Wednesday, 31 December 2008
a curious mix of past and present and future .
The past is done and dusted, Commander A of Space school (Reception class) (pictured left) has the future covered .Although she'll probably want to be a lumber jack (or jill)next week, which is fair enough. So let's live a bit in the present.
Have a great New Year look after yourselves and those you care for.
Oh and have a listen to this jolly tune from those slighty odd Swedish popster Lacrosse with an appropriate once a year titled tune.
Here's their website.
Lacrosse: This New Year will be for you and me
Me, Dad said that the recycling bin was full or was it something about them not taking shiny paper but anyway we ended up having a fire. I think maybe we just like having them, Christmas and ativism going to together like cold turkey and helmans.
Anyway this all struck a chord and I fished out this cartoon by the majestic Giles. I think my only resolution for the coming year is to post the odd scan from my battered 1957 annual some of the pictures are horribly up to date, some are just wonderfully drawn.
I couldn't find this particular cartoon on the giles site but have a look there's loads to browse through.
Ps. In our case we did wait until the nieces and nephews were out before burning Christmas.
Tuesday, 30 December 2008
I got home in the dark last night burdened with bags and closed the curtains retiring under my incredibly warm new duvet.
I could see the sun round the edge of the curtains this morning and opened the to hopefully 2008's last nasty surprise. Since I've been away they've mutilated the trees outside my flat. Thankfully not clear felled them but hacked them around lopped of bits of the crown and basically ruined my garden.
As a lowly renter I'm fully aware no one gives a stuff what I think so I'm not surpirsed not to be told in advance they were going to reduce my quality of life.
One of the pleasures of my little over priced under heated flat was this canopy of trees: in the summer in the bright sunshine being faced with a bobbing weaving sea of green was incredibly beautiful, the autumns leaves brought more colour and the stark winter network of branches more interest. One of the pictures at the top of my blog is of the view.
The limbs (now hacked away) also brought squirrels, pigeons, blue, great and longtail tits, bull and gold finches, crows, robins, sparrows,jays virtually into my living room.
The trees never blocked the light just framed the faux campanille of the school across the way. Like I say they brought beauty into my world.
Of course the trees aren't guilt free (unknown to me before I moved in) our estate had been a source of local dispute when it was built in the early 1990's. The rubbish Lewisham Labour Council had sold off part of the park (given to the people of Deptford as much needed green space) to build private flats. The trees are the last remnants of the park of which only a bit of grass and a kids play area remains. Now I am happy to have somewhere to live but even when I've been desperate for a flat I'd rather have parks and few less jerry built badly designed and finished flats.
So the poor trees have been surrounded by people and cars and some gimp Estate (mis)manager in an office in Bromley (who Ironically is probably very smugly proud of their nice semi in a leafy tree lined suburb) decided that this hard pressed tree might be a danger to cars (there is not a single one parked beneath them today) or maybe a few of my dimwitted fellow tennants complained about the branches being close to their flats, we'll never know because no one has told us.
It's no use complaining now as you can't stick branches back on (builders and land managers are well aware of this and chop first and ask later as a rule), it's private land so the Council don't give a stuff and like I say tenants views rarely get listened to.
It's all a micro example of how messed up and wrong housing is in Britain. The trees which add quality and joy to the local envrionment where percieved as potential insurance or legal threat by some 12 year old in a remote office who for a few quid (of someone elses money funnily enough in the end part of my rent!) just got rid of the problem, they don't have to look out on the ugly consiquences or watch the the ugly rings of suckers spring up round the wounded cuts. If I'd wanted to stare at an ugly grey pollarded tree I'd have bought a print of a dutch landscape painting.
I almost can't bear to look out of the window.
It's a vain hope that 2009 will see a reduction in this sort of thing; the only way forward is to have some true local democracy and involve local people in having a say in were they live that and sending to jail people who order trees chopped down .
Monday, 29 December 2008
So what have we learnt over Christmas?
Things some fancy dan London type heard on’t bus
“Tha eats like a reet soup dragon thee!”
“Duz tha see that drive next t’shop, that’s were Our Carol had a slash after town on’t Christmas Eve she were that leathered stoopid cow almost fell ova in it, I almost piss me sen laughin’.”
Modern Education update:
That it’s possible to win “Reception citizen of the week” at Primary school nowadays, Good work R!
That Ben 10 exists and that he has a watch that turns him into a monster.
Christmas Hamper Update:
That’s the world’s a better place for their being a vast variety of Piccalilly
That Birkinshaw’s (from Map) still make the best pork pies in the world.
That everyone says they like Bounties but nobody picks them out of box of Celebrations willingly.
Arts & Culture:
That Harold Pinter plays wouldn’t have had such long silences in them if he’d ever been for dinner at our house.
You should always play Morrissey of St Stephens day
That life is cheaper than timber in Barnsley!
Friday, 26 December 2008
Well, hows things? It's foggy and dark here in Yorkshire, the rest of the house is pleasantly filled with sleeping reliatives. Mooching around as is my want, I've just had a very pleasant late present; logging on to fiddle with some pictures I took my daily peak at how my little film was doing on youface and it's passed the pleasing figure of 50,000 hits.
Now I was pleased when the people who know me said nice things about it (someo of them on here) but I would be lying as much as the indie star who gets to number five on Top of the Pops and still goes on about "just doing it to entertain themselves" if I didn't admit to being pleased that all these people have had a peek at my film.
It's has had the particular Tubebook specific accolade bestowed on it this week as someone has posted an answer video. It's a female singer doing an acoustic version of LDB, which again is pleasing if it has encouraged someone to do something creative. If we all made and did stuff we could dump rubbish like 'stenders and Holby city and we'd only need Nick Park and the news to entertain us on the BBC!
Anyway I'll let you get back to the bread sauce and Cadbury's celebrations. I need to have think about a new idea for a new film what about a robot version of Brief Encounter....... Hornby 00.......in Spanish........Uncle Joe's Mintballs.......
Thursday, 25 December 2008
Have a wonderful, peaceful and happy Christmas!
Thanks for all you comments, thoughts, links, jokes, tunes,clips, ideas, inspirations, diversions, laughs, tears,beers.......cheers!
Anyway have good one
all the best C xxx.
Saturday, 20 December 2008
Friday, 19 December 2008
Nice moment of Today this morning: some senior union representative from Unity was on defending the government bailing out the private and non-Uk owners of Jaguar and Range Rover (but not Woollies). Asked how many jobs would be lost he said initially around 13,000 missed a beat realising this was not half the number lost at Woollies he immediate starts inflating and in series of jumps had got it up to at least 60,000.
Lots of people losing their jobs isn’t funny but let’s be honest about it eh?
Wednesday, 17 December 2008
Nigella's Christmas kitchen: I decided to skip over the artifice of the whole affair and see if the food is any good; well she started off well with most of the programmes including hard liquor in various forms. Most cooking programmes are content to sniff the odd glass of wine (never beer mind) but Nigella made a martini with the merest hint of lychees liqueur in it which looked good.
Other cocktails just involved pouring booze into jugs excellent. The food was the usual over the top stuff all fairly doable. If you can bare a show with more theatrical winks than Frankie Howerd in summer season and parties full of Nigella's fake friends its harmless Christmassy fun. One thing did start to pall tonight they dubbed the hubbub of a party over the festive shots sadly it sounded more like a staff canteen than the noise the 6 or so people artfully snuggled round N's table would make.
Before Ms Lawson was a repeat of Rick Stein's Christmas food heroes which was the usual stuff Rick goes round the country enthusing about food not much to say really although I could have done without another lecture from Rick about people wanting cheap food, multi millionaire foodies like Rick and Hugh ex Etonian-complicated name going on how the rest of us should order our pheasants from the local wood is just tiresome.
Last up and most annoying is Willie's chocolate starfish Christmas Infomercial: this is one channel 4 annoying lifestyle programmes which is just an extended advert for which ever upper middle class twonk business is on the show. People complain about the poshness of Nigella's faux lifestyle when Willie's and his even posher wife's lifestyle is "real" and therefore even more tiresome filled with semi staged nonsense and shots of his ever so kath kidson aspirational posh people lifestyle (with every recipe with added chocolate of course).
One dodgy point earlier on Rick visited a stilton factory and had to wash and cleanse his hands etc before going in Willie blithely wanders onto his factory and starts doling out homemade mince pies to the his factory staff mmmmm lovely 80% coco butter chocolate with added spit, pastry crumbs and bacteria somebody call the environmental health. Or maybe these are faux eastern Europeans in his faux factory.
To finish off the tosh the film company shipped in a snow machine to gild that bit more the lives of Willie and his spoilt brood, gilded like his un-ironic gold flake encrusted (chocolate natch) cheese cake.
Sorry I'm forgetting myself this is the season of goodwill to all men but can't we make an exemption for poshboy ex ad men and there so called "cottage" industry foodie empires.
Oh and the hilarious killing the turkey story was lovely too.
Tuesday, 16 December 2008
Watching the Detectives:
I've enjoyed the series of Wallander films starring Kenneth Branagh on BBC1 the last 3 Sundays; they seemed above the usual Sunday night fare of Heart beat and midsummer murders. I liked the bleakness and the slightly alien nature of the setting. Branagh has always been a good screen actor being most effective close up, whispering on camera is skill that many can't master. He's also suitably rough looking but with enough humour and humanity to show why people will work/care for him.
I do however worry that faced with possibly only three films the producers felt they had to get every hardboiled detective cliché in the book into one short series:
So Episode one we had the detective has difficult relationship with his father and also fellow cop gone bad.
Episode 2 saw the lead character falls for a hot but troubled women who turns out to be involved in the crime (see every episode of Morse ever). Also included title character gets help with computer problem from hotshot supernerd hacker who he once arrested. Virtually every detective novel from 1990's had something about computers in it; they were to that decade what telegrams and train timetables to Miss Marble and Holmes were to theirs: the Scarpetta novels sometimes read like Windows dos manuals!
Episode 3: serial killer puts member of lead characters family at peril I can't think of a single crime series that hasn't had this one.
If they gone onto Episode 4 I was half expecting Wallander struck down by diabetes solves the crime from his sick bed a la "Poirot is unwell" et al.
Don't get me wrong I don't mind these clichés, genera fiction relies on them and I do like Wallander, I was particularly taken in this last episode that he carried around one of those thin orange and white striped carrier bags from the offy. This was pleasing as I thought Greeny Swedes would have banned them but also because it looked right and wasn't cool. Proper detectives do survive on corner shop food, pasties and lion bars washed down with red bull and Fanta so old ken toting his flimsy bad looked right.
The whole show was 10 times better than the recent woeful Rebus adaptations.
Hopefully they'll make some more.
To celebrate Wallander and his offy bag he's another grumpy northern malcontent Mark e Smith singing about his!
Public service announcement:
Griffin Imic does work with Vista.
I while ago I wrote about how to rip music from vinyl particularly if you have laptop that doesn't have a dedicated soundcard.
Here's my other post on this.
One of the minor annoyances of everything breaking in the flat including my laptop was getting all my gizmos to work with Vista. One of which is the Griffin Imic external USB soundcard. This post is to help others in the same position.
Griffin in big letters on their website says that "The iMic hardware is not compatible with the Microsoft Vista operating system.". Which I think means they aren't writing any new drivers.
However when I plugged in my Imic into the usb port, things started to happen, drivers downloaded and all seemed fine. I downloaded audacity (and the separate lame mp3 file) and tried a test recording of vinyl using the ear phone socket on my hi-fi amp into the usb socket using the imic in line-in mode.
Playing a tune and pressing record the sound levels bar started moving but only in one channel. I also couldn't monitor the music recording via the laptop speakers. Checking with Griffin I supposed this was what they meant by doesn't support Vista and resigned myself to some grumpiness and having to buy a new usb soundcard.
However a few days later playing around with Audacity to edit an existing mp3 audacity still wasn't working (independent of the Imic) this was until I found the options tab on Audacity and set the playback to my "laptop speakers". I and also ticked the box for "stereo recording" (the default rather oddly is for "mono") and I could then edit the mp3.
Having solved this I tried again with using the Imic for ripping tunes.
1. First I plugged everything in.
2. On the vista control panel I made sure the sound settings where set so Imic was the input device and the playback was via my speakers.
3. In Audacity I did the same in options.
4. I clicked record on audacity and lowered the needle on my turntable and both sound level meters jumped into action and sound came out of my (tinny) laptop speakers and a stereo track recorded on my laptop.
5. I could then play around with it as usual.
So the answer is Griffin Imic usb Soundcard does work on vista as an input device I haven't used it as output device as I usually play mp3's through my stereo via my Nokia 95 phone.
I'm not sure if this just my dell laptop but if you've got an Imic and new vista machine it's worth ago. I can't guarantee it will work on every machine but the combination of Imic and audacity is useful and cheap way of ripping music onto soundcard less laptop so give it a go.
Ripping music to laptop using vista
Does griffin imic support vista?
How do I rip music without a soundcard?
Monday, 15 December 2008
Top marks to the Iraqi journalist for throwing his shoes at Bush, pricking the bubble even as in this case it's a low wattage type like Bush is always worth a go.
Not sure if these where his actual shoes or he took a pair along special, even so nice move. I thought it was funny that the commentators kept telling us this is a terrible insult in the Islamic world, strange because throwing your shoes at someone is sign of friendship and respect in Britain!
Sunday, 14 December 2008
I was sorting things out this afternoon and had my 5 channels on (still no freeview) and there were a number Christmassy films on, Elf on, channel 4 one about skating and reindeer on 5. There were more last weekend and stacks more to come. The depressing thing is that all recent xmas films only have one plot ie. materialistic person who hates this time of year falls in love with it all again usually via some over optimistic type.
Yesterday the Muppet Christmas Carol was on and here lies the problem as this is were they get their stories from and they all suffer from the problem Dickens had which is Scoorge is much more interesting when he's nasty. So they all trun out abit bland which may be the point I haven't seen bad Santa but I bet he doesn't end bad.
How about some new Christmas films how about someone who loves Christmas too much and has to learn to turn it down abit. Or a rebellion in santas toy factory or how about a film about real British christmas not the "love actually version "where people snog in their pants in the show at Borough Market but you know grim office parties, burnt veggie cutlets, queuing in Argos and having your debit card declined, getting cards from people who haven't written in ages, cheery eastend pubs that open up at minutes notice to give lunch to a random assortment of vaguely related shouty market traders (oh that's christmas Eastenders) any how about anew story.
Advent day 14: What I really want for Christmas......
Originally uploaded by bltphoto
Saturday, 13 December 2008
Tuesday, 9 December 2008
Hear Emily Play
Some tracks take on the feel of this time year without ever mentioning a single bauble or featuring a hint of sleigh bells.
Take this slice of Folk pop melodrama from Paul Simon & Art Garfunkle. It's from their 1966 Lp "Parsley ,Sage, Rosemary & Thyme", which I got on vinyl a year or so ago, mainly because it's got their classic poignant carol "7 O'Clock News/Silent Night"on it .
However "For Emily, Whenever I May Find Her" has a sense of winter about it ,mentioning frosty fields and cathedral bells and it is ever so dramatic.
Please excuse the odd pop and crackle, just think of them as a log fire glowing in the hearth! It's got some lovely guitar on it too.
Lastly being from the 60's its commendably short, lasting little longer than the time it takes a snowflake to melt on your palm.
"For Emily, Whenever I May Find Her" by Paul Simon & Art Garfunkle
Where to start how about the astonishing poetry and Celtic sadness in Ivor the Engine, the scene where Ivor sits crying in a siding because he can't swim in sea with the rest of the choir, unheard of in children's animation the episode ends at this poignant point. Elsewhere the strangeness and fun of the clangers and bagpus all of which seem to have sprung seemingly nowhere. I met his goddaughter at party once and she was full of stories of what good and principled man he was.
Sunday, 7 December 2008
After that we wandered in icy rain round the corner to the Canterbury Arms for "How does it feel to be loved?"club night. I do like the Canterbury it's a jolly place refreshing cheap booze friendly accepting staff with the add fun of HDIF.
For those benighted ones among you HDIF is the home of all things good in music, mainly old school Indie and soul but other things too. We had a really good time as always.
It's always good just to hear the music you like played nice and loud in the company of other people who loved it as much (in some cases more so) than you.
Where else would you hear this minimal classic?
Lee Remick by the Go-Betweens
Saturday, 6 December 2008
Out into the cold clear afternoon to my local shop (slightly hungover), inside the Cypriot (?) staff are putting up decorations. It’s an eternal scene the youngest lad is the up the ladder while the slightly older one holds it, every now again he gives it a shake and teases his clambering mate. The lad up the ladder then appeals to the owner of the shop but to no avail as he just laughs and tells them to get on with it and stop messing around.
Sociologists have spent years trying to explain this scene with lots of talk of hierarchies and alpha males etc. it’s such an old thing you can imagine Noah and his sons acting the same way in their shipyard. In the end it’s just the way men through time have found of making boring jobs that bit more fun.
Thursday, 4 December 2008
Co-op not a bunch of Knobs
The EMP that's hit my flat causing most things electrical to give up the ghost may be coming to an end as my new washer just turned up on time when they said they would Hurrah for the co-op!
I thought my life was going to end up like the clip bellow in a "subtle blend of psychology and extreme violence!".... did I tell you how my smoke alarm made me think I'd finally contracted tinnitus no, well maybe another time..
Signs of the seasons: the shops are full of Knock Off Bailey'sI'm never entirely sure that the wise men didn't turn up to Mary & Joseph's gaff with some pringles, some screen wash and a bottle weird "cream" based liqueur.
Wednesday, 3 December 2008
I do like this sleeve it's manic and festive and it's got a stuffed deer's head. The songs a bit 80's on the clip you have to put up with creaky acting for 2 mins before it kicks in. Anyway I think christmas at Dollywood last for 3 months so things could be worse.
Tuesday, 2 December 2008
It was working when I left it
So let's get this right, first the fridge turned into a rampant glacier and had to be got rid of, then the stove went bang and the kicthen has to be re-wired then the washer stopped pumping out and tie dyed my new shirt and now the freeview box has lost it's memory......
One could get paranoid.
Monday, 1 December 2008
Hot Swedish girls!
Well that’s got your attention, as part of a sort out I’ve been scanning photos and postcards and came across these jolly scamps.
Intriguingly it’s from “ the Swedish girls” “Sissi & Kirstin” who were sadly missing from my childhood Christmases, It’s shame I think they may have brightened up things even more!
Speaking of Sweden we must talk about pop and one of my lps of the year.
More Modern Short Stories From...
It’s by Hello Saferide. Which is Annika Norlin and some friends , she writes in a poppy rocky sort of way with some mid 80’s big music production like you’d find on Waterboys songs or similar. I think some people might find her singing affected in a mid-atlantic way, but well I like it.
Her songs are mix of personal and broader issues with details of her life eg losing your virginity, waiting for a new boyfriend to turn up, but with added depth for example in the song about her first time she exposes the awkwardness of such occasions and contrasts it with the dullness of her Saturday job in a shoe shop. It could all fall into deepest excesses of singer song writer confidential therapy records but the music and wit save it. Also being Swedish there’s a hint of chill in the air making ideal for this time of year.
The best songs are "Anna" about those a parallels lives we might have lived. and "Arjeplog" (it’s a little town in Northern Sweden) a lovely love song perfect to listen to whilst you imagine that those flakes are floating down.
So maybe one for stocking fillers
Her’s her Xmas song Ipod christmas. Over at the excellent Swedesplease
and there's song over here
There's no getting away from it now Christmas will be here soon enough so I'm dusting off the advent calendar to celebrate this enjoyable if occasionally annoying season.
Little Drummer Boy Year 2
Advent Day1: I blame my parents they always encourage us as kids to make Christmas and birthday cards and the habit sort of stuck. So after a few years of making music compilations I was running out of good Xmas tunes and struck on the idea of making a Xmas film. I'd always liked Lows Yuletide EP and after seeing a drummer boy clockwork toy worked up the idea of him being chased by a killer robot initially across a number of famous London venues but eventually settled for things I could make in flat out of tinfoil and wrapping paper. It took a few nights to make mainly because I was using my cheap stills digital camera which could only record a few minutes of film before I had to transfer the shots to my borrowed laptop. Then using Microsoft movie maker I edited it. The whole thing if you excluded the cost of the borrowed laptop and the camera cost around £30 quid in clockwork toys, baubles and tangerines!
When I made it in 2005 YouTube wasn't around (or if it was wasn't well know) so I spent some more evenings burning 20 or so cd's to send out to my family and friends as cards. They all seemed to enjoy it. That was that until last year by which time YouTube had grown to in effect the 6th TV channel in Britain and so I up loaded it.
I have to admit I was pleased after a day or so that 20 or 40 people had watched it, this quickly turned to 100's and by the end of January 20,000. It's many times more popular than any other of my films due mainly to the popularity of the tune.
I do find it thrilling that a film you make literally in your bedroom (mines a studio flat!) can be seen by a fair sized football crowd. Of course I doubt if many of the viewers have watched it all but even so they seen 30 seconds of my film. In fact this does raise an interesting idea if I was making it now would you change it? The opening scenes where meant to be a montage of
Christmassy things which would introduce the theme and it takes almost a minute it introduce the main characters of the drummer boy and the robot so maybe if I were re-cut it for YouTube I would literally cut to the chase a bit quicker, but you know what I'm not going to mainly because editing stuff is time consuming and fiddly but also the film fits the song and if some bored Danish teenagers tunes out before the main scenes more fool them!
Talk of the audience brings me to the comments underneath; it's not new to say that YouTube comment posts don't show humanity at our best. Even the gratefully received positive ones are less than flattering being the usual "lol" "cool film" variety, the others fall into the cultural differences column with discussion of why there's tangerine in film.
The is also usual boastful pride filled evangelical nonsense as the god botherers storm in as, as the song is religious we get lots of random blessing that and Jesus stuff plus over literal analysis of the song i.e. did Jesus play the drums?
Lastly up is the abuse usually saying how bad the film or that they hate Jesus or Christmas.
I'm not saying the negative stuff doesn't affect me I just don't know why anyone would bother that much, I've seen hundreds of poor film on YouTube but rarely feel need to abuse the maker (or more likely poster) one guy (ivcam1021) recently told me to "next time ask a pro" . Which I didn't understand "ask a pro" what? How to make films but YouTube is all about broadcasting yourself it's about amateur film making or maybe he's a pro and I should email him when I want to film a radar tower and stick some electronica over the top! One thing I will guarantee is that anyone on YouTube who leaves a negative comment if you follow their name tag back to their profile won't have made any films of their own and are effectively anonymous, this sort of thing happens a lot less on flickr where if you slag off someone's snaps there's a good chance they'll swing by you page and could have something pithy to say about your collection of pics.
On the whole I think it's all funny really why do people think anyone gives a toss what some misanthropic teenager in Denmark thinks about a song written by some slow speaking Mormon stuck on a film about clockwork toys by a slight obsessive bloke from Yorkshire.
DO IT YOURSELF
anyway my films out there and it looks like because it's a Christmas film it will be watched for years to come all things being equal, already this Christmas 3 or 4 thousand views have clicked on it which brings us back to positive note on which to end.
If you have an idea and small amount of money you can make film and if it's any good people will watch, people however odd all over the world will see your film which is frankly very cool so happy advent I'm off to check my viewing counter one more time.