IWOOT Blog

Kevin Shields' Guitar Set-Up

This picture has done the rounds once or twice before, but it’s always a good time to stand back and marvel at the geek-overload that is Kevin Shields’ guitar set-up. To the uninitiated, Kevin Shields is the guitarist in seminal shoegaze band My Bloody Valentine, and a man to whom all modern electric guitarists owe a considerable debt. It’s not often we get bogged down in nerdisms (honest…), but Shields is a technical and aural whiz – thick layers of distortion are treated to endless groaning tremolos, whammy pedals, pre-amps and samples to create his signature sound, and it’s a true guilty pleasure to see exactly how he manages it:

shields-set-up

As you can see, it’s a mite more complex than just sticking a distortion pedal into your Squier practice amp. I was lucky enough to catch My Bloody Valentine on their reunion tour last year – it’s the only gig I’ve attended where earplugs were handed out on the door. Like the purist (or fool) that I am, I didn’t bother using them and couldn’t hear for three days. It’s great to suffer for your art, eh? And, following in the footsteps of EddyWoot (last seen trailing through the skies over Brick Lane), I’ll be heading to the ATP Festival in December to do it all over again. Some people never learn.

Anyone who wants to hear what such clutter would sound like, have a listen to this Spotify link.

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Dinosaurs Attack German TV Show

It seems that zombies are the least of our worries – dinosaurs have invaded Germany.

We’re joking of course – but they could’ve done a better job of acting surprised than the decidedly ‘not fussed’ host and his junior accomplice. The moment when the first dinosaur runs out is pure theatre (even if it’s not quite as surprising when you see the puppeteer’s legs), and as baffling as it is surprising – the virtue of the whole clip being in German means we’ve no idea that this might even happen. But the reactions, though. Come on. Wouldn’t you be delirious with fear? Or, if you knew they weren’t real, giggling like a goon? Apparently these stoic professionals (with Valkyrie hats on) are apparently wise to even the most deadly predators:

Yes, it sort of tails off towards the end, but still. Jurassic Park may be the daddy (I still remember seeing it in the cinema and watching the velociraptor kitchen scene with my hands over my mouth in terror), but these puppets make the whole concept of a live-action dino-flick tantalisingly close. Very impressive.

Thanks to Geekologie for spotting.

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Cake Art

I love cake. You love cake. We all love cake. This is a given. There are two ladies, though, that love cake more than all of us. Strangely, they’re both called Barbara. The IWOOT offices have seen an awful lot of cake recently – for some reason people have been having birthdays all at once – and we’re getting a little obsessed. These two cakey ladies seem to have read our collective minds.

Barbara Jo and Barbara May are in the cake-making business, but this is slightly more impressive than one or two tiers on a wedding cake or the odd splash of food colouring. They’ve interpreted cake design as a real art form and as a more than slightly industrial process. These tasty treats are staggering in their detail, and amazingly inventive to boot.

Take a look at their latest creation – the TARDIS cake:

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 tardis-cake-3

This is not simply a column of cakey goodness – there are lights, illuminations, electronics and much more involved in this two-feet-tall masterpiece. The attention to detail is staggering, and matched (we hope) by the taste. Would you really want to eat a TARDIS though? Something that is reputedly bigger on the inside than the outside is going to play havoc with anyone’s waistline.

Elsewhere, the two Barbaras (can anyone think of an appropriate collective noun for more than one Barbara?) have made some astonishing works over the last year or two – visit their website to see them in all their glory. My favourite is this Poo-Flinging Monkey cake. Charmer.

monkey-cake

All this cake experimenting reminds me of the time my mum made my older brother a cake in the shape of the Ewok Village from Return Of The Jedi. Rest assured, it was epic.

Thanks DebbieWoot for spotting the two Barbaras first!

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Woody Harrelson Is Prepared For The Zombie Apocalypse

Whilst waiting for a bus to work this morning, I was reminded of a valiant man who, despite the ridicule of the press, is truly ready for the upcoming Zombie Apocalypse. A poster for the comedy (or documentary?) ‘Zombieland’ was on the side of my bus this morning and its star, Woody Harrelson, is a man on top of the Z.A. After the film had finished shooting, Mr. Harrelson apparently assaulted a photographer at La Guardia airport – you can read the full story at CNN here.

This may be old news, having taken place in April, but seeing Harrelson on the side of a bus reminded me of his defence:

“I wrapped a movie called ‘Zombieland,’ in which I was constantly under assault by zombies, then flew to New York, still very much in character. With my daughter at the airport I was startled by a paparazzo, who I quite understandably mistook for a zombie.”

Woody Harrelson

Though this defence is completely hilarious, it should be added that if we were all to adopt such a lifestyle (in which we assume everyone we don’t know is a zombie), the chances of total carnage would be somewhat reduced… something to think about? Or are we taking this too seriously?

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And The Winner Is… (Week 1)

It’s all over – our ‘Things We Didn’t Know’ competition is closed after a frantic week of ridiculous facts being posted to our Facebook wall. We now know much, much more than we did a week ago, but we’re unsure about the origin of that “it’s still legal to shoot a Welshman in York with a crossbow” one – I’m sure someone clarified it somewhere. We’re also confident that the “it’s impossible to lick your elbow” one is untrue – someone went to the trouble of posting video evidence of auto-elbow-lickage, so we can lay that one to rest. And the number of times we counted someone relaying the “a pig’s orgasm lasts over half a hour” fact makes us consider all of your sanity. Come on people, do we really need to know that?

So without further ado, we’re happy to announce that the winner of the first iPhone in our mammoth giveaway is…

Martin Pound – “Slinky Plus Escalator = Endless Fun.”

Congratulations Martin. We picked Martin because his ‘fact’ was light-hearted, technically true and not the sort of thing any old mug could look up on Google. And we liked the mental image of someone sitting at the bottom of an escalator, giggling maniacally at the silver spiral’s answer to the conundrum of perpetual motion. Brilliant. 

 

There were some other almost-as-brilliant entries (we liked the anagrams of “IWOOT iPhone” particularly), but with a little bit of outside-the-box action, Martin’s bagged himself an iPhone – see if you can do the same with this week’s competition, Desktop Sculptures. All the info you need to enter is here.

iphone-3g11

As for more Things We Didn’t Know, the fun doesn’t stop with the competition – you can go here to our original list at IWOOT, and you can download our TWDK iPhone app too, which will deliver thousands of similarly bizarre facts so that you’ll never be short of a conversation point. If that wasn’t enough, you can see the cream of Things We Didn’t Know each week on our newsletter, which you can sign up for on the homepage (it’s on the left hand side if you scroll down a little).

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Win An iPhone Week 2

After last week’s ‘Things We Didn’t Know’ competition to win an iPhone (it went berserk on Facebook, have a look here), we thought we’d make this week’s challenge (the second in our 10-week run of iPhone giveaways) a little more interactive. The prize is the same, another beautiful, sleek, useful iPhone, but we want you to use some resourcefulness and excercise your creativity. We want you to create a Desktop Sculpture: JennaWoot made an example for the blog here, you can take it as a starting point or go crazy, involve colleagues, pets, general office paraphernalia… you name it. If you can squeeze it into your Sculpture, use it. The most creative, interesting, weird or intriguing will win!

The rules are simple – all you have to do is create your Desktop Sculpture, photograph it and upload it to the photo section of  our Facebook fan photo gallery by 10AM on Monday 12th October. Just click on the link, sign in and add your entry to our wall, it’ll automatically go to our fan photo gallery. Easy-peasy! So get cracking folks, that iPhone won’t win itself!

Here’s a picture of the example:

JennaWoot's Desktop Sculpture

Competition Terms & Conditions:

• Closing Date For this competition is 10AM on Monday 12th October 2009.
• Sadly, you can only enter this competition once. (You can’t fool us, you know!)
• This competition is completely free to enter, no purchase is necessary.
• No cash alternative is available for the prize(s) offered.
• This competition is open to residents of the UK only.
• Employees of I Want One of Those and their immediate families and anyone professionally connected with the promotion are not eligible to enter this competition
• The winner will be chosen by the IWOOT team.
• The winner will be notified of their win via the Facebook name submitted on the entry. If a response to this notification is not received within 14 days, IWOOT reserves the right to randomly select another winner. In light of this, please ensure you submit an email address that you use regularly!
• No responsibility will be accepted for entries that are not received.
• From time to time we may include customer comments and feedback on the site, and in our catalogue and other media. By submitting your comment you are granting us permission to publish it and, if necessary, edit it for clarity and typos.

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IWOOT Goes To The Dogs

Apologies for that title. But, for better or worse, a brave gaggle of IWOOT staff made their way to Wimbledon dog tracks to watch a load of boisterous animals race round and round in circles. And some greyhound races (ba-dum-chish!). Anyway, we gambled, we ate fast food, we saw the grizzled expressions on the sheepskin coat-wearing bet-takers, and some of us even came out with a profit. Dog names we appreciated included Skywalker Falcon, Lynn’s Friend and Granary Sparkle. How do they think them up? Sadly we didn’t get any pictures of the furry little Lewis Hamiltons, they were just too darn quick. 

You can rest assured that all of us in the pictures below are wearing the smiles of gambling addicts.

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iwootwork

And JimboWoot found the car of his dreams. Bless.

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JennaWoot's Desktop Sculpture

Like we keep on saying, we’re a creative bunch here at IWOOT Towers. Sometimes, that creativity simply spills over and we can’t help but produce magnificent artworks, even on our lunch hour. This intriguing specimen from JennaWoot clearly shows much artistic poise and control, but utilises only the most basic of office paraphernalia. It is, if you will, a high-art concept with lo-fi materials that anyone with a desk can make for themselves.

JennaWoot's Desktop Sculpture

To create this stunning piece, Jenna used:

1 Plant
2 tea bags
3 red elastic bands
2 highlighter pens
2 biros
1 Wispa Gold
1 pack of AAA batteries
1 Pritt Stick
1 fake butterfly
1 pack of Strepsils (with 1 missing)
1 Ruler
Various Christmas decorations (including Winnie The Pooh in a watering can)
Lip balm
Some bulldog clips
Several Post-It notes

Not to be all Neil Buchanan about it, but why not give it a try yourself?

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Faxing Hell

We live in a day and age where nearly every person in this country has a mobile phone. Netbooks are the new laptops, and smartphones are the new netbooks. Mobile phone providers are offering packages featuring everything from, ‘unlimited’ internet access to free unlimited Skype-to-Skype calls. ‘Eco-friendly’ is no longer just a buzz-word – it’s becoming the motivation for serious innovation. The hydrogen car, for example. Robots are here. Not quite Skynet or OCP style, but the global robot race is constantly getting faster and more challenging with leaps and bounds in robotic innovation. HD TV is kind-of here, we have re-invented the way we interact with gaming consoles (just look at the Wii or Tony Hawk Ride), people are building Smart Homes that they can log into and control the temperature on their toilet seat (my guess is that this must be ‘Paul’s’ house) so that it’s a nice happy warm temperature when you get home to your throne. Soon people will be embarking on the first commercial flight into space. So Jimbo, what the hell are you on about?

Basically, after all of this acknowledgement for how advanced we are, why, oh why, is it that companies, (I must add – BIG companies) still ask you to FAX things to them. Yes, FAX. According to Wikipedia (a source as reliable as Michael Moore) the fax was finally polished and honed in 1985.

The object of Jimbo's frustration

So, when I was recently asked to FAX a claim, I queried how long the response time to my fax would be. It was then explained to me that my Fax would go through to the sorting department, who then SCAN it in, then attach the SCAN to the relevant query number. It should be done in 3 days.

3 days? Seriously, am I the only one who has an image of a Third World sweat-shop-like floor in one our nation’s largest banks? Take a FAX off the pile, put it into the SCANNER, SCAN. SAVE FILE. PLACE FILE IN CLIENT FOLDER. REPEAT.

I would really like to cruise in there, and give them a demonstration of this new awesome technology. It’s called EMAIL. How it works is quite simple. You ask me to EMAIL you the Claims form. I then SCAN it in, EMAIL it DIRECTLY to YOU and then you get it within a matter of seconds (possibly minutes, because you are probably still on dial-up). Then we can discuss it almost instantly. You see, there is a thing called the internet – AND I HEARD IT’S GOING TO BE BIG!

So all this leaves me with the question that promptly ended my telephone conversation – ‘Are you from the past?’.

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Throwing Apples Through Windows

Charlie Brooker, one of IWOOT’s favourite writers, has highlighted a particularly thorny issue in his latest piece for The Guardian – that of the seemingly eternal dichotomy between Apple and Windows operating systems. Eloquently and with not a little vitriol, Brooker lambastes both sides. Apple users, he argues, are smug, while Windows users are doomed to a life spent waiting for applications to open.

For me, this is an issue that is governed by something else. No matter the incredible ease of the Mac OS, I can’t afford one. Not by choice, but by force I have to side with Windows and their terrifyingly slow Vista OS. My last laptop cost me £249 and, though I thoroughly hate the thing, I would be lost without it. All my work, my photos, my iTunes library (my one Apple luxury) and near-enough anything that’s important is on there – it just takes me a couple of hours to access it. No joke – I was sitting in a North London café on Saturday afternoon (sipping a particularly rich Americano, if you’re interested) and making use of their free wi-fi, and my wretched little box took 11 whole minutes to get used to its surroundings, get comfy, pull itself together and be ready to connect. The poor waitress with the network key was forced to be very patient. I suspect she wanted to pour my particularly rich Americano all over its stupid keys.

laptop-bin

I agree with Brooker when he says that these Apple acolytes are so very obsessed with spreading the good word, and I know that I can’t join them unless I seriously save up for it. I too feel a little pang of incandescent rage when I see someone using a Mac Book or an iPhone – not because I detest the way in which their owners seem to luxuriate in the glow of being correct (maybe a little…), but because I want to be one of them.

JimboWoot even let me touch his iPhone the other day. It was pretty magical. It’s not that I needed converting, but I know I can’t spend my life resisting the urge to despatch strong coffee all over my Vista screen in the same way you would a cuckolding partner. Might be time to open a savings account…

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