Wednesday, March 31, 2010

UKIP Boasts 11 More Fans

This piece of underwhelming news just arrived in my inbox....

"Wow We've gone from 216 fans here to 227 in 24 hours. G R E A T! That proves we CAN do it if we try. Everyone who signs up to be a fan here is making a commitment to vote UKIP if they are able when the time comes. Keep networking, keep spreading the message. Don't let up. Everyone of you knows at least ten people.... They are your friends bcause you share some things in common. Let voting UKIP be one of them. Here's our battle cry - "Don't let the Tories split the UKIP vote. Government of the British people for the British people by the British people". Keep networking if we all pull together WE WILL GET THERE. - John boyle, UKIP.

Reply..."Although you may note that some 'fans' will be people like myself who have tagged all the parties to keep up with election news and happenings online, I'm not fan of UKIP, or really of any party except perhaps the Greens.

Also, the group 'Can this steak get more fans than PETA' put on many more fans in the last 24 hours, 11 people in a day won't exactly swing the election UKIP's way."
Volcano Cam

Streaming video of an erupting volcano in Iceland.
On This Day...

In 1889 the Eiffel Tower was officially opened. The lattice tower had been built for the opening of the 1889 World's Fair, which in turn was held in the 100th year anniversary of the Storming of the Bastille.

The engineer who designed the tower, Gustave Eiffel, built numerous projects from gas works to bridges, churches to lighthouses, all over the world. The other work for which he is most famous was the French gift to commemorate the USA's Independence, the Statue of Liberty, which was built by his company.

The photograph was taken during the 1900 Exposition by American photographer William Herman Rau.
We're All Doomed

Put away your pads Mark Boucher, throw down that ball Umar Gul and break your bat Alastair Cook, your time in the limelight of international cricket is nearly over, you about to be eclipsed by a juggernaut from the East. A force is arising in cricket that none of the test nations will be able to resist, a force whose numbers are multitudes beyond counting, and whose national spirit once bent to a task is indomitable and unstoppable. Yes people, China has discovered how to play cricket.

The Chinese Cricket Association has written a small list of goals....

2009: Have 720 teams across the country in a well-organised structure
2015: Have 20,000 players and 2,000 coaches
2019: Qualify for the World Cup
2020: Gain Test status

(2021 : Spank England 3 -0 in inaugural Test series)

When China decides to do something, they do tend to do it properly, I would not be at all surprised were China to leapfrog the current group of Associates (nations like Ireland, Afghanistan, Canada and Kenya) to take a place in the highest level of the sport.

China is the host of this year's Asian Games to be held in Guangzhou, where cricket will be one of the 42 sports played. In the same group as China will be Afghanistan, Bangladesh, India, Oman, Pakistan, Sri Lanka and the United Arab Emirates, some serious names there and a couple of minnows, that should test China's progress.

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

The Family Grows

I havn't announced this before, but 'The Lurker' of this parish (also known as Brother in Law mk.2) and his lovely wife (previously referred to to as 'Lurker's Bird' before getting a promotion to 'Mrs. Lurker') are expecting twins, a boy and a girl. That's great, more children to me to act like a fool with.

Now, Lurker and Missus have kept the names of their twins a closely guarded secret, but they have agreed to let me name the children, which is mighty nice of them.

In a month or so then the whole family is going to be hugely pleased to have Hecate Belladonna Sanguinaria Wheeler (for the little girl) and Vladimir Samael Elysium Wheeler (for the little boy), nice eh ?


Oglaf is one of the the funniest web comics I have seen in ages, but it is deeply, deeply NSFW. If though you might get a laugh out of magically enchanted semen, knob gags, horny warrior women in not a lot or armour or naked, more knob gags, naked succubi and weird fountains, well jump right in.

Thanks to Shan for finding this.
Yet More Social Networking Stuff

So I have my Facebook, my Twitter (although I hardly ever use it), my blog, my scrobbler page, my abandoned and unloved MySpace page, do I really need any more junk ? Probably not, and yet...

I am just poking around on Scribd, I don't know if I could really use that, unless I post my NaNoWriMo fails up there.

FriendFeed, what does this one do ? It looks rather like Twitter.

Foursquare, some sort of tips and recommendations site ? This looks a little like Twitter/FF as well.

Come on then, some of you must use these things, educate me please.
Dice, n. Small polka-dotted cubes of ivory, constructed like a lawyer to lie on any side, but commonly on the wrong one. - Ambrose Bierce, The Devil's Dictionary.

Monday, March 29, 2010

The Daily Mail Song - Dan and Dan

I've marked it as satire, which it is, just.
An Exercise Video

To be honest, this isn't inspiring me to do any exercise, but I'm quite happy to watch some more videos of the lovely Charlie getting a sweat on.

Oh well, obviously that level of intelligent and astute political debate is going to persuade someone to vote Labour, but it won't be me. Actually, this e-poster from the official Labour FB page makes me want grind my teeth in rage and throttle someone. Of all the salient and valid points Labour could have made about David Cameron what do they choose ? The point that one photograph of him in a poster was airbrushed.

Oh grow up, you're supposed to be the party to represent the working class, not bloody b3ta.
By The Sword And The Cross - Christopher Lee

They're all at it you know, all the actors really want to be pop and rock stars. This isn't the first album he has released either, he narrated another concept album, Triumph or Agony by Rhapsody Of Fire, and he released a solo album of cover versions which is widely held to be the worst album ever made by an actor who isn't William Shatner.

I'm just giving the album its first spin, it's not so much metal/rock actually, it sounds more like a musical history piece. Lee's voice sounds fairly decent, he performs in a half way style between singing and speech making, interesting.
This Looks Like A Great Festival Line Up

If you have a Scrobbler account you can generate your own band logo thingy by clicking here.
Who To Vote For ?

According to Vote for Policies I'm about 50% Green Party and 50% UKIP, the latter part of that result certainly surprised me.

My results page.
What's Better Than One Tree ?

More Trees.

The Woodland Trust "has a strong vision to create 15,000 hectares of woodland a year throughout the UK for the next 50 years – something to which we are fully committed and believe is achievable."

The Woodland Trust are appealing for funds to continue with their good work, click on the link for more info or if you wish to donate.
I Love London - Crystal Fighters

Crystal fighters are an electronica / folk / dance / rave band from Navarra.

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Use Your Vote

Register to vote.

There is a General Election just around the corner, get registered, use your vote, or don't dare to moan about anything, ever.
Album Review : Introducing - Etran Finatawa 7*

Etran Finatawa, meaning 'the stars of tradition' are a group of singers and musicians from the Taureg and Wodaabe-Fulani tribes whose peoples live alongside each other in Niger, not always harmoniously. Part of the founding statement of Etran Finatawa was to be a cultural force that might help to unite the two nomadic cultures as a symbol of peace and reconciliation.

To be honest, I know almost nothing about North African culture and music. Niger has borders with Algeria and Libya to the North, Mali on the West, Chad to the East, Nigeria and other on the South, and that's it, an entire country I know nothing of apart from its rough position on a map.

The music though, well this is wonderful. Many of the songs are built on repetition and minute variation with chants and vocal solos, sometimes the songs move to a break down with instrumental solos on stringed instruments and scantily strummed guitar. There is a strong percussive pulse that keeps the rhythm of each song moving along, on Lledeman especially the double guitar strum followed by the echoing drum and bell beat is powerful and hypnotic, evoking the aura of the desert and its people.

If you are looking for something really unusual, but with great music and a really special feel to it, the mesmerizing and seductive beats and cadence of Etran Finatawa are a world away from any pop or folk music I have experienced.

Introducing was the band's first album, released in 2005. They have since made two more studio recordings, Desert Crossroads released in 2007, and their most recent album Tarkat Tajje/Let's Go which was released last week.

Album Review : When Rock'n'Roll Was Not Business - Tiresia 6*

For Fans of : GU Medicine, Black Spiders, Viking Skull, Raging Speedhorn

Tiresia hail from Messina in Italy and began life as a Jimi Hendrix tribute outfit, which you wouldn't guess from either the band's current musical direction or vocal style. They are a 3 piece with a singing drummer ( and my normal maxim is like the talking dog, singing drummers just shouldn't be) playing something close to stoner metal and singing in English.

This isn't a bad album by any means, but it is just lacking a little something. I do have the feeling that with just a little better songwriting these guys would be able to put out an album that really rocks. There is nothing wrong with musically, they have a good strong bowel loosening bass line, some crunchy riffing and Damiano's inflected vocals sound growling and mean.

Best track is probably the opener Burn The Dancefloor (video below), I think the faster and heavier tracks on the album work better than the more ballad like numbers, and a couple of tracks towards the end of the album are a bit lengthy, eight minutes plus is fine if the song warrants it but the title track and Something For My Friends seem to be marking time somewhat.

On the plus side, Burn The Dancefloor and Love To Die kick some serious arse and there are some moments of promise elsewhere on the album. If you fancy listening to Tiresia for yourself, you can listen and download legally from their Jamendo page.

Album Review : No Guts. No glory. - Airbourne 8*

How do you know if you will like Airbourne ? Easy, take this simple test....

Q - Do you like AC/DC ?

A1) I like AC/DC = therefore you will like Airbourne.

A2) I do not like AC/DC = therefore you will not like Airbourne.

Right, that's everyone sorted out then, Airbourne (like AC/DC) are no nonsense basic meat and two veg classic metal, verse, chorus, verse, chorus, bridge, solo, shouty bit, chorus, end. Every song sounds a little bit like something you might have heard before (probably on an AC/DC album), every song is so simple that you'll be singing along by the second chorus.

Now this may sound like dull, repetitive, derivative rock, but bloody hell Airbourne carry off this act of supreme plagiarism with such swagger and assurity, and the songs are so bloody good you just can't help but grin like a loon, pump your fist in the air and feel a strange urge to dress like a schoolboy.

Airbourne also go for no messing around manly song subjects, beer, whisky, fighting, playing rock and roll, breaking things and working in a steel plant, there's no emo navel gazing and existentialist angst to be found here, just hearty rock and roll that knows just where the line to cheesy is and never quite steps over it.

Now, a bit of advice, there are two versions of the album out, the expanded/deluxe version was only a quid more on Amazon, but for that you get 18 great rock tracks instead of 13 great rock tracks. That's another twenty plus minutes of head shaking, horn throwing hard rock attitude, buy the deluxe version.

So we are nearly at the end of March, just three months into the year and I reckon barring something spectacular from Stone Gods (or the rumoured reformation of The Darkness), Airbourne have already released the good time party metal album of the year.
The Days Of Inverse Worth

Picture - Isaac Newton laments that even this pioneering experiment will not make him as popular as Jade Goody.

I began reading a book last night that in the opening few paragraphs both inspired and then depressed me. The book is 12 Books That Changed The World by Melvyn Bragg, his personal selection of a dozen British works that have shaped and changed our understanding of the world and our place in it.

Bragg has picked a broad and interesting selection of works, Darwin's Origin Of The Species, Shakespeare's First Folio, Marie Stopes' Married Love. I was thinking that this sounded really good, a brief history of the writing of each of these works placing in their timeline and explaining how the author came to present his research, opinions or stories, informative and inspirational indeed.

The opening paragraph of the introduction to Isaac Newton's Principia Mathmatica says this about the funeral of the great man..."Voltaire, the most famous philosopher in Europe, witnessed Newton's state funeral in Westminster Abbey and praised an England which honoured a mathematician as other countries honoured a monarch."

Now the depression descended upon me, I cannot name a famous living mathematician beyond Stephen Hawking, I am struggling to name another popular philosopher after Richard Dawkins, or perhaps Dawkins is a scientist rather than a philosopher. I'm sure if I click to Google or grab some reference books from my library shelves then I could come up with a few more, but this is a pretty poor effort from me. The more depressing thing is, I bet I am not alone in being unable to name many, or indeed any, of the great thinkers and researchers of our time.

Oh, hang on, I think I've remembered another one (quick check on Google), oh dear, it appears Carl Sagan died in 1996, but do I get half a point for Sir Patrick Moore ?

We live now in an age where the population venerate shallow glossy 'talent' over real skill and intelligence. If Stephen Hawking and Cheryl Cole died tomorrow, the reporting of the latter that of the former, and yet Hawking is man whose incredible mind has shaped the thinking and research of his peers for decades and may continue to do so for decades to come. Cole on the other hand is the latest pretty pop star in a long line of manufactured celebrities with good looks, a great publicist, but a paucity of any real skill.

Who is there then that we can really look up to ? Can anyone suggest a few of the finest minds who can inspire us today ? Who are the people that we should aspire to be, the champions of the mind that we should exalt and glorify ? Answers in the comments please....
Book Review : Small Island - Andrea Levy 8*

Small Island follows the fortunes of two married couples in the Second World War and its immediate aftermath. In both relationships, the wives seem to have regarded their choice of husband as an escape from something worse rather than the promise of wedded bliss. Gilbert Joseph and his brand new wife in this so far unconsummated marriage are Jamaican, Gilbert signed on as an RAF volunteer during the war and has come to Britain expecting he will be welcomed by the grateful populace, nothing is further from the truth.

Bernard is the very epitome of the dull banker, and when he sings up his new wife Queenie is almost happy to see him leave their home, apart from the fact it leaves her saddled with Bernard's mute father Arthur, shell shocked since WW1.

Small Island traces the experiences of these four people through the war and afterwards, it explores a point in British history, from Windrush and beyond, where a new social and racial group began to try and live alongside the white population. There are numerous flash points and ugly scenes described by Levy, the overt and widespread levels of racism seem shocking to us now, yet you can easily draw similarities between the Windrush West Indians of the late 40's and the current influx of East Europeans and the ways in which they are treated.

Small Island is four deeply entwined personal journals, Levy lays bare the emotions of her cast as they come to terms with massive upheaval, personal tragedies and the harsh realities of a changing Britain. It manages to be charming and humorous and deeply disturbing at the same time, a great personal chronicle of a changing point in British history.

64 of 1001.

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Dust 514

This is a first person shooter game from CCP, the people who make Eve Online. This years update to Eve will be planet based industrial projects, along with a host of smaller bits and bobs, and then at some point CCP will be linking Eve and Dust 514, so perhaps you'll be able to jump out of your battleship and shoot some people up close and personal.

Over in the background, is that a Megathron ? Getting blown up over a planet's surface ? I don't like the looks of that (mutters the Megathron pilot).
Chu-Lip by Ai Otsuka (大塚愛)

Oookaaay, so what's going on here ? Giant lady parts, plump blokes air drumming in bubble bath, sychronised urinal dancing, gay Japanese emo guys. I am slightly freaked out by this, but she's still rather cute.
Book Review : The Bridge On The Drina - Ivo Andric 8*

Winner of the Nobel Prize for Literature, Andric's novel (which seems to be titled either 'bridge on' or 'bridge over', my copy is the latter) tells the story of the bridge at Visegrad, from its inception in 1566, the completion 5 years later, and then various tales of life around the bridge up to the First World War.

The bridge is intended as a unifying point for communications, trade and society by its builder, the Vizier who was separated from his mother at the Drina river crossing. As the story of the bridge progresses however we see that it is used as as a checkpoint, border crossing and even a place of execution, all uses that the Vizier would not have wished for.

Ivo Andric writes in a wonderfully poetic style, it is a dense work with little dialogue, but soon the reader becomes lulled to the pattern and flow of Andric's prose, it is like having the wise village elder telling carefully remembered tales around the camp fire. Visegrad is made up of people spilt along both secular and religious lines, but in Andric's writing they mostly manage to rub along together, a peasant farmer is a peasant farmer whether he is Christian, Muslim or Jew. Various outside influences in the bridge's history though bring the people living around the bridge into conflict.

Andric seems to present the bridge as a force for possible good, and also presents some of the tools of modernity, newspapers and university education to name two, as things which separate and divide people. This is not to say though that the author wears rose tinted spectacles when considering Serbo-Croat history, he presents the past in terms that are vivid, harsh, beautiful and cruel.

The Bridge Over The Drina is fictionalised history, his large cast of characters may never have existed, but they appear as real as if he had interviewed them for the novel. This is a great work with beautiful writing and a host of tales of everyday life made interesting and enthralling.
A Match Made In.....

...well not Heaven perhaps, only the depths of my own twisted imagination. It has been apparent to me for a while though that this couple are an almost ideal match.

Here is the wonderfully eccentric / raving mad Lady Ga Ga with a dead crow on her head.

And here is good old Mazza Manson, with a terrified cat not long destined for this world.

Now wouldn't it be lovely to get these two together ? Ga Ga is always complaining that she's too weird to have boyfriends, but surely no girl is too weird for the Prince of WTF himself.

Also, is it just my eyes, or has Mazza put that cat's limbs in a plaster cast ?

Our ten days on the Spanish island of Lanzarote were wonderful, the weather was dry and hot and sometimes windy. As you can see from the satellite photograph, the island is volcanic and it's colours are normally earth colours, black, brown, orange and reds predominate. Two weeks before we had arrived Lanzarote had experienced unusual rainstorms, and the island was carpeted in grasses and flowers, turning the normally dun mountain flanks into green fields.

Sadly, I managed to break my camera, so I have hardly any pictures of this trip. We had a great time though, we were pretty lazy on this holiday, having our own villa we were able to laze around our own pool and take life at a very relaxed pace.

We did have a few trips out and around the island, we went to the Lanzarote Aquarium which was fairly good, Guinate Tropical Park which was expensive and rubbish ("Oh look, it's another empty cage"), Playa Blanca and Teguise market. We had fancied going jet skiing, but the cost was prohibitive, so we went on a dune buggy trip instead, which was still rather expensive but was a great day out, can you guess who got told off for driving too slowly ?

Puerto Del Carmen is a bit cheesy, but I enjoy it, although the new cycle path and expanded pavements along the sea front have removed hundreds and hundreds of parking spaces in town, we found parking so difficult that it was easier to drive the 3 miles or so over to the marina for dinner. The marina has ample parking and the restaurants were not any more expensive.

I even managed a bit of hill walking. On a stiflingly hot day I wandered off into the hills North of Puerto del Carmen and slipped and scrambled my way up a nameless volcanic mound. I think if we come again I'll bring my boots and attempt one of the taller volcanoes, and get my camera fixed of course.

So now we're back to work, the clocks change tonight and we are hoping for a good and busy summer season so we can save up and go to the USA in October.
The Art of Zamak

You can see more of Zamak's art and contact the artist on his site Zamak!!!
If you wish to grow thinner, diminish your dinner,
And take light claret instead of pale ale;
Look down with an utter contempt upon butter,
And never touch bread till it's toasted or stale.

From Carols of Cockayne by Henry Sambrooke Leigh.

Abliguration - A prodigal spending on meat or drink, Samuel Johnson's Dictionary of the English Language 1755.

The Japanese have a word which is almost the opposite of abliguration, the work mottanai 'indicates a condemnation of waste and squandering, and an endorsement of thrift and frugality' - Tristram Stuart, Waste : Uncovering The Global Food Scandal.

The photo sows a sack of edible gold plated almonds, and may be found on the food blog Real Baking with Rose Levy Beranbaum.

Friday, March 26, 2010

Book Review : Nineteen Eighty-four - George Orwell 10*

This is almost perfect as a piece of writing, when any writer begins to pen a novel he must secretly wish that his work will be something that people will look up to and revere, that people will find important and eye opening, and 1984 is all of these things. Some few authors have also been gifted enough to pass on a word or phrase into the popular lexicon, Orwell managed a raft of additions from just this one novel, Doublethink, Newspeak, Unperson, 1984, Room 101, Big Brother, Thoughtcrime and of course the adjective Orwellian.

1984 examines the horror of totalitarian governments and oppressive regimes, it was published in 1949 and provides us with a valuable reminder of what the world had faced in the Second World War. It may be used as a glass through which we can examine the actions of current politicians, for what was Tony Blair's appearance at the Chilcot Inquiry if not a prime example of Newspeak, re-writing all that we previously thought was documented fact into a new and almost plausible version of the past.

1984 has influenced more things in culture and literature than perhaps any other novel, V For Vendetta, Watchmen, Fahrenheit 451, A Clockwork Orange, Logan's Run, Do Androids Dream Of Electric Sheep, A Scanner Darkly, The Children Of Men, Battle Royale, Jennifer Government, The City & The City, all these and a host of others build on ideas and plots created by Orwell.

1984 is the ultimate nightmare for the free thinker, where every idea of self must be subjugated to the greater good of the state, and where the state exists only to further propagate the state. It is a quite fabulous work, deeply unsettling because these societies are not figments of a brilliant authors imagination, but they have, do and will exist again.

"Freedom is the freedom to say that two plus two make four. If that is granted, all else follows."

"If you want a picture of the future, imagine a boot stamping on a human face -- for ever."

63 of 1001

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Book Review : The Last Of The Mohicans - J Fenimore Cooper 9*

Wow, taking into account that this novel was published in 1826 and that the author tends towards a very formal and verbose, The Last Of The Mohicans is non stop action almost from the opening words.

Like many people, I have seen the 1992 film before reading the book, and so I couldn't get the images of Daniel Day-Lewis as Hawkeye and Wes Studi as Magua out of my mind whilst I was reading it, so whether this enhanced my pleasure in reading the book I can't say. Cooper though, in the style of his era, provides a real action blockbuster of a book, with very little dallying he sets the plot in motion. The daughters of the British soldier Colonel Munro and being escorted by the, unknown to them at the this time, black hearted and vengeful Huron Indian Magua, they encounter the last two surviving Mohicans, Chingachgook and his son Uncas, with their white companion Hawkeye, who proceed to drive Magua away at gun point. Magua returns with his allies and the book becomes a narrative of the various flights and battles between the two sides.

Cooper set his Leatherstocking novels in the transitional period of American history as North America moved from being a group of colonies owned by the old European powers and towards self rule. He also spends some time in describing the relationships between white Europe and the red skinned Indian tribes. The character of Natty Bumpo/Hawkeye represents this transitional phase, he is not yet a fully fledged independence revolutionary, but despite answering in some token form to British rule he does not see himself a a total subject either, and of course he has thrown himself in, body and soul, with his Mohican companions.

Hawkeye's relationship with Chingachgook and Uncas is full of manly respect and love, homage paid to martial skills and deference towards the beliefs of others. There is more than an echo of this relationship in that of Tolkien's Frodo and Samwise.

Despite all the heavy meaningful stuff though is a rip roaring adventure yarn, barely a page goes by without violence and bloodshed, thrilling stand offs and battles both physical and verbal.

In writing the introduction to the novel, David Blair of the University of Kent humorously notes that the film adaptation which takes many liberties with the plot has been the downfall of some of his students..."many a credulous undergraduate who has though it less toilsome to watch the movie than to read the book." Which is a great shame, because TLOTM, like other great novels of a similar age such as Moby Dick, is a real treat to read.

63 of 1001.

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Yorkshiresoul Has...

...gone to sit in the sun, eat paella and read books for 10 days or so, see you all when I get back.

Friday, March 12, 2010

Academy Award Winning Movie Trailer

From The First Second... know this isn't going to end well, but it still made me laugh.

John Nolan Animatronics, a promo film for an animatronics lab.
It was a close shave - it was a total wreck.

Thanks to Jason for finding this bizarre bit of news.
A Stone

A stone that weighs a stone, which is the amount of weight I have lost since starting the new diet/exercise/try not to die from a heart attack plan. On Sunday however I am going on holiday, and I do not plan to stick so closely to the plan as I have for the past month, but also, I am going to try and eat more sensibly than I have done previously on holiday and do some more exercise.

The photograph is by artist Daniel Eatock, his website has details of his numerous projects, some of which you can get involved in.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Corey Haim is Dead

And yet Pete Doherty still lives, there is no justice.
Taberinos, a little ball and line game to while some time away.

Seen at Gromblog
I Want To Know : Who Are You ?

Cousin Kirsten sent me this meme quiz over on Facebook, but you have to select answers from a limited multi-choice so I'll answer here instead.

1) You go to the doctor and all the seats in the waiting room are taken...I'll just prop myself against the wall and read for a while, I will have arrived early for my appointment as I can't stand being late, and I will have brought a book so won't have to rely on the pile of dog-eared Women's Weekly.

2) Some guy rear ends you at a stop light...I don't think I'd be angry, I wasn't even angry when I got side swiped a couple of years ago and my car was a write off. I'd just exchange details, get some witness details if possible and wait for the insurance to sort it out.

3) You go to a concert hoping to get cheap last minute tickets, but they're all sold out...I managed this last year when I foolishly thought that Bellowhead were far less popular than I imagined, and they sold out St.Georges Hall, Bradford, back home, Eve night and some whisky then.

4) Your best friend marries the person you've loved since high school...That would be awful wouldn't it, not just to love someone and not have it reciprocated, but to have them give their heart to somebody else, that would be quite devastating. At my current age, I think I'd be alright about it, as a younger man, perhaps I'd have handled it less well.

5) If you could be anything you wanted to be...A heavy metal star obviously, I have often imagined myself walking out onto the stage, striking a pose and then launching into some furious shredding, and indeed the only thing that has stopped me from pursuing a musical career is and utter and complete lack of any musical talent whatsoever. (This does not appear to have hampered the career of Jedward however.)

There you go Kirsten.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Yorkshiresoul's Rambling Quiz Series 7.4 Answers & League

The fruit round.

1) What bells could owe me the sum of five farthings ? (1)

The bells of St. Martins

2) Which series are these stills from ? (1)

Oranges Are Not The Only Fruit

3)What was the code name for the defoliant used widely by US forces during the Vietnam War ? (1)

Agent Orange

4) What fruit will grow from these flowers ? (1)


5) What is the most common form of tumour in infants and young children ? (1)

Strawberry birthmark, naevus or hemangioma

6) What is this ? (1)

A Lotus Fruit (or Tony C's bum ?)

7) Following the week's theme, what is the area between Leeds, Bradford and Wakefield known as ? (1)

The Rhubarb Triangle, this area used to hold hundreds of forcing sheds where rhubarb was grown in darkness. In more recent times the popularity of rhubarb has waned and there are only a handful of farms left. There is hope though, rhubarb from the triangle has gained Protected Designation of Origin status from the EU which may help to provide funding and advertising.

8) What was the nickname applied to British sailors and referred to a preventative medical measure ? (1)

They were called Limeys after the Navy practise of issuing lime juice to sailors.

9) What fruit is banned from much public transport and many hotels in Asia ? (1)

Durian, which even afficianados sometimes eat in front of a fan to keep the heady powerfully cheesy fumes from reaching them.

10) Who is this ? (1)

The Cranberries.

Week 4 Scores

Eleanor 10
Mr Moosehead 10
Dave P 9
Tony G 6

Quiz 7 Leaders

Dave Podmore 32
Mr Moosehead 29
Tony Gott 22
Eleanor 18
Lyle 2

I will try to set another round before I go on holiday on Saturday.

I like converging lines, looking up the inside of the mast at Braham Crags. The sign clearly said 'Danger Of Death', yet here I am to tell the tale.

Logs in the lumber yard at Summerbridge.
I Wish I Could Mend The World

But I can't. Some of my friends are going through difficult times at the moment for different reasons, and although I would do anything I could to make things right for them, it just isn't within my limited powers, nevertheless, you are all in my thoughts and prayers, and if there is anything I can do, I'm here.

One friend has recently written to many of his friends to say that he is having tremendous difficulty in coping with, well, everyday life really. It takes real bravery to lay your problems out in public, but I really believe if you can admit to people the troubles and turmoil that afflict you, then you have already taken a big step towards getting well again.

To all my friends then, those that are troubled and those that are well and happy, here is a picture of a kitten, it isn't much, but I hope it brings a smile.

New Device Vids

Tuesday, March 09, 2010

Album Review : Takin' Over - New Device 8*

For fans of : Aerosmith, AC/DC, Nickleback, Creed, Daughtry

Brighton's New Device are signed to Powerage Records, the newish record company from Classic Rock magazine, as you might expect, all their bands straddle the classic rock/metal genre, but the roster has a wide variety of styles. The current Powerage line up is Bigelf, Electric Mary, Endeverafter, Hell City Glamours, Lethargy, Pearl, Pride Tiger, Viking Skull and New Device.

New Device released Takin' Over towards the end of 2009 and as debut albums go, it's a real gem, packed with sharp guitars, fast riffs, catchy hooks and big choruses. New Device make no bones about their style of music, they see themselves as stadium rockers and have out to produce, and have achieved, an album full of populist hard rock that should have a broad appeal.

There are some front men for whom every gig is a sell out at Wembley, it doesn't matter that they are performing to a hundred people in a small pub in North Wales, some front men you could just pluck from the tiny stage and drop them them in front of a hundred thousand people and they would be just as good, doing just the same thing. Many years ago I saw Terrorvision (then Spoilt Bratz) and Tony Wright made me think "that man has star quality." Well I saw New Device on a tiny stage last year and singer Daniel Leigh gave me the same buzz, he has the attitude and style for bigger things.

Leigh is more than ably supported by a tight and exciting band, as they tear through great song after great song, On Fire, Make My Day, Never Say Never and the most obvious stadium crowd pleasing sing-a-long title track Takin' Over you get the feeling that New Device have a familiar quality to them. New Device has taken a number of hard rock influences and have brought from them their own sound, a crisp and clean hard rock with clear vocals, proper guitar solos and well structured songs.

Great debut album, New Device deserve to do well, there is an awful lot to like here.

Sunday, March 07, 2010

Harrogate Headache

Postcard picture from Postcards Then And Now

A headache said to be caused by the hydrogen sulphide fumes rising from the old sulphur well in Harrogate. Locals nicknamed the well Stinking Spaw, but it helped to bring Harrogate to national popularity when the doctor Timothy Bright made claims about the healing properties of the well water.
What Happened In The Year You Were Born ?

What Happened In My Birth Year ?
Free Music from Heavy Sugar Radio

I just came across this site on the blogger 'next blog' button, this looks to be free downloads of classic/rare 60's/70's rock and prog. I havn't downloaded anything yet, also I'm not sure of the legality.

Heavy Sugar Radio
On This Day...

In 1987, gifted Indian batsman Sunil Gavaskar became the first batsman in cricket history to make 10,000 runs in Test cricket in a match against Pakistan. Gavaskar opened the Indian batting and scored 63 in a slow game during which much of one day's play was lost when play was halted after spectators in the Ahmedabad crowd pelted the Pakistani fielders with stones. When Pakistan's captain, Imran Khan, eventually led his team back onto the pitch, many of the fielders had taken to wearing helmets to guard against missiles from the crowd.

Gavaskar played in 125 Test Matches and finished with a career average of 51. Although a player with natural flair, he concentrated on his defensive qualities and made his wicket the one that bowling teams prized most.

Saturday, March 06, 2010

D&D Goes For The Adult Market

I want to battle with orcs, not fiddle with norks

(Find and tag line from Reech on b3ta)
Man In The Mirror ?

Album Review - Bellowhead presents Umbrellowhead 6*

This is not a Bellowhead album proper, but rather a roping together of 14 of the other musical projects that the members of Bellowhead are involved in. As a compilation album, it is variable in both style and quality.

At the better end of the scale you have Benji Kirkpatrick performing Wallbreaker (from his Boomerang solo album), a nice tune and decent vocals from the band's guitar/mandolin/banjo/bouzouki player, but Kirkpatrick is also one third of folk trio Faustus and their track on the Umbrellowhead album, The New Deserter, is a bit of a dirge.

Spiers & Boden contribute the opening track from their Vagabond album, and typically of the pair it is a strong folk song, jaunty and doleful in equal measure, Boden appears again with the solo number Beating The Bounds, along with Wallbreaker the best tracks on the album, and Rachel McShane offers The Fisherman from her solo LP No Man's Fool, another good song.

On the less good side though is Maronouchi by the Farmyard Animals Trio, a downbeat tot he point of being funeral modern experimental jazz effort, and Master Kilby by Pete Flood. I am sorry to rubbish two of Flood's contributions because as Bellowheads' drummer he is quite simply one of the best and most inventive percussionists I have seen, and with the almost indescribable Sutsuban Bean Unit he displays his talents to much better effect. SBU are, apparently, Japanese traditional space funk, I don't know what that is, but their track Gujo Ondo has a madcap, smile inducing insanity to it.

The album closes with the Choir of Christ Church Cathedral Dublin singing the achingly beautiful Psalm 143.

A real mix of styles and sounds, across and beyond the folk genre, this album is not a good introduction to Bellowhead as a group, but as a sampling of the individual talents making up the whole it is an interesting compilation.
Album Review : The Singletons - The Singletons 6*

For Fans Of : The Jam, The Beatles, The Who

The Singletons hail from Barcelona and play very stripped down retro rock and roll, this is 70's pop rock with almost no attempt at modernity, but it isn't a bad album for that. Some of the songs do suffer from a lack of really good writing, musically the band are fine, and the singer's vocals are ok (he sings in slightly oddly accented English), some of the backing vocals could have been more sustained for a fuller sound but it isn't awful by any means.

British rock influences abound, You Want To Make Me Down has a burst of The Shadows guitar in it and there are definite hints of The Beatles in both guitar styles and song structures. Some do not work, the dirge like balled Somebody that closes the album is a weak track, you can hear what the band were trying to achieve with the added strong section but it does fall flat. Other track though are much better, and the quirky and bouncy Lady Clorofile, probably the most obviously (early) Beatles influenced track on the album is great, two and bit minutes of perky pop rock.

Overall, this isn't a stunning album, but as you can download it for free from Jamendo, you can play it first and then decide if you want to pay for it, it's worth spending a couple of quid on that basis.
How Natural Selection Works...

A quick series of photographs taken somewhere in the the UK during the recent cold weather that perfectly demonstrate Darwin's theories of surivival of the fittest and natural selection.

(On Fishki so may be some NSFW ads)

Friday, March 05, 2010

Roots From The Yard

Just a quick plug for a free music blog. Roots From The Yard provides zip files of rare and long out of pressing vinyl roots reggae along with reviews, bios and links to the artists current site if applicable. I have just downloaded the pictured single, great early 70's reggae with a nice rhythm.
England Build Massive Total In Second Test

Good afternoon, and welcome to the 2nd Ashes Test at Lords, your commentary team this afternoon are Jonathan Agnew, Shane Warne, Sir Ian Botham, Ian Bishop and Tony Greig, over to you Aggers....

"Well what an exciting day this has been, after all the speed and chaos of the Cardiff test when twenty two wickets fell on the first day we thought things might settle down and we might have a fairly normal test here at Lords, but from the off that was not to be.

England got off to a bad start when a poorly timed run resulted in Mitchell Johnson dismissing England Captain Andrew Strauss without a run on the board. Kevin Pieterson again failed with the bat, he's having a terrible Ashes so far, and then Andrew Flintoff was back in the after looking very uncomfortable and struggling to 11 runs.

England were now on 30-3 and looking in deep trouble when Ravi Bopara came to the crease, Bopara has been promoted to the side ahead of Ian Bell and had a fairly anonymous first test, scoring only a handful of runs and taking just the one wicket. Today at the home of cricket though, Bopara played a masterful innings, taking only a few balls to settle himself he began hammering the Australian attack with a series of flowing and cleverly paced strokes.

Brett Lee and Mitchell Johnson took the brunt of the assault as England raced to 300-4 at lunch, opening bat Alistair Cook falling just after reaching his century. Bopara played on for big ton, 158 before skying one off Lee and being caught by Ponting. Continuing the aggressive England batting, Paul Collingwood made the Australian pace bowlers look tame, and a last wicket stand of 64 with Collingwood smashing 6's out of the ground brought his personal total to 117 and England to a huge 524.

Here we are now at the start of the Australian innings, James Anderson is running up, be bangs one in...bowled him, stumps all over the place, Ricky Ponting can hardly believe it he didn't see that one at all and the England team are ecstatic."

Game Review : Wii Ashes Cricket 2009 8*

For the cricket fan, this is a great Wii game, you can play single tests, exhibition matches, short games or the whole 2009 Ashes series, which, with all the between ball animations and commentary lasts about as long as the actual event.

The game play is easy to understand, but the timing is quite hard to master when playing at at the harder levels. When batting you can select to play each shot defensively, normally or as an aggressive attack, it is the same with the bowling where you can try to bowl a faster or slower than normal ball, and you twist the Wii remote to apply spin.

The commentary is enjoyable for a while, but there are only a set number of stock phrases each character has and by the time you have heard Ian Bishop say "Smashing shot, I'd pay just to come and see that" for the hundredth time it gets a little grating. The first time you play you will probably watch all the animations, Flintoff wiping the sweat from his brow on the ball, the batsmen doing a little gardening, Brett Lee examining the seam, but you can skip these with the A button for faster game play.

A very absorbing game, and one that requires quite a bit of concentration, I have played a few cricket games on the PC, but the Wii version knocks them for 6.

Thursday, March 04, 2010


An East Riding phrase to describe a lad who does odd jobs on a farm - The Yorkshire Dictionary by Arnold Kellett.

The photo is called, deep breath..."Rows of cows rumps with fat cheeked family of six milking them in a neat cow barn" by German American photographer Alfred Eisenstaedt.
On This Day...

In 1824, the National Institution for the Preservation of Life from Shipwreck was founded at a meeting in The Tavern Inn, Bishopsgate Street, London. Sir William Hillary, had at first struggled to get his plans for a lifeboat service accepted, but with the help of some influential friends he got the Admiralty to accept his idea.

Hillary was a strange character, he squandered his rich wife's fortune on a private army, reputed to be Britain's largest, to help in the wars against Napoleon. He spent much of his life in debt and it is said that after he died his body was exhumed and sold to dissectors by his creditors. He was a brave man though, and at the age of 60 he helped to man a lifeboat when the ship St. George foundered close to Douglas Harbour, Isle of Man, he was washed overboard during the rescue but survived along with the whole crew of the wrecked ship.

The photograph is of the boat shed doors at Burnham-on-Sea, you can read a history of their lifeboat here.

The RNLI is still a voluntary organisation, funded by charitable donations
Stone Pattern at Brimham Rocks

Wednesday, March 03, 2010

England Football - Bloody Shambles

Wayne Bridge refuses to shake John Terry's hand because Terry has had an affair with Bridge's ex-girlfriend, I don't suppose Bridge is going to be doing a right lot of handshaking in his football career because according to the tabloid press, half the Premiership seems to have had a dalliance with his ex who appears to 'collect' footballers like Kiss legend Gene Simmons used to 'collect' groupies.

There are two things that make me quite angry and upset about this whole sorry saga, the attitude of an England footballer towards what should be the pinnacle of his career, and the obsession the British public has with the private lives of well known people.

How on earth can Wayne Bridge even think of refusing to join the England team for the World Cup ? Surely you play football to win, to play at your best, to play for the national side is what every schoolboy dreams of. Is this linked with the astonishing wages footballers are now paid, I imagine to some degree it is. When I was a boy growing up in the 70's, footballers were not the multi-millionaires they are today and it is quite obvious from the amount of loyalty that players now show towards club and country that the biggest achievement in football is not pulling on the England shirt, instead it is signing a new contract for a bigger wage and better image rights.

I would have had much more respect for Wayne Bridge had he shaken John Terry's hand, that would have been the mark of a man who, despite being wronged, was determined to rise above this dismal fracas and show himself to be morally superior to Terry. The snub he gave though was pointless, it may give him some fleeting satisfaction when he sees it on the television replay, but in the long run it won't do anything to settle the hurt he feels or imagines. The snub he has delivered to the England team and the England fans though is unforgivable, if you are selected for the national side at any sport you should be proud and honoured. Were I in charge of English football, I would hand Bridge a lifetime ban from the national side.

Of course, much of this dreary and disheartening affair could have been avoided if not for the insatiable appetite of the British public for the sordid details of the private lives of the rich and famous. I ask you, what is missing in your own life that you want to wallow so deeply in the misery of others ? This petty minded and fetishistic fascination with the love lives of others demeans us all. A huge industry has grown up in the UK based on bitter tittle-tattle, rumour mongering and the bringing down of well known people. The tabloid press thrives on it, on the magazine stands there are numerous magazines dedicated to either building the public image image of famous people or knocking them down again.

We don't actually like people to do well in this country do we ? You can do fairly well, achieve a moderate level of fame and recognition and then everyone likes you, but if you get your head too far above the parapet, if you aim too high and achieve your goals then you will incur the wrath of the jealous and small minded British public who like nothing more than to see someone dragged back down to their own level. What level is that ? Are we so morally superior to the famous who we seek to destroy ? No, of course we are not. We, the great British public, we get pissed and fight in nightclubs, we have affairs and one night stands, we are one and the same with the people we both love and loathe.

We do posses something in large amounts though, and that is absolutely shameless hypocrisy.

Tuesday, March 02, 2010

The Bacon Rocket

This should be a win for YS readers, food and explosives in one package !

Recently I was asked to play in a golf tournament.

At first I said, 'No thanks'

Then they said to me 'Come on, it's for handicapped and blind kids.'

Then I thought...'Hell - I could win this!'

(thanks to Bill Steel for this one)
A Mediterranean Dinner

Toasted bread with tapenades
Chicken, celery and pea risotto
Fishcakes with tomato chilli sauce
Peppers stuffed with cous-cous
Warm broad bean, tomato and feta salad
Rocket salad

Plum filo tarts with yogurt

Crusty bread. I made some black olive and sun blush tomato tapenades to spread on the bread and serve hot.

Fishcake mix.

The fishcakes shaped and ready for poaching, these were served with a tomato and chilli sauce.

Baked red peppers with cous-cous filling.

Mrs YS shelling broad beans for the bean, tomato and feta salad.

Ingredients all ready for cooking, we made chicken, celery and pea risotto as well. As per usual I made far too much food even for the 10 of us and we ate leftovers for half the week.

Filo pastry plum tarts ready for cooking.