The Troubled Diva Readership Survey.

THIS SURVEY IS NOW CLOSED. MANY THANKS TO ALL WHO TOOK PART.

For obvious reasons, this is an anonymous survey. Therefore, while answering these questions, I recommend that you REMOVE your name, e-mail address and URL from the comments boxes. And please don’t worry: your anonymity will not be compromised in any way.

I’ll publish the results of the survey in due course.

Update (1): If the slowness of my comments system is driving you to distraction, and if you’re not fussed about revealing your identity to me, then you’re welcome to answer the questions by e-mail instead. (I’m mikejla at btinternet dot com.)

Update (2): Alternatively, you may prefer to use this text file, which contains all the questions in one place. You can then either e-mail me the answers to the address above, or leave all the answers in the comments box below.

1. Please supply the following five pieces of information about yourself:

* a) your gender
* b) your age
* c) your sexual orientation
* d) your relationship status
* e) your country of current residence.

2. UK readers only: please state your county of current residence (or major city, if applicable). US readers only: please state your state of current residence.

3. Are you in full-time or part-time employment, or self-employed, or a student, or a quote-unquote “home maker”, or retired, or unemployed? (Or something else which I’ve forgotten about?)

4. Are you reading this from your place of work/study, or from your home, or from a public internet access point?

5. Are you a university graduate? If not, at what stage did you complete your education?

6. Have we ever spoken with each other via private e-mail?

7. Have we ever met each other in real life?

8. Have you ever won a prize on this site?

9. Do you have your own active weblog? (“Active” = at least one entry since January 1st 2005.)

10. Active bloggers only: Have I ever linked to your weblog?

11. Active bloggers only: Have I ever left a comment on your weblog?

12. When did you first start reading Troubled Diva?

13. How did you first find Troubled Diva?

14a. How frequently do you read Troubled Diva?

14b. Long-term readers only: Compared with this time a year ago, do you read the site more frequently, less frequently, or is it about the same?

15. Do you track updates to Troubled Diva using Bloglines, or the Updated UK Weblogs list, or any other RSS reader – or do you just come here on the off-chance that I will have updated?

16. Which of the following statements most closely describes your Troubled Diva reading habits?

* a) I read every word of every post, more or less without fail.
* b) I read most posts, but skip or skim-read the ones which are less interesting to me.
* c) I read less than half of the posts, only picking out the ones that look interesting.

17. Which of the following statements most closely describes your blog-reading habits?

* a) I don’t read any weblogs on a regular basis.
* b) Troubled Diva is the only weblog which I read on a regular basis.
* c) I read less than 10 weblogs on a regular basis.
* d) I read between 10 and 25 weblogs on a regular basis.
* e) I read more than 25 weblogs on a regular basis.

18. During the course of 2005, I have written proportionately more about music than in previous years. Speaking purely in terms of your own enjoyment of the site, do you find this a positive or a negative development, or do you not particularly mind either way?

19. Have you ever bought any Troubled Diva merchandise?

20. Have you ever bought a CD as a result of a recommendation on this site? (If so, and if you can remember, then please specify.)

21. Have you ever discovered a blog through this site, which you have then gone on to read regularly? (If so, and if you can remember, then please specify.)

22. Do you have any favourite posts or “moments” on this site? If so, then please name them, up to a maximum of five.

23. Have you ever used the links on my sidebar to read old posts on this site?

24. Excluding the comments boxes: Has Troubled Diva ever made you laugh out loud? Has it ever made you cry? Has it ever made you angry?

25. Do you have any other comments?

Stylus UK Singles Jukebox: The Worst Pizza Express Blind…

In this week’s Stylus UK Singles Jukebox, I have deigned to furnish the world with my opinions on just three songs: from JoJo (R&B freeware plug-in?), Saint Etienne (never has “form” been returned to so gloriously) and LCD Soundsystem (spare room in six months’ time).

Of the remainder, I can recommend the new singles from John Legend (schmaltzy piano ballad, but I can be quite a sentimental old sausage), M83 (shoegazing electronica, heavy on the effects pedals, and ergo a good thing) and Ralph Myerz & The Jack Herren Band (Saint Etienne goes jazzy/funky beach house). I also think that the Stylus panel have been unnecessarily harsh on The Ordinary Boys, and their really rather likeable Madness pastiche.

Auntie’s Naughtiest Bloomers… Ever!

As someone who likes to start his week with a good chuckle, I was heartened by this morning’s Today programme (BBC Radio 4), which included a discussion on the increasingly recognised problem of back pain in the workplace. (Has your office insisted you attend a course on How To Lift Things, called “Manual Handling”, even though your job involves lifting nothing heavier than a new pack of A4 paper for the printer? Because ours most certainly has. Insert “nanny state” rant here.)

Eventually, the discussion touched upon Michael Jackson’s recent hospital treatment for back pain. Feeling the need to clarify the situation, the “expert” figure on the discussion panel helpfully explained that this would have been caused by stress, rather than by any “manual handling”.

As the studio descended into uproar, I once again remembered my favourite Today howler of all time. This occurred around 1996-97, when the gay activist Peter Tatchell was being interviewed by John Humphries about differing attitudes within the gay community regarding what constituted acceptable and/or effective forms of protest. At the time, there was still a lot of controversy surrounding the overtly confrontational media-grabbing stunts of Tatchell’s Outrage! organisation, as pitted against the impeccably courteous “softly-softly” lobbying approach of the establishment-friendly Stonewall group. This led Tatchell to suggest that for many British gay men, the distinction was irrelevant, since only a particular section of the gay community took an interest in gay politics in the first place.

In a dangerous rush of blood to head, Humphries felt a new theory coming on. Unwisely, he then proceeded to launch into it. (And, needless to say, I paraphrase from memory.)

“So, perhaps we could say that the gay population divides into two groups? The “active”, and the…”

Long, agonising pause, in which I imagined Tatchell sitting there, imperiously poker-faced, waiting to see how Humphries would dig himself out.

(dismissively, somewhat crossly) “…well, let’s not get too bogged down with categories here.”

Sadly, they never mention this one on the “blunder” compilations. But I don’t forget these things in a hurry.

Those MBIAT guest posts in full.

I spent some of last week hanging out at Zoe’s place. These were the results.

1. Troubled Twat, or My Boyfriend Is A Diva.

In which I celebrate K’s birthday by decking him out in pistachio and germolene.

2. Popping out for meat.

A gentle country stroll, with carnivorous intent.

3. Quick, Name A Queen Song – The Results.

A predictable reversion to type. (And to think that I originally saw this guest-blogging gig as a chance to stop banging on about pop music the whole time. Ah well, at least I lasted for two whole posts.)

4. Things I Was Going To Tell You About This Week, But Never Got Round To.

Dancing horses, Japanese horror, and the return of Beefheart’s boys. (I shall be returning to the dancing horses in the near-ish future.)

Continue reading “Those MBIAT guest posts in full.”

So, Mike, how are you?

1. Look, is it OK if I whinge for a bit? Because I’m feeling a bit flat, if truth be told. I’ve been in a state of constant tiredness for the last few days; a sort of trashed-out fuzziness, both physical and mental. It’s been getting in the way of life, leaving me feeling lethargic and unenthusiastic, viewing every small action as a major chore.

2. I know where it’s come from: I’ve been keeping overly irregular hours. Too many late drinks (oh go on, just one more), late nights (I’ll just swing by the study and check my mail), grudging early starts, just-another-half-hour lie-ins… no pattern, no discipline. Manageable for a while, but ultimately unsustainable.

3. It’s a Nottingham thing, as well. The one snag with escaping to the cottage every weekend is the shadow that this casts over the rest of the week. And with three nights over there to four nights over here, there’s little spare time/energy/motivation for improving things here. To-do lists stay undone; the paper mountain in the kitchen stacks up; whole evenings are glumly mooched away, parked in front of the telly, on the uncomfortable leather sofa, in the stark, gloomy, high-walled, awkwardly-shaped sitting room that we’ve never managed to get quite right.

4. We should move, of course. We know that. We’ve been here far too long already: almost thirteen years, and we only ever meant to stay for five. What looked fresh and new in 1992 now looks tired and stale in 2005. Things have got tatty round the edges. Walls need painting; fixtures need fixing; clutter needs clearing. (All that accumulated detritus: too old to need, too good to chuck.) With all of our entertaining taking place at weekends, nobody comes round any more. Not ever. So why bother, when no-one even sees the place?

5. We should move, of course. But the timing is never right. Can’t do this until this happens. The flood-damaged flooring still needs replacing, but progress is slow. Dithering over what to do in the abandoned and overgrown yards outside, which would put anybody off before they’d even made it through the door. Waiting until things settle down with K’s new company, so we can plan ahead with confidence. Trying to work out what we want – how much or how little space, what price range, what area – looking around, but never finding anything that feels right. Because, underneath it all, we’ve grown weary of Nottingham itself – and no smart new gaff is going to change any of that.

6. Ten years ago, at the height of my mad-fer-it hedonistic days, I lived for the freedom and release of the weekend. Ten years on, with pre-occupations and priorities so radically revised, I find myself slipping back into an oddly familiar dichotomy. For every Friday night, when the car gets the other side of Derby, and we bear left onto the minor road, instantly swapping pinched suburbia for lush open countryside, I feel my entire sense of self shifting. And by the time we get past Carsington Water and onto the tiny, winding Bradbourne road, and the hills start rising around us in the early evening light – reassuringly familiar and yet stimulatingly different, as we take in all the subtle seasonal developments, unseen since the previous week – I have shed my city skin entirely, giving my Nottingham life barely another thought until Monday morning rolls around again.

7. Sorry, what was I saying earlier on? Oh, that. Well, never mind about all of that now. There are clothes to be folded, bags to be packed, a boot to load up, our journalist friend to pick up… and we don’t want to hang around any later than we have to. Perhaps we’ll call in for a quick pit-stop pint at The Gate along the way. Anyway, nearly there now. Nearly there.

Those Bloggers’ Disco CD tracklists in full.

(Because I never got round to publishing them all before. Thanks to Debster for the reminder.)

Disc 1.

“…a good crowd-pleasing, floor-filling opener, which would probably work just as well at a wedding disco as it would at a bloggers’ disco.”

1. Dragostea Din Tei – O-Zone
2. Filthy/Gorgeous – Scissor Sisters
3. I Believe In A Thing Called Love – The Darkness
4. Lust For Life – Iggy Pop
5. Panic – The Smiths
6. Sheena Is A Punk Rocker – Ramones
7. Too Drunk To Fuck – Nouvelle Vague
8. The Snake – Al Wilson
9. Wild Dances – Ruslana
10. Disco Inferno – The Trammps
11. Oops Upside Your Head – The Gap Band
12. Play That Funky Music – Wild Cherry
13. Funky Cold Medina – Tone Loc
14. Brown Sugar – The Rolling Stones
15. Disco 2000 – Pulp
16. She Sells Sanctuary – The Cult
17. Heroes – David Bowie
18. Let’s Stay Together – Al Green
19. You To Me Are Everything – The Real Thing
20. Stay With You – Lemon Jelly
21. Drop The Pressure – Mylo
22. Blue Monday – New Order
23. Deceptacon (DFA remix) – Le Tigre

Disc 2.

“Having got all the bloggers on the dancefloor with the clarion call that is Megamix #1 , we can now afford to widen our scope, throw a few curveballs, take a few risks. But not too many risks; we don’t want any disgruntled punters marching up to the DJ booth and asking when we’re going to play some “proper music”.”

“So variety is the order of day here. Something for the kids, something for the mums and dads, something for the cool gay uncles dancing “ironically” – and why, I think even Grandma in the corner might be spotted tapping the odd toe or two!”

1. Abracadabra – Steve Miller Band
2. Our Lips Are Sealed (extended version) – Fun Boy Three
3. Kiss Me – Stephen “Tin Tin” Duffy
4. Girls – The Prodigy
5. Ebeneezer Goode – The Shamen
6. I Am The Resurrection – The Stone Roses
7. Love Shack – The B-52’s
8. Groovin’ With Mr. Bloe – Mr. Bloe
9. Woolly Bully – Sam The Sham & The Pharaohs
10. Ace Of Spades – Hayseed Dixie
11. A Boy Named Sue – Johnny Cash
12. Birdhouse In Your Soul – They Might Be Giants
13. Come Dancing – The Kinks
14. Jive Soweto – Sipho Mabuse
15. Copacabana – Barry Manilow
16. Glow – Rick James
17. If I Can’t Have You – Yvonne Elliman
18. MacArthur Park – Donna Summer
19. Blame It On The Boogie – The Jacksons
20. Ain’t No Stoppin’ Us Now – McFadden & Whitehead
21. I Will Survive – Gloria Gaynor
22. Don’t Leave Me This Way – Thelma Houston

Disc 3.

Hold the cheese! As our third megamix steers an altogether more “credible” course (albeit in a somewhat mid-1990s student disco fashion, as usage of the term “credible” might imply), those of you with the musical equivalent of lactose intolerance may derive great comfort from it.”

“The set starts with a sedate mid-paced shuffle, before slowly ramping up the levels of thrash to a shattering – nay, cathartic – intensity. A restorative retro/Tarantino interlude then leads us into a full-on lasers-and-smoke-machines finale, before everyone collapses into a sodden heap to the strains of a universally acknowledged classic.”

1. Fascinating Rhythm – Bass-O- Matic
2. Where It’s At – Beck
3. How Soon Is Now – Tatu
4. Animal Nitrate – Suede
5. (White Man) In Hammersmith Palais – The Clash
6. Tubthumping – Chumbawamba
7. Step On – Happy Mondays
8. Jump Around – House Of Pain
9. Let’s Get Ready To Rhumble – PJ & Duncan
10. Do Ya Think I’m Sexy? – Revolting Cocks
11. Cannonball – The Breeders
12. Smells Like Teen Spirit – Nirvana
13. Delilah – Tom Jones
14. Stuck In The Middle With You – Stealers Wheel
15. You Never Can Tell – Chuck Berry
16. Tainted Love – Gloria Jones
17. Shack Up – A Certain Ratio
18. Don’t Stop Till You Get To Bollywood – Bollywood Freaks
19. You Make Me Feel (Mighty Real) – Sylvester
20. 1999 – Binary Finary
21. Born Slippy – Underworld
22. Teenage Kicks – The Undertones

Disc 4.

The Obscure One.

“From cheese to cred to cult; that’s the progression we’re adopting down at the Bloggers’ Disco, as Volume 4 sees us investigating some of your more leftfield suggestions. Indeed, most of today’s tracks are as unfamiliar to me as they no doubt will be to you. Nevertheless, I have hopefully knitted them together into some sort of coherent order – albeit without any of the fancy mixing techniques of the first few sets.”

“After a gentle beginning – more Bloggers’ Chill Lounge than Bloggers’ Disco – we move into mostly guitar-based waters, of the sort that will probably appeal to the Uncut/Mojo readers amongst you. If none of this tickles your dancing feet, then might I suggest that this would be a good time to grab a paper plate and avail yourself of the tasty treats over at the Bloggers’ Buffet? Once you’ve done that, then let’s have you all burning off those calories with our funkier closing section, which will transport you back to the New York underground disco scene of the late 1970s.”

1. Voodoo Ray – Acid Brass
2. Chocolate Jesus – Tom Waits
3. Chunga’s Revenge – Gotan Project
4. Eight Miles High – Leo Kottke
5. Can Megan – Gorky’s Zygotic Mynci
6. Love You Madly – Cake
7. And I Will Cry – Little Rabbits
8. Billy Boola – Bono/Gavin Friday
9. Bright Yellow Gun – Throwing Muses
10. The Feeling’s Gone – The Apollinaires
11. Seven Deadly Finns – Brian Eno
12. 9 Volt – The Fierce Lime & his Ponytail Assassins
13. Hey Jealousy – Gin Blossoms
14. Y’a un fille qu’habite chez moi – Benabar
15. What Is Hip? – Tower Of Power
16. Give Up The Funk (Tear The Roof Off The Sucker) – Parliament
17. Ask Me (Danny Krivit re-edit) – Ecstasy, Passion & Pain
18. Reasons To Be Cheerful Part 3 – Ian Dury & The Blockheads
19. Anikana-O – Kongas

Disc 5.

Like disco never happened.

“Our penultimate megamix moves from glacial alienation, through gay electro-pop, through cutesy-wutesy indie-jangle, through leather-jacketed rebel-rock, to beer-sodden bar-room boogie, before ending with a flurry of pure 1980s pop. OK, so it’s not what you might call “funky”, but it does its job all the same.”

1. Vienna – Ultravox
2. Being Boiled – Human League
3. Love To Hate You – Erasure
4. Absolutely Fabulous – Pet Shop Boys
5. Common People – Pulp
6. Rise And Shine – The Cardigans
7. I’m A Cuckoo – Belle & Sebastian
8. Girl From Mars – Ash
9. Crash – The Primitives
10. Never Understand – The Jesus & Mary Chain
11. My Way – Sid Vicious
12. My Generation – The Who
13. Caroline – Status Quo
14. Cool For Cats – Squeeze
15. Prince Charming – Adam & The Ants
16. Anarchy In The UK – Sex Pistols
17. I’m In The Mood For Dancing – The Nolans
18. Wake Me Up Before You Go-Go – Wham!
19. Take On Me – A-ha
20. You Came – Kim Wilde
21. It’s My Life – Talk Talk
22. Tonight – Easyworld

Disc 6.

The last gasp.

“Our Bloggers’ disco has turned into something of a dance marathon, hasn’t it? Assuming that we start the dancing with the first megamix at 8pm, and play each mix in sequence, then the sixth and final mix won’t even start until 2.40 in the morning. So let’s take a look round the room and see who’s left standing.”

“OK, I can see that some of you are flagging a bit. So let’s have you all back on the floor for one more massed knees-up, culminating in an old favourite from 1990 which always, always has everyone dancing. (Is there anyone alive who doesn’t like this? No, thought not.)”

“With many of you starting to collect your coats and phone for cabs, the next two sections of the mix are designed to cater for two groups who have been given somewhat short shrift over the past few hours.”

“Firstly, the saucer-eyed Ravey Davey Graveys finally get a chance to make some interesting shapes with their hands, to a selection of Banging Choons. “What’s yer name? Where yer from? What’s yer URL? Top one!” Sadly, we couldn’t afford any smoke and lasers at our disco – but the three little coloured sound-to-light bulbs on the top of the right hand speaker are flashing away like no-one’s business. Cosmic!”

“Secondly, the group of disgruntled rockers on the plastic stacking chairs in the far corner, who have been moaning about how there hasn’t been any “proper” music all night, finally leap to their feet, put their pint glasses on the floor, stick their thumbs through their belt loops, and “bond” (in an entirely non-sexual way) to a selection of rock tracks old and new.”

“As the bar staff advance, J-cloths in hand, to wipe down the tables and lift up the chairs, the small remaining gaggle of diehards form a big circle, arms around shoulders, and bellow their lungs out to… well, you’ll see.”

One more tune! One more tune!

“One more tune it is, then. Even though the house lights are up, and the bar manager is jangling his keys impatiently. A disco classic, to send you off into the early morning (is it 4 o’clock already?) with a smile on your face and a “Best Disco EVAH!” post already drafting itself in your head.”

1. From New York To L.A. – Patsy Gallant
2. Build Me Up Buttercup – The Foundations
3. Reet Petite – Jackie Wilson
4. Get Right – Jennifer Lopez feat Fabolous
5. Groove Is In The Heart – Deee-Lite
6. LFO (Leeds Warehouse mix) – LFO
7. Anxiety – A Guy Called Gerald
8. Yeah (Crass Version) – LCD Soundsystem
9. Bliss – Muse
10. Finding Out True Love Is Blind – Louis XIV
11. Rocky Mountain Way – Joe Walsh
12. The Prophet’s Song – Queen
13. Thru’ These Architect’s Eyes – David Bowie
14. Hey Jude – The Beatles
15. Always Look On The Bright Side Of Life – Monty Python
16. Don’t Stop ‘Til You Get Enough – Michael Jackson

Big Blogger 2005.

Courtesy of Watksi and The Long Lost Lagomorph, here’s a potentially cracking new blog-stunt thingy: Big Blogger 2005. Fifteen bloggers; various tasks; voting; elimination; and one eventual winner.

OK, so something similar has happened here before… and something similar is happening here right now… but I don’t think there has ever been a UK-based version before. And I think that this has the potential to be a complete hoot.

The organisers are currently looking for contestants, and have put out a call for nominations. As there’s nothing in the rules against it, I have duly nominated myself. So if you too have a ruthlessly competitive streak and are best motivated by fear of failure/enjoy creative collaborations with like-minded souls, in a nurturing and mutually supportive environment (I’d say “delete as appropriate”, but in my case I actually think that both apply), then hurry on over and pimp your ass! Or somebody else’s!