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>Travellin’ Blues

19 December, 2009 Leave a comment

>Today’s soundtrack:  Hindu Love Gods – Hindu Love Gods

Phew, what a week that was!  So much to talk about, we might have to split this blog over a couple of days.  I might even revert to daily postings over the Christmas break.  Or I might get a life instead – who can tell?

Firstly, the important stuff.

Matt was in hospital for six days in total, they let him out on Wednesday in the end.  After optimistic predictions of a Monday release were dashed (to his great disappointment) things moved on steadily until he was able to make good his escape.  I believe there is a half-dug tunnel behind one of the gent’s toilets, if any current inmates are interested…

I got to see him on Sunday, when he was still in some discomfort and the drains from his neck were still draining steadily – and a lack of sleep was making him probably feel even worse than he was anyway.  But by Tuesday, when I got over for my final visit, the ‘old’ Matt back was again, one of the drains was out and the other was likely to follow imminently.

The body is a marvellous thing – cut it up, take bits out – but give it a couple of days and it steadily makes itself better, re-routing fluids and joining ends of cut flesh back together again.  Let’s hope the self-healing process continues – with a bit of a nudge from the radiation in the New Year!

At the time of writing, Matt is back home, Facebooking and chilling.  Half the staples are out with the rest to follow on Monday.

Oh, and everyone who’s emailed or otherwise passed on their thoughts, prayers and best wishes for Matt – thank you all, it’s much appreciated and good to know that people – even complete strangers in some cases – have such generosity of spirit and goodwill.  You look for positives where you can at times like this, and this is certainly one of the biggest for me.

The stresses of the week were not confined to me – the car has been complaining more and more about the miles I have been subjecting it to, what with the weekly Staines run now augmented with a diversion or three to Bath.  Finally it spat its dummy out big time on the Tuesday night run to Bath and back.  An intermittent misfire now became permanent, preventing me getting above 2000 rpm and more pertinently – above 60 mph on the motorway (50 mph on any sort of uphill slope).  With my plans of nursing the car through the Staines project and getting it sorted in the New Year dashed, I had to get it fixed – and quick, otherwise I wasn’t coming home at the weekend!

So – Wednesday morning, and I’m trawling the internet for local Nissan garages.  The nearest was in Shepperton, about 15 minutes drive away (or half an hour, with the car limping along at its current pace).  My plan was to leave Staines the following lunchtime.  What were the chances of getting it booked in, diagnosed and fixed within 36 hours?  Slim to none, I assumed.

But no, thanks to the good people at West London Nissan (free plug, chaps) the car was booked in Thursday morning, checked and fixed by lunchtime and I was checked out of the hotel and on the road by two thirty.  The rapidly arriving snow, coupled with my nervousness that the ‘fix’ may prove to be temporary, caused me to change my plan to detour across and see Matt so I headed home.  And got back without incident, thankfully.

Stress levels still hovering around the ‘about to blow’ indicator, I got in to see that in my absence, two parcels had been delivered and left a) with the neighbour and b) behind the bin.  Went out to the bin.  Nothing.  Looked in the bin.  Nothing (well, a load of rubbish, but you know what I mean).  Mrs W arrives home, not to a lovely welcome, but a tirade about the potential loss of half my Christmas shopping.  Bless her, she could obviously see I was on the verge of complete and utter breakdown and resisted the temptation to punch my lights out.  Instead, she knocked on the neighbour’s door to find that not only did he have the parcel delivered directly to him, but had also taken in the parcel lurking behind the bin.  Panic over.

Mrs W then – sensibly – went out to another Christmas do, leaving me to slump in front of the telly, with drink and curry, to watch the Everton Under-11s take on the mighty BATE and slump to a creditable (but wholly irrelevant) 1-0 defeat.  It was nice to see the kids getting a runout, hopefully the experience will spur them on to fight for a regular position in the men’s team in due course.  Adam Forshaw, Shane Duffy and Jamie Bidwell caught the eye of the new starters, and the old man, Carlo Nash, looked comfortable in goal.  They might not – yet – have the stature of the Arsenal kids, but they did not disgrace themselves either.

Today’s soundtrack comes courtesy of the Hindu Love Gods, a one-off ‘supergroup’ comprising REM without Michael Stipe, but with Warren Zevon.  A drunken session of blues standards and other covers led to the album, which sounds like what it is – a group of mates relaxing (suitably refreshed) and having fun.  No classics, but ‘good time’ stuff  that brings a tap to the foot and a smile to the face.

Tell you what, you search for ‘Hindu Love Gods’ on YouTube and you get some funny stuff coming up.  What you don’t get is any drunken blues.  So let’s try something else!

Click on the DivShare player that should have mysteriously appeared below, and you’ll hear the HLG’s take on Prince’s ‘Raspberry Beret’, and very fine it is too!

http://www.divshare.com/flash/playlist?myId=9831955-995
Oh, Kev – I’ll get to the Depeche stuff over the weekend – I promise!

Categories: Car, Everton, Hindu Love Gods, Matt, rem

>Day 210: Footy on the box…

11 October, 2009 Leave a comment

>Today’s soundtrack: The Rites – Downloaded tracks

Out early this morning, to pick up a few bits and pieces to see us through the weekend.  Picked up The Times too – it’s not often these days I bother with a newspaper, but I fancied a long, leisurely trawl through the paper today for some reason.  Oh, and there was a code to download a raft of live REM tracks as well – which probably made the difference between picking up The Times or The Guardian today.

I’m easily bought.

Then back home, to an empty house, Mrs W. Pilating at the gym.  So a quick blog, then a comfortable few hours with the newspaper, with one eye on Soccer AM on the TV.  Multitasking again, you see.

Lunch was a delightful BLT on freshly baked bread – one advantage of The Hunter’s early morning runs dragging me out of bed is the ability to get a loaf on good and early, so that it is baked and rested in time for lunch.  Watched the last Masterchef quarter final in between mouthfuls of BLT.  A couple of very competent chefs going through this round, especially young Ryan, a very serious young man with an air of quiet confidence about him.  Semi finals next week – who needs Strictly X Factor when you’ve got excitement like this?  Well, Mrs W. for one, I suppose.

Then in the afternoon I watched the England game on the computer.  This is the match that no-one wanted to televise, so it ended up being broadcast on a ‘pay per view’ basis over the internet.  Now it may have been ‘pay per view’ in theory, but of course in practice there were any number of, er, ‘unofficial’ streams out there, were you of a mind to explore.

Which I did.  However I actually ended up watching on an official stream, albeit free of charge.  Bet365 were streaming the match on their site, free to anyone with funds in their account.  So I deposited ten quid, watched the match, withdrew ten quid, everyone happy.

Except Robert Green though, I should think.  Let down by Stevie G not letting a ball go out for a throw, and by Rio failing to judge a hopeful long ball, his bid to keep the green jersey lasted about fifteen minutes before bringing down the Ukranian forward and earning an early bath.

Perhaps he just wanted to avoid being pelted with flares.

Penalty missed, England were coping with the pressure up to a point – that point being Cashley’s inability to defend compounded by an attempted header away that merely succeeded in diverting a shot that David James probably had covered into the corner of the net.  After the goal, a combination of fine goalkeeping and decent organisation kept the scoreline at 1-0 to the end, without ever really looking like England would get back into the game.

Good job it all counts for nothing, qualification being achieved before kick off.

Tonight’s tea was a fairly decent prawn stirfry – spring onions fried off with some fresh ginger and chilli, fresh prawns added to the mix until they were properly coloured, then a combination of red pepper, pak choi, button mushrooms and baby corn added to the mix and cooked through.  The whole thing then dressed with some nam pla, soy sauce, lime juice and zest and finished off with a sprinkling of fresh coriander and served on a bed of noodles.  Lovely!

I’d love to tell you all about today’s band on the soundtrack, but to be honest, I know nowt about them.  The eight tracks I have on iTunes were downloaded from the band’s website, but I can’t recall what directed me to their website in the first place.  Must have been on someone’s recommendation, but I can’t remember who or when.

What I can tell you is that they are hard rocking in a no-nonsense way, they are Scottish, they have no Wikipedia entry and they are the third of three bands called The Rites listed on last.fm.  They do have a MySpace page, which hasn’t been updated for months, and it looks like they split up a while ago but are playing some reunion gigs shortly.  Nothing on YouTube that I can find.

Oh no! no music for us today Paul?

Would I let you down?  Of course not!  I mentioned REM at the top of the page – lets have some more REM!  And some monsters!

>Day 202: Who Watches The Watchmen?

3 October, 2009 Leave a comment

>Today’s soundtrack: R.E.M. – Reckoning

Me! I watched The Watchmen!

Finally – I bought the DVD some time ago, then put it to one side until I’d read the book. Then never got round to watching – until this afternoon, when a verrry slooow Friday afternoon needed something to fill it. I needed to find time to watch it by myself, because it is not a Mrs W type of film in any event, and especially with her being unfamiliar with the book.
And I really enjoyed it. Not entirely sure why they had to modify the ending in the way they did – you wouldn’t have thought the CGI budget would have been a problem – but it still worked well enough. Inevitably huge chunks of the book were omitted, but nothing that had a significant impact on the main plotline of the book. In fact, I was impressed just how closely the film followed the book – right down to large swathes of dialogue – which makes it even stranger that they felt the need to play around with the ending in the way they did.
I do think familiarity with the book was important to be fully aware of what was going on – particularly the backstory about The Minutemen – and I think some of the plot leaps might have been a touch confusing for someone who didn’t know the book.
So – the best film treatment of a comic book? Probably. Looking forward to the inevitable ‘Director’s Cut/Ultimate Version’ though.
Today was a bit meh, all told. No news on the job front, which is a bit frustrating as I need to know what’s what in the context of the contract work opportunity down in London. Emails over the weekend to chase up, I think.
I was also supposed to be seeing Richard Hawley in Manchester tonight, but that didn’t happen either, as my ticket never arrived, despite Ticketmaster insisting it had been delivered. Probably a victim of the recent postal strike. In the end, I wasn’t overly disappointed – I’m sure the chance to see Mr Hawley will come again (he said hopefully – I’ve got previous form in missing bands forever when I had the chance to see them, haven’t I, son?) and it would appear the due to the Tory Conference being on in Manchester, parking around the Hall would have been a nightmare anyway.
So I stayed in with Mrs W and caught up on Masterchef. Pile of rubbish, the two groups of chefs we saw – I’d have done better than any of them – obviously!
In other news, I took a trip out to Blockbuster to get some rubbish films (and some good ones too) to watch over the weekend. They were doing a ‘five films, four nights, a tenner’ deal, so I stocked up, planning to rip a couple of them to the computer for ‘personal evaluation’.

I’d downloaded some ripping software a while ago, and it seemed to work well with the first disc – ‘The Damned United’ – that is, until I tried to move it across into iTunes. Outside of iTunes, the film was just about an hour and a half long. When I copied it across – which it did, quite happily – the film suddenly doubled in length to over three hours. It seemed to have copied over twice in the same file so there were two ‘showings’ of the film one after the other – strangely, one with sound, one without. A quick trawl of the internet proved this was not an uncommon problem – but it was also a problem without an obvious solution! So I ended up getting the film across in two stages – ripping into .avi format in the first case, then converting the .avi file into an .mp4 file using a different piece of software.
That worked well, if a little inelegantly.
So – REM on the soundtrack today, a first, I think. Reckoning is their second album, when they were still very much a semi-obscure ‘college band’ beginning to make a few ruffles in the ‘real’ world. They had been critic’s darlings from the release of ‘Murmer‘, their debut album, but the heaps of critical acclaim they had was still to be turned into mega sales of their albums.
Of course they became absolutely massive, although recent years have seem them fall away both in terms of critical and public acclaim. I went to see them last year at Old Trafford, not expecting much to be honest, but the really blew me away – a fantastic live band still.
Here they are, still young and spotty, when Michael Stipe still had hair (and a minor drug habit, looking at the state of him) performing ‘…Rockville‘ in someone’s bedroom.
Categories: rem, Watchmen

>Death Rumours Greatly Exaggerated

25 August, 2008 Leave a comment

>Went to see REM at Old Trafford last night. Have to say I wasn’t expecting a great deal – I’ve been able to take or leave most of their output since Bill Berry left and there have been dark rumours (blogged on this very site) regarding the level of ticket sales.
Indeed, walking up to the ground, there did seem to be far fewer people than the last two OT gigs I’ve been to (Foo Fighters and Arctic Monkeys). However all the touts seemed to want to buy, rather than sell, which I took as a good sign.
Two support bands – Guillemots and Editors. Guillemots ace, sadly ignored by the bulk of the crowd as is often the way at these open air gigs. Finished with a storming ‘Sao Paolo’ that was well appreciated. Editors – much like Interpol at Latitude the other week – have one great song, which they then continue to play over and over BECAUSE THEY ALL SOUND THE PIGGING SAME! Still, the crowd was getting steadily more engaged.
And so to REM. Well, the old buggers have still got it – Stipe remains a remarkable stage presence, and Mills and Buck looked like they were also up for (and enjoying) it. Stunning light/projection show as well, and a well-judged setlist.
Can they still cut it in the studio? Debatable – Accelerate is not quite the ‘RTF’ everyone wanted it to be and their recent track record is pretty patchy.
Can they still cut it live? Without a doubt.
Set list for those interested:
1. Living Well Is The Best Revenge
2. These Days
3. What’s The Frequency, Kenneth?
4. Drive
5. Man-Sized Wreath
6. Fall On Me
7. Ignoreland
8. Walk Unafraid
9. Hollow Man
10. I’m Gonna DJ
11. Electrolite
12. Pretty Persuasion
13. The Great Beyond
14. So Fast, So Numb
15. 7 Chinese Bros.
16. The One I Love
17. I’ve Been High
18 Let Me In
19. Horse To Water
20. Bad Day
21. Orange Crush
22. Imitation Of Life
23. Supernatural Superserious
24. Losing My Religion
25. Mr. Richards
26. It’s The End Of The World As We Know It (And I Feel Fine)
27. Man On The Moon

Categories: Editors, Guillemots, rem