Friday, 24 February 2012

Records Have Sleeves For A Reason

Steve! I've told you before! Put the records back in their sleeves! Look! See! You're standing on one now! Flippin' 'eck! How many times? Just think of the dust from the carpet. Pick 'em up!

Wednesday, 22 February 2012

Who's That Bloke Up There With Jeff?

For one reason or another the American Public Broadcasting Service (PBS) puts concerts on at The White House. The other day they did one which focused on The Blues and featured B B King, Derek Trucks, Jeff Beck and many more. Jeff very kindly played some guitar for some old fart who was trying his best to emulate Howlin' Wolf, after t'ole fart had approximated a cover of 'I Can't Turn You Loose'.
(Whizz forward to 4 minutes to get to Jeff Beck.)
During the subsequent finale when all the blues chappies were jammin' their way out, President Obama was persuaded to sing a verse of 'Sweet Home Chicago'; not bad, considering.

Tuesday, 21 February 2012

The Bath Sausage Shop

Director of Sunshine and Social Secretary, FabMary, has recently returned from a fact-finding tour of the Bath Sausage Shop. We see here a picture of the proprietor, a Mr Joe Cole, displaying some of his products. (As far as we know, Mr Cole is not related to the erstwhile England winger of the same name). FabMary brought us two samples of sausages to try: the 'Bath Sausage' and the 'Mongolian Fire-Pot'.
The 'Bath Sausage' is quite pleasant and although its green tinge might at first appear suspicious this is in fact due to spinach being one of the ingredients along with mustard and smoked ham. Probably a sausage for consumption with the now somewhat outmoded meal formerly known as 'high tea', although it is versatile enough to serve at breakfast.
The 'Mongolian Fire-Pot' is however a different kettle of fish and should be approached with caution. It would be too powerful for breakfast, and might not work that well with mashed potato unless one were to devise a suitable gravy as a medium. Perhaps best served as part of a casserole, or with cous-cous and yogurt, this sausage will leave your lips a-tingling.
Whilst in the borough of Bath, FabMary took the opportunity to visit some places of interest such as the Roman Baths and various Jane Austen related locales. She reports imbibing a fabulous afternoon tea of sandwiches and cake, and bathing outdoors in some sulphurous waters on a rooftop. See some pictures over here.

Friday, 17 February 2012

Sunday, 12 February 2012

Lavenham

The Senior Management Team (SMT) of Xorg Inter-Galactic recently enjoyed a brief sojourn in the ancient Suffolk town of Lavenham. We stayed at the splendid Swan hotel, making use of a discount voucher via Travelzoo which meant we got two nights for the price of one. The deal included a bottle of champagne each evening but, whilst this was enjoyable, it did tend to make us a tad bloated prior to dinner -  with the result that we were more than a tad bloated after dinner.
The Swan dates from 1425 and comprises three buildings, joined up over the centuries. As a result it is all exposed timber beams, uneven squeaky floors, low doorways and ancient brickwork. Not a straight line either vertical or horizontal in sight. Open log fires in the public areas so the gentle smell of woodsmoke lingers. The restaurant area is quite marvellous as it is formed from a former wool-trading hall, complete with minstrel's gallery. Best of all, it is carpeted, there is no piped muzak, and the kitchen is separate - so it is quiet. The service was excellent; the staff were a mixture of locals and eastern Europeans and were very keen.
The food was spiffing. Fresh grilled sardines on toast; belly pork with crackling and dauphinoise spuds; duck leg; liver and bacon with horseradish mash; and many more. The breakfast was served to you freshly cooked rather than from a buffet, monitored by a very competent lady maitre d' from Ipswich.
Only one minor quibble; the housekeeper forgot to replenish the bathroom requisites (shampoo etc) but otherwise five stars and recommended - although I would flinch at paying the full price which is clearly aimed at American tourists and a better class of person.

...aaagh.

When I said don't touch the record's surface with your fingers, that's not what I meant!

George's Hidden Solo

Dhani Harrison, George Martin, and Giles Martin fiddling about with the master tapes for 'Here Comes the Sun' and discovering, lost in the mix, a bit of a solo by Mr Harrison Snr.

Internet Security

We know that President Assad of Syria is a corrupt self-deluding puppet of the military but it has now become apparent that he is also a bit stupid. As reported by the Israeli organ Haaretz, those splendid chaps at Anonymous hacked in to the server used by Assad and Company and were able to get into 78 e-mail inboxes including that of Mr President himself. That's embarrassing enough in itself but it turns out that Assad uses the password '12345'. Wha? That's almost as dumb as using 'password' as your password!
The e-mails leaked so far reveal how Assad prepared for his TV interview with Barbara Walters, and nothing sensitive. I assume the evil bastards who actually run things in Syria have a better grasp of security or use a separate, discrete system - or maybe they don't care?

Friday, 3 February 2012

Goodwin's Knighthood

In an attempt to appease us plebs with a scapegoat whilst not actually doing anything about the systemic problems in the financial sector, David Cameron has engineered the removal of Fred Goodwin's knighthood. As pious chancellor George Osborne explained, Goodwin "came to symbolise everything that went wrong in the British economy over the last decade".
Well, duh! That is just about as irrelevant as giving it to him in the first place! Goodwin still keeps his £342.5K per year pension plus all the ill-gotten loot he acquired whilst employed at the Royal Bank of Scotland. And in any case, so what? Goodwin's reputation could hardly sink any lower, so losing his Knighthood is not much of a penalty for costing the UK £45 billion in bailing out RBS. And meanwhile, other miscreants, such as MPs who fiddled their expenses*, keep their 'honours' and the financial sector is free to go on with its credit default swaps, short-selling, collateralised debt obligations, and many more.
It just goes to show how discredited the financial sector, politicians and the honours system are.

* For example:

Sir Stuart Bell claimed £750 a month for food and designated his second home as a flat in London and claimed £1,400 a month rent.
Sir Paul Beresford who, as well as being an MP, worked up to three days a week as a dentist and designated his west London property, which included his surgery, as his second home on his parliamentary expenses.
Sir Michael Lord claimed more than £8000 over five years for his garden.
Sir Peter Tapsell claimed rent for second home in London, which rose from £4,821 a quarter in 2006 to £5,417 a quarter in 2008. Total claims over four years of £87,729.
Sir Peter Viggers included with his expense claims the £1,645 cost of a floating duck house in the garden pond at his Hampshire home.
Sir Nicholas Winterton who, with his wife Ann, claimed more than £80,000 for a London flat owned by a trust controlled by their children.

Not to mention Conrad Black, Jeffrey Archer, Sir Mark Thatcher and his mum the Barmy Baronness! I put it to you M'Lud that these people "have come to symbolise everything that went wrong with" most things in public life.

[above details via The Guardian]

Thursday, 2 February 2012

The Artist

An evening outing a couple of days ago for members of the Xorg collective, to the cinema to see 'The Artist', the much-vaunted silent movie (in black and white) that threatens to scoop all the Oscars this year.
I don't know whether or not The Artist is better than all the other nominees in all respects, but it should definitely win an award or two and it is most definitely worth paying money to see.
The story line is simple and straightforward, concerning a silent movie actor's struggle to adapt to the advent of talking pictures combined with the basic plot of 'A Star is Born', where an established star is outshone by his protege. It is a silent movie in that there is no spoken dialogue, but there is a well written musical score and some other sounds. Don't worry about not being able to follow what's going on though as there are occasional screens of dialogue at key points and often you can lip read what's being said.
The strength of the movie lies in how well it is made and the performances of the two leads. And a dog that does tricks. (Maybe they'll invent a special Oscar for the dog.) The point being that they act in the film as silent movie actors used to do, with exaggerated gestures and expressions thus giving a very authentic feel to the movie. But there is also wit and gentle parody of the genre, not least in the leading male character's matinee idol looks and grooming, and his broad Gene Kelly smile. Any road up, five stars!
Note: Minus five stars for Cineworld, however. Prior to the movie, we were bombarded with half an hour of advertisements and trailers at deafening volume, edited together by someone with the attention span of a teenage gnat. Moreover, we could hear the bangs and crashes from the screen next door where they were presumably watching a film about speeding 42-ton trucks being blown up by 15 megaton bombs interspersed with random machine gun fire.

Previously...