Thursday, 30 April 2009

Playing For Change

There is a common belief that music has the power to break down boundaries and overcome distances between people. No matter whether people come from different geographic, political, economic, spiritual or ideological backgrounds, music has the universal power to transcend and unite us as one human race. This belief is what inspired Playing For Change.

They built a mobile recording studio, equipped with all the same equipment used in the best studios, and travelled to wherever the music took them. As technology changed, their power demands were downsized from golf cart batteries to car batteries, and finally to laptops. In the video below Mark Johnson, creator of Playing For Change, explains further.

Playing For Change Explained from Playing For Change on Vimeo.

So here is the Stand By Me video that Mark talks about. The hairs on the back of my neck always stand up when I hear something that really reaches me, and it happens whilst watching this video. I hope you enjoy it and please don't forget to visit the Playing For Change website to find out more and watch other videos.

Playing For Change | Song Around The World "Stand By Me" from Concord Music Group on Vimeo.

Wednesday, 29 April 2009

No Video

As I just got a influx of new subscribers by email (you're all very welcome by the way), I just thought I'd better say again that there is a limitation in the software that handles the sending of the email. I'm trying to get it sorted but in the meantime, if I make a post that contains embedded video, it will not appear in your message. Pictures work OK, but not video. In order to see it, you will need to click on the link(s) contained in the message.

Sorry for the inconvenience, I hope you enjoy e-clecticism anyway.

Engine Failure

As someone who flies quite a lot I have become a little blasé about what might happen in the event of mechanical failure. Below is a remarkable bit of footage that brings it home.

The pilot, Kyle Davis 22 and his passenger Joe Surowiec, were flying to an event when their engine cut out. After a couple of failed attempts to re-start it, Kyle made a hasty decision to land the plane on a (luckily) quiet street. Needless to say the clip has made the news in US on several stations. I just love his parking.

Tuesday, 28 April 2009

Two Tracks

Today and yesterday I was reminded of two different tracks by two different artists. They have no connection with each other, other than the fact that I love them dearly, but had completely forgotten about them. So now I want to share them in case you are unaware of their superb ability to put a smile on your face. Especially whilst driving I think.

The first is Mr E's Beautiful Blues by Eels. This is such a summer song. Sunshine and the windows down. Come on!

The second is Murder of One by Counting Crows. Sadly there is no video to this. Ideally I would have loved to share a live version with you as the song is way better live. Unfortunately though I could not find one with decent sound quality so the studio version it is. Get on up!

Monday, 27 April 2009

Simon Annand

On a recent trip into Worcester with a friend, I called in to the Victoria Institute. I had not visited the museum for some time and agreed to provide my friend with his first tour. I don't normally bother with the gallery as it often exhibits those abstract art pieces that make no sense to me. But we made an exception this time as the exhibit really caught my eye. I'm really glad we did.

Simon Annand is a photographer that has a dream job as far as I am concerned. For twenty-five years he has had unprecedented access to actors and actresses in that twilight time, thirty minutes before they go on stage, as they wait in their theatre dressing rooms. The exhibition featured some very impressive names such as Anthony Hopkins, Cate Blanchett, Daniel Day Lewis, Judi Dench, John Gielgud, Vanessa Redgrave, Jim Broadbent, Jeremy Irons, Glenda Jackson, Jude Law, Charlotte Rampling, Michael Gambon, Maggie Smith, Martin Sheen, Felicity Kendal, Kevin Spacey and Ralph Fiennes. Each photograph beautifully captured that finite time between the actor being themselves and transforming into "somebody else".

The dressing room is a physical space that allows for concentration and privacy so the psychological negotiation between the actor and this fictional character can take place.

When ‘The Half’ is called over the loudspeaker backstage, it is the start of a 35 minute countdown to facing the audience and there is no escape.

It is rare to see actors at this point in their work.

Simon's book, The Half, collects over 300 of these photographs together. It can be ordered here. It's definitely on my wish list.

Some of Simon's work can be seen on his website, I urge you to take a look. Below are a couple of shots of Daniel Radcliffe taken whilst he was appearing in Equus.

All this and his camera is way cooler than mine! Damn him!

Saturday, 25 April 2009

Auto-Tune News

A new sensation on YouTube recently has been caused by the posting of Auto-Tune News. The user schmoyoho has been using a device known as Auto-Tune to turn news pundits, anchors and politicians into singing stars. I have to say I'd prefer to watch the news like this. I re-watched the Katie Couric bit that starts around 1'20" over and over.

Friday, 24 April 2009

Facebook Etiquette

If like me you use Facebook you might want to learn these simple rules of Facebook etiquette.

Thursday, 23 April 2009

Proud To Be English

Happy St George's Day to all my English readers. Well to all my readers.

Saturn Up Close

These stunning images of Saturn taken by Nasa's Cassini spacecraft show the ringed planet, its moons and rings in the most incredible detail yet. More examples can be found here, and you can read the full story here. As always, click to enlarge.

Wednesday, 22 April 2009

The English Language

This may well be old but as a rather pedantic user of English myself, I find it superb. How to use English correctly.
  1. Verbs HAS to agree with their subjects.
  2. Prepositions are not words to end sentences with.
  3. And don't start a sentence with a conjunction.
  4. It is wrong to ever split an infinitive.
  5. Avoid clichés like the plague. (They're old hat).
  6. Also, always avoid annoying alliteration.
  7. Be more or less specific.
  8. Parenthetical remarks (however relevant) are (usually) unnecessary.
  9. Also too, never, ever use repetitive redundancies.
  10. No sentence fragments.
  11. Contractions aren't necessary and shouldn't be used.
  12. Foreign words and phrases are not apropos.
  13. Do not be redundant; do not use more words than necessary; it's highly superfluous.
  14. One should NEVER generalize.
  15. Comparisons are as bad as clichés.
  16. Eschew ampersands & abbreviations, etc.
  17. One-word sentences? Eliminate.
  18. Analogies in writing are like feathers on a snake.
  19. The passive voice is to be ignored.
  20. Eliminate commas, that are, not necessary. Parenthetical words however should be enclosed in commas.
  21. Never use a big word when a diminutive one would suffice.
  22. Use words correctly, irregardless of how others use them.
  23. Understatement is always the absolute best way to put forth earth-shaking ideas.
  24. Eliminate quotations. As Ralph Waldo Emerson said, "I hate quotations. Tell me what you know."
  25. If you've heard it once, you've heard it a thousand times: Resist hyperbole; not one writer in a million can use it correctly.
  26. Puns are for children, not groan readers.
  27. Go around the barn at high noon to avoid colloquialisms.
  28. Even IF a mixed metaphor sings, it should be derailed.
  29. Who needs rhetorical questions?
  30. Exaggeration is a billion times worse than understatement.
  31. Proofread carefully to see if you any words out.

Tuesday, 21 April 2009

Thor's Day

Happy birthday little buddy. Although you're not with us, you are not forgotten. Is túisce a éagann an óige mar aon leis an mhaith.

Monday, 20 April 2009

ESP Test

Here's a fun trick to play on your friends. Convince them that they have psychic abilities whilst it is really you controlling everything. The video below explains it all. When you have memorised the details, you can click this link to actually perform the sneaky deception.

EDIT: One of my overseas readers has kindly pointed out that the video is not available in some countries. Sorry, this is the BBC's doing not mine. My apologies if you cannot view it.

Thursday, 16 April 2009

Life Is Short

This random image I came across just sums it all up for me lately. I hope it means something to you too.

Wednesday, 15 April 2009

Hidden Worcester

Since I was made redundant, I have found myself walking much more than I ever did before. Not because I have to, but because I am simply not in the rush to be anywhere. This holds several advantages for me. Firstly, it is the simplest way to keep fit, but also I get a lot of time to think. Recent months have not been easy and a mulling things over in my mind has been very necessary. It doesn't always have a positive effect, but I still need to do it. It is, of course, better for the environment as well. But the best thing is that I get to see so much more.

I have lived in Worcester all my life (apart from a spell in Dublin) and have always felt I knew it well. But it turns out I knew it well by car. Since I have been walking around, I get to see the alleyways, back and side streets that you just have no need to use when motoring from A to B. Some of the places I have discovered I shall feature in my gallery at some point, so be sure to subscribe to it's own RSS feed.

The last few days have provided us with some unseasonably good weather and this makes walking even more pleasant. I don't mind rain, in fact I quite like it, but there is nothing like a walk along the river in bright sunshine.

Tuesday, 14 April 2009

Web Trends

This is rather cool I think. A map showing the popularity of the most influential domains and the people behind them. It's called a Zoomorama and it was created by Franklinss. Apparently it is based on the Tokyo Metro system and it features domains as stations. The height, width and position all indicate the domain's popularity, not just in terms of traffic but revenue as well.

Sunday, 12 April 2009


This is a truly stunning shot of the Chamonix area of the French Alps. I found it on a Polish photography site. I don't speak Polish so I am not sure who to credit but hope that they forgive me as I just wanted to share it with you. As always click to enlarge. Happy Easter everybody.

Saturday, 11 April 2009

Sungha Jung

I used to be quite a keen guitarist myself. But a poor sense of rhythm has sadly prevented me from keeping it up. It confirmed to me that practise alone is not enough. You have to have some kind of innate talent. Sungha Jung, a young Korean chap that I found out about recently, has talent in abundance.

Of the many videos I could have chosen to feature I have chosen his version of Canon by Pachabel. Although I don't think its Sungha's greatest work, I love the rolling melody of Canon (it's my favourite piece of classical music) and I also really like the "tapping" style of play. Here you will find Sungha's MySpace page.

Friday, 10 April 2009


Happy birthday little darling. You will never be forgotten.

I love you now like I loved you then. Things have not gone well since you left us as I'm sure you know. Please keep an eye out for us all as it seems we need it. X

Is túisce a éagann an óige mar aon leis an mhaith!

Wednesday, 8 April 2009


I have never really understood Twitter and have no intention of joining in, but this made me laugh.

As Twitter-mania reaches new levels, Slate V presents a mockumentary about a company that wants to take microblogging to the next level.

Tuesday, 7 April 2009

USB Wine

If only this were true. It would be une technologie révolutionnaire! :-) With thanks to my sister for sending it to me.

Monday, 6 April 2009


I had the bright idea to update my photo gallery software to the latest version. I followed the instructions exactly but that didn't stop the software erasing (without warning) all my tags, descriptions and comments from the database. I have spent the last two hours re-entering them all. It's a shame because I was really pleased with Zenphoto up until now.

If you have visited my gallery before (or even if you haven't) can I beg you to go back and have another look, perhaps leave a comment and/or rate the pictures. It would make the last few hours worthwhile for me. You will find the gallery here.

Thank you.

Magic A Cappella

I have a real musical treat for you today. This is a cover of the Ben Folds song, "Magic", re-arranged and performed a cappella. It is part of an album that Ben has released called University A Cappella! which features covers of Ben's music performed by different university a cappella groups.

Magic was performed by the University of Chicago's Voices In Your Head. It was arranged by Chris Rishel and recorded in his living room.

Please put on your headphones or turn up your speakers and then close your eyes. But please make sure you select the HQ option.

Sunday, 5 April 2009

Moon Clouds

I came across this stunning photo on this site, which tells us it was taken by Kristi apparently and I love it. As she puts it herself...

A storm rolled in on 03/25 (in Fort Worth, TX) and the clouds were unlike any I had ever seen. They look almost moon-like!

Half of me wishes we got storms like that and half definitely doesn't. As always, click to enlarge. Nice job Kristi.

Friday, 3 April 2009

Post Elements

I finally took the time to fix some layout problems that were irritating me. The main one is that the "reactions" that I prematurely announced back here is now fully functional. Feel free to use them to give me feedback on my posts.

Thursday, 2 April 2009


A good friend of mine and keen photographer, René Kral, told me about this rather interesting technique. I don't own any filters myself yet and so I will have to wait to try it myself but he very kindly sent me some of his examples to show you. I'll let him explain how they were achieved.

You need a flat screen monitor, a linear polarising filter (no a circular polariser will not do) and your camera on a tripod.

Now, most flat screen computer monitors have a polarising film on them. Holding your linear polariser in your hand and looking through it at your flat screen, rotate the filter, at some stage the screen should turn black. If so, you are ready to rock.

Your flat screen monitor is going to be your light source (darkened room), so, you could open, say, notepad with a new document and maximise the application as you should try and get a white a screen as possible. Next put your polariser on your camera lens and rotate until the screen is black. Finally, put a variety of transparent plastic objects between the screen and the camera and you should see the cool effects.

I hope you agree that the result is very striking. As always, click to enlarge.

Wednesday, 1 April 2009

Brett Domino Trio

Every once in a while a musical genius is born. Brett Domino is such a man. Apparently I missed them on Britain's Got Talent which I am truly sorry about as I am really hooked now. A big thank you to Emmet who drew my attention to them.

Here is the trio performing "Beat It" by Michael Jaccksonses [sic]. Also, check out the rehearsal footage here.


Having sat through more than my fair share of flight attendant's safety announcements, I could probably recite most of them by heart. Fair play to this guy for making the effort.

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