I hear the sirens calling
As the rain is gently falling

Circle lines

londontubemapbymaxwellrobertsIf you want to know what’s going on beneath the streets of London, Dr Maxwell Roberts is your man. He is the author of Underground Maps Unravelled, a book about the history, science and design aesthetics of subterranean cartography, with a particular focus on the London Underground map. Apart from the additions at its edges, the official London tube map hasn’t changed much since it was originally designed by Harry Beck in 1931, but Max Roberts has refashioned it several times in recent years. One of his maps reflected the true distances between the stations and another was in the style of Charles Rennie Mackintosh. His latest reworking is this groovy circular version. Click the image to see it in its full glory. It’s a beautiful thing, baby.

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Here comes sickness

Look, I know we’re still in January, but I don’t think I’m going to see or hear anything better than this in 2013. I mean, this is seriously good. Seriously. Fucking. Good.

The band are Manflu and the track is “Wizard”. They’re based in London, but the five members of Manflu are from five different countries – Kazakhstan, Japan, France, the US and the UK. They share a liking for Can, they’ve played with Lydia Lunch, and another of their songs is called “James Chance”. They’ve also got one about about porno queen Sasha Grey. They’re not a totally new band (they’ve been around since 2009 and “Wizard” first appeared as the lead cut on their second EP, which they released in 2011), but this video is straight out of the box. Directed by Diana Horrorshow, it was uploaded to YouTube a few days ago and has been viewed by just a couple of thousand people so far. Be the first on your block and all that.


Let there be house

fingersincNow I know you are all regular listeners to my monthly radio show on Frome FM. You can hear it online, so there really is no excuse for you not tuning in, even if you live on the other side of Somerset. Or the world, come to that. Anyway, if you’re not always able to listen in, you’ll be glad to learn that Frome FM have recently added an archive area to their site and you can find my latest broadcast there. This show features the old skool house pioneers, with tracks by the likes of Fingers Inc (pictured above), Marshall Jefferson, Frankie Knuckles, Nitro Deluxe, Sterling Void, Todd Terry and Farley “Jackmaster” Funk. Flick on your jacking switch and hear it here.


Jesus saves Paul McCartney with a glove puppet

katabillupsjesusmccartney1katabillupsjesusmccartney2This has to be one of the oddest music-related items to ever appear on eBay. It’s a painting called (and the title is just so perfect) Jesus Broke Out The Lamb Chop Puppet And Hired An Angel To Try And Cheer Up A Clinically Depressed Paul McCartney by US artist Kata Billups. Kata seems to have a bit of a thing about painting Jesus with The Beatles (and also various combinations of Jesus, Elvis Presley, Mick Jagger and pin-up queen Bettie Page) and her work is apparently owned by the likes of Julia Roberts, Sting, Tim Burton and Willie Nelson, as well as all four former members of REM.

Jesus Broke Out The Lamb Chop Puppet has been on eBay for around three years – that might be something to do with its Buy It Now price tag of $177,000 (roughly £110,000) – so you may have already seen it. If you haven’t, click here for the full listing and read Kata’s comments about the symbolism in the painting and her explanation of the cause of Paul McCartney’s suffering. There’s a clue in the fact that he has taken a red marker pen to the three pictures of Yoko Ono on the walls of his room, putting a big cross on one and drawing devil’s horns on the other two.

Kata doesn’t say much about Lamb Chop in her listing, which is a pity. But seeing the painting did make me Google Lamb Chop and I’m very pleased to report that, although the glove puppet’s creator Shari Lewis sadly died in 1998, her daughter Mallory Lewis continues to perform with the puppet to this day. Mallory and Lamb Chop’s website is here.


Nineteen Eighty-Four, Twenty Thirteen style

georgeorwell2013

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A little over a year ago, I wrote about the Art Of Penguin Science Fiction website and posted some of my favourite Penguin sci-fi book covers, including the 1962 edition of George Orwell’s Nineteen Eighty-Four (see here). I’ve always been a fan of the traditional Penguin three-stripes design, so I love the look of the spanking new edition of Nineteen Eighty-Four, for which graphics guru David Pearson has taken the original 1949 cover of the book, embossed the title and Orwell’s name, and then censored them with black blocks of ink. It’s very, well, Orwellian. It’s very striking too.

This latest edition of Nineteen Eighty-Four is part of Penguin’s “Great Orwell” series. You can read more about David Pearson’s designs for this and the other books in the series – Animal Farm, Homage To Catalonia, Down And Out In Paris And London, and Politics And The English Language – at the Creative Review blog.


Radio head

radiohatI love Retro Vintage Modern Hi-Fi – “Usually retro, sometimes vintage, sometimes modern, but always hi-fi” – a place for audiophiles, retro futurists, and fans of hi-fi pin-up girls. I’m in on all three counts. Now in its fourth year, this is a blog about valve amplifiers that look like they belong in a mad scientist’s laboratory, speakers far too big for most people’s living rooms, reel-to-reels straight out of a 1960s spy movie, painstakingly oiled and polished walnut and teak cabinets, and audio oddities galore. I particularly like the Two-Tube Radio Hat, which is pictured here on the cover of the June 1949 edition of Radio Electronics. “Totally mobile, no extra aerial needed, covers the entire broadcast band within a 20-mile radius,” trumpets an advert for the hat inside the magazine. “Acclaimed from coast to coast,” it adds. Yes, I don’t doubt it for a moment.


More grail hunting at Christmas

ratscabiesxmascard2012The lovely Stu Warwick has once again produced a terrific Christmas card for the Rat Scabies And The Holy Grail team. This year’s card, which we have sent to selected members of the Priory of Sion and a handful of our favourite Knights Templars, is a lovingly crafted black-and-white number featuring Rat Scabies, Richard Bellia and yours truly in a scene that’s a cross between “Indiana Jones And The Raiders Of The Lost Ark” and “Mighty Melons III” (a superior movie to both “Mighty Melons I” and “Mighty Melons II”, as I am sure you’ll all agree). And if you’re of a mind, you can see Stu’s card from last year here.

Right, I’d better get on. I have important grail business to attend to. I’ve also got a turkey to stuff. Merry Christmas everybody. Not too much fizzy pop now, you hear me?