Take a Break, Flight 223

As you can see, the site is now back to something resembling normality. I suppose I should give it a new look for 2004, but I think it looks fine as it is for the moment (This is obviously a flimsy attempt to cover up the fact that I have no new layout ideas at the moment).

And now for an instrumental-heavy Friday…

  • Jim O’RourkeNot Sport, Martial Art

    Instrumental No.1. When I bought this single back in 1999, the nice people at Piccadilly Records in Manchester decided to put the album in the case as well. I returned it after the weekend, in a very quick I’m-rather-embarrassed-and-I-hope-you-don’t-think-I-stole-it
    -so-I’ll-give-it-back-and-leave-the-shop-swiftly fashion.

  • Courtney LoveMono

    Um, yes. I have something of an irrational soft spot concerning Courtney Love, so even though I know that this is little more than an updated version of ‘Violet’, I like it. Feel free to hurl abuse in the comments…

  • ManitobaHappy Ending

    Instrumental No. 2. This song reminds me of the General Election back in 2001. I was away in London on a course, and Lauren Laverne played this record many times on Xfm during that week.. By a sheer coincidence, Lauren’s radio show begins on Monday, and I encourage you all to tune in. That’s Monday, 5 January, 1600 GMT / 1100 EST, and for everyone outside London, you can go to the Xfm website, and listen to their Internet stream.

    What?
currently playing: Guided By Voices — The Official Ironmen Rally Song

Happy Public Domain Day!

In Canada: if an author passed away in 1953, his or her works have now passed into the public domain.

In the US and UK: if an author passed away in 1933, her or his works are now free for all to copy, modify, or adapt.

(extra UK info: all sound and TV recordings from 1953 or before are now common property, and all published articles from 1978 have also slipped into the public domain)

currently playing: Joss Stone — Fell In Love With A Boy

Welcome Back, Y'all!

Welcome back everyone! Hope you had a good Christmas.

Now for a Public Service Announcement.

Do you have a 2000-2001 series iBook? One with two USB ports, and imaginatively dubbed the “Dual USB” iBook?

I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but it appears that there’s a design flaw with this machine. In order for the machine to send information to the screen, there’s a series of wires that pass through the hinge. Unfortunately, the wires aren’t strong enough to cope with the stress of repeated opening and closing of the cover; each time the hinge is moved, you wear out a wires a little further. After a year of this (just after the warranty has expired, naturally), you may notice a weird occurrence when you put the machine to sleep. As you pull the cover down, the screen blacks out for a second when the cover is 30? from the vertical, and then reappears as you continue bringing the cover down.

Again, sorry to be the bearer of bad news, but your iBook is living on borrowed time. The backlight cable has a break, and you will lose the backlight completely in a short while. If you have AppleCare, that congratulations. Phone Apple, get a replacement. Hurrah!

For those of us not on AppleCare, and not caring to spend > $500 to repair a faulty cable, then there is a way to repair it yourself. It’s not for the faint-hearted though, as it involves taking the iBook apart. Completely.

Okay, first you’ll need a copy of the iBook Service Manual. Lots of helpful diagrams, detailed instructions, and a list of all the screws used in the computer (this will become important if you don’t take care of where you put the screws when taking it apart!). In order to get at the backlight wires, you need to remove:

  • Bottom Case
  • Airport Card & Extra RAM </li>
  • Keyboard
  • Top Case
  • Top Shield
  • Display Module
  • Display Case
  • Clutch Cover
Yes, really. Keep the screws in separate groups, as this will make putting the iBook back together a less frustrating task, I assure you. When you’ve taken the machine apart, use a multimeter to determine which of the wires has broken if you can’t tell from looking at the cables (the cable that appears to be the most common to fail is the black wire that goes to the backlight to the right-hand side of the LCD panel). Get a responsible adult to cut the wire out, and replace it with a new length of wire that he just happens to have lying around (telephone and earphone wire appear to be popular choices); it helps if the new wire is longer than the old one, as this might help the stress issue when you rebuild the machine. Huzzah! You have just fixed your iBook. Now all you have to do is put it all back together. You did keep the screws separate, didn’t you? Oh dear.

(a word of advice: the clutch hinge has two plastic covers at both ends. These covers look quite small and could contribute to the stress that the cables undergo when the cover is closed. So don’t bother putting them back in)

An hour or so of reassembly later, and your backlight should now be as good as new. Curse Apple’s name for such a silly design error, and be on your way.

(more information can be found at Apple’s discussion forums, where Mac owners are not-so-quietly fuming about this problem)

currently playing: Sleater-Kinney - A Quarter to Three

"It was Christmas Eve, babe"

Time for one final entry before I disappear for Christmas.

Today's theme is, well, "all the junk I meant to post and would forget if I didn't do it now".

All Girl Summer Fun BandMillion Things

Rumours from Apple's Shiny Things Department.

I discovered yesterday that Tolkien started work on a sequel to The Lord of The Rings. He only managed a chapter or two before he abandoned it, but you can read it in the last history of Middle-Earth book, The Peoples of Middle-Earth, if you're interested. (It does sound rather dodgy, to be honest)

A website showcasing the work of a Japanese design company, with lots of fun images and free fonts.

The Onion is on a roll, with the Least Essential Albums of 2003, and a feature on toys your kids don't want.

Christmas music generated from old 8-bit computers.

Santacon!

Lauren LaverneIan

Happy Christmas everybody!

currently playing: The Pretenders — 2000 Miles

Best of 2003: Belle & Sebastian — Dear Catastrophe Waitress

“Step Into My Office, Baby” steals the drums from Adam Ant and Bow Wow Wow; “Stay Loose” is New Romanticism writ large. Apart from that, though, Trevor Horn’s production is less intrusive than some people had feared (and the aforementioned songs are great anyway), just making the band sound tighter and louder than ever before. “If She Wants Me” is my favourite track from the album, with its lament of “If I could do just one near perfect thing I’d be happy” and the dismissal of such melancholy thinking with “On second thoughs, I’d rather hang about and be there with my best friend”. “I’m A Cuckoo” is pretty good as well, even if it does rhyme Thin Lizzy with Tokyo…

Early Christmas!

One of the benefits of being part of the R.E.M. fan club is that they send a Christmas present out to all members. Today, I got a calendar, a book of tour photographs, and a live CD featuring R.E.M. and Wilco singing “Country Feedback” and “It’s The End of The World…”. Cool.

currently playing: Cat Power — I Don't Blame You

Best of 2003: Lost In Translation

This still hasn't gone on general release in the UK yet. Grr. When the distributor finally decides to get a move on, go and see this, a beautiful character piece focussing on two people who can never be together, and their travels in the mysterious and contradictory city of Tokyo. I defy anyone to not have a tear welling up as The Jesus and Mary Chain's "Just Like Honey" plays over the film's final sequence…

Jefferson Says We Should Be Talking

Terror Alert Level

Reports that the current terror alert is due to intelligence murmurs about a man clad in red who claims to have access to every home in America and promises to give the children "a surprise" this Christmas remain unconfirmed at this time.

This weekend, if nothing else, proved that Saddam Hussein was something of an idiot. You can indeed be a dictator of a Middle East country, have a history of opposition to Israel, a list of human rights abuses, confirmed links to various terror organisations, and even have a fully active nuclear weapons programme, but still be called a "statesman", and welcomed back into the international community. He should be kicking himself.

(oh, and by the way, have any of you heard these rumours that seem to be going around; that the Kurds captured Saddam Hussein, drugged him, and called in the Americans? Making his capture something of a PR stunt? Would look rather bad for the Bush Administration if it was true, I suppose…)

currently playing: The Beach Boys — I Just Wasn't Made For These Times

Best of 2003: The Crew — Christopher Priest

It was A Black Book. Only it wasn’t, of course, but it had a black character and it was written by a black man. That was enough to doom this inventive comic which could have been Marvel’s answer to DC’s popular “Losers” if only they had given it a little more time. Or promoted it. Or let Priest promote it himself. Now that Marvel’s “trade anything that moves” program has been flung out of the window along with Bill Jemas, this series will probably never see a trade collection, which is a great shame. If you’re looking for an action-adventure full of twists and turns, start going through the quarter-bins and find this gem (see also: Xer0, The Ray, Steel #34-#52, Quantum & Woody, and Black Panther).

The Ultimate in High Concept

At last! Spitfires and Giant Robots, together for the first time!

currently playing: The Clash — Lost In The Supermarket

Best of 2003: Joss Stone — The Soul Sessions

In a world of Pop Idols, Academies, autotuners and backing tapes , this album is something special. “I only meant to love you.” - the first line of the album is delivered with no accompaniment, just the bare sound of a 16-year-old pouring her heart and soul into the Joe Simon classic “The Chokin’ Kind”. Yes, it’s a short album, and yes it’s all covers. But the covers aren’t the usual standards, and the one song that you’re likely to recognise, The White Stripes’ “Fell In Love With A Girl” has been disassembled beyond all recognition, transformed into a soulful groove. This is an album that makes you remember that the music world is not just what Simon Cowell, Pete Waterman, and Lou Pearlman dictate to us…

Yawn (and music related ramblings)

Hmm. Is the X-Ray “Best of 2003” CD a real representation of the music scene over here during the past twelve months? It’s chock-full of dull “is it still 1999?” songs, except for the Belle & Sebastian and Martina Topley-Bird tracks. Ho hum.

  • Al GreenI Can't Stop

    One of the standout memories of 1999's Glastonbury was Al Green's set on a Sunday afternoon. When he came out on stage, the sky was foreboding and full of grey. by the time he had finished "Let's Stay Together", the sun had chased the clouds away, leaving us with a glorious Sunday afternoon with a legend. This is the title track from his new album, a reunion with Willie Mitchell, the producer for much of his 1970s output.


  • ElectrelaneGoing Out Again

    Handclaps! Wailing synths! And more besides!

currently playing: Saint Etienne — Nothing Can Stop Us

Best of 2003: 24 Hour Party People (DVD)

It's a great film to begin with, but what elevates the DVD into "must-buy" status is the Tony Wilson commentary, where he spends the whole film talking about the inaccuaracies and complaining how the scriptwriters made him an idiot. It's really funny. As it's a Factory product, the design is impeccable, including a virtual map of Manchester and a fascinating look at Peter Saville's design work. I haven't watched the video commentary yet (featuring members of New Order and Miranda Sawyer), but I'm sure it's good 8-).

Links And More Links

The really good news is buried halfway down the page. Lauren Laverne, five times a week, from January 5. Woohoo!

This is the greatest site on the Internet today. Pepper spray bombs? Tasers with laser sights? Knives cunningly concealed as lipstick? A CIA-approved ice scraper? It has it all. Plus child safety gear. Buy a loved one a Defense Stocking this Christmas!

Although abolishing the region code system won't automatically mean the end of staggered release dates, a "hurrah!" goes to the head of Blockbuster for calling for an end to the silly practice of preventing people from watching DVDs that they had the misfortune of buying in a different country.

You want silly stories? Well, here's one. UPDATE: Oooh. And oooh.

currently playing: Suede — Metal Mickey

Best of 2003: Sean Paul — Get Busy

This is the other song included due to memories rather than quality. In this case, it's not an amazing track to listen to, but it's not meant for that. This is a record for dancing, and doing anything else with it is a waste of time and effort. In April and May, you could not go into a club in Chapel Hill and avoid this track. It was everywhere. And we danced. 8-)

Return of The King: A Primer

Things you should probably know about Return of The King:

It begins in a way you least expect. The battles are as spectacular as usual, but there are a few bits of dodgy CGI. The elimination of Saruman is a bit of a blow, but the battles make you forget about all that. Those of you who feared that Arwen was going to swamp the trilogy will be happy, and those of you who wanted certain endings will be also. Minas Tirith looks incredible. It is as good, if not better than the first two films, although there's a few gaps which will no doubt be filled in when the 4+ hour version is released next year.

If you see this early in the day, you will have a group of annoying kids sitting in front of you, who will spend the entire length of the film talking/throwing sweets/jumping on bottles/listening to music on their personal stereos. A Special Place in Hell is reserved for these people. Oh, and Orlando Bloom has attracted a cheering section. There may also be people who wear elven cloaks.

currently playing: Oasis — Songbird

Best of 2003: Russian Ark

It's a 96-minute, continuous-take journey through the Russian State Hermitage Museum, where – oi! Come back! It's not what it sounds, it's not –. Okay, it's an incredibly pretentious film starring a 19th century French aristocrat travelling through over 200 years of Russian history whilst complaining about anything and everything. But it's so beautifully shot and choreographed that I think you need to see it, at least once.