Friday, August 31, 2012

up in smoke.....

hi there

well, let me be honest with you up front. this is possibly going to be one of those "whine" posts, and further one on quite dodgy ground. if you want to read and tut tut, express support or turn the virtual page then fine, but let it not be said that there was no warning!

you can imagine my excitement and enthusiasm when it was announced that the Rewind festival was making its way down here. this enthusiasm was not even dampened when it was clear that the mega, major star of the UK version, Mr Holly Johnson, was not going to be part of the tour. i mean, just have a look at the legends on offer!

wow! class! that's seven excellent acts all on one bill! well, six excellent acts and him out of Spandau Ballet if you want to be pedantic.still, not even that or the matter of the web page for the event, which is quite possibly the worst web page design on the internet, could put me off going. it just sounds all too good to be true.

oh, hang on, what's this in big letters at the bottom of the ticket page?

"new law prohibits smoking within the venue". oh. erm, does it now?

there are, rightly, some strict rules and regulations in regards of smoking in place here. fair enough. there is not, however, any such law that says "total ban". no government would ever do that, so fond are they of the high tax revenue.

just about everywhere you go has specified smoking areas. they are sealed off, ventilated and protect the non-smokers from any possible damage. it seems, however, that they cannot find the space to do one in a stadium. strange, as i would suggest that the chemicals, fumes and smells from those portable toilets that shall be at this concert will be far worse than anything from a cigarette.

a "total ban" at an outside event also seems peculiar, does it not? i mean, if this was at an indoor venue, you would be inclined to say "fair enough, no problem", but outdoors? smoke generally rises, does it not?

interestingly, the organizers go to great lengths to point out that they will sell you lots and lots of alcohol inside the venue. nice one. alcohol of course does no damage whatsoever, and it is much safer, and in the public interest, to have people drink all day and drive home rather than have a few cigarettes and get in a car. oh hang on, have i got that the right way around?

the claim of "new law" is a dishonest one, as illustrated by someone who claims (i have no way of confirming this) to represent the organizers. someone somewhere on the internet raised a compaint along the lines of the above, and this is the response sent.

aha. it is "stadium policy" not to allow smoking. nothing to do with the law. a very strange thing to be so blatant in dishonesty about - if the stadium owners do not want smokers there then fair enough, it is their train set, but why lie and say "it is the law"?

well, sadly, i shall not be going as a result of the above. people are saying to me "go anyway, you will love it and people will be smoking, everyone ignores those statements". it's not the way i do things, though. why on earth would i wish to pay to go somewhere that apparently i am not welcome, and why is it i should be made to sneak around and feel bad about doing something that, within certain restrictions, is perfectly legal?

i do hope the event is an amazing success. so much so, of course, that they do it all again next year. and hopefully next year it's at a venue rather more interested in attracting customers than it is making them feel unwelcome.

you never know, i might have quit by next year..........

be excellent to each other!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

sale fail

hi there

oh dear. i got one of them email things from ebay this morning, and it was not really good news. at all, i'm afraid. it seems that i have misunderstood the level of demand out there in the world at large for Yureshan Cooper business cards, whether they are authentic or not.

i was hoping that someone would at least put one bid in, even if just for a laugh. not to be, alas. i suppose the only hope for this venture to claw back an element of what one may deem as being success is if this features on one of them lists, the "ten most stupid things listed on ebay" sort that are so popular on the internet.

has this failure - and there is no way to describe it other than a failure - been a setback? yes, of course it has. but i am not so sure it will stop me trying again. i am certain i have some random, irrelevant crap hanging around that will soon find its way onto the web. sure, it may lack the glamour of these business cards, but it is worth a shot.

by the way, if anyone wants one of these business cards, make arrangements to contact me and i shall be delighted to send one on.

be excellent to each other!!!!!!!!!!!!

Monday, August 27, 2012

18 views and 0 bids

hi there

well, as promised here's an update on the quest to dispose of the business cards of Yureshan Cooper in way more interesting that simply putting them in the bin. it saddens me to say, however, that this is a far from positive update.

it is entirely possible that we might have considerably overestimated the demand and interest for such an item as this. at the time of writing i note that only 18 people have viewed this item, and not one of them has made a bid for it.

ho hum, really. it's nice that some people have at the least expressed an interest in the item, even if at this stage they are reluctant to part with any money to own it. there still remains a few days of open bidding, you never know perhaps one or two, for the novelty factor or for reasons more peverse than i am prepared to contemplate, might offer a few cents or a couple of dollars for them.

in the mean time, then, Yureshan and myself shall continue to monitor the site. it will be class if we see a bid being made, but i think both of us are starting to get the pen out and be ready to resigning to the fact that no one wishes to buy one.

i do believe i look hideous in the above picture, but i have included it in the hope of giving a much needed attention boost to this endeavour.

should you click and have a look at the item, let me know if you believe the wording or the picture could have been changed to make it a better seller.

be excellent to each other!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

images off of Andrew's new phone thing

hi there

well i think it is a phone thing that Andrew, my MMA, has. it might be one of them tablet device things, i am just not at all sure, sorry. it has a number, so i guess it is a phone too, no matter what else it does. the email thing certainly works on it, as indeed does the camera.

i know the latter of the above to be true as, when i asked him, he forwarded me a couple of images from his new toy.

behold, if you will, an image of Roseberry Topping, taken with Andrew's phone / tablet / toy from what seems to be a field.

speaking of all things berry, a consequence of Andrew getting this new device, whatever the hell it actually is, would be that he has given up on the world of blueberry. this means i can no longer message him via that, which is a great shame. ho hum, as long as he is digging his new toy.

and i can only assume that he is indeed digging it, and quite keen to show it off, for he took it with him to the match at the weekend.

here's an image of the Riverside at half time, it being half time in a match that Boro won 2-1, putting Crystal Palace in their place.

nice one Andrew, splendid pictures.

that said, i did in fact ask him for other pictures, preferably ones of whatever sordid, perhaps saucy shenanigans he got involved with whilst visiting the Netherlands recently. alas, he sent none of those, not even a picture of Chris purchasing another of those 5 litre bottles of water that the Continental Europeans appear to love selling as much as Chris likes purchasing. perhaps in the next mail i shall get such images.

in the mean time, cheers Andrew!

be excellent to each other!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Saturday, August 25, 2012

rather bad commentary

hi there

well, as the TV here deems it better to show the Premier League rather than the much superior, featuring Middlesbrough league that is the Championship, i am sat on the internet following the matches. as a consequence i am able to check in on all games, even the considered worthy for broadcast Premier League.

and what can i say but oh dear, Sky, what a clanger you have made in the commentary!

the picture above is too small, probably, to see the mistake they made. try clicking on it to see if it makes it bigger, or just have a look at the highlighted bit below, i suppose.

that's not really the standard expected from Sky, is it? i mean, the family that owns them loves bashing the BBC and other broadcasters, but i cannot recall them making a mistake along these lines.

oh dear.

be excellent to each other!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

the view from out there

hi there

well, these images are pretty widespread across the net, but i thought i would post them here for the one or two people who read this blog but otherwise are not particularly good with the whole internet thing. yes, hello Dad, and possibly Susan too.

this whole NASA Curiosity thing is really remarkable. if you click the link back there, you will get taken to hundreds of pictures taken by this device that, by skill and fortune, they managed to land on Mars.

without doubt, the most popular picture sent back thus far is this one.

yes, that's the Mars skyline. impressive, isn't it? and before any of you who like those conspiracy theory things comment, yes i am aware that the images here are the ones "touched up for clarity" by NASA. you can find the original images on the link provided.

if you are wondering which of those three planets you are currently sitting on, here you go!

hopefully they shall find something up on the red planet that justifies the cost of this whole project. to be honest, though, this image must surely cover pretty much half of the bill!

be excellent to each other!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Friday, August 24, 2012

"KP is a problem worth having"?

hi there

it has to be said that Alan Tyers is a writer i have tremendous respect for. his writing about cricket has been wildly amusing when intended to be, and usually spot on when being somewhat more serious.

it was, for want of a better term, somewhat disappointing, then, to read this particular article by him today. whereas there may well be a case to suggest that Kevin Pietersen is indeed a "problem worth having", the "like Ian Botham" bit of Mr Tyers does not sit well with me at all, and probably does not with a fair few (hundred / thousand) other readers.

a good deal of what Mr Tyers writes is accurate and spot on, and i do hope that you take the time to click the links above to read this particular article and indeed others from him. i don't wish to take the article apart, but i just cannot escape the feeling that key points in a comparison between Botham and Pietersen have been missed, for whatever reason, by the writer.

here's five of them for your consideration.

Winning Matches

Alan Tyers is pretty much on the button when he describes all the fuss about "being a team player" as somewhat misleading in regards of the current controversy around Kevin Pietersen. when one remembers the greats of the game, one recalls the moments of sheer solo success, not how well they got on with everyone. this is indeed the case, but hardly enhances the defence of Kevin Pietersen.

i am sat here trying to think of great KP performances. my first thought is of his debut, that amazing trial by fire in late 2004 / early 2005 when he faced his native South Africa in South Africa. in the face of an exceptionally hostile crowd, he delivered five outstanding performances. he was easily the best one day player for England in the series, but alas that wasn't enough. if i recall, the sequence of games was a win for England, a farcical draw as a result of a South African brain melt in the last over and then three comprehensive wins for SA.

in regards of the measure of any English cricketer, his Ashes record is not all what you may think it is. in the 2005 series, whereas he was an important part of a monumental team effort, let us not forget that his casual throwing away of his wicket on the last day of the last Test (during Richie Benaud's last session as a commentator in England, no less) very nearly led to a collapse that could easily have seen England not, in fact, win the Ashes for the first time in a couple of decades. in the 2006 - 2007 series he put in some good peformances, but let us not forget that England lost the series 5-0 with incredible ease. England reclaimed the Ashes in 2009 with Pietersen out injured, and the 2010-2011 series saw Pietersen get runs but not the ones that really swayed the results towards England.

all in all, there's not a great deal in KP's performances that were definitive and could be said to be "match winning". when it comes to Ian Botham and remembering winning performances, well, one comes to mind, does it not?

it is not every English or Australian player that gets an Ashes series named after them. when someone mentions "Botham's Ashes", however, you think straight away of the 1981 series. specifically, one thinks of the Headingley Test, where despite odds of 500/1, Botham's performance inspired an England win.

that there are many other matches that one could say "Botham won that game" about kind of illustrates the difference between the two.

this leads nicely into the second point

"Individual Brilliance"

As the infamous fake KP Genuis "twitter" account mentioned, "there's no i in team but there are four of them in individual brilliance". and Kevin Pietersen, make no mistake, is sheer, absolute brilliance in regards of batting. it's a great shame, then, that his brilliance has sat very much on top of the England team, rather than as an integral part of it.

the recent, quite possibly last, Test series Pietersen was involved in pretty much sums it up. as dazzling as he was at times with the bat and, indeed in the second Test, ball, it just wasn't enough at the right time. in the first Test the innings he delivered at first was what was needed in the second but it never came. in the second Test he did all he could, but just not enough to avoid a draw.

you can level as much of that as you like at his team mates i suppose. not, however, when you are seeking to compare him to Ian Botham.

Botham, a genuine all-rounder rather than an accidental one, was one of the most astonishing players of the game ever. in this case, though, individual brilliance inspired the rest of the team to play just that little bit better and he caused others to push their own skill levels beyond what perhaps they thought was their own cieling

Headingley 1981 is the classic example of this. yes, it is remembered as the match that Botham won, and his figures tell you why it is remembered like that. he would tell you different, though. all that Botham did in that match would have been for nothing had (the now sadly late) Graham Dilley not stayed at the crease during his magnificent innings, and let's not forget the fine job Bob Willis did of bowling Australia out to seal the win.

cast your eyes over the details of the 1985 Ashes, the ill-fated attempts to beat the West Indies in the 80s, England 1992 World Cup campaign and indeed Durham's first season as a County Cricket side. they all say the same thing - teams with Botham in them played better. there was also that rather infamous instance, i think it was whilst playing in Australia, where Botham was so hung over from the night before that he went out to bat without his bat. he still went on to score something over 30, after a colleague had brought him a bat, of course.

whether Pietersen is or is not in the England side has always pretty much meant "same difference" to the result. even if one leaves aside Pietersen's "look at me" approach to his individual brilliance - a characteristic i do not recall of Botham - there's not much room for comparison between the two.

Respect Of Peers

if asked about Ian Botham, at best Javed Miandad and Ian Chappell might retain a dignified silence, at worst may say that they do not care for the man at all. quite a few around the world will no doubt recall, with some offence taken, certain innocent quips he has made over the years - like how Pakistan was "the perfect place to send a Mother-in-Law", and indeed how his hope for the 1992 World Cup was to "beat a team of 11 convicts in a stadium filled with 60,000 convicts".

other than that, if asked about Ian Botham i would imagine anyone else (assuming they are familiar with cricket) would have nothing but praise to give.

i recall, for instance, him being spoken of as the one player Australians wished was Australian. i cannot think of a higher compliment ever paid to a cricketer. add to that the outright love Viv Richards has for him and i think you get the picture.

when Botham, on the crest of public support, was Knighted, it was not even for what he had done in the world of cricket. Sir Ian Botham became so due to his selfless, incredible and importantly successful charity work, walking miles across Britain to raise money.

you kind of get a reversal of circumstance when you consider Kevin Pietersen. when he first came along he was greeted, of coure, with a wave of support. apparently rejected by South Africa purely because of his colour, his adoption by England was viewed as sympathetic, in particular in the face of the incredible abuse he got from South African crowds. as time went on, of course, one got the distinct impression that his colour was the least, possibly smallest barrier to him having ever getting near to the South African side.

an endearing image from the 2005 Ashes series, the one in which Pietersen made his name as much as Botham did his in 1981, was that of Kevin Pietersen and Shane Warne stood together. they were there, for all the world to see, as two great friends, two exceptional players and two fierce contestants who would give neither an inch, not that one would ask. Shane Warne in the build up to that series hailed Pietersen's Test selection as great for the game, and spoke of sheer admiration for him as a player. never mind the fact that Shane Warne is one of the five greatest cricketers ever, the idea of an Aussie player heaping praise on an English player before an Ashes series is, as far as i am aware, an incident without comparison.

the Australians tend to have a slightly different take on Kevin Pietersen these days. it is they who are credited with giving him the nickhame "FIGJAM". if you are unaware of what the letters in that acronym stand for, well, enjoy the laugh when you find out!

the reaction from cricketers to Pietersen's fall from grace and exit from the England side is quite telling. the England team speak of how they are just fine without him, thanks. non-English players have for the most part said "he is a great player and England will miss him" and so very, very little else.

Shane Warne is perhaps the closest to an apologist for his mate, suggesting that KP and Strauss "just need a beer to sort it all out". that didn't stop Warne from mentioning just how stupid KP's actions have been.

you kind of get the feeling that Kevin Pietersen shall not be quite so cherished, respected and admired by his peers to the extent that Ian Botham is.

Losing The Captaincy

an interesting parallel between Botham and Pietersen is that they "lost" the England captaincy not all that long after they got it, and yet still continued to play Test cricket. that's quite rare and a fair comparison, but the manner in which both lost the captaincy could not be more different.

both, in fairness, were selected as popular choices above leadership skills. both certainly did the best they could of the job on the field. and that, alas, is where the similarities end.

Botham's time as captain saw a dramatic dip in his form. his performances got so poor that there was a case to suggest he should be dropped from the Test team. for the sake of his career and the success of English cricket, the "burden" of captaincy was taken from him. wouldn't you know, thereafter his exceptional form returned.

Botham played, without fail and without question, for every captain appointed after him. there was never a word out of place (at least not in the public domain) and not one instance of him ever trying to undermine or compromise the captain.

this kind of dignity was noted by its absence in the case of Captain Kevin Pietersen, was it not?

there really wasn't much of a burden to captaincy for KP - his batting carried on as ever. in fact, and this is where the problem came in, Pietersen actively sought to extend the duties of England captain. the specifics have never been made public, but it seems that Captain Pietersen felt that his duties as captain involved him being able to select new coaching and management staff for the England team. if this wasn't quite "exceeding his mandate" enough, he made these decisions known to the ECB via means of random, sporadic text messages whilst he was on holiday, and holding impromptu press conferences to discuss his ideas for the England set up. rather foolishly, in the end he handed the ECB an ultimatum along the lines of "do it my way or else". there was always only to be one winner there.

considering the disaster that was his approach to the captaincy, it is surprising that Pietersen did not work out his attempts to cover over the problems recently, such as issuing videos on the internet, were not likely to work.

whereas Pietersen's prolific form was hardly changed by being captain or having it taken away from him, the case of how he fared under a different captain is a little different from Ian Botham. you go ahead and feel free to ask Andrew Strauss, or any of the ODI and Twenty Twenty captains, if they felt that Kevin Pietersen did anything that might undermine or challenge their leadership.

Replacement Factor

in asking if a player is "worth the trouble" one early on has to ask "can they be replaced?". the answers are probably not, no in regards of Ian Botham, probably easily, yes, in regards of Kevin Pietersen.

Ian Botham was no angel. between tales of arrest for possession of cannibis to fighting with members of the Chappell family and insulting entire nations Ian Botham got his fair share of reprimands, fines and suspensions. never once, though, did he hold his beloved team to ransom.

there's a case to say that England have never really replaced I T Botham in their line up. they have come very close with Darren Gough and of course Freddie (Andrew) Flintoff, the latter certainly being the closest. i am certain that Stuart Broad could take the role of a great all-rounder too, if only England were not so reliant on his bowling.

as for Kevin Pietersen, well, his runs have been nice. if you ask "could someone else get those runs" the answer is yes. as we have seen in this series, Taylor and Bairstow look comfortable at Test level, and i dare say plenty more are lurking in the County Cricket side. it's unlikley we will have as good a poster boy as KP in the near future, but then again what good is a player who looks good on posters when no one really wishes to have his poster on their wall?

the tragedy of the fall of Kevin Pietersen is that no one is particularly fussed about it. how can we wipe our tears away, a recent editorial asked, when all our eyes are dry? this has been a self-inflicted destruction of a career, more pointless than it is sad.

i understand why Alan Tyers took to compare Pietersen with Botham, for both were outstanding servants of the game. however, as i think i've shown above, there are far too many differences for a serious comparison. one can only hope that Sir Botham kind of respects what Mr Tyers was trying to say and does not take him to task too badly about it.

thanks for reading.

be excellent to each other!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

seventh time lucky

hi there

earlier this week a certain Mark David Chapman (for they always seem to give full names of assassins and killers) made a seventh parole application. if for some reason you are unaware of who he is or what he did, he was sentenced to 20 years to life for the murder of John Lennon.

it should be of little, if any, surprise that the application for parole was denied, or however you would word that officially. in regards of official wording, the New York Parole Board released the following finding / judgement : "Despite your positive efforts while incarcerated, your release at this time would greatly undermine respect for the law and tend to trivialise the tragic loss of life which you caused as a result of this heinous, unprovoked, violent, cold and calculated crime."

i would have thought that every single parole application he makes will end with a conclusion not too different from those words.

whereas it's rare that any sort of murderer would get any sympathy, the killer of John Lennon is likely to attract none at all. sure, like any mostly liberal icon (Che Guevara, Kennedy, currently that WikiLeaks fellow) if you dig into their character you will find an awful lot of deeply unpleasant aspects to them and their life. Lennon, like most of the other examples, at his best however came to represent the best, most ideal that we as people could hope to be. he said, or rather sung, things that represented the ideals of millions. that was taken away so a 'nobody' could claim to be a 'somebody'.

as bad as the world gets sometimes, it shall remain a much better place than it could be so long as this next picture represents the final time Mark David Chapman consumed our air in freedom.

you would assume that the main barrier to his applications for parole ever being given serious consideration is the cost, both financially and spirtually. if he were ever, as disgusting as the idea seems, given freedom then he would never truly get it. extravagant, expensive security, you would assume, will have to be given to him at all times to prevent anyone trying to kill the man who killed John Lennon. even if given that, you would have to assume, perhaps accept, that such security given to him would certainly fail.

in two years he can, and no doubt will, be able to apply for parole again. i do wish that he would accept that the world simply does not want him in it and not make any such application. if he were back in the world then someone would try to exclude him from it on a more permanent basis, and i have little doubt that someone would be successful in doing so. meaning that someone else's life would be ruined by this man, and giving the judiciary the very difficult task of sentencing someone for a crime that many would understand if not accept.

rather just let him stay in prison for the remainder of his empty, hollow life to prevent any further lives being ruined.

may we all shine on, like the moon and the stars and the sun.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

the trials and tribulations of trying to sell Yureshan Cooper's business cards on the internet

hi there

my dear colleague, indeed if i may be so bold and presumptious friend, Yureshan at verk recently handed to me a number of identical items. these items, or if you will the one item of which i now have several of, takes the form of his shiny new business card type thing.

i understand an awful lot of what you are reading here is encapsulated in the title of this post, but do bear with me, ladies and gentlemen.

in regards of this incident, three things come to mind. one, the cards are indeed shiny and would seem to serve their purpose. two, i have absolutely no idea what to do with them. the third links quite nicely to that last point, for it dawned upon me that i have not yet at any point in my life tried to sell an item (or items) on the interweb net.

these three things, then, appear to be in a very real sense a good case for consolidation. with the assistance, if not influence, of Yureshan, the dice are rolling and the ball is heading towards the hole. a limited number of my stash of these cards, people, are being made available for sale to the general public.

the path to selling them has not been easy. i am presently in the middle of doing all sorts of authentication and verification things in order to be allowed to list these or anything else that takes my fancy for sale. this is all fair enough, really - it gives exceptional protection to both buyers and sellers. i do not really expect any of them to sell, to be frank, but that protection just in case will be quite useful. Yureshan is very optimistic in regards of this venture, believing a fee of around US$100 is a likely result.

i have, at the least, got as far as a "provisional" listing for this most class business card. you cannot actually see it anywhere on the internet as such as of yet, but for an idea of what it will look like, here's a screen shot for your pleasure.

Yureshan has mentioned something in passing along the lines of all fund raised from this venture being presented to charity. i have no problem with that at all.

if in bizarre, unexpected circumstances any of them sell (i think i indicated that i would be prepared to let 3 (three) of them go), i shall provide you with a full update here. i would not, however, suggest that you frequently seek out such updates.

be excellent to each other!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

(great) Gran (H)'s birthday celebrations

hi there

well, i am delighted to report that both of my Grans celebrated their birthday once more in August. i am even happier to be able to show you some pictures of the celebrations for one of them! Gran and Gramps, alas, do not really do computers, and Susan doesn't really even email, let alone send pictures. Trevor, however, is a bit of a Mr E Mail King, truth be told, and very kindly sent on the following pictures!

here's Trev with Gran, showing off some things!

going on the angle, height, trajectory and what have you of the picture above i would dare say that young Christopher took the above picture. it is a pretty safe guess, since he was certainly there at the same time!

Andrew wasn't there, it seems, or at least he is not in any of the pictures. i suspect he was off learning just how much adult life sucks, which means he was either at work or off getting one of those knee or similar replacement operations sorted out.

presently, known as he is for his ways of travel, Christopher is in or will have recently left the area known as the Netherlands. i am kind of assuming that he is not getting involved in any sort of John Payne "Dutch rudder" nonsense. he will almost certainly be purchasing a 5 litre bottle of water, though, for this seems to be what he does when he visits European countries. well, he did it in France. i suspect he will be off to visit the windmills and have a gander at the tulips too. Andrew is there too, but i suspect he will be visiting the rather more cosmopolitain features of the Netherlands, in particular those found in downtown Amsterdam. so long as he followed my directions correctly.

this post seems to be sidetracked somewhat. back to Gran and her celebrations, and indeed a look at some of the magnificent flowers that arrived for her!

and, as would be custom, tea and cake was of the order of the day too!

looks like a truly great day! i am led to believe that our cards arrived on time for her birthday too, which is splendid to hear!

many thanks indeed once more for the pictures Trev, they are greatly appreciated!

be excellent to each other!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Bad PR?

hi there

i am a touch reluctant to do this post, if i am honest. it's quite possible that i shall stand accused of "having a whine". well, i suppose so be it then if that's the case, but something that has been hyped up recently strikes me as being a spectacular failure, and thus i felt it was worth a mention.

for quite a few weeks here Highveld Radio, one of the better and certainly more popular radio stations here, had been running promo ads for a "brand new, first of its kind" type of radio contest. as Highveld have been rather good and generous with their contests in the past (hence their popularity, i suppose), it was with interest that i kept an ear out for what it was. as it turns out, it is something called Gotcha!, run in conjunction with or if you will sponsored by VodaCom, a cell (mobile) phone provider for which there seems to be little love.

the contest itself sounded rather good up front. people with a "smart phone" needed to download the game, or if you will "app", to play. once installed, every day a random amount of virtual money would be dropped in a random location in the Highveld broadcast area every day. if you were the closest to it, you picked it up and basically drove around. where you are is on the "game map", and if someone gets within a certain distance of you they "snatch" the virtual money and then it is their turn to drive around. the person holding the virtual money when time is called on the game wins it in real terms. sort of a bit like a 21st Century variant of the "Bomb Tag" game on a network session of Carmageddon, then, except with no blowing up and some cash.

all invovled, in particular VodaCom, were rather proud of this game being unleashed. Vodacom’s managing executive of marketing, someone of the ace name of Enzo Scarcella, states for the record that “The Gotcha! SA Competition speaks volumes about the level of smartphone adoption in the country, the sophistication of our mobile networks, and how readily we’ve embraced social media. More importantly, it’s the first concrete example of how technology is changing the way South Africans interact with traditional mass media.”

erm, yeah, OK. this would be true if it were not for the problems experienced thus far. one of the main "smart phones" that VodaCom have spread out across the country is the very same model of blueberry (or whatever colour it is), the (i think) 8520 model or something. it is by some distance the most common smartphone that has been "adopted" here, as VodaCom's records would surely reflect. strange, then, that this game has been devised and created in such a way that it excludes this particular model of phone!

bascially, VodaCom then have spent a great deal of money, put up a good deal of prize money and gone to great lengths to market a promotion that excludes a significant percentage of their own customers. nice going - nothing creates goodwill more than a company saying "well, that smartphone we sold you isn't all that smart, as it happens".

it's not that i entered or even tried to enter the contest, by the way - this is as was reported on the Highveld station, presumably in response to complaints from listeners who had what was, as far as they were concerned, a "smartphone" and yet could not get the thing to work.

exactly how many people have bothered to download and play this game / app is a bit hard to say. the only figure i have heard is that at one point 462 people were playing it. let me see, how do i put that number into some sort of perspective? let's start with the radio station. Highveld broadcasts to an area that covers millions of people. it is one of the most popular radio stations for people working in Gauteng (or if you will Transvaal, if you are reading Mr Granville), so it's fair to say that they have a listening figures measured in at least the tens of thousands, quite possibly into the lower hundreds of thousands. VodaCom also have a fair few of the 10 million "smart phone" users in South Africa on their books, a lot of them living within the game "space". and from that 462 people were invovled?

there's a case to suggest, then, that it would have been easier just to simply give 462 VodaCom customers R865 each instead of having all R400,000.00 up for grabs. it would certainly have made Primedia, the owners of the Highveld radio station, look a lot less foolish. a spokesperson suggested that this is a "city of screenwatchers", with most if not all of us "constantly glued to the screens of our smart phones". erm, no. either Highveld's listening figures are really, really low, or we don't all sit looking at our screens. either way, Primedia are looking a touch silly at this stage.

things do not get any better at all when one has a look at those actually playing this game, either. full credit, before i start, to Highveld and their best (by some distance) DJ Alex Jay for their honesty in reporting this, even if it was as an effort to stop people doing it. of the (as highlighted) rather small percentage of people playing this, a smaller percentage still seem to have invented some interesting rules, or if you will means to cheat. one person was reported to be driving around and throwing stones at cars that got too close, presumably in the hope of stopping them "snatching" the virtual money. in another case, perhaps of great alarm, it was reported that an on duty police officer was holding the virtual money, and had simply turned on his blue lights and sirens to drive around, thus making it impossible to catch him. both of these were reported on Highveld yesterday, so i guess you have to accept that they are real incidents.

it has to be asked, does either company involved in this really need the bad PR from that last bit in the light of so few people bothering to engage in this game? all i can see with this thing is a classic example of how just because technology exists that allows you to do something doesn't mean that you should go ahead and do it. it looks like very bad research results landed this contest and no one stopped to think of any negative side to it.

i would imagine the biggest result of this, other than a handful of people pocketing an awful lot of money, will be that cell phone companies shall stick to just giving away shiny things to clients and sponsoring events, whereas radio stations would be wise to run contests that they have a more direct control over, requiring participants to phone or e-mail in. once this first version of Gotcha! has finished, i shall be amazed if we ever see it or anything similar to it being launched again.

i'd like to think this is not so much a whine but rather a lesson in not thinking things through. feel free to disagree, but thanks for reading.

be excellent to each other!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Monday, August 20, 2012

Comfort Curve Keyboard 3000

hi there

well, a class drill was not my only investment turned out that i needed a keyboard for the PC, since my existing one is a bit broken. the "u" key kept on getting stuck, which might give you some clue as to how frequently i was called upon to write phrases that had the letter "u" in more than once, like for instance "*u** **u". i suspected, entirely at random, that the f, c and indeed k keys were not much longer for this earth, and thus looked for a new one.

i found one that i thought was more or less like the one i had, doing that sort of curve thing to it. quite nice for typing on, my now old keyboard was. anyway, it looked like a new version of it was out - the Comfort Curve Keyboard 3000, ladies and gentlemen.

yep, the picture is taken with my blueberry thing, sorry. i think you can more or less make out what it says below its rather impressive name, but if not the bit in black on red says "Your Wrists Will Thank You". i cannot but help wonder if that is some sort of reference to the kind of traffic the internet seems to attract, and indeed what the internet was probably created for the distribution of?

moving on, and i am happy to tell you that this new keyboard is "ergonomist approved", whatever the hell being ergonomist is. i think it means "good and comfortable to use". or similar to that.

the claim that it is this might be a bit more acceptable and interesting if it were not for the part below the claim that it is "ergonomist approved".

yep, a Microsoft keyboard is "ergonomist approved" by a "design ergonomist" employed by Microsoft. this chap Dan Odell is on to a winner here, is he not? not only does he get paid to design keyboards in an ergonomist fashion, he presumably gets paid to endorse that which he has designed to. nice one fella!

as for what ergonomist might mean, at least as far as the realm of keyboards goes, it seems basically it involves making a big massive hill in the middle of the keyboard. and an annoying one too, for i keep hitting the wrong letters.

the above picture does not show off the hill as well as it could, but basically the keys are a mountain of sorts, with the summit being the Y and G keys. it's quite a dip down to B, believe me.

being an ergonomist keyboard is also, it seems to be something that takes the sense of fun and adventure out of randomly twatting the Ctrl key when writing something. observe this classy close up of the keys.

yes, you are seeing what you think you are. the have gone and put under each letter exactly what shall happen if you twat that key whilst holding down the Ctrl key. that strikes me as taking the fun and adventure out of random messing about whilst creating a document. quite boring, really - no more can you say "i did not know that this would cut all that i have selected", for it tells you that this is what it will do right there on the X key.

a question that i cannot locate an answer to is exactly why is this called a "3000". there is nothing on the box that indicates why it has this number, and i am reasonably sure i have not seen 2,999 other versions of the Comfort Curve Keyboard on the shelves.

yes, i did try google, and google did not answer.

there is nothing at all in the box either that suggests why this is the 3000. there is, however, a class user guide and indeed a "limited warranty" note. both are brilliant.

the user guide is interesting. well, interesting if you are interested in "generic" and "pointless". it speaks at great length of the danger of messing around with lasers, and indeed advises you of the best way to dispose of exhausted rechargable batteries. all fascinating i guess, but not especially keyboard related. to that end, the "user guide" makes no mention at all of anything to do with keyboards. or the number 3000.

the limited warranty note is pretty useful too, as in the way a punch in the face is a rather useful way of understanding the owner of the fist does not really like you. over five or six pages the limited warranty speaks of things and damage that Microsoft will not undertake to fix or replace anything as a consequence of. basically, it says "if you break this, rather throw it out and just get a new one". it does, however, advise you to delete all personal information off the device before sending it to Microsoft. the mind boggles as to what i would store on a keyboard and i shudder to think were exactly on it i would store it.

no doubt i shall get used to this new keyboard in time, but at present my view is very much one of "do not buy another one of these". perhaps the 4000 model shall be a little less hilly. we shall see.

be excellent to each other!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!


hi there

one of the down sides of Mum & Dad heading to New Zealand has certainly been Dad deciding to take his entire class tool shed contents with him. a subsequent down side to that is Dad is no longer on hand to do any mending or DIY jobs around our house, our house being Falcom Crest i suppose. or Krebbs ranch. very much up on the down side of that last one, though, is no more are various items in our house, be they shelves, walls or doors, are called a "bastard" or "bloody thing" by Dad. he did tend to find a level of insolence in all the parts of our house that we required him to drill or hammer, to be honest.

the result of the above is that i kind of have to sort some tools out for around the house and - with this being the interesting part - clock how to do these DIY jobs on my own. i am pretty comfortable with the swearing part, the getting things fixed bit not so much.

to this end, then, i have purchased what i consider to be a rather good start to my tool collection - a rather class looking drill.

i think this is the kind of one that Dad has. under no circumstances was i allowed to use Dad's one. in fact, i could not even hold it, or look at it for an extended period of time. i did however see enough of it to know that it was mostly green, and as all the others were sort of yellow or orange i opted to get this one.

plus it was a really good price, and it came with "extras" in the form of no less than 39 things to add on the end of the drill!

i'm not 100% sure how to use this, or what all 39 bits actually do, but it does come with an instruction book. i will probably have a read of that before doing any heavy duty drilling, which is an interesting difference of approach to how Dad tackles such things. for him an instruction book is merely something to throw in the bin if you enjoy doing that sort of thing, presumably an added bonus from the manufacturers.

i could also just let James and William have a go with it. they will soon work out what all the buttons do, and if i don't put any actual drill thingies in the drill then there's limited damage they can do, surely?

yes, for those who know me and know of my numerous disasters with DIY, i will be very, very careful when i pluck up the courage to use it. just to be safe, i dare say that i can find something of Dad's to have around when i use it. something to look for to get guidance and inspiration. or perhaps just to laugh at in order to ease the pain of having one of them drill bits removed out of my hand.

i believe the first job for the drill will be to have a go at mending the bed. James and William are prone to seeing our bed as a trampoline, something that the planks underneath the mattress tend not to like at all. well, i assume they don't like it and are not simply falling off, snapping screws as they do so, of their free will. i shall do my best to let you know how that works out, as and when i have a go, and indeed as and when i can type again after then should things not go as well as hoped.

wish me luck!

be excellent to each other!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Tony Scott

hi there

being an avid fan of films means that every now and then you wake up to news that, perhaps irrationally, affects you in a most negative way. i can still remember the numb shock from just over four years ago, waking up, switching on the news and learning that the exceptionally talented actor Heath Ledger had died. i guess it's just those that admire extraordinary work and talent on film feel a great loss when someone who has made movies that have entertained and inspired passes on.

today, for reasons unknown and indeed reasons i will leave well alone for others to speculate if they must, Tony Scott decided to join those who have passed on.

for whatever reason Tony Scott decided to end his own life, and no doubt such information will be brutally exposed by the darker elements of the press and internet, he has, and the world has lost a great maker of wonderfully entertaining films. his brother Ridley might well have got (rightly) all the critical, artistic acclaim in the world, but Tony made films that you wanted to see and enjoy.

as far as i am concerned there's no such thing as a bad Tony Scott film, i've enjoyed them all. some were of course better than others, and so as a way of tribute to the loss of one of the world's great entertainers here's what are, for me and many others, his five best.

as mentioned above, Ridley, rather than Tony, tended to get the plaudits for his striking visual work. by the time Tony made what's regarded as his first major film, The Hunger, Ridley had already delivered to the world Alien and Blade Runner. these are two films that to this day attract awe, wonder and praise as much for their visual style as they do their content.

this, as The Hunger testifies, doesn't mean that Tony wasn't as gifted visually. far from it.

The Hunger was one of the first films to try and do something with the concept of vampires other than simply retell Dracula or make a scary movie. it's a haunting, beautiful minimalist piece, addressing the lonliness and lacking in the life of an immortal in a way not previously seen. Bowie's brief but brilliant cameo was one of his early 80s acting highlights, but the film is a must see for Susan Sarandon's amazing performance.

up next for Tony Scott was one of those films that comes to be seen as "era defining". at face value you wouldn't have thought a film inspired by a magazine article, produced in co-operation with and with the approval of the US Navy and featuring the kid who was quite amusing in Risky Business would carve such a place for itself, but Top Gun did just that.

sure, Top Gun at face value was little more than a loud celebration of American military supremacy and their status as the defender of freedom. it was, however, very very cool in the way it set about doing that. i am pretty sure i went to the Odeon in Middlesbrough to see it at least 6 times, mostly probably thanks to their 99p a ticket special.

Top Gun made a star of Tom Cruise, gave the world the wonders of Berlin's Take My Breath Away and said to a generation of us growing up with the threat of nuclear war "bring it on Commie, we will win". just how wise such a gung-ho celebration of the military is shall remain something for you to decide on yourself, but there's no denying that this was a brilliant, dazzling and truly entertaining film. if nothing else, it also gave the world that volleyball scene, routinely and accurately described as "the most homoerotic thing in the world ever".

sadly skipping over Beverly Hills Cop II, for i would just go on and on about Brigiette Nielsen if i stayed with the film, Tony Scott's gift for making films that made huge stars of actors came along in the riotous action flick The Last Boy Scout. Bruce Willis owes Tony Scott a big thanks.

what, you ask? surely Bruce was a big star by the time this came out in 1991? not as clear cut a star as you may think. in 1991 Bruce Willis was a big star only as far as he was when he was John McLane in the (at this point) 2 Die Hard films. every other film he featured in, be it the horrid adaptation of Bonfire Of The Vanities or the misguided Hudson Hawk, was a monumental disaster. The Last Boy Scout was the first film that showed Bruce could carry a film in a role beyond "man in vest stuck in building".

not that this was the only element of the film. other than the very young Halle Berry featuring, this is one of those non-stop action films that just keeps on getting bigger, better, louder and indeed funnier as it rolls on, giving one 100 minutes of sheer entertainment. "dancing the jig" never looked quite so good.

if i was forced to pick out just one film as being the best Tony Scott did then the winner is quite easy. it would have to be that devastating use of an ensemble cast, made from the script of at the time Hollywood's hottest talent, only putting everything in a linear order. yes, never ever forget that Tony Scott made the brilliant, epic True Romance.

Tarantino enthusiasts and apologists often baulk at the films made from his scripts, but that's there loss. Tony Scott turned a very rough script into a brutal, brilliant symphony of celebration for the bizarre and the gratuitous, making a film that is as difficult to watch as it is compulsive viewing. an incredible cast give close to career-best performances across the board to deliver the epic love story of Clarence and Alabama.

one of the best stories around Tue Romance revolves around the casting of Gary Oldman. legend has it that Tony Scott had a hard time getting Oldman to look at the script or discuss anything to do with the project. eventually, Tony Scott cornered Gary at an airport. when asked if he had read the script, Oldman went off on one of his celebrated foul mouthed tirades, basically saying he "didn't have time" to read scripts. he asked Tony Scott exactly what part he wanted him for anyway. Tony Scott said "Drexl, a white pimp whose convinced he's black". the legend goes that Gary Oldman paused for a few seconds, staring at Tony Scott as he thought of this, eventually saying "OK, i am in, tell me when you need me to be where".

that Drexl is only one of many fascinating characters in the movie should tell you what you need to know. the "main cast" is routinely celebrated for this epic film, but please a brief shout out for Bronson Pinchot, often overlooked for his insane performance as the willing and misguided Elliot.

finally, and this in no way should discount the other, superb films he made after this one, no look at the films of Tony Scott would be complete without celebrating the brilliant Enemy Of The State.

a dazzling, ahead of its time look at paranoia in the face of rising technology and its use for both monitoring people and destroying their lives digitally, Enemy Of The State in many respects personifies what made Tony Scott films so great - as much action and noise as you like, but always grounded in a formidable, well thought out story and played out with fine acting.

Gene Hackman in all but name recreates the brilliant Popeye Doyle some 25 years after The French Connection and Will Smith, in a rare instance (Ali perhaps being the only other case of this) actually does something more substantial that stand around and be Will Smith, as entertaining as that can be. Enemy Of The State is an elaborate cat and mouse chase affair, given some depth and meaning in the hands of a master film maker.

Tony Scott made films that dazzled the audience. high paced, often franky insane action pieces were matched by a strking, interesting story, presented with the kind of visual flair that only a few directors seem to deliver constantly in each and every film. i do not know why Tony Scott decided it was time to end his own life, but i do know the world of cinema is quite a lot less entertaining without him.

be excellent to each other.

Thursday, August 16, 2012

35 years ago today

hi there

well, i see that old allegation has surfaced again today. there's an allegation, or if you will theory, as to what exactly happened to The King, Elvis Presley, 35 years ago this very day.

it is of course a matter for your conscience and discretion as to what you believe or accept about the general reporting. should you wish to free your mind of accepting what is put before you, you are of course welcome to consult my findings as to what happened to him.

be excellent to each other!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

England draw game 2-1......

hi there

i really miss newspapers to a degree, but quality and pride in journalism. for centuries journalists were entrusted to be the guardians of language and information; checking as many times as possible the accuracy of the information and the wording of what they sent to print.

in this era of "internet news" standards have been allowed to slip in a way that must cause alarm for a good deal more people than just me. just about every day sees at least one glaring error on a major news website; something that simply should not happen between an editor and a journalist. i can't make an issue of all of them here for it would take up all the space on my little corner of the internet, but every now and then such an error is so bad that it requires a highlight.

observe this screen of the Daily Mail webpage, often referred in passing to as The Daily Fail.

did you spot it? no, probably not as it is rather small. here's the glaring error isolated for you.

score - England 2 Italy 1. description - a well-earned draw?

dear me. hopefully they have now rectified it, but the fact that it was allowed to appear at all on a news website is shocking.

be excellent to each other!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Nasher Says Relax

hi there

well, regular readers will be all too aware of the fact that i hold the guitarist Nasher (Brian Nash for cheques) in the highest regard possible. not only was he part of Frankie Goes To Hollywood, a band that for me will always be that band, you know, the one you forever hold a special place in your heart for, but he's gone on to make some extraordinary solo records too. if that wasn't quite enough, he's had an incredible "open door" policy with fans of all the music he has made, happy to answer all (sensible and legal) questions and chat about this, that and the other.

the door he keeps open will pretty much, i am glad to say, be removed from the hinges and widened considerably in September when his autobiography hits the shelves. and yes, actual bookshelves and virtual ones, for i believe there is to be a "digital e-book" version.

ladies and gentlemen, the book you are looking for has the name Nasher Says Relax, and looks like this.

now then, what else to write here is tricky. as a Frankie fan and a Nasher fan of course i am going to say "buy it, and buy it now". let me have a bash at saying why, without giving much of anything of the book away.

the short version of Nasher's musical career is - obscurity, the single biggest band on the planet, "tax exile", much anticipated return, band implosion, legal wrangles, fighting to get anywhere in the music industry in the 90s, self-satisfying and well received solo career. this is something more than the usual rags to riches to super riches or a return to rags, then. there's no self-pity or "worship me" from Nasher - he throws straight dice and tells a straight story.

the big selling point is of course going to be behind the scenes of Frankie Goes To Hollywood. from dominating the charts (Relax remains one of the biggest non-charity selling singles of all time, Two Tribes stayed at the top of the charts for 9 - that's nine - weeks) and being in demand by a world seduced by their charm and music to the eventual disintegration and falling apart of the group. for a band so big, it's strange that very little has ever surfaced in terms of telling the story. some twenty years ago Holly Johnson published A Bone In My Flute of course. as superb as that book was in terms of telling Holly's story, it perhaps lacked details of Frankie that fans, then and indeed now, wanted. Nasher's book promises to tell the story of going from hustling to playing pubs and clubs to having the choice of which stadiums to all of a sudden sell out in a manner not seen since Ian Hunter's celebrated  Diary Of A Rock N Roll Star.

there's more to it than that, though. Frankie, after all, finished some 25 years ago. Nasher's fame as a member of Frankie was huge but brief. just what path do you take when all of a sudden you are not featured in a poster on the wall of every other teenager? not every 80s superstar, after all, becomes either an internet parody like Rick Astley or part of the "Establishment" like George Michael or Duran Duran. Nasher's tale may well surprise you, but it will certainly interest you.

a few of us Frankie fans have been fortunate enough to hear some of the things Nasher will have in the book, and indeed had a sneak peek at one or two of the never before published pictures to feature in it. i can't give anything i know away, but i can ask you to trust me on this one - the book will very much be worth your time, whether you are a Frankie fan, a music fan or just someone that likes reading fantastic, amazing and yet true stories. oddly, i think even my Dad is going to like this one.

some links for you :

for those of you on the grand social network, here's the official face page

non-UK residents will find that amazon offer the best worldwide deal on the book - amazon order page

in Europe i gather play offer a good deal too - play order page

and for those in the UK - waterstones order page

HMV have not got it listed as yet.

a full review shall appear here after publication, and indeed after my copy gets delivered! i am pretty sure you can guess it will be a on the whole positive review, but by the time it's on the shelves i should be able to give away a little bit more of the content to attract your interest.

thanks for reading this and having an interest in Nasher's book.

be excellent to each other!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!