Friday, November 30, 2007

Weekend diary, part 3

Saturday, 24 November (continued, still)

Not so much to read this time around, but a couple of videos to watch.

The first is yet more walking. We did a lot of that, did I mention? This time through the lovely Turia Park.

The second video is from the jaw-dropping City of Arts & Sciences, just wandering around leisurely.

I love the sounds on both of these video clips, just stuff and sometimes chit chat and sometimes industrial clanging or children shouting. But sometimes just an incredible silence that is almost unfathomable in the middle of a huge city. Wonderful.

Thanks for watching. And have a great weekend.

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Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Weekend diary, part 2

Saturday, 24 November (continued)
So to get to the big, long park, we first had to walk down a big, wide street. But this big, wide street was super-groovy, cos it had a big, wide walkway running down the middle of it -- kind of like a mini-park in its own right. People were out walking their dogs, couples were canoodling by their cars, and the occasional tramp was sitting on a bench with his shopping cart of worldly possessions next to him.

We walked past a cool tree, which looked like it was straight out of Pan's Labyrinth, too. Here's some video of this bit of the walk, including the tree and a sneak peek at the big park below us at the end of the clip.

So then we climbed down some steps into the park, and it was coooooool, like I said yesterday. And we walked and walked. We wanted to walk to the City of Arts & Sciences designed by Santiago Calatrava. We didn't realize how far it was. It looked quite near on the map!

But eventually we spotted a bit of the famous architecture, rising up from the horizon, and this spurred us on. We had flown in over the complex, and it looked amazing from the air. We simply had to go there. We walked and walked some more.

Finally we hit a fence. We could see where we wanted to be on the other side, but there was no direct route. So we followed the fence around, hoping it would eventually lead us to an entrance of sorts. And it did. But this was our first real sense of how much building work is still ongoing in Valencia. It is Spain's third-largest city, and yet it is still relatively undiscovered (save for the America's Cup being held there earlier this year). As a result of this newfound interest in the city, it seems there is a push to make it as tourist friendly as possible as quickly as possible.

Once outside the Ciutat, we sat a while and took some photos, then walked around the complex a little, down as far as the Oceanogràfic, which is an enooooormous aquarium type thing. We wanted to see how much it cost to get in and what the opening hours were for the Sunday, which we did.

But we had walked a long way from the hotel, and we knew we had to get back eventually. First, though, Red was keen to make our way to the Shop of the America's Cup, down in the port, in the hopes of buying a little something for her mum. So, off we set, following our trusty map. We came out from the Oceanogràfic and chucked a left. It looked a bit ... undeveloped ... but that's all good. We walked past some tourists on a corner who looked lost. But we had our map and we rounded the corner, only to find there was nowhere to go.

We doubled back and asked the tourists if they were looking for the port, too. They were. The six of us were now on a combined mission...

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Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Weekend diary

Saturday, 24 November
I would say the alarm woke us at 4am, but in truth neither the wife nor I had had much sleep. This all goes back to the problem we are having with Cat as a result of a problem with the neighbours' cat. Say no more. By the time we have risen, showered, dressed, breakfasted etc, it is 5am and we are officially running late. We get in the car and drive to the airport. Fuck, it's cold! I mean, really cold. Even after driving for 40 minutes, more than halfway to the airport, with the heating running, we are still both freezing. Brrrrrrrr. Of course, we get to the airport in time, not great time, but in time. Blah blah blah plane, blah blah take off, blah blah land.

After a two-and-a-half-hour flight, we land at Valencia airport at 11am local time, give or take a few minutes and take a cab from the airport to our hotel, the fairly recently opened Vincci Hotel on Calle de la Paz. En route, the very chatty and friendly cabbie explained how the local Valencian language, in many ways, is rather more similar to Italian than it is to Spanish. Cool. On arrival at the hotel, at about 11:45, we discover (as suspected) that we cannot check in until after 2pm. We leave most of our bags and stuff and set off for a bite to eat.

We are ravenous, but we know from our Seville experience in January that Spaniards keep crazy time as regards eating. We eventually find a little tapas bar on, Plaza del Ayuntamiento, one of the main squares. The guy there tells us that they only serve seafood tapas. Although that's fine for us, I can't help suspecting, by the way he seems to say it, that many tourists don't like seafood. But then this is a port town, so seafood ought to be expected, no? We ordered a half-portion each of prawns and squid rings, with a pair of beers to wash it all down. The first few mouthfuls were great, but after a while it became a bit much. Deep-fried fish and beer on empty stomachs = not ideal. Oh well. We ate what we could and moved on.

We decided to head towards the park area via some other bits of the city, such as the Estació del Nord and some other stuff. Here's some video of the estació, which is Spanish for "station".

The park is so cool. Right through the entire length of the city, where once there was a river, there is now parkland. Some city planners thought it was a good idea back in the day, and so they diverted the flow of the river and created a wonderful public space. And all the bridges that spanned the waterway now span the park. It's so cool! Kids and dogs and buskers and tourists all just hanging out, cycling, walking, roller-blading, whatever, enjoying what was a glorious late-November afternoon.

We walked and walked and walked. And we got hot. The sun was beating down, and although we had lightened our load on arrival, my leather jacket was soon too much. At one point both the missus and I had stripped down to T-shirts, along with many others out and about. The 24th of November, and I'm in a T-shirt. Now that's what I call a rockin' good time!

More stuff later.

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Monday, November 26, 2007

Did you miss me?

I suspect you didn't even notice I was gone, but on Saturday morning, Wife and I left for Spain -- Valencia, to be precise -- and now we're back. It was a short long weekend just to see a new city, and it was kind of our Christmas present to each other (well, that and a little stocking filler or two).

A lovely and completely unrelaxing relaxing time was had by us both, and more info, pics, and vids will follow.

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Friday, November 23, 2007

Love animals?

If so, and I think most who come here do, please go and read this, then click through and sign the petition.

Killing animals in the name of art is not big or clever, and any cunt who would do such a thing should be imprisoned rather than held up as a national treasure.

Guess who's my nomination for Cunt of the Week. And this was a close call; but I figured I could give the nod to Alistair Darling any time.

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Thursday, November 22, 2007

Too busy to blog

Just so you know, y'know?

Also, Happy Thanksgiving to those who celebrate it about now. We English don't celebrate it, but I know it's something to do with this:

Also, here's some video of me getting tattooed last weekend.

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Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Brighton Ink (after Red, 2007)

It's been a busy few days what with one thing and another. For us, work is a funny old thing. Working for ourselves (albeit for other people) from home means that we never know when we are going to be busy, and it can go from feeling like you are never going to work again to feeling like you are never going to stop working within a matter of hours. And my blogging suffers when I get too busy.

Notwithstanding, even though there was enough work to keep me home all weekend, once I heard of Old School Saturday at Magnum Opus Tattoo in Brighton, where they were offering "Old School tattoos at Old School prices" (that is, from £20, or US$40, + a £10 tip), I had to head down and see what could be done.

I was fairly sure there would be much demand, since Magnum Opus is Phil Kyle's new studio, and Phil Kyle was one of the artists featured on the TV show London Ink, so that made me feel like there was no point rushing to get there, cos there's sure to be a huge queue and I'll end up just wandering the streets of Brighton instead. Not that there's anything wrong with that.

Finding Brighton was easy and took just an hour and 20 or so. Finding the shop was harder, since I'd neglected to print a map. It took at least another 45 minutes of driving around, but find it we did. By now the shop had been open almost an hour; any chance of getting inked was surely out the window.

As we approached the door, there was no visible queue. "Ah," I thought, "it's probably so busy that people have put their names on a list and headed off for a coffee while they wait." But no... amazingly enough there was only one person ahead of us. I was dumbstruck.

"Hi there. I've come to get an Old School tattoo at Old School prices," I announced to the guys behind the counter, and they whipped out a tiny sheet of flash from which to make my choice. True enough, these were some good Old School designs. As I mulled over what to have, the missus started suddenly to show some interest. You can read what happened to her here.

I was torn between three designs in particular, two of which were bladed weapons, and the other was a snake wrapped around a skull. Below is what I finally plumped for, and the ink was put in by Lynn Akura. I've also got some video footage of the both us getting tattooed, since the team there was very accommodating at my request.

I have never given so little thought to getting a tattoo before, and it was both liberating and exciting to be having a tattoo just for the fun of having one, rather than going through the rigmarole I usually do, thinking what to have, where to have, when to have, trying to get an appointment, etc, etc, etc. A fun day out for all the family!

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Friday, November 16, 2007

I do like a big crack

A couple of weeks ago, the wife and I went for a bit of a wander along the Southbank in London. It was the weekend that my dad and his brood were visiting. We left them at the Tower of London and went off for a bit of "us time". We soon found ourselves at the Tate Modern art gallery.

Every few months at the Tate they have a new piece in the foyer, and I was keen to see the latest work that had received so much press attention.

Here it is, and that's me touching a piece of modern art.

Looks impressive from above, right? Well, it's actually about twice the length of what you can see here. It's really quite awesome.

Yep, you could lose a small child in there. Now there's an idea... Indeed, there are safety officers up and down the whole length making sure no one falls in!

Of course, everyone wants to know how they did it. How did artist Doris Salcedo manage to put a fucking great crack down the length of the Tate's floor? Well, she ain't telling. And fair enough.

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Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Love is in the air

Speaking of love, I had my 35,000th hit to this site. Looks like it was Camie Vog. Whoever it was, thanks to you all for your continued visits.

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Monday, November 12, 2007

Cheap music but great music

On occasion, while out shopping, I like to see what I can find in the "two for a tenner" section of a music store. I bought two for £10 over the weekend. Allow me to share the story behind one of them.

A few months ago, I watched a documentary show on TV. I occasionally like to watch these things, y'know, the sort of programmes that come under series titles such as Imagine... or Storyville and the like.

The show I watched that evening could almost be considered life-changing. It was about a man who was a pop star in the 1960s. Of course I knew his name, and I knew one or two songs by the band he was a part of, but I didn't know he had reinvented himself after the dissolution of that band. And I didn't know that he continues to make music.

As I watched this man recording his latest album, he would bang things together in the studio to make the sound he wanted; he would build a box into which he would go to create yet another sound for a particular song; and similar things.

He spoke with that dull monotone of a science teacher, with the look of someone who might be slightly insane. Or might be a genius. Whichever way, he is an artist. An artist in that truest sense. A man for whom making music seems not to be about making music; moreover it's about creating something, and it just happens to be music.

Back in the late 1980s I met a guy named Brian, and Brian would often refer to this artist. We would talk for hours about music, fashion, and women, the most important things in life for a young man, surely. Brian would talk about this singer's "doom-laden vocals", an expression that has stayed with me for some 20 years as I applied it to others without ever really listening to the man about whom it was intended.

That man is Scott Walker, and I'm a recent convert. You might remember him from such songs as "The Sun Ain't Gonna Shine Anymore", by The Walker Brothers. If, like me, you know (or knew) very little else about him, allow me to share with you a clip of him in action, singing the opening track from his debut solo album, Scott, one of the CDs I bought on Saturday.

As I wrote this post, I began to see parallels (in my own head) between Walker and David Lynch -- both artists for whom the medium is almost irrelevant. Not irrelevant, but... just a conduit, if you like. These two men -- and undoubtedly others, male and female -- just want to create. And as I then glanced at Walker's Wikipedia page, the parallel was cemented for me. Apparently, Walker told UK newspaper The Independent in 1995: "I've become the Orson Welles of the record industry. People want to take me to lunch, but nobody wants to finance the picture... I keep hoping that when I make a record, I'll be asked to make another one. I keep hoping that if I can make a series of three records, then I can progress and do different things each time. But when I have to get it up once every 10 years... it's a tough way to work."

A tough way to work, indeed, and a sad state of affairs. Walk into any music store and you will find row upon row of reissues by the likes of Sting or Phil Collins, reissues, re-releases, repackagings; greatest hits, best-ofs.

But where is the funding for those with a truly original vision? Those who have a deep, unstoppable desire to create? Another thing I love about those documentary strands I watch is the focus, from time to time, on Old Masters. Back when the likes of Michelangelo and Leonardo (no, not the TMNTs) were working, they had sponsors and patrons, people who commissioned these incredible, awe-inspiring works of art. And you know what? Sometimes I think we'd be in a better place artistically if that were still the case, instead of the shit that is churned out for the masses.

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Thursday, November 08, 2007

A man walks into a dentist’s surgery...

Sound like the beginning of a joke? Well, it's no laughing matter.

But before that, the wife and I went for some lunch. As you might know, I like a decent burger now and then. And when I'm in central London, I like to indulge my palate with a visit to Hamburger Union. There are several branches, but yesterday we went to the one on Tottenham Court Road. But once we placed our order and took our seats, we remembered that the last time we went there we ended up feeling a little sad.

You see, right above the table that we have taken on both visits there is a print on the wall. A quick glance reveals that it's a picture of Noah's Ark, braving huge crashing waves. However, and grab a Kleenex now, on closer inspection you can see that the ark, which is full to capacity, has had to tow a smaller boat behind it, and upon this secondary vessel stands a pair of dinosaurs. The dinosaurs are also wearing inflatable rubber rings around their long necks.

I mean, how sad is that?

Well, after the yummy burger I could delay the inevitable no longer. First the hygienist. Apart from the fact that I have T-shirts older than the woman who was let loose inside my mouth with sharp and dangerous tools, this part of the visit went okay-ish. Nothing I didn't already know.

The dentist proper was a different story. Man, how I hate those initial anaesthetizing jabs. The needle is about 3ft long and she sticks it in, pulls it halfway back out then pushes it back in at an adjusted angle. And after that one she does the same with another needle. Like, ow.

Then she got me all prepped, with the green rubber sheet with a hole in it to isolate the tooth that is to be worked on. Once the area seemed numb enough, on with the drilling. To be honest, I don't have a major problem with this part of the process. So long as I'm suitably anaesthetized, it's all good. For me, it's the fact that I have to lie there with my mouth fairly wide open for an hour. That's hard work.

So, drill and file and dig and file and drill ad infinitum. All the fun of the fair, it was. And drill and file and dig and file and drill some more. And we're done. Then the not-great news. She wasn't able to finish it, but that had been half-expected anyway. The worse news? Because one of the canals goes off at a funny angle, she can't get all the way down it. Options: live with it and see how it goes; or go to a specialist who SHOULD be able to get to it.

Now, the specialist will charge around £800 ($1,600) for this treatment. And given that I'm already paying the best part of £500 ($1,000) for the work my dentist is doing on it, I'm sure as hell not going to pay yet more for someone else to maybe not be able to finish it. To be honest, I wish I'd had all the facts at the outset, though I appreciate she may not have known how tough the canal would have been to get down. It's a curved one, apparently. But armed with all this info and a list of costings, I might have simply decided to remove the offending article. "If thy [tooth] offends thee, pluck it out" kind of thing.

Oh well.

So I go back for the second phase of the job on Monday the 19th. Looking forward to reliving the whole thing again, obviously.

Well, that's all for today. Over and out, amigos.

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Tuesday, November 06, 2007

Dentistry... and a large ass

Won't be around much tomorrow. Off to the dentist. Phase 1 of a root canal treatment. Great.

Still, I have posted some new movie reviews in recent days. Feel free to check 'em out if you haven't already. Also, I joined the Large Association of Movie Blogs (or LAMB for short). You can find it here at largeassmovieblogs. So far it's quite a small ass, but it has big ass-pirations. Is that enough ass talk? Butt I like it!

Have fun without me. He he, like that's possible, right?

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Monday, November 05, 2007

“I love the sound of breaking waves”

Even small waves sound great on pebbly beaches
as they crunch and splash and sizzle.
I'll tell you what doesn't sound nearly as great:
when Gallows sing with Lethal Bizzle.

Not that I have a problem with Gallows;
it's the Bizzle who's troubling for me.
I just don't think that the sounds he makes
are as cool as those of the sea.

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Friday, November 02, 2007

And the winner is...

This week's Cunt Of The Week (© The Ranting Dullard, wherever he may be) is undoubtedly Sir Ian Blair, the Metropolitan Police Commissioner.

Not content with having been in charge of an operation in which an innocent man, 27-year-old Jean Charles de Menezes, was killed on a Tube train -- shot seven times in the head with hollow-point bullets, not content with being part of an inquest in which the victim's name was besmirched with talk of illegal residency and cocaine found in his system and news that his image had been modified to make him look a bit more like a suicide bomber, Blair says in his team's defence that a week later they caught the 21/7 would-be bombers.

He added: "In the past 12 months, we have responded to nearly 10,000 calls potentially involving firearms. Police have fired their weapons on three occasions."

Y'see, to me, that's no defence. You shot and killed -- nay, gangland-executed -- an innocent working man, and yet when faced with real criminals, proper terrorists, genuine threats to our country, hardly a single bullet is fired.

You, o knight of the realm, are a Class A Cunt. I hope you rot in hell, you fucking arsehole.

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Thursday, November 01, 2007

“I’m no gold-digging whore!”

I don't even know why I'm bothering to write about this. Lord knows there are more important things going on in the world, not least this or this, but Heather Mills McCartney just gets right on my tits. And since we're in the Halloween season, why not wheel her out?

Let's get one thing straight right off. I have never liked her. Even before the McCartney suffix, i felt she was a big liar. When I would see her on TV talking about her so-called modelling career, or that she lived under a bridge, and about her collision with a motorcycle that left her missing a leg, everything that came out of her mouth just made me laugh. Even the stuff that one cannot dispute -- such as the leg thing: the way she would tell it just sounded made-up, sensationalized, stretched beyond belief.

Another thing: I don't like Paul McCartney. Sure, I dug The Beatles enough, but Macca was never the talent of the group. Come on: compare "Imagine" with "Pipes of Peace" and tell me, Who are we kidding here? So my dislike of Heather has nothing to do with any allegiance to some British treasure (read: dinosaur).

And Paul should have known better. But instead of thinking with his head ("Why does this young woman want to be with boring, old, washed-up me?") he thunk with his cock ("This young woman wants to be with me. I still got it goin' on, baby!")

Yeah, you got it goin' on, Paul... all the way to the very expensive divorce courts. Because in a bid to prove to us all how much you got it goin' on, you went and had a kid with Heather. And now she's proper got you by the purse strings.

But Heather doesn't like that people think she is a whore or a gold-digger. Heaven forbid. She is a persecuted soul, like Diana or Madeleine's mum. Puh-leeeze. "I've done loads of work for charity over the past 20 years," she fake-cried.

Have you heard that other story? She claims all the while she was in Dancing with the Stars, she was suffering a broken pelvis. Oh, she's such a cunt! But what would we do for laughs without her?

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