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Thursday, February 23, 2006

Constellation Records' New Site

Oh. There goes my knees. Constellation Records have finally got a new website. Not only is it now far more comprehensive and easier to navigate, they've gone and added online ordering. Oh my, there goes the wallet.

Before the ritual was invested in trust and anticipation. Go to the post office, get US dollars, put them in an envelope, post via unregistered airmail, wait and hope. Then came the excited arrival of said purchases. Every envelope is a treat to open as there's often a hand written thank you note and some wonderful label handouts and pictures. Now its as easy as logging on and paying through PayPal.

There's lots more photos and things to look at on the site now also, plus bands can put music up for download should they wish. A job well done, I can see myself visiting there lots - check it out if you haven't already and support one of the truly independent record labels with a purchase.

Whilst we talking about the rebirth of one site, it seems fitting to discuss the death of one another. My old site viralauctions.com - its been sitting around for a while unloved and ignored by myself. Whilst I enjoy the subject matter of weird auctions - the CMS the site was running on was both complicated, insecure and a bit drab.

I decided to kill the site off, but rather than lose the content and the ability to archive past auctions of interest, I moved it all to the brand new Weird Nations Viral Auctions Archive section I created for it. I thought what better place for it?

So I've moved all the content from Viral Auctions over, and now it can either site there or be added to by interested parties. I've got one quick site in the offing now then I'm back to square one with the equally ignored but with plans Cheesy Movies - which I'm also planning on dumping/moving/changing the format of.

Posted by Dio Bach at 15:58 | 0 comments | links to this post
Sunday, February 19, 2006

Mirrormask

I’m a long time fan of the illustrator artist Dave McKean. His work has inspired and enthralled me since my mid teens, and continues to. In fact, he's one of the primary reasons myself and Nursey wound up talking to each other on our first day at art college - discussing our love of his work.

I've also had much admiration for his frequent creative partner Neil Gaiman, and his darkly rich works of fiction. Like Dave McKean, some of his writing has had a lasting impact on me down the years. So, given my admiration of the pair, you can imagine my excitement when I learnt they were making a film together.

I finally got to see Mirrormask in past days and can say it was at times sublime. It started out very strange seeing McKean's drawings on the screen as moving images - but before long the screen was awash with some of the richest visuals I've seen in a long time. It is literally a Dave McKean comic on the screen, turned up to 10 and with fleeting glimpses of Gaiman's imagination and inventive story telling.

The early scenes in Brighton are shot in a strangely disembodied manner that reminded me of their early work Violent Cases - and was a little disconcerting at first, but then the fantasy element kicked in and the screen just didn't stop moving with murky shapes, colours and tones and scenes of eye wilting beauty. Weirdly surreal, strangely familiar, there were several moments of breath-taking invention where I was literally carried away with the spectacle.

It wasn't without problems though. At times the story took a real backseat to what was happening on the screen, and was less than satisfying. The characters also suffered, they elicited very little empathy despite quite a touching family tale at its heart.

But all these things don't really bother me. I'm a visual person, so I never really take much heed of those elements when I watch a film and it's this good to look at. For visual excitement, this film delivered by the bucket load. Other than one or two of the visualisations, which veered towards dodgy Marilyn Manson style 'Rock Video' obviousness and pretension, it was lavish and enveloping.

At times the work of artists like Bosch, Escher, Goya and Breugel were brought to mind, at others films like the City Of Lost Children, the Singing Ringing Tree and Dark City, all of which McKean pretty much stamped over with his own unique vision and imagery. Rich and multi-layered I'm going to be watching this one many more times in the future. Now that Batman is cinematically worthwhile again, if someone would just give Dave McKean the money to remake his graphic novel Arkham Asylum, we would be more than grateful and in for a treat of cataclysmic proportions!

The orbiting stone giants in Dave McKean and Neil Gaiman's Mirrormask

Posted by Dio Bach at 13:45 | 4 comments | links to this post
Sunday, February 12, 2006

Weird Nations

Well, been a busy old week for me - I've spent the last couple of weeks getting to grips with my new fourm at Weird Nations. Its my first experience of the complex vBulletin software, a major upgrade from the previously free PHPBB software I was using for the forums at the Weird Wales and Weird England sites.

I decided it would be easy for me to concentrate my efforts in one place and make one big forum with a more global perspective. I've had some steep learning curves with it - the templating system is very different to PHPBB and took a while to get used to. But, now I'm there and have a greater understanding of the systems. It really is powerful and easily adaptable software - I don't for one regret the change, despite the hard work I've put into figuring it out.

I've imported the old users and posts from the other site, tweaked the templates and now need to start growing the community. If any of you out there fancy joining up and making the odd post, I'd be very grateful.

Posted by Dio Bach at 14:24 | 3 comments | links to this post
Sunday, February 05, 2006

Fresh Mountain Air

We had a bit of a change this weekend, as a slightly belated birthday treat for Mrs Dio, we had a night away from home. We had a trip up to Brecon, with Elis, staying over night at the Castle Of Brecon Hotel. As we have to adhere to Elis' afternoon nap routine, we didn't get to do much when we got there. We had a quick stroll around Brecon and an evening meal at the hotel was as adventurous as we got, but it was lovely to be away from home, and Elis loved the hotel. The view was amazing, across Brecon and the Beacons. The hotel was very nice as well, great food and a nice atmosphere at a reasonable price - would definitely recommend it and certainly go back again.

This morning after a hefty breakfast we set out in search of a mountain to take Elis too, as by this point he really wanted to go on a mountain. He didn't want to do anything else, it had to be a mountain or nothing else. We visited the National Park Visitors Centre, just above Libanus (nope, can't even pass through there without some sort of comment...)

There's a lot of common land up there where you can walk and get great views of the Beacons without actually getting into all the wild and remote places. Ideal for half-arsed day trippers like us, and no doubt a boon to the Mountain Rescue people. Great views though, and Elis loved it. The visitor centre is nice as well, good food and facilities - there seemed to be a lot of regulars there.

I didn't really shoot much, but there was a nice sunrise from our hotel room, so the first couple will give you an idea of the views we had, and the rest are from the walks around the vistors centre towards the Beacons. Weather was very grey and cold, which comes across in the pictures.

Sunrise over the town of Brecon and the River Usk - slightly enhanced colours

Across the River Usk looking towards the Brecon Beacons, view from the Castle Of Brecon Hotel

Grey clouds and a sweeping view of the Brecon Beacons

One of the walks above the National Park Visitors Centre at Libanus in the Brecon Beacons, Powys, Wales

A solitary ray of light breaks through the clouds on the slopes of the Brecon Beacons

Posted by Dio Bach at 23:02 | 3 comments | links to this post
Thursday, February 02, 2006

Its Not Big And Its Not Clever

No Sir-ee, it ain't. But I must admit its the most fun I've had making a website in a while. There were literally times I was laughing out loud as I typed. Bit of a record as well, two days from the initial idea, to register it, to make the templates and to fill it with content.

Cheap, quick, nasty and a shocking insight into the sort of sub-Viz toilet level humour that makes me tick. I give to you, Puerile Minds. Thanks to Shazza for letting me use her and her friend's name in conjunction with it also. :)
Posted by Dio Bach at 20:14 | 5 comments | links to this post

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