Monday, 30 November 2009

James Jamerson

I was just listening to You Keep Me Hanging On by The Supremes and I thought. "Ay Oop, that's some cracking bass playing there." Of course it is none other than James Jamerson, who played on just about every Motown record that was any good - mind you Bob Babbit did a good job of deputising (for example on Signed, Sealed, Delivered). Whatever. Inevitably, some obsessive has compiled a list of Number One Hits that Jamerson played on . You can't argue with it really. I reckon I'll be making up a playlist of these songs!

Saturday, 28 November 2009

Soulive So Live!

Another works outing for Xorg Inter-Galactic on Friday evening, to Ronnie Scott's to see Soulive, the jazziest, funkyest, blueseyest, rockingest, groovyest trio in the world. Comprising Eric Krasno on guitar, Alan Evans on drums and Neal Evans on Hammond organ and keyboard bass.  They've been around for ten years and the band has had a number of different line-ups, adding vocals and brass etc here and there. Friday's gig was 'just' the basic trio. These guys are fantastic!

A distinctive element of their sound is the bass. They don't have a bass player - the keyboard guy does it all with his left hand, playing a Nord keyboard via various electronic wizardry. As a former bass guitarist  I would normally be opposed to this in principle but this guy really cuts the mustard. I reckon in his brain he's actually a bass player who plays the keyboard and throws in some Hammond organisms meanwhile. The guitarist moves between jazz, blues and rock and plays with tremendous feel and, as for the drummer, he must be the coolest tub-thumper ever: driving it along, holding it back, punctuating and so forth. Check out their music on Spotify or wherever; there's stuff on their website too. Among the songs they played were: So Live!, Lenny, Steppin', and an encore of The Beatles' Eleanor Rigby/I Want You. As for the venue - well, it's Ronnie Scott's so it's a bit posh and expensive (there's an automatic 12.5% cover charge on everything) but dead cool.

Friday, 27 November 2009


There are some authors whose writing has somehow captivated my imagination and made me want to read everything they ever wrote. I haven't figured out quite what it is about their work that is so compelling or precisely what if anything they might have in common. And, although they have very differrent styles, they all write in a way that keeps me reading. Here's three of them.

Robert Louis Stevenson. Treasure Island and Kidnapped are two of my favourite books of all time. Both are classic adventure stories, featuring complex dramatic characters and events. Long John Silver is a sympathetic villain but does he only do the right thing out of self-interest? Squire Trelawney is a fine upstanding, law-abiding, English gentleman who cares for Jim Hawkins but his primary motivation is greed: to get his hands on the treasure.
The Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde - an examination into the tension inherent in the duality of human nature and the relationship between the conscious and unconscious mind. We are talking fundamental dichotomy here, Dr Freud. And a cracking good story.

P G Wodehouse. No complex plots or characters, but splendid use of the English language and gentle humour, mostly satirising the English upper class. As personified in the Jeeves stories, the 'servant' is invariably cleverer and more able than the 'master', and the aristocracy comprises mentally neglible buffoons indulging in half-witted and trivial schemes. A dynamic synthesis of the class struggle, or what? And Wodehouse is a master at making up silly names: Augustus Fink-Nottle; Boko Fittleworth; and G. D'Arcy 'Stilton' Cheesewright to name but three.

Kurt Vonnegut. It was Vonnegut who introduced the concept of the 'chronosynclastic infundibulum' in The Sirens of Titan; "...where all the different kinds of truths fit together..." Chrono means time; synclastic means curved towards the same side in all directions; and infundibulum means funnel. Vonnegut messes about with the notion of time elsewhere in his writings, notably in Slaughterhouse Five in which Billy Pilgrim is pitched about in time randomly. His themes, however, are ultimately pessimistic although many of his characters are optimistic: the futility of war-mongering, the vanity of humans, the venality of western society. But he can be funny with it. It's that old dichotomy thing again.

Thursday, 26 November 2009


Professor Buzz, the world renowned expert on wasps, their habitat and the sound they make was passing a second hand record shop and on display in the window was an old vinyl record entitled ‘The World’s Wasps And The Sound They Make’. Intrigued, he went inside and enquired about the record. The record shop owner asked if he would like to hear a track off the record. "Most certainly" said the Professor. The shop owner put on track 1 and the Professor listened but shook his head. "I am sorry but I don’t recognise any of those wasps at all." So the shop owner played him tracks 2, and 3, and 4, and 5. All met with the same response - " I just don’t recognise any of these wasps." The record shop owner frowned, took the disc of the turntable and then exclaimed "Ah! That explains it! Why you didn’t recognise any of them. I was playing the bee side."

(Thanks to Lee Rimmer, via The Word.)

Walkin' Blues

As recommended by our Chris, some nifty slide guitar from Roy Rogers. (The bluesman, not the cowboy). I haven't figured out yet precisely which open tuning he's using, but it's D major of some sort. Hotcha!

Monday, 23 November 2009

Stuff I Have Failed to Avoid

A metal post hidden in the undergrowth
Barbed wire
Rusty nails
A football in the g*****s
John Fitzgerald's foot
Petula Clark

Over The Moon, Brian

Jermain Defoe certainly had his shooting boots on yesterday, but it was Aaron Lennon who made the biggest difference. The lad done tremendous. And what ever way you look at it, that's bad defending.

Update : Wigan's players have offered a refund for their supporters who attended the match.

Sunday, 22 November 2009

You Got to Funkifize!

Xorg Inter-Galactic went on a company outing on Saturday evening to see the pre-eminent California soul band Tower of Power at Matter, O2, in Greenwich. Matter is a medium size venue of about 2,500 capacity within what used to be the Millenium Dome. Mostly standing, but that's the best way to see a band like this.

This band has been around since 1968 and many musicians have passed through its ranks, with founder members Emilio Castillio (tenor sax) and Stephen 'Dr Funk' Kupka (baritone sax) the two constants. The current line-up comprises a five man horn section of two tenor saxes, baritone sax, two trumpets with the trumpeters doubling on trombone and flugelhorn; with bass; drums; guitar; keyboards; and lead vocals. Their distinctive sound comes from really tight horn arrangements over the extremely funky rhythm section of  David Garibaldi on drums and Rocco Prestia on bass. If you think of Wilson Pickett's 'Land of a Thousand Dances' or 'Lovey Dovey' by Otis Redding and Carla Thomas (and so forth), but a bit smoother with some jazz chops and occasional tricky time changes, then that's the kind of feel we are discussing.

The band hit the ground running, ripping into 'We Came to Play' and getting everyone dancing from the word go. Some of these guys might be old and fat these days but they can still cut a groove better than anyone. Not only are they top-notch musicians but they also obviously enjoy what they do. The set was made up of Tower of Power classics such as  - 'What is Hip?', 'On the Serious Side', 'Only So Much Oil in the Ground', 'Soul With a Capital S', and 'Diggin on James Brown' - and some new stuff such as 'You Met Your Match', an old Stevie Wonder song. The lead tenor sax did loads of soloing, screaming out harmonics like there's no tomorrow, and the lead singer Larry Braggs really whipped it out - he's good. He and Emilio did the business of winding up the audience into a frenzy, and milked three encores out of us.
Absolutely brilliant - Five Stars!
For those not amongst the cognoscenti, you can  listen to some of their stuff at Spotify, Last FM or wherever. Or come round our house for a groove session.  I'm afraid you've missed your chance to see them live (in the UK) as this was their only UK gig this year and they only come round every few years (they are Big in Germany though). They have a new album out - Great American Soulbook. Go on, take a chance - you won't be disappointed. As for the venue; well, it's steel and concrete brutalism, the toilets are hard to find and the drinks are outrageously expensive (£4.50 for a 330 ml bottle of beer). Very well policed though and the security guy let me take my coffee in with me which I'd bought outside.

Saturday, 21 November 2009


So there we were, sitting in an aeroplane awaiting take off and there's some music playing over the PA system. Kenny G doing his bland-out version of 'Something'. Aaaagh, by the cringe, b****y dreadful. Then another time, I was in a restaurant and there was some piped music infiltrating my consciousness; 'Something' being played by the syrup strings and melted piano orchestra of soporific inanity. Aaaagh. what makes these people think doing this is worthwhile?

It is of course a heinous crime to do this to George Harrison's song. But they don't stop there. Further abominations occur, any musicality well and truly neutered out of existence. No doubt you have had similar experiences. In lifts; in supermarkets; in shopping malls and in airports. And nothing is immune. But there is someone who has tried to do something about it - Brian Eno, who unsuprisingly is not actually a musician. He has pretty much cornered the market in 'Ambient Sounds': music which you can choose either to notice or ignore and it won't annoy you either way. His album Music for Airports is a classic. It is neither here nor there, but if you do actually listen closely it is very relaxing indeed.

Friday, 20 November 2009

Bonce of Solid Concrete (BSc)

Here's our Phil at his graduation ceremony t'other day. First Class Honours in Music Technology. The doingses took place at St Albans Cathedral and The Marquess of Salisbury presented the prizes. All very high-fallutin'. The nicest aspect of the whole shindig was that for a couple of hours we had several hundred people who were all in a good mood and who had set their differences and divisions aside whilst we all celebrated a common achievement. As one might expect for days like these, there was a lot of hanging about and apparent confusion but it all turned out alright in the end. Phil enjoyed himself and he even had a shave.
Afterwards, we adjourned to Nando's which is Phil's favourite eatery and had a slap up feed, supervised by our Anne. Well done Phil!

La Main de la Grenouille

Handball! Well, he's French and he's a former Arsenal player so what do you expect? At least Thierry Henry has since owned up, but his handball was deliberate and he should have been given a yellow card so even if FIFA can't order a replay under the existing rules they should at least take some disciplinary action against him. Ban him from the first three matches of the World Cup, for instance.The great majority of players would have done likewise and not many would own up. Even fewer, if any, would have gone to the referee immediately and asked him to disallow the goal. But it isn't 'fair play' and now Henry will be remembered for this rather than his playing skills. FIFA will have to do something to improve matters; perhaps have another official at each goal line?

It will be interesting to see if the referee gets any matches in South Africa.

President Who?

Who is the President of the EU?
No, Hu is the President of China.
I don't know, but who is the President of the EU?
No! He's the President of China.
China? President who?
Yes, Hu is the President of China.
Aaagh, I said who is the President of the EU.
No, he's the President of China.
So, who is the President of the EU?
No, no, no. Listen carefully; Hu is the President of China.
You'd better ask a Chinaman; but tell me, who is the President of the EU?
Hu is the President of China...
(With acknowledgements to Abbot & Costello)

Any road up, it's nice to know that the EU leaders read this blog and have decided against appointing the arch-toad Tony Blair to the top job. And it's gratifying in a way that they have taken the safe route and appointed someone who will not outshine any of them. So Sarkozy can go on thinking he's a big cheese. EU business as usual. Herman van Rompuy also gets my vote as he has a silly name.

Tuesday, 17 November 2009

Chick Corea

On Sunday I went to see a splendid concert at The Barbican. It involved Bela Fleck and the Flecktones and Chick Corea with Stanley Clarke and Lenny White. The Flecktones involved Mr Fleck on the banjo and he was phat. Victor Wooten on bass who is a bit of a technical genius and he did loads of slap bass and things. But the best bit was Chick Corea who was insanely outrageous and super lyrical with his piano playing especially when comping in solos...Stanley Clarke was a groove machine and Lenny White was doing goodly things on the drums. It went really quickly and then everyone came back on stage for an encore and they did Spain. Everyone had a solo and Stan and Victor had a slap-off on stage. As it were. The Barbican was a bit too big for it but it was really good.

But it took 2 hours to drive back.

Thought for the Day

Some people are like slinkies - not really good for anything but they bring a smile to your face when pushed down the stairs.

Monday, 16 November 2009

Spontaneous Sunday

"Mary, what are you doing today?"
"Not alot. Lots of lovely housework but..."
"I want to do something. LET'S GO TO THE THEATRE!"
"OK. What's on?"
"Don't know."
10 minutes later we were on
We ended up going to Opening Night of a new show called Marilyn and Ella.
It is the story of the unlikely friendship between Marilyn Munro and Ella Fitzgerald. Marilyn was played by Susie Kennedy, a popular impersonator, and Ella by Hope Augustus.
It is basically based on two quotes. Fitzgerald saying "she owed her (Marilyn) a debt" and “She was ahead of her time and she didn’t even know it”. It is about how Marilyn managed to get Ella booked at the Mocambo club in Hollywood. The first black artist to sing there. Munro promised the club owner that she would go there every night and sit in the front row if Fitzgerald was allowed to perform.
I really liked it. Bit of a strange set up though.
You had the two actresses, Marilyn and Ella, and then a live jazz quartet on stage. The actresses also sort of played other parts as well by putting on different voices.
It started with Hope Augustus playing a fan of Ella Fitzgerald telling a story about the two friends and then she then she played Ms Fitzgerald as well. The live music and singing was excellent, especially Ella's songs. Pretty awesome arrangement of I've got you under my skin. There was also a man playing Frank Sinatra, he was BRILL. Sounded and looked exactly like the original.
If you are a massive fan of Ella Fitzgerald or Marilyn Munro, then I think you will really enjoy it.

All in all i think i will give it a solid 3 and a half stars.

Lunchtime O'Xorg Again

There's a new restaurant at the Larnaca seafront and, in a break from recent trends, it is actually a Cypriot one rather than another branch of a global franchise. It's called Meze Meze and the food is jolly good. Pictured here are barbecued lamb chops, flambed pork and barbecued squid. Not inexpensive, but excellent quality and good service. Note: the chips are made from real potatoes.

Here and There, Back and Forth

It has been said of me that I should 'get out more'. Well, in the last three days I have visited two aunts and two cousins (separately; one for coffee and one for dinner); been out to lunch (har har) with another cousin, 'promenaded' at the seafront, had two meetings with Kostantinou the builder, been out for lunch with El Prez, had another cousin round for coffee, and visited some friends in the evening whence we discussed, amongst other things, the nature of the cosmos and the limits of perception over tea and scones. I decided, however, to forego the concert on Saturday by the Choir of the Union of Cypriot Pensioners.
So there. I reckon that's enough 'getting out' to last me till Christmas.

Sunday Lunch

We met up with cousin Spyros as planned and he took us out to lunch at a taverna which occupies the sight of the former municipal market in Larnaca. Consequently, it is off the usual tourist trail and frequented mostly by locals. This market was apparently the one before the one in the centre of town, which has been demolished to make way for a car park. We had Cyprus mezedes, and the chef stuck to the traditional dishes. I even tried one of the snails.
Spyros is a great one for telling jokes; here's one suitable for family viewing:
President Obama was flying back to the USA from the Far East and as Airforce One passed over Iran he saw a plume of smoke rising up and he asked his Chief of Staff what it was. "That's were we have some of our troops, Sir, helping the local people achieve democracy." "Ah, right," says Obama. The plane continues over Iraq and again there's a plume of smoke rising from the ground and The President asks what this is. "That's were we have some of our troops, Sir, helping the local people achieve democracy."
"Ah, right," says Obama.
Airforce One then passes over Afghanistan and another great plume of smoke is belching forth. Obama turns to his Chief of Staff quizzically. "Yes, Mr President," says the Chief of Staff, "That's  some of our troops, Sir, helping the local people achieve democracy."  "Uh huh," nods Obama. The plane continues over Pakistan - same again. Then over Palestine. "We're helping the Israelis, Sir, to preserve their democracy." "Okay..," mumbles The President, beginning to look troubled. The plane then passes over Cyprus and once more there is a fog of smoke rising from the ground. "Don't tell me we are fighting in Cyprus too!" cries Obama.
"No Sir. Today is Sunday and that's the Cypriots cooking their kebabs."

Saturday, 14 November 2009


The architect sent us the detailed drawings on Thursday evening so, although we still don't have final approval from t'Council, enquiries of builders have begun. Uncle Hambis rents one of his properties (located behind our house) to a chap called Marinos Kostantinou who, besides being an old mate of Hambis, is a builder so Uncle Hambis made the introductions and Mr Kostantinou is working out an estimate for us.  He's concerned about the drains though - apparently the existing drains go the wrong way, to the sewer behind the house when they should go to the front. Drains is one of his specialities, apparently. We're meeting up with cousin Spyros tomorrow and he's going to get an estimate from his daughter's father-in-law. Meanwhile the architect will be getting another two estimates, so we'll see what we shall see. And just to cheer us up, we've had to pay another €150 for an 'Energy Efficiency' study of the plans; this is a requirement for all new building these days, although I fail to see what good it does anybody as the energy efficiency requirements are there in the building regulations that you have to comply with anyway. Ho Hum.

Παρασκευήδεκατρείςφοβία : Paraskevidekatriaphobia

...or fear of Friday the Thirteenth to you. Any road up, it's a load of old tosh because nothing happened. No falling ladders, no dead spiders, didn't break the salt cellar, the mirror remains intact despite me looking into it, no black cats crossed my path, I haven't encountered any horse shoes and the wind did not mysteriously change direction. However, several people are now officially one year older: El Prez; Mr Deveraux, myself and Prince Charles. Which would have been the case even if today was Thursday.

Friday, 13 November 2009


Cat's Cradle by Kurt Vonnegut. A generally depressing satire about mankind's enthusiasm for developing ever more effective means of destroying human life. Vonnegut has an easy and humourus style but his message is as subtle as a flying mallet.
Cliffhanger by T J Middleton. A crime comedy/thriller where the central protagonist sets out to murder his wife but fails, having murdered someone else. We spend the book unravelling who it might be, and eventually the sociopathic anti-hero is sent to prison for murdering someone his wife murdered whilst his victim is merely presumed to have moved to South Africa.
God Bless You, Mr Rosewater also by Mr Vonnegut. Less depressing than Cat's Cradle and even with some comedic moments but still a heavy satire on the shallowness and venality of American life. This book might even persuade you to look further into the Marxist analysis of western capitalism. Kilgore Trout saves the day eventually.
The Burning Land by Bernard Cornwell. Set in the 9th century around the history of Alfred the Great and his campaign to to defeat the Danes and establish an 'English' kingdom. Mr Cornwell writes a good novel with a romantic warrior, Uhtred, as the central protagonist, and weaves it in with interesting military, religious and social historical detail. Cornwell was brought up by adoptive parents who belonged to the 'Peculiar People', a fundamentalist Protestant sect, and this experience turned him against religion. He loses no opportunity to point out various idosyncracies of the christian church and its belief system, highlighting that the church was as ambitious a political force as the kings, barons and so forth.
Unseen Academicals by Terry Pratchett. The latest Discworld novel, in which Mr Pratchett takes the micky out of football as well as racial and social stereotyping. Hilariously inventive with occasional nuggets of insight into the, ahem, 'human condition'. As with all Pratchett's books you don't want it to end.
The October issue of History Today. Includes an article on the 'Hundred Years War'  explaining that it wasn't one war but three separate wars which 19th century historians lumped together mainly because they each involved England fighting the French in France. A bit like calling the period from the beginning of the Franco-Prussian war to VE Day the 'Seventy Five years War'.

Thursday, 12 November 2009

Mycenean Echo o o o o

At the site of the 13th century BCE Mycenaean settlement there is a small one-room museum, which is circlar with a domed roof. At the centre there is a plaque bearing the imprint of the Department of Antiquities and a picture of Cyprus. The shape of the room gives it a fascinating echo.

Sitting on the Fence

Spotted this bird sitting on a fence which surrounds the site of a Mycenaean settlement near Paphos (13th Century BCE). I haven't identified it yet - any suggestions would be welcome.

Update: Probably a chaffinch (fringilla coelebs)

Monday, 9 November 2009

President Blair

That infamous dissembler Tony Blair is reported to be doing some last minute toadying and fawning of EU leaders to revive support for his 'unannounced' candidacy for the post of EU President. I had thought that Gordon Brown had scuppered Blair's chances by voicing in such fulsome terms Blair's qualifications for the job, whilst adding "of course there are other candidates." Nice one, Gordon. But Blair's inflated ego is not so easily deterred.

Blair already has a number of jobs, including:
Senior political adviser to JPMorgan Chase investment bankers etc. Reports of his remuneration range from 500K to 2 million a year.
He leads the Tony Blair Faith Foundation which aims to encourage understanding of and between between the major religions. Nothing wrong with that per se, but one can't help doubt the sincerity of Blair's own faith. He waited until after he quit as Prime Minister before converting to Catholicism for fear of being branded a 'nutter' and since converting he has criticised the Pope for being out of touch with modern life. One might agree with him on both points but shouldn't he have the courage of his convictions and not undermine the leader?
There's the Tony Blair Sports Foundation through which Blair hopes to recruit volunteers to train as sports coaches.
The Tony Blair Africa Governance Initiative is a registered charity which aims to improve the way African countries govern themselves.
Blair is the representative for the so-called middle east diplomatic Quartet. Ironic.
And he undertakes lecture tours of North America for which he is handsomely paid,
Meanwhile, he's writing his memoirs.

A busy little fellow isn't he? So I was wondering where in his schedule he is going to fit in being President of the EU, notwithstanding that he has been revealed to have lied in order to justify the invasion of Iraq, leading to many thousands of deaths. Presumably he doesn't think that disqualifies him. But then he is quite used to facing two ways at once.

Lunchtime O'Xorg

Grilled halloumi, kubes and some chicken already grilled. Served with sald, olives, grilled vegetables and so forth. Scrumdiddlyumptiopoulos!

Duct Tape! II: Bertie's Prong



Windows B****y One-Note

El Prez and the fragrant Jeannine were just checking in on-line at Easyjet and wanted to print the boarding pass but unbeknownst to them the default on the Easyjet site via Windows Vista is to send the document to Windows One-Note. As eny fule no, One-Note is a load of crap and no mistake and so,of course, the whole process got scrambled up resulting in the printer thinking it was off-line. El Prez tried again but the first document was in the printer queue, thereby holding everything up and it has been a hopeless task trying to get the One-Note document to either print or cancel... Ho Hum. So I've just spent a happy half hour freeing the whole thing up, meanwhile saving the boarding pass as a pdf before re-booting and then printing from Adobe - which worked.

Note to self: Get Windows 7 upgrade and don't install One-Note!

Update: Logged on to Easyjet again to print second boarding pass, told it to bypass One-Note and it worked a treat. I rest my case.

Friday, 6 November 2009


ΔΗΜΟΣ ΛΑΡΝΑΚΑΣ: Return of the Son of the Bureaucracy Strikes Back!

  • Part 1: To get planning permission you either have to have provision for a parking place, or pay Larnaca Municipality €5,125.80 as a kind of tax.  And you can't opt to have neither. So we went to great lengths in our earlier application to show that we  have space for a parking place round the back and that we have access via Uncle George's land, duly registered with the Land Registry. The Powers That Be were eventually satisfied with this and issued a permit. However, we had a phone call yesterday via Niky's cousin to tell us that t'Council wanted to have an authorised copy of this permission, with supporting documentation, included in the present Building Regulations application. But says I, it was t'Council what issued it and they know they've issued it and they've got a copy on their file. Yes but, no but, says t'Council functionary it is your responsibility to provide the necessary papers, and we don't go looking in our files and photocopying stuff for you. Erm, hang on matey. You know you've given the permission re the parking place and you know it's on file, why do you need a copy anyway? "There must be a complete set of documentation on each application." Ho Hum. So El Presidente gets on the blower to Dikiaos the architect (in Nicosia) and asks for the permit etc and he says he'll send it by courier so we can hand it in at t'Council. It got to the couriers office too late yesterday, so El Presidente had to take it in this morning. But guess what? Dikiaos hadn't sent all the papers they require! So El Prez phoned him and got t'Council functionary to speak to him directly and put him on the right track. So this will all be coming by courier today - however t'Council office shuts at 2.30pm so I reckon we've missed that. (Apparently it is not permitted for the papers to be sent directly from the architect to t'Council. They have to come through us.) So now it'll be Monday before anything further happens. Meanwhile, t'Council functionary assures us that otherwise everything is hunky dory and it's just these papers they want. To be fair, the functionary, named Monica, is quite a pleasant and well-mannered lady who is sympathetic. But rules is rules.
  • Part II: After El Presidente had got back from t'Council, she was summoned in a panic by Anna who rents the downstairs flat. She gets the Cyprus equivalent of Council Tax Benefit and had been contacted to say that it will be stopped forthwith because she doesn't have a proper and current rental agreeement. Oh yes she does, says El Prez, I did it myself. Oh no you don't, it has to be duly registered with The Tax Office and we want it today! This was at half twelve and the Tax Office shuts at one o'clock. So a mad dash ensues to get the agreement registered with the Tax Office and deposited with the Council Tax Benefit Office. El Presidente managed this with minutes to spare, meanwhile having to part with fees of €11 plus €3 in stamps. Anna has been renting the flat for over ten years - why didn't anyone in the bureaucracy mention this requirement before?
It must be a payback for all the bad kharma generated while I was working for the British Government...

Thursday, 5 November 2009

Duct tape!



τραγούδι και χορός

Yesterday we welcomed our esteemed visitors Professor 'Stinky' Pete and his fragrant supervisor Jeannine who struggled through wind, rain and Easyjet but arrived safely. El Stinko has been unwell but succeeded in getting past the swine flu police.

After a very tasty meal of chicken and fennel in white wine, we wandered up to the Municipal Theatre for a concert by The Cantadores of Zenon. The line-up of the band was unusual; accordion (played by Zenon himself), two spanish guitars, tenor sax, violin, piano and bouzouki. Percussion was provided by some fat bloke with a pigtail, sitting on a box which he played like it was a set of bongos. And he had some congas as well. The singing was more or less twenty seven part unison, and they did a selection of Greek and Mariachi songs. So far so good, but the show also featured some ethnic dancing and I am bound to say that if I never see another performance of traditional Cypriot dancing it will be too soon. The novelty of watching some bloke balancing glasses on his head has worn off.

Tuesday, 3 November 2009


Star Trek fans should have a look at LCARS Web Implementation.

LCARS - Library Computer Access/Retrieval System - is the computer operating system used in Star Trek, designed by scenic art supervisor and technical consultant Michael Okuda. Several Trek geeks have since made up Flash animations to mimic what can be seen on TV or in the films; this one is by some chap in Croatia. There's some clever stuff, including some downloads, and links to other like-minded obsessives.

Update: The Mother of all LCARS sites is here.

Get Yer 'Aircut

From Martin at Satcure, some audio to check whether your headphones and your brain are working correctly. Warning: Dodgy fake Italian accent!

Monday, 2 November 2009

Ο Καιρός Τώρα

The Cyprus Meteorological Service provides some helpful advice on t'weather, including a report on what the weather is like right now (just in case you hadn't noticed). It went a bit chilly this afternoon, particularly when clouds blotted out the sun. Night has now fallen and there is a full moon - the Meteorological Service website confirms that this is indeed the case. Of course, one of the delights of the BBC is the Shipping Forecast and thanks to the wonders of modern technology, one can now listen to it at any time. It used to be one of the markers that I had stayed up too late if the Shipping Forecast came on the radio, which would mean that it was five to one in the morning. But it is a sheer pleasure to hear Charlotte Green at any time. Fellow Beatles obsessives will know that they owe a lot to their producer George Martin.  One of Sir George's other projects was 'The Master Singers' who had a couple of minor hit records round about the time that The Beatles did Revolver, namely The Highway Code and The Weather Forecast.  Go to Batesline for more about 'The Master Singers' and to listen to an mp3 of the The Weather Forecast.

There You Go

Horizontal Apparatus.
A bit of sunshine.


Blues Jam

So yesterday I had fun at the corn exchange pretending to be mitch mitchell, ginger baker and john bonham. the setlist included among other things:
fire - jimi
can you see me - jimi
crossroads - cream
moby dick - led zep
since ive been loving you - led zep
it was fun! i would have liked to have played at 100% health though. there will be more gigs because it was so fun. and joe used our guitar what we built innit and it sounded WELL good through my fender hot rod. we have named the guitar tony.
the good thing about yesterday: it was a sunday blues afternoon, but the majority of the audience and the players were under 25.
ok bye.


El Presidente's cousin works at the Town Hall so when we mentioned to her that we had put in our application for Building Regulations permission, the cousin said "I'll check it out and see if we can't shake 'em up."  (or words to that effect in Greek). The following day she telephoned and said "If you bring €130 to the Town Hall now, they'll do it next." What Ho, Fink-Nottle! So El Presidente trotted down to Planning HQ, handed over the smackers and The Man says "You can go ahead, this permission is only a formality now, just in case in the years to come somebody thinks about checking up on you." Not likely in Cyprus, methinks. So there we have it; we've contributed to the 'Town Hall' funds but got €20 off the price - so much for my moral dilemma.

Still Raining, Still Dreaming...

...stopped painting. One has finished the front room, bedroom, hallways and three window frames so that's enough for now I reckons. One might tackle the stairwell window frames, one might not. Meanwhile, the rain has continued. So far we have had rain on seven consecutive days - is this a record? It doesn't rain solidly here like it does back in Blighty, you tend to get thunder and huge downpours for an hour or so then the sun comes out. Just at the minute the sun is blazing away, but earlier it were tankin' it down, like. Lovely day, now! Assuming I can escape the gaze of El Presidente I shall shortly, therefore, be indulging in a bit of lying down and reading of book.