Saturday, January 30, 2010

Tao Drummers

The Tao Drummers on stage performing an encore. Apologies for the shaky camera work but the audience were very mobile at this point in the proceedings and you can't expect too much from a hand held point-and-shoot. If you want a more professional view, take a look here.

If you've never seen Japanese taiko drumming before, I can highly recommend it. I saw this jolly troupe in Seattle last night. Occasional clowns, sometimes samurai, in part anime characters, always fantastically exciting musicians, they didn't fail to entertain for a second in their two 50 minute sets. Fantastic! Am I too old to take up drumming?

Friday, January 29, 2010

Rallye Monte Carlo Historique

E on CDT
A classic photo of the E type Jaguar of Merrick and Merrick in opposite lock across the top of the Col de Turini on the 1962 MCR. They appear to have driven over the mountain in the reverse direction from La Bollène Vésubie and instead of heading down to Sospel and back to Monte Carlo, look to be going straight ahead to Peira Cava and then facing the Col de Braus and the Col de L'Orme before getting any rest.

As I write, the Monte Carlo Historique rally has just started. This year, unfortunately, I am not seated in my trusty Mini Cooper at Reims waiting for the off. There are too many other things on my "to do" list. Even so, I feel left out and I don't make a good spectator. Next year Bill and I will be back with a vengeance. 2011 is the 100th anniversary of the event and it will be a serious party. And needless to say we expect to be on the winners' podium at the end!

Tuesday, January 26, 2010


I received this message in my email today:

"Haloscan is being shut down on: Feb 10, 2010. The Haloscan software and hardware is physically failing and we have no choice but to discontinue the service".

Another headache! I can revert back to Blogger's system which is clunky and not very elegant but I'll lose all the accumulated comments. Alternatively I can upgrade to Halo's replacement, Echo, which is a paid service and has, apparently, all sorts of stuff I don't want, like integration with social networking sites (!). My other choice is to ditch Blogger altogether and move the entire site to WordPress. This is a move I've been considering for a long time but involves a lot of fiddling and frustration (as I've said on several occasions, I should have paid more attention to the HTML class I took back in 1998). However WordPress offers visually stunning templates so the effort may be worth it. I'll keep you posted...

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Kate McGarrigle, RIP

I was saddened to learn of the passing of Kate McGarrigle yesterday at the all too youthful age of 63. While she performed throughout her life, the Canadian folk singer was particularly popular in the 70s and 80s and frequently played with her sister, Anna. So in honour of her memory, here's a clip of Kate singing with her sister, son Rufus Wainright, EmmyLou Harris and others, the lovely "Hard times come again no more".

Random Factoid: One one occasion, back in London in the 1990s, I practiced aikido with Kate's former spouse, the singer, Loudon Wainwright III.  He was passing through the city and visited the dojo. He was pretty good as I recall.

Friday, January 15, 2010

So U Think That 2?

Despite a few reservations about both their music and antics in recent years, I posted a YouTube clip of U2 a week ago as I thought it was appropriate for a New Year greeting and besides I quite liked them in the early 80s. However Ohara, Andrew and Chuck have expressed reservations about my choice and I've noted rancor and discontent expressed by other writers. A more systematic search of the interweb has revealed a very large number of individuals for whom this band represents the musical equivalent of chewing aluminium foil. I have thus compiled a list of reasons why Bono and the Boys are not everyone's favourite combo. Here are 10* that I find the most amusing:

  1. They still haven't found what they're looking for? Would it kill them to ask someone for directions?
  2. "The Edge" sounds like a disposable BIC product.
  3. In the name of love? How about in the name of God?
  4. Bono is an anagram of Nobo, Noob, and Pompous Dickhead.
  5. Bono would take a meeting with Pol Pot if it would get him on the BBC.
  6. James Joyce counseled his fellow Irishmen to adopt "silence, exile and cunning." In Bono's case, we'd have settled for the silence.
  7. The Edge actually calls himself The Edge (hahahahahahahaha).
  8. Bono’s sunglasses look like those hideous disposable things the optometrist gives you after a pupil dilation procedure.
  9. When they write lyrics like "Freedom has a scent like the top of a newborn baby's head", I’d rather take oppression.
  10. Their shameless hawking of high-end electronic products from Blackberry and Apple is inconsistent with their image of anti-enstablishment rockers.
*This compilation is from various diverse sources, my apologies for not acknowledging each one individually. Also note these views are not necessarily my own so please don't send me hate mail.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Climate Change


I don't want to sound smug but while the UK and large portions of the US have become tracts of permafrost interspersed with snowdrifts, here in Seattle the weather is unusually mild. This Camellia bush in my garden has been in flower since New Year's day -about a month earlier than usual. I like the idea that Spring is just around the corner...

Friday, January 08, 2010

Friday Music Blogging: U2

U2 are not my favourite band but this song is is a classic from their early period and it seems appropriate for the first official post of the 2010.