VSX, A shadowy flight into the dangerous world of a man who does not exist: Starbuck Powersurge - a young loner on a crusade to champion the cause of Viper Squad Ten, a long-disbanded group of stranded timetravelling troubadours, formed to help finance repairs to their time-machine. Now very much stuck in C21...
All text is copyright the Viper Squad Ten blog team 2003-2006 unless otherwise quoted or credited. If we've not credited you properly, please let me know. Throw us a link if you're desperate enough to use this guff...
UKIP party election broadcast
 I was unfortunate to witness a UK Independence Party election broadcast last night ahead of the local elections. I doubt any of you sat through it.
The non-Kilroy-Silk who presented it urged voters to "cast a protest vote for any of the smaller parties" rather than the 3 main organisations. It didn't have to be UKIP.
I shuddered. Fascist scum like the British National Party tend to attract protest voters disillusioned with politicians, and however bad UKIP are the BNP are ten times worse.
And with recent surveys revealing that an uncomfortable proportion of the population would consider voting BNP, this is something that needs to be addressed.
Let's face it, with the "I'm not racist but" attitude of those wanting to "protect our country from the flood of immigrants" who are "swamping into our country" and "stealing all our jobs / benefits / traditions" this nation full of nationalists isn't a very pretty one.
Why are we so ready to be "informed" by the ultra-cynical and ultra-negative popular tabloids on race and immigration (and especially the poisonous "black top" Dailies, the Mail and Express, perhaps better descibed as the "black shirt" Dailies)? Do they just reflect the ugly side of our country's nationalism, or do they magnify it?
I didn't think I would be upgrading to a Pro account - 20Mb upload per month seemed more than enough for me, especially when Uploadr has done its compressive magic on the files.
Swept away in the initial enthusiasm, I'd decided I might upload whole swathes of archived photographs (being a paid-up member of the quantity-over-quality brigade). Artistic merit could wait.
Little did I realise that I'd need a Pro account to enable more than three "Sets" of collections. Of course there's no technical reason behind this restriction - it's purely a money-making condition. But I'll forgive the good folks at Flickr, 'cos its still rather wonderful!
Incidentally, having plumped up the dosh (via PayPal), I promptly got a spookily-coincidental PayPal phishing scam email. Message to the spammer - please try harder... (from the "PayPal Management Stuff" indeed...)
Dear PayPal member,
Due to last days hack attacks to our database we decided to review our customers account information to prevent security problems . If you could take 3-5 minutes out of your online experience to verify your account status , you will not run into any further problems .
Update your PayPal Account : Click Here
Thank You , PayPal Management Stuff
Please do not reply to this confirmation email , as this message was sent to all PayPal members .
Stoneface dog, swirling fog, gates open on the dark dark night Standing stone, skull and bone, dead witness to an unseen fight Beat the drum, beat the drum, beat forever on the endless march Stricken dumb, cut and run, someone is screaming and the sky is dark
Sword and shield, bone and steel, rictus grin Deaf forever to the battles din
March or croak, flame and smoke, burn forever in eternal pain Charge and fall, bugle call, bone splinter in the driving rain Horses scream, Viking dream, drowning heroes in a lake of blood Armoured fist, severed wrist, broken spears in a sea of mud
Sword and shield, bone and steel, rictus grin Deaf forever to the battles din
Mother earth, mother earth enfolds you in her cold embrace Sinking down, killing ground, worm crawling on your cold white face Win or lose, nought to choose, all men are equal when their memory fades No one knows, friends or foes, if Valhalla lies beyond the grave
# Hush your mouth, this sound is when I spit it out #
I could've gone to watch the Flaming Lips with the Go! Team in support tonight.
I could've gone to see The Proposition.
But no, I sat here and played Spit the Dog's Candles over at Carolgees' website. I dare you to tackle the tedium.
Dare. Double dare. Physical challenge. Etc. Whilst I'm wasting mine and your time, check out Double Dare star Peter Simon's ?inadvertently? hilarious Wikipedia entry. I know its cruel, but that face of despair says it all...
 The eagle-eyed amongst you (hello there Doppleganger & 3d & Astolath!) will have noticed that flickering box flashing away (unless your browser is set to block flash code) over in the sidebar.
The Streets - The Hardest Way To Make An Easy Living This album is a warning to all over the effects of cocaine. It gets off to a storming start with Pranging Out, but from then it's shallow, wasted, lazy. A massive disappointment. Though perhaps its all some KLF-style post-ironic statement on drug misuse.
Bloc Party - Silent Alarm. Middling and underwhelming, these were my immediate thoughts on this album. But then, I was listening to a loop of the album whilst suffering a hangover last weekend, slipping in and out of consciousness. Listening again with a clearer head this morning I thought: Yes, this is that fresh, urgent, dare I say it "sophisticated" guitar album that had created such a buzz last year. Good sound design, too.
The Go! Team - Thunder, Lightning, Strike Fantastic, and fun, fun fun! Here's some words nicked from the Amazon review: "A belligerent brew of guitars, drums, old-school hip-hop, rock, harmonicas, banjos, flutes, rhymes and cheerleader-chants that illustrates the band?s famous anything-goes attitude. On record The Go! Team are the Uncle Bulgaria?s of pop music, making good use of things everyday folk leave behind. Throwing together electro, 70?s cop show theme music, Bollywood soundtracks, cheerleading chants, old hip hop and noise guitar bands with a wide-eyed sense of possibility where everything crashes into everything else with a breathless, delighted, abandon. The Go! Team seem to be suffering from a collective brain-wrong that is gloriously, euphorically right." There, that wasn't so hard...
Oh, what cruelty is this - the sweet smell of nostalgia, laced with the bitter taste of sadness, as I relive those latent childhood emotions... recalling the loss I would feel as the surrogate parent of the day - Chocablock (Fred Harris) or Chocagirl (Carol Leader) - drove out of the studio in their yellow cart at the show's end, leave the rhino-sized computer (Chockablock) to slowly shut down.
Stu here, checking in. My evening postings always coincide with itunes updating, so this one is INCREDIBLY ironical. (I know "ironical" is incorrect)
I took my ipod away for the weekend, to see my mother in law, as she needs to see regular enlargement of my lovely wife's tummy (there - I have sneakily snuck in that we are pregnant without making a huge song and St Vitus dance about it).
ANYWAY so my ipod screwed up. I was getting the unhappy face icon and the folder/exclamation mark icon. The hard drive kept speeding up, dying, clicking, speeding up, dying, clicking etc. I worked out last night via the interweb that this meant "your hard drive is buggered".
SO I went to the Apple store on Regents Street. I felt old because I did not understand the queuing system and it made me angry. For the uninitiated they have a "Genius Bar". This means to the layman a counter where nice people either (a) stand around chatting or occasionally (b) help people with their techy problems. I had to queue for 20 minutes to see someone to make an appointment for the afternoon. Oh joy. (PS if anyone at Apple was bothered - which indeed they may not be - see later - they might consider what kind of advert an enormous queue of people, constantly, for so long as the shop is open, around the place where they try to get their Apple equipment fixed, is)
SO I traipse back at 4. See a nice bloke. I explain the problem. He tells me the hard drive is buggered (I know this) and that I am out of warranty (I know this). He gives me 3 "options":
1.Get it repaired by a non Apple person. A cursory look on the internet tells me this costs around £150. 2. Get Apple to replace my ipod (the now redundant 40g black and white fella) for £160. 3. Hand in my old one and pay either £219 for a 30g colour one or £300 for a 60g colour one.
OOH I think, well sir, I ask, how much are those at option 3 usually? he gives me a funny look and says £219 or £300...
I see. So, what about Apple repairing them? No sir that takes too long so we don't do that.
RIGHT then - I now have the measure of you and the longevity of your products. What a "choice" that is - get a probably 2nd hand replacement of an obsolete model or pay an extra hundred for the new one...
ANYWAY the upshot is that I did some searching on the web and this one bloke suggested, and I kid you not, that when the hard drive does the initial whirring as it starts, you WHACK it hard and that sorts it out. I tried that and hey presto all back to rights.
My allocated "Genius" missed a trick.
On another happy note I have recently been given a PSP and it's BRILLIANT.
Cute doggie video
Let's face it everybody likes dogs. Except a lot of cats, and my wife for that matter.
However, even my wife takes exception (as opposed to an exception) to the following hound, belonging to Mama and Papa Powersurge. Aww, isn't he sweet? Look at his iddle nose! Listen to him squelch that apple!!
Dog eating apple
Dog refusing to chase owner
The Powersurge Pup is getting a bit long in the tooth, gord bless him, but he still acts like a big happy puppy - I've never met a soppier sod.
Princess Valium, on a stallion
 Princess Valium (co-founder of the original Viper Squad X band) popped in for a cuppa this morning.
I only mention it in passing, as she mentioned that she sometimes looks at this page, and was a tad amused/distraught when I brought up a few photos from the days when she looked quite quite different. Being a transformed lady it's not the sort of thing that she would want wildly circulated, however without publishing this picture I wouldn't have any editorial justification to print the following message:
Hypereality TV heroes John and Ann Armstong, stars of BBC's The Armstrongs and the people behind U-Fit (the local force in upvc conservatories windows and doors) and Usignia (signs and that), have now finished their glorious docusoap run. (It feels like Bill Nighy should be reciting this post)
Like many people I had spent the first few episodes of The Armstrongs convinced that I was watching an improvisational comedy or a subtly-scripted drama-documentary, possibly so subtle in its execution to actually be a hoax. Perhaps the key characters such as John, Ann, Basil Meanie, Michael Handel et al were actors and those around them were real people reacting as best they could.
I'd even thought about staking out their Coventry factory for photographic evidence of the existence of the Cast (not having heard of webby search tractors until a few days ago it hadn't crossed my mind doing some desktop research on this ...)
Of course the extraordinary truth slowly dawned - these people are real! Possibly exaggerated, with scenes set up or recreated in places, and true 21st Century media manipulators, but real all the same.
And I'll miss them!
Or so I thought, before discovering their personal blog! Fantastic stuff - all of the twisting streams of thought and blunt rants that you'd expect from the Armstrongs... probably the best blog in the world, in fact. So this is what he was doing on the telly in all those shots where he's sitting on his computer at the back of the office!
Random quote from Gollum-lookalike John:
"Human kind cannot stand very much reality" TS Eliot
A very strange thing happened yesterday.
I was shopping in a store where they have one wall covered in televisions...there was about 50 of them all showing the same channel. All of a sudden 50 of ME appeared as a trailer came on for the programme.
It was a strange feeling...but I found the fishfingers and that's all that matters.
It needs some work - the second part of the punchline, and its back story, could do with a bit of improvement!
What Stu is alluding to is my wonderful Chris Rea joke, previously mentioned on these pages only in passing - 30 minutes of fun about Chris Rea and Mark Knopfler culminating with the punchline... no, wait, I won't ruin it for you. Another time perhaps.
Anyway, back to the Meatloaf joke, courtesy of Playlouder - definitely the best and only Meatloaf joke I've heard, and I reckon it deserves a reprint:
Meatloaf was wandering down the street minding his own business when he bumped into Arthur Lee from 60s psychadelia-lovin musos Love. Arthur was in a terrible state. "Meatloaf, you've got to help me!""Whatever is the matter Arthur?" said the 'Loaf.
"It's this karaoke competition. I was meant to sing a song with Brian Wilson but he's chickened out on me and I'm too nervous to do it on my own. Please help me out!" Meatloaf was reluctant at first, as Arthur Lee was a bit of a mentalist. But as he was a mate he decided to help him out. "OK Arthur, I'll sing with you because you're my friend. What's the song?"
"Brilliant!" said Arthur. "The song is 'Stand By Me', an old favourite of mine. It'll be great. Thanks ever so much Meatloaf!"
So Meatloaf and Arthur got up on stage and sung their hearts out to the soul classic to rapturous cheers and applause. Meatloaf stayed to watch some of the other acts. As he was watching Justin Timberlake wail along to Radiohead's 'Creep', Meatloaf felt a tap on his shoulder.
It was Robbie Williams!
"Hi Mr Meatloaf, you were so good up there with Arthur Lee. Will you sing with me as well? I know you could bolster my chances of winning!" Meatloaf wasn't sure. Robbie tried to persuade him. "There's no rule that says you can't sing more than one song. Please Mr Loaf!"
"Well I dunno Robbie - maybe... What's the song?"
"It's Matt from Busted's new solo single that I can't remember the name of right now! I'm sure it's going to be a ginormous hit and all the kids will love it. We'll win for sure!"
"No way!" said Meatloaf suddenly.
"Why ever not?" inquired Robbie.
Meatloaf replied, "I would do Ben E King for Love, but I won't do Matt."
Doing the Superman (Agadon't)
Is it just me, or does anyone else put their hand out above their heads like an in-flight Superman whilst they are climbing a flight of stairs?
Mind you, its a bit embarrassing in the workplace...
OCD and CBT
Great news that David Beckham has revealed he's suffering from obsessive compulsive disorder. Not great news for himself; it can be a horribly debilitating thing which can stain one's every waking existence. However great news for sufferers. Hopefully it should help more of the public to understand what clinical OCD is. And hopefully it should influence the simplistic press in this country who continue to describe it as some sort of "cleaning disease". That's like saying that all artists are "like Rolf Harris", or all musicians are "like the Beatles". Or all people are like me.
I remember one brave women interviewed on BBC Breakfast by a very-simplistic Natasha Kaplinsky, who described how the shame of one fleeting momentary thought about her strangling her much-loved children had grown into a terrible persistent preoccupation. She'd just have to see her dressing gown, and the unwanted irrational thought of it wrapped around her throat forced itself into her distraught mind.
She found help. Cognitive Behavioural Therapy works. It might take certain antidepressants to help the brain rewire itself - after all, when you're fighting against irrational thoughts its only natural a lot of anxiety and depression can build up. However its the CBT that allows you to help yourself.
In the same way as you can learn to swim or learn to ride a bike, you can learn to think rationally. It just takes time to unlearn your obsessive compulsions, in the same way as it takes time to unlearn your inability to swim or to unlearn your inability to ride a bike.
And maybe a lot of you are suffering, albeit more mildly than some. I recommend anyone who's ever "touched wood", counted magpies, worn their lucky underwear before a football game, or in any way tried to control their lives (religion, astrology etc) or sought to recognise patterns within life (Noel Edmonds and the Cosmic Ordering Service take a bow), pretty much anyone that is, should read David Newnham's Guardian article from last year "Little Things That We Do".
"A funny sense of humour"
Saturday morning I was sitting in the backseat of my parents car as it boarded the Eurotunnel train. The car drew to a halt with the front passenger-side window alongside a toilet door.
A single passenger managed to use the toilet early in the journey, muttering as he left something about them not working very well. For most of the remainder of the journey a steady stream of bladderly-stressed passengers wandered up to the door but failed to gain access as it seemed to be locked or jammed, and my mum, sitting in the passenger seat next to the door, explained to every one that it didn't appear to be working. Then we noticed a indistinct "no entry" sign dimly flashing above the door, and figured it must lock automatically when the toilets become out-of-order for whatever reason.
Quick as a flash I wrote "TOILETS OUT OF ORDER" on a scrap of paper, and stuck it to the toilet door using a "3 for 2" Waterstones sticker that I'd peeled off a packet of Top Trumps, successfully putting off the next two potential toilet-users.
Towards the end of the journey we noticed that the sign had stopped flashing, and when we tried the door it opened without problem. I removed the sign that I'd helpfully put on the door.
Someone soon wandered up to use the toilets, and my mum, seemingly feeling obliged to continue to talk to everyone who approached the door, informed them: "My son's got a funny sort of sense of humour, and he put that 'out of order' sign on the door himself!"
Thus making them think I was some hopeless April Fool's practical joker, as opposed to a well-meaning and conscientious member of the Chunnel community...
FUNNY SORT OF SENSE OF HUMOUR?! Because it was stuck on with a sticker from a bookshop? Grrrr...
Still, it made me think, WHY NOT go around sticking "out of order" signs on toilet doors. Heh heh. Ho.