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Wednesday, 31 December 2008

New Year Party

Sir Elton
We headed over to Elton John's party to see in the New Year. Through some good luck we were staying in a nearby hotel in Canary Wharf and with even more good luck were given an upgrade to a rather well-appointed suite. We could see the Dome from the room, although it was the other side of the Thames, so one stop on the Jubilee to get to the event.
glitter
A bite to eat in Brown's before heading over, anticipating the rammed nature of the restaurants at the O2. A glass or two of wine and we were ready to party.
HNY
A fun evening, everyone there to have a good time. Elton had brought much of his Las Vegas Red Piano set into the venue and the evening cracked on at a good pace, with the regulation midnight Auld Lang Syne before more showers of sparkle and the bitch is back. I know some of it was also televised, although video doesn't really capture the scale or full emotion of actually being there.

A good first tick in the box for 2009.

Tuesday, 30 December 2008

eyeful

gift
Almost time to wrap 2008 in a shiny parcel and to move into 2009.

I don't do the long list retrospectives that some relish. I prefer the fun of going forward. But at certain times, try as one might, its impossible not to sneak a quick peek over the shoulder to moments passed. There's a different clarity in the dark months, brought from chill and sudden ice. Throw salt as a needed vanquisher.

Familiar landscapes but more spaces than during summer months. Inner workings of trees and shrubs visible but already three centimetres of daffodil leaves strain through the earth for early signs of spring.

Most don't notice yet.

Monday, 29 December 2008

can banjo fit punk cabaret?

amanda
In the car on the way back we talked about hiring somewhere for a few days to make some music.

Not quite yet.

Sometime mid 2009. We'll all need to practice a bit more first. Amanda's story about making her album can be some sort of inspiration.

And yes, I have tix for her gig at the Electric Ballroom. Meantime enjoy her Christmas gift...


What's the Use of Won'drin'? -Amanda Palmer & Vermillion Lies- from Amanda Palmer on Vimeo.

Sunday, 28 December 2008

reality is still an obstacle to hallucination

P1000825_2
Our board games this year were decidedly retro, with an ancient copy of 'Careers' being amongst those played to the end. You had to decide whether to go for big business, or something risky like being an astronaut. Most players seemed to take the safe option to join show-biz or become uranium prospectors.

The recently acquired game was so old that the replacement rules were stated to cost 1/6d from Waddingtons, yet many of the money, fame and happiness choices and penalties still seemed to fit modern day decision making.

When we tried another old style game, about motoring around Ye Olde England, we did actually give up after 10 minutes. It was about as exciting as driving to Westfield Shopping Centre on Boxing Day.

The complex scoring system was in use as usual, with accumulated points from the mix of karaoke, movie quizzes and mad rabbit lawnmower racing on the Wii all progressively building towards our astronomic accumulated totals.

We don't usually add up the final scores, but the interim subtotal prizes of rubber band collections and balsa wood aircraft kits are something to behold. This year's pocket frisbee was much coveted, as were the 8 whistles which could create an entire musical scale.

We managed several whistled renditions of jingle bells before moving on to the banjo and mandolin.

Saturday, 27 December 2008

central no heating

sloane
Well, we have all been having a fine Christmas and only now re-connecting with the internet after days of party games, silly hats and general raucousness.

Luckily we were fairly lively, because whilst we were drinking Old Peculiar in the Crooked Billet on Christmas Eve, the phone rang to say that the home central heating had just failed.

Inevitably, we developed other heating solutions which have lasted until Speedy the plumber arrived on the 28th to advise us that the 15 minute diagnostic was £102.35 and that the new pump and valves would be ready by Tuesday. Those Wii tennis games may yet come in useful as a further method of warming.

Perhaps a new definition for the chattering classes?

Wednesday, 24 December 2008

Season's Greetings

presentOffice work this morning, then some driving around London at which time I will switch into festive mode until the weekend.
season

Tuesday, 23 December 2008

smoke fairies

smoke fairies bokeh
I was in the office today although the car park was surprisingly empty. I guess most people were en route to shops or relatives. Last night the local M&S car park was completely full at 22:30 and stayed that way until around midnight. The adjacent Tesco was open 24 hours in any case.

Whilst I've been driving for the last few days, my CD of choice has been the Smoke Fairies, which evokes a mysterious and strangely compelling soundtrack to the driving experience. It fitted perfectly with some of my recent driving scenes of 'London streets', 'twisty evening lanes' and 'empty midnight motorway'. Yet these British musicians have somehow been absorbing the vibes of the Mississippi delta. Mournful ballads with a folk edge but rooted in blues with slide guitar swagger.

Here's one of their songs: with a Christmas theme, as sung at the recent Barbican concert.

Monday, 22 December 2008

round robin 2008

round-robin
Like most of us, I receive a few of those round robin letters, from varied sources including embedded in cards, as letters and also in various electronic formats.

Amongst today's was one which had used photopaper to create a card and included the letter portion as a series of bullet points a la PowerPoint on the inside left.

Sterling work. So to mine, I suppose...

Dear friend,

Its been a truly eventful and groundbreaking year and there are any number of incredible and positive items which I am about to flaunt. You'll be amazed at how we managed to pack so much into this truly award winning year.

After that January domestic bust-up and the little incident with the police, we vowed to turn over a new leaf, but of course kept our fingers crossed. I resorted to staying out until four or five every morning and the rest of the household got an even stronger reputation for being out of control.

That was until the money ran out during the casino vacation in February, but some of the gang helped us out with a loan although they are getting quite nasty now that the money is due.

We did sell the house for a knock down price to recoup part of the debts - in some kind of 'sell to let' scheme so we could still live in it, but I sort of sensed that putting the money into those Northern Rock Hedge Funds was a bad idea. It turns out that the whole thing was a scam in any case so we don't even qualify for compensation.

Luckily we'd already paid for the May safari to South Africa and carried on with it in any case. Amazingly, on the very first day, I was robbed on the way into the hotel but fortunately they missed my camera which I'd already left in a taxi by accident! How we laughed!
sa-taxi
The very next evening the taxi driver returned the camera to the hotel and only asked for £200 by way of compensation. So I'm including a few dozen of the more whimsical photographs of wildlife as we toured around. Most of it is at quite a distance but I'm sure you will get the idea.

Whilst we were away, it turned out that the weather in the UK was quite bad, and we returned to see the new tide marks inside the property up to about half a metre. The house sitter had checked in regularly and been feeding Mimsi the cat but somehow all the fish had escaped from the fishtank. Or at least that what we were told. And Mimsi is seeing a pet psychotherapist now because she gets jumpy every time we turn on a tap.

armagedddonrubbedI should mention Pixi-Trix and the recent performance of Armageddon at the local hall. She played Liv Tyler's part of Grace Stamper and we managed to get local man Johnny Depp as the other main star. Although Johnny lives in France, he keeps a small place quite near to us, just around the corner from Kate Moss and the others. Some of the special effects were quite stunning and the drilling of the space rocks to plant the explosive holds a special place in my heart.

Of course, the Guardian gave the show five stars, although the Times was a bit snooty and only gave it a muted review, saying the prawn vol-au-vents were the best thing about the evening. I have a certain pride in being the person that defrosted them.

farmThat takes us neatly to the sporting achievements. As usual, we collected a fair number of cups and trophies from the usual sources; We've a whole cabinet of model yacht racing awards now and Branston continues to win body board trophies and can remove the parole tag from next month. He's already talking about going back to Turkey for another stint on the farm.

And its good news on the medication front too! It appears that the tricyclics were from a quite old prescription and although I'd bought a lot on the cheap from the internet, when they finally ran out the supplier I'd been using had gone out of business. The NHS then suggested something else and the new tablets are supposed to reduce the extrapyramidal side-effects of antipsychotic drugs or something. I know they have cut down on the blurred vision anyway.

But thats enough about us. I hope you are having a similarly interesting time and that these modest achievements don't overshadow those of your own.

Season's Greetings and remember there's always someone worse off than yourself.

Sunday, 21 December 2008

cathedral

cathedral
A festive weekend. Cathedral. Carols. A reading from Dylan Thomas about Christmas. Even some machine generated snow as we left the Cathedral.

...Bring out the tall tales now that we told by the fire as the gaslight bubbled like a diver. Ghosts whooed like owls in the long nights when I dared not look over my shoulder; animals lurked in the cubbyhole under the stairs and the gas meter ticked. And I remember that we went singing carols once, when there wasn't the shaving of a moon to light the flying streets.

At the end of a long road was a drive that led to a large house, and we stumbled up the darkness of the drive that night, each one of us afraid, each one holding a stone in his hand in case, and all of us too brave to say a word. The wind through the trees made noises as of old and unpleasant and maybe webfooted men wheezing in caves. We reached the black bulk of the house. "What shall we give them? Hark the Herald?"

"No," Jack said, "Good King Wencelas. I'll count three." One, two three, and we began to sing, our voices high and seemingly distant in the snow-felted darkness round the house that was occupied by nobody we knew.

We stood close together, near the dark door. Good King Wencelas looked out On the Feast of Stephen . . . And then a small, dry voice, like the voice of someone who has not spoken for a long time, joined our singing: a small, dry, eggshell voice from the other side of the door: a small dry voice through the keyhole. And when we stopped running we were outside our house; the front room was lovely; balloons floated under the hot-water-bottle-gulping gas; everything was good again and shone over the town.

"Perhaps it was a ghost," Jim said. "Perhaps it was trolls," Dan said, who was always reading.

"Let's go in and see if there's any jelly left," Jack said. And we did that...


carols

Saturday, 20 December 2008

full

lion
All my recent blog pix seem to be night-time.

I shall leave London full of tourist shoppers this weekend and head for somewhere with daylight, space on the pavement and carols.
screenshot_04

xmas party games

partyperfect.jpg
Survivors of rashbre central's previous seasonal festivities will know that there's a certain point when the silly hats and party games make an appearance.

Not the Nintendo / X-Box360 / Playstation variety, but games involving old wrapping paper, sticky tape, fruit and the like. For the convenience of others, here's a few sure fire winners, which can be played at everything from amateur through to full Pro standard.

Required items: Wrapping paper, sticky tape, magazines, newspapers, highlighter pen, pins

1) Guess the name : Yes - simply providing the guests with paper hats or pin on labels which they can't see with the name of a sleb (celebrity) on it. They have to guess with the Yes/No answers. Classed as an icebreaker. Marilyn Monroe, George Bush, Frankenstein, Albert Einstein, Babe Ruth, Jason Bourne, 007, Mickey Mouse, Madonna, Britney Spears, Beyonce. You get the idea.
2) Dress the person : Kinetic Game, two teams: 2-5 minutes. Select someone to be dressed using either old wrapping paper or a couple of recent magazines or newspapers.
3) Kipper racing : multiple teams. needs a long clear indoor space. cut or tear a largish fish shape from a sheet of wrapping paper or anything similar to hand. Add detail such as a hole for the eye, maybe a dorsal fin. Lie them flat on the floor and give other team members further sheets of paper/magazines to use to create air currents to propel the fish from a start line to a distant improvised finishing line.
4) Tell a tale : Pre select some groups of 7 unusual words from a magazine or newspaper article. Hand them to each team and and ask each team member in turn to tell a story using the seven words. Other teams have to try to guess the words.
(Example words from random article today : luckier; heterosexual; chevrolet; banana; promoted; quitter; eggs. and from another page: emissions; cruise; leisurely; overcome; scoop; howling; endurance...you get the idea.)
5) Pass the orange : Why wait until after the dinner has finished to play this game? goes great with coffee.
6) Pictionary: drawing fast pictures based upon words. The boxed set is best for this one.
7) GrEEn GlaSS dOOr : The person in charge suggests playing this and that everyone else can try to be selected to go through the green glass door by suggesting appropriate pairs of things. Things that get in are a pOOl but no water; glaSS but no picture; MiRRor but no reflection (ie the first thing needs a double letter in it.. Play till last person gets it)
8) GGD variants : Play GGD (7) where instead of double letters, each sentence said by the next person has to start with a vowel "...and blah blah bla; ...or blah blah blah ...obviously" and another variant vowel/then consonant and another variant is start with next letter of alphabet.
9) Alphabet Game : Choose topic (Animals, Cars, Candy Bars, Popstars, Drinks). Start at A and round robin through to Z.
10) Stirring the Mush : Announce you are stirring the mush and (eg stand up, sit down, scratch your ear etc). Then start stirring the mush by any hand/body gesture you like. The invite someone to copy. the trick is thay have to do what you did BEFORE you started stirring the mush (eg scratch ear etc). Tell them whether they have passed or not then select next 'victim'. Repeat until all have worked it out.
11) Erect-a-pup : More newspaper for this two in -oner. Part one. Teams. who can make the longest tube in 2 minutes from rolled up paper? Sounds easy. Just watch what happens. Part Two. Now, in another three minutes make a model life sized puppy out of tubes of newspaper. Warning that some puppies will have 3, 5 legs at the end of this.

I think thats enough to get started. No animals harmed in the testing of these entertainments. You'll have to email me for the (ahem) rules of the frying pan and wooden spoon game...and don't forget charades!

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Friday, 19 December 2008

not my part of town

restaurant
Yesterday's venue involved some complex logistics known only to me.

I'd had enough lemsib to ward off the worst of my colb and we'd assembled into a moderately noisy group before heading through traffic to a predetermined restaurant.

I'd managed to park rather close to the venue, but there was apparently some problem with the quality of the yellow lines, so I had to move after I'd dropped my car-full in an adjacent dark Gotham-style alley.

I drove to the end of the dark walled road expecting to find a way out but instead there were locked gates. A long reverse between bollards and crazily parked cars and I was back onto a main street and sucked into a vortex of local road systems which somehow took me vast distances from the restaurant.

I eventually found what I thought was the restaurant road again, but was actually another similar looking stretch in another part of town. I parked the car and started the interesting and lengthy walk back to where everyone was sipping their drinks.

The trick was to sidle in nonchalantly as if everything was as I'd planned it. As I reached for my coca cola, they still asked the inevitable "Where have you been?"
walk

Thursday, 18 December 2008

zattoo

zattoo
Keeping yesterday's television theme running, zattoo provides UK freesat and a few euro channels direct to the Mac (or PC). Quite good quality and free at the moment.

Streams live television (after a few ads for gambling etc).

Worth a play.

Wednesday, 17 December 2008

betamaxmas retro telly

BetaMaXmas!

Warning.

This is addictive.

US Television from 1988 on an analogue signal, complete with snow and bad reception.

All the favorites in color (of sorts- NTSC - Never Twice the Same Color).

There's a TV remote and a guide to the channels, as well as a good sprinkling of 1988 advertising.

Click thru at your peril.

Or enjoy.

hallelujah midi karaoke backing track

screenshot_01
Since X Factor, I've been getting hits over the last few days for "Hallelujah midi". I don't have such a thing.

or didn't.

Here's a pub casio karaoke style midi hack of the tune for anyone who wants to mess around with it in Garageband or similar and the above screenshot shows my suggested revised instrument settings.

Budding guitarists would want to mute the sunburst telecaster which I have currently set to stun. I've also added some glittery pads to the end part for further amusement.

Here's my Garage Band rendering of the tune. Jeff Buckley's version need not fear.
hallelujah backing track

Tuesday, 16 December 2008

beware of tricky pigeons


Vicious pigeons intercept Matthew Robins' flyboy in a dream.
Not the twisted Barbican episode, but it needs to be shared.

Monday, 15 December 2008

blue and white lights

xmas lights
Switched on modest outdoor lights this afternoon. Low energy LED still give the impression of an impromptu helicopter landing zone. I hope Santa will find it okay. We've already had two reconnaissance runs with different sleighs around this area.

The tree looks a little like a hostage at the moment, still in its nylon netting.

I know better than to attempt to trim it my way.

Sunday, 14 December 2008

dirty party playlists

dirt sound system At this time of the year, there's some need for music compilations for the festive season. Its a lot easier now with playlists, party mode and genius lookups, but there's still a need to seed some tracks to start things.

So when Dirty Classics Vol 2 turned up on Saturday, I thought this would help things along nicely. You'll gather that rashbre central doesn't really do Slade and Wizard, except in a family music quiz interlude, so this little French compilation makes a useful starter mix.

The parisienne track re-editors of Pilooski and friends use unusual sources and seem to go for a clear bassline and a lot of gaps in the sound stage whist delivering easy floor filling. Its very party listenable and sometimes a track or two from this genre gets referenced here or more likely over at Christina Nott's.

This comp album appears to be fully legal with barcodes and everything and uses dusty vinyl to make some interesting and clicky dance funk. Hear JJ Cale's cajun swamp music go disco. Ride my High.

Saturday, 13 December 2008

my sweetheart the drunk

sine-e
Interesting to observe the twittering during X Factor this evening. Many regular sources seemed to become a collective commentary on who should be kicked out and bizarrely which cover of the Leonard Cohen song should be the winning entry.

It reminded me of Jeff Buckley's versions of 'Hallelujah' which are the ones I prefer.

The Simon Cowell based X factor is more about shipping 'units' than anything to do with creativity in music, hence the Christmas release dates of the backing track based family popular singles and 'safe present' CD compilations. In fairness, Alexandra, the winner seemed a pleasant enough person; it will be interesting to see how she handles the pop machine.

Meanwhile, I've been happily listening to Jeff Buckley recordings since the TV-programme finished. Or Jeff Buckley's video here (6 million views + 12,000 comments)

Friday, 12 December 2008

creatures of the night

no taxis
Our arrangements to meet in Chalk Farm Road, by the tube exit, were imploding as the evening commenced. Andrea and Cliff were running late, John was mopping up the afternoon's excesses as part of an office party and we were the wrong side of town.

So a handful of us met and made our way into the Roundhouse for the evening's gig. Quite a few well known people spotted around the bars and corridors. Remarkably we found Andrea and Cliff in the same bar that we'd selected and a Becks Vier later made our way to seats, with Mel arranging to meet John at the front of the stage in the standing area.
Roundhouse
Great gig and then time to move on.

As we were leaving we spotted Lily Allen, Agyness Deyn, Henry Holland and a string of others snaking their way to a different exit for some sort of after show event. We'd already decided to grab a bit to eat; My last meal had been late morning at Ned's Noodles in Westminster and Cliff and Andrea had shared a mid afternoon sandwich and three Jaffa cakes.

Amazingly, John had located Mel and they'd been centre front for the show, and now, despite copious libations, were advising on Camden restaurants at 10:30 in the evening. We'd already thought this might be dicey, what with Christmas celebrations and all, so instead we decided to head back into Soho to the Jazz Cafe on Dean Street. Good plan because there are also plenty of other places nearby, although we managed to get a nice big table without any trauma.

Two or three hours of banter and it was time to head off, into the bustle of the central area, which was in full swing. By this time the public transport had disintegrated and taxis with yellow signs were a vanquished species. So we took a stroll across the centre and back to base by around two o'clock, watching the night unfolding all around us.

Thursday, 11 December 2008

twisted

twisted christmas at barbican
It says something of my companions that they didn't think it was twisted enough (I wasn't expecting Masque of the Red Death).

We were at the Barbican for a pre-Christmas touch of songs and merry mayhem. A diverse gang of musos and actors performing yuletide fayre, with Jarvis Cocker, Patrick Wolf, the festively attired Smoke Fairies and many others. The evening had been arranged by David Coulter and a fair few of the band had overlap with Black Rider - the Tom Waits extravaganza.

Our little group had hurriedly consumed too much cider by the time it started and there was some inopportune giggling during the opening moments. I'd expected this to be a something of a 'one-off' convergence of musicians and so I was expecting a few hesitations between numbers as the band had to re-plug or check the running order. A kind of village hall performance within the Barbican. So I guess I was generally entertained throughout, although during the pitstop the discussion was about the level of twistedness.

So with my expectation already set to 'reasonable' for this, when the second half featured Matthew Robins' shadow puppetry from flyboy and the planet of the ghost snowmen, I was there.

Unfortunately, also in the second half, Jarvis Cocker was rather a disappointment with a half hearted 'God Rest Ye' and a song about slush. Did I detect some sheepish embarrassment on his face for not preparing properly? And Patrick Wolf had plenty of cheers but sang without really involving the top notch band in his performance. There were plenty of Wolf-styled followers in the audience, with bohemian styling being rather prominent. I assume these two appearances were to bump the names in the performer listings rather than really showcase anything.
bonfire madigan
Overall, I'd class the show as a mixed level of performance, with strong Bonfire Madigan performing slinky cello accompanied raconteur wonders.

Also delightfully edgy cabaret performance by Mary Margaret O'Hara, who seemed to be operating at several speeds during her set -"that just fell off the bone" she commented after leading the band through a slow song where she was revving on stage like a ferrari before cutting loose with the whole band on an uptempo song.
sandy dillon
Sandy Dillon zizzed onto stage in a silver jacket and shades and worked a Christmas song with the Smoke Fairies in accompaniment. Then a small keyboard accompanied song and again the band picked up the pace to follow the leader. The Smoke Fairies also hooked up their own guitars for a while and sang to their own tunes. Foy Vance ended the main show with a couple of numbers with reasonable takes on Christmas shopping and the music of the retailers.
Black Rider - Mary Margaret O'Hara
My account has little in common with the actual running order and I've left out a few performances. Whether or not it was all good, and whether or not it was fully twisted, I felt suitably entertained by the time 'Fairy Tale of New York' closed the show and we all headed for the drunk tank.

Wednesday, 10 December 2008

mash

mash
Usual December acceleration is occurring. From the month being a distant concept I've now realised we are half way through it towards Christmas and it just gets more hectic.

Others muse about reading novels, composing songs and taking extended vacation, whilst I'd settle for a quick read of - er - Metro at the moment.

I've probably spent about half the month away from home and that continues until this weekend, although I should get back some time on Saturday.

This mashed potato is very comforting.

Tuesday, 9 December 2008

clanger

clangers
A small celebration of a TV legend today, with the passing away of Oliver Postgate, a childrens' television show developer with a canon of work developed in a particularly British way. Early watercolour cardboard cutout stop animation developed in a cow shed and later three dimensional sets for knitted puppets filmed outdoors under whatever lighting conditions prevailed.

I'll include The Clangers as a favourite, complete with the Soup Dragon, the one Cloud with a mind of its own and the home knitted idealism of the whole series.

I suspect many would hear Oliver Postgate's voice, whether in Clangers, Noggin the Nog, Ivor the Engine or Bagpuss and be reassured of a quirky and interesting tale where nothing really harmful would happen.

Away from small films, he was also a political activist, railing against nuclear weapons, urging thought about the environment and debating this year on the economic woes.

But I'll stick with his inspiration as a storyteller who could create many strange yet positive worlds for children of all ages.

Update : I see Bobkat has a similar thought also with a great video extract about the iron chicken

Monday, 8 December 2008

Will Young concert

BSH
A few of us were supporting Julie's Will Young road trip on Sunday. A gang of us were split between a box on the Grand Tier level and some prime seats front centre but not in the piece where everyone stands up throughout the performance.

Our seats gave a good view of the very mixed audience (unlike the rather standardised adjacent Slipknot audience). The crowd for this concert were already in a frenzy when Honey Ryder came on and simply mentioned Will's name. By the time the main stage was set there was rampant enthusiasm from the devoted fans.

A wash of dry smoke through the auditorium to ensure the lights would create good effects and then the band and finally Will took to the stage. Instant adulation and the front rows pushing towards the stage with all manner of cameras, cellphones and the odd packet of parrot food.

Will sang from his recent album - Let it Go - mixed with a good collection of well known tracks from his earlier works. The band played well with typically a couple of songs and then Will engaging in banter with the audience.

Will was a strong entertainer moving the mood up and down, sometimes leaping around the stage, encouraging the 'palm of hand' audience to stand and clap for some numbers and to sit quietly for others.

Highly likeable as a person, entertaining to listen as he rambled into various stories and remarks. Some discussion of who was out of the TV talent shows, stories about his recent appearance in Top Gear and a revelation of his tattoo.

As a performance, Will soared through the notes, could rearrange the songs with a wave of his arm to the tightly grooving band and showed that if the album treatments were not raw or funky enough, he could raise the temperature with ease.

The last album is referred to as a 'break-up' album by some that know the back story. Its certainly very listenable and has some great tracks. That the title track 'Let it Go' was a B -side is more a reflection of a mad record industry that nowadays doesn't seem to know what to do with good pop music. There also seems to be some kind of Radio 1 blockade preventing him being played according to Jeremy Clarkson.

This concert was an hour and a half of pleasing music, well connected with the audience and all performed faultlessly. Great entertainment, topped with a rocking version of Grace (Will and Grace?) and then after a short break the encore of a santa-hatted version of 'Strange' and finally 'Leave Right Now'.

Go see the upcoming arena tour.
BSH

Sunday, 7 December 2008

iMac television

Hotel room television is an iMac
My first hotel room with an iMac as a television. Quite clever really, it had a menu system to play television, DVDs, CDs, plug in an iPod and simply use it as a Mac. Very useful and one box instead of 3 or 4.
Led Zeppelin cover art exhibition
The hotel was also running an exhibition of Led Zeppelin album art, from the creator Zacron. It was interesting to see early inspirations for LZ3 and the spinning wheel. It could all be inspirational to anyone creating, say, a book cover.

And, of course, I couldn't resist putting rashbre central onto the hotel room telly, just because I could.
rashbre on the hotel iMac

Saturday, 6 December 2008

scream if you wanna go faster

music trip
Shrieks around rashbre central on Friday night, with the adjacent Xmas Fayre in full swing. It's Tuesday now and I'm just offloading a few pictures from my camera to help me remember the rather hectic last few days. As well as partying, we've had various get togethers as well as linking up for part of Julie's musical road trip.

And a Weihnachtsmarkt on Sunday too, so I'm well stocked with Gluhwein, Stollen und Nußknacker.
Nußknacker

Friday, 5 December 2008

tweetdeck

hotel03
Today's space capsule hotel should have bypassed my current broadband problems, but the special scratch n sniff pass code to their wi-fi didn't work properly. I'm making do with low speed until I have time to phone Bangalore again, although they already promised to restore full speed.

At least the hotel's decor matched the Enterprise party requirements over at JLP's.

Meanwhile my bandwidth deprivation means less distractions. I've noticed that the 140 character twitter messaging is now progressively eating more screen real estate. I really must decide which client to use. I started with twitteriffic, dallied with alert thingy and currently use tweetdeck, although it seems to take over more desktop space and presumably more bandwidth as more options are switched on.
screenshot_05

no pebble unturned

beach
A short seaside interlude this morning after spending last night in a brightly coloured hotel reminiscent of a space capsule.

Today I was really supposed to be elsewhere but it seemed a shame to leave the place without a short wander along the seafront.

At this time of the year the chilly but sunlit beach area was pretty much mine, with saner souls probably sitting indoors or shopping.

Thursday, 4 December 2008

all the mice go Clang

D&D TattooI joined the fledgling Devoted and Disgruntled ning a few days ago, as it gathers critical mass towards the session in January. Nings are a kind of online collective without the flying sheep and vampires. I'll leave D&D for another time.

It's interesting to see the fabulous Spike Milligan poem gradually turning from nonsense language into vocabulary. With Nang as street for 'cool' and Nong meaning 'twit', we're gradually getting the whole "Ning, Nang, Nong" thing covered. Perhaps Spike knew this whilst his tea pots were jibber-jabbering.

On the Ning Nang Nong
Where the Cows go Bong!
and the monkeys all say BOO!
There's a Nong Nang Ning
Where the trees go Ping!
And the tea pots jibber jabber joo.
On the Nong Ning Nang
All the mice go Clang
And you just can't catch 'em when they do!
So its Ning Nang Nong
Cows go Bong!
Nong Nang Ning
Trees go ping
Nong Ning Nang
The mice go Clang
What a noisy place to belong
is the Ning Nang Ning Nang Nong!!

Wednesday, 3 December 2008

buzz crackle

acoustic coupler
I was called this morning from Bangalore about my errant internet link.

As I was on the road, it wasn't very easy to explain the exact symptoms. I've been escalated now though and have another two phone numbers and a secret pin code for special access to the network specialists. I also discovered that the phone has now stopped working for outgoing calls. This requires a separate call to the phone specialists.

In the meantime, I'm using a mix of hotel, blackberry, iPhone and chocolate bourbons to get some sort of fragile access.

Pass the crocodile clips.

Tuesday, 2 December 2008

eleven for a secret never to be told

two for joy
My entire digital communications infrastructure collapsed this afternoon. I was working and then my Thinkpad stopped in mid sentence and went into some sort of deep thought. The nearby Mac sent out a row of little exclamation in triangle icons and the nearby printer/fax lit up about twenty little lights.

Hmm.

Line failure. Reboot the router for the first time in months. No difference. It has to be a BT fault.

Call them. Oh, silly me. I needed a different number.
Call them again.

Hello, Pradeep in Bangalore. Very helpful as he explains how I need to uncable and move the ADSL router to a different part of the house and did I happen to have a spare microfilter and a BT431a to RJ45 adapter?

After 45 minutes, it was declared to be a line fault and I'm told that an engineer will be in contact in the next 4 to 48 hours. I'll be on the road throughout that time, so I hope its working again when I get back. Its taken out Sky and BT Vision as well.

I thought the two magpies I spotted yesterday were supposed to be 'for joy'? Maybe the ten in the same tree five minutes later has a different meaning?
magpie invasion

Monday, 1 December 2008

santa sighting

Santa sighting
My first 2008 Santa sighting today, outside rashbre central.

I'm guessing it was the naughty/nice reconnaissance run but it was hardly low profile - all the navigation lights were on.

I only managed to get one photo above because of the extreme speed.



I know its still early, but I suppose the countdown has begun and NORAD tracking is back online - more modestly, around our way there's a Christmas Fair on Friday.