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Spank Gold Volume 1: Monkey Round The World

Surprisingly, this just might be the only publically available photo featuring me and The Belated Birthday Girl together."Get Excited And Make Things."

In certain circles, it was the buzzphrase of 2009. It was the work of designer Matt Jones, who'd noticed how the old WW2 propaganda poster Keep Calm And Carry On had mysteriously come back into vogue this year. You can sort of understand why such a message might be popular in these times of economic embuggerment: but Jones thought that what was actually needed was something a little more proactive. Some extraordinary art and invention has emerged from times of crisis, so why can't that be the case now?

Meanwhile, elsewhere in 2009, there was me. I've spent much of the past year on the Spank Gold project, writing up my artistic experiences from a self-defined Year Zero of 1989 up to the point when the first Spank The Monkey website started in 1998. Put all that together, and I've now got a full record of the last two decades of my cultural life on the internet. But... now what? After all, it's just the internet.

The answer to that question eventually came from that guy Warren Ellis who keeps turning up here. Aside from writing comics, fiction and content for twenty or so websites, he's also a keen observer of cultural and technological trends. He picked up on the whole Get Excited And Make Things meme, and used it to test out some theories he had regarding one particular trend. I watched him put his money where his mouth is, realised that what he was doing didn't actually cost him any money, and, well...

I got excited.

I made something.

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SPANK GOLD: Nothing But Total Respect For Annie Lennox: Pick Of The Year 1997

I'll have you know that these are some of the finest quality graphics possible using Microsoft Paint!Woo! Technology, eh? 1997 was the year I bought my first home PC – I had a Sinclair ZX81 years before that, sure, but this was the real thing. It completely revolutionized the way in which these Pick Of The Year compilations were assembled. As you can see from the image on the left, this was the first time I ventured into the arena of sleeve design, grabbing images from the internet of the sixteen artists involved and mashing them into a square grid, regardless of their original aspect ratio. As for the compilation itself, I used up-to-the-minute software to “rip” the CD tracks into audio files, assemble them into two 45 minute sequences, and then, er, record them through the PC’s headphone socket onto tape. (My first CD burner wouldn’t come till 1998.)

So, wrapping up the year of self-indulgent archive recycling that was Spank Gold, here’s the last of my POTY compilations to feature an explicit Side One/Side Two split.

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Simian Substitute Site for December 2009: Mister Shifter

Mister Shifter We're heading into the home stretch of 2009. For most arts review outlets, that'll probably be their cue to start looking back at the year just gone, and determine the best and worst bits of it. And that might happen here, too. But if previous years are anything to go by, it'll probably be early January 2010 before you get to see anything. So look out for the report on VidBinge 2009 and the track listing for my Pick Of The Year CD some time over the next, er, two months.

Anyway, we've got older stuff to analyse first. On the subject of my Picks Of The Year, we'll have the last official Spank Gold article, looking at my musical choices for 1997. In the tradition of the controversial index pages for Edinburgh and the LFF, it'll be followed by a big old aggregation bringing together the compilations for 1993-2008 in a huge, sprawling, non-alphabetical-sorry-Suze lump. And then - probably on New Year's Eve for maximum dramatic impact - you'll discover the shocking conclusion to the year-long Spank Gold project. I suspect I'll try to pretend that I've been building up to this all along, but to be honest it's an idea that only came to me a week or so ago. Watch this space.

(Oh, yeah, and the China holiday pics too. The main problem I'm having right now is trying to find the time to finish off the videos. Ideally, I'd like to get them up on the web before the end of the year, or failing that at least before the next total eclipse. I'll see what I can do.)

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