Sunday, December 31, 2006


Still got a cough. Blurgh. Better, but not well. I'm hoping 2007 will be healthier.

See ya'll soon on the other side of the New Year.

Tuesday, December 26, 2006

Passing on Penguins

From the lovely Cloud who put up with me being grumpy till Doctor Who cheered me up comes this hilarious collection of penguin references.

You'll be pleased to know...

... the hair is fine, short and red (not streaky, tufty and falling out)

... the cold and cough are passing (albeit that I still choked like a seal through most of our attempts to talk to the rellies in New Zealand yesterday)

... goodies appeared from all corners (including a very fetching long-coat Doctor Who figure...)

... and best of all the TV worked fine after three days of frustratingly gained a high-pitched 'wwwwwwwwhhhhhhhhhhhheeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee' sound after around 40 mins to an hour of being fine. Yesterday my lovely lovely tv that I haven't at all criticised was switched on for Doctor Who and played perfectly all evening. Happy. Just in case it was poorly we did drag out the old portable to the dining room, ready for me to run in at the first sound of 'wwwwwwwwwwhhhhhhhhheeeeeeeeeee' but that proved unnecessary. Much happy. And whatever anyone says about the Xmas special this year, I loved it. Donna was a pain (she was meant to be and she warmed appropriately); the Doctor was suitably melancholic whenever his thoughts crossed to Rose (broken voice and almost tears); and the villain was spectacular (if a little unscary - and I speak as someone terrified of those creatures. I think I may have been more scared if an actual invasion of them had started to appear before they were disposed of.... you'll have spotted I'm keeping this as spoiler-free as possible for those viewing it later).

Anyway, all good stuff. I'll recuperate accordingly and be back on form for the New Year. I hope. Seasons Greetings to you all!

Sunday, December 24, 2006

Atchoo! Life gets *better* (deep irony)


On top of the cold and cough I now find my TV has eveloped a nasty high pitched 'wwwweeeee' sound that comes on and hangs around for about an hour before intermittently coming back. Fabulous for watching Doctor Who (not).

Then part way through having already started to throw red hairdye at my newly cropped hair, Neil hears the faint and distant sound of the most useless tannoy in all the world saying that the water is being turned off (for two hours, supposedly). Cue frantic filling of pans and kettles and bottles and the bath to provide enough water for tea and rinsing my hair (I did fearfully consider that I may end up bald if I couldn't rinse out the hair dye...)

So now I'm borrowing Cloudy Neil's 'puter, enjoying all the e-cards sent to us and the kind wishes for my recovery (atchoo!) and hoping I don't end up looking like some mad woman with tufts of red hair. ATCHOO!

Wish me luck to at least be able to see Who tomorrow minus whistling 'wheeeee' sounds...

Friday, December 22, 2006

Sniffles and Christmas

Blurgh: sniffling like fury with cold. Mucked up the Christmas cards (mis-sent some, failed to send others, minimised generally anyway). Belated with pressies. Bathroom not able to be finished (now due New Year). Just want to curl up and snuffle.

At least no work till 4 Jan 2007...

Thursday, December 21, 2006


"I did the same kind of painstaking internet research that led me to buy the giant paperweight masquerading as my printer."

So said Marie.

Reminds me of my much loved postcard (and oft commented on by students) by the brilliant Jacky Fleming (top left image).

Tuesday, December 19, 2006


OOOOOH!!!!!!! Clare nominated me for an Insignificant Award!

The Insignificant Awards is the world's most unheard of blog competition. It's a place for the undiscovered to be discovered.

As the annual weblog popularity competitions begin once more, we at The Insignificant Headquarters wish to praise, encourage and salute the unknown blogs that sit in the unrewarded wilderness. Those blogs that will never be voted for by the masses. Those bloggers who will never be nominated for anything (but should be).

I spotted this from lovely EineKleineRob who also got a nod from Clare (blog-mommy!) so in reciprocation for that concept I have nominated Anna from "Theatre is Life..." not because I couldn't think of gazzillions of deserving blogs (loads of you were in my thoughts) but because I wanted to use this post to encourage each of you to add to the nominations list which closes 10 January 2007. A shortlist will be drawn up and announced 17 January and voting will run until Monday 12 March when ONE winner will be announced.

Let's make it someone brilliant!

Monday, December 18, 2006

Thank you Media Guardian

... for making my day.

Always nice to have an unexpected surprise, so imagine my glee when I found an article about ITV's new drama plans featuring significant discussion of Primeval AND illustrated by a pretty fantastic picture of the lovely Douglas Henshall. Ah, sigh: happy now.

You can view the Media Guardian article on ITV drama here (but only with registration).

But I really wanted to give you the picture...

Cultural Confessions

Another great Marie post, this time drawing on the Cultural Confessions of Scott Pack. She 'fesses up to five gaps in her cultural knowledge. I can empathise with several of those listed by people, even as there are some I am staggered at them not having liked/watched/read.

1) I've still not watched 'City of God': this is despite (shamefully) having borrowed it from lovely George over a year ago. I do want to correct this particular failing.

2) I've never read a Thomas Hardy novel from beginning to end. Actually that exaggerates things: I've scarcely read more than a few pages, even of Tess (though I like the story and extracted passages I have encountered over the years). For a long time we had several (even multiple) editions on the shelves of MANY Hardy novels. Who were we fooling? They're really REALLY depressing.

3) The Shawshank Redemption: I don't even WANT to see it.

4) I don't get Mitchell and Webb: I feel I'm supposed to, but I don't. Sorry.

5) This one will get me serious bother. I'm going to quietly add that I've never seen The Mighty Boosh. (Ducks for serious cover from incoming fire: Matt, Anna, Fuzzboy - I know you're gonna be top of the list hitting me hard for admitting that!)

I could easily have come up with a longer list, especially films I just don't get / haven't seen or seen all of (Raging Bull, 2001, Pretty Woman). It's probably not very controversial to admit I have never read Proust. Jeez, there's just so MUCH of it! Despite every bloody highbrow paper almost CONSTANTLY banging on about how great it is, I could barely cope with reading Henry James' wafflingly long prose (Daisy Miller is about as far as I have ever got - and that's short) so Proust is just off the chart boring to me. I've never read Tolkien's LOTR for the same reason. I always seem to like a Bowie track when I hear it but despite virtually every artiste since then admiring him, I can't quite bring myself to worship at the feet of mister Jones the way everyone else does. And most female opera singers grate on my nerves.

All that mockery of ISBN references on Torchwood recently...?

Is it true 10 digit ISBNs are being replaced by a 13 digit number? According to my subscription newsletter from Shaker Publishing it is:

The established ISBN - in conjunction with the development of electronic publications - was on the verge of going beyond the scope of the ten-digit ISBN system as an identification feature for publications and their world-wide distribution (with 170 countries now affiliated to the ISBN system). The international ISBN agency thus decided to revise the standard using the EAN/barcode version and hence extend capacities with the 13-digit code.

Up to now the ISBN has consisted of four elements: the group identifier, publisher identifier, title identifier and check digit. For example, in the ISBN 3-8322-4968-0, 3 stands for German-speaking areas (the group number can identify language areas as well as countries or geographic regions and relates to the location of the publisher). 8322 identifies the publishing house and 4968 a certain publication or edition from this publisher. The 0 is the check digit that is determined according to a fixed arithmetic process and permits the detection of typing errors in an ISBN.

With the new ISBN-13 the number is now preceded by the prefix 978. This prefix is set aside for published products within the EAN (European/International Article Number) and become a firm part of the ISBN. This means that the check digit also changes since it is calculated from all of the preceding numbers. For example, the ISBN 3-8322-4968-0 becomes the ISBN 978-3-8322-4968-7. The X symbol is no longer used as a check code. EAN and ISBN are now identical in all positions.

Apart from the 978, EAN International had already assigned publishers the number 979, thus doubling the range of possible numbers. In the majority of countries the prefix 979 will not be issued until all ISBN areas with the prefix 978 have been used up.

Titles published this year usually bear both the valid ISBN-10 as well as the future ISBN-13 in the transitional phase. Only the ISBN-13 will be used as of 1 January 2007. This applies for all new publications and the so-called backlist. Although books that have already been printed can still be sold with the ISBN-10 information; the titles will be identified by their newly converted ISBN-13 in all catalogues and automatic storage systems. This will primarily effect the catalogues and ordering systems of the publishers, suppliers and retailers as well as the bibliographic databases in libraries. The old ISBN will be replaced by the new ISBN-13 on and in reprints (including unchanged ones) of titles that have already been published.
How did I not know this???

Sunday, December 17, 2006

Predictions and choices for James Bond theme songs

Marie has a great selection of suggestions for the artists who would produce the best and worst James Bond theme songs.

My nightmare selection would be Coldplay - or any of the other soundalike bands of that genre.

I can't beat the choices of Pulp, The Divine Comedy or The Flaming Lips, but I could add Ladytron who I think have enough girly electronica savvy to offer a suitably anthemic track to the catalogue.


We saw some of the 'highlights' (term used loosely) of the cricket last night. Anyone else out there astonished by the Dumbo qualities of Adam Gilchrist's ears? They're just enormous! Surely someone else in the world has got very tiny ears to equal the balance, but who?

Additional note: if they were more pointy, surely Gilchrist's ears would belong in LOTR?

Saturday, December 16, 2006

Postman Pat and Torchwood

Not yet read Charlie Brooker's Screen Burn in the Guardian today? Put down your tea before reading his comment on Torchwood.

Friday, December 15, 2006

Where did Slayage go????

Okay, I know I haven't had chance to go there in a while, but where the F did the Buffy Studies journal 'Slayage' go? The site has been swallowed by a flipping search engine / spam thang.

David Lavery, Rhonda V Wilcox, or anyone else on the technical team for Slayage: HELP!!!!

Thursday, December 14, 2006

Monty! Monty! Monty!

Cloud and others are vindicated. Monty P gets 5-92.

Now all we need is some better aggression on the batting.... Cook and Bell: not a good response.

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Rewinding: in praise of compilations (especially on tape?)

Cloud knows when I haven't read something, because usually certain subjects will always get me raving and if I read them first I'll immediately get him to read the inspiring article.

So when he presented me with Laura Barton's article from the Guardian Film and Music supplement published last Friday, I knew from first glance I hadn't read it and that if I had I would have still been ranting about it. So belatedly I will now have a rant. You know this is a topic I love.

Anyway, the topic of Barton's piece was the music compilation: specifically the differences between tapes (the beloved C90 cassette) and CDs (those brittle bits of... what are they made of again?)

Barton identifies two particular types of compilation: firstly, there is the introduction. This sets the scene for a new friend by passing on what you think of as tracks that identify the compilation as by you. Barton picks out "Heroin by the Velvet Undergound, Them's Gloria, Pixies' Hey and Frankie and the Classicals' What Shall I Do?" I'd probably go with something by Pulp (I'm especially fond of 'Seconds' from the Babies EP), something by Ballboy (possibly the exquisite duet version of 'I Lost You but I Found Country Music' with Laura Cantrell), a quirky cover version (I'm currently with Paul Morley on the beauty and majesty of Susanna and the Magical Orchestra's version of 'Love Will Tear Us Apart') and classic tracks by The Clash, The Beatles 'To Know Her is to Love Her (from the BBC sessions) and a good bit of jangly 80s pop (say ABC, The Smiths). I've also regularly passed on 'Tarmac' by Hazeldine from the cracking Uncut compilation 'Sounds of the New West', mostly for the classic line at the end of the first verse (I generally avoid swearing here, so let's just say you blink at the invocation of Batman...)

Then there is, as Barton notes, the compilations that are "crafted for your musical co-conspirators, when the compilation itself becomes part of your conversation - a Masonic handshake, if you will." These definitely describe the conversation we have with George, but I was intrigued by what Barton goes on to say:
A friend and I have a CD compilation conversation that has been going on for three years. But he said to me recently that even a decade ago he could not have made me such compilations because his wife would have divorced him, and quite rightly so - for back then they would have been cassettes, and they're different things altogether.
I have a certain sympathy with this idea of intimacy being part of the compilation tape, not least because, as she goes on to say, the physical act of making a cassette is entirely different to that of a CD: "making a compilation tape was akin to writing a poem...They took all Sunday afternoon, crouched beside your tape player with pins and needles in your feet, your finger hovering above the pause button ..." She's right about that physicality element as I fondly recall - before my tape player died along with the rest of the antiquated stereo system I had - the hours and hours I would spend in front of the tape recorder selecting tracks from both CD and tape to transfer to a new compilation. Cloud's "Derrida's Deconstruction" wasn't made for me (it was for his own pleasure) but every join was lovingly crafted and selected, the pausing not always (quite) right but sometimes you would end up almost breaking the tape as you paused, rewound, reset and restarted playing a track to get the join 'just so'.

Barton also wisely comments on the construction of the cassette: "At night you would lie awake puzzling over its structure: What song should you put on first? What should come last? The first of course has to be arresting. The last has to be the one you want to linger in their thoughts." But what she doesn't explicitly comment on is the fact that the cassette allowed you not one beginning but two, not one ending but two; moreover, the very first track of side one had a greater significance than that for side two, and the final track of side one had a lesser significance than that for side two.

Inevitably, by circumstance of my tape machine dying and not being replaced (though I am tempted - oh so tempted - to get one from Richer Sounds while such technology still exisits) I have shifted to CD making. She's right that it lacks the labour intensive practices of making a tape, especially when you work out that you need to play each track through in real time, plus the time it takes to cue up the next and start recording (though frankly I had that off pat by the time I made my last compilation tape: usually only just over 100 mins to make a C90, which isn't bad all things considered.

But where I part company with Barton's argument is on the issue of CDs inherently lacking thought: compilations may now indeed appear to be "made in minutes" but I would deny that "dragging and clicking and burning" means that "beautiful things go unsaid." In most instances, the time I spend preparing the CD is no less than I would have invested in making the tape: it is a careful process of playing selected tracks, playing them next to each other, mentally singing or humming the opening or closing bars to see how they sound as an overall narrative flow. What is made easier by the CD is the playing of the tracks (where I have them on the computer: as yet only a proportion of our music collection - ever expanded by Rough Trade, 1-Up and Selectadisc - is on either of our computers).

Although I no longer have to carefully stack up the CDs and tapes, shuffling their order before I even start selecting tracks, I still do that mentally (and before I got my own computer capable of making CDs I had to carry over a bag of CDs to H's to make those early George collections). Now - providing I don't need to upload (or frustratingly I realise I only have it on tape) - I can easily pop tracks into a provisional playlist. But I still spend hours pouring over the selection and ordering process, carefully weighing the choice of tracks depending on the person and the purpose of the collection. Equally, care is taken over the production values of the sleeve: selecting and framing images, borders, and sometimes even the choice of compilation title.

I still residually miss the compilation tape with its perfectly framed 45 mins per side, echoing the approximate length of a pop album. But technology and its frailty has guided me to the CD and I am learning to love it. I sometimes even wonder if, given the pace at which I was eventually able to construct a tape, whether I'm not now probably even slower making a CD.

Does the CD talk back to me the way a tape could? I would argue 'yes', not least because I remain committed to the process of the compilation, regardless of its format. There is still a romance to it for me, a measured sifting and thinking about the recipient's taste, my taste, and how I may even sneak in some material they would never have thought of listening to but which may open up new musical avenues to them. I doubt I'm always successful, but that was the chance one took on making any compilation - whether tape or CD. Whether rewinding, or reselecting a track or sequence of tracks, there is nothing like the home made collection. And for me they will never lose their romance.

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Blogmeet pictures

A little belated people, but hopefully these photographs of the bloggers meeting held Dec 9 2006 in London will amuse. Especially the excellent shot of me (deliberately) pulling a face. You can compare and contrast to the shots at Mars Hill and Wongablog.

Paul Burgin: Photo by Rullsenberg

Rullsenberg pulls a face

Deep in conversation at the December 06 London blogmeet

Noshing and chatting at the December 06 London blogmeet

Bloggers in conversation: December 06 London

Monday, December 11, 2006

12 cities

Thanks to Paul B for this thought of a meme. My favourite twelve cities would be:

New York: stunning, uncanny, breath-takingly awesome - a city oft visited in the movies and TV and thankfully on a handful of occasions in 'reality' (though it is such unreal place, you can confuse the two).

London: easier to get to, and cheaper (free museums!), ergo a possible over-taker of NYC. Not quite the same pizzazz but a buzzy kind of place. Had a great weekend there so feeling more pro London right now!

Birmingham: I do have some residual disappointments - they lost two of the remaining pieces of inner city greenary when they redeveloped the area in front of the Rep and Symphony Hall, and where they put the Floozy in the Jacuzzi. They also demolished the Triangle cinema at Aston Uni. But I still love what has happened to Brum over recent years. A triumph of optimism and will.

Manchester: it was my in-transit home for quite some time whilst studying at Leeds and still living in the West Midlands (funnily I felt more at home in Manc than I ever did in Leeds itself). Always interesting, if not always in a good way. We had a great blogmeet there earlier this year which is the chief reason it makes the cut.

Amsterdam: my favourite European city of those visited. Relaxed. Fun. Full of culture. And the houses have big windows so you can see inside to all the big bookshelves. Heavenly!

Glasgow: it rained when we were there (quel surprise) but I say 'Charles Rennie Mackintosh'. 'nuf said...

Edinburgh: Hills! Views! A Castle! Fascinating to visit even though it was during the festival ;)

Aberdeen: this really makes the cut because of the lovely George, but we have had such great weather up there and have SOOO enjoyed the beach that I had to include it!

Venice: It smells. It's full of tourists. It's over-priced. And yet... It is beautiful and full of obscured delights down hidden passages. Plus, you know, Peggy Guggenheim lived there...

Paris: Spectacular but even though I love Before Sunrise/Sunset, I can't say I warm to the place overall. Nevertheless, a truly fabulous city to see and one not to be missed. Besides, Jarvis lives there...

Oxford/Cambridge: sorry but I can't separate the two as they (and their bookshops) are inextricably entwined in my minds eye!

Berlin: the only city on my list I haven't been to. I did want to try and keep this list to places I have actually been - that's not to say other places aren't well loved or haven't offered me some great experiences. And given those I haven't visited this is clearly a very small list. But I have to include Berlin as it is such a central place in German history. One day I will check out my German origins properly and actually visit the country!

So there you have it. 12 cities. What are yours?

Blogmeet(s) recaps

Quick recap: had a great time in London this weekend. Went to see the 1930s exhibition at The Photographers Gallery; went to the BM for a gander at the Parthenon marbles etc; visited the NPG to see the Portrait Photography exhibition. Had breakfast at Brunos, great snacks with the blogmeet, and a fab meal at Cafe Pasta on Monmouth Street (recognised by the main man there since we went back in the summer...). Stayed at a decent hotel (Thistle Barbican). Walked lots.

And of course had huge fun meeting Matt_c and Baby W (formerly of here, now mostly writing for Fisking Central and preparing other projects with Matt_c). This was added to as a fun day by moving on from the Chandos to St Stephen's Tavern and the blogmeet itself. Some hilarious pics can be found here at Mars Hill where Paul B (who kindly organised the event) has written a fun review.

Saturday, December 09, 2006

Blogmeet day!

We were up at 4.30am today (actually we woke earlier than we needed to - typical) to get a taxi at 5.30 and a train at 6.25 to London. So here we are in the Easy cafe reminding ourselves where Crockatt and Powell Bookshop is located before we go to Brunos for breakfast.

Then its off to meet Matt c at the Chandos and then Westminster to meet up with the rest of the blog crew at St Stephen's Tavern.

See ya later - or possibly Monday depending on web access tomorrow.


Friday, December 08, 2006

Marie's computer

Marie now has an irretrievably entangled image of her and David T dominating her computer.

She felt this would be problematic: "David Tennant is *so* never allowed to check his e-mail from my study."

However, as commentor prm pointed out: "Hmm. If DT is in a position to check his email from your study I rather think you'll be past caring about him seeing that..."

Too true!

Thursday, December 07, 2006

The End of Arab Strap

Just been listening to their cover of a Spaceman 3 song when I stumbled across this finale tribute to Arab Strap. Jeez, I remember the first time I heard 'The First Big Weekend' and fell for their approach completely. Thanks again John Peel.

Film Review: Pan's Labyrinth


Elsewhere some people have been less than impressed with this, but we found it to be such a visual and intelligent feast of cinema that we fell for it completely. Of course it may help that we have a certain sympathy for the views of Mr Kermode (who I know isn't everyone's taste). But more importantly we had also been tipped off on how good it was by some friends whose opinions we value (N&S that means you!).

So for those who haven't yet indulged, what should you expect?

Well it is bleak: there isn't a lot of laughter in the film and there is plenty of the kind of gruesome violence that fairy tales and myths historically have indulged in. Don't forget the woman who danced herself to death in a pair of shoes that shredded her feet to a bloody pulp (something I always re-imagine when reading the Calliope story by Neil Gaiman).

It also needs to be said that the trailer is somewhat misleading: it is much more than a fantasy film as a large proportion of the narrative concerns the life of a young girl in 1944 under Fascist rule. It is violent, political, historical and (can I say it again?) violent. Disturbingly so. The violence is casual, brutal and utterly appropriate. But there is a violence to the fantasy sequences as well as they highlight that trait mentioned above about fairy tales. Monsters are scary. Really scary. And the ones here are amongst some of the most scary I have seen on screen in a while.

I'd also say take a hankie. It gets weepie (but not, I would say, in a sentimentally gushy way). You may also need to be aware that you may feel the urge to cheer at what happens to some characters, so unrelently evil is the way they are portrayed. But this should not suggest that this is a weak and simplistic representation, but rather it is extreme.

The acting was very good, and the special effects make you realise just how overblown and poor so many effects-driven films can be. This, in contrast, is convincing and beautiful to watch, and will probably remain so for far longer.

Rufus will be back

Again, I know he's an acquired taste, but we're rather fond of el Rufus W so were chuffed to read of this news over at Anna's place.

Torchwood revisited

You know what, Medium Rob was pretty on the money about the most recent episode of Torchwood: it wasn't all bad.

Good points:
  • the title "They Keep Killing Suzie" - bleak and suggestive
  • the script wasn't entirely bollocks and had a decent level of developing through the episode
  • Indira Varma was fantastic (I would think that as I have fond memories of her from this)
  • the resurrection glove effects were pretty cool

  • Bad points:
  • that whole stop-watch thing at the end. I refer you to MediumRob's dirty mind...
  • badly handled humour about naming - it didn't work
  • "... there's only a few minutes..." said in darkness: next scene takes place in broad daylight. Clearly Wales has a different relationship to the whole sun/moon thing than the rest of the world. Was there an eclipse they didn't mention?
  • this Torchwood secrecy thing must be one of the biggest jokes of the series. Are all the police gonna get retcon pills? (and btw in discussing the Whedonverse 'retcon' was when they fitted in backstories that had previously not been mentioned or even directly contradicted previous information: not sure how well that reflects the action of the amnesia pills)

  • Of course the Behind the Sofa team have screamed loudly about how bad the whole series has been and I do love their humour enough to appreciate their points (could this really be the end of the Tachyon TV podcasts according their latest release?). But I have tried to remain sympathetic to Torchwood despite it being way off mark at times with both its intentions and actions.

    Have you stuck with it?

    Dalek boy hates students

    Priceless story. Now, just picture what he looks like - perhaps filling the dalek space rather well?

    Hat tip to Cloud.

    108 Grammy categories = a lot of crap

    Look, with that many categories in the Grammy awards you would think there would be a decent proportion or at least possibility of good stuff.

    I'm unsurprisingly - given my taste - not that impressed, but tell me how many of those entries are YOU impressed with?

    Wednesday, December 06, 2006

    On that note: "Happy birthday to Medium Rob"

    Not sure where he has legged it to, but it seems he's left us to our own devices for the week whilst he celebrates a birthday! Happy Birthday Medium Rob!

    Girl, you get the real thing and you STILL do this?

    In fact, as she whiles away months of filming in Nova Scotia on Outlander, she will keep a Doctor Who figurine with her for company.

    "I make no apology," she giggles. "I'm pretty excited about the fact that my boyfriend has an action doll. How cool is that? Now, all I'm waiting for is for the Doctor Who people to make a Madame de Pompadour doll so I can do a bit of Barbie and Ken action with them ... You know what I'm talking about."
    Thanks MediumRob for alerting me to that gem. At least it suggests she's got something in common with the rest of us: we also have to make do with the action figure...

    Marie and her photograph

    Check out this and other recent Marie postings at Struggling Author. I think she looks great and can't wait to see her poster, Carrie style (Sex and the City), on all the poster sites in London and beyond!

    Wednesday already and losing track of the world

    ARRGH: work is just bonkers at present. I'm knee deep in reports and students issues are incoming so fast I can barely keep track of them.

    The blog meet is this weekend and we have to be up at an INSANE hour to get to London with the prospect of breakfast at Brunos being the main draw to encourage me to survive the journey.

    Still, we're looking forward to it and after that there is only one week of term left. Okay, I don't break up till the week after but at least I will get most of that week to myself to finish reports before Xmas...

    Wish me luck and if anyone has urgent or spectacular news, email me because even bloglines is struggling to keep me fully posted (it only works if you get chance to review things there!).

    Monday, December 04, 2006

    Unexpected pleasures

    Feeling somewhat under the weather last night, we watched The School of Rock: an irrepresible bit of nonsense. Most amusing. We then, out of idleness as much as anything else, ended up watching Zoolander.

    Can I admit that neither of us would have said in advance we fancied watching that, but it was hilariously entertaining? Anyone else out there surprised by how much they enjoyed it?

    TV for grown-ups

    Oh yes please. I'm with Gert.

    Sunday, December 03, 2006

    Guillermo del Toro

    I'm still not able to fully focus, but following our viewing yesterday of the astonishing Pan's Labyrinth (which I cannot recommend highly enough), I thought I would check out the availability of his first film, the incredible Chronos.

    It's not available!

    At least not in the UK. The nearest you get is a seller on Amazon selling for £29.99 and saying that's a LOW PRICE!


    In the wake of PL, can someone rectify that?

    Cookie time: Choc chips as supplied by Joe

    Lovely Joe sent me some VERY yummy choc chips. Being a bit the worse for wear today (it ain't at all stress-related to my impending day at work tomorrow: no siree...), I probably haven't done them justice with the way these turned out as bickies, but they are mighty fine yumptious!

    Photoby Rullsenberg: yummy made with Joe's lovely choc chips!

    The hand belongs to Cloud and holds up a current local events calendar just to prove when these were made!

    Update: got a cold; saw Pan's Labyrinth; made cookie biscuits; not updated blog

    Yep, that about sums me up.

    Will post photos of bickies and a review of the film (which was fab).

    In meantime ATCHOO!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    Friday, December 01, 2006

    Music Review: Bardo Pond at The Maze, Nottingham

    The lovely George contacted me last week to say that psychedelic Post-Rock maestros Bardo Pond were playing in Nottingham at The Maze. We duly went to get tickets last weekend: a fabulously cheap £5 (surely some mistake?!).
    Now, a little history of The Maze. It's basically a back room of the Forest Tavern on Mansfield Road in Nottingham and has had something of a checkered history of closures and refurbishments. Currently, it is high on the list of favoured venues amongst those working on LeftLion, the free and wonderful thinking-person's guide to cultural life in Nottingham.

    You could reasonably guess that this would be a small venue, pretty intimate. And although I guess there are smaller places you can play, given the established name that Bardo Pond have in their field I was pretty surprised by just HOW small the venue was. Imagine the scale of The Social (for those of you who know Nottingham: for those who don't it is "smaller than a volleyball court" - to quote Cloud). Now imagine a stage half the size of that in the Social as a round-edge stage from one corner of the room ("two kingsize beds" said Cloud). That was the size of the space for the gig. Interestingly, both Bardo Pond and the second support act placed some band members off-stage, so small was the space!

    Anyway, to the gig itself.

    First support act were You Judas, a band from Derby. They were... okay. Not ground-breaking, a bit post-rock cliche by numbers, but enjoyable enough. They had some passion, but didn't come across as really tight. Maybe I was just too psyched for Bardo Pond...

    Second support act were Souvaris who were on another level entirely. Perhaps it was the addition of the keyboards/organ sound but they just had so much more well-placed energy. Given the size of the stage it was astonishing to watch how the guitarists still managed to thrash around so well without actually knocking each other out. The vocals were well delivered and the sound spectacularly layered and coherent depite the rising noise levels. The keyboards bust at one point, and one guitarist had to switch to a second guitar: it just didn't diminish them at all. As an indication of how good they were, Cloud sent me to buy their CD before their first track had finished. Very good indeed. They also got a very good reception from the audience, almost to the point where (sadly) some people decided not to stay on for Bardo Pond. Fools. As good as Souvaris were, Bardo Pond raised the bar again.

    We have a bit of Bardo Pond stuff, initially some stuff heard from the George, so it was nice to get the chance to buy some more of their work. We picked up Selections: Volumes I-IV, a double CD, and Ticket Crystals, their new CD. Selections comprises a selection from the band's self-releases from their website (also sold at gigs) so is pretty obscure stuff. Also nice was buying the CDs from the band's Clint Takeda, along with a snazzy and stylish poster which Cloud is getting framed for his office (that's the space which is currently the desk dumping ground, formerly known as George's room...)

    So what do Bardo Pond sound like? Well, going to this website as well as the one listed above will have given you a clue. Wikipedia describes them as likened to "Pink Floyd, Spacemen 3 and My Bloody Valentine amongst others" (though that seems off beam based on my limited knowledge of the Floyd - fill me in guys). Flautist and vocalist, Isobel Sollenberger is utterly captivating and astonishing to watch as her hair comes down and her music soars. She fought a little with the sound system last night - and a rather inattentive sound and lighting booth guy who forgot to put the lights down to convey to the audience that the 'soundchecking' had shifted into the actual gig itself - but the band seemed enormously touched by the enthusiastic attention of the crowd. They were breathtaking to watch and hear as the layers of sound piled higher and higher, criss-crossing between melody and noise.

    We came out at 11.30pm after just under 3 hours of bands: still early compared to north of the border, but a great 'late' night. Am loving listening to Ticket Cystals as I type this...