Tuesday, April 30, 2013

new hat

hello there

well, i am sure the frequent visitors this site would simply love to read more on my thoughts, feelings and musings around digital downloads. i have, however, decided to refrain from such musings for now. instead, here, thanks to the magic of blueberry camera phone thingies, here's a picture of me and the boys showing off my spiffing new hat, bought for your humble narrator with much love by his dear friend Ronel and her beautiful family.

it is king of hats! what can i say Ronel, but thank you very much, and i promise to wear it on winter trips to Nando's. actually, probably summer ones too, but that is another story for another time.

oddly i have a stack of ace pictures to post here, and i suspect one or two may have clicked to see them. sorry, but i am all a bit tired and emotional at the moment. one day soon they will appear here, with some stories to tell, i promise.

in the mean time, as ever,

be excellent to each other!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Monday, April 29, 2013

Know Your Enemy, or if you will, Morrissey sans Marr could give choice.....

hi there

what a lovely subject to have come along after my last post. whereas the "old" style record industry refuses to accept money worldwide for these "digital download" forms of music, as i commented, some artists with a degree of control have happily been selling worldwide for quite some time now. how about a major artist, followed if not worshipped worldwide, goes this route entire, taking funding from fans buying the album in advance to create the album?

this is the idea of a someone or something called Amanda 'f******' Palmer, directed at no less a person that Morrissey.

first off, just who or what is an Amanda Palmer, exactly? some quick research reminded me of her Oasis nonsense, as well as one or two other things. bascially she has an incredible desire for self-promotion at seemingly any cost, but just doesn't have the success of a, say, Courtney love.

her latest shot at this is a seemingly "this will do" article for a website thingie in which she suggests she can help Morrissey crowdsource an album. do click that last bit, read, admire how Ms Palmer looks in the below picture, then if you wish carry on with this post.

read that article? good. see what i mean about the self-promotion thing? for the most part, yes, you have wasted your time reading her article, as it is all "me, me, a bit more me and me". her proud boast of her Twitter following suggests that she is unaware that about 60% of anyone's following is computer generated advertisting stuff. nonetheless, even if her following number are all real, her calculation that Morrissey "would get 500,000 orders" on the basis that 1,400 suggested they might give $5 towards a new album speaks volumes of her analysis skills and indicates why she is perhaps still on a self-promotion quest and not just a success yet.

let's put aside the farcical idea that Morrissey would need an Amanda Palmer to do this. let us also put aside the ludicrous claim of how "You’d also be the first artist of your fame and caliber to undertake a project of this kind with your fanbase, which would make it historic", for other have done this before. let's instead consider what would happen if Morrissey did this.

Morrissey seems to be in a not at all unusual for him difficult spot. the usual rants and ravings from him seem, or at least have been reported as being, to be getting more extreme. a knock on effect, with his public image being somewhat low, is that no record label wishes to take him on at present. so he says, at least - we don't know what demands he is making of the labels not offering him a deal.

despite that, there are indeed many of us all around the world that do, will and always shall love the music that Morrissey makes. of course we would want more. perhaps even the 500,000 that Ms Palmer speaks of, maybe even more. would i throw $5, $10 at Morrissey for a few new tracks? without thinking, oh yes indeed i would.

the trick is, would Morrissey want to do it? Morrissey does what Morrissey wants, and as far as anyone can tell, Mr Morrissey is very much not interested in this digital download nonsense. despite the record industry seeming to turn his back on them, it is to them, and their business model of conventional, physical releases, that he wishes to stay true to. he wants you to hold his works of art, not shove them on an iTwat.

i, as you are aware, agree with the Morrissey philosophy. digital downloads are a necessary evil in the music world. one can only hope the world falls in love with artwork, having a collection and the sheer joy of uncompressed, properly recorded music once again. at the moment, though, things are swinging the way of "who cares if the music is compressed and limited, look how much of it i can fit on this memory stick or iTwat device?".

say Morrissey relented and did this. he may well sell around the 500,000 copies speculated by this Ms Palmer thing, he may sell 100,000 more or less. at the Palmer price that is $2,500,000 Morrissey makes, less the album production costs and less tax, although if Morrissey has decided to go digital i am sure he can decide to go "hi Bono, Moz here, what's that place you bank your cash" too. then what? it would most certainly not be "historic", although it might be what they call a "game changer", only changing the game for the worse.

Morrissey could sell 500,000 copies of anything because, Ms Palmer and anyone else wondering, he is f****** Morrissey. simple. anyone who is not Morrissey, or of a similar established nature, will not be able to replicate this trick on the internet. it will just make it far, far tougher for them to get out there and get heard.

The Smiths, on an independent label, managed to break considerable ground in being as successful as they were with minimal chance of exposure. it took landmark, era-defining performances on shows like The Tube and Top Of The Pops, coverage in music newspapers and fans talking to each other and suggesting them down at the record shop on a Saturday morning to get them success. all of those, depending on what exactly you think of the NME these days, have gone.

someone like Morrissey successfully releasing his own album, internet only, really would be the start of the end for the big record labels, and end they have seemingly wished upon themselves since tapes arrived in the late 70s. if he so much as threatened to do it, watch a label all of a sudden meet his terms for a physical release.

ah, but, you say, the Artic Monkeys proved that bands can find an audience and success on the internet alone. complete and utter bullshit. sadly that story is bullshit. yes, the Monkeys found an audience off that prototype facebook thing, MySpace. MySpace happens to be owned by someone called News International. they thus punted the hell out of the band in the hope of attracting people to their web service, going as far as having Gordon Brown (yes, that Gordon Brown) comment on how much he liked the band in an interview with The Sun.

whereas Morrissey could not either destroy or revolutionise the record industry with such a move, oddly there was one chap this year that could have done it overnight, if he was of a mind to have done so.

yes, him. imagine if David Bowie had decided that The Next Day would be available to buy only as a download from his website? you would have had everyone, all the existing record labels and all those who sell digital downloads selectively to parts of the world, shitting it.

on the one side, it's rather strange that he didn't. over ten years ago, long before an iTwat was a "must have" product, Bowie spoke of how eventually music would "stream across the internet like water". he is a techno geek too and, let us not forget, he is an astute businessman. it's that last part which is telling.

having someone else, for instance Sony, cover all your costs, production and marketing, is a nice thing to have. it stops you having to go out and work or promote. whilst he doesn't mind the income from digital downloads, you would think that Bowie would be horrified at the thought of his music not being released in an uncompressed, proper format like a CD or LP, much like Morrissey.

well done, then, Ms Palmer, on making yourself a little bit of a sensation with your entirely random article, but if i were you i would not be expecting a call from Morrissey's people any time soon. if you approach a more motivated by money in a brazen way artist, say Noel Gallagher, you may well get some success.

be excellent to each other!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Sunday, April 28, 2013

digital sales - stupid is as stupid does

hi there

it is a given that traditional, big business tends not to understand the internet. most industries that can benefit from the internet also tend to be too stubborn to adapt to it.

the classic example, of course, is the music industry. years of crying about how "illegal downloads" are killing the industry has seen the industry survive, but not flourish as it could because as a general rule they won't let you buy download tracks from other countries.

this is purely the record labels being stupid. when an artist has control over their music - as is the case with Metallica, The Rolling Stones and indeed the excellent Ed Kowalczyk (formerly of Live) - they have no problem with you, the fan and the consumer, buying their downloads wherever you are in the world. sign up to the likes of EMI or those perennial shitbags Sony, however, and your fans outside of the UK and US cannot purchase downloads from the likes of amazon and what have you. as the labels themselves block the sale, they refused the income and thus cannot cry about a "loss" when a fan is unable to throw money at them, instead having to either just not hear the music or resort to a less-than-official, considerably cheaper download. 

there is no doubt a whole load of red tape and "regional rights" nonsense about why they can't sell downloads as worldwide as the internet is, all of which is made to look stupid by the fact that if i click on amazon now i can order the CD of an album and have it sent to me but not the download of it.

it's interesting to see another industry has apparently learned not one thing from this scenario. have a look at the below. it's an advert i received in the email tempting me to purchase the new Dan Brown novel digitally.

for all the faults in his literature ("time froze for a second" indeed) there's no denying that his books are very, very good entertainment and a most delightful read. i am of course interested in his new book, then, as are millions of others, and so, armed with a fleet (well, 2) of ereader things, i clicked on the link.

can you guess what happened when i clicked on the link? yes, i think you can......

true genius, that. Inferno, whether it be any good or a load of tosh, is likely to be the biggest selling novel of the year. it's going to be a high demand title, so as one can theoretically never run out of stock of a digital title i find it fascinating that they are refusing to sell it around the world.

just what is it, i wonder, they think people with these ereader things will do? simply not read it? spend a fortune on shipping the hardback and wait a few weeks? download it free from an unofficial source on the internet? the latter seems more plausible and that's the problem.

whereas Dan Brown and the publisher already have lots of money, and thus can probably afford to miss out on income (note not lose, for refusing money has been their choice), other writers and publishers cannot. encouraging people in this way to seek out a free copy rather than pay for it, and i do believe most would prefer to pay the artists, has the knock on effect of sending people off to do this all the time, so keen is the industry in question to block potential sales. they will cry that illegal downloads are killing the industry again, and yet they are the ones who will not sell their products!

people will continue to write books and have the read, just as people will still make music and it will be heard. it could all be a lot more profitable for the creators, however, if some common sense was introduced by the businesses that release them. whatever reasons or excuses come up in regards of why some won't sell digital releases internationally are ones that would be worth working around.

be excellent to each other!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Saturday, April 27, 2013

inevitable, hard to swallow Suarez joke....

hi there

well, with Suarez banned for 10 (ten) games, and in all likelihood going off to join Borussia Munchonleftback (that joke copyright Jonathan Granville), who would have thought that Liverpool would have so much bite up front?

i know, i know, *groan* away, but it had to be done.as a Boro fan with some very, very good friends from the fine city of Sunderland (hey there g-man), all i can say to Liverpool is thank you very, very much indeed for this one.

be excellent to each other!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

marathon / metal

hi there

just a quick hello! to some friends that have not been mentioned here of late, since they have posted some interesting pictures up on that book of faces web thingie.

first off, big it up for Mr Norman Bastard as he gets ready to rock in a marathon. in Madrid, no less!

when we were at school Norman had a look of Richard Gere about him, it is class to see as the years go by he's looking a good deal like the legendary Paul Rutherford these days!

Norman has really been giving it loads in the direction of this long distance running business. he seems to breeze through distances which i would probably be exhausted just driving. good luck with it mate, we will be cheering you on from this side of the equator!

speaking of those about to rock, Jason is off at Soccer City (and no i do not care what its "proper name" is, it is to all of us Soccer City) this evening to see that little-known pop combo that is Metallica. for such a little known band, there's one hell of a crowd in!

nice one mate! Sinbad, known also of course as "that twat Sinbad", is there too, and hopefully he's in the VIP section ready to meet Lars. he was supposed to the last time they were here but there was some sort of cock up.

as for my exciting plans for the weekend, well, mostly they revolve around posting these pics!

be excellent to each other!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Thursday, April 25, 2013


hi there

let's start off with an unusual sort of ** WARNING ** shall we? the following contains accurate accounts of people of differing origins, cultures and colours who are quite comfortable with who they are more than what they are being in their minds. none of the below carried any malice, judgement or prejudice. not everyone in the world is like that, and can indeed be sensitive or uncomfortable with what we consider perfectly normal conversations to pass the day. i respect that, and thus ask you to respect the option of right now ceasing to read this post if you think it will upset your day.

right, are we all cool now? good.....

today was one of those days that i shall long treasure and remember with a smile and a laugh. many, many ace things happened, all of which shall be documented in good time. in the mean time, though, there's the business of my class new jacket, delivered courtesy of a perennial favourite of readers of this blog, the most excellent chap they call Zama.

Zama frequently wears a most excellent jacket to verk. i mean really excellent. i asked him if the place where he got it carried the same style of jacket in what can only be described as "big bastard" size. he said he would see what he could arrange, and what he could arrange is the jacket you see me wearing here as i stand with Zama!

where is it, you may be asking, that Zama obtains such class jackets? this, dear reader, is not a question that has a straightforward answer. as far as i can ascertain from the somewhat coded way in which he answers such questions it seems that they are purchased from an entrepreneurial gent of no fixed business premises in the traditional sense, but can be found in and around the back of taxi and bus ranks in downtown Hillbrow.

Hillbrow is not a natural stopping off point for me for any sort of shopping, to be honest, but Zama seems to know the lay of the land rather well. anyway, the jacket itself purports to be of the Levi's brand. or so the label says.

Zama assures me that it is "legit", despite small things like the "made in Bangladesh" label, the Levi's red tag being frequently upside down around the jacket and the fact that the chap behind the taxi rank sells them for R150, which translates as £10.70p or about US$16.30. yep, OK, Zama's word is good enough for me on that front. 
there is now something of a widely held view at verk that as i am now the owner of a jacket purchased in downtown Hillbrow i am, some might say at last, officially black when i wear it. far be it from me to question the veracity of the biology of such a view, but all the same it has seen Jayson, my dear friend, colleague and most trusted chief mechanic, make a special badge for me when i am wearing the jacket.

don't say you were not warned earlier on in this post, by the way.

Trigger, my personal photographer, was battling a little bit with the bizarre number of flash options my shiny new Canon camera has. to this end, Jayson was most concerned that the special new badge i have for my jacket might not come across as clear as it should in the pictures. Jayson doesn't have problems in this world, only solutions. thus, the below sign was created to make certain that all knew of the magical power of this jacket.

nice one Jay, much obliged! and bloody hell, i really am massive compared to most others at verk honestly as i wander around it always feels like i am pretty much the same height as everyone else. must be one of them subconscious thingies.

let me try and get on to possibly more offensive things for your pleasure. here is your humble narrator and Zama prepping for some more of the art of photography by Trigger.

you may well observe something of a sense of despair about young Zama in the above picture. it looks like i am busy doing one of them blueberry message thingies, and that's possibly the cause of Zama's despair. i am no doubt using English in the message i am tapping, when Zama has gone to great lengths to teach me Zulu. or rather, Zama has gone to great lengths to teach me the Zulu language according to Zama.

Zama's view of Zulu is that one simply sticks the letter "e" in front of whatever word you want to say in Zulu and there you go. so you get eComputer to refer to a computer, eJacket to refer to a jacket and so forth. quite straightforward, and it works fine for me.

it does not, however, work at all for my dear friend Khanyisile, pictured here.

Khanyisile is passionate in her defence of the Zulu language, if one accepts "passionate" as "violent". she describes, being polite, Zama's approach to the Zulu language as "nonsense". when she catches him trying to teach me the "e" trick to Zulu, she beats him senseless with a ruler and reminds me of what the Zulus did to the British, advising me further to go and get a red coat and try again if i want to continue with that rubbish. i tend to rather not go and fetch a red coat.

this whole episode today reminded me of one of my favourite ever exchanges with Zama. we were discussing something or other, and when i asked for clarification, he simply said "you know how it is in the 'hood, Mr Ricketts". after a pause, i said "no, Zama, actually i don't". we then discussed how whereas my life was all white picket fences surrounding perfectly cut lawns, with cream tea being taken on an afternoon, Zama's was a world of crack whores, crystal meths and drive-by shootings.

both of us tend to consider each other's realms considerably more exciting and interesting than our own. we really should do one of them "life swap" things for a week or so. i suspect Zama will tire of scones with cream and jam on them long before i get bored of his downtown shenanigans, but you never know.

anyway, here's a last pic, for now, of me trying to look hip and down with the stuff that the kids are down with. although i should stress that neither looked in any way interested when i told them that something called a JLS had split up.

i believe, thanks to the jacket, i do not look as out of place in the above picture as i would if i did not have it on.

Trigger, when not wrestling with the numerous flash settings, took a quite frankly obscene number of pictures today. it would, on the whole, be rather inappropriate to share a number of them with you right now, but soon i promise they will be here.

thank you for reading and, presumably, not taking too much offence.

be excellent to each other!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Tuesday, April 23, 2013


hi there

OK, yes. i agree. this 20-20 / Twenty-20 or however you write it is not "proper cricket". the format, however, is huge fun for crowds and indeed the players seem to really rather enjoy letting loose a bit with the game. it might not be the genuine article in the realm of cricket, then, but it is fun and enjoyable all the same. the IPL puts the emphasis on fun, and allows players to earn a silly sized pile of money. no bad thing at all, really, barring the Kevin Pietersen debacle of course.

today seems to have seen something truly spectacular in the IPL. i didn't see it as it was the early game, but i have seen the stats. and now, with great thanks indeed to Sky Sports, you can see the stats.

behold the figures of Mr Chris Gayle.

blimey! carrying your bat in any innings is spectacular, let alone the 20-20 version of the game in which wickets, to borrow from our Aussie friends, really do tend to drop like flies. to put those kind of runs up is quite another matter. 175 off 66 balls!

as for where all them runs came from, well, here's the bowling card. not pleasant reading at all except for 2 of the bowlers (Kumar and Wright), although in fairness Dinda took two wickets when not throwing runs at the batsmen.

Pune Warriors didn't quite have anyone in a mood to belt with the business end of a bat like Mr Gayle did. they scored 133 in total, which i think you will find is, Douglas Adams fans take note, 42 less than Mr Gayle hit all by himself.

remarkable stuff! one can only wonder what kind of scores would have been possible if a fellow West Indian of Mr Gayle, a certain Mr B Lara, had ever been tempted to join the IPL......

be excellent to each other!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Monday, April 22, 2013


hello there

you know that thing that happens when you want to write something, something that you want to be one of, if not the, best things you have ever written, you due to the circumstances you really wish that you weren't writing it? welcome to that post. i have no clue how this one will go or how it will turn out, but i'm putting it here and out there. if you've stumbled upon this via a search after wondering "whatever happened to", all i can say is i am so very sorry for what you have found but all the same hope these words have some resonance with you.

how to write this in a way that's not coming over as callous or flippant, and yet is neither the mournful or morose thing she certainly would not wish for? here goes.

two weeks ago today, two ladies of exceptional importance to the world passed away. the passing of one seems to have caused a rather mixed bag of sadness and celebrations, followed by a State funeral that "wasn't a State funeral, honest". the passing of the other caused nothing but sadness amongst all those that were fortunate enough to know here, a sadness tinged with memories of the extraordinary, beautiful, wonderful things she had done for so very many of us.

it's the latter i write of, and remember just what it is that the wonderful Michelle Dorothy Dale did for me, and indeed my (considerably) better half.

if this post turns out to sound rather too much like me, as if it part of some sort of warped, cathartic confession, then that would be to miss the underture here, that for reasons that i will and indeed will not go into Michelle is very much at the heart of the story i write. this is but one of thousands of stories of the magic that Michelle wove around worlds of people, never forget that.

let me take you back, ladies and gents, to the earlier days of the internet. well, the mid-ish to late-ish 90s, really, not the uber-early days in the 80s. this is going to be really difficult to explain to anyone who grew up for the most part in the 2000s. back then a telephone was something that you had in your house, was attached to the wall with a cable and you used it to speak to people. you didn't carry it around in your pocket, it had no screen on it thus you did not play Angry Birds or something like that on it and you didn't have to buy a new one every three weeks just so you could go around and say "i have the latest iTwat".

people seem to get very upset when i do not break up large chunks of text with some pretty, or in this imminent case not so pretty, pictures, so please excuse the interruption as i shove in a random picture of what i looked like back then, in this time that was no doubt seemingly dark to the kids of today.....

yes, that's me walking into the Riverside Stadium. and yes, it is just about as empty now on matchdays as it is in the picture above, ha ha, very funny.

moving on, and what you did was take the cord out of the phone and plug it into your computer. this gave you access to something called "the internet", at least it did if you phoned the right number off your computer.  it was astonishing, really - you could look at pictures on this "internet" thing that took only a couple of minutes to appear on your screen. eventually, when mp3 technology came along, you could even "download" a full song in about an hour or so. for us, this was astonishing.

you could also, and yes Michelle comes into the story soon-ish, not only send messages to people who also could do an "internet" on their computer, but you could type "real time" messages to them, or a group of them on a special kind of "internet site" or "web page" called a "chat room".

chat rooms these days, i believe, have something of a dark name and reputation. in the late 90s, though, when only a few dozen people in the country had frequent access to this "internet thing", it was not the case. this was all pre-grooming, pre-predator nonsense. you used it to "virtually" meet others who had this internet thingie, exchange your real name and if you all got along meet up socially. i suppose no one dares do that these days, which is a shame.

anyway, quite by accident i stumbled on a rather nifty "chat site", hosted by M-Web i think, and met all sorts of interesting people. one i should certainly mention here was a dear friend called Rebecca, who i had lost touch with and was very glad to be reconnected to. others would include two Michelles as such, although one had one l left.

a bit too much text? would you like another picture of me from this time? OK, here i am, wearing Morrissey style glasses, busy with my typewriter. yes i did and still do prefer writing letters and posting them, not this "email" business thank you.

yes, i know, quite stylish.

it is perhaps prudent to skim across some of the details here, in particular as it all stretches over a couple of years. basically, this chat room thing stayed open on our desks as we theoretically did work, and many of us became very good friends. i got to be sensational friends with Michelle (with two l's) and her husband Barry (yes, partners went on the internet together then, instead of hiding what they were up to as in the case in some circles these days) and rather good friends in a most friendly way with Michele (with one 1). there was splendid times to be had with all, mind, and my apologies if you are one of them and have not been named here.

somehow Michelle (yes with two l's, and i am going to trust you to read it properly going forward so i won't point out the differences again) clocked that Michele (oh go on then with one l) and i were something of a pretty decent match.so good, in fact, that she took it upon herself to solicit donations of a purely financial nature from fellow members of this chat room in order that the two of us might be brought together. i think this is probably one of the first cases of the internet used to raise funds for a, for want of a better term, charitable concern. nice one!

things change, of course. the class chat room thing that M-Web had was taken away and a rubbish one put in its place. this disappointed all but our bosses, but no matter, a number of us had already met in person and had all each others' contact details.

it was the case, then, that we frequently met up for social things. there are a stack of stories, but now is not the time for elaborate details. let it be said that we all had amazing drunken times, amazing sober time, fun with firearms, cars, cinema and all sorts of things like that.

it was at one such social gathering that, with just the slightest coercing from Michelle and Barry, i did do that thing where i found myself proposing to Michele. that she said yes tells you that she didn't really spend any time at all thinking about it. thankfully.

yes, OK, pictures you want. Michelle and Barry very kindly went as far as creating some truly amazing wedding invitations for us. i seem to be known for my love of cinema, and indeed totally useless on a practical level knowledge of films, so from that they took their cue with the design.

quite impressive, i know. this was created in or around early 2002, by the way, a time when creating something like the above took an immense amount of time, talent and knowledge. it is, i know, something that a child can these days create with the toy that is Photoshop (or similar), but back then this was an audacious display of time, dedication, skill and talent. i'm not quite sure we ever thanked Michelle and Barry enough for this.

yes, since you ask, the back was as equally impressive, but far be it from me to encourage you just to take my word for it.

wow. and yes the attention to detail extended as far as which specific DVD artwork they "borrowed" for the invite. some of you won't need telling exactly which film the credits at the bottom belong to.

an important part of wedding invitations is that thing that happens when you have the wedding on the day that it says on the invitation. well, unless you are George out of Seinfeld, of course. this all happened, despite on the morning of the wedding Richard and, if i recall correctly, Conrad suggesting that we stop off at the venue where my rather infamous, if not quite legendary, stag night took place. what happens on a stag night generally stays on a stag night, unless it ends up in a soaking wet ball in your car and you cannot for the life of you recall exactly how that happened.

at the wedding, Michele had her sister and my sister as bridesmaids, and i of course had the best man there is as my best man, that being Richard. absolutely no way were we to allow Michelle and Barry to end their interest in our marriage, though, and we were both delighted when they accepted our request to be witnesses to our union.

aside from my qualification of her being so very, very important to all of the above happening, i probably have not spoken as much about Michelle in this post as i should have. i think, ladies and gentlement, that the sneaky, cheeky smile you can catch just a fragment of in the above picture tells you more of her and her character than any or all of my crappy writing could ever hope to do. loving life was never, ever enough for Michelle - she wanted all in the world to be together with those they should be, embracing the lives of others that you were fortunate enough to share.

sadly, as again back then there was not really what one would call a "digital camera" to take pictures all the time with, i do not have anywhere near as many pictures of our beloved friend as i would like. i do at the least have this one that i can show, although i can assure you i have a thousand folders full of thousands of images of fantastic times safely stored away in my mind.

 sometimes, not often but sometimes, you find yourself doing that thing from Once In A Lifetime by Talking Heads, wondering how did i get here and what if i had not done this, that and the other. if no one had invented this internet thing, and if i had not randomly stumbled upon the formerly amazing M-Web chat thing, well, i might not have met my darling, beautiful best friend of a wife, and i perhaps would not have met two of the greatest, dearest friends i've ever had in the form of Michelle and Barry. i say perhaps and might because, without any particularly well structured set of beliefs, i've seen and experienced far too much of this world to not accept that things sometimes do happen for a reason, be it by default or design. i'd very much like to think i would have met all 3 anyway, but the internet certainly made it a good deal easier.

this has all been my story of my friend Michelle Dale, although honestly there are so many further tales and anecdotes i could put here that i would probably need a second blog to get most of them in. this story just seemed to be the most important. there are hundreds of people out there that can tell you of a similar way that Michelle had a similar, beautiful and amazing impact on her life. in her life, as shall now forever be in her passing, there was not one person out there who had a single not so happy thing to say about her either. quite a rare human being.

we shall miss you, my friend, but we will feel all that you did for us forever.

thank you for reading.

be excellent to each other.


hi there

well, it's a trifle hard to have avoided this incident from the weekend. you've probably by now seen and read all that you could possibly wish to about this one, but if you want a touch, or if you will little bite, of more, here you go.

in modern football, or in fact in any sort of historical take on football, it's rare that a player does something which is so spectacularly dickheadish that it it makes the actions of the most special kind of dickhead - Mr Chelsea, The Celebrator and The Legend that is JT26 - seem rather trivial. to do it against a team that features the special kind of dickhead is all the more impressive.

well done, then, to Luis Suarez for somehow unseating JT26 as the single biggest dickhead registered as a professional footballer. i would say take a bow, but you might "mishear" that as take a bite.

yes, if you did not see it over the weekend, that is Mr Suarez taking a bite out of the arm of a Chelsea player. Ivanovic, no less. i suppose up front we should be rather very grateful indeed that Suarez didn't bite a black player, mindful of what happened the last time he attracted a ban and non-scoring headlines.

there is of course, as you would expect, a great rush to defend Suarez in regards of his shenanigans. it's not like, after all, he has "ever done this before". i mean, if he had, for instance, bitten the neck of a player called Bakkal three years ago, then you would understand the outcry.

oh hang on.

perhaps it's another South American thing, really. maybe in Uruguay biting an opponent is a sign of respect to the extent that visiting teams get very upset when you don't bite them. it being the South American way and Suarez not knowing that it might cause some offence in England almost worked with the Evra incident, after all.

speaking of the Evra incident, there was a great rush from Liverpool to defend Suarez then. we briefly saw something similar with this one. Steven Gerrard, when asked about the bite, basically accused the journalist of lying about it and said that we should all "rather talk about what a great player he has been since he arrived at the club" rather than an incident watched by about a million people.

one can assume that Gerrard must not have seen the Suarez bite, then. you may have spotted this in the first picture on this post, but if not exactly where was Gerrard in relation to the incident? let me give you a clue, he's in the below picture, wearing red and not biting someone.

i suspect that Suarez issuing an apology and Liverpool issuing statements along the lines of how it was "probably wrong for Suarez to have bitten someone" means that we will not be seeing a return of those class t-shirts of support for Suarez over this incident. this is a great pity, as i imagine they could have come up with some spectacular designs for it.

speaking of shirts, have a look at this image of Suarez leaving Anfield, possibly for the last time.

yes, that is a Chelsea shirt he has in a sort of doggy bag, i suppose. let us think about this for a moment. someone in the Chelsea squad must have swapped shirts with Suarez after the match, despite the fact that they would have known he had bitten one of their teammates. how the hell does that happen? i mean, who in the current Chelsea side really, really hates Ivanovic enough to have done that?

although it is not likely we shall see t-shirts of support, the minority of more passionate Liverpool supporters are of course throwing excuses out into the world. two of the best speak of an interesting level of moral flexibility as and when the circumstances require accepting something they would rant against had someone at another club done similar.

the best two are, easily, asking anyone suggesting that Suarez is a disgrace if "they have never got angry", followed by "for f***'s sake, he hasn't killed kids or anything, it was only a bite". perhaps they would be better off just suggesting that all Suarez wanted was a little taste of the Champions League.

as you would expect, the "viral meme" things about Luis Suarez have been flying around the internet since, well, since probably before even the match had finished yesterday. here are a couple for your amusement.

first off, one that you hope does not be the approach taken, considering just how many teams Liverpool have been unprepared to beat thus far this year.

and secondly, my favourite thus far, a lovely new set of lyrics to the classic song That's Amore, made famous by the late, great and not known for biting people Dean Martin.

whatever you think of them and no matter who you usually support, Liverpool are a big, giant club of the game with a proud history and reputation. they deserve much, much better than this rubbish. i do not care how many goals he should score, and neither should the club. i believe Bayern Munich like him and want to sign him. let him be their problem, i say.

be excellent to each other!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

"Noel Gallagher has a friend that can read" says Noel Gallagher

hi there

one of the most depressing things in the world of modern rock has been seeing Noel Gallagher become an attention seeking, purely money orientated dick. to those who say he was always a dick, well yeah, fair enough, but at least he just used to be about the music.

his latest escapade into the world of "hey, look at me, please put my name in the papers" is just sad. the NME have, i suppose like me, actually given internet space to the following 'insight' from Noel in regards of David Bowie and his recent return to music :

According to people I've spoken to, there’s another album in the pipeline. There was, like, 29 songs or something.

wow, really Noel? you have some excellent inside info on the workings of the world of David Bowie, do you? actually, no he does not. what Noel does have is, and this may be a shocker to a few of you, would be some comparatively very clever friends.

the people he has spoken to have, i would guess, read articles on Bowie's return in magazines such as Mojo, Q, Uncut and perhaps even NME itself. they have subtracted the number of tracks on the The Next Day album from the rough esitimate of new songs worked on as mentioned by the likes of Tony Visconti, Earl Slick and a few others and clocked there's "about an album's worth" of songs theoretically left over. great, amazing insights there, Noel.
it is getting to the point where i am giving thought to just binning my High Flying Birds album and related singles, lest someone see them and assume that i am also an idiot.


be excellent to each other!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Sunday, April 21, 2013


hi there

well, i was a bit baffled as to why i could not reach my Uncle Colin via conventional telephones today. Trevor has, however, removed some of the sense of being baffled with a few pictures today. behold, for Colin seems to have spent his birthday as you would expect, which of course is by taking a tour of at least one of his Estates around the land. 

a nice a way as any to spend the day! most splendid to see Gran going for a stroll around them with you, no doubt she brought the walking stick to beat any lower or middle class peasants that interfered with Colin today!

i can only live in hope that by some miracle the recent "delays" in post, brought about by the idiotic strike experienced on this side, means that Colin gets his birthday card from us within the next month or so. my birthday was, what, 2 months ago now and still none of the cards sent from around the world have landed. hey ho.

our humble birthday card will, honestly, seem insignificant in comparison to the gift he received from Christopher. behold this truly amazing image.

yes, what you are seeing is really there. it is, i imagine, the dream if not the whim of every father to see one of their children adopt a Jedward haircut. it is particularly pleasing, i would have thought, if a child were to do this to mark the birthday of a parent.

in a rather generous gesture, Chris apparently let Colin play at pretending to be Jedward with him.

i am not certain as to which is supposed to be the J and which is supposed to be the Edward of Jedward, if i am to be truthful, but i have long since suspected that the two sensational artists that compromise Jedward have long since forgotten which is which anyway. art does not, after all, need a name.

anyway, if you are reading this, sorry that we didn't catch you on the phone today, Uncle, but we are left with the idea that you had a pretty excellent time of it without hearing from us!

be excellent to each other!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Thursday, April 18, 2013

JG vs Norway

hi there

i am partially pleased to report that Jonathan Granville's rather curious battle with Phil Collins seems to be at an end. with a lack of response and no hint of any sort of legal action from Genesis' 4th best drummer, Jonathan has declared some sort of victory, with Phil giving tacit concession that Jonathan is the better musician. this means, alas, that it is highly unlikely that we shall hear any more covers of the works of Phil Collins any time soon. "i am not f****** doing any more f****** Phil Collins songs, at least not whilst my arse faces south" was more or less what he had to say on the subject.

i know what you're asking. where to now for Jonathan? i mean, for an artist to declare themself to be better than Phil Collins is a moment that is hard to surpass. it's a bit like that time when Napoleon crowned himself, only with less swords and considerably less French people. as you might expect, with nowhere to go, for a considerable time (a couple of weeks), Jonathan went nowhere.

taking his cue from that time that Daniel Day Lewis went off to Italy or make shoes or something, Jonathan didn't go anywhere near Italy and certainly didn't make any shoes. in his semi-not retired from the music business state, Jonathan mostly cooked things in his house.

well, by mostly of course i mean "when he was hungry". did this satisfy his soul? did it help him fulfill his creative whims? probably. it certainly helped him ease his hunger, which is kind of like the same thing only involving food instead of music.

during this "cooking era" as it shall no doubt be called by me just then, Jonathan thought of many things, some of them relating to Norway, Norwegian things and his general feelings on just what exactly Norway is. for the most part, alas, he is not particularly enthusiastic about anything to do with Norway.

famously, of course, there was that incident when Jonathan referred to the entire Norwegian population as "shitbags", partially "for not being Finland" but mostly for allowing the release of the infamous Gods Of Thunder album, a record which for some reason pays homage to that band Kiss. this bothers a number of people i know, certainly, but most have been content simply to just avoid the album, opting not to go on a rather reckless campaign against a nation about it.

the general geography of Norway bothers him a great deal too. whereas he makes the arguably fair point that it's existence alone stops Sweden from being more cock-shaped than it is ("it should be the cock to Italy's boot", to entirely misquote Jonathan on the subject), it's his obsession with the idea that the Norwegian Sea should not be there that's rather troublesome.

according to Jonathan, or at least according to some interpretations i am prepared to make on what Jonathan has said about unrelated matters, if there was no Norway then there would not be a Norwegian Sea and there prbably would be a Swedish Sea. apparently a "Swedish Sea" is a much easier thing to sing a song about than a Norwegian one. i would not know, really.

on the subject of Norwegian related musical ventures, there is of course this.

i don't know quite how Jonathan got to the conclusion that the song Nowegian Wood is "anti-carpentry at heart, anti-society by nature", rather like how i am unaware if he even ever did reach such a conclusion. it's just best not to mention the song around him, i suppose.

i could go on and on about Jonathan's presumed dislike of Norwegian things, but i will not, for there is only so much tolerance legally he has for that kind of comment. this next picture, illustrating a selection of confectionary one could buy if they happened to be Norwegian and indeed in Norway, does show off all that he believes is wrong with the nation.

no. i don't really see what the issue is with the above. that Troika looks quite smart for a start, and the ones that end in "ox" look colourful enough.

so what's Jonathan doing about Norway? some interesting things, really. one of the more interesting, and certainly the most unexpected, was deciding to relaunch himself as a sort of quasi "Robert Palmer of the people", only without, one would presume, going through that thing where you make a "super group" out of all the people in Duran Duran with the surname Taylor.

another thing he's doing is tackling key moments in the catalogue of A-ha songs. for those of you who do not know, A-ha are a pretty fine, if not actually damned good, band from Norway. the three members of A-ha are Morten the singer, the one that isn't Morten that does the keyboards and the one that isn't Morten and doesn't do the keyboards.

early chart success, in particular in the UK with songs in English, did not, alas, translate as being masters of the English language. on their first tour of the UK, Morten sang and did not speak to the crowds, the one that isn't Morten and doesn't do the the keyboards just did  whatever the hell it is he does and the one that isn't Morten that does the keyboards did all the talking. and by all the talking, i mean after each song he just said "OK, that was [name of song] now we do another" until they ran out of songs.

doing The Sun Always Shines On TV in itself didn't offend Jonathan as much as you might have thought, but when U2 covered it and called it Beautiful Day Mr Granville did stock up on popcorn anticipating some class news footage of either Morten or the one that isn't Morten and doesn't do the keyboards punching Bono right in the face in lieu of royalties. when that did not happen, well, it was unlikely that Norway was going to be any more popular with Jonathan than it was.

here, then, as much of a delayed response to the Beautiful Day incident as it is a comment to the people of Norway in general, is a rather excellent cover of an A-ha song by Jonathan for your listening pleasure. it really is fantastic, please click on it and give it a listen. it probably is as era defining as that time when Daniel Day Lewis gave up shoe making and went to star in Gangs Of New York.

i don't remember exactly which song is the next one Jonathan is going to cover, but you will be sure to be able to read about it here. if it made the cut, an interesting take on a NWA track is due.

thank you, Jonathan, for the great music and for not pursuing these posts through the judiciary.

be excellent to each other!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

More Light on saucy BE

hi there

well, two albums in the next two months should make for happy days on the stereo!

first off, Beady Eye release their second album in June of this year. called simply BE, the cover is as saucy as it is provocative.

nice one! considering Liam has spent much of the last year following The Stone Roses around, it's a wonder that he's found the time to make a new album, but i am glad that he and the band have. Different Gear, Still Speeding remain an ace, straightforward rock album. word is that this one will be more experimental, but in Liam we trust.

however experimental Liam has got, he's still rock and roll. if you didn't hear of the magnificent story from a week or so ago involving him and a fan, please do click here and read all about it. no doubt Noel has read it, and is as we speak instructing his lawyers to demand royalties from the fan. 

before that, though, there's the in no way small matter of a new Primal Scream album, More Light. it's released in May, and has a somewhat different style of cover to the Beady Eye album, but provocative all the same. 

it's going to be interesting to hear how Primal Scream sound now. they were amazing before Mani joined (hello, Screamadelica) but they were uber-super-deluxe amazing with Mani in the band (refer to Vanishing Point, XTRMNTR, Echo Dek, Evil Heat). now that he has left, will they still be as cool. i would imagine, with Bobby Gillespie there, the answer is yet. 

speaking of Mani, any time that The Stone Roses wish to lauch any of the rumoured new songs in our direction, appreciation and money are all yours. with 2 (two) record deals announced by the band in late 2011, it is a wonder they haven't been forced to release something as of yet, but we can keep waiting!

be excellent to each other!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Monday, April 15, 2013

speaking of Hannibal......

hi there

here is a (really rather bad) screen shot of Hannibal Lecter in the closing moments of The Silence Of The Lambs.


here is a shot of Hannibal Lecter as Dr Fell, chilling in Italy in the film Hannibal.

here is a picture that Michele took of William recently.

i believe the pictorial evidence speaks for itself. all i can say is that William really, really likes eating.

be excellent to each other!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Hannibal - episode 2

hi there

you may be pleased or displeased to learn that i do not have any intention of an episode by episode guide to Hannibal appearing here. that may be quite a cocky comment from my good self, i have no idea how many people read the first one and were either interested or offended by what i said. anyhow, i thought for those of you interested i'd give some views on how it's moved on so far.

i will, ahem, for the most part be avoiding the 'meat' of the episode, so to speak, but for those who are searching for info on Hannibal on the web and yet do not want to know anything about what happens please consider a *** SPOILER WARNING *** to be in place for pretty much the rest of this post.

there was a bit of a danger of, you may recall, the series turning into Hannibal and Will Graham cruising around, solving crimes, shooting people and maybe 50% of the duo eating them. this, rather thankfully, has been averted. the relationship between the two seems to be moving into the realm of confidant/mentor and of course sheer trickery as was suggested by the novel Red Dragon.

slightly less good news is that the show is now overtly indicating that it's set in the present day. blogs, tablets / iTwats, digital recording equipment and all sorts of 21st Century opulence are at the forefront. this "alternate universe" thing, a rewrite of what we know of Hannibal, irks somewhat. for Hannibal Lecter to be who he is in the sense that the audience understand he has to have lived through World War II.  they can, and probably will, bypass all reason for his actions in this series, but as us avid fans of Thomas Harris are, you would have thought, the bulk of the target audience for this, it's a strange path for them to take.

still, Hannibal is Hannibal, and with the correct writing and the correct acting, even the most simplest of innocent actions by Dr Lecter can make an audience whince from fear of what might come next.

this is certainly never, ever more true than when we have a course in cuisine from Dr Lecter. unlike last week when it was fairly obvious, this week you really have no idea what, or if you will who, he is serving up to Jack Crawford. one suspects it might not be what Lecter tells him it is, but also it seems unlikely that it is who the audience is led to conclude it is. well, watch it and that last bit will make sense.

Michele, my (considerably) better half, is wrestling with seeing anyone other than Anthony Hopkins play Dr Lecter. she's certainly enjoying the show, but finds herself distracted by Mads Mikkelsen being, well, not a Welsh actor. this is, alas, the massive brick wall that this show will put up for a number of viewers. to this i say fair enough, but let us hope not too many viewers drop out as a consequence and this stunning series gets to run its natural course.

i will say this, though - in a more innocent time, free of thousands if not millions of opinionated types like me doing blogs, Robert De Niro somehow managed to take on the iconic role of Don Corleone in a prequel to The Godfather and no one went ballistic saying "how can he play Brando's part?". for me, in my opinion and all that, Mads Mikkelsen is doing a brilliant, perfect and downright terrifying job in the part of Dr Hannibal Lecter. give him a try, you may like what you see.

not at all open for question by anyone, surely, is Hugh Dancy as Will Graham. he is fantastic in the part and, if perhaps only in these early stages, the one who carries this show to greatness.

no doubt as the series goes on the focus will shift a bit more towards the title character, but for now, to borrow from a teaser trailer for one of the films, Will Graham has no idea who Hannibal Lecter is, let alone what he is capable of. as the audience goes in to this with foresight on that front, there's a huge level of discomfort in watching Lecter toy with an unaware Graham.

in this episode there are a couple of most impressive sequences featuring Hannibal do his thing (no, the other thing, getting into the head) of Graham. one can only assume that more such scenes will be coming our way, with the series being less reliant on guns and gore.

OK, i will probably be posting more on this TV series, most likely when the Eddie Izzard episodes feature. going on the hint of him in the trailer, though, it might well be one of those "crowning moments of excellence".

is it just me, or does it look quite like Mr Eddie Izzard could well be playing a certain character called Miggs? i don't know, just a wild guess.

well, there you go. in closing for now, all i can say is that two episodes in Hannibal is the best thing i have seen on TV since they cruelly took FlashForward away. watch it.

be excellent to each other!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!