That’s how I feel about you

11 05 2013

Getting antsy for the up-coming Kate Nash show at Vancouver’s Electric Owl venue. Never been, but I’m reliably told it’s “cosy”. Probably a good match for her style which isn’t over-produced.

I blogged about “Birds” last April: She said “Wha’?” | Quieter Elephant.

She’s got a third album out now, and it has some strong feminist messages. She’s also taken over as global ambassador for Because I am a Girl. I think it’s a great use of her celebrity status. She seems to manage to balance being girlie when it suits her and still being taken seriously.

Anyway, I’ve been listening to her new stuff which is definitely darker and a bit retro-post-punk in places, and along with that, her older stuff came up in the shuffle. “Birds” popped up, and reminded me of why I like Nash’s stuff. The lyrics are so observant. Hard to believe that she’s only 25 now, making her about 19 when she broke out with “Foundations“.

I loved the phrase from “Birds” as the new boyfriend attempts to express his feelings:

Right, birds can fly so high
And they can shit on your head
And they can almost fly into your eye
And make you feel so scared.
But when you look at them
And you see that they’re beautiful
That’s how I feel about you

For me it captured how clumsy new lovers are in expressing their thoughts. They stumble to find metaphors and allusions to how they feel, and end up sounding stupid.

This one struck a chord. Women can be really quite prickly and scary when you first encounter them. And yes – you sometimes can feel a bit shat on. When you get behind all that though and get to know them better (if you’re allowed to!) you might get the chance to see their real colours and appreciate the inner beauty. And then you’ll appreciate just being in their space and watching and listening. Every little movement. Every pout. Every small disaster they’ve overcome and want to recount. And you’ll come to appreciate that it was you they chose to share it with.

Anyway, they say if a bird shits on you, it’s good luck. (Not sure about having one fly into your eye though…)

“3am” was the first single from the new album. More failed relationship stuff. It smacks a bit of Billy Bragg/Kirsty MacColl to me. What do you think?





Arctic Deepness

18 02 2013

Just doing some housekeeping on my not insubstantial music collection, and listening to The Arctic Monkeys‘ “Suck it and See” album. Such a classic turn of British phrase, don’t you think?

Not actually sure how it translates into Canadiania. “Let the chips fall where they may” perhaps?

It’s not actually in the slightest bit rude, despite what you might think. It just means the outcome is unknown  and the only way to find out, is to give it a go. The analogy is a boiled sweet of unknown flavour. The only way to determine it, is to suck it and see for yourself.

Anyway, there was one line in the title track which I thought was quite evocative, and thought I’d share:

Your kiss it could put creases in the rain

Well – I liked it. You can please yourself… :)

Wikipedia: Suck it and See (Single)





Chris Hadfield, Barenaked Ladies song from space premieres – CBC News

8 02 2013

I wonder if David Bowie ever imagined someone really singing from space when he channelled Major Tom.

Here’s Canadian astronaut Chris Hadfield and The Barenaked Ladies (now firmly sans Steven Page) singing together with the girls from Toronto’s Wexford Collegiate School for the Arts glee choir.

Chris Hadfield, Barenaked Ladies song from space premieres – Arts & Entertainment – CBC News.

It’s actually quite touching to see him glancing out of the window at earth rushing past at twice the speed of a bullet.

You’d almost think the entire ISS was a Canadian affair… except, being Canadian, the song makes a big deal of it being 15 nations in co-operation.

Full video at the CBC.





Can a Jellyfish Unlock the Secret of Immortality? – NYTimes.com

30 11 2012

Discovered this NYT article thanks to a Tweet from David Usher (@davidusher), after his session at the Art of Marketing on Tuesday. I thought he was pretty cool most of the week, what with musical heartbeats and whatnot.

Heartbeat Experiment – David Usher from David Usher on Vimeo. [Similar to what he did in Vancouver.]

 

Now I read from his Tweets that he follows UFC, I’m a lot less impressed. I know,I know, prejudice is my middle name… or would be, if I had one!

Can a Jellyfish Unlock the Secret of Immortality? – NYTimes.com.

Can a Jellyfish Unlock the Secret of Immortality? - NYTimes.com

Source: NY Times





It’s not all Hash Pipes and Hand-grenades

29 11 2012

Tuesday was a day well spent.

I spent it with two colleagues at a marketing seminar in Vancouver. “The Art of Marketing”. I know, I know… “yawn” right?! The MC was Ron Tite, who sounded like he should have a career doing voice-overs for Futurama or something. Far too hyped and loud for that time in the morning.

The first speaker was David Usher. I vaguely knew him to be a singer. Turns out he fronted a band called “Moist” (Fnaar, fnaar) back in the day. He’s still a recording artist, but has now started to indulge his interests in technology. Most of the women in the audience seemed to be particularly attentive I noticed. He gave a little talk about how his band found “the rhythm” of the show every time they went on stage. A slightly different tempo at each performance. Wouldn’t it be great, they mused, if the audience could set the rhythm? Enter Arduino, a heart monitor and a drum machine. He asked for a volunteer and rejecting the high hands of several hundred females in the  audience of 2,000, he stepped off the stage and cruised for the perfect victim. In the end, he selected one young lady because she averted her eyes from his gaze.

David Usher… and John

Under ever so slight duress, she followed him up on stage and held the device as instructed in both hands. The unmistakable thump of a heart beat began… except it sounded like a drum, not the sound we’re conditioned to hear from watching hospital TV series’. Usher commented on how fit she must be as it was a very slow rate. Once he casually draped his hand on her shoulder though the rate sharply increased, the audience laughed and she went a delicate shade of crimson. It rose higher when he jokingly started to massage her shoulders.

John the guitarist valiantly attempted to strum to the rate, and as predicted the soothing tones slowed down her pulse. Usher sang a few improv lines to the rhythm of her heart, and the demonstration was done.

Usher spoke eloquently about the hard slog and grit needed to produce creativity, but that he believed it was possible for anyone. Then came the classic quote which echoed through the rest of the day: “It’s not all hash pipes and hand-grenades” . Plainly this was not premeditated, and he said something along the lines of “not sure where that came from”. He then gave a generous Q&A session. One lady said she was herself a recording artist and asked for suggestions on how to “break out”. “Do it for the love of the music” was the not entirely helpful response.

After the break, Tite called Flora Ware – the young lady who’d asked the question – up to the stage and offered her the opportunity to sing A Capella to the 2,000 strong  audience. Without hesitation she accepted and belted out a note perfect rendition of a jazz ballad to loud applause.

Mitch Joel was next up, and gave an interesting session about how to better engage the customer and have “sex with data”. He gave lots of great innovative examples including Amazon’s PriceCheck, Kickstarter crowd funding and Chipotle’s Coldplay-murdering Willie Nelson food video. He asserts that the “three screen” era (TV, PC, phone) is passing, as we enter a single screen era.

This video about Samsung’s new Smart Window technology was shown as an example of what’s just around the corner…

More people in the world, it seems, have access to mobile phones than either mains electricity or even safe drinking water.

Randi Zuckerberg (Mark – of Facebook fame – is her brother) was very smiley… and totally forgettable.

Biz Stone came next and was entertaining even if he seemed a little, er, medicated. That or exceedingly laid back. Which is possible given he co-founded Twitter. To the early complaint that “Twitter isn’t useful”, his co-founder Evan Williams is purported to have replied “Well neither is ice-cream! Shall we ban it and all joy?”

Lastly, we had Scott Stratten. From Toronto. But we won’t hold that against him. He said he used to be in HR until he realised he hated people. Then he moved into marketing… where it was OK to hate people. He came perilously close to being a stand-up comedian, but managed to keep a curb on his anti-QR Code rant, and instead gave some hilarious examples of how NOT to use it.

  • Like in aeroplane magazines… when you can’t use the internet
  • Or in emails to mobile phones… when the camera is on the opposite side to the screen you’re reading it on
  • Or in web pages… when the QR code sends you to the same web page
  • Or pulled behind an aeroplane, so you need to run down the street trying to scan it from the sky
  • Or on a dog tag in case the hound gets lost… but without a phone number! (Remember what you use to scan a QR code? Yup – a phone!)

Or my favourite… on the back of a bus! Readable only from a moving vehicle! And note what it gives you access to – Atlanta Medical Center ER. No irony at all…

Update: OK – so I found a really good image showing the bus I was talking about. Unfortunately, since I wrote the post late at night, I had forgotten to do the usual and add the source location. My bad. I was tired. I had added a link to encourage people who were interested to visit their site and read more, but had forgotten to mention it in words.

Anyway, the site owner seems to have an issue with people actually seeing their content, despite it being on a public website, easily locatable via google images, blah, blah, and put up a snotty replacement image instead. OK. A little rude (they’re probably Lancastrian :) ) but OK. The image had words about stealing their bandwidth. OK… but it seemed to miss the point that even THAT image needed downloading from their site.

C’est la vie dear reader… there’s nowt as queer as folk.





Lorenzo Duran and BAFTA awards

24 11 2012

Years ago I used to live in the UK and was an annual member of the National Trust. As a subscriber I got to visit all manner of Manor Houses (sorry – couldn’t help myself). Amongst them was Snowshill Manor – about which I wrote in an earlier post. (If you’re interested, I’ll leave that as an exercise in googling.)

One of the bewildering collections there was a small group of scrimshaw carvings by sailors and Napoleonic prisoners. In bone and ivory. Also some very fine oriental cricket cages. All were examples of very fine handiwork.

Good ol’ StumbleUpon led me to this page today. A similar level of detail… but on leaves!!

Lorenzo Duran – Designaside.com (It’s in Italian, but most browsers will translate it for you if you feel the need).

On a very tenuously connected thread…

When I was a Scout Leader in the UK, one of my young charges went by the name of Diarmid Scrimshaw. Still does actually – why change such a great name? It’s pronounced “Dermott” BTW, in case you were wondering. (I won’t share here what his rather cruel nickname at the time was – boys will be boys!) He was a bit smarter than the average, and I took a shine to him because he was a little bit out of phase with the rather bland world around him in Stony Stratford.

He used to ride a unicycle, just as a random example. To and from Scout meetings. While juggling live cats and chainsaws. OK, not actually, but the unicycle was real enough. I vaguely recall he was a dab hand with cards tricks too, and even more vaguely recall fire eating, but that might just be a false memory. A born performer, nevertheless.

I once bumped into him in a bar at the local cinema complex (he was still very much under drinking age) and he was dressed something like the Blues Brothers. It turned out he was there to play trombone with a band going by the name of The Blues Collective. I have a CD of their’s… not bad at all (“Hot Hits – Volume 1″… not at all pretentious!). Not unlike the sound of the band in The Commitments actually. Plainly this young man would go far. Here’s the opening track “Syrup” about a French prostitute.

Turns out he did go far after all. He just won a BAFTA award as the producer of “The Tyrannosaur“!! Read his interview here.

He just went up even further in my esteem as I learn on IMDB that he produced the Arctic Monkeys at the Apollo!

Diarmid Scrimshaw: now appearing on TWO wheels!

Diarmid on the right with Paddy Considine





Unaccustomed as I am…

2 10 2012

So I first got into this blogging lark at the tail end of 2011. I was in Belo Horizonte, Brazil at the time on business, and feeling a bit “meh”. A colleague suggested I start a blog to exorcise my demons, or maybe it was to exercise my deviance, I forget now. So here I am, almost a year later looking at things a little differently.

The planet’s spun itself around about 300 times since then. The music hasn’t stopped yet, thankfully. To my knowledge nobody’s been reported as having been thrown off or floated away, despite the fact that if they lived at the equator, they’ve been for a roundabout ride at roughly 1,600km/h! The third rock itself has almost done a complete lap of our little sun, travelling at around 107,300 km/h. Quite astonishing really… and we take it all for granted.

Lots of water has flowed under the bridge in that time. I’ve changed jobs, travelled to Europe, visited Salt Lake City and Phoenix, drunk an immeasurable quantity of Russian Caravan tea, experienced some incredible friendship, hiked both the Grouse and the Stawamus Chief every way imaginable, been eaten alive (by mosquitoes… what were you thinking?), discovered some new World Music, learned an awful lot about myself – some of it pretty uncomfortable, some of it surprising.

Where was I before I got distracted? Oh yes – Brazil. So anyway, as well as having travelled untold miles/kilometres* (*delete as applicable in your locale) going nowhere in galactic terms, I have also typed in and posted 490 blog entries, and had a few hundred comments on them in return. Feeling quite smug with myself really – despite still having just as many demons and deviances as before. At least they’re all neatly alphabetised and cross-indexed now. Well – the ones I’ve found so far.

So today I got a comment telling me I was now the recipient of a blogging award! Not had one of those for a while. Was a little taken aback really. Always nice to feel noticed, especially when you’re not particularly expecting it. Unless you’re a bank robber I suppose.

Anyway, sheriji over on Just Sayin’ offered me The Reader Appreciation Award. Aw shucks – thanks!! If you’ve not visited her blog yet, you’d best be working on a good excuse! She was kind enough to describe these humble pages as “a little bit of this, and a little bit of that, but all about life and our reactions to it. Plus I always want to know, quieter than what?” The answer to that of course is quite irrelevant. (Please don’t make me explain…)

Inevitably there’s some “rules” (self-imposed. Aren’t they always?) to follow.

1.  When I pass it on, I provide a link to the giver’s post, and thank the blogger who nominated me.

So thank-you sheriji – really. I’m glad you found a few crumbs of entertainment here.

2.  Answer 10 questions within my own blog.

My favourite colour

Hm… when I was a kid, it used to be red. I remember being over the moon when I was 8 and being in “red team” on sports day, and getting to wear a red sash for the egg and spoon race. Then as I got older this became associated in my mind with politics, so I decided I should like blue. These days, it depends what mood I’m in. I like ambiguity. Except when I crave certainty. Greenish-bluish makes me smile. Especially when it’s really grey with attitude, but nobody dare argue.

My favourite animal to include in a story?

Though I have yet to write the story, it’d have to be the echidna. Not an echidna, THE echidna. I did once write a story about a goldfish. But it wasn’t my favourite.

My favourite non-alcoholic drink while writing?

While doing anything: tea! Writing, talking, philosophising, or just floating in the moment.

Printed books or e-books?

Printed. I’m old-school with words. I write with an ink pen (which I refill every Friday to make sure I don’t run out of ink at a crucial moment). I love the texture of a well-made book – even if I can’t read its words. I also like the musty smell of old browning paperbacks. Weird? Who? Me?! I did win a Kobo eReader last Christmas, and I have used it. But, it’s just NOT the same… Like a text-message conversation is not the same as looking into the eyes of the person you’re sharing ideas with. It’s more than a means of representing the words. It’s part of the experience.

My favourite writer(s) now?

Terry Pratchett is always “up there” – he has such wit and breadth. I am sad for his failing health with Alzheimer’s – I liked the old him, and business and books being what they are, I’ll never know the new him.

I like Giles Milton too, for non-fiction.

As I turn to look at my bookcase for anyone else I might especially like, I am struck by the wide diversity of what I see there!

Jasper Fforde I guess should be there. The Eyre Affair was such a great concept.

My favourite writer(s) ten years ago?

Well Pratchett was still churning them out faster than I could read them back then, so he’s still on the list.

Philip K Dick. He couldn’t write for toffee, but boy did he have some great story ideas!

I read a lot of Ranulph Fiennes back then. What a life that guy has lived!

John Wyndham. What Dick could have been. Each book a great central idea, but much more well delivered with richer characters and human depth.

My favourite poet – Classic & Current?

I’m not really that well read in poetry.

I remember having to read a poem by e e cummings with my class when I was in Primary School, and being awestruck that he dared to break the rules of English, even when I barely knew them myself. Of course, now I’m more cynical and think his typewriter was just broken. I believe it was “hist whist“, if you’re interested. Yup – that’s right: I can’t remember what I had for lunch yesterday, but I remember what poem I had to read in front of assembled parents 40 years ago!

I think of songs as poetry (some listen to the tune, I like the words). I love Fiona Apple‘s imagery, but John Lennon will always be the master for me, with Roger Waters a close second.

My favourite time of day to write?

When I have something to say! I think we make time to do the things that matter to us. We take risks and break rules to do what we think is “right” or “important”… whatever those words mean to us at any given moment. We justify not doing things by claiming there was no time or some rule prevented us. Really it was because we didn’t think it was important enough right there, right then.

What is your passion when it comes to your writing?

Passion is a strong word!

I like to be entertaining. Witty if possible. Educational possibly. Sometimes sneaky or wriggly.

[That's only 9!! It's the engineer in me... I notice things like that. Or maybe I'm just anally retentive.]

LATE EDIT: I traced the daisy chain back and found where the 10th question went. I was asked to offer a substitution, so here it is…

Which of the five senses do you value the most?

I think they’re all important obviously. We’ve evolved them as a “necessary and sufficient” set. However, we’re really good with this brain thing too, so we can adapt. I think I’d have the toughest time losing my sight. If I’d never seen at all, it might be different, but now, I think I’d struggle to not have those glimpses of other people living their lives. The changes of the colours in the trees. Glint of sun on water. I think the other senses would heighten, but I’d always mourn the loss of seeing a child smile when they see their parent. A lover’s glance over a dinner table. A raised eyebrow in signalled mischief.

3.  Nominate other blogs that I find a joy to read. (Ten is recommended)

I don’t think I regularly read that many, but let’s see how we do…

Photo . Lord Content – a daily photo competition that has some unbelievable images posted

Misfits’ Miscellany – Fostering poetry and writing that others might not. A good virtual friend to-boot. And believe me, if we ever meet, I’ll boot him!

Breathtaking Portraits – Wha’? It’s art… honest!

Scout Magazine – For what’s happening in Vancouver, my adopted home.

Howtodateboys – An insight into how women think. (I’m none the wiser, but it’s heart-felt and honest)

illustration & calligraphy – You’re joking right? What do you THINK it’s about?!

4.  Provide links to these nominated blogs and kindly let the recipients know that they have been nominated.

Photo . Lord Content

Misfits’ Miscellany

Breathtaking Portraits

Scout Magazine

Howtodateboys

illustration & calligraphy

5.  Include the award logo within your own blog post.

I can do that… thanks again sheriji!





Jethro Tull

15 08 2012

So some of the music on my MP3 player is of dubious origin. Somehow or other it makes its way onto my external drive on the PC (I have three kids – nuff said), and from there, a random selection finds its way to my MP3 player when I recharge/sync it.

So I was out running last night. Another 4km on the clock. Soon be time for another service.

I was suddenly hearing a new-to-me tune. A bit folksy. Turned out to be Jethro Tull!

The title/hook just caught my ear. Clever I thought.

Skating away on the thin ice of a new day.

What a great concept! The idea that the day could collapse horribly underneath you, or by chance alone, you could arrive in safety at day’s end.





Victoria – where old Citroën’s go to die?

10 08 2012

When we moved to White Rock, BC, there was an old Peugeot garage just by the river. It’s since become a repo car re-seller with an odd variety of merchandise… including a yellow hearse for a time. This was our first indication that Canada (along with the rest of North America) had largely spurned European mass market cars some time ago. Of course, there are still the premium brands like Mercedes and one often sees Maserati, Ferrari and even the odd Aston Martin and Lamborghini in downtown Vancouver.

Volvo, Audi and BMW are reasonably commonplace too. But come lower down the food-chain and it’s pretty much VW or nothing. Fiat are making a recent come-back with the 500, it’s true, but where are Renault, Citroën, Peugeot, Seat, Saab?

But the true Euro-fan is still out there, and I sometimes get pleasantly surprised by a Triumph TR6, an MG Midget and even once a Renault 4. Immaculately cared for and lovingly maintained.

Imagine then my surprise to see not one, but two Citroën 2CVs in Victoria! In the space of a mere 5 days. One was the relatively common (back in the day) banana yellow, but one was nothing short of amazing. I can only think the owner was either a complete extrovert, or was strapped for cash and was repainting it one panel at a time while his supplier kept running out of paint!

Apologies for the photo quality… I only had my BlackBerry with me when I stumbled across this find on Victoria’s Fort St.

And life wouldn’t be complete without a bit of Lloyd Cole now, would it?





Only in New York you say?

10 08 2012

Greetings faithful reader. You’ll maybe have noticed I’ve been a little quiet. Been away on hols, you see. To “the Island”. Vancouver Island, that is – not that dodgy film with Ewan McGregor. Victoria (strains of obscure Kinks song in background) in fact. Had a whale of a time. More of that over the next few posts, no doubt.

But for now, I wanted to share something Mrs E spotted in The Province on the ferry on the way home this afternoon. According to Reuters, it seems that yesterday, the 9th of August, the Trojan condom company set up “Pleasure Carts” in two Manhattan neighbourhoods to give away 10,000 of their new vibrators: Trojan™ Tri-Phoria™ Intimate Massager and Trojan™ Pulse Intimate Massager.

Reuters: Trojan Pleasure Cart

Seems around 300 people lined up at each cart – styled after NYC’s iconic hotdog stands – for a free tickler.

A “city representative” (no doubt annoyed at arriving late and not liking the length of the queue) closed down the little stunt saying the crowds were too big. Er… haven’t these people ever witnessed Apple stores when a new product is released?

Apparently it can all be done again (twice the publicity… no such thing as bad publicity…) once they have “the proper permits”. There’s a permit for giving away free dildos?! And I always thought the British Empire was the true epitome of bureaucracy. :)

Full battery-powered story can be had for your stimulation right here.








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