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Day 12: A song that makes you want to have sex.

Teenage Kicks, famously the favourite song of the late John Peel, is an unashamed homage to those adolescent feelings of overwhelming desire. This cover version transforms the raw energy of the original into a breathy female viewpoint which certainly has the desired effect ...

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Well, the blu-ray player arrived today, so I've spent a reasonable bit of time stripping out the old wires, hoovering up the dust bunnies behind the sofa, running the new wires along the skirting and tacking them neatly into place and then trying to figure out how the whole shebang works. The aerial signal coming into the house seems to be a bit on the weak side and I need to fiddle with everything to see if I can improve it sufficiently to provide a glitch free digital input. I think I might leave it and come back to it tomorrow when I have read the F manuals.

In other news, it's been a gloriously sunny day and perfect for dog walking and a spot of pottering about. I've read a bit more of Stewart Lee's book and it's both interesting as a detailed examination of a comedy routine and laugh out loud funny on most pages too.
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A song that reminds you of your Mother

When I was small we had an old mono record player with a handful of 7" singles to play on it, and one of them was my mum's copy of this record ...

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In which our heroes take delivery of a new television and enjoy a sunny day at the zoo.

The day got off to a most excellent start when a delivery van pulled up outside and delivered the tv that I had ordered less than twenty four hours previously. That's what I call darn good service from Amazon.

There was no time to unpack it though, because we had planned a day out at Chester Zoo to take advantage of the late summer fine weather, so we set off cross country with a fine selection of choons on the iPod shuffle to listen to. The journey was trouble free and we arrived just before mid-day.

We bought our tickets at the gate and the very first thing that we saw was worth the price of admission alone, according to my inner cute-o-meter. To whit, a baby heffalump peeking out shyly from between its mama's legs.



From there we made our way through the butterfly house where iridescent beauties the size of my hand fluttered around hither and yon with one even landing on my hat at one point.



Other highlights included baby orans, tanukis taking their ease in the treetops, a lethal looking komodo dragon, rhinos of the black and white varieties and the amazing experience of standing inside a darkened pavilion where fruit bats with a one meter wing span swooped overhead.

I know there are arguments for and against keeping animals in zoos, but if the paying visitors support the conservation work by their donations and seeing the exhibits cultivates a sense of the beauty and fragility of the natural world then it is a good thing on balance. Plus, teh cutez0r!

Home again, with the usual traffic jams around Manchester and then time for a beer and to set the new telly up, and wowzers it is impressive. The HD picture from the xbox seems to pop off the screen and the ability to plug a usb drive in the side and play videos will be very handy.

That's enough for tonight, cos I'm snacked.
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A song that reminds you of your father.

Not exactly a song, but I remember my dad playing me an album of Peter Sellers sketches including such gems as 'Balham - Gateway to the South' and this rather unusual version of a Beatles song ... enjoy!

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I'd actually decided on the tv and blu-ray player that we wanted last week and had put them in my (I imagine rather big) shopping basket at Amazon but couldn't quite bring myself to check them out. I noticed today that the price had dropped, and it was already by far the cheapest price that I had seen anywhere, so I girded my metaphorical loins and clicked the appropriate buttons to set my purchase into effect.

A short while later I received an email to say that there was a problem with the payment, so I surmised that the credit card company had put a block on due to the amount. My surmise was indeed correct and the phone rang with a nice Indian lady from the fraud department. She asked me a few questions to establish that I was indeed me, and not somebody who had broken into the house to sit by the landline phone waiting for it to ring. The only problem was that I couldn't remember the 'memorable place' question of the security checklist as I hadn't had cause to recall it for several years. I took two stabs at it, and it was only as she transferred me to another department that it actually came back to me. Doh.

Anyhoo, my identity being identified, I was transferred back to the fraud department who went through the transactions to identify the problem. Amusingly enough (for some values of the word amusing) it wasn't the expensive telly that had triggered the alert, nor the slightly less expensive blu-ray player, but it was in fact the single blu-ray disc of 'Watchmen' that I had ordered at the same time. Doh. Again.

Anyhoo again, it was all sorted out and approved and now everything is in transit, so hurrah!
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Well, actually it more like half past five, but the point stands.

There is no ideal time for the neighbor's burglar alarm to go off when they are away, but early on a Sunday morning of a bank holiday weekend after a late night of mojitos and Beatles Rock Band ranks as quite a poor choice. Fortunately it went off after twenty minutes or so, and I had a quick look through the windows but I couldn't see anything amiss so no further action was required.

Today has mostly been taken up with reading Stewart Lee's excellent memoir of his career in stand-up comedy, playing the usual run of games and generally taking it easy. So, apologies for the lack of excitement folks ...
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A song that reminds you of an ex. Nuff said!

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Hitch 22: Confessions and ContradictionsHitch 22: Confessions and Contradictions by Christopher Hitchens

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This book opens with Hitchens' experience of reading news of his own demise in a catalogue for an exhibition that described him as 'the late Christopher Hitchens', thus encouraging him to set down his memoir whilst he was still alive to do so. This has been further been given an air of almost unbearably poignant irony by his recent diagnosis of cancer of the esophagus, but this is not the place to dwell on that.

He follows a fairly structured route of memories of his mother and father, his schooldays in a series of grim public schools, his encounters with the socialist movement in the sixties and his time as a journalist in the booze addled Fleet Street of the seventies. He discourses on friends and acquaintances from Martin Amis to Salman Rushdie and Edward Said, and describes the things that drew them together as well as honestly setting down their differences. Needless to say, there are many humorous anecdotes to be found as well with an early encounter with a surprisingly saucy Margaret Thatcher provoking a laugh from me.

Through his life his political views have changed somewhat from his early left wing leanings, although he has been absolutely resolute in his opposition to tyranny of all forms, particularly when it takes its authority from theocracy. Thus, he demonstrates how he can support wars in Bosnia, Afghanistan and Iraq without necessarily being in accordance with the western governments who initiated them. One barbed comment that he reports is that an anti-war demonstration in London is a rare occasion that a million people have taken to the streets in support of a brutal fascist regime.

One particularly moving chapter describes his search for his ancestry on his mother's side after a unexpected revelation following her tragically early death. He is not mawkish by any means, but approaches the subject with clear eyed and enlightening honesty.

He reads the audiobook, and his slightly plummy style is occasionally difficult to follow but it is well worth the effort and concentration required.

Unreservedly recommended.

View all my reviews
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One band/singer whose popularity you will never understand.

Hmmm, a tricky prompt today. There are plenty of acts that I may not necessarily like, but I can understand the popularity of to their target audience. I am not a teeny bopper, so the oeuvre of Justin Bieber is not aimed at me, but who am I to cavil at those who do enjoy his squeaky clean auto-tuned offerings. Live and let live, I say.

However, for something that falls into the 'what the hell were they thinking' category, I present Bob Dylan's Christmas Album ... :-)
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A minor bit of drama yesterday.

Our house looks down over a wall onto the next street along, affording a view of the goings on down there. There is a block of maisonettes and a couple of council houses and it is generally pretty quiet. Not on this occasion, when I heard shouting and then the unmistakable sound of a police siren. I looked out to see a youngish man in a black t-shirt mouthing off in an incoherent ramble of 'Fooking fookers fookit' or words to that effect.

In short order two police constables were on the scene trying to calm him down making placatory gestures, but he was having none of it, puffing his chest out and squaring up in a classic gorilla-like aggressive stance. We then had a grandstand view of a third copper tackling him from behind and slapping the cuffs on before he knew what was happening.

He continued to struggle for a while before they hauled him up, put on gloves to clean up his bloody nose and then transported him off to the local nick to cool his heels for a while.

All human life is here, or at least in the neighborhood.
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Busy day, checking in code and making sure everything is up to date before my week off. Now it is long overdue time for a mojito!

The bank holiday weekend starts ... NOW!
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Day 7: One band/singer you're ashamed to admit you like.

Hmmm, this does not really compute. I have a rather diverse taste in music, covering just about every genre up to and including ambient Eskimo soundscapes, and I'm not ashamed about any of it. I will happily argue the toss about the musical merits of anything I enjoy until the cows come home.

I suppose the most desperately unhip genre that I enjoy is prog rock, with Genesis being the prime example. I fully see the need that there was for the year zero of punk back in the mid 70s, but prog at its best (and worst) exhibited some superb musicianship and soaring flights of imagination and whimsy. Here's a sample:

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Favourite Band

My definition of a good band is a collection of individuals that manage to produce more than the sum of their parts when performing together. I think that Bob Wills and the Texas Playboys handily fit into this class. A diverse group of musicians, gathered around the charismatic Wills as band leader and front man, they were one of the pioneers of Western Swing drawing on influences from traditional folk, to blues and jazz, producing a catchy and engaging sound that grew to be immensely popular from the twenties and thirties right through the war years and beyond.

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Dark and wet outside when I got up this morning and when I opened the door Daisy scooted past me and upstairs carrying a mouse in her mouth. I chased after her and managed to rescue the wee, sleekit, timorous beastie before she could either eat it or let it loose in one of the bedrooms. I let it go outside and distracted the cats with their breakfasts to give it a chance to escape.

Busy day at work, trying to catch up on everything I need to finish up before my week off next week. I could have done without extra stuff being loaded on to the to-do list as well. Hmmm.

Home, and it's chilly and gloomy again. Not a very encouraging portent for the bank holiday weekend.
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Favourite female vocalist

Has to be Sarah Blackwood, originally of Dubstar and now part of Client. I love the way that she has kept her West Yorkshire accent as a perfect compliment to the electro-dance music that is her usual oeuvre. I first heard this track whilst drinking strawberry margaritas in a Tex-Mex restaurant in Edinburgh and it took me nearly the entire track to recognise that it was a cover version of an old Billy Bragg song.

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Up at the proverbial crack of the proverbial dawn, and there was a definite hint of a suggestion of a touch of a nip in the air. Feels like .... autumn. Say it ain't so! Anyhoo, this is a long winded way of saying I was up early, the car was covered with chilly dew and I was driving north on a fine and mostly sunny day.

For once the installation turned out to be problem free and mostly straightforward, apart from testing the timeout on internet logins which involved a fair bit of sitting around waiting for sessions in various states to timeout (well, duh!) with the correct error message and redirect. It worked, so hurrah, and I treated myself to a bacon stottie from a greasy spoon cafe in the local town centre that was a little bit like stepping into a time warp of thirty years or more into the past. Crappy 80s music, tired looking people, unemployment advice on the mugs of tea - yep, it's like the Thatcher years never went away, eh Dave'n'Nick? (oooh, little bit of politics!).

Back home again at a reasonable hour, and for some strange reason I suddenly felt very tired and very cold at the same time, requiring the swift application of a fluffy jumper and the heating being switched on for a bit.

Yep, definitely a touch of Autumn on the way.

Haikusday

Aug. 24th, 2010 06:24 pm
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Twelve degrees, rain,
The British summer lives down
To expectations

Two cats queue for noms
Meanwhile, ginger kitteh is
Catching her own food

Next OU course booked
Object oriented Java
Roll on October!

Carcassonne all stars
Fight for control of the game
Leader board grudge match

Big Brother Housemates!
This is Davina. I am
Coming to get you

Thermal Pigs on tour
From dive bars to stadiums
You ready to RAWK?
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