Sunday, December 23, 2007
Imagine...it's a cold Christmas evening. You're snuggled up in bed, cosy in your nest of freshly cleaned bedding. Warm. Safe.
And then you hear a creak. Your window? You peek out from under the covers, trembling slightly, only to find me there beside you, slick with goosefat and naked but for a small loincloth.
And then I lean close....and I sing to you....
Friday, December 21, 2007
Friday, December 14, 2007
Saturday, December 08, 2007
I'm gutted. My Eco Media Player arrived in exceptionally speedy time, but I've been terribly disappointed.
As expected, there's a certain charm to it all: the sound output is very good and cranking the power up is far more fun than winding a crank should be, but the interface brings it crashing down with an almighty thud.
Navigating between albums is a convoluted affair (hinging on an orderly use of folders), the controls are unresponsive (a second flashing “initializing” before audio playback starts doesn’t bode well) and getting songs to play in any proper order seems to take some kind of tagging beyond my ken. Seriously, albums just will not play in the order they should, but there doesn't seem to be any rhyme nor reason to how they do play. Oh, and stepping out of the audio play mode even to browse the other modes (to, say, look at photos or read an ebook) halts playback.
I wanted to love this thing, I really did. And in many ways I still do. It does have the feel of a good, solid earthy piece of technology. The torch is great, there’s a nice little speaker on the front, and there’s a lovely tingle when you see your mobile recharge bar come alight as you wind the crank (and not due to poor electrical insulation), but it’s not quite there.
My advice: wait a bit. The idea is solid, and it shines with all manner of hardware innovation. Now they just have to get the software on the same page. But for now, I must return to my fervent desire to get hold of one of the XO laptops!
Saturday, December 01, 2007
Friday, November 30, 2007
Stephen Fry has blogged about it and today, with a big ol' trip coming up, I damn near bought one. Unfortunately I have a big ol' trip coming up, so can't really justify the cost. Yet. But I'm totally loving this:
Not the most beautiful thing in the world, but have you seen the features on it? Chief of course being the ability to wind the fucking thing up! I've suddenly fallen in love with the idea of cranking up my mp3 player. Let alone the fact that running out of battery will be a thing of the past. And given the length of time I'm about to spend in planes, trains and automobiles, that's no bad thing.
And then there's the phone-charger application, the SD card expansion slot and the torch. Yes, the torch! Alright, it's not a beautiful piece of sleek modern design with a smooth, intuitive interface, but then neither am I. And it, like me and the cockroaches, will eat your sleek designer ass alive when the apocalypse comes! *
It seems to retail most places for around £170, but eco-shop Green & Easy (part of a huge network of "green" online stores that I never even knew existed) has it up for about £130.
*I mean this quite literally.
1) Buying a new office chair from a shady place up Holloway Road and then wheeling it back home down aforementioned road and around Highbury Corner at the peak of school lunchtime is not advisable for those who wish to have a hassle-free day off.
Today has been very domestic. I bunked off the gym, did laundry, fetched chair, got rid of rubbish, did dishes, took recycling to various banks (annoyingly, the group of recycling skips next to our block has no bin for plastics. Why?) and just did some general cleaning. My sister and niece arrive at the end of the week to take in some London Christmas magic. Christ only knows what they're expecting, but I guess that's the point. Ba-bum!
I never blogged about my birthday! I made out like a bandit. Got travel guides for Australia & Bangkok plus a very handy travel journal from Dana & James, a beautiful frame job on my page of From Hell art from Alex, a nummy chocolate cake from Claudia & Morgan and a whole stack of stuff from the good folks at work: Dracula special edition DVD, Commando special edition DVD, Torture Garden DVD (the old Amicus film, not the fetish club night), Casting the Runes DVD, Tintin DVD Box Set, MR James Ghost Stories audio book as read by Derek Jacobi, Milk & Cheese vinyl figures, Galactus figurine (so cool!) and special guest signings in my card!
Friday, November 23, 2007
So, it's my birthday today. And as befitting my birthday, I'm off work and chilling. Which is now a firm and fast rule for what happens on my birthday. But that's not what this post is about.
Be Broadband, who I can't say enough good things about quite frankly, emailed me this morning with one of those obligatory "Hey hey, it's your birthday!" corporate e-cards that my mail box has been swamped with today. But the nice thing is they actually gave me a free day's worth of internet! Okay, so it's only about 55p worth of time, but it's a very nice gesture, and more than I ever got out of Virgin media. But that's not what this post is about.
A bunch of guys tried to snatch our till on Wednesday. A group of 7-10 guys clustered around the door while Tom (Nat's assistant/writer/young gadabout/retail hero) was upstairs by himself. Then they made a grab for the till, trying to hit the No Sale button. Tom threw himself on the till and yelled for help, and got a couple of smacks to the face for his troubles. But realising they weren't getting shit, they all took off. Nice one Tom! But that's not what this post is about.
I've started reading nothing less than the League of Extraordinary Gentlemen Black Dossier, which is perfectly fitting for a birthday treat. How did I get this unavailable-outside-the-US gem? Never you mind. Anyway, that's not what this post is about.
It would seem we've nailed down a date for the wedding next year. I, Andrew Salmond, and my fiancé, Alexandra Marais, will be tying the knot on the 1st August 2008. Mark it in your diaries, invites coming in the new year. And that's what this post is about! Hurrah!
Saturday, November 03, 2007
Welcome Back Kotter has got me all nostalgic. Beer and brandy have got me drunk. But full of love. Love for Beer, brandy, and American sitcom themes...
(You'll need to hit stop on this first flash bastard. I hate flash.)
I'm at home, getting trashed, watching music videos on YouTube.
I know, I know, it's been a while. What can I say? I've been indisposed. Between houses. Between connections.
But, hey, here I am, ready for duty and all that jazz. The boxes are unpacked and the broadband is up and running at last (a whip-smart 24meg ADSL2 connection with Be).
Dirty cartoons. Anyway, I just wanted to say that I will be blogging again, hopefully on something resembling a regular basis. If, y'know, that's something you might be interested in.
And it won't even all be YouTube links. What more can you ask?
Friday, September 21, 2007
As with my recent trip to see Maiden, Wednesday night's Turisas gig was a great reminder of why I love metal gigs: the fun. A great crowd*, a fantastic performance by the band who managed to replicate the big sound of their new album, loud, chunky riffs and just a general good vibe. And yes, they dress like this:
Which can be seen as a silly gimmick (actually, is pretty indefensible as anything but) but is just fucking great fun. Let alone the fact that they have fiddle and accordian players. I have always maintained that metal needs more fiddle and accordian.
Oh, c'mon! How could I not like this band. If you like a bit of bombastic metal (I'm looking at you Bruce), then check these guys out. If you don't, then you're probably not even still reading.
*Except for the mosh pit. I went down the front for the encore, and nobody was moshing! I think all the hardcore guys streamed out when the initial set finished, but everbody left was just waving their hands in the air or taking photos! Photos! In the mosh pit (or lack thereof)! Kids these days...
Saturday, September 15, 2007
Last week I went to the launch night of the mighty Jon Chandler's exhibition down Brick Lane way (which also handily doubled as his leaving do and his dad's birthday). I got in early as Jon and Leon were doing the last of the setup and left just as the crowds really started to build (and as my body temperature began to hit nova-like levels - it was fucking hot in there!)
London folk should go and see it while they can! It's been extended for a little longer and is on at Bodhi, the cafe and gallery (with downstairs Japanese language manga library) at 214 Brick Lane. Go! Now! Before Jon suits up and rides his lawmaster to the shores of the exotic East!
Sunday, September 09, 2007
The other day I had the joy of hearing Finnish metal outfit Turisas on the Bruce Dickinson Rock Show. So I was happy to find out they are playing here on the 19th September. Needless to say, tickets have been purchased.
Turisas - Rasputin
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Your mileage may, as always, vary.
Thursday, September 06, 2007
If you have never seen the Polyphonic Spree live, you're doing yourself a disservice. I know and can understand that their albums might not be for everyone; fair enough. But as a live band I have seen very few acts that top their intensity and none that leave me on such a natural high.
The gig started with what has become a bit of a London tradition, with this town crier guy (and son) coming out and reading a bit of panto-like audience participation "Hear Ye" material. It's all good fun. And then a red sheet of material was raised in front of the stage to obscure the band coming on.
Then lead singer Tim DeLaughter began chopping his way through, cutting out the shape of a heart (yeah, I know, it all sounds cheesy as hell, but it's great fun).
He then chopped up to clear the sheet and they were off! There are 23 band members in the Spree, so their sound is understandably pretty big. Brass section, two drummers, chorus, flute, guitars, two keyboards, harp and so on.
That, I think, is their great failing as recording artists (as much as I love the albums), as it is impossible to capture the power they have as a live act. By the second or third song you're swept up in it, and it all just feels so goddamn good.
And that good feeling is as much down to the infectious enthusiasm of the band. They're all smiling, dancing, jumping about, giving it their all. The backing singers all swing back and forth and leap about in unison, DeLaughter constantly leaps on top of his monitor, punching the air, whoopin' and hollerin'. Again, describing it just doesn't convey what a joy the entire band is to behold.
Anyway, they played a number of tracks from the first two albums, as well as new material. They play with the material a little but the anthemic nature of their material still gets the crowd going. Then, one by one, the band members left the stage, finally leaving only DeLaughter (holding up his heart cut-out) and the harpist, who each respectively left.
And then the other great Spree tradition: the crowd walk-through. Sure enough the band appeared walking in a line up on the balcony, where they walked from the side up to the rear exits, then downstairs and through the middle of the crowd, the trombonist holding his instrument up like a tour operator's umbrella. But DeLaughter came back on a different path, following our friend Aaron as he came back from the bar and so walked right by us.
He's the sweaty head of hair the guy in the olive shirt is staring at.
And so they all got back to the stage for an amazing encore, decked out in their old white robes, no less (the origins of why many people think they're some kind of cult).
I just can't understand why they get that idea...
Anyway, once back, they launched into a cover of Nirvana's "Lithium" which sent the place crazy. A long suite of their own material followed, one song flowing into the next, before finishing up with "When The Fool Becomes a King". Grinning like a madman, DeLaughter kept thanking the audience and then did what always sends a gig up a notch for me: an unscheduled encore. With three minutes to curfew, they cranked out a rendition of Tripping Daisy song "Sonic Bloom".
Great show. Great band. And if I had one photo that sums it all up, it'd be this:
Smiles, everyone, smiles!