Saturday, March 31, 2007

Yorkshire walking

Jonah had invited me over for the weekend as I'd been feeling a bit down, I decided to take him up on the offer and drove over to his house after work on friday. We spent an enjoyable evening drinking decent beer in some local pubs and then watching some phoenix nights. We were able to share our stories of failed relationships and wonder what next. It was also good to share a few humourous tales too. Had a bit of a lie in and read for a while this morning before getting some breakfast and setting off for a walk around the village of askrigg. At the start of the walk we had to traverse a river via means of rocks placed as stepping stones. I followed Jonah and was nonchelently crossing the river when Jonah slipped off the next stone ending up with a very wet leg. It was then that I noticed the rocks were covered in a glaze of algae slime that was impossible to get a foothold on and suddenly the 30cm gap to the next rock seemed a gulf that was impossible to negotiate. All of a sudden I thought my next step would result in a broken ankle. It was strange the psychological fear that Jonah's slip had conjured and I finished crossing in an ungainly manner of leaps and squat using my arms to steady myself. It really was very slippy. The scenery in the area is stunning and the walk was great, jonah identifying birds and wildlife whereas I admired discarded farm machinery and pondered the construction of roman roads and dry stone walls. A nice 8 or so mile stroll. Just need to find some time to work on my book, which would've been my alternate option for today.

Another Review

I was a bit late, but I finally got round to submitting a review of the malcolm middleton gig to teletext this wednesday and it was published on friday. I really enjoy seeing these published, though I'm not sure how many people actually read them.

You can click on the image to see it larger

Ice Cream

Had a fairly rubbish week, I feel like I'm caught in a cycle of despondancy that I'm finding it hard to break. My dislike for my job and commuting are not helping. On thurs i went round to m&e for a house group social. M had prepared a number of desserts for us to sample, including three different home made ice creams. They were delicious. It was nice to get out and enjoy some company. On the down side, I was tod that someone would be bringing uno to play. I'm not a fan of this game, it's the card equivalent of beetle drive and should be banned due to the lack of skill involved. I think it stems from my competetive nature when it comes to using my mind, that I somehow feel cheated if the odds of my winning are slashed due to the cards I am dealt. It actually made the game a little more enjoyable as everyone mocked my hatred for the game and upon winning the winner would claim their position was acheived through skill.

Saturday, March 24, 2007

Malcolm Middleton

Malcolm MiddletonThursday night i went to manchester with ad to go and see malcolm middleton. The one time guitarist with arab strap was promoting his third album, and i enjoy his music. Combining a rare gift in lyrical astuteness with a superb guitar playing ability. Most of his lyrics tend to be down beat and self loathing, covering failed relationships and sadness. He sings how he wishes he could have a run of happiness and then he could put away his guitar, as he would have lost his depression induced inspiration, and just go and get a job like 'normal people'. Despite the sombre nature of the lyrics, they are delivered with wit and sly self mocking accompanied with upbeat melodies. In fact, I think Malcolm is one of the best guitarists I have seen, effortlessly moving from complex plucking melodies, to riff driven noise. He makes guitar playing look simple. For the most of the gig he was backed by an able posse of musicians, including Jenny Reeve, who also supported. I'd seen Jenny a few times as part of the live band touring with arab strap where she would play violin. This evening she performed as 'strike the colours' and showed that she was also an accomplished guitarist and decent singer, and then later as part of malcolm's band she added keyboards to her reportoir.

I was also able to tick off another blogger in my 'i spy' book of bloggers on my blogroll. I came across being felicity whilst searching reviews for an arab strap gig at the leadmill i went to ages ago. It was a good review and i left a comment, she returned the comment and thought that she could discern the back of her head in one of my photos of the gig. Read a few more of her entries and enjoyed them and so she was added to my reading list. When i arrived at the gig with ad we found a couple of spare seats and sat at a table whilst i looked around the audience to see if i could spot her. Well it occured to me that i didn't really know exactly what she looked like having only seen glimpses in photos. Looking around the venue i spotted a good candidate sitting near the front. But how to find out for sure without it being embarrasing for both parties if the answer is a negative:
'excuse me, do you write a blog?'
'a what?'
'a blog, i thought you were someone whose blog i read'

thankfully it was and we had some good conversations using the gift of speech, as opposed to using these new fangled electronic medias.

Photos of the gig, on my flickr page, and a clip of Malcolm performing 'Monday Night Nothing' on youtube below:

Sunday, March 18, 2007


master piece?Popped over to see my m+d this afternoon for mothering sunday. They've been busy 'down sizing' and my mum had come across a bunch of paintings that me and my sister had painted whilst at nursery school. It was quite amusing looking through them, but I was quite impressed with my abstract work, with the vivid colours and expressive brush strokes. I don't think they would look out of place in the tate! My sister's paintings tended to be mainly pictures of the family and cat. It was possible to distinguish what the characters were, and they were generally anatomically correct. Which may be all impressive for a three year old, but they weren't worthy of the tate modern, they looked like kids paintings. Mine on the other hand.....

you can check them out on flickr here

Saturday, March 17, 2007

the cherry orchard

Went to the crucible last night to watch the cherry orchard. It's first time i've been to the crucible in ages, i'd forgotten what an excelent intimate venue it is. The stage is encircled by the audience, with the performance taking place within the centre. Interesting to see the types of ppl who go to the theatre, there were many from the older generations and i thought this is just like going to church. There were a couple of students in the mix, plus a few, that i can only describe as guardian readers who eat only organic food. Those people hovering on the border of eccentricity. and me. I was really impressed with the stage, and the lighting was also superb, they had employed a 'hazy fog' effect through which the lighting diffused. A couple of women in the row in front of me wre quite amusing as they were busy cleaning their glasses 'ooh, it's all hazy, I think i've got something on my glasses'.

I'm no theatre critic, but i thought the performance were very good, and there was an almost audible gasp of excitement in the room as joanna lumley appeared. However it was the story line of the cherry orchard that i found most fascinating. Set against the backdrop of social reform in russia at the turn of the 20th centuary. After the emancipation of the serfs, the lowest social class were able to amass their own fortunes, if lucky and astute business characters. Whilst the aristocrats frivoled their wealth away. In this play a rich landowner has amounted huge debts and her estate and cherry orchard need to be auctioned off. The newly rich 'serf' of the play tries to advise new ways to use the land of the cherry orchard for profit, the building of holiday homes. But the aristocrat will have none of it, the cherry orchard symbolises her youth and status and it will not change. Inevitably the orchard is sold and she loses everything. Reminded me a bit of the way church buildings are often revered to the detrament of doing the work of the gospel. All effort and money ploughed into maintaining a crumbling relic. The play is full of other interesting and amusing characters, including the left wing 'perpetual student' who offers great idealistic advice to one and all on the purposes and goals of life. This student reminded me a lot of Raskolnikov in crime and punishment. Probably reflective of the growing bolshevik movement of the day. I think I may have to read some more of anton chekov's work, as this was very enjoyable.

Arcade fire live review

My review of the arcade fire gig made it onto teletext. Thanks to my dad for the photo, as i don't seem to be able to tune my tv into the analogue channels.

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

How I bought the Neon Bible and other stories..

Went into town on saturday, and I really enjoyed my morning wandering around. Sheffield is an excellent place. Went to the urban deli for a bit to write and drink, and I got a text from phil asking if i was going to the chesterfield match. I didn't realise we were playing at home, and i had my mind set on a relaxing day, so decided not to go. After the abysmal performance i'd witnessed on wednesday it was not a difficult decision to make. Next it was time for a trip to fopp, always a dangerous shop for me as i always buy more than i bargained for. They didn't have the limited edition arcade fire album, but i did come away with 2 cds (anthony and the johnsons and low) and 'children of men' novel. Had to go to a bigger store for the arcade fire album, more on that later. Wandered down to the crucible to pick up a ticket for 'the cherry orchid' and noticed that the lyceum is showing 'the alchemist' which i read recently, so i got a ticket for that too. Feeling rather cultured with my theatre tickets, i decided to wander up to the millenium gallery where they had a free abstract exhibition on. There were some striking pieces, but one particularly caught my attention. Maya Roos had created a giant 'portrait' of coloured lines and boxes influenced by an image captured from norton disc clen up application. I was amazed that this huge piece seemed to be painted directly on to the wall and asking a curator I discovered that it had taken three weeks to paint by a team of three and at the end of the exhibition it would be sanded off and the wall repainted. The transient nature of this work made me admire it more. Got home and saw the football results come in, lamenting a further chesterfield defeat. A managerial change can be the only answer to this dreadful slide towards relegation, the last few games have been void of any ideas and passion. Phil was in agreement, and yesterday Roy graciously stepped down from his managerial role. I'd've preffered to see whole sale changes to the backroom staff instead of promotion of assistant manager, but we'll see if the performances turn.

neon bibleOk, so the Neon Bible, the second album from arcade fire. Sorry if you had to read so far if you were only interested in my review, and if you're not interested then you can stop reading now! Their first album, funeral, was my favourite album of 2005, barely a flaw on it, quite superb, so it's always a slight worry whether a new release would match the standard already set. After a few listens i think it is close to reaching those high standards. The neon bible is distinctly arcade fire, yet different from funeral. Produced like some overwhelming symphony the songs form a score of melancholy of the futility of life, or more accurately those bodies that seek to bring meaning, politics, religion. Yet there is some sense of upbeat within the tunes that make you want to dance too. The layers of instrumentation are really quite superb, without becoming some pompous over produced nonsense, they manage to balance grandiose church organs, harmonic choirs, flowing strings, bombastic brass, with guitars and drums. Some of the church organ sounds are immense, apparently recorded at some church, you can imagine some giant gothic cathedral with a bank of a thousand pipes springing forth from some huge organ. Certainly a top candidate for album of the year. And it's making my dreadful commutes all the more bearable as I blast it out from my iPod.

Friday, March 09, 2007

arcade fire

arcade fireIt was an early morning start as I had a work related course to attend in manchester at 0830, so I left the house at dawn, the sky just turning blue, but the moon still prominant. In fact on my way up the hill, the moon appeared above the horizon looking huige and bulbous, but as I got higher, the angles changed lifting the moon from it's horizon hugging position and the satellite rapidly shrunk. It's a bizarre optical illusion. The course wasn't too tortuous, and at lunch I picked up the last minute ticket for the gig I had purchased, that had been mailed to the course venue. It's presence helped get me through the afternoon session, a slight excitement building. Once the course ended around 4 ther was a swift and mass exodus of the participants as they headed out to beat the rush hour traffic. I meandered down to a pub for a drink and to finish reading a book. After some food the traffic had died down and I managed to navigate myself to the apollo, spend some time in a pub awaiting the door opening. There was quite a queue, but it quickly dwindled as the doors opened, a very efficient scanning system was used for swift entry. I've not been to the apollo before, and it is a very nice medium sized venue. A theatre with the seat removed in the stalls, leaving a slightly sloping floor aiding good vantage points, even from the back. Being early I hovered neaer the front and watched the roadies set up the equipment. They seemed to be having problems with a theramin, and it was amusing watching them frantically waving their arms around in the air in an effort to get it to work. Patrick Wolf was the support act, a camp and flambouyant character whose music is worthy of further investigationn I think. Quite heavily string laden, but with hauntingly god melodies. Finally just after 9 arcade fire took to the stage. A vast array of instruments, organs, keyboards, hurdy-gurdys, strings, guitars and horns were used to create their eclectic art rock symphonies. It really was a fantastic spectacle. The only down side being the sound is obviously mixed for the centre of the auditorium, whereas near the front, the bass speakers take precedence so the mix of higher frequencies was too low at this position, due to the fact that the speakers producing the higher mix were hanging about 10m above my head! The other annoying thing were some idiot students near me, who seemed excited to see the band but then continued to chat through most of the songs. During 'power out' win butler invited some of the audience on to the stage, which included said students who cavorted around in an awful display of egotism, especially the boys. Arms aloft and chests out, they really detracted from a fantastic song. They seemed to think that the crowd were cheering them and were feeding from this in some kind of frenzy, it was a sad spectacal. No doubt they know think they are great, thing is, I didin't know who they were, don't know and don't care. Which is true for 99% of the audience. The arcade fire on the other hand.... There were some other audience members onstage watching the perfomance for it's entirity and they acted with much more dignity. The gig mainly consited of tunes from their new record, the neon bible, interspersed with tunes from funeral. From first impressions neon bible is going to be another great record. The musician ship of arcade fire is remarkable as they inter-change instruments and vocals. It's great to see, though sometimes breaks the flow of the concert as you are left waiting between songs as the band members swap instruments. Well worth paying slightly over the odds for the ticket.

most of my photos didn't come out, but a few are available on flickr arcade fire set

Wednesday, March 07, 2007


Hopefully I have secured a ticket to go and see arcade fire tomorrow. I'm on a course all day in manchester and the ebay ticket is on it's way to me there. If everything goes to plan I'll be able to see this fantastic band live. I hope it all comes good.

Sunday, March 04, 2007

Crystal Maze

A great little parody of the crystal maze taken from the mary whitehouse experience. It captures the programme perfectly.

I said what about breakfast at tiffany's

She said, I think I remember the film. And as I recall, I think we both kinda liked it. And I said, well that's the one thing we've got

Bought the collection of short stories by truman capote at fopp recently and enjoyed reading the original story and then re-watching the movie on dvd. Audrey hepburn's portrayal of Holly golightly is iconic, and being brought up on the a-team as a kid it's so strange to see george peppard as something other than Hannibal muttering, i love it when a plan comes together. Capote's book of short stories is interesting, BAT is by far the superior story, the others are much shorter, and though pleasant, aren't really striking. It's intersting to compare the differences with the film, the cliched happy ending of the film is not true to the novel, and although the character of Holly remains faithful to the book, I'm not so sure about Paul Varjak. The movie has him portrayed as some kind of gigalo, very heterosexual, and his relationship with holly has some kind of sexual chemistry. In the novel I'm not sure that that comes over quite so well, whether that is on purpose, or just a result of capote's writings being influenced by his own homosexuality, the relationship between holly and paul seems much more platonic. They are definately worth watching/reading.

La Lune

moonSaw the weather forcast on sat morning and they mentioned that there would be clear skies and a good view of the evenings lunar eclipse. The internet came back online in the evening and I was able to look up the times of the spectacle. It was interesting to see, a shadow slowly encrouching upon the moon, to the point when just a faint white gleam shone from the top most edge of the moon. the rest of the satellite was a striking copper red colour, with the outline shimmering a deep red. I think it's the best lunar eclipse I've ever seen. I tried to take some photos using long exposures, but without a tripod it was difficult to keep the camera steady. Ended up with this fairly rubbish hint of a globe that I cropped from a large image. However, there are some really good photos on flickr, like this example by truus.

my rubbish lunar eclipse photo set

Meeting Richard Branson

It's been a bad week for virgin media, not only have they had a fall out with BskyB, resulting in me loosing sky one and sky sports news, but their broadband internet has been playing up. I've not been able to get online, and I had a number of things to blog about on friday, and I can't recall what they are, I'm sure they couldn't have been that enlightening. It's annoying loosing these channels as they are the ones you can flick onto whilst eating your tea/breakfast. Plenty of football scores, futurama and simpsons and of course 24 on a sunday eve. However, Richard Branson cut his holiday short to come to my house and tell me how sorry he was with the inconvenience the loss of these channels and internet was. I said, "it's nice of you to pop by Richard, I can call you Richard can't I?" "Why yes, I think Sir Branson is far too formal for my flowing blonde locks image." "Ok Richard, but the thing is I wanted to check what was on at the cinema this weekend and without the internet I couldn't."