rashbre central: March 2010

Wednesday 31 March 2010

can I catch a chocolate addiction?

With the chocolate egg season upon us, I thought it would be interesting to investigate the mood enhancing chemicals associated with chocolate.

Strictly in the interests of science, of course.

The biggie that most people have heard about is the caffeine relative called theobromine, which is the one usually shown on "I heart chocolate" tee-shirts, so that's a good place to start, with its trippy endorphins to create a pleasant buzz.

It's said that the brain chemicals that chocolate enhances are relatives of opium. It works because one of the brain's receptors that flips is the same one that responds to marijuana, but instead of responding to THC (the cannabis chemical tetrahydrocannabinol), the brain produces anadamide and is happy to let chocolate slow down its dispersal to create similar but more localised receptor effect to cannabis.

Then there's the love drug component.

That's because chocolate also contains phenylethylamine, which is a chemical related to amphetamines. Like uppers, this chemical raises blood pressure and blood-sugar level creating a state that has been likened to a feeling of being in love.

So if we see plenty of blissed out people this week, the combination of self produced opiates and feelings of love may be partly driven from their levels of chocolate consumption.

Pass the Creme Eggs.

Tuesday 30 March 2010

set the controls for the heart of the sun

large hadron collider
Am I mistaken, or is the Director General of CERN in Japan on the day that the most significant CERN experiment in ages is taking place in Geneva? Could that be the other side of the planet, by any chance?

The biggie is the switch-on of the Large Hadron Collider filled with protons stripped from Hydrogen and ramped up to a 'back to the future' style voltage of 3.5 Trillion electron volts (TeV).

Quite powerful.

Then the ikkle protons buzz around and get excited until they are deflected to collide creating all manner of new and otherworldly sparks.

1000 million times hotter than the sun. In a tiny space.

My guess is that the beings from distant planets will spot this sign of galactic level science and decide to point their telescopes and time-travel devices our way.

Earth. Mostly Harmless. As the hitch-hikers guide says.


Monday 29 March 2010

the few moments

MARCH 3 from Jake Lodwick on Vimeo.

An interesting project by Jake Lodwick who facilitated the music of Michael McQuilken as The Few Moments.

Enjoy this 45 minute music album played on a one-man musical contraption, accompanied by continuous images from Ira Marcks.

Twittered by @amandapalmer.

Run it full screen for best effect.

Late at night.
the drawing from March 3

Sunday 28 March 2010

gone shopping

Shepherd's Market, W1
Great plans to be ahead of the curve today, although I am suspicious that this will work.

Shopping on a Sunday the weekend after most peoples' pay days and just before a major public holiday has challenges, as well as the need to drop off a car before even getting to the main destination.

Saturday 27 March 2010

athlete of the spirit

"It'll be fine", someone said, as we dinged a front door bell sometime after midnight, to see whether we could get some coffee and a chatter.

A gang of us had been to the opera, and then on for a very lively Italian supper.

Let's rewind.

Six thirty at Trafalgar Square on the way to the Coliseum, for the last night of Satyagraha, by the English National Opera. It's the recent revival of the piece by Philip Glass about Ghandi's non-violent protests in South Africa. Waiting outside for part of our ensemble, there were glimpses of other well-known people entering for the performance, including Rufus Wainwright, who is about to put on his own opera "Prima-Donna" close by in Clerkenwell at Sadlers Wells.

A three act piece, developing the Philip Glass score which used woodwinds and strings alone, to provide a progressive and meditative score telling part of Ghandi's story, from three perspectives involving Leo Tolstoy, Indian poet Ravindranath Tagore, and Martin Luther King.

Dramatic staging across an arced and corrugated steel stage, fabulous precise singing from the lead performers, bold use of imagery and a contemporary and fresh feel to the score created an evening event of impressions and emotion. The lyrical context was also back projected as the piece unfolded, with the lyrics (libretto?) mainly in Sanscrit.

Enjoy a sample of the work here, whilst browsing the music.

The Coliseum is a fine venue for such a performance, although the manners and inefficiencies of staff in the Dress Circle kingdom are at odds with general London hospitality.

Afterwards, we made a very direct route to a marvellously hospitable Italian restaurant, where we enjoyed simple later supper and chatted over the positive experience of the evening, before 'the lost and then found' bag episode and the route to the late doorbell.

Friday 26 March 2010

another sign of spring

queen bee
A bit of a surprise as I awoke this morning.

I was still in bed when I heard the sound. A low pitched murmur and very close.

I sometimes open one eye at a time when I wake up. Today it was both together and a synchronised placement of both feet on the floor.

A pretty bee had decided to take a look around. Somewhere to settle down and raise the bee-lets. I had to make a quick decision about whether this could all become rather high maintenance. One look from her told me it would.

Instead I've had to let her go. She really did fly out through the bedroom window. I'll expect to see some of her kids hanging around the lavender later.

Thursday 25 March 2010

christina nott returns

Christina Nott
I see Christina Nott has been busy since the last rashbre / christina collaboration and the new website in bubbleandsqueek.co.uk has appeared along with a facebook page.

Flattering that 'remember me' is the track on the site. A rashbre / christina collaboration.

Wednesday 24 March 2010

tindersticks at the O2 shepherds bush

A short excursion to the massive high-tech car park under Westfield shopping centre today, before heading to Shepherd's Bush Green.

The shopping mall looms large over an area of victorian terraced housing mixed with small shops specialising in unblocking phones and others as KFC look-alikes selling all manner of al-Halal chicken specialities.

Then past the Green which has survived the huge giratory systems of Shepherd's Bush, now made even more complex since the arrival of the mega mall like some District 9 spacecraft.

I was heading for a music concert at the still ornate Empire theatre, now renamed as the O2 Empire Academy but was slightly early for the pre-arranged pizza rendezvous. I stopped for a swift drink at the dimly lit and sofa laden Defector's Weld, before passing a group of very loud cider drinkers on the way to the restaurant on Rockley Road.

Later our group moved back to the Empire, deftly bypassing the queue by waving our O2 phones and arriving in time to see part of the set by the Villagers. A brief stop at the bar to buy a coca-cola and then into the crowd in preparation for the main event.

Our group contained fans of the band, whilst my knowledge was more based upon some recent revision of their most recent album and a small collection of other tracks.

I should explain that my impression of Tinderstick's music is of a somewhat deliberately crafted form of morose and downbeat descriptions of the sorrows of love.

In the right mood this can work very well.

Their latest album added some more upbeat edges to some of their work, but the swelling rhythm guitar and minor chord based ballads were certainly in evidence within the set performed this evening.

This gave me something of a challenge during the evening.

It was obvious that there were many people around me totally enjoying the evening and applauding loudly and recognising every song (bar maybe one or two).

This was more difficult for me and the mix of the lead singer's quite baritone vocals was a little unclear on the sound system.

So I found this more as music with a wash of sound rather than with good lyrics to admire.

It was probably my loss, but the impression therefore became one of listening to the instrumentation which was somewhat levelled out by the style of the singing. It was also difficult to see the band's connection with the audience. When it's live, I prefer it to be acknowledged that we've bothered to turn up, just as I'll always try to signal a thank you to a small musician playing in a bar.

To me, this concert was more 'run on rails' than 'engaged with the audience' and it did make me wonder whether something had happened before they all came on stage. Certainly at the end they clapped to the audience and waved as they left the stage, but during the show, the frontman really only engaged with his own rhythm section.

So this one leaves me confused. I wanted to be impressed but felt slightly disappointed. I spotted the clever time signatures on some of the parts and the mischief in the arpeggiated keyboards. The wave like chord progressions. For sure, there were some stand out tracks.

But I'm still not sure. I think I need to check the records again.

Tuesday 23 March 2010

structural deficit

Trafalgar Square
Complicated short distance travel plans today zig-zagging around Whitehall and Parliament Street and then later across into Berkshire.

Being so close to the areas frequented by politicians, there was some gallows humour in conversations about the latest round of political suspensions mixed with speculation about the new buzz phrases in tomorrow's budget.

But earlier, before most of the trains, cars, walks and taxis, a calm few minutes gave me a chance to watch Trafalgar Square waking for another day.

Monday 22 March 2010

Alas, I cannot watch

Out late for a Chinese meal tonight, with some of the gang. We had one of those big round tables with a huge turntable.

Inevitably some of the plum sauce had a mishap.

Home late to find a little package containing the new Laura Marling album, complete with the DVD.

Which doesn't play. Grrr.

Anyway, I found the recording of "Alas, I Cannot Swim", from the concert we attended at St James Church, when the then blonde haired Laura was 18 years old.

Sunday 21 March 2010

Gun Wharf

Time to celebrate the start of Spring today, as the weather flipped from yesterday's grey rain to today's crisp sunshine.

There may have been a chill edge to the air but it was still fine to head to the waterfront, browse amongst the boats before a few of us enjoyed a late lunch together.

Then back to the creek where we watched the tide turn and a few swans fighting for their territories.

A lazy Sunday before a busy week.

Saturday 20 March 2010

i can hear the grass grow

bodum warnings
A groggy Saturday morning as I've been stumbling through newspapers and drinking coffee before we hit the road to visit friends for the weekend. The rain has turned to a 45 degree sleet and everything is looking grey rather than the sort of bright rain of April showers and Spring.

Nonetheless, the grass, snowdrops and daffodils will enjoy it.

From looking outwards, my attention is then drawn back to the kitchen and the small coffee maker which has just recovered from its broken glass.

I can't help noticing that a once minimalist item now sports two A4 pages worth of warning notices in multiple languages about handling it and that it may contain hot liquids.

What? Why? It's a glass coffee maker.

Does anyone read all of this small print etched onto the glass? I think not. It's there because some lawyers have decided its necessary to comply with regulations and liability. A form of industrial graffiti. Set it in CAPITALS and it will be fine.

The last one broke because it was made of glass and we dropped it.

It didn't say anything about that in the small print.

Friday 19 March 2010

stuff! you need to know

my last five girlfriends
Keeping a bit of a film theme running this week, I'm delighted to report on the success of fellow blogger Daniel who has just been to the premiere of - yes- the Julian Kemp film in which Daniel plays the lead actor's best friend.

Kudos. Cue fanfare!

V - that's Daniel in the movie - V
My last five girlfriends
It's screening this week and there was some proper red carpeting at the ICA a few days ago. And it's a pukka Paramount Pictures movie with quite fancy advertising, based upon philosopher-writer Alain de Botton's book 'Essays in Love'.

Check out the excellent trailer...then go visit Daniel's blog!

...and I also know that elephant.

Wednesday 17 March 2010

poll poll variance question

london taxi
Around the City today as well as creating some presentations.

The PowerPoint also needs some numbers so there's been some spreadsheeting worked in for good measure.

Strangely, Excel has forgotten how to add up. The little Sigma control isn't working, so when I'm trying to add up certain rows of numbers, it keeps returning a value of zero.

I've restarted Excel and rebooted the PC but to no avail. As this is a primary function of spreadsheets, its a trifle annoying.

It's as if the spreadsheet has decided to not tell me the answer. Its probably like the various election related opinion polls being published at the moment.

Since the 11th of March I can spot about 6 or 7. The results generally show a Conservative lead, but it varies from a 13 point lead in on on the 11th, to a 5 point lead in one yesterday. Or in a different poll yesterday, an 11 point lead. And sure enough, there's already chatter about whether opinion polls should be published in an election run-up.

Based upon the lack of consistency, its questionable whether these polls have a great deal of meaning. I hope they are also checking that their Excel is adding up properly.

Tuesday 16 March 2010

cowboy bebop redux

cowboy bebop
I could hear a faint Japanese song playing somewhere in the darkened rashbre central, when I realised that I'd somehow left a DVD in the system on the menu loop. It was on a very low volume and sounded quite ghostly.

My guilty secret was out.

I'd been waiting for the (quite old) movie version of Cowboy Bebop to arrive after hunting it down and this had led into a short manga-fest whilst I'd been eating curry at home alone.

Many will be familiar with the early 2000s TV series, but I'd never seen this most enjoyable movie version, with one of those complex plotlines that twists and turns involving terrorist tanker explosions, nanobots and all manner of car, train and space cruiser chase.

I hear they are making a live action movie now along the lines of The Matrix, but Cowboy Bebop (basically about bounty hunters in a spaceship) stands alone as an action manga sci-fi set of stories, with some stunning graphics, plenty of good one-liners and some excellent humour. Here's the original trailer from the movie.

Monday 15 March 2010

i speak because i can

Laura Marling
I've probably listened to the first Laura Marling album 100 times, so its good to hear the new one is finally ready.

A few tracks have popped into circulation early notably the Devil's Spoke and Goodbye England, which was released as a single. The tracks in the online collection above are lovely and I'll probably listen to the new album another 100 times.

There's a link to the Times Online which has a good quality selection from the album to stream until the album is released in a few days time.

Click the picture above to jump to their site to enjoy or below for one of the songs from the first album,"My manic and I".

Sunday 14 March 2010

movie making interlude

Helping out with a bit of movie editing today in Final Cut Studio. The project has a one hour duration with probably 300 camera cuts involved and I've been putting them together for a DVD. It's really part of the bubbleandsqueek enterprises, and I'm just helping out, but its been quite interesting.

The toughest part has been to get the sound and action resynchronised because one of the cameras had inaccurate timecodes and everything was off by a variable amount from one to three seconds. I've literally had to count the frames to get it back in line.

That and cleaning up the sound which had some unfortunate traffic sounds in a few places that had leaked into the soundtrack. Some Soundtrack Pro editing and filtering seems to have fixed it.

Anyway, we've made a test cut of the whole thing at a very low resolution (in the interests of speed) and played it back through a big plasma screen and its looking pretty good. Now it needs the titles and some additional graphics added and then a massive re-render and then it will be a completed item.

The first cinema type screening is not for a couple of months, so we still have plenty of time.

Saturday 13 March 2010

movie title is a winner

I missed most of the speeches from the Oscars, and my hopes were pinned on this film, which seems to have somehow been at number 11 on the various lists of ten.

I'm sure that the sequel will do better so long as they remember not to include any card games and laughter. Thanks to britanick for this little gem.

"Famous quote" : furious woman.

"naive yet inspiring statement as music gets hopeful"

Friday 12 March 2010

Emilie Autumn in London

Emilie Autumn Opheliac
Farringdon for an early evening pizza and then on to the improbable shopping mall in Islington where the O2 Academy was hosting Emilie Autumn. It wasn't hard to spot the venue because of the large quantity of Victorian and gothic people standing in a well-behaved line outside. We decided it was better to head for the nearby pub and wait until the doors had opened for what would anyway be a standing gig.

Sure enough, a rich and hoppy ale later, we returned to an almost empty queue, somehow missing the separate entrance for 'O2 customers' which would have saved us all of five minutes but meant we missed the spectacle of those around us applying small hearts to their faces using various cosmetics.

There's a challenge for the style of production of someone like Emilie Autumn. An intelligent and talented writer and performer, with a strong eye for the theatre of a show, there must be some compromise to taking such an endeavour on the road. The premise of the show is a women's lunatic asylum and much of the writing in the songs is about the situation and the various tragedies as women were consigned to these places in Victorian times.

The show, however, takes on a bright and somewhat pink look at the situation, with jagged lyrics sung with a poppy twist. It is deliberate, of course, and provides an entertainment spectacle which probably has some parallels with the emotional dilemmas of the Victorian tours of the asylums.

So where's the performance compromises? Simply that this is a show with a major star outlook but being produced for what one assumes is a relatively small budget. The most noticeable adjustment is the lack of a full band, which makes some of the numbers run on backing tracks rather than performance. Quite honestly, there's many mainstream performers that do this anyway, we've all spotted miming on the biggest shows and some pop artists struggle away from the studio.

I'll still take this show as a big-hearted attempt to drive a full-on theatrical style experience. Good staging, a small cast of friends providing burlesque and circus style antics alongside the songs. It didn't all work and could probably have been condensed in length (around two and a half hours of non-stop performance) but I'll still take away the spirit from it as a strong piece of entertainment, if not a 'music gig' in the conventional sense.

Emilie Autumn is interesting in that there are probably various directions she can take her career and talent. Whilst relatively niche and unknown to mainstream, it was interesting to see a broad and diverse group of followers, from full-on fans in costumes, to burly rockers making the sign of the horns and people waving old school cigarette lighter flames in salute to almost Hendrix style violin solos.

Not a photographic evening for me, but there's an excellent set from the opening part of the gig by Taya Uddin posted in flickr.

I'll settle for this little poem here from Emilie.

Thursday 11 March 2010

clear vision, anyone?

I know we've just been told the date for the budget as 24 March, but although there's election posters all over the place in central London now, there doesn't seem to have been a date declared.

Perhaps naively, I find this slightly insulting to the British electorate. Much of the normal business of Parliament has been turned into the theatre of pre-election sound bites and the two main parties seem mainly intent upon point scoring.

Brown eschewed the opportunity he originally had to be voted in as leader of his party, or to have an election about a year ago when there was a previous opportunity zone.

Now, instead of declaring his position on this publicly, he leaves us all guessing that it will be 6 May, aligned with the date that other local elections are due to take place. I believe there's theoretically a few weeks into the start of June which would still be available, but it would seem slightly odd to get everyone voting twice in a matter of weeks.

So now we are hearing of senior civil servant pay freezes and no doubt some candied words in the Budget, whilst Brown presides over a 12.8 percent of GDP borrowing level (just slightly higher than Greece and about double the rest of Europe).

We'll be hearing more 'weathering the storm' and 'bumps in the road' speeches over the next few days as well as the Conservatives promising to rescind whatever gets stated in the next Labour budget. On top of the sundry scandals, these points reinforce the purposelessness of the last days of the current Government.

political partnersThis time, to add to the fun we appear to be getting the politician's partners being propelled into the limelight. Miriam, Samantha and Sarah are all being blended into the campaigning to support their husbands and no doubt to receive camera scrutiny of their own.

At least Brown's recent comments about the economy may be accurate: "There will be many months ahead of conflicting statistics, false hopes and mixed signals."

As long as all this doesn't start to affect Britain's credit ratings too.

Wednesday 10 March 2010

collecting stamps and badges

Notting Hill Brasserie
Its quite difficult to keep up with all the daily new social software now vying for attention. I tend to route most things back to rashbre central as a sort of hub with the occasional link to other things of interest.

Like many, I'm also on twitter, flickr, last.fm, del.icio.us and have a myspace, facebook, friendfeed and similar. Of course, that particular set all seem relatively traditionalist nowadays.

Professionally I use LinkedIn and Plaxo and for fun I've contributed a few entries to Qype when it was starting up as well as adding things to Wikipedia over the years.

I've also gone through that process of unpicking some of the links that cross post between one system and another. I know that OpenId and microformats can make it simpler for these systems to divulge information to one another, seemingly at the click of a tick box. I'm not always sure I whether I really want everything linked to everything else.

There's been the well-reported issue with Facebook and more recently with Google Buzz, both of which seemed determined to become ├╝ber-aggregators of content. Presumably in Web 3 selective disaggregation will become the new aggregation.

So when we were sitting together in the Brasserie a couple of days ago and the iPhones appeared to type in the latest foursquare rendesvous, I was thinking about the sparks from the electronic trail we are all being encouraged to leave.

Foursquare is another system that uses a community model with little badges as you contribute more things into its files. People become 'mayors' of localities and can be deposed when someone else earns more points.

Qype has a similar model (actually I've no idea who got there first). I can understand the point of getting everyone to create the underpinning reviews for the various venues featured, but I suppose there could be a difference between people filing genuine impressions compared with those simply collecting badges. I was on a site a few days ago and someone had managed to post 25 reviews in just over an hour, which seemed -er - suspect.

The social network issues continue too. Privacy, security, trust, reliability of information, expertise, vested interests, noise, clique filtering are some simple top of mind examples. I suppose most of us get an instinct for the area of the interweb we are browsing and the consequent likelihood of reliability or otherwise.

Caveat browser, I suppose.

Tuesday 9 March 2010

Axis: Bold as Love

A few days ago I put up the short video of Jimi Hendrix playing 'Bleeding Heart' live at Glastonbury 2010 in some kind of parallel universe. It concludes with Michael Eavis in a Land Rover picking up the folk who'd wanted to say they'd played the Pyramid. Sony music decided it wasn't suitable for Youtube though and have removed it.

This replacement post is a Hendrix guitar lesson in the blues on a stage still littered with speaker systems stencilled with 'The Who'.

My original post related to the anniversary of Hendrix and I notice a new album of unreleased tracks has just been issued.

What I've found interesting is another different new release, which is the remaster of Axis:Bold as Love. There's a new 2010 version which has been freshened up from the two track(!) master tapes.

Alongside the great Hendrix material is a little DVD of Eddie Kramer, who engineered most of the Hendrix music. It's a great little 20 or so minutes as he talks through several of the tracks and plays around with the engineering, so that you can hear how the relatively simple 4 track mixing technology was used.

The video has him sitting at a mixing deck and as he plays with the controls you hear the differences in the sound. For someone like me who messes around with this technology for fun, it's fascinating to see a master at work.

Kramer has also been a photographer and his own site kramer archives has some great photos of various bands he worked with including Hendrix, Zeppelin, Zappa and many others.

And the same package also includes a couple of samples of Hendrix lyric writing, complete with the scribbles.

Quite a good way to spend ten quid.

Axis : Bold as Love

Update: they unblocked the Glastonbury video too...

Monday 8 March 2010

battersea sunshine

Battersea Power Station
A walk through the park yesterday afternoon on the way the Mason's Arms, which is by Battersea Park train station and just across from the old Battersea Power Station.

There's an interesting mosaic of the power station in the pub and we all thought it was made of those little tiles, but actually its 380 Rubik Cubes stacked together.

I shall try not to think further about making art from Rubik's cubes although there is something faintly compelling about that particular idea.

After our pleasant late Sunday lunch, we headed back with the real power station as a backdrop almost as colourful as the cubed version in the afternoon's cold bright sunlight.

Look carefully at the picture and you'll be able to see the London Eye and Big Ben.

Sunday 7 March 2010

alice in wonderland

Alice in Wonderland
An evening visit to the Electric Cinema in Notting Hill for a spot of madness. As it said on the curtain before the film, "We're all mad here'.

Curiouser and curiouser, we thought as we clipped on the high tech 3D glasses to watch Alice and her friends in the Tim Burton sequel to the well-known Lewis Carroll stories.

As the opening titles rolled I was already thinking 'ooh I want to see this again' and sure enough after a slightly cumbersome alternative beginning, the White Rabbit pulled us all down the rabbit hole and eventually through the little door.

There was enough plotline similarity to keep a general sense of the original stories, although the chess boards and card games became somewhat blended.

The 3D was surprisingly good after a few minutes in the 'real world' scenes to become adjusted. Not quite the MuppetVision of Disneyworld but a produced in way that was generally additive to the experience.

There were various Tim Burton trademark moments in the script and staging, including a funny little moment where the Mad Hatter (Depp) snipped a very Edward Scissorhandian little dress for Alice.

I enjoyed the experience of the film. There were a few Disney overloads in it like the strange dance that the Hatter performed close to the end of the film and which I think could have been safely edited out. I hear that Burton only finished it a couple of weeks before the premiere and as we sat in a cab after the film, there were a few comments about 'the director's cut' implying there might be some unfinished business in the final edit.

I've always enjoyed the Alice stories and thought this movie played a warm and affectionate update.

Saturday 6 March 2010

casino royalties

Monte Carlo
I mentioned a few days ago that I'd received my first royalty cheque from the novel 'The Triangle'. I also decided that I'd spend part of it precipitately, in keeping with the original spirit of the 'novel writing in a month' experiment.

So today's the day I gamble part of the cash.

Actually I've already done a small test gamble and am already a little bit ahead, so now I'm hoping I haven't used all of the luck.

In between my experiments in 3D later today, the casino had better watch out.

6music radio comparisons

Before I get onto my gambling, I thought I'd drop an extra little post in today about the ongoing debate about radio station playlists. There's some interesting differences between the commercial channels with their circa 500 track playlists (very limited DJ autnomy) and the broader tastes available on some of the other channels.

Take Capital FM 226 unique tracks over the last 30 days. 12 tracks in common with 6music.
Or the more indie/rock XFM London with its 540 unique tracks over the same period including 226 with 6music.
Maybe a softer cored Heart with its 508 unique tracks and 22 in common with 6music.

And how many unique tracks did 6music play? 3,258. About 6 times as many. Of course you still need to like the music. I think the only one to compete on variety would be Radio 2, but their 2,392 unique tracks have a rather different audience profile.

"Those Charts In Full" as comparemyradio.com might say.

6music and CapitalFM
6radio compared with CapitalFM
6music and XFM London
6radio compared with XFM London
6music compared with Radio 2
6radio compared with Radio 2

Friday 5 March 2010

eating porridge

paw-ridgeI've been somewhat subdued today except when I was 'on stage' in meetings and had to do various tap-dances in time with the PowerPoint.

I've had a sort of headache and a couple of unexpected bouts of sneezes.

Throughout the day I avoided taking any medication.

Then, this evening, after the lengthy traffic jams of my homeward journey, I plinked a small bowl of instant porridge through the microwave as an experimental remedy.

It has worked surprisingly well and I feel a whole lot better.

Thursday 4 March 2010

muggy evening

Mayfair again
Too many mugs of tea this evening; I've just counted three including the one I've just finished.

And I'm still thirsty.

I realise I've forgotten to eat anything as well.

Never mind. I'm also tired, so I think the sleep will beat the hunger.

But not the thirst.

Wednesday 3 March 2010

springing the light fantastic

Somehow February has escaped without me really noticing.

There's a new light in the morning. I managed to get home in daylight a couple of times too.

There's little snowdrops showing off in the front garden. I can see signs of greenery re-appearing.

The blackbirds are showing new interest in the nearby bushes. Perhaps it was January's distraction with the snow, or maybe I was otherwise engaged, but this year the change into Spring is happening fast.

Tuesday 2 March 2010


Radio 6Music
I usually like the BBC but am annoyed to see that the director general has decided to shut down 6Music. That's the relatively X-Factor free channel playing broad music that sets it apart from many of the regular commercial channels. rashbre central has certain eclectic music tastes and 6Music is one of them.

I decided to do some digging to see how much this digital channel costs to run, per annum and it seems to be around £6 to £9million, depending on whose version you read. In the scheme of things, that's a small amount for some originality and quality programming. As an example, Radio 5 costs £72m and Radio 4 is around £109m.

I also checked on the BBC Broadcasting House Refurbishment project which was originally planned to run to around £1billion. It has overrun by a currently projected £55million. Thats enough to pay for a few digital channels alone.

I can't help wondering whether the priorities are somehow becoming unbalanced?

Instead of promoting new format digital channels, we see them cost cut to offset bad project management.

I can't help wondering whether the BBC top brass was ever really behind the 6Music idea in any case? New music, independent artists, some not signed to labels, live recordings...whatever next? Maybe that's why it was a DAB and internet only channel instead of one that could also be listened to in the car. It would also make it easier to close if the audience figures were somewhat disappointing.

There's some story about boosting the playlists for Radio 2, but equally there's a discussion already running about keeping the Radio 2 demographic north of age 50 or something. It amounts to just running a time machine of safe old tunes from Radio 1 in the 1970s and 80s as a form of lazy programming.
old 6music logo with friends
If even Mark Thompson himself says there is a lot of 'great content' and 'some real talent' on 6Music, then it poses a serious point about where BBC is positioning its values.

On this occasion, a brief line to the BBC complaints department is in order, I notice it can be found at:

as well as at 03700 100 222.

There's also the BBC Trust to consider, which is to review the intended decision and which has its own email and member list.

I won't directly add the emails here in the interests of spam avoidance, but michael.lyons, richard.tait, jeremy.peat, mehmuda.mian, david.liddiment, janet.lewis-jones, rotha.johnston, patricia.hodgson, alison.hastings, anthony.fry, diane.coyle, chitra.bharucha as well as trust.enquiries and srconsultation all take an AT bbc.co.uk suffix as the publicly disclosed names of the members of the Trust. They would love to hear from people with views about BBC decisions.

Of course, there is more about all of this at the BBC consultations website for their strategy review

Whilst writing this, I notice that there's now a Facebook group and a new www.love6music.com website which are part of other folks' attempts to register a similar point.

If you are not already a listener, I'm told that iPlayer is the way to get your listening noticed, via http://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/playlive/bbc_6music/

Stay tuned.

Monday 1 March 2010

Five Days

Five Days still
I've just watched the first episode of the week long drama strip called "Five Days". There's some of the coincidences that this type of drama requires to create the storyline, but is does seem to have the potential to be good.

I enjoyed the three-parter "West Riding", which I think played out over three weeks, but with my own schedule I suspect I watched it over three days. Sometimes the compressed format can work well and in a story where you have to look at what is happening in the background of the shots that can be quite interesting.

I'm hoping the remaining parts stay with new action rather than become overly involved with retracing steps and flashback sequences. With something over a few nights it is easier to keep the story progressing because is should still be reasonably fresh in the memory. By contrast the little formulaic programs in four parts over an hour with breaks and then a recap at the start of each subsection drive me nuts.

In Five Days there are already several different story trails being set up beyond the obvious pair and it will be interesting to see how many develop, whether they throw in a few curves and how many of the plot-lines get knitted together.

I'll need to hit record on Sky though because I'm bound to miss at least one episode and then need to catch up.