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iPod Random Generator July 2008

Entry 907 posted in: 9. I, Pod

Also in 2008 my MySpace page will contain some useless iPod statistics. This year however my iPod will always stay in shuffle mode, in other words: the machine will decide what songs will be played. For more information: Random Blueß aka sucking for statistics.

At the end of each month I will publish the ten most popular songs of the year and the ten most popular songs of the past month.

For the top 10 list of the songs I've been listening to in 2008 go to http://www.myspace.com/atagong.

For the top 10 list of the songs I've been listening to in July, go to the MySpace blog section.

If you liked this post - you might be interested in this one as well: iPod Random Generator June 2008 


Holy Cow

Entry 908 posted in: 1. General Mish Mash

I’m typing this entry, sitting on a Serena chair with a solid wooden seat and armrests, a moulded dark grey leather back and four anthracite coloured legs. Some of the dark grey paint is already coming off. A 17-inch Dell 1702 flat panel UltraSharp colour monitor stands in front of me. My fingers rest on a Dell RT7D30 multimedia Belgian azerty keyboard. If you take a closer look at the interior of the keyboard you are likely to find crumbs of Spar American Style Apple Pie Cookies, small pieces of dried mozzarella cheese originating from Ristorante deepfreeze pizza, traces of some mashed potatoes, tomato sauce, a swarm of highly evolved nano-beings that worship the return of the big Coca Cola zero spill. The computer and its accessories have been placed in an Ikea Effektiv light willow cabinet with semi transparent fumed glass doors. The doors are open; otherwise I wouldn’t be able to reach the computer.

I’m quite sure the above probably doesn’t interest you at all; so let me start all over again:

There was a time that I read at least a book a week, even more. I guess I read 8 to 10 novels a month. Besides that I had quite an impressive collection of comics or graphic novels as we connoisseurs used to call them. Donald Duck was what we called a comic although we silently revered the originals by Carl Barks. Then came a sudden change of pace. No more comics, no time to read a book. Wife. House. Career. Television and a beer.

But I still read the book reviews in the newspaper. About 6 months ago I read this thunderous review about a hardboiled murder mystery set in an alternative timeline where the people of Israel have a fictional Yiddish homeland in Alaska. The book, so it said, was extremely funny, witty and ingenious and if you only read one thriller a year, this was the thriller to read. My mind reserved some space to contain this information.

Summer Holidays. I’ve got my annual sea and sun crime story to read. I’m entering the bookshop. What do you think I’d pick?

The Yiddish Policemen’s Union by Michael Chabon. I think I will call it YPU from now on.

Americans are known for their streamlined efficiency. There is the, probably apocryphal, story about the US Food And Drugs Administration who asked the Swiss, in name of effectiveness, to get rid of the holes in their Emmental cheese. The Swiss, mental as ever, politely told the Americans to fuck off. But one can’t stop progress, although progress is a rather inappropriate word to define this kind of evolution, and American cheese is now very stackable and transportable, but also almost taste- and fragrance-free.

But enough about cheese. There is still one field were Americans are not as fast, efficient and to the point as I would like them to be. It’s called literature. In American literature less is not more, quite the contrary…

A typical YPU scene looks like this. Landsman, the inquiring police officer parks his car, after we have been informed about his inner musings, the things he ate or didn’t eat in the morning and what kind of noises the car and Landsman’s bowels have made while parking. The detective gets out of the car, after we have been informed of its brand name and type, the building year, the present and previous colours and its average fuel consumption, and we are confronted with a description of the house at the left side, the house at the right side and finally the house in the middle. We know what the present and previous colours of the front door is and were, how many steps it takes to get there, why there is a curtain moving at a window of the third floor and who are the mother, the father, the nieces and nephews of the person who has moved the curtain. We get some historical background of the houses and the street as well and last but not least an explanation why there is a toyb sitting on the dakh. A dozen of pages later Landsman climbs the stairs, knocks at the door and has a word with the supposed witness. "How well did you know the murdered man?", he grumbles in a typical inarticulate way. "I didn’t know the shleper at all!", is the short and sweet answer. Another chapter has been written.

To quote the prophet:

It’s guff. It doesn’t advance the action. It makes for nice fat books such as the American market thrives on, but it doesn’t get you anywhere. You don’t, in short, want to know. (Adams, Douglas: So long, and thanks for all the fish, Pan Books, London, p. 114.)

This also reminds me of the notorious Syd Barrett interview that two Actuel reporters had in 1982 with the ex front man of Pink Floyd, but explaining that here would take us too far like an Emmental cheese looking for an absent hole.

Michael Chabon uses the same rock’n roll swindle as Anthony Burgess did in A Clockwork Orange. Alex, the central character in Clockwork mixed English with Nadsat, Chabon constantly obstructs American English with Yiddish expressions and words. In Clockwork this worked, but I found the same effect in YPU rather tiresome and often silly. It equates with the Mexican archetypical speech form that William Shatner used in his TekWar novels to depict Sid Gomez, the sidekick of detective Jake Cardigan: “Hey gringo, don’t be a loco and leave the muchacha alone or I’m gonna kick you right at the cojones!”

After 100 pages I was still very unimpressed with the novel and I almost gave up reading. But as it was the only unread book in my collection I continued.

Michael Chabon deliberately copies the lyrical similes Raymond Chandler was famous for. Comparing someone’s voice with ‘an onion rolling in a bucket’ can be witty in a P.G. Wodehouse novel, but the only thing I could think of now was ‘why on earth would anybody carry a single onion in a goddamn bucket?’, better to keep it in your pocket then, isn’t it?

In the book nobody, except for the reader of course, suffers from a common headache. In Chabon’s world a man's headache is like ‘a bus parked with its engine running in the middle of his brain’. No, I’m deliberately misquoting here, as a matter of fact it is ‘like the fumes of a bus parked with its engine running in the middle of his brain’. Makes a lot of difference, innit?

And a single-word remark from one character to another is miraculously transformed into ‘a chamber ensemble of
     innocence and
I kid you not, Reader’s Digest editors will not have too many difficulties to condense this book into a Select Edition. Just erase the superfluous synonyms, the figures of speech and the book is shortened by at least 300 pages.

But somewhere between pages 150 and 200 something magical happened and before I could put my finger on it I had passed page 250. The narrative that had started like a diesel train with 105 fully loaded steel wagons heading from Antwerp harbour to a car construction site on the Eastern side of Germany had finally reached full speed and was heading towards Bahnhof West. When the novel asked for an end all emergency brake switches were suddenly pulled leaving the disoriented traveller behind on platform 6. What now?

This is a truly American story. When some Yiddish thugs, (who exploit a drug addiction rehabilitation clinic, that is located in the middle of Tlingit territory, that really is a cover-up for a paramilitary training centre, because their mean goal is to start a violent revolution in Jerusalem,) imprison Landsman they unclothe him to his underpants. Nobody apparently wants a naked Jew in the house. This is in shrill contrast to Mr. James Bond who was always stripped to the bone whenever a traitorous villain like Ernst Stavro Blofeld wanted to torture him. Landsman originally tries to infiltrate the drug clinic as a junkie in need for help, but he is spotted faster than the already cited James Bond in a girl’s dormitory. I can’t tell you too much about the plot, I only understood half of it anyway, but it seems to turn all around a sacred cow in drag. That idea is of course not unique and has already been used by the aforementioned P.G. Wodehouse who devoted a couple of his novels to the Empress of Blandings, but I just realise now that pigs aren’t the most appreciated animals in Jewish culture. Perhaps Michael Chabon is a master of irony because who else would think of painting a cow and hide it between the Indians.

The blurb at the back side of the novel says that this is ‘a dazzling, individual, hyperconfident novel… pure narrative pleasure… only a shmendrik would pass it up”.

Welcome to my world.

If you liked this post - you might be interested in this one as well: Heinlein Manoeuvres In The Dark  



The Orb Lives On

Entry 915 posted in: 4. Orb Weavers

Asylum cover Recently The Orb has been re-issuing some of their classic albums, richly enlarged with extra tracks and remixes. The first two records had lifted The Orb from an obscure DJ-set in the backroom of a techno temple to ambient house superstars, but their superstar status soon melted away with their following darker albums, dark because the modal fan couldn’t see the light at the end of the tunnel anymore. Weird, experimental and monotonous, it seemed that the members of The Orb had lost all musical direction. Enough, said record company Island, who had invested a lot in The Orb, it is about time to make a second U.F.Orb! All right, said LX, time to get out of oblivion, here is Orblivion! (Underneath text taken from a previously unreleased discography of the band, written by moi).

In 1997 Toxygene is released. It is a single in the Perpetual Dawn tradition where humorous patterns and ska rhythms interact. Island throws the story round that this track was originally a Jean-Michel Jarre's Oxygene-remix.

Just like Mike Oldfield (Tubular Bells 2, 3, ad infinitum) and Meatloaf (Bad Out Of He1l 2) Jean Michel Jarre couldn't resist releasing an Oxygene sequel. Jarre is an electronic composer floating between the ambient and elevator muzak whose Oxygene and Equinoxe are well worth the try. I still feel that Souvenir De Chine from the album Les Concerts En Chine (1982) is a small (and short) ambient masterpiece.

Toxygene grants The Orb a second visit to the BBC's TOTP, although some fans find the poppy single slightly over the top. The track is co-credited to Fil Le Gonidec, a colleague who replaces Thomas Fehlmann on live gigs and a fellow member of the Killing Joke gang from eaons ago (LX Paterson used to be a roadie for that band.)

Orblivion, the album that follows, has a smashing cover representing some great buildings and statues from all over the world:

  • Athens (Parthenon)
  • Barcelona (Gaudi's Sagrada Familia Cathedral)
  • Berlin ('Unter den Linden' angel statue near the Brandenburger Tor)
  • Brussels (Atomium)
  • Gizeh (Pyramid)
  • Kuala Lumpur (Petronas Twin Towers)
  • London (Big Ben)
  • Madras (Taj Mahal)
  • New York (Empire State Building)
  • Paris (Eiffel Tower, I'Obelisque and the Notre Dame)
  • Pisa (Leaning Tower)
  • Seattle (Space Needle)
  • Washington (White House) and perhaps the
  • Transamerica building in Los Angeles.

This may have been a visual leftover from an idea LX had in '93 when he wanted to issue an album based upon a musical trip around various cities of the world.

Orblivion tries hard to be a commercial comeback for the (lost) public who cherished U.F.Orb. Steve Hillage (on Delta Mk II, Ubiquity), Miquette Giraudy (on Delta Mk II, Ubiquity, Log Of Deadwood) and Tom Green (on Bedouin, Secrets, Passing Of Time) are welcomed back as part-time band members. But alas, times have changed, as even I found out when I tried to plug the album to a twelve years younger cousin. His verdict was that The Orb weren’t half as funny as Daft Punk, now there was a band that really knew how to be witty. Suddenly The Orb had become a dinosaur of ambient house.

And the loyal fans who had blindly followed LX in his weirder experiments (Pomme Fritz, FFWD, Orbus Terrarum) found this rhythmic album a sell-out, only made to please the record company anyway.


With 13 tracks on 1 single album, going from 6 seconds for the shortest to 9 and half minutes for the longest, The Orb has certainly moved into a new direction. Some years ago 13 tracks would have meant at least a triple album (the Ultraworld double album only has 10 tracks), but The Orb has learned not to repeat the same gimmick over and over again and stays well away from the 10 minutes mark per song.

Nearly every track has a happy beat. The typical ambient Orb doodling, a trademark on their first album that would often go on for at least a quarter of an hour, has been limited to a strict minimum. These restrictions also show in the spoken parts department: long conversational pieces, taken from obscure Russian or American sources, are mostly avoided although the odd one-liner still appears here and there: a sample from the McCarthy trials (Have you ever been a member of the communist party?) on Delta Mk II and, but I’m guessing here, a Married With Children joke on Secrets. The only exception is S.A. L. T (Scorpio Aquarius Leo Taurus), based upon a monologue from the movie Naked by Mike Leigh.


Orblivion is a concept: a journey throughout the musical world combining happy beats, computer blips, oriental rhythms and eastern sounds: Ubiquity, Bedouin.
Orblivion is fun: Toxygene, 72 (sample taken from the musical Hair) and even LX's mum (on Asylum).
Orblivion is ambient: Passing Of Time.
Orblivion is rhythm: Delta Mk II, Asylum, and Secrets.
Orblivion is: Molten Love.

Not their best but I kinda like it.

The 2008 version of Orblivion contains an extra disk with the following rare or previously unreleased mixes:

Delta Mk II (love bites mix) – very ambient
Bedouin (the sheik’s film mix) – although this track shares the same title with a remix on Orbscure Trax it is quite different
Log of Deadwood (implanting machines mix)
Secrets (i love a woman in uniform mix)
Passing of Time (ambient mix)
Molten Love (orbits of venus mix) - extended version of the ‘berlin session film mix'
S.A.L.T. (snow mix) – (superfluous) version without the monologue
Toxygene (kris needs up for a fortnight mix) – previously released as a single
Asylum (soul catcher's mix) – previously released as a single

The Orblivion singles (Toxygene and Asylum) have all been issued in different formats, versions and mixes. Not all remixes can be found on this enhanced version. I personally find it a pity that the You Are Evil But I Like You Mix from Asylum has not been included.

If you liked this post - you might be interested in this one as well: Obscured by Fluffy Clouds 



Entry 920 posted in: 5. The Pink Thing, The Holy Church of Iggy the Inuit

Amazon 1

A couple of days ago Amazon delivered me my semestrial bunch of Pink Floyd related books. It came in a carton box so big that I feared I would have to build a library next to my house. Amazon cares about books, obviously, and that is why they give books enough space to breathe and to stroll around a bit during the journey from Amazon Ville to Felixtown, where I live. But during the adventurous journey two of them not only had made acquaintance in a formal, but also in an amatory way. When I opened the box they were still in a deep orgiastic penetrative mode and I felt a bit ashamed to have to interrupt their ongoing game of love.

I took a picture of the couple in action and send it to Amazon who promptly replied: "The packaging methods we use have proven over time to protect the books effectively. However, in your case it had been proved incorrect."

Now I fail to understand how putting 4 small books in an enormous carton can be called an effective method of packaging. Protecting each book in a brown paper envelop, to name just one of the 3 simple solutions I can immediately think of, would be less damaging, but who am I to think about these things. I am certainly not qualified and there must be a team of package resource managers at Amazon who make a million bucks a year only by contemplating the most effective ways to send books from Z to A.


For years Pink Floyd biographers kept on repeating the same story they had probably read in a previous biography of the band. Syd Barrett named Pink Floyd after two obscure Georgia blues singers from his record collection: Pink Anderson and Floyd Council.

This story however was not entirely true.
First: these blues singers weren’t from Georgia.
Second: Syd Barrett did not have records from them.
Third. Well let’s start with the third point.

Pink Anderson isn’t really that obscure. He is not BB King of course, but his name does ring some tinkle bells amongst blues collectors. There was a kind of Pink Anderson revival in the Sixties and records of him can still be purchased today. So it was perhaps not that farfetched that Syd Barrett owned a record by him. But only he didn’t.

Floyd Council is an entirely different matter. Now this guy really is a footnote in blues history. He is most known as sideman on about a dozen Blind Boy Fuller songs and only recorded a couple of tracks himself. If you happen to own one of these originals you have hit the jackpot. And even now, with his name tied to the Pink Floyd legacy, it is difficult to find his solo oeuvre. It was nearly impossible, and I dare to say it was entirely impossible, for a Cambridge youngster to find a Floyd Council record in the UK in the early Sixties.

Little by little the Pink Floyd biographies altered the story. Well, perhaps these blues men didn’t come from Georgia, well, perhaps Syd didn’t actually own their records, well… perhaps these names were only mentioned on the sleeve notes of a blues record. A Blind Boy Fuller compilation perhaps?

But it lasted until 2001 before anyone (clearly not a biographer) asked the following question to a bunch of blues collectors: "Does a Blind Boy Fuller record, from before 1965, exists that mentions both Floyd Council and Pink Anderson on its sleeve?" The answer was yes. David Moore from Bristol even had the record in his collection. The rest is history and it has been repeated over and over again in Pink Floyd biographies ever since. It is even repeated in one of the books I received from Amazon a couple of days ago…

All it took to find the answer was, oddly enough, to ask the question to someone who knew, a thing nobody had ever thought of in 35 years.


Another thing that has bothered me lately is the who, what and where of the mystery person whose (splendidly shaped) buttocks can be found on the back sleeve of the Syd Barrett album The Madcap Laughs. All we seem to know is that the beautiful people of the Underground used to nickname her Iggy the Eskimo. There is a bit of an Iggy revival going on, not only on the Late Night discussion forum, but also on The City Wakes that gives us a preview of a previously unreleased Iggy Eskimo Girl (home) movie, directed by Anthony Stern.

Maybe the movie will stir some things up, because when Mark Blake wanted to trace her for his Pink Floyd biography Pigs Might Fly all he could come up with was:

There were others, including some of Syd Barrett's ex-girlfriends, whom I couldn't find; not least the fabled Iggy, whose bare arse appeared on the cover of The Madcap Laughs. In these instances, the letters were returned from an overseas address, or the telephone number I'd been given was no longer working. I soon learned that the women were harder to find, as marriage and divorce plays havoc with the names on the electoral register, and nobody could even remember Iggy's surname, or, indeed her real first name. Or they weren't telling. Taken from: Me & Pink Floyd.

Now here’s a biography I still want to buy, so Amazon you better beware!

Why am I writing this, you might think, if thinking is one of your stronger points, well, I am making this little web-thingy that listens to the name The Holy Church of Iggy the Inuit where I will try to publish some facts and rumours about her. It’s time somebody asks some questions before it is too late…

If you liked this post - you might be interested in this one as well: Solidarnosc



Bad Kompany

Entry 928 posted in: 1. General Mish Mash

Belgian Football Association 1

Belgium is known for its mediocrity. Maybe this has been glued inside in our genes because for the past couple of thousands years we have been invaded, occupied, violated, liberated and then invaded all over again. After a while if a soldier knocked on the door of a little cottage all he could hear from the inside was a deep sigh and “Who is it this time? Romans, Germans, Austrians, Spanish, French or Dutch?”

This is probably how the Belgian disease (as it is called in our country) originated. Belgians, regardless if they are Flemings or Walloons (and one always tends to forget the German speaking community of our land), have a built-in suspicion against any form of power: legislative, judicial or executive.


We don’t want to stand out. Ask for a volunteer in Holland and a dozen of Dutchmen will raise their hand. Not the Belgians. Ask for a volunteer in Belgium: we look sheepishly around and we slowly try to slide in an inconspicuous way to the middle of the group. That is quite normal. After each new invasion our new proprietors would get rid of the volunteers (suddenly called: collaborators) who helped the previous government. A quite effective method to do that was to attach a horse to each limb and to organise a horse race in opposite directions. According to the laws of Darwin this lead to the result that after a while the volunteering-gene disappeared completely from the Belgian DNA string.

So when we finally acquired our own independency in 1830, the first thing we did was to look for a mediocre nobleman to act as our king. Our royal family now owns a small fortune as they soon adapted to the Belgian custom to pay as less tax as possible and to put your money on foreign bank accounts where Belgian law enforcers can’t find it.


Irish people, who also suffered a lot, are proud and dance and sing a lot about how Paddy Malone stole a potato for his pregnant wife and his seven hungry kids and was consequently hung by the British. Flemings don’t. For decades our most popular dance was ‘In Zaire’ from Johnny Wakelin and our most popular songs exclusively narrated about the Spanish Costa del Sol and the American prairie. The Flemish anthem, a quite boring and – if I may believe Wikipedia – originally German tune (hence the fact that is boring), is about a… lion although that animal has never been spotted in our regions. Hedgehogs yes, but who would like to sing a tune that goes: “They will never tame him, the proud Flemish hedgehog”. Most of them are killed by traffic anyway.


A couple of decades ago the Belgian judo sport team was absolute world-class. European gold medals, World gold medals, Olympic gold medals. Of course the Belgian judo federation did not like this a bit so they did about everything to make us average again. Judokas who wanted to fight abroad couldn’t take their personal trainer with them and if they wanted to attend a foreign training camp they had to finance it themselves. While the complete Belgian judo team was sleeping in a drafty bungalow without heating or warm water and only one bed the Belgian judo officials explained from the local Hilton hotel that there was simply not enough money to give them some luxury. The matter of the one single bed aside, Belgian judokas were not very happy about that. One of them entered politics just to be able to sleep in a posh hotel from time to time. At the most recent Olympic games the Belgian Judo Federation finally accomplished what they had hoped for: zero medals.


The average Belgian is plain average, a little inefficient, a mild anarchic even. The same goes for Belgian television. A few months ago the VRT boasted that it had an exclusive interview with our crown prince who, for about an hour, gave the same answer to all the questions: he was deeply in love with our country, its institutions and its inhabitants. The future king of Belgium spoke in a language that sounded quite like Dutch but that was not exactly it. When the royal family speaks Dutch they do a robot talk act, feeding the opinion that these are not men but mere marionettes. The TV interview made me peer at the screen to see where the strings went and where the parrot was hiding who did the talking. A real journalist would have asked question such as:

  • What do you think of your great-great-grandfather who butchered a few millions of Africans to get some rubbers?

Or if this question is a little bit too historical:

  • Is it true the previous king stacked some billions on foreign bank accounts to avoid paying taxes?

Or if that question is not about the subject:

  • Why do you, Monseigneur, refuse to give back Napoleon's bed (and some other valuable 19th century furniture) to the Flemish community you borrowed those from?

Simple questions like that.


A couple of years ago Belgian football, some call it soccer although sucker would be more appropriate, was infested by Chinese businessmen who threatened to break a few fingers if players such and so didn't do their best to lose with a 3 goals difference. Everybody knew it: the trainers knew it, the players knew it, the public knew it and the press knew it. There was only one big exception though: the Royal Belgian Football Association (RBFA) didn’t know it.

Even when police and court got involved, and as the Belgian courts are populated with Belgian judges representing the spirit of Belgian people it normally takes ages before they get a move on, even then the RBFA continued discussing the type of grass Belgian football fields were allowed to have or not. When finally the court made some decision and threw around a couple of sentences and penalties the geriatric football leaders were busy contemplating the important issue what to serve as hors d'oeuvre at the annual gala dinner.

Belgian official TV, normally a very average channel with very average programs although they prefer to call it polite (see point 5 above), named the RBFA a bunch of incompetent nincompoops and that on the news in full prime time. But all is forgiven and forgotten now because on this year's Olympic games, made in China and lead by the Belgian Jacques Rogge, the Belgian Young Red Devils (better call them devils than hedgehogs, somebody must have thought) soccer team is performing a small miracle. Needless to say that such splendid behaviour is not appreciated by the RBFA at all.

When Jacques Rogge, the International Olympic Committee president, called on football clubs to let their players compete in the Olympic Games, it inspired one of our top players, Vincent Kompany, to stay at the Olympics instead of rejoining the German club HSV he was under contract with. He did this for king, for freedom and for justice as our national anthem proudly goes (this is another anthem as the previously cited Flemish Lion, as we are dealing with Belgium we have national, federal and regional anthems).

This time the RBFA reacted faster than a bullet out of Lucky Luke’s gun. Who this Vincent Kompany thought he was? He had no right whatsoever to defend the honour of the Belgian king, our Belgian freedom and the Belgian justice on the Olympic games. “If he stays in China and his soccer club HSV decides to bring it to court he is on his own”, said an official, “The Royal Belgian Sucker Association will, under no circumstance, back him up. Now where is this bottle of champagne you were talking me about?"


At the time I write this it is not sure if the Belgian Young devils will get an Olympic medal or not (we didn't). That is of no particular importance for this post. But if I were our king I would ask the RBFA very politely to take the Royal away from their name, to remove the crown from their logo and to change the name of our team to the Red Chickens instead. Can anyone contact the guy who holds the strings for that?

8 Post Scriptum (at 5 PM)

Tia Hellebaut just won a gold medal on the Olympics and when I went to the baker's to order me some croissants for tomorrow morning the music on my iPod randomizer was the magnificent Into The Fourth Dimension by The Orb. Life can be so beautiful.

If you liked this post - you might be interested in this one as well: Just like Belgium 




iPod Random Generator August 2008

Entry 965 posted in: 9. I, Pod

iPod statistics till August 2008

Also in 2008 my MySpace page will contain some useless iPod statistics. This year however my iPod will always stay in shuffle mode, in other words: the machine will decide what songs will be played. For more information: Random Blueß aka sucking for statistics.

At the end of each month I will publish the ten most popular songs of the year and the ten most popular songs of the past month.

For the top 10 list of the songs I've been listening to in 2008 go to http://www.myspace.com/atagong.

For the top 10 list of the songs I've been listening to in August, go to the MySpace blog section.

If you liked this post - you might be interested in this one as well: iPod Random Generator July 2008