Calman On

Susan Calman is a Scottish comedian, I have heard her mainly on the weekly ‘The New Quiz‘ from the BBC.

It turns out she also did a comedy series titled “Keep Calman Carry On for the BBC. In it she ‘interviews’ fellow comedians about various subjects…

Episode 1
She goes walking with Muriel Gray (who I have never heard of) up a ‘hill’ in Scotland. I’m sure it is just a hill, not a mountain as she describes it.

Episode 2
Andy Zaltzman takes her to cricket. Andy is best known as half of the Bugle team with John Oliver. The only problem Susan has is getting Andy to shut up.

Episode 3
John Finnemore takes Susan on a spontaneous holiday. This is the best episode as John is a very talkative and cheerful person, who leads Susan on a fun day out.

Episode 4
Susan visits an art gallery with Phil Jupitus (who I know from Stephen Fry’s IQ program). Phil doesn’t say much, he appears to be a shy fellow when not in front of the camera.

 

 

Wind Me Down

From June 9 1995

OR

The Windows 95 Roadshow

Sept 6 at ChCh Town Hall.

Welcome to the Bill Gates version of Hell.

I actually like the Stones “Start me up”. It has the raw energy of a
great band at the top (Tatto You – 1981, I have the album).

Unfortunately , they cut the song before “You make a grown man cry” which sums up a lot about Win95. After hearing the song intro
endlessly, it becomes reduced to an aural background. (pity)

The roadshow took up the Town Hall Limes room, mezzanine above the restaurant and the James Hay Theatre.

Along for the ride were about 20 local retailers of software and
hardware, desperately grabbing onto the coat-tails of the $200 million extravaganza. Micro$oft spent a lot on banners, brochures and boxes (most with Win95 printed on the outside).

I went through the exhibitions in about 20 minutes. There wasn’t a lot to see, just lots of computers with the Win95 desktop.

The most prosperous must be ComputerLand. They had coffee & sandwichs for the reps. The main event was Win95, and nobody was going to upstage the reason they were there.

More interesting was the two presentations :

Intro to Win95.

This started with deafening music and a light show. After 2 minutes of this I was expecting the dancing girls to come on !.
You can’t accuse Micro$oft of originality. The presentation was a
direct rip-off of Home Improvement. I hope Tim Allen was paid for it.

Two presenters looking like Tim & Al showed us what to spend our money on. They explained how Win95 supersedes DOS 6.22 by taking a chainsaw to a block of wood wrapped in the DOS 6.22 box.

This was followed by an intro to Win95, showing off the main features.
It ended by showing a full screen movie (with sound) under Win95. What they let slip was that to do this you need a Pentium with 16meg RAM. As he said “With a $4,000 computer you can now do what a $500 TV will do”.

I am still not convinced about Win95. They have changed the close icon from the top left of a window, to the top right. Why I don’t know. The concept of a simple front end menu (e.g. what you got on a 1981 PC) seems to have vanished. Overall, the interface is more complex, rather than simpler.

Some of the mouse movements aren’t intuitive. A lot of the menus start at the bottom left corner (“Start” icon), and move up and across, while holding the mouse down. This must be a problem for anyone with creaking fingers (the writer an exception). I find it easier to pull a mouse towards me than to push it away. Perhaps being left handed makes a difference, what do you think.

The OS doesn’t appear to be developed with touch-screen computers in mind. And it’s still based around applications, rather than documents.
Paper analogies are still used, and a cross-platform multi-media
standard was not mentioned.


Micro$oft Office Presentation

This was more interesting. Word, Access, Excel, Powerpoint and
Schedule were shown in their 32bit form (Access still in development).

The most interesting features :

* Auto underlining. Just enter “——-” in the line under some text,
and a full line will be created across the page.

* Word automatic capitalization. ie changing tHIS to This
and capitalizing the first letter of a new sentence. The
multi-threading really helps here.

* Exceptions list for acronyms to be excluded from the above.

* Automatic list generation. When you start a list, the WP
automatically adds the next number.

* Creation of relational databases from tables. This takes tables with
repeating data and creates a relational database.

* Incorporation of Schedule with network project management software.

* Powerpoint can use sound. (must check version at work to see if this is new)

So, for me the most interesting things were the improvements made to the Office package of applications. (At work I’m still using version 2 of MS Word ! ) Of course I could always use OS/2 with Office. 🙂

Despite my last message, Win95 does use proportional slider bars. It
appears that developers have the option, some don’t use it.

Syberia 2

 

Syberia II is a 2004 adventure game conceived by Benoît Sokal and developed by MC2-Microïds, and a continuation to Syberia. It is a third-person puzzle-solving game. Stylistically identical to the first Syberia, Syberia II improves upon the first game by introducing more realistic character animation.

Syberia follows the guidelines first introduced by LucasArts: it is impossible to die or to get stuck at any moment in the game, which allows the user to become fully immersed in Syberia’s universe without the fear of making a mistake or the constant need to save the game.


Adventure Gamers Review


First, this is a better game than the first. Mainly due to the better puzzle design. There is more variety and are more logical. Large portions of the game I could complete without resorting to help.

It also brings the story to a conclusion and shows creatures hinted at in the  first game. For this game I used the UHS (Universal Hints System) instead of a walk-through, which probably forced me to spend more time on the puzzles. Also, talking to people helped a lot with solving problems and showing the way forward, something the first game didn’t do as well. 

The graphics are similar the first game, however the sound was more low key and atmospheric. Symphonic music was mainly used during the cut-scenes.

Problems:

The were less  phone calls, however the tedious and ultimately pointless private eye cut scenes came to nothing. All you see is silhouettes and it adds nothing to the plot.

There is a girl with a balloon at the start who becomes a problem as getting her to react is dependent on a specific character interaction.

Overall (taking the two games together) an enjoyable game.

(11 Hours to complete)


On 26 November 2012, Microïds revealed on their Facebook page that Benoît Sokal had officially signed a contract with Anuman to write the story of Syberia III and that official development had started. The game is scheduled for release on 1 Dec 2016. Additionally the project is to be overseen by Elliot Grassiano, the original founder of Microïds. Sokal left Microïds shortly after the release of Syberia II and founded his own company White Birds Productions to release Paradise, a game that uses a similar style of gameplay as Syberia but is not directly related.

The Amazing Esther Stephens

Esther Stephens, who plays Kate Sheppard in the Court Theatre show ‘That Bloody Woman’ also plays Ngaire Monroe in the TV Show ‘Westside’, currently on TV3, Sundays 8:30.

She has a band with an excellent album:
https://estherstephensandthemeans.bandcamp.com/album/esther-stephens-the-means

and Videos on YouTube:
Light in You 
Under You
French Kiss


Also in ‘That Bloody Woman’ are:

Amy Straker sings as Amy Grace on
https://brotherandsistermusic.bandcamp.com/album/caught-in-the-clouds


Phoebe Hurst has a free album:
https://phoebehurst.bandcamp.com/


Tim Heeringa plays guitar:
https://timheeringa.bandcamp.com/releases

 

That Bloody Woman

That Bloody Woman

By Luke Di Somma & Gregory Cooper
Directed by Kip Chapman

song from the show

This is the best show I have seen for a long time (probably since Grease a few years ago). But don’t ask me.. here are a few more who agree….


In Association with Auckland Theatre Company A Christchurch Arts Festival Commission Suffragist, activist and cyclist Kate Sheppard transforms from a face on the $10 note into a feminist firebrand raising hell in this red-hot new rock opera.

Leading the charge to win women the vote, Kate takes on the patriarchy, public opinion and even Prime Minister Richard “King Dick” Seddon. The smash hit of the 2015 Christchurch Arts Festival returns to take a fresh look at one of Christchurch’s favorite daughters brought to life: loud, proud and in your face.


Reviews

Sheppard musical revival is a righteous, rocking instant classic

It all started in a Christchurch tent.

I first reviewed rock musical That Bloody Woman in August last year when it debuted in a speigeltent in front of a couple of hundred people during the Christchurch Arts Festival.

It was immediately obvious that this show was something very special that deserved a bigger life beyond its three-night run in Christchurch.

Since then, That Bloody Woman has been restaged and amped up for a nearly three-week run at the Auckland Theatre Company that attracted rave reviews and sold out houses. Now, it returns to Christchurch for a month-long run at The Court Theatre.

It is a spiritual homecoming for the punk rock musical about Christchurch suffragette Kate Sheppard and her battle to win women the vote in 1890s New Zealand.

I was curious and a little nervous to see how this punk-infused and hand-made musical would transfer to a larger theatrical stage from its speigeltent roots.

I need not have worried. The show is as righteous, witty, vivacious and moving as it was on its debut.

In short, That Bloody Woman is an instant classic.

The transfer to a larger stage with bigger production values feels like a natural evolution for a show that is obviously going places. In the smaller venue last year, some of the rock numbers pinned you back in your seat a little, but in a larger venue the show is able to unfold its wings and really soar.

And soar it does. The infectious, urgent and catchy tunes gave me goosebumps several times, while some of the more moving numbers brought me to tears.

That Bloody Woman is an intoxicating mix of irreverent humour, heartfelt political righteousness and genuinely moving sentiment. Composer Luke Di Somma’s knack for a catchy and enchanting tune is equally matched by playwright Gregory Cooper’s talent for a pithy one-liner and ability to capture history in a respectful but entertainingly irreverent, and sometimes profane, manner.

These rocking tunes and smart lines are brought wonderfully to life by an incredibly talented cast, led by the enchanting Esther Stephens as Sheppard, and an awesomely tight four piece rock band called the Hallelujah Bonnets.

And Sheppard is given a perfect antagonist in the form of Geoffrey Dolan’s Richard ‘King Dick’ Seddon. He is every inch the strutting, bearded, beer-bellied embodiment of the patriarchy Sheppard was fighting to overcome.

This is a show that is unafraid to be both profane and profound as it brings to vivid life the powerful motivations and yearnings behind the groundbreaking suffrage movement.

This is a righteous rock musical with wit, verve, humour and heart. I urge you to see it.

I now look forward to seeing this show soar even higher. It feels ready to take on the world.

Review by Charlie Gates, The Press, Fairfax Media


Erin Harrington Review

Wayne Brady

Wayne Brady Review

(Wednesday 8 May 8PM 2013)

I didn’t know what to expect, the show was called ‘Still Making Shit Up” but I was anticipating some form of stand-up routine.

It was in Burnside School’s Aurora Centre, a good venue where I had
previously seen Rick Wakeman (last year).

As I was entering the theatre, I turned a corner at the top of the stairs and saw Jeff Clark with girlfriend/wife and Jarred Skelton. Jeff Clark is a nephew of the recently retired John Clark. Jeff and Jared are performers at scared scriptless and Jared saw me and prompted a ‘Hi Mate”. I’m not sure if he was being just friendly or recognized me from my frequent outings to his shows.

I was seated in the left section of seats about a third of the way up
and in the middle, three to the left of me and three to the right.
The seats to the left of me were unoccupied until about five minutes
before the show was to start. In walk a couple to take the seats,
he looked very unobtrusive but she was dressed like a Westie from
‘Outrageous Fortune’; tight white pants, leopard pattern boots a pink top with jacket with pumped up and half exposed boobs.

It turned out that it was an improvised show. Wayne had a fellow
improvisor who introduced him and acted with him in most of
the scenes. I didn’t catch his name, but I’m sure I’ve seen him in
‘Who’s Line’. There was also a chap with a keyboard and laptop that
provided the music. They started, before Wayne was on stage, but getting long words for him to rhyme to in a song. Of course someone shouted ‘liquefaction’ which got a good cheer from the audience.

Then, after the first sketch when things were a bit quieter, a phone went off in the theatre. It was ringing from the bag of the woman sitting to my left. She quickly took the phone from the bag and turned it off after a few rings. But the damage was done. Everyone in the audience could hear it and now Wayne knew who had the phone. So he comes up the aisle and stands at the end of the seats talking to this woman, asking her who it was and could he speak to them. She was desperately saying NO, NO but he persisted. Then he comes along the row and as is the custom all the guys to my right and me stand up to let him pass. He comes up and stands between me and the seats in front. So all the guys sit down leaving me and Wayne standing, with him closer than would be socially acceptable.

Now I’m thinking ‘Damn, everyone is looking at me’.
He insisted that he should look at the phone and after getting the audience on his side she hands it over to him. As he was leaving he causally mentioned that she should button her shirt up. He exits the row with iPhone in hand, looking for the last caller. He either couldn’t find it, or thought it wouldn’t be such a good idea and the phone was handed back along the row to the woman. He then went back to the stage and did an alternating word scene about the person who made the phone call.

At one point he asked if anyone had any specialist knowledge he could use in a scene. Not being stupid, nobody said a word. After persisting, eventually I heard a lone voice from up the back. It was Jeff Clark. He came to the stage and was asked about his job. As well as an improvisor, Jeff writes and voices radio commercials. So while he was interviewed about he radio show, Wayne did an interpretation for the deaf.
Of course Jeff kept dropping in the fact that he was also an improvisor and everyone should come and see his show – The Court Jesters.

The show concluded with Wayne’s specialty – making up songs, ending with one called ‘Voluntary Tourettes’.

Well worth seeing.

He did say that they has just filmed a new series of “Who’s Line is it anyway” and it was expected in the fall – not sure if he meant the southern or northern hemisphere version.

Agent 22

Agent 22
(1999)

According to their website, they are opening for the California Guitar Trio.
Tom Griesgraber – Chapman Stick
Jimmy Patton – Two Guitars (at once)
Ryan Moran – Drums & Percussion

They owe it all to the the interlocking guitar themes of the 1980s version of King Crimson. The guitar could easily be Robert Fripp playing. But this group has more of a jazz feel. The production is excellent and reminds me of Manfred Escher’s ECM label. Combined with excellent instrumental compositions, this is a real gem. And all those who have borrowed the CD from me agree.

Djam Karet

Djam Karet – Collaborator 1994
Djam Karet – Still No Comercial Potential 1998
Djam Karet – The Devouring 1997
Djam Karet – The Ritual Continues 1987

This is my newest “find”, a band somewhere between Pink Floyd and King Crimson. The albums are either very ambient, spacey ones (Collaborator) or hard, angular and rockier.

Reviewed by: Stephanie Sollow, April 1999
This latest release by Djam Karet, Still No Commercial Potential starts off with slow burning guitar led track entitled “No Vacancy At The Hotel of Noise.” Guitar led is somewhat of a misrepresentation, because the simple drum rhythm sticks with you long after the track has ended. And throughout I found I was tapping to the same rhythm.

Which is both good and bad, as the next track begins with a subtle ambient passage which continues under another memorable drum rhythm.

This release is a limited edition of 750 containing six tracks of improvised Djam Karet, the longest of which is the closer “Strange Wine From A Twisted Fruit” at nearly 29 minutes. Not uncommon, of course, in progressive music.

This is more acoustic, more stripped down than last year’s The Devouring The pace here is more leisurely, more introspective.

“Twilight In Lonely Lands” (the second track) has a very “World Music” feel to it – which means, of course, that the rhythm track has overtones of either Native American or Aboriginal or African influences. But would we say that about any instrumental track that has drums up front, in a very non-pyrotechnic manner?

The now almost ubiquitous didgeridoo makes an appearance here as well, on the atmospheric “The Black Line”. This track brings to mind this image: all alone on a crisp, clear, pitch black night where the only light is from the pinprick of stars. In the distance you can hear these sounds – frogs and other water creatures gurgling, some strange animal (the didgeridoo) calling out in the night. When the percussion makes its appearance – sounds like kettle drums though I suspect either digitally produced or some other percussive instrument – you come to realize you aren’t alone, but that you are part of some activitiy – almost ceremonial.

“Night, But No Darkness” picks up the pace a bit with its anxious rhythms, guitars skreech quietly here, though with frantic intensity. Not one to listen to if you’re a little jumpy, as this will only highten it. This is what confused fear sounds like. Actually, with a title like “Night, But No Darkness” one can image that the jitteriness of the track is similar to what those in climes north enough to have 24 hours of sunlight go through about halfway through that long period.

This is a very interesting album to listen to, well worth repeated listenings, as one can discover new things each time. As with nearly all – if not all – of Djam Karet’s releases, this one comes highly recommended.

[The Fall/Winter 1998 (#29) issue of Progression has an interview with Djam Karet, circa the release of The Devouring. -ed.]

More about Still No Commercial Potential:
Released: 1998
Label: self-released

Track Listing: No Vacancy At The Hotel of Noise (7:04) / Twilight In Lonely Lands (7:10) / Room 24, Around Noon (8:41) / The Black Line (10:01) / Night, But No Darkness (8:09) / Strange Wine From A Twisted Fruit (28:51) Total Time: 70:32

Musicians: Gayle Ellett – Guitar, E-bow, Organ, Percussion Mike Henderson – Guitars, E-bow Chuck Oken, Jr. – Drums, Digital Keyboards, Percussion Henry J. Osborne – Bass, Didgeridoo, Percussion

Website: www.djamkaret.com

Reviewed by: Stephanie Sollow, August 1998
If you are looking for cool, jazzy instrumental rock, then you need look no further than Djam Karet. The first half of The Devouring would fit the bill. And if you are looking for tight, precise, guitar playing, you’ve found that here, too. Each individual composition is worth an examination in its own right.

The Devouring is Djam Karet’s latest release and thematically it owes a lot to The X-Files. Whether this was intentional or coincidental, I’m not sure, but with track titles like “Night of the Mexican Goat Sucker,” and “Lights Over Roswell” there has to have been some thought of the cult series.

Regardless, The Devouring is a great album, and can truly be called progressive – both in execution and in spirit. “Forbidden By Rule,” the second track in, features some stellar guitar work, but that is really true for the whole album. There is a freedom in not having to following the pop formula and Djam Karet make good use of that freedom – each track here (and on their previous albums) is expressive – almost bigger than can be contained in the song format. There’s a feeling of movement in Djam Karet music, as if somewhere there are visuals to accompany the music – whether a movie or a PBS nature special. Therefore, listening to this, you need merely close your eyes to be transported where Djam Karet want you to go.

In both “The River of No Return” and “The Indian Problem” a dry Southwestern feeling is evoked. In the first, you can almost see and feel, towards the end of the track, sandstone canyons towering high overhead as you float along the…well, “The River of No Return” (I suppose, too, depending on your mood, you might think of the river Styx, or be reminded of Conrad’s The Heart of Darkness).

While guitars (Gayle Ellett and Mike Henderson) dominate this album – the sultriness of “Lost, But Not Forgotten,” or the elegant etherealness of “Myth of a White Jesus”, for example – the bass and drums (Henry J Osborne and Chuck Oken, respectively) provide a solid base from which the guitars can take flight. Even still, Osborne and Oken get chances to show their mettle, most strongly in “The River of No Return” and “Old Soldiers’ Disease”.

While stand out tracks are hard to pick out, at any one moment any of them would apply, as of this review, the ones that have stuck with me are “Lights Over Roswell,” which starts out atmospheric – not unlike Steve Roach, with whom they collaborated with on…um,… Collaborator, and strangely reminiscent of the Babylon 5 theme music – but soon morphs in to a rollicking, funky, bouncy sci-fi tune with just enough otherworldliness to earn its title.

The bottom line is this: go out and buy this album. It is the best thing to come out thus far for the 1997-1998 music year.

More about The Devouring:
Released: 1997
Label: Cuneiform

Track Listing: Night Of The Mexican Goat Sucker (7:04) / Forbidden By Rule (5:55) / Lost, But Not Forgotten (7:45) / Lights Over Roswell (6:44) / Myth Of A White Jesus (4:19) / The River Of No Return (8:47) / Room 40 (8:36) / The Indian Problem (5:30) / The Pinzler Method (4:48) / Old Soldier’s Disease (11:04) Total Time: 70:28

Musicians: Gayle Ellett – Guitars, E-Bow, Organ, Keyboards, Mellotrons, Theremin, Wind Talker, Koto, Birds, and Percussion Henry J Osbourne – Basses, Guitars, Keyboards, and Percussion Chuck Oken, Jr – Drums and Keyboard Sequencing Mike Henderson – Guitars (#1, #2, #3 & #5) Judy Garf – Rhythm Violin (#4)

Website: www.djamkaret.com

Atari Manual

Here is a list of 7 things to do with your Atari ST Owners Manual.

  1. If you have a Mega ST it can be used to prop the keyboard up
    to the correct angle.
  2.  The back can be used for the shopping list. If you use water
    based felt tip pens you can wipe the writing off and use it
    again.
  3. The manual is thin enough to be used as a bookmark for the
    “Listener”.
  4.  Cover with acrylic paint. When dry it can be used as a mouse
    mat.
  5. Use to swat flies or moths.
  6. Use it to hold open the pages of some of the more verbose
    games manuals. (like Falcon & Balance of Power).
  7. As a final option you could always read it.

Slumdog Millionaire

From the title and what I knew of the film it was about an Indian  boy who comes from the poor streets to win on ‘Who wants to be a millionaire”. As the outcome is already known, the story is actually about the story of the main protagonist Jamal. His journey from small boy to getting a laboring job as tea-boy at a call centre. The film is more about India and the wealth gap that persists to this day.
Slumdog Millionaire is a 2008 British drama film directed by Danny Boyle, written by Simon Beaufoy, and produced by Christian Colson. Set and filmed in India, it is a loose adaptation of the novel Q & A (2005) by Indian author and diplomat Vikas Swarup, telling the story of Jamal Malik, age 18, from the Juhu slums of Mumbai. As a contestant on the Indian version of Who Wants to Be a Millionaire? who is able to answer every stage correctly, he is accused of cheating. Jamal recounts his history, illustrating how he is able to answer each question.
Regarded as a sleeper hit, Slumdog Millionaire was widely acclaimed, being praised for its plot, soundtrack and direction. It was nominated for ten Academy Awards in 2009 and won eight—the most for any 2008 film—including Best Picture, Best Director, and Best Adapted Screenplay. It won seven BAFTA Awards including Best Film, five Critics’ Choice Awards and four Golden Globes.