Saturday, 30 March 2013

Amber - Fretwork update





Remember Amber - of course you all do!  I've been wanting to dress the frets on it as a couple of the high ones choked off.  I bought a new file from Crimson Guitars - in the foreground of the picture which is a brilliant file and with watching the videos online from the Crimson's Ben I had a go.  Really really pleased - solved all the problems!  Amber is now super duper gorgeous!

So 2013 continues...

Last week I was telling you all how 2013 has already thrown some bad issues our way.  Well it continues.

Thursday night my niece called to say she was in hospital.  She has suffered with ME for ages and it has been bad lately especially after a couple of bouts of the flu etc.  A couple of times she suddenly found she can't move her legs - that has again happened she has no movement below her waist. 

She has a great spirit though as I visited her yesterday and she was joking away.  The doctors actually are wondering if there is an actual spinal injury at the root cause this time (she has had a couple of accidents in the past with her back) so are getting scans etc. organised, but with Easter - everyone is on holiday so she's stuck there until at least Tuesday.

Another bump in a very bumpy year so far.

On a brighter note on the kitchen is all finished... here is a rubbish picture to prove it - I like the colour, B&Q Warm Yellow.  And proper paint - you know with all those environmental warnings on it to scare you half to death, but I tried that acrylic water based rubbish in our bedroom, it doesn't cover, it is matt not gloss and frankly was a waste of money so I'm back to the non-green gives you a headache and kills the ozone layer paint but at least it looks like I've bothered to actually paint the woodwork!  As shown by the glossy shine on the door :-)



Thursday, 28 March 2013

Time off

One of the benefits of working for a university is the holidays.  We get a healthy number of days holiday to take at our discretion but then two closures - one for the week over Christmas/New Year and then one at Easter.  This year that means my last day was yesterday (Wed) and I'm not back in the office until next Wed!  So almost a full week - and with everybody else off and the college closed no build up of emails and actions!

So Maundy Thursday - I'm painting the kitchen, Mrs F and Daughter-of-Furtheron had to get up as usual and head off to their respective schools whilst I had a cosy lie in.  Now I'm half way through painting the walls - the ceiling I did last week.  So lunchbreak and then back with a second coat of the paint on the walls.  Tomorrow I'll paint the woodwork - doors, skirting etc.  Hopefully all done by Saturday.

Monday, 25 March 2013

If you've ever wondered what the guitar is that currently is the head photo on the blog... i.e.





It is a Gordon Smith Graduate 60 - hand made in England.

Here is a lovely little and quiet brilliant short video about the lovely people who made it.




Now - listen up... these are hand crafted really good guitars and you can seen from the "factory" they hardly match Gibson/Fender/PRS etc. for output so more un-usual.  Now Richard Guitars has a similar Graduate to mine available today for only £899!!!  BARGAIN!

PS...

If you wondered what the body was Lynda was sanding down in this clip here is the new Gryphon bass now available at the Manchester Bass Lounge...



I broke a tooth!

Yes folks about as exciting as it gets these days in the Furtheron household.  I broke a tooth - on a naan bread!  I know.  I chomped into the last bit of naan at our curry on Friday and felt something in it - I knew what it was.  Yes a cusp off one of my back molars!  Surprisingly it has hurt little but I went today (Monday) to get it fixed as I didn't want it leading to more problems but time to face facts most of my teeth have one or more fillings in them and really this fix is possibly only temporary I think I'll need some major dental stuff soon - like a couple of crowns or more.

In other news.  Daugther-of-Furtheron had her French speaking exam today - the messages on Twitter/Facebook don't auger well sadly.  Also Son-of-Furtheron is soon to book his flight back!  Yes he is over halfway through his stint in the frozen north - frankly though given we had snow again this weekend there is little difference from here.  He'll be back in May some point. Where the hell has spring gone?  Forecast seems to show it staying cold through Easter into April.

Musically I recorded a new song whilst Mrs F and Daughter-of-Furtheron were out at a Script gig on Saturday - but you'll have to wait for the unveiling.  It is a Christmas song I wrote over the Christmas period and have honed a little in recent weeks.  I've been learning Faure's Pavane on the classical guitar and also Isabella's Wedding by Gordon Giltrap - which is interesting as it is in DADGAD - takes a while on some of the things in that to get your head used to that interval when your fingers are in that position as your brain is telling you the interval should be different (i.e. that you'd hear in standard tuning) but it is just a process of retuning the brain as well as the guitar!

Just wish I was warmer!!  Roll on Easter!

Tuesday, 19 March 2013

2013 - emphasis on the 13...


2013 is living up to the 13 part of its nomenclature if you believe in the superstition that it is unlucky.

I apologise for the rugby rant - I think I now know why I ranted so much, I'm angry about other stuff I have no control over and this is my anger/frustration about that coming out sideways in a place I feel comfortable ranting and safe from any effects of said rant!  That all said - I still think England have much to learn from that performance.

Why am I angry?  Life is throwing a bunch of stuff in my direction at the moment - all of which I have no control over and little that I can actually do to help in any situation.  Here is the list...


  • In January - a good friend in AA succumbed to Lung Cancer, only 47 and such a sad loss.
  • In February - another acquaintance in AA died suddenly, probably from a blood clot.
  • In March (so far) - a friend has had a car crash and has a suspected broken back, he is being transferred to one of the countries leading specialist units.
  • A good friend of my wife's Mother-in-Law died suddenly.
  • The father of a really close friend died suddenly over last weekend from a bleed on the brain.
  • My son's girlfriend had to spend the weekend in hospital as she suffers with a blood disorder and the treatment she has been on went all wonky.

So as I say - none of these are about me directly and in many I'm a removed observer to a degree but I feel for the people involved and as I say and you can probably see I can't do much directly to help I'm not an Orthopaedic Consultant, or a Hematologist etc.

One of my character defects (to use the terminology used in the 6th step of AA's 12 steps) is that I really want to dive in and fix peoples issues for them - to be the rescuer. Couple that with my desire for me to the one totally in control of any situation and you have a recipe for frustration and anger.  Now knowing that and working to minimise the issues with it is easy said etc. but it runs deep within me and this catalogue of things where my sensitive soul is touched but I can do little about any of it is hurting me inside.  And my addict brain will do it's best to delude and deny me the reasons behind all this - it craves the easy solution of course.

This all became so clear to me yesterday as I listened to a friend talk about their physical recovery from a painful condition and difficult surgery over the last year or so.  It hit me that was the underlying feeling of discontentment - strike that - ANGER - at the world, nature, the universe and what it is doing to my friends at the moment.  Also there is a hint of survivor syndrome guilt in there in that part of you is relieved that it isn't me directly with these issues.  I have to be honest that feeling is there too and that is not atypical in my thinking/feeling that contradiction of feelings about things like this.

Now there is one of the major reasons I used to drink - it is one of the major reasons for me that I believe I'm an alcoholic as I really really struggle to cope at times with that type of contradictory feeling/thinking and the best way, the instant way to deal with it is of course to drink.  If I drink the feeling will be numbed, my feelings will be instantly disengaged from my consciousness and the bullshit will start and I'll be telling the guy at the bar next to me what a great guy I am for supporting all these friends with these disasters where in reality I'm there at that bar drinking away to avoid all of that - especially to avoid thinking about it, heaven forbid actually feeling it and then somewhere in another dimension actually talking about feeling about it, I mean that would have to expose my fear of not being able to help, feeling helpless etc.  I could never admit to that.

As they say "progress not perfection" (page 60 AA big book http://www.alcoholics-anonymous.org.uk/bigbook/pdf/BigBook_chapt5.pdf).

Monday, 18 March 2013

RSS Aggregation Aggravation - The Final Part(?)

I hoping this'll be the last post in this series (rant!).

With Google Readers demise I've been pushed out of my comfy zone and need to find a fix for a new RSS reader.  If you've never used one briefly RSS is a method used by websites to "broadcast" the content of that site to users who have "subscribed".  Essentially you then have a "reader" which has "feeds" from these source sites you've selected.  You open up the reader and there is a list of all the new stories you can go read.  If you join sites in Blogger or Favourite them in Wordpress you get a similar, if very limited thing, off you home page/dashboard in those tools.  The benefit with RSS is that it is open and not tied to any blog tool etc. you can have news sites, blogs etc. etc.   So I have all my blogs in mine categorised into groupings, like work, Blogs, Guitar etc.

So here is the (hopefully!) final view.

I used to use Bloglines - so went back there first.  However whilst exporting from Reader and into Bloglines was fine several of my regular feeds didn't seem to now work.  I knew I'd have to go around getting them to work probably by reconnecting - a bit of a pain.  Also I saw several forum comments that they didn't seem to be too helpful if you couldn't get a feed working again.  Also the mobile look and feel wasn't good coupled with the lack of an Andriod app left me less than happy.

I tried Netvibes - which Bloglines is driven by - same issues as above.

I looked at The Old Reader - set up by some guys to mimic how Google Reader used to work.  Hmm - went to import my subscribtions.  3 days later it still says there are 17,000 plus people in the queue in front of me... No Andriod app either... moving on...

Feedly - suggested by Dr 24 hrs - who I should listen to more often - highly clever guy.  Feedly connects directly to Google Reader - so no import / export.  The interface is new and snazzy, very modern - but despite me going "Whoaa what is this?" I'm now getting the hang of it.  The Andriod app is ok but I did find I couldn't type when I got to a site to comment but I fiddled and... still didn't work ... then it did.  I don't know what I did but the problem is fixed now, might have been the old "switch it off and back on" without me realising I'd done that - by the way I have letters after my name proving I am an IT professional you know!  Feedly have committed to a new engine underneath which will replace them relying on the Google Reader API and say they will migrate users transparently under the covers.  We'll see how that goes but looks like they've been thinking on it for a while expecting Google/Reader to go and one they are publicly committed to.

So I'm settled on Feedly for the moment and will get that working for me.

Sunday, 17 March 2013

What did the 6 Nations really tell us?

That England are sadly still rubbish - sorry a bit harsh but frankly a long long way from being a great team and threatening for either a 6 nations grand slam or a good chance in the World Cup.

So three games in I reported I was really pleased.  By then England were the only unbeaten team.

However let us consider...

Scotland - getting better and didn't get the wooden spoon this year but frankly they are one of the sides with lowest ability in the championship.  We played them when it was their first game with a new coach and style they beat Italy and Ireland but...

France - I have no idea what they were doing - the French have this ability to implode and this year is no different, the selections and substitutions have left most observers totally bamboozled.

Ireland - What the hell happened there?  Another team to lose it and play way below their ability.  Injuries didn't help but they just never played how we know they can.  They need to shake the team up, they know it they started but sorry old loyalties should be disregarded, the side needs to move on and rebuild.

So - England beat all three of them but Ireland took the wooden spoon, Scotland were on a rebuild first match and France - yes well threw the game and championship away with bizarre selection and tactics.

Italy - they will soon be up there in with a chance of the championship if the other sides don't improve.  Beating France and Ireland shows where they have come to but also shows the other sides frankly slipping too.  England were very lucky to beat them at Twickenham.

So we arrived at Cardiff.  Could England beat Wales and take the Grand Slam - honestly I didn't think so I hoped we'd keep in touch and win the championship on virtue of points difference.  By the end of the first half I said "They are going to beat us by 30 points"...  30-3 the final score.  I should be a pundit.

Wales were very good - best Northern Hemisphere side.  England - just better than Italy - that is the truth.  That is what the 6 nations has shown us - we'll get mauled in the World Cup!  The forwards lost the scrum battle and annoyed the ref - great.  The roof was closed - in the morning when I heard that I said "Owen will miss kicks"... he did... I should be a pundit!...  When we did in the second half get close to a try but Toby Flood for the second week showed lack of strength when it was really needed then Care lost his head and kicked it off the park.  That move was rubbish frankly and summed up England's performance.  In defence too many penalties given away the discipline showed in the earlier games gone.  England of old.  Shame I had high hopes but realise now that Wales are so far ahead of everyone else and the first 3 games had overly flattered England's ability.

If I was picking the Lions I'd consider Brad Barritt as he works so hard and Mike Brown (I thought him England's best player in the championship) but both of them only for impact / versatility off the bench.  Forwards... er no I'd not take any of the England team - lost the scrum with Italy and Wales repeatedly too many penalties, there are a lot better back row's about.  England against Italy and Wales struggled at the breakdown.  I mean just pick Wales 1 - 8 would be my recommendation for the Lions.  Actually - just take Wales they are way above the rest anyway! 

I should get used to it as an England fan really the odd glimpse of quality and then the crushing realisation that actually no it is all a thin veneer with little depth and no ability to dig deep when needed.  It was nearly there this year but ...   Oh well.   Oh yes finally - how is Ashton on the wing with Strettle and Varndell playing so much better in the premiership?  As I say forget loyalties, look at some other players who deserve a chance.

There's always next year... yes I know ... forget that Wales will I predict get a hat-trick of championships and that should be a Grand Slam they won't slip up like this year I predict.

Friday, 15 March 2013

Plectra I currently use


Inspired by another blogger talking about plectrum choice I'm going to bore you all rigid.  (However some while back a post call Let's Talk Plectrums... (yes I know the plural should be plectra) was one of the top read posts on this blog - hello you sad people! :-)

Anyway currently I use Dunlop Tortex picks – normally the just the standard ones but I did buy some of the III ones based on the shape of Dunlop's line of jazz picks and I did like them… I also have bought and use some from a UK company called Stone Deaf – they were good value if not as good quality as the Dunlop ones.

Now different horses for difference courses - or different plectra for different guitars (doesn't rhyme that so won't catch on in the same way).

On 6 string acoustic my favoured thickness is now the orange ones at 0.6mm thick – I did use 0.5mm for a while but beefed up a while back and currently seem settled with them.

On 12 string acoustic I use the yellow ones 0.73mm - I just feel the need for something a little more sturdy to get some power into the double courses, also the less give makes for a more definite pick of both strings when playing arpeggio or solo lines - well that is what I "feel" anyhow.

On electric and bass (which I use fingers or pick for depending on the sound I want) I use the green 0.88mm – rarely the blue 1.0mm – if only playing riffage but my style is normally mixed riffs, chordal strumming, etc. so prefer the slightly lighter 0.88mm ones.

I really can bore for England on this topic... if you've got this far my congratulations to you and hello fellow guitar nerd!

RSS aggregation aggravation continued...


Thought I'd look at theoldreader.com - hit Import and gave it my Subscriptions.xml file to chew on...

"Thank you for uploading your OPML file. We will soon start importing your subscriptions, which might take up to several hours depending on the amount of feeds you have.

There are 20643 users in the import queue ahead of you."

LOL!   I think a lot of people are moving over today!   I'll come back to it...

I've tried Bloglines and Netvibes (same thing actually as Bloglines is now just rebadged Netvibes from what I can see).  Most stuff has gone over ok but frustratingly a few feeds are not working.  I have to go through and re-add and some of them then say "No feed" or similar - which is rubbish as they are working Reader - quick look on the forums seems a common complaint, if there is a problem and you are only subscriber they are unlikely to help.  Annoying!

Hence why I'll try theoldreader.com  - when it catches up, still it does put up a nice picture of a kitten when it isn't working

Thursday, 14 March 2013

Google Reader demise...

Damn!  Google has announced that Google Reader is being killed off.

I use it a lot - I have the blogs I follow in there and it is easy to read.  I have the Andriod client which syncs it all up on my phone as well so I can read on the move or at a PC.  I moved to Reader in 2010 when it was announced that Bloglines was closing.  In the end Bloglines didn't close but I'd moved over already.  Sadly Bloglines doesn't have an Andriod reader from what I can see and exporting / importing my feeds has worked but Bloglines seems a pain.   And how long before that closes.

Annoying.  I know everyone uses Twitter these days .... well actually they don't - I'm an RSS aggregator die hard fan - I like having it all in one place, I can catagorise etc. and read in the reader or pop to the site to comment.

Grrr - Annoyed of England.

Stop press - there is a petition - whether it'll do any good who knows but if you want to sign go to http://venturebeat.com/2013/03/14/change-org-peition-google-reader/

Wednesday, 13 March 2013

Minimum alcohol pricing

Many press reports (BBC) over the last two days seem to be indicating that the government is backing away from an alcohol minimum pricing policy.

I smile at this idea - a lot of learned people think it is a good idea but as recently I've talked about on this blog, alcoholics will go to extraordinary lengths to drink, putting your life and well-being in repeated danger seems small fry to me compared to saying - oh that is a bit more expensive.  Alcoholics lie about their use of alcohol, the recent report indicating that 50% of the UK's alcohol purchases are "lost" when you ask people how much they drink.  So how much difference will this have?  Some but I feel minimally for people like me.

When I drank I bizarrely almost exclusive drank beer; there are some awful incidents involving vodka that meant I thought it best I avoid shorts and stick to beer only.  That was "sensible".  I almost exclusively drank in pubs - because that gave my drinking an air of "acceptability", it was "social", also it oddly hid my drinking, by moving from pub to pub through the day I looked like a guy in a suit having a couple at lunchtime, on his way home, after work, in the evening.  If I'd have drunk at home my family would have rumbled me not that frankly the whole world didn't know about it really I was frankly deluding myself about the "normality" and the "hidden" nature of my alcohol abuse.  On reflection in rehab I realised what a twit I'd been, if I'd have bought a bottle of vodka or two a day from the supermarket I'd have saved myself thousands of pounds over the years!  (I don't recommend that course frankly!)

So for years I paid well over the minimum per unit amounts considered currently a deterrent and I gladly did that for all the reasons above and more.  I was lucky I held down a good job which meant I had the money but I'd have found the funds somehow and/or changed how, what and when I drank if the money hadn't have been there.  How many alcoholics do I know with similar stories?  More numerous than I can count often involving "just buying a half bottle in the morning - only to buy another by lunchtime" or "I'd get 6 cans on the way home - only to have to stagger out late to get another 6"...  you get the picture.  We all have the same issue.  Once we start drinking a craving is initiated in us that can only be sedated with more alcohol no matter  how good or noble our intentions initially were.

For me these days the minimum price is clearly not an issue - I don't buy alcohol!  But with all this hoohah with it I'll return to those stats with interest in a couple of years to come.  Do you think really that our purchases will be any closer to our disclosures?  Or that the deaths due to alcohol will have stopped rising from 8,700 a year?   I doubt it frankly - drinking for alcoholics isn't a fiscal issue.

Monday, 11 March 2013

Understanding addiction and alcoholism

I wonder if people who are not addicts can ever really understand - even the really clever ones.

I'm drawn to this question again having watched a fantastic programme about addicition that was on the BBC last Friday.  If you can watch it in your locale and want to here is the link go the BBC iPlayer page for it http://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/episode/p00wq21g/Russell_Brand_From_Addiction_to_Recovery/

Frankly I don't like Mr Brand as a performer I don't find him that amusing as an entertainer but I know he is an addict in recovery so thought this would be an interesting watch.  It was.  Maybe others can watch this and start to get in the head of people like me when Russell sees a video of himself taking drugs from some years ago he admits to jealousy of his older self.  I'm similar - I just wish I could drink and not have the consequences of someone who drinks too much.  But I can't I'm an alcoholic and so that I know if I did go and have a drink today it would all be bad not good for me.  As Russell says it would slowly take everything from me, money, jobs, homes, friends, family, health and eventually, inevitably my life.  It is that simple as I cannot control my drinking once started I cannot stop or reduce.

There was one part where he remonstrates with a doctor who prescribes Methadone to Heroine addicts.  Russell argues strongly that this is not helping the "junkies", they just use more on top he states and his meeting with drug users throughout the programme seems to bear this out, but you could possibly argue editorial control dictating what we were shown perhaps.  However I went to the Office National Statistics and got a spreadsheet of deaths in UK due to drugs.

In table 6b "Number of drug-related deaths where selected substances were mentioned without other drugs, England and Wales, 1993–2011", Heroin and Morphine are number one with 332 for 2011.  Methadone is second with 231.  Now to me this does seem like madness - a substitute we are prescribing to help people has a death rate of nearly 70% the drug we're "protecting" people from.  Is this only about making drug users  legitimate and pushing down crime as they no longer need to use crime to fuel their habit or about getting people to live a drug free life, free from the risk of a drug poisoned death?  I'll leave you to decide but 231... makes you wonder doesn't it.  

Btw - for alcohol in another set of data from ONS - namely "Age-standardised alcohol-related death rates (with 95 per cent confidence limits) by sex and age group, United Kingdom, 1991-2011" the total for alcohol deaths in the UK in 2011 (same year as above) was 8,748.  I'm not out to make alcohol illegal, that won't work, in fact my personal view is to legalise drugs through a controlled environment as part of helping addicts find treatment and reduce the risk for addicts using stuff where they have no idea what it has been cut with etc., however there is a bold stat of all death due to drug poisoning was 2,652 for 2011 - that includes all prescribed and over the counter medicines as well like paracetamol etc.  Alcohol is still over 3 times that figure.

Sobering stats - pun intended people.

Friday, 8 March 2013

Catching up with my son

Son-of-Furtheron's continues his Arctic adventure.  We had a great Skype catch up call with him last night.  What a fantastic thing Skype is frankly!

Good news is he is liking the work and enjoying himself studywise.  That is key it would be a disaster to travel there and not enjoy that side of it which occupies so much of his time.

We were catching up on the bizarre costs of things.  Chicken is particularly expensive apparently so he is living of Salmon which is by comparison a bargain - he gets four fillets for about £7! Tea is another expensive luxury so he is very grateful for the large box of tea bags we sent to him and great expense... the woman in the post office thinks I'm nuts no doubt, and I found out the other day it is a good job he isn't in China.  Caffeine is a prohibited import into China so if you have anyone there you know, don't ever send them tea bags - it'll be illegal!  And probably pointless given they already have all the tea in China!

His "great big bushy" Arctic explorer beard is coming on very well - although he had trimmed it up this week a bit as he had 3 interviews, over Skype again, for PhD places starting in the Autumn.  He's done all he can no just wait to see if he gets and offer and hopefully one that he wants and can work with his girlfriend who already has one lined up at Birmingham.  Ideally they want to live together and one or both of them commute as needed.

Some great quotes... "It has warmed up -20°C is ok it is when it is -30°C and windy it is really cold".  "I think the cheap mince I buy is probably reindeer".  "Svalbard reindeer are more dense than Welsh sheep.  I mean they eat grass and live here where there is heck of a lot of snow above the grass."  "I don't get out too much, biggest hassle is finding a spare rifle, despite this place having the most firearms per head of population anywhere in the world".  "I saw the sun probably for the first time today since January in England".

So all good.

Music I've been listening too recently.


Ok - so having said I don't do record reviews any more - here are some record reviews!  No, no!  These are simply observations about new music I've recently been listening to - in no particular order then...

1. Muse - 2nd Wave.  A bit different from Mr Bellamy and the boys, probably never going to be my favourite Muse album but a good listen no doubt.  In some ways on some of the later tracks on this I get a feeling of Porcupine Tree overall in the sound - not a bad thing just my observation.

2. Blair Dunlop - Blight and Blossom.  Super d├ębut album this.  Billy in the Lowground is my highlight - Blair takes this old bluegrass fiddle classic reworks it on guitar adds some amusing lyrics and it is a real delight.  Whole album is great.

3. The Albion Band - Vice of the People.  Hang on it is Blair Dunlop again!  So great solo album and here he has re-ignited his Dad's old band (he is Ashley Hutchings son if you don't know).  So the great folk rockers of the past are reborn anew.  And blow me what a stunner!  Really rocky in places but with the folk overtones this is classic British Folk Rock at it's very best.  A reworking of the old folk classic "The Thieves Song" is my personal favourite on this, but there isn't a duff track on the album.

4. Oliver Wakeman and Gordon Giltrap - Ravens and Lullabies.  I pre-ordered this as I'm a bit of a Gordon fan - any regular reader will know this!  I've been to the workshop, bought his albums, learn his pieces, even bought one of his signature guitars!  Enough hero worship.  I dropped this into the CD player and was really blown away from the first track.  Unlike the recent tour where the material was instrumentals with just the two of them this is a full blown prog rock band album.  Gordon really impresses with his electric guitar lead playing too... the guy is too talented!  Oliver is in the mould of his illustrious father (he was also a member of Yes for some years just prior to the latest lineup).  So if you like old style prog a la Yes, Caravan, Genesis (Gabriel era), etc. you really ought to listen to this it may sound a bit dated but still is superb musicianship etc. as you'd expect.  To put to a more recent context more than once I was reminded of supergroup Transatlantic.

5. Sam Carter - the No Testament.  Out and out folk and well executed to, loads of really great songs, many traditional songs re-arranged by Mr Carter with pitthy modern references, P45s etc.  The guy has a stunning voice.

6. Lau - Race the Loser.  This group won (again!) best group of the year at the recent Radio 2 folk awards. Deservedly so.  This album is stunning.  This group produce songs with pure songscapes in them.  Whenever I listen I feel myself being transported away to somewhere new, different.  Honestly you just get lost in the marvellous sounds.  Throwing Pennies - is the highlight for me, a beautifully executed and lyrically poignant song.

7. Biffy Clyro - Opposites  Probably the best yet from the Scottish trio. Super songs great playing and terrific production. Both CDs in this double package have strong tracks Black Chandelier is my favourite.

8. Led Zep - Celebration Day.  Well some reunions and performances by past masters frankly only work if you remember how they were rather than really acknowledging how they are today.  I wondered about Celebration Day... I needn't have worried.  Stunning!  Totally still got it - some of it is wonky but that was Led Zep - Jimmy for example seems to forget to hit the "clean channel" button at the start of Ramble On but whatever that is my only nit pic of the whole thing.  Bonham Jr is frankly amazing in his Dad's Shadow, Jimmy is Jimmy - John Paul Jones looks more into it than he was in the 70s!  And Mr Plant - well he still just has it.

9. Coldplay - live 2012 - Live album from the band I rated as one of the best gigs of last year.  You know - I'm thinking most of the tracks on this are way ahead of the studio versions and it isn't often I feel that about an entire live album... UFO Strangers in the Night excepted of course!  Bargain too - CD and DVD for price you often pay for one or other...

Now a couple of others...

10.  Jimi Hendrix - People, Hell and Angels.  So as soon as I could get on Spotify to listen to this I did.  Sadly a bit disappointed.  The last release from the Hendrix estate was Valleys of Neptune which uncovered a bunch of "lost" tracks.  I thought that was a worthy release.  This one sadly I'm not so sure of, there are too many alternative versions of previously available stuff and for me they aren't on a par with the more well known versions. Isabella for example doesn't work half as well for me in this version to the more well known release.  So sadly I'll pass on this - interestingly there is a version of Crash Landing - which was the title track of a previous posthumously released album from the 70s that received much complaint about its lack the Jimi vibe... this is closer to that vibe, Eddie Kramer has been involved, but still really sounds like a collection of slightly under par stuff to me.

11. Robin Trower - Roots and Branches.  Robin Trower is sadly too far ignored by many - he seems to be a players player and many seem to slate him as a Hendrix clone. Well using a Strat, Univibe, Wah-Wah, Fuzz pedal and a Marshall amp cranked up - sounds a familiar recipe and with his blues influences yes he is Hendrix like - but stands on his own merits.  Listen to Bridge of Sighs or Victims of the Fury to hearhim in his heyday with the late great James Dewer on vocals and I'll think you'll agree the man is worthy of more widespread acclaim   His latest offering however is a set of reworking of early influential tracks with him giving them his own flavour.  So you'll find Hound Dog on here - but trust me it don't sound nothing like the King!  This is a good album but possibly more still for fans already than going to make him new converts.  Again I'm still listening on Spotify to this determining whether I should add it to my collection permanently.

That'll do for now but just so you people know I'm still forever in search of new music.

Thursday, 7 March 2013

Wolf Hall - Hilary Mantel

I stopped posting book and album reviews generally on this blog as largely I felt they were rubbish - I'm no critic and I noticed a lot of reader traffic was to these posts, I personally felt I was doing the authors often a disservice in my reviews as I say... I'm no critic.  If I was all about driving traffic to the blog I'd only do reviews - many of them get 1000s of reads!  Often with the music stuff I'm going to wax lyrical as I'm already a fan I'm normally reviewing something I was obviously going to buy so people aren't reading an unbias review but often a fan's eulogy.

Anyway I have to mention this book.  I bought this as a result of seeing Ms Mantel receiving much critical acclaim and prizes for it and it's sequel which I daftly bought at the same time and will now I fear remain forever unopened.

Sadly though I've given up reading it less than half way through.  I just can't get into it at all - the writing style is virtually all dialogue or brief snippets underneath about the underlying politics etc. under the dialogue.  But I get so lost,  and there is no visualisation of the places etc. I feel the thing is a complete void as though I'm only listening to the dialogue in a film where at least 50% of the information about the story is lost to me.  It may present Thomas Cromwell in a completely new light but frankly I just lose the plot with almost every page turn.

So the lesson - I shouldn't believe all the awards stuff.  Probably I should avoid a book that has one an esteemed literary prize on this basis as I clearly don't get it and can't read a novel like this with the required level of intellect.

On the Wikipedia page about Wolf Hall I found this quote from a professional reviewer...

"...dreadfully badly written... Mantel just wrote and wrote and wrote. I have yet to meet anyone outside the Booker panel who managed to get to the end of this tedious tome. God forbid there might be a sequel, which I fear is on the horizon. — Susan Bassnett, in Times Higher Education[8]"

So - not just me then...  Having read that I do have a little bit of "Emperors Clothes" thinking about it. If the Booker panel did fail to read it as Susan Bassnett alleges how did it win the prize?

Saturday, 2 March 2013

Where does it go then? Alcohol Consumption

I saw this report the other day


Actually this is work from where I work so I have extra belief in it's integrity.

Bottom line is if you add up the figures for what people in Britain say they drink you get a number.  If you compare that to the sales figures for the industry then about 40 - 60% is unaccounted for.

I just burst out laughing!  What do you suspect? I spent years lying to everyone about my alcohol consumption, alcoholics do.  I think probably 90% of all booze is consumed by about 10% of the population.  Then there is a rump who think on a "normal" week when stating their comsumption but forget the 1 or 2 days a month it is higher the occasional bingers.

For me however I had no control over my drinking it simply controlled me.  On a daily basis I rarely could accurately add up how much I had drunk by the end of the day, I'd have to give you a range generally greater than 10 pints but less than 15 - no wonder the figures are so far out.

Still a wake up call for Britain possibly, maybe my assumption is wrong if so far more people have an issue than I believe they do.