Summer Time

March 29, 2009


I was working on something and kind of knew it was late, but I forgot the clocks changed tonight and suddenly it’s 3am(!) and I’m not even very tired.

I will be tired in the morning no doubt – when I need to be at church early to do the words thing. Glad it is a short walk and the first thing I pass is Biblocafe !  Oh well, at least it’s summer time.

The Police

March 22, 2009

One of the first records I owned was a red-vinyl 7″ single of Roxanne, but that isn’t really relevant to this post.

This is about the actual Police, who I have a lot of respect for and generally speaking I like having them around.  They tend to be handy for policing things and shutting up neighbours, etc. But I do think it is our duty as citizens (or subjects, or whatever we are in Scotland) to keep an eye on what they do and the powers they have.

So when I spotted these two stories on boing boing I thought them worth noting:

boing-boing1Firstly there is a story of how police seem to be ‘overstepping’ their powers somewhat in the criminalising of legitimate protest – this may be the lightest and least controversial way of introducing this video, but then again the video is obviously made from one point of view and I’ve done absolutely no fact-checking, but on the other hand it does seem to speak for itself.


The second story is that it appears in central London the police have a curfew of 9pm on any group of 2 or more under-16s, such ‘groups’ can be broken up and the police do not have to see any anti-social behaviour.  So, lets just say that again, any two or more 16 yearolds on the streets after 9pm can’t be on the streets in the center of our capital, again I don’t know the story behind this but it just doesn’t sound like Great Britain and concerns me.

BTW:  if you are even slightly interested in this, read Little Brother by Cory Doctorow – here’s my review of it.

Street View fun

March 21, 2009

Google Street View was launched in the UK this week, so like many people I had a look around my area to see if I had been caught picking my nose or scratching myself.  However, I don’t seem to be around my flat, I’m not in the coffee shop or walking about the neighborhood.  I’m not driving because I found where my car was parked.  So basically I have no idea where I am on Street View.

streetview-woodlandsWhat I did find just around the corner was that there was a comfy chair ‘at’ the bus stop around the corner.  I remember this being there for a few weeks,  it doesn’t seem to have been picked up by any of the papers as one of the odd things to find on streetview, but I like it and wonder how long it will be there and if those hilarious drunken students(*) who played this prank know that their hard work has been recorded in this way.

streetview-woodlands2(*) ok so it may not have been students, or indeed drunk and call me boring but I don’t think it is hilarious either I have just typecast them – it’s my blog, I can do that.

Book: Jools Holland “Barefaced lies & Boogie-Woogie Boasts”

March 18, 2009

Jools Holland‘s autobiography “Barefaced lies & Boogie-Woogie Boasts” was a present (thanks) and a surprisingly good read.  I liked Squeeze, loved The Tube, I think “Jools Holland and his Rhythm and Blues Orchestra” are great and Later has to be the best music show on TV.  However, it never occured to me to bother reading this guys life story.  I don’t really go for autobiographies much and even though I was aware of all these different public aspects of Jools Holland I had never really linked them in my head to think “he’s an interesting guy I must find out more about him.”

book coverSo I was surprised by how entertaining and captivating a read it was.  The thing that has always impressed me about Jools is his shear deepth of knowledge about music and the opening chapters show some of where this came from, his love for learning piano, the lengths that he went to to get some early records and the memory of the way discovering different music made him feel.

It is an easy read with nice short chapters and a good pace which just keeps you turning the pages.  There are lots of good very funny back stage / tour-bus type stories and of course all the insights into meeting, interviewing or working with and recording with most of the top musicians of our time.  This is a very very good read, great fun and worth the read.

Now I really need to make an effort to catch the Rhythm and Blues Orchestra next time they tour.

Best stories in the ‘verse

March 8, 2009

I was recentlyswitched onto and quickly worked through every episode of the excellent sifi series Firefly (and the spin off movie Serenity ).  This is one of those series that I think I’ve come across when flicking through cable channels but it looks too strange to settle on and invest any time to, and I can see why it failed and was canceled during its first season.

fireflyIt is just too good. There is too much going on, too many characters and too much detail.  So with so many channels to choose from, flicking through channels and seeing all these people and details it instantly looks like something that will take a lot of effort to understand.  But it really is worth that little effort if you start from the beginning!

It is written, created and produced by Joss Whedon who at the time was the big hit in US TV with his other creation Buffy the Vampire Slayer, and isn’t your typical sifi / space travel type of story we are used to…

  • it is set in a future (2517) where humans have simply spread out from earth, there aren’t any aliens (it took me ages to notice this)
  • the people on the furthest outreaches of this ‘civilisation’ are like wild west pioneers and there is a lot of wester genre in this
  • everyone can speak english or mandarine Chinese (as america and china were the last great superpowers when the Earth united – or something like that).  This has the great advantage that when characters swear it is in Chinese which sounds realistic but doesn’t have to get beeped out.
  • there are nine main characters (10 if you include the ship Serenity) this is a lot of cross relationships to get used to which is why dipping into the series isn’t great
  • most of the filming is done on hand held camera leaving in all the little framing errors which give a raw edge that you don’t usually see in this genre
  • this ‘hand held’ camera look is carried over into the CG when we see zoom-pans into a space ships at a distance, again ‘camera’ work you just don’t see anywhere in regular sifi
  • action in space, including explosions are done without sound – as space is a vacume therefore no sound (the only other program I can remember doing this was the old Blake’s 7)
  • it has incredibly funny moments, some very good one-liners, physical and visual comedy!

Zoe “Cap’n’ll have a plan… always does. ”
Kaylee “That’s good right?”
Zoe “It’s possible you’re not recalling some of the cap’n’s previous plans…”

Jayne: “Testing, testing. Captain, can you hear me?”
Mal: “I’m standing right here.”
Jayne: “You’re coming through good and loud.”

Mal: ” ‘Cause I’m standing right here.”

Mal: “If anyone gets nosy, just…you know… shoot ’em. ”
Zoe: “Shoot ’em?”
Mal: “Politely.”

So, the concept is unusual, unexpected and fantastic.  The characters are very well drawn and a great cast brings them to life.  This looks like a big budget series with excellent sets and location pieces.  It is a great shame that the plug was pulled as there is so much more depth in this series which never got explained.  The movie (which apparantly only happened due to the pressure and fundraising of fans) does tidy up a lot of questions which the series leaves us with, but it is the characters who are so good that you just want to see more of what they go through.  You can pick up this boxed set fairly cheap and it is really worth it!

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