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A Conference In Germany (in my flat)
I had a couple of days off work at the end of last week to go to a conference in Germany. Now, obviously, in The Current Situation, when I say I went to a conference in Germany what I mean is that the CONFERENCE was in Germany, but I myself was sat with a laptop in my flat. It was a shame not to go to Actual Germany, especially as it was in Tuebingen where I had such a great time back in 2018, but at least I avoided the enormous travel delays I had then - no amount of wind or snow was going to stop me moving between my desk and the kettle!

The main theme of the conference was AGENCY which, as everyone (who has spent three days listening to other people talk about it and has looked it up 17 times before they actually remember) knows, is the ability to effect CHANGE. For instance, talks on Fan Agency were about the power that comics fans have to make comics publishers change things like storylines or the series they produce. There was a LOT of interesting stuff in there, and I especially enjoyed a KEYNOTE by Henry Jenkins about... well, STUFF. He was talking about STUFF being the objects we choose to have around us, and how this works with comics, both in terms of collecting and the comics we hold onto or display, and WITHIN comics themselves, where objects are placed in the panel to illustrate something about the characters.

My own presentation was on the Saturday morning, and was about neither STUFF nor Agency. It was, as ever, about DOCTOR DOOM, and came as part of an "Open Forum" where people talked about their research in general. I did a SOMEWHAT DENSE twenty minutes about my PhD research so far, including SAMPLING and the SURVEY what I did, and even some of the early results. I was a bit nervous beforehand as the meeting was full of MEGA-BRAINS who really KNOW about this sort of thing, but it all went really well - there were LOADS of comments in the chat, lots of questions at the end, and I even managed to ANSWER most of them. I was particularly proud of myself because when I DIDN'T know the answer I managed to say sensible things like "I don't know" or "That is a good point" rather than floundering around making stuff up. As we know from The Current Situation and Our Useless Government, it is very easy to do this the wrong way round!

I came out of the whole experience full of RELIEF, and though I did miss the bit afterwards where you wander round the coffee area hoping somebody will say "That was really interesting", I was extremely glad that I didn't have to have a bus ride, a two hour wait in an airport, a plane journey, another wait by a conveyor belt and then a lengthy tube journey before I could get to our fridge at home and open a beer afterwards!

posted 14/10/2020 by MJ Hibbett
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Avuncular Bleeding
Away from the promotional whirligig of the new single promotion I have managed to actually get out and about a bit over the past week or so, including a recent trip to BLOOMSBURY.

Bloomsbury is one of my favourite bits of That London - I worked round there for YEARS and love how HANDY it is for everything, and how friendly the whole area feels. I work around Kings Cross now which is super handy for my commute but not really for anything else, and also does not have a lot of STUFF in it. THUS it was lovely to stroll through my old HOOD and wander past the PUBS and SHOPS and NATIONAL MUSEUMS and so forth that make it such a fun place to lurk around in.

This time I was there for none of the above. Instead I was there to GIVE of myself, in a quite literal sense, at a BLOOD DONATION session. I haven't done this for AGES - before Lockdown I was going for weekly ACUPUNCTURE appointments which a) were v interesting and useful but b) meant I couldn't give blood for at least six months after it'd finished. This latter was disappointing as I LIKE giving blood - I have been doing it for ACTUAL DECADES and you always come out feeling as if you have done A Good Thing, and also there are FREE BISCUITS.

The only DRAG about it is that the nearest donor centre to me is a RIGHT old hike away, so I was DELIGHTED to discover that they had a new "pop-up" clinic in the Bloomsbury Hotel, right in the middle of the aforementioned Bloomsbury. I thus rolled up after work last week to find I'd arrived on only their second day of opening. It was very different from the permanent centre I usually go to, but also made me nostalgic for the sort of place I used to go to approx 1,000,000 years ago back in Leicester when I first started. The pop-up was in the basement of the hotel, in I guess their HALL venue as it looked very much like a school or church hall, except with MIRRORS on one of the walls. There were plastic chairs (spaced apart appropriately) and medical screens to create consultancy areas, and a general air of people MAKING DO and getting used to things.

There were also not many DONORS about, which meant that I'd only got halfway through my FREE ORANGE SQUASH when I got called and taken through to have my THUMB PRICKED to test (I think) my iron levels. Usually this is all fine, but this time the chap doing it wasn't sure, so did a SECOND test just to be certain. As we went through the processes there were quite a few points where he re-checked, and I soon learnt that this was because he was NEW to the job. It turned out that he was a former member of AIR CREW (what crusty old grandads would call an "Air Hostess/Host" but I definitely don't) who had RETRAINED to help the NHS. I found this VERY EXCITING as I'd seen it on the NEWS and he was very happy to tell me all about it, which was lovely. He pointed at all of his former colleagues around the room - "Virgin, BA, Virgin..." - and looking round I thought "OH YEAH!" for LO! once you knew they totally LOOKED like Air Crew, in that they had a POISE and PATIENCE that was different yet COMPLIMENTARY to the BUSINESSLIKE GOOD HUMOUR that the NHS staff tend to have. The different groups seemed to have mixed together in a DELIGHTFUL way, and I didn't even mind that he kept saying things like "I've only been training for three weeks" and "I hope I do this right" whilst wielding a ruddy great needle in my general direction.

It all went FINE, and I was very happy to be back at it, although I did note that a recent tendency of mine had become more striking since I last mixed with other people i.e. the whole experience made me become TERRIFYINGLY AVUNCULAR. I am by nature a very SHY person in my non-International Rock Star life - in my teens and twenties I had no idea whatsoever how to interact with other people, but as I've settled into my late, later, and EVEN LATER thirties (hem hem) I have gradually turned into one of those OLD BOYS you get who will make CHEEKY REMARKS and generally be a delight to all and sundry. For instance, when another member of former air crew said "It's very strange to be here doing this - usually I'd be serving you a Gin'n'Tonic" I could not STOP myself from syaing "Well don't let me stop you!!!" EXACTLY like one of those dreadful grown-ups I remember from childhood who were never more than five seconds from asking you if you'd got a girlfriend. I never understood why they kept making JOKES all the time or GRINNING at me, but now I know it is because it is FUN!

It was all SO delightful that when I finally left the building I had to have a good old chuckle to myself and calm down by going to The Posh Whisky Shop around the corner, where GIGGLING is not allowed and the closest you get to social interaction is a barely perceptible NOD when you get something they approve of. It was lovely to be back there too!

posted 13/10/2020 by MJ Hibbett
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We've Got A New Video For Launch Day!
Today is DIGITAL LAUNCH day for I Don't Have To Worry About That (yes I know this is approx the 17th launch day we've had, but this is the LAST one, honest!) which means you can now get it on Apple Music, Spotify, Amazon and pretty much ANYWHERE that does streaming music, as well as on Bandcamp or directly from us as a BADGE.

It also means that today is the day that we UNLEASH our Promotional Video Clip, which is the rather delightful epic you see before you HERE:

This was made by asking people on our mailing list to send us clips of themselves writing out lines of lyrics from the song, and then me sticking it all together to create the rather JOYOUS item you see above. As ever with these things, any help anybody can give by retweetng, sharing, or mentioning to people at the bus stop (from a safe distance) would be hugely appreciated, but mostly I just hope you enjoy the video. I think it is GRATE!

posted 12/10/2020 by MJ Hibbett
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Shop Receipts
After our previous looks at charts for digital sales and spotify plays, today we're bringing the CAPITALISM CATCH-UP to an end with a look at good old-fashioned PHYSICAL sales. This information comes from my own DATABASE OF ROCK where I record (or at least do my best to record) all the sales that we're involved in ourselves. That basically means sales at gigs or via our online shop, but that comes with SEVERAL important caveats. Firstly, I only began doing this in 2003, so any sales earlier than that aren't included. Secondly, I've been a bit variable about including digital sales, and finally the fact that lots of sales were done at gigs and then added to the database some time later means that my memories of what was sold may sometimes have been even more variable. These last two items only change the overall SALES of each item, rather than the actual order they appear in, so for that reason AND THAT REASON ONLY I have not included the actual sales figures. Just assume they are all #various degrees of PLATINUM HITS and you won't go far wrong.

With that in mind, here's the chart!
  2. Regardez, Ecoutez et Repetez
  3. Say It With Words
  4. Warriors Of Nanpantan
  5. Dinosaur Planet
  6. Forest Moon Of Enderby
  7. Shed Anthems
  8. This Is Not A Library
  9. Still Valid
  10. The Uberset
  11. The Lesson Of the Smiths/The Gay Train
  12. Milk & Baubles
  13. It Only Works Because You're Here/My Exciting Life In ROCK
  14. Do The Indie Kid
  15. Hey Hey 16K T-Shirt
  16. Better Things To Do
  17. Dinosaur Planet T-Shirt
  18. A Million Ukeleles
  19. Wonderful Wednesday
  20. My Boss Was In An indie Band Once
The winner, WE VALIDATE! , is FAR ahead of everything else for various reasons. Obviously it was our big HIT, with radio play and all that, and we also TOURED it a lot more. This was done when people were still very much listening to music on CD too, so all that combined (plus the fact that I got LOADS made so still have some to sell years later!) is why it did so well. Regardez, Ecoutez et Repetez is also up there for similar reasons, but having said all that Say It With Words might well have beaten both of them if I'd started recording the DATA earlier. In fact, it almost definitely would!

Moving down the list, I'm DELIGHTED to see Dinosaur Planet at number 5 - we didn't do as much touring for this one, and I think we've thought of it as a bit of a sales flop after our previous GOLD DISCS, so it's lovely to realise that actually we DID shift quite a lot of SCI FI UNITS. We also sold quite a few Dinosaur Planet T-Shirts, it seems, which pleases me no end.

That brings us on to another issue here - we are SO INDIE that a lot of our stuff is LIMITED EDITION. I mean, technically speaking, it's ALL limited edition because we've never gone to re-press on ANYTHING. This is because we are DEAD COOL and HIP, and not at all because we've never needed to - actually, that's sort of true, as we sold out of This Is Not A Library YEARS ago and so could theoretically have sold more, but my DELIGHT in finally clearing some storage space at the time was so great that I REALLY did not want to re-stock. Similarly I was so pleased to finally get rid of the last Hey Hey 16K T-Shirt that I resolved not to do anymore - these days you can do Print On Demand, which is ACE, but back then you had to pre-order ALL the shirts you wanted, and predicting which SIZES you'd need was a LIVING NIGHTMARE. Also, it was a right pain having to lug five different sizes around with you to gigs! Other stuff was INTENTIONALLY limited - A Million Ukeleles and Wonderful Wednesday here were only ever meant to be limited releases, phsyically at least, although they're VERY MUCH still available to buy digitally.

And that's pretty much all I've got to say about SALES for this week. I hope it's been of interest - I find it all ENDLESSLY FASCINATING how this all works, and I wish more people in our MILLIEU would discuss it. Decades ago it would have been impossible to do so as sales had to be done through THE MAN, but now that we, The Artistes, do most of this work ourselves we are free to MINE the data. We're also free to SHARE it, yet people rarely do. I guess part of it is not wanting to seem CRASSLY MATERIALISTIC (but I think I've shown pretty conclusively that it's possible to do this without appearing that way, right punters?), but from conversations I've had over the years there's also a nervous competitiveness. Nobody wants to reveal that they've only sold 3 copies of their album, say, nor to appear triumphalist if they've sold something crazy like 11. I think this is a shame - TALKING SHOP like this can inform and educate us ALL and prevent THE MAN from taking over again!

posted 8/10/2020 by MJ Hibbett
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The Spotify Rundown
After yesterday's Digital Sales THRILLFEST today we're having a look at Spotify plays. This includes the vast majority of our OUVRE, with only limited edition things like All Around My House or the various multimedia extras not appearing because I never got round to uploading them to this site. With that in mind, let's see what THE KIDZ have been listening to shall we?
  1. The Lesson Of The Smiths
  2. The Fight For History
  3. Hey Hey 16K
  4. The Gay Train
  5. Last Christmas (in the EU)
  6. It Only Works Because You're Here
  7. Do The Indie Kid
  8. Work's All Right (If It's A Proper Job)
  9. We're Old And We're Tired (And We Want to Go Home)
  10. Never Going Back To Aldi's
  11. Hey Hey 64k
  12. You're a Tory Now
  13. The Symbol Of Our Nation
  14. Other Bands' Setlists
  15. Norwich Central Police Station
  16. We Only Ever Meet In Church - Acoustic Version
  17. We Are The Dinosaurs
  18. A Little Bit
  19. Theme From Dinosaur Planet
  20. 20 Things to Do Before You're 30
Interestingly (no, it IS interesting) some of the same surprise entries as yesterday pop up, with Last Christmas (in the EU) way up near the top, and We're Old And We're Tired (And We Want to Go Home) performing well again. It's also abundantly clear which are THE HITS, with most of the Top 10 being songs we tend to perform live anyway, although it's also worth NOTING that the main reason The Fight For History is so high up is because it's on several Thatcher-related playlists. Everyone always goes on about Spotify Playlists as being the modern equivalent to radio plays, and that seems to be the case here.

A bit further down, however, there are some RIGHT oddities. I can understand Hey Hey 64k doing well because it would have similar listeners to Hey Hey 16k, but what on EARTH is Never Going Back To Aldi's doing there? Is it just because it was the b-side to the single version of The Lesson Of The Smiths? I guess that would explain the presence of Other Bands' Setlists too. Actually, Hey Hey 64k is on that EP too so that must be it - who knew that people listened to full EPs on these things? NOT ME!

The REALLY weird aspect of this chart though is that the most listened-to track from Dinosaur Planet is Norwich Central Police Station! What the?!? If it was the first track I could understand it, but it isn't, and it's a talking section between songs too - is Spotify packed full of J Lockyer, S Hewitt and P Wilson fans who wish to re-enjoy their dramatic output? I mean, that's an entirely sensible thing to do, but otherwise I have no explanation!

I must say I'm rather glad I've done this VITAL RESEARCH - I didn't realise that EPs could be such a THING on Spotify, and it's suddenly given me some things to think about before we launch the EPIC CAMPAIGN for the new single next week. Before then though we're going to look at some good old fashioned Physical Sales Charts - get ready to say "Oh! So the early stuff really IS more popular than the new" again!

posted 7/10/2020 by MJ Hibbett
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The Chart Show
With our new single I Don't Have To Worry About That out on streaming services a week today (and available RIGHT NOW as a badge) the thoughts of myself and The Validators naturally turn to THE CHARTS. How high will get in the midweeks? Will we break the Top Ten on our first week of release or will it be A Climber? Do we wait for the call from Top Of The Pops, or accept a slot on The Tube or possibly Razzamatazz?

Whilst we all ponder these vital questions, I thought it might be nice this week to have a look back at some other charts, and see what our most popular OUTPUTS have been up until now. This thought arises mostly because I realised that both Emubands and Bandcamp CAN do this, but also because I thought it might be Quite Interesting. Let's see shall we?

We'll start off with DIGITAL sales today, which we currently do through Emubands The data from Emubands covers NEARLY all of our downloads through streaming and digital services, including iTunes, Spotify, and all of that sort of thing. A big qualifier here is that I only started using Emubands around the time of A Million Ukeleles so some of our earlier (who said "more popular"??) stuff isn't represented here. That was all done through the lovely people at CDBaby, but there site has been having errors for the past couple of days so I'll have to leave that for another time.

Anyway, with that in mind, here's our Top Ten in sales of recent-ish tracks via digital services :

  1. Do The Indie Kid
  2. It Only Works Because You're Here
  3. Do The Indie Kid
  4. Last Christmas (in the EU)
  5. We're Old And We're Tired (And We Want to Go Home)
  6. My Boss Was In An Indie Band Once
  7. Can We Be Friends?
  8. A Million Ukeleles
  9. Being Happy Doesn't Make You Stupid
  10. 20 Things to Do Before You're 30
There's quite a few surprises in here - who would guess that Do The Indie Kid would be the chart-topper, for instance? It's at both number one AND number two because there's an album and a single version, proving once and for all that digital sales and physical product sales don't really have much to do with each other!

I'm always happy to see It Only Works Because You're Here up near the top as it is officially My Favourite, and I'm also EXTREMELTY pleased to see Last Christmas (in the EU) doing so well, especially as it only came out comparitively recently. My only sadness is that it was not quite so successful in keeping us IN!

The rest of the chart seems fairly comprehensible - as I say, THE HITS like Hey Hey 16K and The Lesson Of The Smiths are absent because they were done by CDBaby - but I can't help wondering what on EARTH We're Old And We're Tired (And We Want to Go Home) is doing in the Top Ten?!? I mean, I like it as a song, but it's never exactly been a Live Favourite or much requested. Perhaps, unbeknownst to me, it has generated its own DANCE CRAZE on The Tick Tock or whatever? I will choose to believe this until proven otherwise!

I hope that's been of some interest - if I can HACK INTO the CDBaby systems tomorrow I'll have a look at what's in there, otherwise we're off to look at what's what on Spotify!

posted 6/10/2020 by MJ Hibbett
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I Don't Have To Worry About Bandcamp
As promised earlier this week, today we're releasing our new single I Don't Have To Worry About That exclusively on Bandcamp for Fees Free Friday. That means that ALL the money people pay for it goes directly to US to spend on... um... probably some more recording sessions.

It's a great deal from the lovely Bandcamp people, who have always been EXCELLENT through the many years we've been releasing stuff through them. INDEED, it is through their generosity that we're also able to release the single as a BADGE (which you can order directly from us now too). Each badge has a download sticker on the back, and those very downloads are provided by Bandcamp, free of charge to us. That's pretty great of them, isn't it?

The single isn't out on the other streaming services until Monday 12 October, but that version will only have TWO songs on it - I Don't Have To Worry About That and Cheer Up Love. The bandcamp and badge versions also feature two COVER VERSIONS - House Of Fun by Madness and Songs About You by Language Of Flowers (who I discovered this week are JUST "Language Of Flowers" and not "THE Language Of Flowers" as I've called them for years).

The Madness track was recorded for a French compilation album who, it seems, wanted EXACT copies of all the tracks by Proper Ska Bands. We thus ended up putting it on the b-side of the CD single for My Boss Was In An Indie Band Once many years ago, which was not SHALL WE SAY one of our biggest sellers, so we thought it deserved a bigger audience. Similarly the Language Of Flowers song was done for a compilation called Covered At Christmas where various bands who'd played the old POP ART shows covered songs by OTHER bands who'd played them. It doesn't seem to be available any more so, again, we thought it deserved to be heard by a few more people. I LOVE the original song, and I've always been chuffed with our version - one of our best covers I reckon!

As I say, the version of the single that's coming out on the other streaming services on Monday 12 October won't have the cover versions, so if you're thinking of getting a copy of this single (and why wouldn't you be?!?) I would HEARTILY recommend either the Bandcamp or the BADGE versions - especially the badge, I mean, it's a flipping BADGE!

posted 2/10/2020 by MJ Hibbett
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Poised And Ready
You find me today POISED like a COILED TIGER (although why you'd want to coil a tiger I do not know - it's bad enough trying to get a domestic moggy into a cat box, I'd assume a tiger would be if anything even less likely to cooperate) for LO! we are on the brink of ROCK!

This is all to do with our NEW SINGLE I Don't Have To Worry About That, which is released yesterday, today, Friday, or a week on Monday depending on how you look at it. It was very quietly unleashed for people who follow our bandcamp page yesterday, partly to thank them for doing so but mostly, I must admit, because you have to "publish" things before you can generate download codes, and I needed to generate download codes in order to prepare the BADGES. I wanted this to be ready today, when they were made available to people who subscribe to our newsletter. On FRIDAY, meanwhile, I'll be doing the big Bandcamp push as they're having another of their Fees-Free days then.

Finally, the last in the list of release days is Monday 12 October, which is when it comes out on STREAMING SERVICES - your iTunes, your Spotify, all of that lot. That's the "official" release day as far as The Mainstream Media is concerned, so I have all fingers crossed that there might be some airplay between now and then on the wireless radio. I'll also be UNLEASHING the VIDEO that I spoke about a little while ago on that day. I now have nearly all of the promised clips in, and have started doing a bit of editing. I will not lie to you, dear reader, it looks BLOODY BRILLIANT so far!

It is, not to put too fine a point on it, all go at the moment, and I am right looking forward to it. I love this bit of ROCK, when the music you've spent AGES on is FINALLY making its first steps out into the world and there are all the possibilities to play for. I have, as ever, put The Validators on ALERT and they have dutifully prepared their resignation letters from work in case we get called up to be on The Tube, Top Of The Pops and/or Pebble Mill. What I am saying here, basically, is that we are ready - can the Krazy World Of ROCK say the same?

posted 30/9/2020 by MJ Hibbett
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Fruit Pies And Milkduds
I don't know if I've ever mentioned it, but I'm currently doing a PhD about Doctor Doom as an early transmedia character - if that doesn't sound familiar let me know and I will happily explain AT EXTREME LENGTH.

Part of the process of doing a PhD is that you're meant to try and do some publications, but an issue I have discovered with this is that it can take AGES. There is, for instance, a chapter in a book what I got signed up to do nearly three years ago, "finished" two years ago, and last heard anything about six months, but this is apparently "Normal For Academia".

Happily, another thing what I wrote has had a MUCH easier transition from getting accepted to getting published, and it came out this very week. It's an article called "How do readers understand character identities when they appear in both the text and paratext of a comic?" that forms part of a roundtable discussion for Reading Comics At The Threshold. "Peritexts" is basically the stuff inside a comic that isn't the story itself, like adverts, editorial pages and letter columns, so my article is looking at what happens when a character appears in the main story AND in an advert.

When you have a situation like this in a TV show it's peasy - we know that the characters are all played by actors who can play more than one part, so we don't assume that the advert is part of the story - but in comics there ARE no actors, it's just the character. In the examples I look at we see Captain America apparently breaking off from a mission with SHIELD to solve crime using fruit pies, and Doctor Doom pausing a battle to the death with Mr Fantastic to implore readers to enter a competition for a sweets company. Clearly we're not supposed to think that it's all one story, but readers are expected just to KNOW this, and not think it's the same character... while also accepting that in a way it IS.

It's one of those things that crop up a LOT in comics, where we just accept certain things about them because we're used to them - stuff like the way a single panel shows a single snapshot of time (except when it doesn't) during which characters are also able to have lengthy conversations while apparently standing still. For my article tried to use Transmedia Terminology to work out what was going on and, to my surprise, it seems to make sense. This is very much thanks to Osvaldo Oyola, the editor, who took me through SEVERAL different versions and offered huge heaps of advice. It was a DELIGHTFUL process which even allowed me to keep a few GAGS in!

Meanwhile, for those who are NOT fans of my delvings into baddy-based PHILOSOPHY, gird your ROCK loins for next week, when there will be ROCK OUTPUTS AHOY!

posted 25/9/2020 by MJ Hibbett
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Toes Like A Princess
Earlier this week I went to see a PODIATRIST. "What is a podiatrist?" you may ask, to which I respond "It is the same as a Chiropodist i.e. a foot doctor except they are called Podiatrists now - GET WITH IT, GRANDAD."

I was there to have them look at my TOENAILS, which are Not Very Nice. I looked up Podiatrists online and was delighted to discover that there was one not ten minutes from my front door, so decided to book an appointment. I'd not had much joy sorting my toenails out myself, and if someone was going to the trouble of running a practice so close to my house it seemed rude not to give the professionals a go.

When I arrived it all felt very much like going to The Dentist, with a reception area and the usual form to fill in. This expectation was not altered when I went in to see the Podiatrist himself, as his BOOTH had a big adjustable dentist's chair in it and a table full of IMPLEMENTS. My recent dental appointments have not been very pleasant as they have all involved THE SCRAPY TEETH HORROR DEVICE, so I tensed up as soon as I sat down, but there was no PAIN at all and in fact the rest of the experience turned out to be RATHER WONDERFUL.

I was a bit self-conscious about my toenails to start with, but then realised that a large part of the Podiatrist's JOB is looking at deeply unpleasant toenails, and he didn't immediately reach for holy water so I guessed mine were not the worse he'd seen. He was in fact really nice throughout, especially when we discussed Possible Treatments and he recommended Tea Tree Oil - a treatment ALSO recommended by none other than The Sole Of My Shoes HERSELF. I mentioned VICKS, which I've also used and he said yes, that could work too. I was MOST impressed, as I'd been expecting STEROIDS or LAZER BEAMS or something.

He also TRIMMED and FILED my nails, and ooh golly gosh crumbs and crikey I FELT LIKE A RUDDY PRINCESS. He even CLEANED the finished toes, so when I left the building and walked down the road it was like having NEW FEET. Now I understand the appeal of all these NAIL BARS and BEAUTY treatments! I had been quite impressed that he didn't say I needed another check in or anything (like opticians and dentists always seem to), but now I think I WANT to, it was so nice!

posted 23/9/2020 by MJ Hibbett
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Once More Unto The Inbox
I've spent the past couple of days sending out emails to radio people about our next single, I Don't Have To Worry About That, which is out on Monday 12 October. I always rather enjoy doing this, as it feels like catching up with old friends. When we first started doing our own publicity, back in the 1870s, we used a big old list of DJs, fans and journalists at radio stations, fanzines and magazines, and they were just names on a piece of paper. It was literally on paper too, as I'd spend hours sticking labels on jiffy bags and hand-writing notes on photocopied press releases to go with the Actual CDs we were sending out.

Nowadays the list has dwindled considerably as so many people dropped out of This Sort Of Thing along the way, which means some 7,000 years later what we're left with is a hardy bunch of survivors - the people who have stuck around just like we have, many of whom I now actually KNOW a little bit. It's a lovely group, and though sending an email isn't QUITE as personal as writing a note on a press release, it does feel like these are "our" people.

Of course, the list COULD have maintained its size if I'd been a bit more energetic over the years about keeping it up to date, but as time went by I realised that there wasn't a massive amount of point in doing so. The Krazy World Of ROCK is very much based on NEW THRILLS and YOUNG PEOPLE, so a band who have been cracking on now for over two decades is never likely to be of much interest to HEP YOUNG GUNSLINGERS looking to make their mark by Discovering Exciting New Talent. This is all ENTIRELY fair enough - when I was a young PUNK ROCK TYKE I wanted nothing more than to overthrow the oppressive rule of whatever the OLD SODS were listening to at the time (Pub Rock? Opera? Banging two stones together?) so one cannot complain - and it also means that when we DO get a rare new addition to the hallowed mailing list it is a source of great joy and festivities.

I'm going to be emailing a few BLOG and JOURNALISM people in a couple of weeks when we've got the VIDEO sorted out, but in the meantime if anybody reading this has links with radio , or indeed playlisting or music blogging or any of that sort of thing, do let me know via the comments or email at mjhibbett (AT) hotmail (DOT) com - another benefit of The Modern Era is that I never have to worry about running out of Jiffy Bags or Promo CDs to send out!

posted 22/9/2020 by MJ Hibbett
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Content Aware Content
Regular readers of this here blog will recall that a couple of days ago I was singing the praises of sewing on a button. "Surely this is Hibbett's limit for taking joy in the quotidian?" they may have thought. "After this it is bound to be High Minded THORTS all the way?"

Well, yes and no. For LO! Today I wish to remark upon an AMAZING facet of THE SCIENCE FICTION FUTURE that I have only recently become aware of but which others may regard as Old Hat: CONTENT AWARE FILL.

This is a facility in Photoshop where you select an area of an image and let Photoshop fill it in for you, using the surrounding area as a guide. It's like if you want to remove an item from a photograph, but there's a complicated backrgound behind that would need replacing. Now, I have seen VIDEOS over the past few years of this being done on, for instance, HOLIDAY SNAPS where you click a button and the programme replaces An Annoying Ex with Realistic Sand And Waves, but I always thought that that was just exaggerated for demo purposes, and that actually it would just copy and pasted whatever was next door to it.

How wrong I was! It turns out that it WORKS, like SPACE MAGIC!

I first realised this a few months when I was told that we couldn't use the usual cover image for the People Are All Right EP on Spotify, because they don't allow web addresses in the visual. I sighed, the began the laborious process of covering up the offending URL by moving slices of colour from nearby, but it looked crappy and was taking ages, so I thought I'd look up this content aware thing. "Maybe it has got a bit better in recent years?" I thought, without much hope. Thus, I selected the area I wanted to change, clicked the "Content Aware Fill" option and... CRIKEY! It only bloody WORKED!!

Before And After Computer Trickery

It's not perfect, but JIMINY CRICKET it's pretty good isn't it? I've also been using it for some work on my PhD, altering an image of Doctor Doom (OBVS) to show what he might look like without some aspects of his appearance. This is what I came up with!

My version and Mr J Kirby's original

Again, it's not perfect, and there was quite a bit of messing around by me to remove the castle and so on in the background, but CRUMBS look at the way THE ROBOT BRANE removed the nose from his face, and especially how it added its own creases and even a SHADOW on the tunic section! It's AMAZING!

Of course, the DOWNSIDE of all this is that PERNICIOUS ACTORS can also use this kind of technology to do these DEEP FAKES that we hear about, so that you can't really trust ANY image that you see EVER anymore, but still, it's bloody clever isn't it? HOORAH for our imminent Robot Overlords!

posted 18/9/2020 by MJ Hibbett
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Beware The Mekon
I watched an AMAZING episode of The Sky At Night on iPlayer the other evening, all about the (potential) discovery of LIFE ON BLOODY VENUS!

I'd read about this in the paper, where it was big news for about half a day and then sort of... disappeared from view? Whenever I've read a book or watched a film about FINDING LIFE ON OTHER PLANETS it has generally tended to be a bit of a bigger deal than this. Admittedly the life they usually find tends to have RAY GUNS and/or NEFARIOUS INTENTIONS, but still, I have never seen a film where the discovery of life elsewhere in the universe is shunted off the news by the fact that The Prime Minister Is A Turd. I mean, I know it's a big deal how awful the government is, but is it really a bigger deal than one of the greatest questions in human history finally being (potentially) answered?

The programme itself was BRILLIANT, and full of Scientists desperately trying, and failing, to contain their ENORMOUS EXCITEMENT about what they might have discovered. They had found evidence of PHOSPHINE in the atmosphere of Venus, and the only way they could explain so MUCH of it being there was that it was being produced, consistently, by living organisms. ZOINKS! SPACE ALIENS!

It's lovely when you see actual proper Academics on the telly being actual proper Academics, and the lead Professor was a GRATE example of the genre, bursting with pride, being slightly eccentric, and also trying to slightly downplay the magnitude of what she and her team had discovered. There was also a biochemist who had written A SONG about the whole thing, which the Production team must have LOVED as they kept cutting back to him playing it. It was, in part and in whole, A DELIGHT.

What was most exciting for me though was the fact that they were merrily chatting about some HUGE SCIENCE FICTION IDEAS as if they were perfectly normal things to talk about. For instance, the theory seems to be that there is some kind of bacterial life floating about in the atmosphere 50km above the surface of Venus. However, the clouds there are made of SULPHURIC ACID, which would make it impossible for anything we know of as life to exist. BUT, instead of just going "OK then, that means there's no life there" like Space Scientists always seem to, they went "Aha, then maybe it is a form of life completely different to what we have got here on The Planet Earth."

I let out an audible "YES!" at this point, as it always seems DAFT when scientists talk about the search for life on different worlds but assume it must be the same as it is here. The MUCH MORE FUN Scientists here went on to suggest that this meant they could now look at ANY old planet in SPACE as a potential place where life could exist, even if it wasn't the sort of life we could point at and/or adopt as a pet/next door neighbour. They then went on to talk about how it might be ARMOURED BACTERIA or something that lived in/on ACID, and then developed entire possible LIFE CYCLES for these creatures.

It was basically a really really good show, and I HEARTILY recommend watching it as soon as possible to enjoy the EXCITEMENT, just in case a bunch of significantly less interesting scientists come along and say it was all a mistake or produced by something BORING like volcanoes. SHUT UP, OTHER SCIENTISTS!

posted 17/9/2020 by MJ Hibbett
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A Wander Round Walthamstow
On Sunday afternoon I got the bus to WALTHAMSTOW, a place I used to go to fairly often back when we lived in nearby Leytonstone. On most occasions this would not be out of choice - if I was out late then sometimes the only option for getting home would be the Victoria Line to Walthamstowe Central and then a night bus home - but this time I was definitely there on purpose.

For LO! it was the day of the Walthamstow Village Jumble Trail, an event which Mr D Green had alerted me to, and which sounded like a) fun b) an excuse to go to the pub after. When I arrived in Walthamstow I experienced the usual cultural JARRING off crossing the road from Walthamstow Actual into "the village", where suddenly everything was BUNTING and BEARDS and BABIES. It's a bit like Leigh-On-Sea, or how Brighton THINKS it is, a GROOVY little patch with DELIs and Nice Pubs - of which more ANON.

It was a lovely sunny day, excellent weather for a wander round, so that is what I did. It soon became clear that the Walthamstow Village Jumble Trail was exactly what it sounded like - a big old Jumble Sale around the streets of Walthamstow Village. There was a map to show you where all the stalls were, but I found it easier just to stroll around, as pretty much every street had at least a couple of houses taking part. Some people had put stuff on the walls of their front gardens, some had tables out in the street, and some had even done their front yard out like a mini-shop, with items on display. There was nothing I actually wanted to buy - I don't need children's clothes, DVD boxsets or multiple copies of Ben Elton novels - but there was a thoroughly lovely atmosphere as people dawdled about chatting to their neighbours.

At 4pm I headed over towards what turned out to be an industrial estate full of craft ale bars, which seems to me to be an excellent use of such space, especially in The Current Situation as they were all using the car park as a massive Food Court Of BEER. I bought some delicious CAKE from a lady who was very keen that I was aware it was VEGAN cake (it was ACE) and then met Dave and Mr R Wells for a couple of beers and a whole world of CHAT. They are two EXTREMELY interesting people, and filled my BRANE up with multiple fascinating facts that I was eager to re-share when I got home! It feels like AGES since I last just lurked about in a pub (or equivalent) having a natter with more than one other person, and I had forgotten how lovely it is. We also saw a FOX, which was an added bonus!

After a couple of beers and NUMEROUS THORTS and REMARKS it was time to wend our way back to the Transport Hub that us Walthamstow Actual, where I got my bus home. It was, as predicted, an EXCELLENT way to spend a sunny afternoon!

posted 16/9/2020 by MJ Hibbett
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Sewing On A Button
Last week I had one of those experiences that only come around a few times in a lifetime, when your entire WORLD is turned upside down and you suddenly realise that everything you thought you knew was WRONG. On this occasion it came about due to me sewing on a button.

Now, back in the dark distant days of my BATCHELORHOOD I would have occasion to sew buttons on myself, and it would always be DISASTROUS. To start with it would take me approx 3 hours to thread the flipping needle, then the thread would keep falling out halfway through and I'd have to start again, then I'd do it really messily, and after about 17 seconds of use the button would fall off again anyway. It was AWFUL.

In latter days The Eye In My Needle has very kindly done this for me, which has been MUCH better (for me anyway), but last week she suggested I have a go at it myself, suggesting I watch a YouTube video to work it out. My days of desperate solitude are SO long ago now that we didn't even HAVE YouTube videos then, so this seemed like a good idea and, armed with needle and thread, I sat down to have a go.

OH MY GOOD GOLLY! It was ASTOUNDING! I started watching one video which STRAIGHT AWAY blew my tiny mind by saying that a) you basically doubled the thread and b) tied a KNOT in the end before you started, so that it wouldn't fall out when you were sewing it in. WHAT THE ACTUAL?!? But of COURSE that's what you do! I instantly flashed back to my years of wondering how on earth this was supposed to work, and trying to tie knots INTO shirts and so on, but in a blinding flash I had received this rapturous information. ENCROYABLE!

The video then said "Once you've threaded the needle..." so then I had to go and look at ANOTHER video to see if there was an easier way than spending an entire evening SQUINTING MALEVOLENTLY at a piece of thread with my tongue stuck out. Of COURSE there was - firstly you SNIP it at 45 degrees so the end is POINTY, you do NOT lick it, and then you hold the THREAD in your right hand and guide it towards the needle, not the other way around. It was a good job I was sitting down at this point ELSE I would surely have fainted due to BRANE overload.

After that we got into the whole business of the sewing itself which GOOD LORD was packed full of information about how you actually DO it, and the running the string around the thread under the button three times, and THEN the whole business of tying it off at the end and... well, as you can imagine, it was a whole WORLD of new information, and I am happy to say that now, almost a week post-sewing, the button is still in place. I feel like I want to go out and find THE INCREDIBLE HULK or JOHN OTWAY now and offer to sew THEIR buttons back on for them!

posted 15/9/2020 by MJ Hibbett
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Isolation And Rejection
After MONTHS of there being not much Rock And Roll to report, suddenly it's all coming in at once, for LO! I have ANOTHER new track out, on Volume 4 of Isolation And Rejection.

This is the fourth in a rather briliant series of compilation albums based on the idea of scooping up all the tracks that people recorded for various projects, predominantly other compilation albums, that never happened. As anyone involved the in The Krazy World Of ROCK will know, this happens A LOT, so I think it's rather beautiful that all these tracks have ended up on a whole SERIES of high concept compilations. There's going to be FIVE of these in all, because (as noted earlier) this happens OFTEN!

My track is Rocking Out (But Quietly) which I recorded for a THING during Lockdown. The people running the original THING were very pally, excited and keen with my idea for it RIGHT up until the point when they got some more famous people involved, and then completely stopped responding to any communications whatsoever. It's by no means an UNUSUAL occurrence, but it's never very nice when it does, so I'm EXTREMELY glad that the track's getting out on this wonderful album.

Even more delightfully, the proceeds from these albums are going to The Brick, a charity helping people in need in Wigan. So far they've raised £1,800, which is an incredible feat for a project based on stuff that other people rejected. It is a GRATE idea, and I endorese it THOROUGHLY!

posted 14/9/2020 by MJ Hibbett
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A Result
As I may have occasionally mentioned, I'm now FOUR YEARS into my PhD about Doctor Doom as a Transmedia character, and it has been a LOT of fun. It's involved a lot of researching, learning, and even the occasional bit of comics reading (although nowhere near as much as I thought there would be) as well as a whole HEAP of blogging about comics that Doom appears in.

However, in all that time there has been very little in the way of RESULTS. To put it another way, I've learnt a lot about what other people think, had some ideas about how transmedia characters work, and done a TONNE of flipping analysis, but none of it has produced any actual concrete NEW ANSWERS... until this week. For LO! on Wednesday I finally got to the point where I could do some analysis of my OWN data, and find something out that nobody else had found out before!

What I found out was this: Doctor Doom almost always wears a metal mask!!!!

Yes, I know that this is not exactly earth-shattering news, even to people who are only vaguely aware of Doctor Doom, but the point here is that I can actually PROVE that this is true through DATA. My thesis is all about Doctor Doom as an early transmedia character i.e. one who appears in different media but the same storyworld, like you have now with (for instance) Doctor Who appearing in stories in books, comics and games that are meant to be part of the same universe as the telly episodes. Part of this is looking at his "character coherence" - how much he stays the same as he moves around. There are loads of theories about this, but I've never seen anyone categorically say "This is how you measure character coherence", so I set out to do that with an ELEVEN DIMENSIONAL INVENTORY OF TRAITS! This means looking at things like what the character says, what locations they appear in, who they interact with, and first of all what they LOOK like.

To do this I'm very gradually going through a SAMPLE of TEXTS from 1961-1987, looking at which aspects of these eleven traits are shown in each one. So, for example, for each comic, radio show, cartoon, newspaper strip or game I find, I go through and tick off a list off which names he's called by, like "Doom", "Doctor Doom", "You Excellency", "Master Of Menace" and so on. It's a long old job, but this week I finally finished off the "Appearance" part of this, and was thus able to DEFINITELY say that he wears a mask all the time!

It was VERY exciting, partly because it was AN ACTUAL RESULT, but also because it shows that what I'm trying to do can actually, probably, be done! IT WORKS!!

I was SO excited about it that I mentioned it on The Social Medias, saying I'd finally got A RESULT. Unfortunately it turns out that this could very easily be misconstrued as me saying I'd got THE result from my PhD, and that I had therefore PASSED. Sadly, this is very much not the case, as I've got a whole other year of this to go yet, but the good news is that means twelve more months of FASCINATING INSIGHTS like this. Everyone's a winner!

posted 11/9/2020 by MJ Hibbett
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Have A Hand In Our Next Video
The Validators are a modern, forward-thinking, early-adopter sort of band, and that is why we have embraced the futuristic possibilities of MUSIC VIDEOS so readily. With that in mind we are planning to unleash a new one for the next single, I Don't Have To Worry About That, which you may recall I mentioned yesterday, and we'd like your help making it please!

The plan is to make a HANDWRITTEN LYRICS VIDEO, with different lyrics from the song written out like in the video below:

If you'd like to take part, drop me an email at mjhibbett (AT) hotmail (DOT) com and I'll send you a line to write out, plus some details about what format we'd like it in. Actually, if there's a specific line you fancy doing let me know and if I can I shall allocate accordingly!

The closing date for getting videos back to me will be Wednesday 30 September, so if you'd like to be part of this thrilling new media venture get in quick. Who knows, we might end up on The Chart Show!

UPDATE: I've had an ASTONISHING response to this, and I'm afraid all slots are now very much taken - thanks everyone!

posted 10/9/2020 by MJ Hibbett
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Our Next Single
Today I am absolutely ruddy DELIGHTED to announced that we'll have a brand new single out next month. It's called "I Don't Have To Worry About That" and, once again, it will come in two thrilling formats - a digital single and a BADGE-based EP!

The digital version will be out on Monday 12 October pretty much everywhere you can buy that sort of thing. The lead track is (obviously) I Don't Have To Worry About That, which is a HEARTFELT song about what a relief it is when you realise there are plenty of life-opportunities that are now out of the question e.g. I am unlikely to start a parliamentary career now, so can stop planning my strategy for when I'm Prime Minister. It is a weight off my mind!

The b-side is Cheer Up Love, which is one of those songs we used to call "a live favourite" back when there were live gigs. I would say it's one of MY favourites, but they are ALL my favourites!

Those two tracks will be what you get on iTunes, Spotify and all that sort of thing, but there'll be an EXTENDED version on our bandcamp site with two MORE songs - our cover versions of House Of Fun by Madness and Songs About You by The Language Of Flowers. Both have these have been released before, but in MICROSCOPIC numbers and I don't think either have been available for YEARS, so it'll be ACE to have them out in the world again, as they are Quite Good.

The extended version will also be what you get if you buy it as a BADGE - as with our previous GROUND-BREAKING BADGE PRODUCT People Are All Right you'll be able to buy this direct from us. As well as being a UNIQUE FASHION STATEMENT it'll also have a download code on the back so you can get the actual TRACKS.

It'll be GRATE to finally get this out - the main songs were recorded AGES ago and sound ACE, so I can't wait for people to hear them. We're also going to be attempting another CROWD-SOURCED video, but there'll be more on that ... next time!

posted 9/9/2020 by MJ Hibbett
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An Actual Gig
On Saturday myself and The Waves In My Sea headed SOUTH to distant Brighton, there to attend a gig by Mr G Osborn And The Comment Section. It was the first gig either of us had been to in over six months and (SPOILERS) it was dead good!

We went on the Thameslink from St Pancras, an EXCELLENT service that completely avoids any need for catching the tube and is Actually Quite Nice, especially as we went and sat in First Class, breaking ALL the rules like the crazy rock and roll rebels what we are. When we got to Brighton we found that it was very much Still Brighton, with all that that entails, and indeed quite BUSY. As we walked down towards the beach we found that some of the lanes in The Lanes were RAMMED with people, so we ended up going quite a wiggly way to get there.

For LO! the gig was happening on the beach itself, as part of The Warren Outdoors festival. This was a HIGHLY impressive operation, where they'd set out Socially Distanced picnic tables on a fenced-off area of the beach, with a one-way system all around, loads of hand sanitisers, and a booking form for getting drinks that ACTUALLY WORKED. The staff were LOVELY, the sound was GRATE (we had individual speakers on the ends of our tables!!) and the whole thing was AMAZING. I, of course, was fully accepting of the prospect of New Ways Of Working before we'd arrived, but if I HAD been saying things like "why can't we just go to the bar? why do I need to go the long way round to the loo?" beforehand I would definitely NOT have done so once I experienced the place itself. It was excellent!

The gig, meanwhile, was BLOODY WONDERFUL. We have seen Gav play approx 100,000 times and part of the reason for that is because he is BRILLIANT every time, especially when, as here, he is accompanied by Mr J Hare on All The Instruments. I was most impressed to see that he has managed to inveigle John into doing some of the INTRODUCTIONS too, which allowed Gav to have the occasional DRINK break as necessary. The Validators have never got on board with this idea, although thinking about it this may be a deliberate ploy to reduce the aforementioned drinks breaks.

As the gig progressed Gav mentioned that his voice was starting to go - earlier on we'd heard them soundchecking their version of It Only Works Because You're Here, and I did half think to myself that in an EMERGENCY I could always HELP OUT (in a helpful way) by singing the words for them, but I was still a bit surprised when Gav invited me on stage to do EXACTLY THAT. So I did!

(picture courtesy of The Lens In My Camera)

Let us be clear here: he did ask me, I didn't just elbow my way onstage, honest! It was an HONOUR to do it, and I think it went OK, but it was also a bit TERRIFYING as I had had no idea it was going to occur and had not SUNG the song for MONTHS. When it was done I FLED the stage and tripped over Gav's banjo too, but thankfully the rest of the gig went off without further hazard or interruption!

When it was all over we joined fellow audience members Mr T Eveleigh, Ms H Zaltzman and Dr M Zaltz Austwick for CHIPS AND MUSHY PEAS BY THE SEASIDE (AMAZING) and then also by the performers for a REAL LIFE NATTER which was thoroughly lovely, not least because it was the first time we'd been involved with a Sit Around Chat in a larger groups for MONTHS. There was further RULE BREAKING when John went to get a round of drinks and I went to help him. We were told that we couldn't take our drinks out through the exit, so I walked THE LONG WAY round the venue so as not to get DONE. I thought this was VERY clever and brave of me, until I realised that this involved walking quite a long way along a pebble beach on a SLOPE. My hands smelt of CIDER for some time after!

We said our farewells and then headed off along the beach for a STROLL. We were aiming to do The Undercliff Walk, but we only got as far as the start of it, at Brighton Marina, before turning back. Brighton Marina is a WEIRD thing - it looks like a Gerry Anderson supervillain base reconstructed on Blue Peter and then reconstructed from THAT in real life. I'm sure it's built on concrete loo rolls.

The rest of the walk was FAB though, and seeing the sea was LOVELY. It was, in fact, a bloody brilliant day out, and a lovely reintroduction to the world of GIGS! Well done, everybody!!

posted 8/9/2020 by MJ Hibbett
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Bandcamp Bargain Bonanza!
It's Bandcamp Friday today, which as ever means that Bandcamp are waiving fees for anything you buy from artists on their site. It's a great deal from a company that, as far as I can make out, generally do want to be Actually Nice, so it always makes me feel a bit bad that we don't do more to get involved. I did take part by putting out A Museum Of One Thing, but that was AGES ago.

So, in order to DO something, today we're unleashing our entire Digital Discography for the KNOCKDOWN PRICE of just £21! If you go over to our Bandcamp site and click on any item you'll see a link that says "Buy Digital Discography". Click that and you'll be able to type in the PRICE (it's set as minimum £21, my advice would be to type that in!). Go through the payment motions and VOILA you will get a download of THE LOT. That's ALL of the studio albums and compilations, loads of singles, various solo outings, and even the recordings of the SHOWS with me and Steve.

It is a LOT of stuff, so I would understand if it is All A Bit Much. If it's any help, you don't have to listen to it all in one go!

The offer's only valid for today, Friday 4 September 2020, so if it appeals do get in quick!

posted 4/9/2020 by MJ Hibbett
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Back To School
Crumbs, it's been over SIX WEEKS since I last done a blog here. Apologies to the (I estimate) HUNDREDS of people who have been waiting silently for me to return - in my defence, not an awful lot of ROCK has been occurring!

That is all set to change now though, as the seasons turn, the new term starts, and a general feeling of Back To School pervades the land both metaphorically and actually. There is a whole HEAP of ROCK planned for the coming months, and I shall do my best to detail it a bit more regularly here in future.

In preparation for this I have spent the past couple of months working with our server provider Evinsol (i.e. Tim of Freedom Of Expression in his day job) to get these here webpages updated. This was necessitated by Tim needing to move everything to a new server and, when he did, us finding that most of the site had stopped working! It turns out that, in the years since I first HAND-BUILT the HIBBFACT 2000 system, computing in general has moved on somewhat, necessitating me doing a laborious trawl through every single flipping page of the site to bring it all up to date again. This has now been DONE, so we can expect the current version to keep running until at least the 2030s!

Another symptom of the Internet being around for a long time is that FLASH is, sadly, being dropped by browsers. As someone bang up to date with modern computing (er... apart from everything mentioned in the last paragraph) I was of course well aware of this, but I hadn't realised that BANDCAMP used to use Flash for its embedded players, and so I'd need to go through and UPDATE some of the older songs. I'm making progress on this, with all the songs on Say It With Words and This Is Not A Library working properly again, but there's still a few left to do. Until then, if you do need to listen to a song URGENTLY and can't find it on these pages, you can always access it via our Bandcamp site.

I trust this technical information was worth waiting six weeks for - next time, let's talk about OUR NEW SINGLE!

posted 2/9/2020 by MJ Hibbett
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Hair: CUT!
On Monday of this week I ventured into Actual London Town for the first time in nearly FOUR MONTHS, for a VITAL and entirely ESSENTIAL task: I was going to get my hair cut AT LAST!

I tell you what, in The Before Times when I read all of those FICTIONAL post-apocalypse stories there was a lot of talk about getting fresh water, weaponry, food etc etc but none of them ever mentioned you that the thing I was going to miss most of all was a HAIRCUT. I needed it cutting before everything kicked off, so four months in I looked like a MANIAC.

So it was that as SOON as the Government gave the go-ahead for hairdressers to re-open I booked on the first day available, and on Monday I set off into town on my usual commuting route. I must say, I was a bit disappointed to find that it wasn't really weird at all. Yes, there were signs in the station, and even POLICE on the platform, but otherwise it was like going in on a Sunday. It didn't even feel unusual, my BRANE just went "Oh yes, getting this train, that's something we know how to do." The only time it got genuinely SPOOKY was when I walked through Bloomsbury, and it was QUIET. I don't mean on the pavements - there were people about, and it felt pretty much like a Sunday again - I mean the traffic noise, of which there was Considerably Less. I worked in Bloomsbury for years so I guess I had got so used to the constant RACKET that its sudden absence was louder than anything else.

Anyway, I got to my HAIRDRESSER who cut my hair and did a right good job of it. Here is the Before and After so you can see for yourself!

(photography by Teeth In My Comb, hair-gel by My Hairdresser, daft expressions model's own)
As you can probably tell, I was RUDDY DELIGHTED by the whole experience - looking like a MAD PROFESSOR is all well and good for a Fun Party or if you ARE a Mad Professor, but it doesn't half get annoying over the course of several months!

On the way home I popped over to look in at The King & Queen, who I was DELIGHTED to see had a notice in their window announcing they were re-opening next week. I don't think I'll be back in town again by then, but it was nice to know it'll be there when I eventually DO!

posted 10/7/2020 by MJ Hibbett
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An Conference
Crumbs, has it really been almost a month since last we gathered for blogging? Doesn't time fly when you're not really doing much to do with ROCK?

What I HAVE been doing, however, is helping to organise a CONFERENCE, which has been Quite Exciting. It's the International Graphic Novels And Comics Conference which I've previously mentioned attending in other years in Manchester, Bournemouth and Dundee. This year it was meant to be UAL's turn to host it in That London, and as that is a) where I am doing my PhD b) where I WORK I was involved in the DOING of it.

So, when The Current Situation kicked off I was a bit disappointed when it looked like it was all going to be cancelled... until I BEMOANED the situation to The Delegates On My Registration List who suggested that we do the whole thing online instead. This was a GRATE idea, and so that is what we DID! We asked all of the presenters to PRE-RECORD their presentations and then upload them to our Figshare site, and then the conference itself was a mix of Workshops, and Q&A sessions done on Blackboard Collaborate. The idea was that people could thus look at the presentations any time they wanted, and then have plenty of time to talk about them afterwards.

It was a HECKLOAD of work, not least for me as I was looking after the Figshare side of things, which involved three items which SHOULD NEVER BE MIXED: Academics, Technology, and Deadlines! Eventually though we got it all sorted out between the four of us who were running the event, all ready to kick off on Wednesday last week. It had been a LOT of effort, so it came as a bit of a surprise to us when we started to realise it WASN'T just a load of hassle for nothing, and that theere was actually loads of good stuff there. Furthermore, it all BLOODY WORKED!

This latter aspect continued to delight us through the next three days - IT WORKED! Loads of people got involved, all of the Q&A sessions were full of questions, and people seemed happy... very happy, in fact. The only major issue was that there waasn't anywhere to GOSSIP between sessions or in the pub afterwards, but other than that it worked as well - or BETTER - than a normal conference would.

And best of all, all of the presentations are online FOREVER for anyone to have a look at. Go on, have a look at The Conference HUB site, where you can find out everything that was going on and then link directly to the papers.

It was a GRATE experience all round, though flipping knackering. I'm just glad it's not our turn again next year!
posted 8/7/2020 by MJ Hibbett
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Typing THE END!
Yesterday I typed the following phrase into a word document:


As discerning readers may have already worked out for themselves, I typed this into the END of the document with the intent of properly notifying the reader that there was no more. A simple full stop would not be enough, capitalisation seemed REQUIRED, and I must say that even THAT was not sufficient on this occasion, hence the addtion of an exclamation mark. For LO! this was the ending of my latest NOVEL what I have written!

Regular visitors will recall that this is by no means the first such novel what have flowed from my princely pen. A couple of years ago I even SELF-PUBLISHED a book and then, through a very long process of re-writes and de-writes, I managed to sign up with a LITERAY AGENT. We then spent another WHOLE YEAR re-writing THAT book into a very different one which was sent off to Publishing Houses not long before The Current Situation commenced, since which the whole thing has Gone A Bit Quiet.

I also wrote TWO (2) other books around that time. One was a SEQUEL to the self-published book, and the other was a DYSTOPIAN SCI-FI affair. This Spring/Summer I had been planning to start re-writing the aforesaid SEQUEL, ready for the inevitable BIG SALE of the original book, but as things slowed down I realised that this might be a bit daft. What is the point of writing a SEQUEL to a book that nodody might ever read?

I thus turned my LITERARY EYE onto a whole OTHER writing project, and it is THAT what I have just finished writing. I do not, at this stage, want to go into too much details about what it is about for fear of JINXING it, but I will reveal that it is in fact a heavily re-written LITERARY ADAPTATION of something ELSE what I did a few years ago. It's been re-done to clearly be a kids book, with kids as the heroes throughout, and also to make a bit more sense AND to have some more gags in it, but I hope that when it is finally UNVEILED upon the word then people who liked the original will be pleased.

To be honest, this whole blog entry is just me being dead excitied to have finished it and trying not to say out loud what it actually IS. Sorry for only being about to tell you A Little Bit about it, hopefully before too long I can tell you A Little Bit More!

posted 11/6/2020 by MJ Hibbett
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