August 28, 2017

Stationery: Rulers And Stencils

I have collected dozens of rulers and stencils over the years and thought I'd share some of them with you. Some are bog-standard, others somewhat rarer. In the photo on the right you can see your typical 15cm and 30cm plastic and metal dealies, along with a couple of rolling rulers for making parallel lines and arcs, as well as that odd metal protractor-with-a-ruler-attached contraption that I was sent from Hong Kong. The small KDK rolling ruler I picked up for spare change in some el-cheapo shop in the late '90s, while the Seikoshi rolling ruler was given to me in 1989.

These rulers here are an odd bunch: the top pink one was a free gift from my internet provider OCN in 2001 when I was living in Japan. The little dog attachment shuttles up and down the ruler when you tilt it. I'm not sure what purpose it serves other than to make a little noise. Next is a Yikes! novelty bendy ruler, bought in 1995, a slide rule given away as a free gift in the late '80s, and one of those bendable rulers for drawing curves with. Can't remember what they're called.

Now, onto the stencils. The ones you see here all date from the mid-'80s to the mid-'90s. The most dirty and used ones are made by Helix and are unbreakable – many a DIY sign back then was made with these. The larger green one was part of a kids' stationery set and was more of a novelty, as was the Gothic font one. Even now in the age of computer lettering, they have their own charm.

Finally we have two map-stencils from the UK and dated 1976; I wasn't born then, but someone in England gave me 'em. The green one is something anyone who attended high school in Australia would recognize: it's a Mathaid 4, a maths template which we used in school back then. They are still being made, so I guess they're still being used in schools. As you can see, unlike my 35+ year old Helix stencils, Mathaids are not unbreakable. But if you wanted to draw parabolæ, bell curves or sine waves, look no further.

One more stationery post, then it's back to business!

August 11, 2017

Compilation Album Review: "Smash Hits '95"

Compilation: Smash Hits '95
Released: 1995 – Columbia / Sony Music Australia
Number of tracks: 20
Number one singles: 1 – "Back For Good" by Take That
Other top ten singles: 8
Best track: "(He'll Never Be An) Ol' Man River" by TISM (track 1)
Hidden gem: "Trick With A Knife" by Strawpeople

With a rather smart bowling-themed art conceit, Smash Hits '95 has the best opening track of every compilation I've heard (except Let's Do It 2), with a hit single by TISM – one of my favourite bands of all time. I wasn't a regular reader of Smash Hits magazine in 1995, but my sister was buying it and I'd occasionally read some of hers. I'm not sure if they ever covered TISM in their pages, but I'd like to think TISM's iconoclastic attitude appealed to Smash Hits' writers. So: does the rest of the comp live up to its brilliant opening selection?

Well, your response will vary according to your opinion of pop music in 1995. As per Smash Hits comps, there's plenty of dance tracks on offer. Dance, techno and rap offerings from Tokyo Ghetto Pussy, The Outhere Brothers and Corona keep up the energy level, then there's mid-tier offerings from Ini Kamoze, Interactive and Newton which are okay. And finally, some slow tempo tunes like "Put Yourself In My Place" by Kylie Minogue and the effortlessly cool "Evidence" by Faith No More.

There are two songs on here I'd never heard before which are really rather ace – "Fall" by Single Gun Theory and the Strawpeople track I've chosen as the hidden gem, because it's easily the third-best track on here. So if TISM was best, what was second best? Well, the Smash Hits gang have made the smart decision to end this comp with The Steppers' "Alice, Who The F..k Is Alice?" It's the clean (censored) version, but I don't really care; those bleeps are probably more hilarious than the version where you hear the swearing. Awesome. Any compilation that starts with "I'm on the drug that killed River Phoenix!" and ends with "Alice!...who the fuck is Alice!" will always stay in my good books.


Rating: 7/10