Friday, 30 January 2009

John Martyn - RIP

I have posted on this fine guitarist and songwriter before and was very sad to learn this morning that he passed away yesterday. I was lucky enough to catch him live a few times and while he could have off nights when he had consumed too much alcohol or drugs when he was on form he was in a class of his own.

Here he is playing electric and once again backed by Danny Thompson (ex Pentangle) with a fine version of Sweet Little Mystery,

Feels like there has been a rash of deaths among people I have admired a lot recently – here's hoping the trend stops here.So for one last time here is playing Johnny Too Bad, farewell John, gone but never forgotten.

Sunday, 25 January 2009

Another Not Live Scandal?

Following on from last years Olympics opening where it was revealed that the young girl was miming as the actual girl singer had been deemed to be not cute enough to represent China we get another.

Turns out that the classical music quartet playing at the 44th President's Inauguration on Tuesday were not amplified and that a recording made a couple of days before was used. The reasoning being that because of the cold instruments could go out of tune or strings break.

All very reasonable, but it appears that they were playing just not being amplified – so what I would like to know is were they using cheap replicas of their instruments to protect them from damage or the real deals?

Saturday, 24 January 2009

Happy 25th Macintosh

It was 25 years ago today that Apple released the first Macintosh on sale to the public and in terms of human interaction with computers it was a big leap forward with it's Graphical User Interface, mouse and one 3.5” floppy drive. Note for younger readers, back in those days a PC might come with a 10Mb hard drive if you had the funds or more likely a pair of 5.25” floppy drives where the disks were floppy!

At that time on a PC everything was driven from a Command Line Interface where the user had to know the name of the program that they wanted to run and any parameters that it required. It would take Microsoft another 6 years before they could produce a usable version of Windows in 3.x, however the first truly stable version of the operating system was Windows 2000 Professional which I used for 5 years without once experiencing the “Blue Screen of Death”.

Back in '84 I bought an Apricot F1 which came with a GUI, trackball mouse and 2 3.5” floppy disk drives, a cutting edge product for the time from a UK company. For that reason the Apple never really crossed my event horizon and to this day I have never had to use one, I know people who swear by them but Apple's closed system approach has always raised my hackles – see especially the iphone.

It would be curmudgeonly however not to offer Apple congratulations on sparking the revolution in consumer human/computer interaction that has brought us to where we are today. While I am happiest in front of a UNIX command prompt it is not the place for the average computer user who just wants to use them to perform other tasks.

Sunday, 18 January 2009

Performance Poets 3 – Benjamin Zephaniah

There are some people who confound the conventional wisdom that your school years prepare you for life and Benjamin Zephaniah is one of those people. A dyslexic, he left school at the age of 13 unable to read or write but even at that age he was writing and performing poetry.

His first poetry book was published in 1980 and he has written 10 others as well as seven novels and some plays, on top of all that he has also released several albums and recorded most recently with The Imagined Village. His style (unsurprisingly for someone of West Indian origins) is that of a dub poet and I never tire of listening to his rhythmical rhymings:

Here is a longer one Rong Radio.

Thursday, 15 January 2009

Number Six Is Dead

Patrick McGoohan died this week after a short illness at the age of 80, although he appeared in several TV series and films he will always be the remembered as the character of Number Six from the cult sixties series The Prisoner.

The title sequence gives you the whole back story, secret agent resigns angrily and drives home to pack (in a Lotus 7 – a real classic car with incredible handling and amazing acceleration; a petrol head's dream car still being made today by Caterham).

He is then gassed and wakes up in a pretty holiday village where he is now referred to as Number Six and they try to extract information from him while he tries to escape.

Enough writing, here is the intro:

Monday, 12 January 2009

Cat “Assists” Weather Forecaster

This is hilarious, a German weatherman is doing a live broadcast when the studio cat appears and rubs up against his leg, the weatherman is unfazed and scoops up the friendly feline and carries on with the presentation while giving the cat the attention that it was seeking.

Friday, 9 January 2009

Dead Set

I have never been a fan of “reality” tv, watching “celebrities” or citizens mooch about doing whatever holds the allure of staring at paint waiting for it to dry.

The show Big Brother is reckoned by some to be the pinnacle of the genre and I know some people who are huge fans but it does nothing for me, never watched a complete episode but it is hard to escape the media hype which surrounds it in print or on the radio.

However when I read about Dead Set the concept had me hooked from the outset, a zombie outbreak occurs and the only people initially safe are the residents of the Big Brother house. Have always been a fan of zombie flicks and this show did not disappoint, crazed zombies running around attacking “normals” and only being stopped by the traditional shot/blow to the head.

There are also some funny side swipes at the whole BB set-up, here is the E4 trailer. Out now on DVD and well worth a watch – if you like watching zombies running riot.

Tuesday, 6 January 2009

Galaxy News & A Fine Song

It turns out that our galaxy weighs 50% more than was previously thought and is travelling 15% faster than predicted, which all means that in around 5-7 billion years we will crash into the next nearest galaxy – unless the sun has exploded by then.

Many thanks to my pal Noddy for this link to a cracking live HD video of Grow Grow Grow by the excellent Polly Jean Harvey – cute shoes there lassie!

Sunday, 4 January 2009

Beer 116 – Greene King Strong Suffolk Vintage Ale

Thanks to Eldest Niece for supplying me with this fine ale, it is made from 2 distinct brews – Old 5X (two years in the barrel and abv of 12%) and BPA (an abv of 5% and less than a year old) – which gives rise to an interesting drop.

It is a dark brown colour with a fine head, smells a bit malty and that comes through on the taste along with oak flavours and a touch of caramel. Coming in at 6% abv it is not a beer for a session but it is a taste of Olde Englande and is well worth the effort.

And for anyone reading earlier, miracles did not arrive and I was still awake at 05:00 on New Years Day – grand night though!