Sunday 29 April 2012

Heston Blumenthal - Artist

I detest almost all TV Celebrity cooks and chefs . They are usually self centred , self serving and annoying. However many years ago I saw another , who previously I had assumed would be annoying , doing a program which was "In Search of The Perfect Burger" . That guy was Heston Blumenthal . And he talked sense and was interesting.

Since then I have watched many of his programs and seen very few things I would want to eat , and less I could try to make. The programs are incredibly watchable and interesting often using liquid nitrogen , blow torches and dormice in his cooking , often making edible plates and cutlery . The guy is amazing and a true artist. He has his own restaurant the excellently named Fat Duck , and while I may eat there one day it would be with some trepidation.

So while I wont be eating I will be watching for a very long time.......

Sunday 22 April 2012

Eastern Promise

After watching the excellent Homeland and having seen numerous films about the threat from the Middle East from Ian , Iraq , Al-Quaeda and the like , and obviously these are trying to keep us as scared as possible of the bogeyman , usually in the form of a variant of Osama Bin Laden or Saddam Hussein.

Yes Team America took the proverbial very successfully , but I was wondering why Daniel Easterman (one of the pen names of Denis MacEoin) novels have never been filmed. Easterman is a superb author , and and expert in Middle East Affairs and his novels never fail to enthrall me . They have all the requisites for your average summer blockbuster , bombs , kidnaps , mysticism , conspiracies , religion , exotic settings , but I'm still waiting for the first celluloid outing.

Other than that he also writes as Jonathan Aycliffe , some excellent ghost stories such as the classic Naomi's Room , The Vanishment and The Matrix , one of the scariest books I have ever read.

If you have never read him track him down , I would have loved one of his books to appear on the World Book Night list.

Saturday 21 April 2012

Record Books

Well today it all happened . I packed up my copies of  Bill Bryson's "Notes From A Small Island" for World Book Night and headed into Newcastle to the High Bridge Quarter with instructions from Jim Stevenson to pick up a copy of Rory Gallagher's Stompin' Ground , a limited 10" vinyl offering for National Record Store Day.

Cat Faced Balloon Girl
First thing I say was a cat faced girl on stilts making balloon hats for kids and adults. This led in to High Bridge where there were lots of food stalls featuring Moroccan , Mexican , Italian , Greek and lots more food. So weel culinarily catered for. Freefall gave a nice little pack so I gave a book in return. They have some brilliant cards and stuff.

Buskers in The Central Arcade

This year there were two stages and lots of excellent artists including The Cornshed Sisters , The Futureheads , Big Red and many others included an excellent percussionist from Hartlepool!! The weather veered from bright sun to heavy rain but everyone persevered and was surprised to find how many people already had the book.

Food Stalls In High Bridge

However lots of people were very pleased to get their copy and hopefully will register with the World Book Night site.

Todays Haul

It's been a hugely successful day and I'm now looking forward to the next one . Nice haul of CDs and vinyl and a great day out meeting a lot of friends and seeing many great bands.

Sometimes You Never Know .....

Last season Mike Ashley sacked Chris Hughton and replaced hom with his cockney casino mate Alan Pardew . January 2011 Andy Carrol went for £35 million and who did Newcastle United get as a replacement in the next transfer window , a free transfer from West Ham.

This seemed to go from bad to worse with the sale of Jose Enrique , Kevin Nolan andeffective sacking of Joey Barton. Oh but  undersoil heating was installed on the training pitch and there was an influx of French players with exotic names.

Fans were hoping to avoid relegation and maybe get one over on the Mackems , but that was about it.

However with Tim Krul , Stephen Taylor ,  Coloccini etc Newcastle's defense looked more than competent . Midfield similarly  with Cheikh Tiote , Yohan Cabaye , and Jonas Guttierez all providing creativity and attractive football and Demba Ba scoring like theres no tomorrow.

Since January there's been the emergence of Hatem Ben Arfa and aquisition of  Papa Demba Cisse , who despite £10 million being spent on him and needing time to bed it is scoring goals at the rate of one every 70 minutes.

Newcastle United sit in fourth place three points ahead of Tottenham Hotspur who at one point were fifteen points ahead of Newcastle and played them off the park in a five nil thrashing earlier in the season, and four points ahed of a resurgent Chelsea.

Yes Mike Ashley managed to annoy everyone taking down the St James Park signs and putting up Sportsdirect Arena signs , but everybody know what it really is.

Basically the Toon are in a Pardew Wonderland with a distinct possibilty of European Football next season , who have guessed that in September?

It'll Either Rain Or Go Dark Before Morning....

One of the many pearls of wisdom from Charlie Cross , a farmer I had a weekend job with many man years ago. Very true of today , withich is National Record Store Day , World Book Night and High Bridge Festival in Newcastle.

The Box of Books
First task today was to hand write the front pieces of my twenty four copies of Bill Bryson's "Notes From a Small Island" with my name , where I picked it up from and a unique id so that the book can be tracked if the person I give it to wishes to log it on the web site.

Anyway I picked up the books and had panned to just print out the labels , unfortunately non of the shops I went in had anything suitable , so had to use my versatile printer , ie a biro!!

There is a flagship event in London on Monday night details here

Tickets are £10 but I think it is free after 7:30 pm , but check out the website.

Alan Reed's High Bridge

Anyway today I am going along to the record shops to pick up a coule of limited editions if they are available and enjoy  the delights of the High Bridge Quarter Festival with street food , entertainers music and the like. I'll be taking photographs and posting again on here after the event.

Hoping the rain keeps a way and we have a gorgeous day

Thursday 19 April 2012

Not Dead .... You Just Have To Look

With National Record Shop Day approaching I wandered down Northumberland to check out HMV, until recently your only source of music on the high street unless theres a Tesco , or you go for the rack in the Pound Shops that are proliferating in in our relatively affluent society.  Time was when WH Smith and Boots has a sizeable music section but that's no more . HMV themselves are losing their identity with football shirts , Apple Product displays and DVDs and games taking a huge part of the display despite the fact that streaming media is negating the need for recorded films. How man do you watch more than once.

I Shrewsbury I found an HMV buried deep in a shopping centre. The shop was quite big , but the only new music was the new Madonna album and the metal section consisted of multiple copes of Black Sabbath Volume IV , Sabbath Bloody Sabbath and something by Avenged Sevenfold. Newcastle store is over three floors but the music side seems to be contracting by the second,

A surprise and welcome addition to the high street is the Thats Entertainment shops , outlets for Music Magpie. Their music is arranged by price and I picked up several limited editions (Crowded House Recurring Dream and Annie Lennox Medusa) for a couple of quid each. Second hand but excellent condition and the staff are helpful. I was suuprised to see a fair few Shirehorses albums which I thought were hard to get , well Fat Harry White is , so you you can pick up some decent stuff and they have more new stock than the Shrewsbury HMV!!

The Independents are doing well , there'll be queues outside from midnight on Friday but it's good to see there is now a choice of music on the high street.

Though of course you can always go to your local independent record shop !!

Sunday 8 April 2012

You Wait Ages For A Bus .....

.. and then three come along at once. Well it's not quite that but nearly. Last year on World Book Night I gave away my books on the Tyneside Metro , if you click on the labels below you will see what happened then.

Initially this year I was going to do the same thing with Bill Bryson's "Notes From A Small Island", but this year World Book Night is on the 21st of April which is coincidentally National Record Shop Day as well as being the first High Bridge Quarter Festival.

So the idea is that I'm going to join in the festivities at High Bridge concentrating on  RPM records and giving away my books at the festival . I've been joining in National Record Shop Day for the last couple of years and had a great time seeing some great bands , getting ice cream great food and meeting great people.

This year looks like it's going to be the best ever and if you catch me you might get a copy of the book. Check out the High Bridge Festival site by clicking on the poster.

Reflex in Nunn Street and Beatdown up near The Five Swans will also be having lots of events and special stuff for sale so get yourself down and have a wonderful day. Great music , great company , great books , great food all guaranteed!!

Saturday 7 April 2012

There Are Lies , Damned Lies and Mobile Phone Contracts

Not long ago I thingk it was Talk Talk who won a case allowing them to advertise ridiculously low ceilings as "unlimited" . More and more companies are offering seemingly unlimited all inclusive packages. Oftenthese are based on two year contracts , with a "free" phone that of course just carries a one year guarantee. To protect this you have to take out a care package that will cost at least £150 for the duration of the contract.

O2's Best Ever Contract
Today I saw O2's latest foray into the arena. O2 are a market leader and have their "On and On" Best Ever Tariff that offers a "massive" 1Gb a month data, from £36 a month . This also doesnt include picture messaging and lets face it everyone picture messages so that could add a tidy sum to your all inclusive rates . 1 Gb is about a weeks normal web browsing with no downloads of MP3s or films. A single DIVX movie will be almost a Gb , and when you that that watching Youtube , streaming radio as data , you could use up that "massive" 1 Gb in a couple of days. T-Mobile used to have an excellent Flext plan that included everything with a limit where you started paying but everything came out of the same pot. It annoys me that so many companies hide behingd the small print almost getting like insurance!

I have my Mobile Wifi with 3 , who charge me £15 for 5 Gb on a monthly rolling contract which is more than adequate . I seldom come anywhere near that but its a good data package. Another company offers unlimited data on a similar rolling contract except in the small print is capped at 1 Gb per month.

So when you are taking out a new contract ensure you check the small print. Probably one of the most honest I've encoutered is Orange and as I say 3 offer excellent value for money , but a lot of companies are still trying to take you for a ride . Be wary!!

Friday 6 April 2012

Rock Is Not A Musical

The other day I saw an advertisement for a new musical called East End Babylon with the tag line "There are Three ways out of the East End - Football, Boxing and Rock and Roll" , like the East End of London is a bad place to be. Worse still it's the story of the Cockney Rejects - what next JLS , One Direction , Simon Cowell , Patrick Fitxgerald? But a musical ... no way , a film documentary I can live with:

Then I heard there's on about Susan Boyle, again Susan Boyle is a fine singer , but a musical about her life - surely not. Maybe she's had her fifteen minutes of fame , but I hope not.

Then we have Green Day's American Idiot . If I want to see Green Day I want to see Green Day , not a musical based on their songs. We have had the potential abberation of Queen being fronted by an American Idol contestant . That is not the way to honour Mr Bulsara's memory .. and of course the blockbusting Ben Elton scripted horror that is "We Will Rock You".

I don't mind concept album's finding their way on to celluloid , Tommy and Quadrophenia are excellent albums transformed into excellent films - and Tommy was transferred to an all star stage show.

When your heroes end up as musicals they are sanitised fro mass consumption , the danger and outrage  is removed like when Biffy Clyro's "Many A Horror" was renamed "When We Collide" for it's X-Factor cover release.

I bet you won't get a musical about the life of Rage Against The Machine!!