Blog Archive

Friday, 28 December 2007

For Her this Xmas: Mime, Make-Up & Body-Mods

Right, now xmas has been successfully bypassed this year...

The other day a friend sent me a YouTube link of two girls miming to 'Im so Excited' by Le Tigre, and a thought occurred; Is video-miming the new karaoke? I wonder if there are serious video-mimes, like the ever so sad 'serious karaoke artists'?

Another ego-centric series of YouTube videos found is all about putting on make-up, much of it gothy. I just picked this one cos strangely I've just listened to the same track myself ('Black No.1' by Type O Negative). Note the way she demonstrates her roots need dying to the lyrics? Important.

While on a more gruesome topic, there's plenty of body modification on YouTube and there's certainly some weird and wonderful stuff going on. Have a look these tricks you can do... if you ever fancied getting your tongue split...;

Other mods include tattoo's, scarification, under-skin inserts, extreme piercing, suspensions... all in the name of... erm.. Image? Is fashion the new religion? Eek!

And here's a girl that's done it all; here's her rendition of Barbie Girl, you can also see her put on make-up and get her septum pierced from her profile.

Sharken911's YouTube Profile

Saturday, 22 December 2007


I am REALLY hating Windows Vista and as much as I want to resist moaning (and particularly about computer related things) - I have got to get this out of my system!!

What I HATE about Vista;
  • Ten thousand, "Can I do this? - Can I please? - Are you certain about that? - What really? -Well I did warn you..." Messages popping up every 2 bloody seconds - I'm all for security but -- fuck off!!!

  • Sometimes it'll detect your broadband connection, sometimes not. If not I have to disable the connection in my network settings and re-enable it, sometimes it displays this as a little icon, sometimes as a list view. Well thats consistency for you.

  • The search tool - what the hell is this all about - I can't search by file type or anything more useful than a tag name?! What??!! Apparently it's really great.. no it ISNT!

  • Why cant I listen to my media player without constant skipping and stuttering? ARGH! I've got 2x 64bit processors in there, what are they doing if I can't even word process without the occassional skipping?

  • "Windows has just updated itself and as a result has decided that it would like to turn it's self off and restart - I assume this is the perfect time for you right now?? No? Oh well, would you like to postpone this irritating message for 10 mins? Yes? Great I'll try to shut you down in tens mins then instead of right now..." Thanks a lot.

  • "So your a web designer ey? Well let's upload some images then... Ta-da!! there you go.. What? Iv'e split it in half, coloured parts grey or otherwise mangled it? Dont be daft! Look it's not Vista it's your FTP software, try uploading onto your Myspace.. aah.. OK maybe it IS Vista." -- HOW do I fix this? It's doing my nut in - I have to use my old machine to upload image files just to be sure they work?? Blaaargh.

  • Copy and pasting - yes there's something we'll be using a lot... Slow? Hmm let's compare with your old XP machine - what? It works better and at 3 times the speed? How strange... I thought Vista was supposed to be an improvement.

  • A Password, that's good for security - what vista does is not allow you to save any passwords in Outlook etc. just to really irritate the shit out of you, and make your use of Windows even more labour intensive. Oh and so you have to buy the new version on everything.

  • And just to REALLY take the piss - none of your other old software or hardware will work - FUCKING SUPER..!!

  • Well Vista's been around for a bit now and yeah, there's always teething problems, I know, but how about some bloody fixes then?!

The only positive features I've found on Vista are: The combination of Explorer and File Browser, the bigger image views and Preview app, and the new Media Player. WOW. I've never really taken part in the PC/MAC debate but I would now say BUY A NEW MAC & NOT A PC to anyone who asked. If I had a copy of XP I'd partition my HD and install that. Vista is a rubbish attempt to level with OSX!!

Fuck off and die Bill Gates!

Thursday, 20 December 2007

Me + Music + Technology =

Now you can witness my current musical addictions courtesy of Last FM!

Last FM
if you don't know, monitors whats on your media player and feeds it through to a networking website. Press 'play' and you get a personalised radio station. It's also got few cool features like recommending similar artists, the widgets (like the one featured on this blog on the right) and the comfort that your musical taste and trends are being monitored by a corporate body, probably for marketing purposes.

I've been addicted to a few artists and a few individual tracks and am unable to stop listening!! A strange and feverish musical bathing that I'm currently subjecting myself too. A reward maybe after moving pretty much my entire CD collection onto my PC. Anyway, since a computer far far away is probably working through this I thought I'd give it a go to.

Here's the situation since i joined a month ago.... You'd have seen a hell of a lot more Joanna Newsom if I'd have joined earlier...

Artists: plays:

1 Play Tori Amos
2 Play Meet Me in St Louis
3 Play Björk
2 Many DJ's
5 Play Joanna Newsom

Tracks: plays:
Meet Me In St. LouisWhy Thank You Suzie
Meet Me in St LouisI Am Champagne And You Are ****
3 Play Meet Me in St LouisWell You Damn Well Should
Meet Me in St LouisThe Torso Has Been Severed In Mid Thorax
5 Play Tori AmosBouncing Off Clouds
Meet Me in St LouisRight this way, you maverick renegade
Meet Me in St LouisEins zwei drei Hasselhoff!
8 Play Meet Me in St LouisAll We Need Is A Little Energon And A Lot Of Luck
9 Play Joanna NewsomSadie
9 Play Meet Me in St LouisI Beat Up The Bathroom, I'm Sorry
9 Play BjörkUnison
12 Play Joanna NewsomCosmia
12 Play Meet Me in St LouisCome to New York, there were fewer murders last year
12 Play Tori AmosTeenage Hustling
Nine Inch Nails[silence]
15 Play Tori AmosBig Wheel
CalyxFollow the Leader
Various ArtistsTrack 9
Meet Me in St LouisI've Got Knives In My Eyes, I'm Going Home Sick
Various ArtistsTrack 1
20 Play Gabriel AnandaSüssholz
CalyxGet Myself To You
22 Play Joanna NewsomThe Book of Right-On
22 Play Joanna NewsomSprout And The Bean
Ed GeinRobert Flaig
OvucaAfternoon Girl
ShitmatBloodclot Jungle Tekno
22 Play Meet Me in St LouisYou're Doomed
HellifishRadical Digital
30 Play SashaBloodlock
30 Play Tori AmosDigital Ghost
Rolo TomassiFuck The Pleasantries

So heres the trends;

Song-based music with real instruments - for when I'm feeling all emotional and need an outlet:
MMISL / Joanna Newsom / Tori Amos

Cool as fuck and textural electronica - for audio pleasures, a time to appreciate genius and production values hand in hand:
2 Many DJs / Bjork / Ovuca / Nine Inch Nails

Euphoric Dance - in nostagic yearning for more clubland!:
Sasha / Gabriel Ananda / Various Artists (Track 9 is 'Wrong Direction' by Leandro Gamez, Track 1 is from the spanish Electro Trax Magazine CD #29 from Sonar)

Brutal hardcore and breakcore - for bustin heads to on the dancefloor when I'm feeling physical:
Rolo Tomassi / Hellifish / Shitmat / Ed Gein / Calyx

See what hot on my Last FM profile right now here :

Sunday, 16 December 2007

Rock Art & Dressing Up

Played the Barfly with Jazz Thrash Assassin on the 15th dressed in a pair of turquoise slacks and a tiny jumper. Sadly my hair kept falling off and lasted on my head all of about 3 seconds. The idea was to be dressed as an old man, but I looked more like some kind of deranged Erasure fan. I had worn the wig at a previous gig but had a hood and cap to keep the thing on then. Mental Note: Duck tape needed for next time. Random Conflict were pretty impressive again, found myself moshing out with Mr.Pea. Went out after with Ben Screamer, Pea & Walt and poor Walt got so hammered he blacked out on the stairs in the Xposure Rock Cafe, fell down them smacked his head off the floor at the bottom! After spazzing out at the gig & then playing football I was aching all over by Wednesday.

Saw Gogol Bordello in Wolves & they were excellent. The encore went on and on - i figure that endless partying is probably part of the Gogol lifestyle! The support band were good too, kind of French punk-Drum n Bass-dub thing goin on. No idea what they were called. Spotted some photos online from there somewhere too..

Emma Bowen's Periscope show was also good, lots of bits of MDF and other items dotted about the small space. It's good that she finally made it happen as it was due earlier in the year but didn't materialise. It's the final show for the space, as I believe it's moving somewhere else. Got slightly sozzled in the bar after. Which was nice.

Saw the final show at Crowd 6 last night too. It seems that 2008 is going to see a change for these little art venues. The walls of the gallery had nicely and tastelessly been decorated. I just missed the AAS performance but managed to see what Stuart had caught on video - 4 robed performers pulling dripping tinsel entrails from their stomachs and hanging it on a Christmas tree. Nice concept, would have been good as real entrails or similar meat-based substance thought I. Just found this of it online:

Captain Ed & Dave Miller's performance was enjoyable - a storytelling really. Dave was a mermaid in top hat and Ed was great as he tongued at his 'melted cheese' rubber pirate mask. I was particularly liking the mini-Marshall amps they wore on their belts, which were completely unnecessary to amplify their voices in the small space, but somehow they made them appear tooled up for the job.

Friday, 14 December 2007

nu imgs

Saturday, 8 December 2007

Recent Drawings (2)

More drawings... I really should update my website and add some of these. Cy Twombly has obviously been a lasting influence on me. I've never really been sure how to display these, so if you've got any ideas let me know;)

copyright © Ben Neal 2007

Thursday, 6 December 2007

Help me!! I'm too generous!

Anyone got any bright ideas on the following problem..

I made a piece of software ( I tried selling it with little success. So I made it free. It's now being downloaded/used, but its costing me every month in datatransfer (ie, the process of many people downloading it). What do I do?

Tuesday, 4 December 2007

Friendly Spamming & Culture Jamming

Today, thanks to Ian at 7 Inch Cinema, I got introduced to Flash Mobbing, a strangely simple idea; Lots of people arrange to meet up at a place simultaneously and all do something odd, then quickly disperse.

The results are funny, explosive and profound. Obviously a favourite sport at Universities, Flash Mobs, you'll be pleased to find out, have a Birmingham contingency who are on the Mob tomorrow I think:
(although i am currently unable to check that link as myspace's usual ' Sorry! an unexpected error has occurred.' message has appeared at that page... **king MySpace!! Moodle??! I should write a bloody book of hate for MySpace..! They should update the page to say; Sorry! another expected error has occurred.)

Anyway, I digress.... Flash Mobbing ranges from hundreds of people simultaneously shooting each other, to silent raves and pillow fights...

See below;

Heres a nice one from Manchester;

Just a small addition here on the end - You've gotta love the latest 'forward this' message going round on Facebook it's the only one with a point to it.

Sunday, 2 December 2007

Sort your music out

Ever got your Speed Garage mixed up with your 2 Step, or Glitch confused with IDM? Ishkur's guide to electronic music can help you... Not great explanations, but good samples.

Some crazy experimental instruments here too, just in case after that lot you wanna go write a tune;

Also just found some wicked videos from the folk at Pleix, check these out!

Finding LOADS of great stuff courtesy of

Little Moments of Clarity & Genius

Indexed: A Blog in which little graphs and charts are made on the curious relationships between sometimes seemingly random elements.

Another Specialten promoted gem. One of the vids is based on the blog. Have a look;

In fact while we're on the subject of Specialten check out the site here: Fullscreen viewings of the finest audio-visual treats you can imagine.

Saturday, 1 December 2007

Are you me too?

Years ago I did a fellowship at UCE as an entrepreneur and attempted to develop a business around my Phlumx software. As part of this I had a professional and expensive psychometric analysis done on me. This was basically a huge set of questions I had to answer on how I'd react in different scenarios, and from this was produced a document which stated what my strengths and weaknesses were and how I should be aware of these in order for my business to work.

The guy who analysed the results met me afterwards to discuss things. His main reason was to assess whether I had lied
wildly throughout the test or whether I was actually quite an unusual personality. I am proud to say that he found out it was the latter.

Despite my unusual profile, he was then able to reel off a prediction of how I behave, with alarming accuracy. He didn't know I was teaching, but when I told him, he was able to guess how I taught, how students reacted to me and what was good and bad about the work they produced in my lessons. Reading this back, I suppose the fact that I'd answered a whole series of questions was probably a big help to him (doh!), but at the time it did make me wonder 'Does everyone fit a basic profile? Are people really so predictable?'.

Actually, for some reason this reminds me of Derren Brown when he found a group of people in 3 countries and gave each of them a piece of paper with a description of their personality on. Each person was amazed how accurate he was, then he revealed that eveyones description was exactly the same in each group and in each country - they couldn't believe it.

Thursday, 29 November 2007

Recent Drawings

Sometimes I draw on printer paper, mostly in biro late at night listening to music. Usually I'll blast through a good wodge of drawings per sitting.

In my 2nd year at Uni I plastered all three walls I had with scribbled on A4. Coincidental I just added my old UCE tutor on Facebook and she's the only person ever to own bought artwork by me. She bought one of those drawings. I've never made much you could own (being into performance, video & multimedia art), but I kinda promised myself I'd get my drawing out more, as aside from my music, they are the most primary creative output I have these days.

I'm on the lookout for exhibiting op's if there's any out there..?
I will not be charging for beers.

copyright © Ben Neal 2007

Tuesday, 27 November 2007

Nine Inch Nails - Remix Site

Just seen this which is pretty god exciting;

- Download multitrack audio files for NIN songs and create your own remixes
- Create a profile and post your mixes for the world to hear
- Listen to, rate, and discuss thousands of other fan-made and official remixes
- Find remixes based on your specific tastes
- Create custom playlists and share them with other fans
- Download full quality MP3s of every song on the site
- Subscribe to any playlist as a podcast, and get automatic MP3 updates you can sync to your iPod

Oh, and it's all free. Enjoy!

A few musical gems from my YouTube favourites

Apparently this is what Bjork's got on her new tour, but just have a look at this amazing bit of kit - The Reactable - is a synth, which is a table, onto which you place objects and move them around in relation to each other to create your sounds. WILD!

Here's Bjork kicking off using the thing (but not actually playing it sadly);

On the subject of music videos here's a few odds n sods I love;

Black Dice - 'Smiling Off', THE most bizarre music video I have ever seen and so truly fitting to their sound you can only commend the genius behind it.

Dillinger Escape Plan - If you don't already worship them, this is your reason too right here. These guys are worrying...

This is them at Virgin Mega Store a few years ago, doing a little bit of crowd pleasing;

This is brilliant: Music made from the objects in one room!;

Gogol Bordello - I'm on my way to see you soon..!

Monday, 26 November 2007

Pay for my drink?! At an Art show..?!!

More on Halloween at Eastside here

Yep, that's what I thought when I went to Ikon Eastside's Halloween event . 'What a disgrace! You never pay for drinks at art do's! That's why people turn up!'. And then a close friend reminded me of a conversation we'd had where we'd discussed how you pay to get into a music event and then quite happily pay for over priced drinks because you at a concert, but expect free entry & booze at art venues, and how this must be detrimental to the art world at grass roots where people are struggling to make and show work. I'd better buy 2 drinks then. thought I. And did.

But the point is; OK, so artist's are always skint and free entry & free drinks do make people turn up.. but at the expense of the people putting on the show? Now maybe this isn't so much a concern for Ikon, but I'd like to see places like Colony and the Springhill Institute with more cash for their next show. After all money is your lifeblood whatever you do. And if you can't really afford it, then maybe there wont be a next time. And if you make some money, even on reduced price drinks &/or entry then the next show should be better right? Dunno how this floats with funders and licensing laws, but it's a thought.

You can find me at the Ikon Gallery Private View tomorrow night drinking free beer.

Random Fact; It was I who made those jittery animations of the flyer as a backdrop for the musicians!

In a Moodle (Moodle Sucks!)

I've been venturing into the world of Moodle which is supposed to be a Virtual Learning Environment for use at academic institutions such as Colleges, Universities etc. I've discovered that 'Virtual Learning Environment' is a very grand name for a pretty poorly designed website.

I can however definitely see the benefits of using it. The idea is that students can upload and download files, and interact online, while the system can also be time-responsive; so things are active at certain dates and activities logged (like submitting assignments / completing tasks etc.). These are all great, but Moodle has one huge problem - it's appalling design & functionality.

For some reason the most basic tasks, like uploading a document, are painful and over complex. It should be a case of clicking one button and selecting the document you want, but no; you are bombarded with additional, non-essential information and even worse, you can only upload one file at a time. (I am told that you can upload many files if you zip them and unzip them on Moodle, but why cant you just select a folder or collection of files? OK so, I can create an interactive test, but why cant I just do basic things quickly?)

This is one among a whole range of poorly thought-out functionality/usability/design issues that Moodle offers and these are, in my opinion, why everyone in the College is talking about Moodle, but no one is actually using it. As this thing was built entirely by teaching staff, it makes you wonder what they taught.

I'm assured that there's an update in the pipeline, but this won't be implemented at the College until next year, which is a pain as I'm supposed to deliver an amazing lesson using it this year. Blaahg...

What I been reading...

The last great novel I read was definitely Haruki Murakami's 'The Wind-up Bird Chronicle' which was pretty incredible. Very surreal and dark. Really deep and visual like Lynch. I was totally gripped. Read it now! His other novels ain't as good though. I read about another 3 which were not a patch on it.

Ive just finished 'Neuromancer' by William Gibson; the book which kinda invented 'the matrix'. It was good and very escapist, but bloody hard work. Every sentence is laboured and you've got to keep a clear head and keep up with every last hint to hang on to the story. There was definitely a few parts where i thought I'd completely lost what was going on, even after retracing what I'd drunkenly read the night before, was still a bit miffed as to what the hell he was going on about. Still, it was pretty different and rich. Very cyberpunk.

The last big impact on me was definitely 'The Art of Travel' by Alain de Botton, who is a rather bald and sad looking philosopher/art critic mostly, but his book really changed the way I looked at life. The premise is that when your away on holiday / travelling etc. your are in a different mindset and so are more receptive to the world - thus making your experience more lucid and exotic. There's a book called 'A journey around my room' which basically works from this idea and Xavier De Maistre explores his bedroom with the fascination he may have had for a far away land. It's been recommended to me by a friend. Fact is, since I've started applying this odd travelling mindset to everyday life - everything has become much more enriching. I'm now planning to travel the world next year. Think on...

Sunday, 25 November 2007

What I been doing...

Did 'Sewn to the Sky' (a guitar controlled Owl shoot-em up) with the lads from Juneau Projects & uITgs from Jazz Thrash Assassin again, this time at Loughborough University. Musically it went better than Bath Guitar festival and we even had a JTA fan turn up & a drink in the bar after... which was nice.

Going to Hott Date when I can - this night is stunning Soundclash stuff from some great Djs in Birmingham, who despite not being able to mix certainly know how to throw a hoooge party & play some amazing tunes. Definately recommended lets-get-trashed Sunday fun at The Rainbow in Digbeth.

Colony Gallery
(Jewellery quarter) have some interesting stuff going on & Ikon Gallery seems to have improved the last year or so, after been decidedly luke-warm for a few years. Private view tuesday I'm looking forward to.

What I been watching...

Lots of Current TV. Channel is great lotsa art, interesting travel & news stuff. All short & relevant. Everything from Bull Scrote festivals to War journalism. On me Virgin Media cable doncha know...

Twin Peaks Series 2 is out now on DVD - I only waited 6 years for the thing to be released on PAL. You have to buy it from the Netherlands though. Its released in the US if you got a multi-region player. Otherwise still a wait in the UK for the complete collection.

Got Inland Empire on DVD too. 3 hours of confusion to delve into once again. It was only aired in Wolverhampton for a night when I saw it on cinema. Hard work, but genius. It's like an exercise in breaking all the rules of film-making.

On the subject of weird films, check out the Matthew Barney / Bjork epic - Drawing Restraint 9. Saw it at Electric Cinema in Brum and it really is stunning. There's a scene at the end where they slice each others legs to pieces in a bath. Hard work again but totally unlike any film your gonna get from Hollywoods endless tripe.

Here's an oldy I re-watched too; The Holy Mountain by
Alexander Jodorowsky. Really stunning & very visual - every shot laboured over and looks beautiful. Bizarre story, that completely lost me perhaps even more than Lynch! At least I feel at home deconstructing his films.

What I been listening to...

Got my CD today by Meet Me in St.Louis. Took best part of a month to turn up from Big Scary Monsters though, plus the vocalist has just left! Agg.. These guys are pretty mega, I'm loving 'Why thankyou Suzie' and 'The Torso Has Been Severed In Mid Thorax'. A friend said they sound pretty Emo, but they're better than that. You gotta know the lyrics, but the music is stunning anyways. Drummers great. Dont like the way the first track merges with the second though...

Another wicked band I've seen of late is Rolo Tomassi - young girl screamer - amazing live. I think the drummer was a builder and the synth player a manga bear when we saw em. Just check em out! Gonna go check em again in Wolverhampton in December.

Also: From the recent Specialten DVD - Bonde de Role. Brazilian electro stuff. Cheeky female singer. Great video.

In fact go buy Specialten now it's a real bargain; £5 and you get loadsa great music vids, shorts and animations. Guaranteed to introduce you to great things everytime. Buy it at Ikon Gallery, Birmingham.

Apart from that I'm addicted to Joanna Newsom who is the best thing I descovered in many years, also on the back of that addiction; renewed interest in Tori Amos and Bjork.

That lot aside, I'm really getting off on Calyx (Dark DnB) and loadsa freaky breakcore (Wrong Music) - loving Jungle breaks that sound like they been dropped down the stairs!! Yess-eye!

Might try and use this blog as a way of testing my typing skills... Excuse the spelling errors!