Is the internet still wonderfully awesome

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This weekend I or technically we as I speak for my band had a bit of a mini crisis. Sadly our lead guitarists mother passed away and we were booked to play a gig over the weekend. So Thursday lunchtime I received the news. We perform about 32 numbers and although I’m a proficient rhythm guitarist, something’s I find hard to sing and play all the numbers and other bits I haven’t learnt.

So the obvious thing would have been to cancel the gig. From receiving the bad news I sank in my chair a work, a familiar role for me, it’s usually only the crisis bits I get involved with.
20 minutes on I decided to panic and I went on gumtree. Now I’m not sure what I was looking for on Gumtree, guitar saviour available or need a rock miracle? But it’s been a good source for recruiting band members I think. I’m not sure how the financial module works on gumtree, I’m not sure is invest in it, but to be fair it’s a very good community based site, helping people connect.

I saw and advert for a guitarist I text him and too cut along story short he was amazing, he learnt all the songs and we actually performed two days laters and in fairness it was probably our best gig.

Now you could say the internet is amazing, how did we ever live without it, but I’m truth it isn’t. The amazing thing as always are people. Jon our deputy guitarist, he’s the amazing one, he gave up practically half of his Easter weekend not out of vanity or for money – there wasn’t any, out of empathy for someone who was losing their mother. He understood that being in a band and letting people down is hard, it’s a team game and Jon is an amazing team player. He also an amazing chap who teaches children with disabilities to to engage with music for a living and he’s a very well respected progressive rock guitarist who has played in many records.
Jon is amazing.
The internet is a great communication tool, that’s all it is though, people, the people that write wikis for free, who post recipes they like or share great ideas on Pinterest, to inspire, people are amazing, people should be celebrated more.
The internet can foster an artificial sense of community but in someways we are more isolated than ever, but if you believe in people and use it as simply a communicating device a wonderful rich context version of a letter and believe in people then it’s a wonderful thing.
I should know I fell in love with a girl on the internet and it change my life.

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Getting the football boots out

There’s are few more nostalgic moments in an older guys life than going to retrieve the football boots from the back of the cupboard. Past the deflated Pilates Ball, the stretched Zumba Leotard, the pink Roller Blades and Iron Man Branded bike helmet, right past the wind break and slow cooker lid, onwards deeper past the musty camping equipment you threaten the kids with every year, the home brew kit you promised you had thrown away and there in a spice girl world tour plastic bag nestles Valhalla, the boots, like the golden monkey from raiders of the lost ark, tears streaming down your face and you remember the golden years and question why you never cleaned them before placing them in such deep storage. The theme music to the dam busters starts up, you remember a time where your partner would stand in the rain to watch you do something that didn’t involve DIY and time where the kids couldn’t beat you over a hundred yards. Clutching them to your heart to return, trip over the Carmen rollers and receive the forthcoming wisdom of “aren’t you a bit old for that love”

bring.it.on

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20 years on Kurt Cobain

20 years ago I was on the way to Henley for a fund raiser, I stopped at a pub in the rain and the news broke on the radio the Kurt Cobain had been shot. I was selfishly disappointed as I’d just forked out tickets to see him at Aston Villa in about 3 weeks time, something that would now not happen. It is difficult to imagine me being as effected by a rock star dying but it was at the time it was all the leader of our generation stuff is dead stuff. I remember buying the NME that week which featured a lovely picture of Kurt and I stuck it in a clip frame and put it on the wall. I sulked a fair bit. 20 years on Nevermind is still a great album, but really you couldn’t say his legacy is still burning in my heart. 20 years on Kurt really was it worth it? I think not, I would have been way cooler to stick around, I think you would have made music that would have created a greater legacy and I just feel sorry for all you missed out on.

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Feedback to Toby Carvery following call about compliant

Hello

This is additional feedback requested to the call I received about the compliant I made to your online portal as directed in both case by your social media team.

The original complaint centres around a visit to Cooper Dean Toby Carvery on the 8th of December with my partner and our four children ages 5,6,8 and 13 to celebrate Christmas. This was the last weekend we were all be together as one family. We chose Toby as we noticed the large hoarding announcing Christmas Fayre and rather than waste precious time with us stuck in the kitchen we thought we would go out then open all the presents, some of the presents we brought with us.

We thought the Christmas Fayre applied to Sunday, we were told it didn’t when we requested crackers and details. Upon the explanation, I offered to pay the difference to have the crackers. I was told that this was not possible. The kids were upset, we all had Christmas jumpers and not having crackers the younger ones were upset as they wanted party hats etc. I complained online that evening.

I strongly believe it’s really goes against the spirit of Christmas, Kids and the kind of meanness and pettiness that big brands like you would not want to be associated with, particularly one that associates itself strongly with family meals.

14th Saturday I received call, to give an explanation of why we did not receive crackers, I already knew the reason I was told on the day that the Christmas Fayre does not apply to Sundays. It was peppered with phrases like my darling and my love, I found it extremely patronising both to be spoken to in this manner and to be told something I already had a very firm grasp on. I questioned why, if it was simply a question of money, had my offer to pay the difference been refused, I was told that the offer did not apply on Sunday. Then again told my darling, my love, that they had to order the crackers in boxes of 5000 and if they gave them to me they have to give them to everyone or worse still over order crackers. I asked about the signage in front of the restaurant, to which she replied she was unaware of the signage, it clearly stated Christmas Fayre but did not state anything about Sunday not being applicable. It was clear that she had no intention of apologising for anything, the call was judged to be an explanation exercise and I thank her several times for her explanation until finally at the end of the call, she stated I’m sorry about that, but it was unclear what that was.

Here is some pretty basic specific advice for calling customers to handle complaints;

1) Ask them if it’s a convenient time to talk – you didn’t

2) Ask them to explain the specifics of the complaint first to ensure you understand it correctly – you didn’t

3) Avoid phrase like “my darling” or “my love” as they are patronising – you didn’t

4) Have something more tangible to say rather than over ordering crackers, its embarrassing – you didn’t

5) Actually express the words “WE ARE SORRY” rather than having to let the customer drag the words out of you, if you want a debate about if I’m right or not do it after you put the phone down, it costs NOTHING to apologise!

Best Regards

Tony Hughes

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Hobbit Footed attempt at Higher Frame Rate

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Last night I got round to watching the new Peter Jackson film The Hobbit. I had the choice of standard 3D but I was really intrigued to see what the HFR or Higher Frame Rate was all about. I heard for ages that a bit like HD this was a game changer for the cinemas desperately trying to USP their product in the face of demise from people own surround system and gigantic LCD screens. Everything seems to be in 3D recently and in no small part I believe this is basically an anti privacy move, it’s ridiculous that a film like the Life of Pi is even offered in 3D, if Its a wonderful life was released today, that would be in 3D! I’m really bored of it, but HFR sounded interesting. Increasing the frame rate to double the normal speed, what would that look like.

Well it’s vivid, really detailed, however with technology and with its at the early stages its impossible to light a scene using it correctly. It’s fine it you are using CGI and animation you can render a scene differently and change the brightness and contrast etc. The actual sound stage shots were so badly lit that everything looked like an early episode of Brookside. This actually ruined what was a fairly good film, touch overlong, but then you expect that from Peter Jackson. There is a part of the film on a mountain side where the CGI is really immersive especially with the 3D, then they switch to a sound stage shot and it looks as different as early Jason and the Argonauts stuff, really hopeless.

Some of the outside shots of Bagend look like the opening shots of the Teletubbies. I have total sympathy with principal cinematographer Andrew Lesnie, lets be honest The Lord of the Rings were beautifully filmed, he deservedly won an Oscar, but how on middle earth are you suppose to master a technique and light a scene using a method of film making never used before! I’m really intrigued to see what the normal 24 frame print looks like and if he will adjust anything for the second part. However I’d never watch it at the cinema again

The only positive thing I can say about the version I saw in relation to HFR is the water looked good, there was a fluidity to it that was beautiful, however the CGI rain look fucking awful. The 3D was unnecessary. I’m sure in time someone will master this technique or it will fall by the wayside, I think it could be quite brilliant to see something like Toy Story done this way where you can control the rerender the lighting and maybe the future is in wholly CGI productions, but this ruined this film for me and I’m more than a little fucked off.

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My favourite albums of the year

Who am I to say what the best albums of the year are. I’m totally unqualified, but I thought I stick up my five favourites of the year and if you haven’t listened to some of them and you already like the others perhaps you’ll enjoy them as much as I have. A few notable mentions that didn’t make the list Gizzly Bear’s Shields and AJ’s Awesome Wave, I get sick of the music press marketing regime of indie bands these are great albums without the need cool kid tags they are both mercilessly pushed to death and I’m sure they will make other peoples lists, will I be listening to either of them next year, I doubt it but they are both good albums. Both of these bands perform at the only festival I went to this year, Alt J I missed altogether as I was busy elsewhere and Grizzly suffered by having to follow Alabama Shakes, which is probably how the crowd felt when Elton John delivered his new album in full after the Beach Boys had performed for a solid two hours. Gabe Dixons One Spark is a well written if slightly over produced album the man is best with just a piano that’s all, the songs speak for themselves and Even the Rain is my favourite song of the year by far, unfortunately they smothered it with cheese and Alison Krauss on the album, it didn’t need it.

Mumford and Sons – Babel

photo 5First up obvious choice, this is a great album and in the same way Adele made a great album, don’t dismiss it as too mainstream, there are some really good songs at the heart of this. For me I connected with this second album more than I ever did with the first. Great tunes good pop songs, nice country feel (more of that later), have ran a lot to this album, I really like it, it may not be the trendiest thing, but its well made stuff plenty of banjo and simple chords.

 

 

Keane – Strangeleand

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I must admit I can take or leave Keane, I thought they had been hovered up by Coldplay, let’s be honest they must be pretty fucked off that Coldplay are so huge. I did like Hope and Fears, great songs on that but I cannot remember anything of the two previous albums. If they had followed up Hopes and Fears with Strangeland they would be Coldplay. It’s a master class in catchy anthemic  pop music. It reminds me of the Killers in places and certainly knocks The Killers new album into a cocked hat. If you are like me and have given up on Keane listen to this album and I guarantee you will change your minds.

Cody ChestnuTT – Landed on a Hundred

photo 4I cannot recall when I last enjoyed a classic Soul album as much of this, it was a long long time ago, 20 years or more before I heard anyone sing this fresh, he is getting on a bit, but my god his voice is utterly amazing, comparable to Marvin Gaye and that’s something I thought I wouldn’t say, where this scores over Cee Lo Green is it actually a proper soul record, you could put this out anytime over the last 30 years and it would have done well, no falling into the trap of having rap break downs or gimmicks, it’s a solid well made piece of art.

 

Tift Merritt –Travelling Alone

photo 3It’s no secret I like country music, when I say that people think I’m a bit mental, but if you explain it by getting people to listen to an album of this quality, then I think you’ll think less of me and a desperate cowboy doing line dancing. Sure there’s a fair bit of air bit of slide guitar but the title track and the beautiful duet with Andrew Bird on Drifted Apart worth the price of entry alone, please check this record out

 

 

Band of Horses – Mirage Rock

photo 1This list is in no particular order, but if it was on how many times I’ve listened to something new this year, this would be miles ahead. It has everything I like, firstly the production on it is simply fantastic, nobody records guitars like this anymore, there’s beautiful engineering on the shadow acoustic parts, really reminds me of Atlantic Crossing in places. Then the harmonies on this are simply beautiful, this West Coast indie, the stuff of Teenage Fanclub, Thrills etc, I love, this is far beyond that, for me it’s a total re-evaluation of Band of Horse, I never thought they could be this good and with fail, this album puts a smile of my face, every time I play it.

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Every Englishman’s Home is his Castle

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Every Englishman’s home is his castle, take a moment step inside,
Let me give you the comprehensive ear defensive audio guide,
Press one to activate the historical rhetorical facts about my life,
Move forward,
press more for info about the czars several departed wife’s,
Here by this baron sofa where the famous battle for the remote took place,
And their amongst the ashes of the electric fire grate,
Lies all the ambition of this abandoned desperate despots fate,
whose appeals to watch program’s with sub titles always came too late,
His desire to rule his kingdom by TV remote control alone,
Every Englishman’s castle is his home.

Every Englishman’s home is his castle keep moving look upstairs,
The turrets and the dungeons are in a state of disrepairs,
For this crazy ruler, this majesty wasn’t big on DIY,
His dandy effeminate cack handedness were better left unapplied,
He also had no blacksmith,
but then again he had no fucking horse, just paying the electricity on this place, was a kings ransom of course,
He couldn’t raise his subjects taxes,
for he was secretly a socialist king,
in fact this great world leader pretend didn’t own a fucking thing,
He powered his own Hoover,
across the two and a half bedrooms that he once roamed,
Every Englishman’s castle is him home.

Every Englishman’s home is his castle, where disputed worlds collide the facade slips,
the don’t give a shits,
mix with over chips and mothers pride,
where casual racism texted across divided opinion on current political affairs,
Where a demonstration of emancipation is to leave your underpants on the stairs,
The cook has left, the housekeeper, the valet and gardener none inside, the lack of imagination of this ruler drove them all to suicide.
This revolutionary loneliness this republic stance for sins to which I must atone
Every Englishman’s castle is his home. Alone.

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