Tuesday, July 25, 2006

And yet at school my grades were persistently below 'C' Level

This is me at the summit of Mount Ararat in Turkey, 5137m above sea level, about ten days ago.

No idea why my hat's decided to make me even taller than usual, so instead focus your attention on the ice axe in my hand, and the high-altitude beard.

LINK: Are these words from the future?

I like this :

Go on, you know you want to.

Sunday, July 23, 2006

LIST: Music To Climb Mountains By

You can keep your iPods with their single-digit battery life, my Sony bean-shaped music thing has a 50 hour running time when fully charged, and so is ideal to take on holiday.

And that’s what I did, and despite me accidentally leaving it running a couple of times, it didn’t run out until after I got home. Which is handy, as occasionally you get tired of the sound of your own ragged breathing on the mountain, or the aircraft’s engine drone, and want to listen to some proper music.

The following, then, is a list of what I listened to in Turkey (those marked * are single tracks, all the others are albums):

They Might be Giants – Istanbul Not Constantinople*
Pink Floyd – Echoes: The Best Of
Aimee Mann – Wise Up*
Jewel – Goodbye Alice in Wonderland
Pet Shop Boys – Left To My Own Devices*
The Divine Comedy – Victory For The Comic Muse
Somnium – 17*
Frankie Goes To Hollywood – Best Of
Camisra – Let Me Show You (Tall Paul remix)*
Scott Walker – Sings Jacques Brel
Fire Inc – Nowhere Fast*
Original Soundtrack – Blade:Trinity
Fire Inc – Tonight Is What It Means To Be Young*
They Might Be Giants – A User’s Guide To…
Sebastian Tellier – Le Retournelle (original version)*
Big Bam Boo – Fun, Faith and Fairplay
Long-View – Mercury
Fatboy Slim – Right Here, Right Now*
Craig Armstrong – Love Actually (Orchestral Score)
Snow Patrol – Run*
Deacon Blue – Raintown
The KLF – America: What Time Is Love? (Full version)*
Kubb – Mother
Moby – James Bond Theme*
Craig Armstrong – Film Works 1995-2005
Carter The Unstoppable Sex Machine – The Taking of Peckham 123*
The Divine Comedy – Casanova
Carter The Unstoppable Sex Machine – Lean On Me I Won’t Fall Over*
Bonnie Tyler – Best Of
Malik Adouane – Shaft (from Buddha Bar Vol 1)*
The Orb – U.F.Orb

So: 225 tracks, 16 and a half hours of music, and the machine was only half full. Did the job for me…

Darling, I’m Home!

Well, for those of you who didn’t know, I’ve been in Turkey for a couple of weeks, initially climbing Mount Ararat (I’ve been asked to write a magazine article about this, and will post the appropriate link), and then taking a few days to recover and do some diving (beautiful blue water, and fish all around). Heaps of fun, and I broke a few of my own rules as well, which is always a healthy thing.

And, of course, I met some lovely and interesting people, as you can see from the attached picture.

Friday, July 07, 2006

You have not heard the last of me

As villains tend to say as they fall victim to their own diabolical death-trap, shaking a fist (or hook or claw) defiantly:
"Mark my words, I shall return!"

... which is to say, updates will be few and far between for the next few weeks.
Please bear with me.
Your patience is appreciated.

Sunday, July 02, 2006

REVIEW: ‘Inside Out’ by Nick Mason

This book is Mason’s account of his life and times as a member of Pink Floyd, from its very beginning until the recent Live 8 reunion. As the only person who’s been a member from the start until the present day, Mason’s arguably well-placed to give a sense of the bigger picture.

And he does so pretty well; from the swirly psychedelic start at UFO and other London underground clubs to the grottiness of touring, he gives decent insights into the way various albums (and sometimes individual songs) evolved, with an amusingly dry modesty. The book wouldn’t be complete without references to the departures from the band – Syd Barrett and Roger Waters – and he doesn’t take the opportunity to pretend to be blameless in either situation, which I feel is a good thing. The book ends on a happy note, with the paperback containing an epilogue about the Live 8 reunion, but even without this it would be a good read, and it’s interesting to note just how the Floyd went from being improvisational and free-form to very ordered and regulated in their work (the overabundance of that from Waters sounding like the problem when it came to ‘The Final Cut’ album, I fear).

A very decent read, thankfully free of muso-style pretension or similar excesses of music writing, and definitely worth a read if you’re a fan of the band in any of their incarnations (I like most of it, though the Waters-led period suits the often rather adolescent nature of my concerns, but if you like the Barrett or Gilmour eras, these are just as well covered).

Postscript: Just this weekend (though I didn’t attend), Mason was special guest as Waters performed The Dark Side Of The Moon in Hyde Park. Nice to see the rapprochement continuing. But I would question the appropriateness of the heading under which this concert took place (see picture above) – Ambassadors of Rock? Rock doesn’t have ambassadors, with their polite diplomacy and Ferrero Rocher chocolates. Rock comes in without being invited, drinks milk from the bottle in the fridge, puts its hand on your bum without apology, and wipes bogies on the curtain before leaving, the door banging as it goes.

‘Ambassadors’. Tch. Rock’s not like it used to be in my young days, clearly…

The ‘To Read’ Pile

Over at http://toastandhoney.blogspot.com/2006/06/book-bound.html, Olivia recently commented on the pressure of having so many books awaiting her attention, and posted a picture to prove it. In a typically male spirit of competition, I attach a picture of the books which currently await my attention, in their increasingly precarious pile atop the bookcase.

I’m not necessarily proud of having so many books bought but unread (it’s just money sat there really, isn’t it?), but I’m not entirely ashamed of it either. If nothing else, it means that, if I’m on my way home from work and find myself close to the end of a book, I’m not going to find myself wanting for something to replace it… assuming I don’t finish it before I get home, that is –too often for my tastes, I find myself finishing a book either on the way to work, or even on the way home but with eight or nine stops to go, and find myself going cold inside with an awful sense of rudderlessness.

What to do? Pick up a discarded copy of the Evening Standard or, worse, Metro? Or just stare at the advertisements overhead for multivitamins and websites?

Good lord, no. Quite frankly, that would be worse than not reading at all.