Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Eurythmics or Annie Lennox solo?

One of my favourite singers is Annie Lennox, she has an amazing voice full of character and ability to express a range of human emotions. I've heard a lot of songs that she sung on but over time I've been most impressed by the songs she sung when she was part of the duo known as The Eurythmics. One of their earlier songs, Sweet Dreams Are Made Of This, is one of my absolute favourite songs ever. When I first came across the group, Annie was the one who wore masculine suits or leather hats. She was quite stunning and sexual in a strange kind of way that added to the allure. They were also one of those 80s acts that popularised electronic music. Since The Eurythmics Annie has become world famous as a solo act. Although she has made some very good songs, I still prefer the older material.

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Media storm #231

Every few weeks a story emerges that is not particularly big news in itself but somehow seems to whip itself up into a media storm and all the press pick up on it.
This time it seems to be the story about the Conservative Chief Whip Andrew Mitchell swearing and being abusive to police officers because they directed him and his bike to a pedestrian exit gate from Downing Street. The police have to deal with drunks and criminals being abusive to them all the time. When it's a member of the government in a business suit leaving the office though it is rather shocking.
The subsequent attempts to duck and dodge what was said, suggesting confusion over accounts of the incident, the Chief Whip has finally apologised several days later. I watched him apologise on TV and he didn't answer the question about what he said: I guess he just wanted to draw a line under the episode and move on. Well, a paper has published the police account so at least we can see that.
It is just the latest in a series of media storms that seem to be dogging the government. I don't know whether the media is making more of it than it needs to or whether it is just indicative of something wrong with our government.

Monday, September 24, 2012

Funnies that ought not be: Alien

As you should know by now I love films. There are sometimes special scenes that I just can't help loving and that drive me to watch a film if I need a lift or feel like I need a bit of humour. I'm not talking about comedy films, they can be good too. In this series of posts I'm going to list for you some of the scenes that I find hilarious but probably shouldn't.

First up, it's Alien. It was probably the scariest film I ever saw at the time when I first saw it. An absolute classic film with lots of great scenes. My moment of choice comes after Executive Officer Kane, played by John Hurt, comes out of sick bay after spending 24 hours with an alien stuck to his face. Everybody is relieved that he is apparently back to normal. After a shower and good wash up he's enjoying himself with his colleagues at the dinner table. But then, oh dear, dear, dear, he coughs, he splutters, he pukes and then starts arching his back and screaming. I love it, so funny! I think one of the characters even jokes that he is overreacting to the poor quality food onboard the spaceship. If it was just a reaction to some bad food, it would be good but what actually happens next is so much better!

Friday, September 21, 2012

Fair play to Bruce Willis

It's an important that he is fighting on our behalf. Even if not true, it makes a good anecdote.

If I have bought e-books or songs from iTunes or paid to download a digital movie I believe it should be just the same as buying these things physically. I would expect to be the owner of them and be able to pass my music, film, book collection on to my children.
I haven't read enough into the detail of the story but I don't think it's fair that companies sell you things digitally (for not much less than the physical format) and then in the small print (which nobody reads, come on!) say you are not the owner of what you just paid for.
It's a bit like Facebook claiming that any photographs you upload belong to them and not you: I don't know where this debate is at, I remember it being an issue some time ago.
I find the whole subject of digital rights confusing and murky. I feel it needs a public celebrity to challenge this apparent discrepancy between physical and digital and help make it much clearer for the public, the people who spend their income on this content.

Piracy is another debate, I disagree that it's okay to pirate digital content. If you write a book or a song or make a film then I believe you should be paid fairly for it. However, I do think pricing structures for digital content aren't quite right. It is getting much better with e-books and I was interested to see that digital book sales have now overtaken physical books. I worry what this trend is going to do to the smaller bookshops that are really necessary to our cultural vibrancy.

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Privacy debate: William and Kate

The British Royal Family is a global institution that works incredibly hard and dedicates itself to fostering good relations between countries. My opinion is that they deserve some downtime, just like everybody else. The French tabloid should not have printed topless photographs of the Duchess of Cambridge and the public should not have an appetite to view them. Clearly, to me and probably any reasonable person this is an invasion of privacy. I can't see any argument for saying the spying on, illicitly photographing and publishing these is in the public interest. Come off it guys, get real! I hope the legal pursuit the couple have been forced into works.
I'm interested in the outcome of the Leveson Inquiry, I hope that it introduces something that polices the press but in an independent and fair way that still allows important news to be reported and still respects the principles of free speech.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Man v Food

Friends of mine were telling me about this show and last night I happened to catch an episode of Man v Food Nation. I thought it was a great show. Some of the food looked really tasty but the portions were extreme. There is something about American family businesses that I like, especially where good quality tasty food is concerned. Some of the oldest establishments serve up simple food that hasn't changed since the business started and I think that longevity is something to be proud of. It is a sign that the food has a constant appeal to each new generation. I was interested in a visit the presenter made to what I believe claims to be the place where hamburgers were first made: Louis's Lunch. I call it a burger on toast and funnily enough I had eaten a burget sandwich for lunch the day I watched the show. I like the old broilers, I still don't really know what a broiler is but I like the name.
All this food has inspired me to show you what I cooked for my lunch today.
I thought I would photograph the sequence for you, it was so tasty I got carried away eating it though. The pictures don't need any words. I used ketchup but a slice of tomato would have been better, we are out of tomatoes unfortunately. Louis's don't allow ketchup so my dish wouldn't get on their menu!

Monday, September 17, 2012

Mankind: crazy world of Earth seals it's own destruction

I've known the world is crazy. But the violence in the Middle East and North Africa (see this interesting Google map) apparently over a stupid film is just beyond belief. Not only is the violence inexcusable but it is surely only promoting the film in the most disgusting way. Would the public at large ever have seen the film had this violence not brought it so much attention? I think not. I know I certainly wouldn't have been interested. I've watched the 13 minute trailer and believe me it is beyond bad, I would say it is sick. There will always be sick individuals who create content. Is not attacking the US, German and UK embassies and burning down a branch of Kentucky Fried Chicken and causing deaths of innocent people even more of an outrage than a film? History teaches us that coordinated peaceful protest is the most effective form of protest, would it not have been more effective simply to ignore and consign it to the depths of obscurity that it deserves? I wonder how many actually involved in the violence have even seen the film? It seems unlikely to me that this is just about the film. We live in a divided world and ultimately if this cannot be healed it will lead to our destruction. How can mankind be so clever at one extreme and yet so crazy at the other? We must pour all our efforts into understanding ourselves better and learn to live as one world in peace.

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Chinese Delight With Impending Diet

I had a Chinese meal on Wednesday night, I wasn't expecting too much however it turned out to be quite a nice meal. I had vegetable spring rolls followed by beef and green peppers in black bean sauce with egg fried rice. I also dipped into other food on the table such as a beef and curry sauce, prawn crackers and chips. It wasn't high class or anything, although the restaurant is very clean and the staff are very hospitable but it did provide a nice change since I haven't eaten at a Chinese restaurant for a while. What's your favourite Chinese food?

Friday, September 14, 2012

Classic Albums: AC/DC - Highway to Hell

I've been a long time AC/DC fan, they were one of the earliest bands I listened to when growing up.
This album has a great collection of songs. It contains the song Touch Too Much, which was probably one of the first 7 inch singles I ever bought.
I love the cover with the devil horns coming out of Angus Young's head.
Their songs have a lyrical playfulness to them. Usually some double meaning to them refering to sexual prowess.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

9/11 Remembered

The eleventh anniversary of that infamous day that changed the Manhattan skyline is upon us. I still clearly remember where I was that afternoon. I just couldn't concentrate on my job and the internet seemed to be really slow, the BBC news site was failing to cope with the demand. I listened to the news on my radio in my car on the way home and I got home to find my wife glued to the news that seemed to constantly be about the attacks even days afterwards.
Those bastards destroyed the iconic twin towers. I was watching the film Moonlight last week with my wife and I saw the towers in that iconic night time view. It hit home again what was lost on that day, not the towers really but what they represented and all the people who worked there and lived nearby.
The events of 9/11 seemed unbelievable at the time. I think it was more shocking because it exposed a free democratic world to the vulnerability that our freedom brings. A shock like the London bombings in 2005 and the 2011 Utoeya Massacre in Norway.  Evil has many forms but none seem as stark as the mass killing of innocent and unsuspecting people just going about their daily lives.
May the souls of all those innocent individuals affected by the events of 9/11 rest in peace and know that they are not forgotten by those who loved them.

Monday, September 10, 2012


Are you the type of person who thinks Lord of the Rings is really cool or do you find it more Bored of the Rings? I'm interested because I watched the first film in the series with my children this week. It was the first time my son, age 9 (soon to be 10), had seen it. I thought it might scare him a little, it scared me a little when I first saw it - the part where Galadriel (Cate Blanchett) shows Frodo what she might become if she were to have the master ring.

I have read The Hobbit but have not read the books of TLOTR. I knew the story because I listened to a radio dramatisation of the book when I was much younger. The films really bring the story to life though and indeed it is an epic story in an incredibly detailed and believable world. I am not the kind of reader who goes for this genre of fiction usually, probably why I've never read TLOTR.

Well, my son wasn't really scared at all and thought the riders hunting the ring were like Harry Potter's Dementors. The troll in the Mines of Moria didn't scare him either. Neither did the demonic Balrog, which did surprise me because he is quite vocal about good and evil.

I have been considering buying a fantasy book, which I believe is part of a series of books. I keep seeing it everywhere and have stared to wonder what its about, I believe I've seen it is also a TV series. It's called Game of Thrones and the book is by George R.R. Martin. Any idea what it's like?

Saturday, September 08, 2012

Good weather weekend

We have had good weather since Thursday and the prospects are looking good for the remainder of the weekend. I like this time of year for the weather, when the mornings have a chill in the air but the day turns out hot and sunny.
I had some time today to drift around town on my own. I picked up a retractable clothes line my wife asked for. I bought a comb for grooming the kittens, even though they are just short hair moggies. I looked for a toast rack but couldn't find one, not even in the shop that seems to sell just a whole load of odd things you don't expect - like meat thermometers, fried egg rings etc. I visited a tiny little shop that sells comics but I felt a bit uncomfortable in there, I think because the guy who I assume owned it was a little bit too over-welcoming. I just wanted to go in and anonymously browse to see what they had and whether anything struck my imagination but instead he tried too hard to engage me in conversation. I'm not hard to talk to and like a conversation as much as the next guy. However, I still felt like an outsider and I don't know whether it was some barrier I subconsciously put up or something about him.
Later in the afternoon I did some work in the garden, digging over the flower beds which had caked into hard soil and grown weeds. We're putting a line of short stubby fencing in and I was hammering those into the ground, at least I was until the barrier wood I was hitting split and broke. Have to do more of that tomorrow I guess to drive the fence stakes deeper.

Thursday, September 06, 2012

Paralympian Heroes

I've been watching the Paralympics with enthusiasm each night. I'm amazed with the number of sports, the enthusiasm of the crowds but even more amazed by the athletes themselves. I've really enjoyed the athletics and swimming. There are some awesome paralympians, I'm so glad that the Paralympics 2012 are in Britain. It has made them some how more special.

Sunday, September 02, 2012

The Grind Begins Again

Since the beginning of August I have been quite lucky to have some holiday days I could take, which has meant that I've been working shorter weeks than normal. Last week was a four day week and this week coming I am working a 3 day week but the week after will be a full on five day week.
I have been enjoying some additional time for recreation but I know soon enough that will change to feeling that weekends are too short and the working day will start to feel longer as the nights begin to get darker and the autumn and winter seasons begin. It is already feeling a bit cooler than it was and we're only just into the beginning of September.
I've been enjoying blogging but I worry that my free time will be eaten up just trying to stay afloat amid the chaos of daily family life. My son starts a new school this week, I hope he enjoys it and that he makes some good friends at the school. I hope we do too as parents actually. We have started to make some inroads into that, we were invited to afternoon tea at the parents of a friend of our daughter's on Saturday and had a nice time. They seemed a very nice couple and their friends seemed nice too.
My wife starts back at her school this coming week, so it's really all back to the grindstone again. No wonder we look forward to holidays.