Wednesday 30 January 2013

A Little Success

Funny how a little success in the face of adversity can make your day so much better. Yesterday the shower hose broke, which I replaced and now it's better than ever, Today the washing machine decided not to drain and usually thi is a laborious draining process , except today I left it running as I drained it and it suddenly picked up and drained itself . Fixed , I think , but itcertainly was a good way to finish the day. The washing machine is over ten years old now so is on very borrowed time , but if I have bounght anothe six months I'll be happy with it.

After the snow we have the wind , no doubt people will be complainingabout that . Look for the good things in life , like the wonderful Shins album "Port of Morrow" that I bought at the weekend from RPM.

Was gonna use Iggy's original , but thought I'd post this Ravens as Crows one instead , another small success :)

Tuesday 29 January 2013

What A Shower

Today has not been good but maybe has been a learning experience.  This morning my shower pipe snapped so shower was taken a la redneck hosepipe style.  So tonight's task will be shower head and pipe replacement which should be a simpke task but who knows ...

Then the bus decided it wasn't turning up. Been like that for the past two weeks either late or none existent , but it dies make me walk through town although got annoyed to find my shortcut through the Eldon barred because it was before nine am .

Anyway it made me use my blogger on the phone so that is a slight plus point. It's still raining but the snow has gone so I will sign off here

Monday 28 January 2013

The Joy Of Socks

Really just wanted to post that title, but this weekend I didnt take enough pairs of socks away to Whitby because I hadn't done the washing recently , and my sock drwaer was full of odd socks. How come you either have loads or none?

It seems to be the same with lots of things, if you don't need money , you find it in pockets , that extra wallet pocket you didnt know you had , a cheque comes through the door from someone you've done some work for and forgotten about.

Same with food , toilet roll , pubs and virtually everything. Busses often come in twos and threes . There's probably a good reason and explanation for this , although the socks was just that I hadn't done my washing , so it's my own fault , but now I have more socks than ever.

Anyway the nearest video I can think of to do with socks is the Lady Marmalade sequence from Baz Lurhmann's Moulin Rouge , where there are quite a lot of stockings , which is the female equivalent of socks!!

Save The City Hall ... Remember The Mayfair

As George Osborne announces a 33 billon bonanza for the south with the new rail links between London and "the north"  (Leeds and Manchester) , with a generous compensation package for those affected along the routes (I bet George's mates got the not nod months ago and have been buying properties up along the way , like the profiteering that occured in the East End for the Olympics) , but enough of my aleged speculation and to the point in question...

..due to the Council Tax capping and the like Newcastle City Council have decided to cut Art Funding by 100% , spend millions on refurmishing the civic centre and now are going to demolish the City Hall. I'll be honest , I'm not a husge fan of the City Hall , the seats are small and uncomfortable , but I've seen some great gigs there (most recently The Musical Box touring Genesis' Lamb Lies Down on Braodway). I think my girls first gig was there , possibly Anyt and Dec or PJ and Duncan as they were then. So it's strikes me as bloody mindedness what the council intends. If something goes nothing can bring it back . Look at The Mayfair , the greatest venue I've ever known and replaced by the slowling decaying Charver Shelter known as the Gate , while the old Odeon is left to rot.....

...anyway you can sign a petition here , and a group of musicians called the "North East All Stars" have released a single called "Save The The City Hall" . Artists included in this ensemble are the band Prelude , Paul Thompson (Roxy Music ) , Ray Jackson (Lindisfarne)  and lots of others. The song sounds like late period Lindisfarne and I think will sound great live . Pick of the bunch though is Billy Bragg and Eliza Carthy's cover of Lindisfarne's "All Fall Down" , always one of my favourites , and two other songs on the single "Marshall Rileys Army" by Alan Fish and "Mandolin Moon" by Steve Daggettmake an excellent package that may help save Newcastle's City Hall

You can get the single on Amazon here

Or iTunes here . You need iTunes on your device to buy and download it.

Hope this will help and you will get some good music for you contribution , and don't let the City Hall go the way of the Mayfair , we have enough Tesco Extras and shopping malls

Whitby Discovery Weekend

Prime Beef in The Record Shop With No Name
Just back from Whitby , whisch is a place I love , and this weekend turned to be better than normal despite the Magpie Cafe being closed for refurbishment. The weekend started on a hairy not negotiating drifting snow on the A171 in a car with low profile tyres . I am an adequate driver but not happy about being in a white out in a large vehicle with minimal traction. Still I spent five miles feeling safe behind a tractor cum snow plough which turned off , then eventually descended into Whitby ....

...arriving a Dillons. We were made to feel extremely welcome and stayed in the Troon room (check the link , it's all there). Our hosts Craig and Matt were brilliant being warm , helpful and excellent cooks (the breakfasts are ace , and I'm still full from this mornings breakfast that I had eight hours ago). The room was warm and comfortable and the situation in very easy walking distace of the centre of Whitby. Previously we have stayed at La Rosa , but both carry our highest recommendation and will be visiting again when we return next year.

The Formby Clock is situ at home, weekends CDs

I did my annual visit to Folk Devils where I purchased the latest Yo La Tengo album and a George Formy Clock , which is an innovative use of vinyl. The Vinyl District lists Folk Devils as in Scarborough despite having The Whitby address !!

The Record Shop With No Name
Kiss in The Record Shop With No Name
Close to Folk Devils is The Shambles Market and in there is the excellently stocked Record Shop With No Name . That's not the name of the shop, they just havent thought of a name for it despite being open for twelve months. They are well stocked with CDs and vinyl and great to see that Whitby has two record shops worth visiting.

On a sad note we found that Justin of the excellent Justin's Chocolatiers had passed away before Christmas , but his presence is still prevalent in the mood of the shop , and it it definitely worth a visit if you go to Whitby.

Another first was a visit to Green's for some excellent fish and chips , recommended by Matt and Craig , but despite the snow filled start the weekend turned out to be excellent , barring the sad loss of Justin a tribute to him is here.

Sunday 27 January 2013

Surfin' Safari

I'm writing this on the iPad from Dillons in Whitby , a truly excellent place to stay. I was just thinking how web browsers are supposed to act in the same way but  that only seems to be in the HTML commands that they accept . Often Java , Javascript , Flash , Shockwave etc act differently indifferent browsers when you shouldn't have to consider things like that.

Also why is javascript called javascript when its nothing to do with java? Though it often makes people think if you know javascript then you must know java. It should be called browserscript! Though thats just a bit sensible.

Anyway thought I'd just share that with you as I'm using iPad Notes to write this as I cant get a connection and will post when I get connected.

Sunday 20 January 2013

My First Kindle Disappointment with TV Cream and Roobarb and Custard

.. and in fact my first e-book disappointment. E-readers are great for having dip-in non linear books such as reference books , encyclopedias , Fortean Times series etc. I've not spent a great amount of money on e-books , but 99p for "TV Cream Toys: Presents You Pestered Your Parents for" , and excellent reference cum picture book off those things you had to have as a kid seemed ideal. I have the hardback edition and it is and excellent book The website is a brilliant and well worth a visit.

The e-book , well I am gery disappointed. I have it on my Samsung Note and all the items have a tiny unresizeable ratings graphic and only one or two have pictures , which are also tiny and not resizeable on my phone. So even at a pound the ebook is not worth the investment , if they add some decebt sized pictures then I may change my mind but at the moment it's a no!

So I added the titles from Roobarb and Custard which is very TV Cream....

Saturday 19 January 2013

The Weekend's Getting Better

I was thinking that this weekend wasnt going to be any good. I came to the conclusion on a snowy Darlington station yesterday with a one our wait for the next train , knowing that the was work to be done and needing my annualy eye test with my opticians. Well we have proper Christmassy snow , the work was resolved remarkably smoothly and C4 Sightcare did my eye test  and everything is hunky dory in that department.

It's funny how when you are feeling a little down , it's easy to find other things to moan and complain about , but instead I picked up a couple of CDs by Bentley Rhythm Ace and Apollo Four Forty from Thats Entertainment  and then had an excellent meal at Dabbawal.

Tonight I watched an installment of Arrow , which I enjoy as there's some good one liners and the bad guys always get their come uppance although some people refer to it , a trice unfairly I think , as a "Primark Batman".

Sunday 13 January 2013

There's Always Good Music About ... My Top 10 of 2012

Sometimes you just need to look, I was going to do a top ten from last year and then tried to figure out how I would do do it , and decided to settle on a Grooveshark Playlist. Hopefully the stuff will stay there. My favourite song of last year was Spitfire by Public Service Broadcasting who are also my favourite new band of last year. Basically mixing Public Service Broadcast texts with original rocky grooves they make an amazing cut and paste rock experience taht I first heard with Spirit's Future Games , which was taken further by Big Audio Dynamite especially on their first album.

This weekend has been physically very painful but I have actually done a bit of writing so at least the right hand is still working though the trapped never or muscle damage is still painful but improving . Maybe a visit toi the docs later in the week.

Other bands that have impressed me last year , by either hearing them in a shop , on Radio 6 or at festivals such as the Hoults Yard Cult Festival have been, in now particular order:

  • The Sound of Guns
  • Santigold
  • Toy
  • Grimes
  • Metz
  • Victory Mansions
  • King Charles
  • Zombie Zombie

As well as that established artists have continued with decent material . The Rolling Stones "Doom and Gloom" being a prime example, The Tom Jones "Spirit In The Room" album was a revelation , although "Praise and Blame" was an excellent record as well . Bowie reappeard with an excellent new single which I didn't like for about 20 seconds. Most peoples music habits are formed between the ages of 14-18 , and maybe that's why musical taste is like it is , but I've yet to meet in everyday life someone with musical tastes as eclectic as mine,  though people often just see me as weird , anyway here's the playlist , enjoy.

My Best of 2012 by Mike Singleton on Grooveshark

Saturday 12 January 2013

The Music Collection

My Music Collection
This is really a follow on from the vinyl question I posed yesterday about the nature of music collections. Wreckless Eric and Amy Rigby are playing The Central Bar on 8th March and I thought I'd track down my copy of their album , which I purchased when I was a subscriber to Emusic.I looked at the screen and thought thats how loads of people see their music collections . You will download stuff and maybe never listen to it because it goes onto your portable device and only gets played if the shuffle algorithm includes it.

This set in with the advent of CD which allowed you to skip , program and shuffle discs. Then you got the multi disc sets and eventually you could burn your own with just the tracks you thought you liked.

With vinyl you tended to listen to at least oneside of an album as track skipping meant lifting the needle and moving on to the track you wanted . You could also stack singles and create your own vinyl playlist, but the vinyl always got played all the way through.

You get broadband and 4G operators telling ius we can download a track in seconds . That may be but music is meant to be listened to not downloaded! Many people will have huge digital collections that they have bnever listened to. Below is an Amazon playlist consisting of cheap compilation albums each containing at least 100 tracks each. You can download these in next to no time but 100 tracks is around six hours listening time , that's a quarter of a day.

It seems that music to a lot of people is just something they collect making you wonder why they bother downloading. You see the bluetooth speakers which effectively recreate the transistor radio scenario of the sixties.

The benefit of a vinyl or cassette based set up is that you will listen to the music rather than just store it on a hard disc or a phone. a friend of mine Mike O' Brien asked what will kids today say when you ask them what was your first record? They will probably just gawp.

My first records were Jig-A-Jig by East of Eden on the Deram, label (single) and The Best Of T.Rex on the Fly lable for my album. Enjoy the playlist , and enjoy some real music.

Micro De Socialisation

Instagram Post of My Train Arriving in Darlington Station
I may have posted something like this before , so it's a bit like a discussion last night when my friend Bob said his favourite comedy series ever was "Yes, Prime Misister" but it's only problem was that sometimes the same joke was repeated word for word. I pointed out that it was in the days before video recording and the only reason he noticed was because he was watching a series back to back. Today we're just as likely to wastch a series from a digital recording as live on TV when originally airs. I have the full series 5 of True Blood on my hard disc and currently working my way through Arrested Development and The Wire.

Anyway back to the point of this post , my third in eight hours! I've not slept dur to major discomfort in my right arm , currently being eased by a hot water bottle . Not looking forward to having to go to casualty , though I think I have a local walk in centre , so I may track that down. So that's the reason I am awake at this god foresaken hour , although on a work day I would just  be getting up. But ..

The reason I was really writing here was the thought that came into my head about how society , me included is maybe becoming de socialized by Twitter and Instagram . Both of these are short format blanket communication devices that can communicate with each other and other social media such as twitter. They are both about what's happening i the moment so not neccessarily meant to be kept , but can also be viewd as a sort of diary. I have seen one friends drams of home life and house moving unfold on there . And sometimes the limitations of Instagram can produce amazing pictures but mostly it's throwaway stuff. And like the sfformention "Yes Minister" there is a lot of repetition , I often think "Have I already posted this?" and then decided it doesnt matter. The almost out Facebook Facebook with the disposability of their feeds,

The worry for me is that it means that I don't blog as much , and some people actually use them as main modes of communication. I follow about 25 people , many more and I feel I will disappear in an avalanche of trivia. Also some people will expect me to know something because it appeared on Twitter. I still tend to watch the BBC News for important stuff. With that I will post this and go and have a lie down . The hot water bottle is having an efficacious effect , much like Lily The Pink's Medicinal Compound!! Did you know Mike McGear of The Scaffold was Paul McCartney's brother?

Friday 11 January 2013

Why Vinyl?

Was just off to bed and this question sprang to mind. Why Vinyl . Audiophiles talk about the warmth missing from digital representations and the personalisation that scratches and worn grooves bring but therein lies my argument. Vinyl is one of the most self destuctive of all media. Once the needle hits the groobve both vinyl an ddiamond / sapphire begin to destroy each other. Dust gathers on the record , heat warps the discs (remember dynaflex? The bane of my Bowie and Lou Reed collections).

Jimmy Page worked out that the optimum length for a vinyl long player was 18 minutes . Gram hold of an original pressing of Led Zeppelin I or II and check that there's no shiny spare vinyl in the label run off.

Vinnyl did enable some interesting tricks. Brian Eno's Great Pretender on Taking Tiger Mountain By Strategy ran into a closed groove that effectively never ended. You don't get that on the CD version. Monty Python had a three sided album because one side consisted of two separate spirals so you never knew what track you would get when you put it on.

Then on Todd Rundgren's Inititiation , the running time of that album clocked around 69 minutes with an instruction to only play with a brand new needle. I bought mine on cassette!

However we have seen a major vinyl revival , recently The Beatles and The Who's Studio Output have been boxed at £300 and £150 respectively , very impressive they are too . Nice to see the covers in their proper size , but it's still vinyl and very expensive. Black Sabbath have also had a box out

I am happy with CD and digital , for convenience sake , but I am also glad that vinyl is here to stay as well - though I wont be part of the buying public for vinyl , well maybe the odd seven incher .....

Funny How

Funny how it's easier to moan , complain and find fault than be positive. I'm suffering from a very painful right arm , trapped nerve or pulled muscle or something and then I find my iPad is almost full!! 16 Gb taken up by games , copies of the Times and iBooks. Garageband takes up a fair chunk as well , but I still like the damned think , especially as I think I have finally got my Alesis IO Dock work. The sound of crunching metal guitars in Garagemand was music to my ears so now I can start using the iPad for the reason that I bought the damned thing , the create sounds!!

It's also a good ereader as well though I have installed The Kindle app on the iPad and on my Samsung Note 2 phone so I could purchase  "Life of Pi" and "1227 QI Facts To Blow Your Socks Off" for 20p each , a bargain even if they are e-books.

But there I go again finding positives in almost all life around me, which I suppose is the optimist in me . They say a pessimist is never disappointed , and have known loats of people who are only happy when they are miserable but I am definitely not in that group. I always believ that you can find good in all situations and take positives even if it is just to learn a lesson from something.

I watched "The Road" recently , and yes it's depressing and you can see all the bad things coming , but it has a remarkably upbeat ending and I would recommend it to anyone , and last night I watch a remarkbly enjoyable Iranian Football film called "Offside" which again I would definitely recommend.

So Funny How this post turned out , I started off feeling a bit under teh weather and now I feel musch better. Shoulder still hurts , but c'est la vie !!

Tuesday 1 January 2013

The First Post

...of 2013 and hoping it will be as enjoyable a year as 2012. Seen some great gigs , including several nights at The Stand in Newcastle , as well as Lord Rochester's inaugural gig at The Schooner in Gateshead , that rarity , a Half Man Half Biscuit gig in Newcastle.

I finally got an iPad and have generally been impressed with it , though the app that sold it me was Garageband. I've also got a 4G Samsung Note 2 courtesy of EE and am impressed with that as well having watched the excellent Cockneys vs Zombies on it as well as a few episodes of Hebburn and getting my first taste of In-Betweeners via 4OD. Incidentally Hebburn features Steffen Peddie as Big Keith , and I met him at The Stand where he had the crowd in stitches laughing , he halso has a Monday night residency so is well worth checking out.

Was also impressed with Sky's "Young Doctors Notebook"  featuring John Hamm and Daniel Radcliffe . Black comedy of the highest order featuring sex and drugs and blood and tabs , if you missed it get hold of a copy one way or another. Harry Potter it is not.

As I say hope 2013 has as much to offer as 2012