Archive for June, 2009

Musical Stylin’

A good friend of mine went to see Regina Spektor at Hyde Park last night. If you haven’t heard her stuff, check it out – it’s chilled, quirky and perfect for supplementing uber-chic TV ads like this.

Last night, however, it was her support act that was standing out. His name is Reggie Watts and he’s utilising music technology in an incredibly awesome, bodacious (insert superlative here) way.

Reggie uses a looping pedal – the clues in the name, but for all those tone-deaf, lyrically-challenged and musically-ignorant like myself, a looping pedal is a “digital sampler built into an easy-to-use footswitch-operated pedal of the kind most often used by guitarists to create looping layers of melody or texture during a live performance.” So it records sound….and loops it.

The below is Reggie’s interpretation of how to use this. And it rocks.


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After moisturising today, I prepared for work by dreamily sipping a camomile tea in a dainty cup. National newspaper, The Sport, wants me to “Man the **** up!” according to its crude, vulgar and downright funny new promo video.

Or maybe not. No, I’m not a typical Sport reader, although this video did make me laugh, if not question my metrosexual mannerisms.

And it shows exactly how well this  national daily understands its audience.

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A couple of US students have been signed up by Penguin to write a book which will turn classics from writers such as Shakespeare and James Joyce into no more than twenty 140 character tweets. Aside from the fact that people younger than me are getting book deals (always a sore point), it’s caused quite the stir in the media, with the Telegraph and the Guardian covering it.

The pair of culture wreckers/trend setters/whatevers said they wanted to “capture the grandest ventures of their generation that best expressed the soul of 21st century America”. Meaning they wanted to make a lot of money out of other people’s ideas.

Making great works accessible to the masses or the epitome of the dumbing down of culture? Personally, I won’t be shelling out for a book of extended blurbs. However, there in lies the book’s potential. 20 x 140 characters is 2800 characters, twice the number used in this description of Ulysses. This tome of shortened great works could become a catalogue of extended product descriptions, something that publishers already produce as part of their sales and marketing collateral to tempt booksellers. Co-incidentally, Penguin does a nice line in modern classics (I’m currently reading one myself).

Perhaps this is the future of publishing. Producing books of twitterature, the publishers would be charging the consumer to view a catalogue of relevant work. Said consumer, if intrigued by what they’ve read, could then toddle off down the bookstore/login to Amazon, buy relevant book, and the publisher gets more money. This isn’t the end of high culture and the written word, this is the publishing industry making sure they get ROI from their marketing collateral.

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Oh the shame. After years of booking tickets online, I have fallen for a fake website and the promise of a ticket to  gig and given away 50 of my hard earned pounds to a crook in Budapest.

Last month, after an unexpected addition to our party going to see The Killers at Hard Rock Calling, I boastfully claimed I would be able find a ticket somewhere:  “Don’t worry, I know some people that know some people.” This was obviously not true – my friends are all as useless as me when it comes to finding tickets for a sold-out concert. Rather than admit defeat so easily, I decided a to have a quick look online.  Bingo – I stumbled across, Hyde Park Box Office – looks professional enough, with a decent url, and offering me tickets  at face value.   I  snapped one up and told my friends, rather smugly, I had sorted the situation.

Fast forward a month, without a ticket the day before the event and with no response to my emails, I start to investigate.  There is no contact number on the website. Alarm bells.   Google hydeparkboxoffice – oh dear.   Check credit card bill – money was taken by a company in Budapest. Oh dear, I’ve been scammed.

Lessons to be learnt: don’t leave the safety of ticketmaster and seetickets unless you really have to, a site you’ve never heard of is unlikely to be selling tickets to a sold out concert at face-value and perhaps most importantly don’t be a smart-arse.

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$2 million lunch

He’s been doing it for a few years now (call me slow off the mark) but I was reading today about how Warren Buffett does this great auction for charity each year where he auctions off a lunch with him for a group of up to eight people.  All the proceeds go to a charity called the Glide Foundation.

Now you may think “big deal, a lunch” but last year it sold for $2.11 million!  The year before was a comparative steal at $650k.  That’s a lot of money to a charity for one bloke just to turn up to a lunch for 3 hours – what a great idea.

If you want to have a stab at the next  lunch you better hurry – at the time of posting, the auction on Ebay had only 1 day, 17 hours to go.  Currently the bid stands at $300k…

Full piece on Bloomberg here – including a great quote from Buffett when asked what he discussed at the $2 million lunch.

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Gary Pratt came into the 2005 Ashes a promising young batsmen and ended it a legend. In one of the greatest moments of the series (just behind Glenn McGrath’s self induced foot injury from standing on a stray ball), Pratt, who had taken to the field to cover for the injured Simon Jones, ran out Aussie captain Ricky Ponting in a stunning piece of fielding. What made the moment even more spectacular was the Aussie’s whinging reaction. There was not a ‘fair dinkum mate’ to be heard as Ponting aimed an irate, expletive filled rant at the England balcony as he walked off. Many say it was then that England knew they had won the Ashes.

Later Ponting claimed England’s habit of giving fast bowlers a breather was “a disgrace”, but Michael Vaughan, with the kind of Churchillian oratory which made him one of the all time greatest England captains, warned: “We will continue to do what we have been doing – we have not broken any rules. If someone needs to go to the toilet during a session of play, I’m sure he will be allowed to do so.”

With admirable modesty Pratt later gave his own account of the incident:”My feet are on the ground and I’m just concentrating on getting in the Durham side,” Pratt told BBC Sport. “It was just a normal, everyday thing you do – pick a ball up and throw it.”

Ponting: no oil painting

Ponting: no oil painting

In true Ashes spirit, Pratt explains that Ponting later swallowed his rage and congratulated his victor: “There were no hard feelings. I even got him to sign a photo of me and him and he gave me a couple of his pairs of boots and a shirt. I’ve got great respect for him for reacting like that but I must admit the photo’s still in my drawer. I don’t think my missus would like it on the mantelpiece.”

Pratt gained hero status for his achievements, even being invited aboard the open bus parade through the streets of London after the series victory was wrapped up. Sadly however his cricketing career took a nose-dive after THAT run out, and after a few years scratching a living in the lower cricket leagues he now manages a self-storage company in Bishop Auckland.

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Despite having five kids and two wives (my real wife and my job), I still find time to watch TV I’ve downloaded to my trusty iPhone. Recently a friend introduced me to Battlestar Galactica.

Holy Cow! It’s totally different from the 70s feel good  drivel I watched when I was a kid. It’s hard core and that’s not to mention  the intentional similarities between the current political climate and the rest of the world.

The re-imagining is set 20 year or so after the events of the old  series. The humans have settled new planets. The human’s mortal enemy, the  Cylons, have new upgraded centurions (or Toasters) and get this: they also  have a breed of cylons that look and feel like humans (or ‘Skin-jobs)’. This  appears to be a perfect recipe for human ass kicking and a cliff hanger.

Within the first 5 minutes of the new BSG series, an innocent baby is spared (by mercy killing) the (almost) annihilation of the planet’s  population (ethnic cleansing?). The survivors scarper looking for ‘Earth’,  whilst the ‘toasters’ clean up the mess and claim it as their own – now where  have I seen this before?

Just finished season three. It’s addictive. DAMMIT! I need to know who the next skin-job is!

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