable, they know what you are looking for even if you don’t (seriously I’ve met record company staff who can identify songs from badly hummed samples and vague suggestions). You get a tactile product with album art and freebies (maybe a poster if you are lucky). They carry stock that you can’t get in HMV, artists back catalogues and honest-to-goodness vinyl. Independent record shops serve as a general hub for musicians, promotors and DJs, they usually have a notice board with upcoming gigs and highly optimistic job offers like “Talented Vocalist Seeks Entire Band!” They are living breathing spaces in a way that the likes and iTunes are not and could never be.

If it wasn’t for record shops you wouldn’t get fantastic scenes like this:

Some thoughts about creativity

I currently appear to be passing through a drought of ideas, a creative block. It sits there on the end of my bed watching me and calling me names. Rude, obscene names. I’m going to call my creative block…Malcolm. I don’t know anyone called Malcolm and hence this should be a good name for him/it.

My creative block is the reason that I haven’t been blogging as much recently. It’s like someone built a dam around my imagination, stopping me from thinking about the world in anything other than concrete terms. There is no room in such a world for metaphor, for finding ways of symbolising your experience of the world. I struggle with that. I have always been a daydreamer until recent times. I’m not so much now. In short I want to vanquish Malcolm the Creative Block. I’m devising a strategy which might work:

1) Anthropomorphise. Treat things as though they were people. Name all the paperclips on your desk and decide personalities for them. Make a sock puppet. Although actually talking to inanimate objects does tend to garner strange looks. Anthropomorphism is the reason I’m naming my enemy NB some of my friends have problems with naming non living things, so your mileage may vary

2) Narrate your life as though it were a Film Noir. I notice much more about the world when I’m telling myself about the things around me.

3) Use your hands Sometimes your hands know how to do something even when your head doesn’t. Pick up a pencil and sketch a coworker when they are not looking or do some DIY. Building flat pack furniture is a good way to cheat at this. You get to feel creative whilst following the rigorous plans that IKEA have made for you.

If I think of any others then I’ll let you know