Archive for the ‘General’ Category

The Bevy; a co-op run for Bevendean, Brighton

Posted 03 Feb 2013 — by Jonathan
Category Beer, General, Share

Brighton is pretty spoiled for places to get a drink; we have a jolly impressive 278 pubs for 250,000 residents, but of course that doesn’t mean that every community is equally well represented. The area of Moulsecoomb (which includes the huge Bevendean and Bates Estates) contains over 18,000 residents, and is thought to be one of the most populated areas in the county without a local. Since police closed down the troublesome Bevendean pub in 2010, residents have nowhere to drink and (more importantly) nowhere to hang out and talk.

So what’s the answer? The answer is The Bevy.

The Bevendean Pub, founded by residents of Moulsecomb and Bevendean, will be the first co-op run pub on a city estate in the UK. The pub is happening because of collaboration and social capital, with locals and supporters of the project buying shares in the pub and gaining a say in its future in the process. The aim is to “create a place to eat, meet, drink, study and relax in the heart of [the] community!”, incorporating a pub, a cafe, a community kitchen and garden, as well as meeting rooms and play areas. They’ll grow their own salad, make good coffee and even collaborate with the excellent Brighton Bier Company to provide their own local ale. What a bloody brilliant idea it is.

In order to make this happen, the pub needs a lot of backing – so they’re offering shares at a minimum price of £10. I spent ten minutes chatting to the organisers at Seedy Sunday in Brighton today and invested a small amount in the project through their website when I got home. If you live in Brighton, care about pubs (18 close a week in the UK, you know) or want to encourage local, community solutions to societal problems, please consider getting involved. Buying a share through paypal took me less than 2 minutes – and made me feel good all evening.

Here are the links you need:
The Bevy on Twitter
The Bevy’s own website
Their prospectus [17mb]
The Bevy on Friendface

Ace.

Sept/Oct instagrams

Posted 08 Oct 2012 — by Jonathan
Category General, Photos

A quick summary of the last few weeks, courtesy of Instagram. If it were completely accurate it would contains a great many photographs of beer bottles, but I’m with-holding them for a later post, and so I don’t look like an alcoholic.

The Green Centre, Brighton

Posted 20 Sep 2012 — by Jonathan
Category General, Share, Video

One of the most inspiring Green organisations I’ve come across is based on my doorstep right here in Sussex. My girlfriend Lyndsey has been volunteering at The Green Centre, situated in East Brighton, for the last three years, and at a recent Open Day & Recycling Bonanza I helped out and, working with a fellow film-maker, Dan Corns, made this video about the centre and its amazing Creative Director, Melanie Rees.

Mel has turned the centre into a real community project, working with local people to create a sustainable, open and inspiring space. The Green Centre market is full of nice objects which keep the business ticking over, but the heart of the Centre is the amazing recycling resource it offers, helping to ensure that practically nothing goes to waste, but is re-used, re-cycled or re-purposed. Out in the back of the Centre, a new pond provides social housing for the local wildlife.

The whole thing is brilliant. Please watch and share the video, and do feel free to stop by the Centre or like it on Facebook.

The Green Centre, Brighton from What You Sow on Vimeo.

[Filmed using two Canon 600Ds, a Zoom H1, and edited in Final Cut Pro X]

On Victoria Pendleton

Posted 12 Sep 2012 — by Jonathan
Category General

The Olympics, I’m afraid, completely passed me by, as did the Paralympics – I realise that saying this marks me out as a bad tempered refusenik, (which I partly am), but the real reason I didn’t watch more than 10 minutes of the whole thing is not because I found the whole thing particularly troubling or distasteful, nor because of the overwhelming level of patriotism sweeping the country, but simply because I find most sport (with the exception of football) utterly boring. Plus I was actually out of the country for half of the last month anyway.

That’s not to say that I’m not aware of the benefits that came with the Olympics, nor occasionally diverted by the human stories which exist beneath the main narrative – this interview with Victoria Pendleton is fascinating and rather moving. Like my favourite footballer, Benoît Assou-Ekotto, she isn’t obsessed with sport, which I find very endearing. But it’s not that that is interesting, but rather the difficult, painful backstory which accompanies her story. The interview’s worth a read – first paragraph:

According to Victoria Pendleton, British Cycling has already sold off her bike. Some staff members will probably never speak to her again. She suspects they will be relieved not to have to deal with her any more. She tells me all this with a twinkly, tinkling laugh, the kind people adopt when they are trying especially hard not to sound bitter. The words ring in my head as I hang up the phone after our second conversation. I feel unexpectedly gutted.

Here’s the whole thing.

Pride 2012

Posted 01 Sep 2012 — by Jonathan
Category General, Photos

Went to Pride today; lovely as always to join in the festivities, especially as we went to hang out with our friends Oli and Sanj beforehand, in what they cheerfully term their ‘gay house’. Sanj was ashamed to have no sparkling water to hand, and rebuked me for folding my arms at one point. “I need you to relax”, he told me, wrenching my posture. “This is a gay house”.


Drinks in A Vizinha, Lisbon

Posted 06 May 2012 — by Jonathan
Category General, Travel

I like the jumble of things in Lisbon. Nothing really matches. The old and the new sit adjacent; ornate tiles are juxtoposed with scrawled grafitti,  dark winding alleys are half lit by sunlight, and totally different areas sit side by side, impatiently resisting easy navigability with map-defying, cascading hills. Even in the smallest spaces the contrasts are evident; record shops which sell books and jewellery; little clothes boutiques selling two-euro, pint-sized cocktails, and arty cafes are filled with mismatched furniture. It’s a city of real informality – people look great but their outfits look instinctive not considered. On Liberation Eve, one of the biggest nights out of the year, we saw precisely one party dress.

In Bica, we stumbled into a tiny whole-food shop and cafe, A Vizinha, still open at 10pm on a Thursday night. A few chairs and tables were assembled at the front of the store, where little groups sat chatting over bottles of wine. We mooched in and ordered small beers, unfolding local freesheets and collapsing onto a little sofa which looked out over our fellow drinkers. The mood could not have been more inviting or welcoming, yet everyone talked quietly, undemonstratively, drinking slowly, taking their time. It was as intimate as any English pub and at the same time utterly different. We sat with our drinks, with the walls lined with tins of sardine pâté, gluten free pasta and tofu. It being only 10.30, no-one was really out yet, so our drink was peaceful and quick – it was perhaps the gentlest, most comfortable thirty minutes of our week away.

There are a million lovely places in Lisbon, so recommending one over another is almost counter-productive; but if you’re in Lisbon and fancy a sit-down, this place is lovely.

A Vizinha, Rua da Bica de Duarte Belo, nº14, Lisbon, Portugal

Lisbon trip, April 2012

Posted 28 Apr 2012 — by Jonathan
Category General

On Patrice Muamba / Barnet FC 1989

Posted 20 Mar 2012 — by Jonathan
Category General

I’m not sure if I feel so concerned and upset about Patrice Muamba because of basic human sympathy, because I was watching the match where he suffered a sudden and unexpected heart attack, or because on some level I consider myself part of the larger football ‘family’ – but concerning and upsetting it certainly has been.

I was watching the game on my secondary monitor while I was using my computer on Saturday afternoon; my attention was only half on it, and I had the volume down as I was listening to an old Showbiz and A.G LP. I half saw Muamba collapse, but didn’t make anything much of it until I glanced back and saw that he was face down, with his arms folded underneath him. Only moments later I saw the obvious distress of the players near him, and moments later the fans themselves, who seemed incredibly quickly to ascertain the seriousness of the situation – unsurprisingly given that Muamba was by this time receiving CPR.

Well, I won’t milk it by describing the whole thing, but suffice it to say that in not far off 30 years of watching football games, it was the worst thing I’ve ever seen. I’m so glad and relieved that his recovery appears to be in progress. Like almost everyone I’ve spoken to, I feared the worst and found that prospect difficult to contemplate.

-

When I was about ten or eleven I used to go and watch Barnet FC play every week at the Underhill Stadium behind High Barnet station. In those days a child ticket cost £1.75 and the Bees were on the verge of promotion to the Football League. One week me and my friend Anthony stood by the advertising hoardings at the corner flag at the far end of the pitch. Two players (my memory tells me that Barnet player was Geoff Cooper, but I might be wrong) hurtled towards the flag in pursuit of a loose ball. The pitch was wet and as the opposition player slid in, he went hurtling off the pitch and hit the hoardings hard, right where we stood. We heard a bang and a crack, and him scream. Geoff Cooper, or whichever Barnet player it was, went white.

As we leant forward to crane our necks over the hoardings and see what sort of state the player’s leg was in, the Barnet player turned to us and, very firmly, said ‘Don’t look, boys’.

We turned around and didn’t look again until the player had been removed on a stretcher. I hope he played again.

Dolphin story

Posted 12 Mar 2012 — by Jonathan
Category Environment, General

Here’s the feel good video hit of the Spring – but it comes with a sad story. Not only have scientists never really quite figured out why  normally intelligent dolphins occasionally swim towards the shoreline and strand themselves on the sand, but this year has seen a massive (and unexplained) rise in dolphin beachings. In the Cape Cod, by way of example, when normally around a dozen beachings occur per spring, the numbers have exceeded 100 since the start of January. Awful. Luckily, sometimes, people are on hand to help – and help they do. Here’s what happened when a school of dolphins swam ashore in Brazil earlier this year.

A more complex Terry?

Posted 11 Feb 2012 — by Jonathan
Category General

It would be so staggeringly obvious – were I to write at any length about racism in football – what I was going to say, that I don’t think it’s worth it. Suffice it to say that my interest in the sport is sustained despite severe provocation from a great many examples of witlessness, both on field and off by players and supporters alike. And John Terry and Luis Suarez may be the only the most recent poster children of football’s least appealing side, but it would be a struggle to say neither was fully deserving of their current ubiquity. It’s an exercise of restraint not to wish them each the worst.

That said, in the interests of balance, I do think that this post, about an unhitherto witnessed caring side of John Terry’s personality, is worth a read. It’s by Sam Tillen, a young man who once played football at Chelsea, and, although obviously biased, it suggests a rather more complex character than Terry’s repeated (and inexcusable) boorishness suggests.

Here’s the whole thing – extract below.

The year 2002 I was 17 and had been injured for eight monts. I usually had to train twice as much to be in form. I trained with several players during rehabilation and since John Terry was facing injury as well I trained a lot with him. We trained together for 3 or 4 weeks before he began to play again and prove himself as the number one center back in the first team. After this John always observed how I was doing with my injury and he wished me good luck for my first game after 11 months of rehabilation. Unfortunately in that first game I got heavily injured again and had to go to surgery 3 days later. When the physio came to visit me he said that "JT" had asked if I could get vacation and he even asked Graeme (Le Saux) if they could use the "discipline fund" (money if a player comes late to a training and such) from the first team to pay for my vacation. I couldn’t believe it.

After staying home for ten days I went to the training ground and John was there. He asked how I was doing and then said "Me and Graeme have arranged for you to go to a vacation, you can go wherever you want, with your friend or your brother, you deserve something good. Just think about where you want to go, this isn’t your money! Just let us know how much it costs and we will arrange it.

I didn’t know what to say other than thank you. I talked to the youth and reserve coaches and they told me it was probably best for me to take the vacation. One of the reserve coach said that I still had that "hospital color" because I was as white as a ghost. I lost a lot of blood in the surgery it showed in my face.

My mother had also just had surgery so she could use a a little break from work. That’s why I wanted to take her with me. It was october so I needed to find "some place hot" like John advised me to do. The one place close that was hot enough was south spain and because this wasn’t my money I didn’t want to take advantage of the generosity from John. So the next day during practice I said to John "Is it okay if me and my mother go to Sevilla over the weekend?" His answer was, "Come on Tills! You can go wherever you want for free, why do you want to go there? It won’t even be hot. Look at it again, go to the caribbeans or something, you can sit at the beach without having to worry how much it is going to cost, we will make sure of it."

So I went and checked again and found a good offer for a trip to Tobago. I talked to my physio for a few days and he said "It’s fine, just talk to JT." I still felt bad spending other people’s money, I had never done that before. So naturally I was a little nervous when I was talking to John, telling him about the trip I had in mind. And what did John say?

"No problem, good choice! Just give me the info and we’ll pay it."

Interesting stuff. Drawing no conclusions from it, but if it’s true, I’m pleased to hear he’s not quite as relentlessly unpleasant as he seems.

Great Wave Pictures live LP

Posted 24 Jan 2012 — by Jonathan
Category General

This site is hosting a nice recording of a recent Wave Pictures gig, in Vienna – a city close to the Wave Pics’ hearts, as they make clear during the show. As you might expect of a band whose live performances are so reliably perfect, and whose recording method so closely resembles their live show, it’s essentially as good as a studio album (and possibly better than the last two, great though they were). As always, there’s a new studio record just around the corner (and a solo Tattersal LP, too, I gather), and this recording suggests the next LP will be a bit louder and faster than recent efforts. To my delight, there are more lead vocals from Jonny ‘Huddersfield’ Helm, too, although whether that’s a way of mixing things up live or a permanent step, I dunno. Either way, get yourself over to Niko’s blog and download the live set – you won’t regret it. Tracklist below.

Setlist:
01 Strange Fruit For David
02 Seagulls
03 Stay This Way A Little While
04 Canary Wharf
05 Pale Thin Lips
06 Eskimo Kiss
07 Little Surprise
08 Cinnamon Baby
09 A Second Chance (New Song)
10 Strawberry Cables
11 Leave That Scene Behind
12 Jump Through (New Song)
13 Stay Here And Take Care Of The Chickens
14 Intro ….
15 Sleepy Eye
16 We Can Never Go Home Again
17 My Head Got Screwed On Tighter Every Year
18 Encore
19 Roller Coaster By The Sea
20 Walk The Back Stairs Quiet
21 You Ask Too Many Questions

How To Be Creative

Posted 07 Jan 2012 — by Jonathan
Category General

A little late flagging this one up, but The Guardian published a lovely feature at the start of last week titled ‘Top artists reveal how to find creative inspiration’, which was exactly that – a number of people from the creative arts sharing tips on how to be more productive, thoughtful and free in the pursuit of creativity. I found pretty much all of them fascinating, but I was particularly interested in the tips presented by Lucy Prebble, who as a playwright and scriptwriter presented a series of very basic tips which I wish I had read before I wrote my first screenplay last year. But most of all I liked her tips because they resonated. I’m not sure which tips I’d pen if I had to try to share insights from my own attempts at creative stuff – perhaps I’ll see if there’s anything worth sharing when I get a bit of time.

In the meantime, here are Lucy’s suggestions – do click through to read the whole piece, though; with contributions from the likes of Lucy, Guy Garvey, Martin Parr, Martha Wainwright and Olivia Williams, there’s loads of valuable stuff.

• Act it out yourself. Draw the curtains.

• If ever a character asks another character, "What do you mean?", the scene needs a rewrite.

• Feeling intimidated is a good sign. Writing from a place of safety produces stuff that is at best dull and at worst dishonest.

• It’s OK to use friends and lovers in your work. They are curiously flattered.

• Imagine the stage, not the location.

• Write backwards. Start from the feeling you want the audience to have at the end and then ask "How might that happen?" continually, until you have a beginning.

• Reveal yourself in your writing, especially the bits you don’t like.

• Accept that, as a result, people you don’t know won’t like you.

• Try not to give characters jobs that really only appear in plays; the deliberately idiosyncratic (eg "the guy who changes the posters on huge billboards at night") or the solipsistic (eg "writer").

• Write about what you don’t know. If you know what you think about something, you can say so in a sentence – it doesn’t take a play.

• An apparently intractable narrative problem is often its own solution if you dramatise the conflict it contains.

• Surround yourself with people who don’t mind you being a bit absent and a bit flakey.

• Be nice to them. They put up with a lot.

• Break any rule if you know deep inside that it is important.

tn-500_prebblewm47325598

Lucy Prebble taking the applause at a performance of her Enron, The Play.

Illustrated Reykjavik

Posted 05 Jan 2012 — by Jonathan
Category General, Travel

A quick aside for the visually curious; I have a huge affection for hand-drawn maps, and this illustrated, easy to navigate map of Reykjavik is absolutely lovely. As if I didn’t want to go to Iceland’s capital city enough! This is a lovely bit of illustration. Do click through.

iceland

Cool.

Assistant Blog Records of the year, 2011

Posted 29 Dec 2011 — by Jonathan
Category General

1. Kurt Vile – Smoke Ring For My Halo
A downright amazing record brimming with bruised, tender emotion, Kurt Vile’s wonderful ‘Smoke Ring For My Halo’ was my fave record of 2011 – delicate and heartfelt and constructed around dense patterns of fingerpicking, recalling J Mascis and Neil Young. He’s previously hidden his talent behind effects and layers of sludge, but Smoke Ring For My Halo exposes him as a marvellously gifted and effecting songwriter. Unlike some recent years, I didn’t know immediately, clearly, which LP I’d place in the number one slot – but decided on this and couldn’t have picked a better record.

2. Lykke Li – Wounded Rhymes
Probably the record I was most excited about hearing this year, and it’s fair to say that I was a bit disappointed at first; I love the darker imagery but I initially preferred the slightly more minimal, forward-looking sound of her debut to these rather more traditional songs, which draw heavily on 60s girl groups. But it all came together at her jaw-dropping headline slot at End of The Road, and it’s hard to look past this now. If it isn’t the best LP, quite, then Lykke Li is certainly 2011′s best pop star.

3. Veronica Falls – s/t
Constructed by scientists at a top London University to appeal directly to me, Veronica Falls’ debut LP is predictably right down my street; fuzzy guitars, immediate hooks, ramshackle charm – but Veronica Falls managed to be slightly more interesting than the likes of The Vivian Girls, Best Coast and Warpaint by way of aligning their sound with darker, more interesting imagery – not a million miles away, in effectiveness, from Lykke Li’s dark updating of beat-pop. In other words, they had me the moment I saw the title of the first song (“Found Love In A Graveyard”).

4. Stricken City – Losing Colours
Easily the best record by a now-defunct group released this year – Stricken City released some amazing indie pop singles over the last few years, but their debut LP was light years more mature and interesting, and the title track was for my money the best single released this year. A sudden, sad and maddening loss that they announced their splitting up at the exact moment the LP came out. For late starters, the band’s blending of art-pop, post-punk and snatches of electronica briefly marked them out as one of the best bands in the country. Ah well.

5. Destroyer – Kapput
I wasn’t taken with Destroyer on the evidence of prior records, but the fact that on Kapput they distill a set of hitherto impossible to identify influences like Steely Dan, Scritti Politti, the Associates and Blue Nile is not only a stunning fact but the ingredients of a really terrific album. In fact, if I decided this list purely by virtue of which album I’d listened to the most, this would probably be the number one. Great record.

6. Nick Lowe – The Old Magic
I’ll admit to bringing a bit of prejudice to bear on this one; sometimes an album comes out that you just decide you’re going to love. I adore Nick Lowe’s records, and have long held him up a perfect example of a musician who has done the near-impossible – made records of increasing quality over several decades, rather than following the traditional route of diminishing returns. But this album is legitimately brilliant – just listen to the jaw-dropping ‘I Read A Lot’ for evidence.

7. Gorillaz – The Fall
Actually released via the Gorillaz website on the 25th December last year, but this one squeezes in by virtue of a proper release in the Spring, the critical reception for this rather outweighed the reaction of fans, from what I could see, but their judgement needn’t concern us. By Damon Albarn’s standards, this is very weak indeed. By anyone else’s, it’s 40 minutes of fascinating audio experiments, ideas and sketches. ‘Revolving Doors’ is up there with his best, ‘Detroit’ is a blissful bit of electro-trance and ‘Bobby In Phoenix’ finds Bobby Womack in the form of his life. The fact that it was recorded on an iPad is an interesting sidenote – but the truth is that the fourth (and final?) Gorillaz album is a great record in its own right.

8. Real Estate – Days
Read on and you’ll encounter me dismissing the strain of US indie rock which, in recent years, has glorified reverb-drenched, blissed-out indie rock at the expense of decent songs, but I’ve always regarded Real Estate as a bit of an exception to the rule. Their first LP was hazy and adorable, and this is even better – clearer, more confident, and more beautiful. A lovely, roundabout delight.

9. Little Dragon – Ritual Union
I have a nagging feeling that this should be placed a lot higher, but I shouldn’t pretend that when I make these lists I’m coming up with some scientific, perfect representation of my preferences; I’m never entirely happy with the make-up of my end-of-lists, but at least I love everything on them. And I love this; Yukimi Nagano has made an even better record second time around – just odd and just even enough – a brilliant, modern, unconventional soul record.

10. The Fall – Ersatz G.B
The heaviest Fall album I’ve heard, Smith’s band on rollicking, furious form. The Fall are The Fall. I absolutely love them. At times, on this record, they’re at their very best – ‘Taking Off’ is brilliantly melodic and ‘Greenway’ is downright terrifying. Meanwhile, ‘Nate Will Not Return’ is about, amazingly, Gossip Girl. “The Russian maid revealed that she was not a citizen of New York State”, MES snarls, “but had slipped in on an Ukrainian crate”.

11. Rotifer – The Hosting Couple
Robert Rottifer first left his native Austria to visit the UK in 1982, where he spent a month with the Hosting Couple of this LP’s title – a couple in Essex’s Canvey Island, and this brilliant concept album concerns that month, recalling harrier jump jets, sta-prests and English football of the early 80s. It’s a genius record – sounding at times like a dry, clever blend of The Kinks and Luke Haines.

12. British Sea Power -Valhalla Dancehall
Another year where I place a BSP LP in my albums of the year list and another where I speculate that if each album had been comprised purely of Hamilton’s songs, they’d be top of my list year after year. As it is, his songs are always balanced out with (decent) efforts from Yan and so again the band make an album I like, not love. For me, Hamilton is a totally underrated pop genius, but – and this isn’t a complaint – BSP are a proper band, with all the variety that should imply. So, another valiant effort.

13. Girls – Father Son, Holy Ghost
A sheer pleasure because I was so surprised by it; I’d avoided Girls assuming they replicated the faded-polaroid, reverb drenched and directionless American indie-noise so fashionable at the moment, but I was amazed to discover a focused, tuneful record as well-produced as anything I’ve heard since the mid-90s. Ambitious, poised guitar rock. Great stuff.

14. Sea of Bees – Songs For The Ravens
An unfair casualty of early-release syndrome; this was probably the 2011 LP I played the most during the first three months of the year, and while time hasn’t made me revise my opinion of this lovely piece of sincere, eccentric country folk, others have supplanted it in my affections. But Julie Ann Bee is a really great songwriter and I’ve high hopes for a 2012 follow up.

15. Nicola Roberts – Cindarella’s Eyes
If the second half of this LP was as good as the first, it could reasonably stake a claim to be in the top five; up until her cover of ‘Everybody’s Gotta Learn Sometime’, this record is unfailingly brilliant – bright, exciting and cheeky. And ‘i’ is one of the best songs I’ve heard all year.

Punks in Indonesia

Posted 28 Dec 2011 — by Jonathan
Category General

This is an extraordinary story, although one that doesn’t need a narrative to tell it, so evocative of the pictures. Here they are sans explanation – although one follows the jump. For context, we’re in Aceh, the only province in Indonesia to have imposed Islamic laws. The people pictured are punk rockers.

Here’s the detail.

Mohawks shaved and noses free of piercings, dozens of youths march in military style for hours beneath Indonesia’s tropical sun – part of efforts by the authorities to restore moral values and bring the “deviants” back into the mainstream.

But the young men and women have shown no signs of bending. When commanders turn their backs, the shouts ring out: “Punk will never die!” Fists are thrown in the air and peace signs flashed. A few have managed briefly to escape, heads held high as they are dragged back.

Sixty-five young punk rockers arrived at the police detention centre last week after baton-wielding police raided a concert in Aceh – the only province in the predominantly Muslim nation of 240 million to have imposed Islamic laws.

They will be released on Friday, after completing 10 days of “rehabilitation” – from classes on good behaviour and religion to military-style drills aimed at instilling discipline.

Extraordinary.

A song a week #47 (Bella At The Table)

Posted 25 Nov 2011 — by Jonathan
Category 52songs, Assistant, General

“Bella at the table with her labels and her hangover,
Bella’s eyes all smudged out as the memories take over”.

There was a TV programme I remember watching a teenager, but I can’t remember which – I think it may have been something by Dennis Potter – Lipstick On Your Collar, perhaps – or the rather saucy BBC adaptation of The Camomile Lawn. There was a scene when a beautiful, made-up woman sat at a wooden table. I can remember nothing more about it, save for that – and that’s what came into my head when I was writing this song.

Nature shock

Posted 04 Oct 2011 — by Jonathan
Category General

This is one of the most dazzling things I’ve ever seen, I think. Watch this explosion of shapes and sides – magic before your eyes; it’s a chastening reminder of all we do not know.

Of beginnings and transitions

Posted 30 Sep 2011 — by Jonathan
Category Daft, General

This is really quite amazing; no matter how long I look at this picture, I find it hard to come to terms with the fact that what I am looking at is one cat, not two. There’s one brain. One personality. Two working eyes, one working mouth (although two working noses). But this glorious, strange, janus-cat is still alive at 12, spectacularly defying his life expectancy.

Diprosopus (Greek διπρόσωπος, “two-faced”, from δι-, di-, “two” and πρόσωπον, prósopon [neuter], “face”, “person”; with Latin ending), also known as craniofacial duplication (cranio- from Greek κρανίον, “skull”, the other parts Latin), is an extremely rare congenital disorder whereby part or all of the face is duplicated on the head.

And a wonderful comment below the line.

Questions, flops, miracles

Posted 25 Aug 2011 — by Jonathan
Category Daft, General, Technology

This is rather lovely. Over on Quora someone asked, ‘What’s it like to have your film flop at the box office?’. Sean Hood, the professional screenwriter who wrote the last iteration of the Conan The Barbarian franchise, is well placed to answer. So he does.

In the days before the release, you get all sorts of enthusiastic congratulations from friends and family. Everyone seems to believe it will go well, and everyone has something positive to say, so you allow yourself to get swept up in it.

You tell yourself to just enjoy the process. That whether you succeed or fail, win or lose, it will be fine. You pretend to be Zen. You adopt detachment, and ironic humor, while secretly praying for a miracle.

The Friday night of the release is like the Tuesday night of an election. “Exit polls”are taken of people leaving the theater, and estimated box office numbers start leaking out in the afternoon, like early ballot returns. You are glued to your computer, clicking wildly over websites, chatting nonstop with peers, and calling anyone and everyone to find out what they’ve heard. Have any numbers come back yet? That’s when your stomach starts to drop.

It’s a great read – click here to access the whole thing.

Meanwhile – that’s not the only difficult question the internet can answer.

Reclaim the streets

Posted 09 Aug 2011 — by Jonathan
Category General

These people are legends; below is just one of the many teams of volunteers – many of whom organised using Twitter – who have been tidying up London. They, along with the police and fire officers who have risked their lives over the last few days, are real heroes.

Tonight, the people of London need to do more. People were talking earlier about a curfew, but better would be a kind of anti-curfew; everyone, when they get home from work tonight, needs to go and sit on their doorstep, congregate by a local pub, make their presence felt. For the last few days the streets have been run by kids. But it’s not kids who run the streets, it’s the rest of us. Obviously people must be mindful of their own safety, but I’d like to see the normal, law-abiding, decent people of London reclaiming the streets tonight.

And here are some more heroes; I’ve been reading report after report of people standing up to the thugs these last few days; from Dan Snow apprehending a looter to this awesome West Indian woman berating the idiots rioting through Tottenham, to the group of 400 Asian kids who chased off rioters in Shipley. And I love the awesome sight of a line of hard-as-nails Turkish shop-owners in Dalston protecting their community. Brilliant.