BBC Wales staff show their support...
Award winning blogger Stuart Hughes talks a lot of good and common sense in his defence of the BBC following the white-washing it has got over the Hutton report: A CONTRASTING VIEW...
But during the furore, lets not forget to ask the 'at present' whiter-than-white angel of goodness Mr. Blair, where are those WMDs that have cost the lives of thousands?
To the online Hype Gallery. An interesting concept. They print your art out on massive inkjet printers to display in their gallery - could look good on a CV if nothing else. Now I just need to find five minutes too... Not gonna happen is it Mr Dio?
Nice navigation software as well - I really like virtual gallery.
As Elis is starting to feel a bit better we took him out today to get some fresh air. Mrs Dio has recently been taking him out to Dyffryn Gardens, a few miles outside Cardiff in the Vale of Glamorgan. I'd been there once before with Mrs Dio, probably about 10 years ago. I don't remember having been impressed before - it had been expensive to get in and I didn't think it worth the money.
I'd spotted the other week that it was free entry during the winter months, so I though it was worth another go, to take a few photos and all. Mrs Dio has taken Elis there a couple of times recently (as a nice change from St Fagans) and said I would enjoy a revisit. So after a quick 10 minute trip in the car we arrived and I was ready to get snapping. We didn't have long to visit as it shuts at 4 during the winter and we got there just after 3.
There's a big old house (which I'm assuming is Dyffryn House) and loads of varied gardens. Everything was bare and skeletal - almost perfect golden hour light and nice skies with an occasional rainbow. In time honoured fashion a did my best to annoy Mrs Dio by running around snapping at stuff and leaving her holding Elis and turning around to talk at dead air as I'd stopped 10 paces back to take some shots. Here are some of the nicer ones.
We barely covered any ground in the short time we had. There were lots of paths and hidden little gardens we didn't have the time to follow. I think the last time we went there my head was in a completely different place and didn't enjoy it. This time, camera in hand I really enjoyed it and can see us going back fairly often in the near future.
On the way back we stopped in the Marks and Spencer multi-storey (I remember when that was all fields) and Mrs Dio had a quick trip to Tesco whilst I stayed in the car with Elis who was napping. To amuse myself I got the camera out and shot loads of shaky shots to get some nice abstract photos which will make good bits for making swanky graphics or indeed work nice on their own. I can hear Nursey banging on the door with a copyright infringement order right now.
Blatantly ripping the headline off a work site, but I'm excited I got two tickets to see Yo La Tengo at the end of next month. Can't wait. Been a fan for a good few years now and never caught them live, I'm looking forward to this one (after missing out on Guided By Voices).
Only bummer is its a seated gig and I'm not a big fan of seated gigs. It's a two header with Gorky's Zygotic Monki - I have a couple of their records but I can't claim to be a massive fan, they're OK like. I suppose Gorkys will end up headlining given their local connection.
Been a lot of talk of gigs today in work - it was mentioned the Pixies have reformed for some festival and I showed my age by saying how good they were live first time around. (Doolitle tour '89 I believe). I'm so 'Rock n Roll', bore the youngsters with memories of heady days (I saw Nirvana - that beats a whole generation wandering around in their T-Shirts...) and I feel past me prime. I even saw the Dead Kennedys had reformed - am I out of touch or what?
Maybe it's just as well I'm going to a seated gig.
The big record companies know no bounds to their greed. If its not bad enough they put out sack loads of shite at sky-high prices, they have now taken it on their backs to restrict fair prices to UK and Ireland consumers.
I've long been a fan of and regular customer at www.cd-wow and their trail-blazing prices. I've paid as little as £6.50 for new CDs, which has included shipping from HK. Still a bit over-priced, but at least going in the right direction. I got this Email from them today - this is the first I've heard of this and its utterly shocking that corporations can do this to the people who buy their products.
This is the message:
"The UK Major record companies through their mouth piece the BPI* have unfortunately restricted the UK and Irish consumers right to enjoy the freedom of the World Wide Web.
As from this weekend, any CD ordered for delivery to the UK and Ireland will incur a surcharge as we are only able to deliver CDs manufactured within the EU (more expensive).
Delivery to the rest of the world will not be affected.
Be quick to make the best of our current low low prices while you can still exercise your right to choose.
We will of course still be supplying UK and Irish customers but as of Sunday 25th January 2004 a surcharge of £2.00 (3.00 Euros) per CD will apply."
And more from BBCi
Unbelievable - Now where did I put those CDRs?
Poor Elis, the little bugger is full of cold. Streaming eyes, rivers of snot and not a happy bunny. Last night I had him in bed with me whilst Mrs Dio slept downstairs (one of us needed to get a good nights sleep!)
Needless to say, not much sleep happened, but there was plenty of twisting, turning and uncaking of solid, snot-caked nostrils was the order of the night, all night.
Took a bit of a sleep this afternoon - something not done for a while - and then to cheer ourselves up after a weekend stuck in and miserable, we jumped in the car, drove less than a mile and went for a wander around the top castle end of the Museum Of Welsh Life at St Fagans.
I'm sure Elis appreciated a bit of fresh air after being stuck the last few days - and what better place to start than with a couple of pictures of the handsome but exceedingly fed-up man.
Otherwise it was fairly grey and overcast - not very exciting photography weather. Took some details and bits and bobs, nothing overly exciting.
Then true to form, just as we leave, the sun pokes its head out from around the clouds and my batteries go... Grab it while you can!
Anyway, my turn for the sofa tonight and the joy of knowing tomorrow (now today) is team building day and I should have been in bed an hour ago to catch up on last night's missed sleep and instead I'm sat here twatting about with this. Typical.
Out and about around Llandaff again this lunch, snapping photographs and retreading over the old familiar ground. Did a quick stint in the Bishop's Garden first before going down to the Cathedral. The garden itself is a inside a ruined old castle wall and usually full of school kids on their lunch break. It was fairly quiet today, so where better to start our photographic odyssey.
I was also slightly put off by there being 'Gasp! Horror!' Another photographer in my haunts. It makes me very sensitive to what I am doing. I've never seen anyone else about down there photographing so it was a tad distracting. Not that I'm precious about the location or anything, I just like not thinking about anything else but grabbing a good photograph and not worrying about other people looking at me doing it.
Plenty of long shadows today. The light was wonderfully crisp and surreal, making everything hyper solid and firm in space.
But hold on a second there! I almost forgot - took a couple of quick snaps this morning to show the lovely candyfloss light that's been greeting me at breakfast time. Took a snap of the lovely shades from the doorstep whilst my tea was brewing.
Back to lunch - I wandered down to the graveyard but the other snapper was about - so I didn't hang around. Took a walk over to the fields between the cathedral, cemetery and weir, where I got interested in the puddles, shadows and reflections from the big clouds and sky.
Okay, so the gales I mentioned in my last post as a no-show actually happened during last night – there was the odd rumble of thunder and a grating of wood and metal throughout the night.
That meant today when the sun finally came out, it was with that clarity and freshness you only get after a storm, filling the clear blue sky with lovely dark clouds and strong contrasts.
I took the opportunity to get out for my first lunch break in over a week – I’ve been so busy I’ve been eating at the PC in work and itching to get out snapping. It was my first time this year at the usual haunts, trying some different angles. To start with I was enjoying the big sky meets white walls and brick work trip.
On a similar theme – I had a little play with the fill in flash, which gives the street sign that lovely glow and shows up some of the detail in the back of the statue against the strong contrasts of the lighter area of the image.
Meanwhile, down in the graveyard… Strong sun, crisp shadows and a nobbly tree that Tim Burton would be proud to have growing in his garden.
And finally, it’s the knobbly tree again, but if you look at this image through squinted eyes you should get the impression of a face. Completely unintentional mind, but hopefully it may appease the people who wind up here after Goggle searches for Arcimboldo – despite it being via my misspelling of Arcimboldo.
But I couldn't leave these great pictures of the freak South Wales weather of the weekend disappear into the past. BBC NEWS | Wales | South West Wales | More gales to follow tornado
I wish we would have some proper snow - the kind that used to keep us home from school, but we ain't had none for years. There was a programme on earlier about the big snow of 1982 - I remember it well - I love snow and we get it so infrequently. Less and less each year.
All the rush of the last two months, the meetings, the hair pulling and the hard work, me latest work project launched Friday. BBC Wales Sports Personality of the Year 2004. The whole projected stemmed from a brainstorm a year ago, and some of the ideas I threw in led to me being handed the project (despite my protestations - I hate sport.)
Anyway, my earlier vision was of a grand interactive sporting game on a par with the excellent Celebdaq. It became more and more watered down through subsequent revisions and reality checks to the state it is now. Other versions had included a fantasy league, betting game and fantasy sports agent game - all of which were too big and expensive with the budget and time we had.
Its had an arduous life - the web idea has very much driven the TV element of the project (weekly updates and monthly votes on BBC 2W) and there has been a lot of cross-media cooperation. This put me in the strange position of seeing my website and the realisation of an idea I helped give birth to and develop from the off make it to an actual TV programme. The other stuff I have made has been for existent TV formats, not the reverse where the web format has helped drive the TV format.
It's the first time I've seen my work actually on TV, when they did the preview piece on Friday night, they showed the actual website on the show as part of the package. A very strange feeling for me! It's all the more strange as I literally fell into the job and the web as a random temporary thing and it has developed from there.
Unfortunately, there is still a lot of work and refinement to go in to the site. I had the basic ingredients there for the launch but now have to add bits, tidy bits up and reorder other bits. That will be the next couple of weeks sorted anyway. Big shouts for the designer and coder who put the actual stuff and look together - I'm responsible for most of the content and the images, but the bread and butter stuff I was just the overseer.
Hopefully the next one I get to do will be around a subject matter I actually like.
Spent a bit of time over the weekend outting up the latest galleries from Decemeber over at my Digital Galleries @ Diobach.com site. Some nice shots and lots of old favourites. If you visit the [DEAD SITE] homepage then the latest galleries are linked from the front page.
I had quite a major overhaul as well, slimming down the pages. It was annoying me that you couldn't see the whole portrait images in a maximized browser @ 1024x768 - the bottom was always clipped off. I did away with the horizontal rules and some line breaks and its done the trick lovely. I took the opportunity to change the photo gallery page colours as well - no more glaring white to wreck your eyes.
The web galleries are made in Adobe Photoshop and are a bit clunky code wise. This means a lot of changes are done using site wide search and replace in DreamWeaver - a scary facility with over 1500 pages to do! Powerful but frightening. It keeps me amused anyhow.
To whet your appetite, here are a few of the better ones I haven't posted here before
This made me smile, this poor bloke was detained by the FBI for having a terrorist namesake and look-a-like. BBC NEWS | Wales | Trader mistaken for terrorist
It made me smile, as it crushed the long held stereotype I had of terrorists being devious, evil and slippery. Silly me, they are obviously quite daft. You can spot a terrorist by the fact he is carrying his own passport and not trying to disguise his appearance... [rolleyes]
Next thing you know they will be asking you on passport control... "Are you a terrorist? No? Go on then..."
Overrated in 2003: Flaming Lips - sacrificed soul for surface to gain their most critical (and personally disappointing) release ever.
The Darkness - Get a life. You think you is cool? Dear, dear me.
Matrix 2 + 3? Proves how shit Matrix 1 was.
Too pissed on whiskey and in need of sleep to go on. Love you and leave you.
In the best tradition of the end of year awards that you are now sick of, I give you my top ten musical albums of the last year (not in order of preference as that's impossible.) Straight away I can see you peering down and saying, "That didn't come out this year, or that's ancient, has Dio lost it?" Well, personally I've never cared about when a record came out, I've never listened to artists in chronological order and take and pick albums as they become available through whatever means.
Its the albums that have turned me on and defined where my head has been in the last year, whenever they were released. There are a few rediscoveries in there as well as new music as I've spent a fair few bob in the last year replacing all my old cassettes and scratchy vinyl with nice shiny CDs from Ebay and car boot sales.
I can place albums from the last year easily as I bought Nursey the excellent Yanqui U.X.O. by Godspeed You Black Emperor last Christmas, so I can mentally place what came after that and what went before. Conveniently its as good a place as any to start, but remember, they are not in order of preference:
Godspeed You Black Emperor - Yanqui U.X.O.
3 tracks spanning 74 minutes, you have to invest a lot of yourself to get the best from this dense record. For me the band have been one of the best discoveries of recent years, their music comes from somewhere special and works on many levels. This album took a long time to grow on me. Long rolling repetition of simple scuzzy riffs, orgasmic peaks and troughs and symphonic white noise. Post rock? I'm no fan of easy labels, but there is a cataclysmic finality about every album this band release, and this one is no different.
Thomas Jefferson Slave Apartments - Bait and Switch
Great shouty Lo Fi punk with several perfect power spike tracks. Came out in 1995 - I only turned on to them recently thanks to a random selection via launchcast. Launch went shit but fortunately it introduced me to some great new tunes before it did. This has to my favourite of them. Cheaters Heaven is one of those great songs which you will have to hum in public places and there are plenty of other highs on this short and snappy masterpiece.
Deftones - Deftones
This one came right out of left-field for me. I'd always had them pegged as another bunch of Nu-Metal no-nos. However, frequent exposure to the single Minerva and earlier effort Be Quiet and Drive (Far Away) sounded different enough to warrant further interest. I gave the album a go expecting to be disappointed and boy was I wrong. Pumping noise, anthemic, unexpected rhythms and soundscapes. At times it brings to mind bands like My Bloody Valentine and others the melancholy of Keats meeting pounding slowcore riffs. Minerva will forever remain the song in my mind around the time Elis was born. Sweet.
Interpol - Turn On The Bright Lights
Been a lot of retro NYC punks the last few years. Some good, many bad and downright unoriginal. This has to be my favourite of the lot. More melancholy than a mass rendition of 'Love Will Tear Us Apart' by the recently jilted lovers club mourning the death of the founding member. Hell does it feel good to be miserable when the tracks have this much fire and downright brilliance. Harking back to the days of Joy Division and Chameleons UK, you've heard it all before, but its a long time since its been done so well.
Yeah Yeah Yeahs - Fever To Tell
More NYC Punks (why has so much of my favourite music originated from NY?) This was another one I expected to hate but took a gamble and found myself with one of those albums you cherish forever. I have probably sickened Mrs Dio close to violence by singing the chourus of Maps over and over to myself this last year. Top ten track definitely, but there are also plenty of other great tracks on this short but accomplished album. It veers from all out punk attack to tender hand on heart ballading without a flicker. One more time now... "Wait, they don't love you like I love you..."
Jamie Says - The Silver Screen And The Stanley Blade
Don't bother looking for this minor masterpiece in the shops, you won't find it. Kyle Hill, front man of the now defunct Leicester band Circa 1983 recorded these tracks on his 4 Track. Jangly power pop which tips its nod to the likes of Joy Division, The Modern Lovers and the Velvets. Fucked mixing and some truly brilliant guitar. This album is tops and one of those ones which makes you want to start your own record label. Hats of Kyle, you da man and I'm looking forward to more! Its like CDs should be - hand produced, costing two quid and utterly jaw dropping.
Guided By Voices - Earthquake Glue
Probably the most prolific band on the planet. I only had two of their albums prior to this, both brilliant. Bee Thousand is another Top Ten album and lives permanently in my right hand nav>. Nice. This one popped up so I snapped at the chance to listen. Took a few listens but wowsers. They are out of the basement here, but the genius is still evident. Plenty of established GBV themes and fragmented song logic, but with added production value that makes this the definitive GBV album of the past 6 months... Main Street Wizards is my drop dead track off this album, but there are plenty of others which will send you critical.
I've been a big Lou Reed fan for about 15 years (almost half me life.) He is a flawed god, and probaly my biggest inspiration. He showed me that I could sing and make music despite the fact I can't sing or make music. The last few months has seen me replacing my old scratchy vinyl with shiny CD. Highlights from my Lou Reed back catalgue, showing the layers which I missed on my sound system have been: The Bells (highly under-rated), Street Hassle and Berlin (I thought the scratches and noise added character, the clean version shows it wasn't required.) Its good to catch up with one of the greats.
Television Personalities - And Don't The Kids Just Love It
Dan Treacy is one of the UK's greatest musicians. The man had talent to die for and never appreciated how inspirational he was. A true punk. He made his own music that interested him and didn't care about his technique or style. Mod psychedlia with a heartfelt northern soul. This debut album (1981) has some short sharp tracks which will warm your heart and make your toes tap. Echoes of Phil Spector, The Who and early Floyd mix easily and happily with an army of UK punk meisters. The band which inspired Alan Mcgee to create creation records (we will ignore the fact they launched Oasis and remember the good stuff) and an army of bedroom strummers to give it some. All hail this long overdue re-release of one of those seminal punk albums which lives up to the moniker of true punk.
I'm not a massive collecter of 'Rock Memrobilia,' but I have three pieces I am proud of. A signed copy of 'What's Welsh For Zen?' dedicated to me by John Cale, a couple of albums signed by Spacemen 3's Sonic Boom and recently, thanks to Ebay, a poster of a Television Personalities gig from the 80's signed by the man himself, Dan Treacy, my hero.
Spectrum - Soul Glide Divine
Which following Dan, is a nice segway into my next hero, Sonic Boom. The man is off on some weird trips recently, but this is before the current electric maelstrom. the man was making blissed dronescapes like this album. Another rediscovery from me old scratchy vinyl. I lost a signed copy of this from Ebay last year, but finally secured a copy recently. Despite what Amazon say, this album is a bastard to get hold of. Lovely whale like bleats give way to droning love ballads, this album takes a long while to get into. Once its implanted though, that's your lot.
Only a few days late. I have been mental on my two weeks off... Had some major successes as well. Blogging from old but serviceable Sony Vaio laptop on the kitchen table, over a 11g wireless network (which was a 2 day job to get working properly - but I am a novice) which has cost my savings but given me options I've longed for.
I've barely been anywhere I've wanted recently, had a bad bout of conjunctivitis and loved every moment of spoiling and looking after Elis. Back in work tomorrow and way behind in my blogging. Following is a nice musical review of 2003 I started a fortnight ago and only completed tonight. But first, some recent images from the old camera...
Ogmore By Sea on New Years Eve
And a cold but welcome trip to St Fagans Museum of Welsh Life....
And I haven't done any of the Work related work I promised myself I would do, and I'm also itching to do a fucked-me-off-in-2003 review also. :(