Thursday, August 28, 2008

Wallpaper

Durham Cathedral
Durham Cathedral

With the dog days of summer I always seem to become nostalgic for England's green and pleasant land. Something to do with the change of seasons, I think. Summer to autumn is a very special time that evokes all kinds of memories, usually associated with positive change. So for no particular reason here's a nice picture of a particularly lovely edifice. Quintessential Britain, I think.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Happy Blog-iversary!

Happy Birthday

Amazingly, this blog is celebrating another anniversary. 447 somewhat erratic posts containing an annoying number of typos and grammatical errors in four years. I hope some of you have found it entertaining. Now on to year five: champagne anyone...?

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Plain Sailing

Sailing with Henry, SD, August 2008
MD with Henry in Ensign class dinghy, San Diego bay.

Here's another postcard from my trip to San Diego last week. Old friend Henry and his charming wife, Lupe, treated me to a splendid lunch and bit of sailing around SD bay. Perfect! The reality of coming back to a rainy Seattle was harsh. I'm still plotting how to get a small sailing yacht and an apartment in the Ionian Islands.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Happy Birthday!

Olivia in Korea
MD offspring in Seoul, Korea, June 2008

I can't believe it's been 24 years since I cut that umbilical cord.

Happy Birthday, Olivia!

Bon voyage, too: we'll celebrate when you are back.

Irony

Sadly, the excellent saxophonist, LeRoi Moore, from the equally excellent Dave Matthews band has succumbed to injuries acquired earlier in the year following a vehicle accident. While Mr Moore was recuperating, his place in the group was taken by Jeff Coffin. Is somebody Up There taking the piss?  RIP, LeRoi.

Monday, August 18, 2008

The Cat's Meeow



I hope I'm not overdoing these video clips but while I was in California a new automotive project (or rather an old one that has been resurrected) was coming to fruition. This sound is quite the business don't you think? I've mostly missed the US rally season but next year will be a different matter...!

Without cheating, do any of you know what the car is? Gilly and Chuck are excluded from replies.

Thanks Mel, you've done a fantastic job. Now you'd better fit that exhaust pipe!

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Jethro Tull Live: Bourée



Ahhah, got it at last! This YouTube upload process can be tricky, especially with a slow internet connection. Anyway now I'm back in Seattle things have moved a bit. So here for your viewing pleasure is a video clip taken by yours truly of Ian Anderson et al. playing their old warhorse, Bourée, at the San Diego concert last Thursday. It was not a bad 40th anniversary gig even though I wasn't invited backstage. I have to say that while Mr Anderson did a virtually note-perfect solo, David Goodier's bass playing wasn't a patch on Glenn Cornick's original. Oh, well...!

PS Sorry about the less than professional vid quality but you can't expect too much from a 5mp Canon Elph still camera. And considering the above, the sound quality is quite amazing as I was recording from a distance of around 100 ft.

Performing Arts

Eagle flies

MD making shadow creatures on the wall of the Orange County Performing Arts Center yesterday evening.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Sunbury to San Diego

Sunbury-68-back350
Programme from the 8th National Jazz and Blues Festival, Sunbury, August 1968

Exactly forty years today, on Sunday 11th August 1968 (don't nitpick, I started to write this post yesterday) I made my way with friend Nick Williams to the racecourse at Sunbury-on-Thames, near London and paid 15/- (that's 75p for those born in the decimal era) to attend my first ever rock concert. I only attended for one day (Sunday) but despite missing great acts such as Ten Years After, Deep Purple and Arthur Brown on the previous day the lineup was still tremendous. Traffic, Spencer Davis, John Mayall, Chicken Shack, Al Stewart and Fairport Convention were all in attendance and to my impressionable young mind were simply great and this probably explains why I have so many of their CDs in my collection today. In addition the late, great, John Peel was compere on a secondary stage, actually a tent, of unbilled smaller acts that included a young, dynamic, piano player by the name of Reg Dwight who went on to achieve fame as Sir Elton John.

While all of these bands were exceptionally good, to my mind one stood out above all the rest -the hitherto unknown Jethro Tull. In fact I would say they stole the show although I'm not sure why. Perhaps because on an afternoon/evening that was replete with guitar virtuosoity from the likes of Stan Webb, Stevie Winwood, John Mayall and Jeff Beck, Tull's use of the flute as a lead instrument was fresh and very different. To this day they are pretty much the only band to take this approach and while Ian Anderson's technique was somewhat limited (it has improved immeasurably over the years) the attack was amazing. Dharma for One is still one of the most aggressive instumentals I know. Perhaps also because I was learning to play the flute at the time and JT's sound, particularly the percussive overblowing technique, offered a more macho alternative than the drippy, saccharine styles frequently offered by other flautists.

Anyway I've been a fan of Ian Anderson/Jethro Tull ever since and on Thursday I'm going to see them again in San Diego, California. Back in the heady days of 1968, I'm absolutely positive that neither the band or I would have dreamed we'd be doing the same thing 40 year later. Let's hope we may be doing this again in 2048!

P.S. I obtained the facsimile of the programme from The Archive, a wonderfully nostalgic site about the history of British rock festivals and run by a nice bloke named Dave who resides Down Under.

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Hiroshima Mon Amour

Hiroshima Dome_2
Genbaku Dome, Hiroshima: Ground Zero.

Twenty five years ago to the day I was in Japan attending a conference. The date was also very close to the anniversary of the atomic bombing of that country. I took a side trip to the city of Hiroshima to view the site of the first nuclear attack. I've visited many battlefields in my life. All have a poignant vibe but this city seemed to physically resonate with the agonies of tortured souls*.

Ringing the Bell of Peace _3
August 1983: MD rings the Bell of Peace.

At the time of writing this post (August 9th) it is the 63rd anniversary of the bombing of Nagasaki. I'm hoping that mankind remembers clearly the horrors of nuclear weaponry and that they will never be used again. But somehow I doubt it.

* Statistics. When the Enola Gay dropped Little Boy, a 13 kiloton firecracker compared with the superpowerful megaton devices now in the arsenals of perhaps eight countries or more, 80,000 people lost their lives instantly and another 60,000 died of burns and radiation injuries quite soon after. It is likely that a further 50-60,000 individuals died of radiation induced cancers in the post-war years.

Monday, August 04, 2008

Solzhenitsyn

solzhenitsyn

Well it's do svidanija to Aleksandr Isayevich Solzhenitsyn, novelist, nobel laureate, cancer survivor, Red Army veteran and crazy dissident who departed for a better place yesterday. The Gulag and the rest of us will miss you.

Friday, August 01, 2008

And While We're on the Subject

Ninja

And while we're on the subject of things martial, this has to be the funniest advertisement I've seen in a long time.