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Birmingham Blogger

An internet diary by a member of the colourful and active Birmingham community.

Friday, August 31, 2001
Today I did my weekly shopping. Locally, I am known as the Micorwave Kid bacause everything I buy is cooked in the microwave. I eneded up buying two curries - tandoori chicken and lamb rogan josh, two baltis - one refrigerated for early in the week and one frozen for later in the week, two sweet and sour chicken, an one salmon pie which I will have on Sunday. It is a kind of tradition to have slamon on a sunday. When I was young we always had salmon sandwiches and peaches and cream.

I went to Star City in the morning to do some shopping and have a drink. We stopped at the Bar Med which has two wide tv screens and is showing the international football matches. I don't know whether to stay in and watch the match or go into a crowded pub and soak up the atmosphere. In the afternoon I went to the Varsity pub in Coventry next to Warwick University. They play good music like Verve and Oasis mixed with some techno and UK garage. When the students return at the end of September the place will be packed in the evenings.

So tomorrow I will be hoping that England stick it to the Germans although my faith in our ability to win the match is not great. I will also be watching I Love 1990's, this week it is 1992. I always enjoy watching this series and reminiscing about the good old days even if it is less than ten years ago.

Wednesday, August 29, 2001
Today is the last episode of Time Team Live 2001 on C4. The series started on Tuesday but I missed the first episode, however, I did watch yesterday's edition. They are excavating an old Saxon cemetery in Hampshire and they have also found remains of a bronze age community that was living on the site hundreds of years before the Saxons. I find this kind of programme fascintating. It is amazing how they can deduce so musch from so little evidence. They identified the remains of a twelve year old by observing that the wisdom tooth in the skull had not broken through the gum and the roots had only just started to form. They identified a much older woman from a fragment of bone that came from her pelvis. The website has lots of information and tells you how you can join a Time Team club in your area. They also have online chats with the host Tony Robinson after each show. I logged on yesterday along with 700 other fanatics tof the show. A transcript of the chat is available on the website. I am tempted to go outside into the back garden and start digging to see what I might find, bearing in mind that I live in a first floor flat, this is probably not a good idea. The neighbours might complain.

Tuesday, August 28, 2001
One of the things I like most of all is Modern Art, especially Surreal Art. My favourite painters are Frida Kahlo, a Mexican surrealist who had an affair with Leon Trotsky, and Salvador Dali, the eccentric Spanish surrealist, but I also like Marc Chagall and Edward Munch, plus the expressionist painter Egon Schiele. A great site to see all these painters is artchive which lists and displays over 200 artists.

I get a real kick out of discovering new artists that nobody knows about. One such painter is Caplyn Dor from New York. Her paintings are stuuningly beautiful and mysterious. I wrote a poem inspired by one of her paintings called Harmony Island and I emailled the poem to her. I was delighted when she asked if she could put it on her website. This encouraged me to write more Surreal Poetry which I put together on my website together with the pictures that inspired me.

I just watched The Matrix for the second time on Sky - great movie, when you get psychotic you think you can do strange things, that you have superhuman powers, then reality kicks in and its a shock to the system. I like Keannu Reeves, he was also in another of my favourite recent movies Point Break also starring Patrick Swayze about some surf-riding guys who rob banks wearing masks of the four presidents. My favourite all-time movies are a little older and include black and white movies like Pandora's Box which is a classic German silent movie, but I do like some new movies.

I don't particularly like Brad Pitt but he has starred in two great movies, Twelve Monkeys and Fight Club, Twelve Monkeys is brilliant and both Brad Pitt and Bruce Willis play great roles in the movie. They both spend time in a mental asylum and Bruce Willis gets sent back in time to find out what virus nearly wiped out the human race. As for Fight Club what can I say? It is extraordinary. I don't think it makes perfect sense, but why should that get in the way of a great movie. I love the idea of Edward Norton's alter ego taking over and planning to destroy the capitalist system single-handed. I also love Helena Bonham-Carter, I have done for ages, although she does like to look dowdy. She was really good in Room With A View and Howard's End which were both Merchant Ivory productions I think.

The music in The Matrix is pretty good. I am sure I heard a little bit of The Chemical Brothers thrown in there somewhere. What has happened to the Chemical Brothers? Hopefully their next album will be an improvement on their last two albums which were both excellent. Hopefully they will not produce a couple of dud albums like Oasis after they took the nation by storm with Whats The Story Morning Glory. Don't you just hate it when a great band lets you down?

Monday, August 27, 2001
Blogger who supply the software for this internet diary have just celebrated their second birthday. There is an interesting article on the website Write The Web which tells the story of Blogger past, present, and future. It is suprising that such a creative company can have financial problems but if you read the article you will see that they had to layoff all the employees save the founder himself. With the financial situation being as it is, it is suprising that Blogger does not charge its clients for using its software. Personally, I am grateful that I don not have to pay anything, but if the company went out of business what would I do? I hope its fortunes take a turn for the better.

If you are interested in the history of the internet you may want to take a look at the internet timeline. Some of the details are a bit technical but it provides an interesting progress report on the internet.

Now to music, I am pleased to see Nelly Furtado riding so high in the charts, no.4 in the singles chart and no. 3 in the album chart. Her music represents a refreshing change from the norm, a mixture of hip hop and pop added to her slightly husky voice makes up a delicious musical cocktail.

Saturday, August 25, 2001
I bought a copy of The Lion,The Witch and The Wardrobe by CS Lewis this week. I had been planning to buy the book for a long time but never got around to it. When I was 17 I studied A Level Religious Education for about five weeks before I gave it up and we studied some of the religious philosophy books written by CS Lewis. He seemed to write a lot of sense from what I can remember. I was also told that The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe had a religous message. I really got interested in CS Lewis after watching the film Wastelands starring Anthony Hopkins and Debra Winger. He did not get married until he was in his 50's when he befriended an American who was shortly after diagnosed with cancer, it is a beautiful story and suggests that you can find love at any age.

On Saturday night I watched the film Shining about Australian pianist David Helfgott, a child protege who suffered mental anguish and a major mental breakdown spending several years in a mental hospital before he was rediscovered and went on to give virtuoso performances and eventually married one of the friends who had helped him back on his feet. It is a tragic story with a happy ending although he still mentally unwell but able to play the piano brillliantly.

Finally, I just read an article about Michael Jackson who is releasing his first studio album for 6 years, it allegedly cost $30 million to make so he will need to sell an awful lot of records to break even. It will be interesting to see if the public still have a taste for his music after the scandal that has surrounded him recently. I imagine the music will decide his future. After all, nothing was proven with regard to the child abuse allegations. Maybe one day the truth will come out. I believe your innocent until proven guilty so I hope the record does well.

With Tim Burton's release of the film Planet of the Apes my mind turns to all things gothic. I loved Tim Burton's earlier films such as Beetlejuice and Edward Scissorhands, they were like modern fairytales, and with the inclusion of Winona Ryder in both films they could not fail to be smash hits. I think Tim Burton was in his twenties when he made those films, that seems so incrdibly young to be a director. I think some of his films since then have not been so good, Batman was ok but some of the others have not workied, his animated Christmas story was a real dud.

I recently started writing gothic poetry after visiting a gothic website called darkdoors.com which is run by a young lady called Cyn Surreal. It includes a poetry forum, photography and two internet radio stations, it has won numerous awards and is very good. You can visit my gothic poetry site if you like, the layout is pretty basic but I hope you will like the poetry.

My favourite gothic band, if that is what you can call them, is the Cocteau Twins, their music is so haunting and melodic, it rattles inside your brain. I also like The Cure. I feel like digging out a load of black clothes and daubing my face in black make-up, bu then again I think not, I am old and respectable now.

Thursday, August 23, 2001
Yesterday I watched Time Team Classic, a series on C4 about archeology presented by Tony Robinson who played Baldrick in Blackadder (which incidentally is one of my favourite comedy series). I love this programme, I find it so fascintating. It is amazing how they can piece together so much information based on so little material. It must be great to be able to touch a part of our history. It is one of my ambitions to go on a dig and find something old and important. The Time Team website is a good read with information about past programmes and a discussion forum. One of the best parts of the site is Time Team Onsite which is basically a diary about the archeological digs they are going to show next year. The first one is about some timber posts buired in the River Thames which are very old and may well be the remains of the first wooden bridge in London. The BBC recently ran a series of programmes called Dinosaur Island presented by Simon King, the wildlife photographer, which I also thought was very good. There were literally thousands of skeletons fossilized on the island, I think it was the Isle of Wight. It must give you a real adrenalin rush when you pick up a dinosaur bone for the first time. If you are interested in the subject and want to find out what is happening locally log on to the Birmingham and Warwickshire Archeological Society website.

Talking of digging, Bob The Builder will soon have a new single out, it is a reworking of Lou Vega's Mambo No. 5. It will almost certainly go to number one and will hopefully keep Westlife from top spot like he did last Christmas. Hooray for the Bob The Builder!

Another internet company that has been having difficulties is teveo.com, they specialize in supplying webcams and recently went offline before being bought out by another company. On their site you can view over 250 different cameras. It is a strange sensation looking into somebody else's world, if only for a few minutes.

With so many cameras around it is a bit like watching the Truman Show which I watched recently on Sky. The film starring Jim Carey is really good and represents an interesting portrayal of our modern day obsession with TV especially in North America. The character played by Jim Carey has been on a tv show from the date of his birth and he is followed by cameras wherever he goes, but he does not know this, eventually he finds out and tries to escape. It is an excellent film, well worth watching.

The new sex kitten of British pop. Sophie Ellis-Bextor is high up in the charts at the moment with her single Take Me Home. I heard on the radio that her mother was in fact a presenter on Blue Peter which may knock her street credibility a little, then again, maybe not. With the pop audience seeming to get younger and younger, it may well enhance her career.

Tuesday, August 21, 2001
Update: I just checked out music 365 only to get a message to say the service had closed down. Another casualty of the internet crash. The link now hooks up to the Top of the Pops site. I cannot work out whether or not the 365 corporation is running the service for the beeb or not. Who will be the next casualty of the internet crash? Will anyone survive?

I think everyone interested in the internet is fascinated by the crash in share prices that has taken place. There are some good companies out there that were simply overvalued. I think in time a number of companies will start to make healthy profits. Use of the internet is still in its ealry stages over here. One such company is the 365 Corporation which run such popular services as Football 365 and Music 365. This company is part of the 90% club which means they have lost over 90% of their value on the stock market. Their services are excellent and have high visitor numbers. They are looking at the new wave of WAP phones as a way of restoring their injured pride. They will be one of the leading information providers on WAP phones if this new generation of mobile phone takes off as all the mobile phone companies are prating having invested billions to win the licences for this new technology. I wish them the best of luck.

Now for something more obscure. I have spent quite a bit of time in Cyprus and enjoyed the Greek music that was played over there. While searching the net I came across OPA TV which is a Greek video tv station on the net. The quality is not great and access can be difficult, but it has been added to my obscure but wonderul list.

Monday, August 20, 2001
I recently came across a gruesome flash game site called Sadistic Boxing. It is quite addictive to start off as you choose your fighter's characteristics such as strength and agility, attack or defence. Unfortunately, the fights can drag on so it is recommended that you choose an attacking fighter so that the fights end quickly. You may lose but you can always train another boxer. The exciting thing about this game is the prize money that can be won, the more difficult the boxer, the more money you can win, but if you lose your fighter may end up dead. Try it out!

Edward Norton, star of Fight Club, is being lined up for a starring role in the prequel to Silence of the Lambs called Red Dragon. I have read the book and it is very good, but alas no Clarice Starling in this one.

I just read on Lycos Entertainment News that Peter Gabriel has set up the first subscription based music download service on the internet. It will cost a fiver a month and you will be able to download 50 songs each month. If you like world music then it may be a good deal otherwise tough.

I know I am getting old but the lyrics for some songs are becoming more and more infantile. The target age group must be the under 3's. Try this one by the Little Trees "I'm a little yellow fish in a deep blue sea, won't somebody help me". And the annoying thing is its really catchy and I cannot get the damn tune out of my head. I also saw the video to Step's new single Chain Reaction, a poor rip-off of the Diana Ross hit. The video is set in a hospital and is really naff. However, the video is saved by a dance routine near the end in which Lisa looks so sexy, a pouting Welsh goddess, just like Catherine Zeta Jones who is actually starting to appear in some good films. I was told that Traffik is an excellent movie, guess I will see it when it appears on cable.

Sunday, August 19, 2001
I am a bit of a chess fan, I have played over 900 games on the net. Earlier in the year, Kramnik beat Gary Kasparov for the World Championship. The match was shown live on Kasparov Chess with commentary by Grandmaster experts. On 4th September, Kramnik will play several blitz matches against a few select amateurs who will be chosen at random. You will have to join the Champion's Club at Kasparov Chess to participate, the games will be displayed live.

The penultimate episode of World War II was shown yesterday, it was about the dropping of the two atomic bomba on Japan. It is debatable whether or not the Japanese would have surrendered anyway. Over 130,000 people died straightaway and many others later of radiation poisoning. I guess the bombs saved a number of US lives so in some ways it was justified. The Japanese may have fought on a little longer and more lives would have been lost.

Now to music. Having recently voted for my favourite video and coolest videos of the year I think the best animated video so far goes to Clint Eastwood by Gorillaz, closely followed by their follow-up single 19/2000. I think this band represent a refreshing change from the formulated pop that dominates the charts. Just to prove the point, Five have just topped the charts after Atomic Kitten topped the charts for two weeks with Eternal Flame, a cover of the Bangles hit. Please, please, please, don't let Westlife get to number one with their new single, its really dreadful. And anyway, they are multi-millionaires already. Where is the new Oasis?

Saturday, August 18, 2001
Today's recommended website is 4th Order, a digital art and photography site. Some of the images are really stunning.

I have just finised watching the first episode of I Love 1990's. A truly brilliant series. I loved the first series I Love 1970's with features on glam rock and bubblegum pop with such bands as Slade, Sweet, T-Rex and Gary Glitter and teenage heart throbs Donny Osmond and David Cassidy. The present series loooks better than I thought it would be, I thought the 1990's would be to recent to look back on but I was wrong. The first episode looked at the phenomenon that was Twin Peaks, a bizzare and fascinating tv series. It also ran a feature on the Volkswagon girl, that cute little 3 yr old walking the streets on New York with her dad to the backing music of Billy Holiday. A true representation of the new man, more caring and understanding than his 80's go-getting counterpart. 1990 also saw the launch of Nick Park's Creature Comforts which led on to Wallace and Grommit. Another interesting feature was on Madonna's song Vogue. I did not realise than Vogue was in fact a dance that originated in the gay clubs of New York where young gays would pose and strut their stuff. I hope the series continues to be as fascinating as the first episode.

The coolest video of the year so far is probably Rollin' by Limp Bizkit, I love the car and the dancing girls in their white tops, baggy trousers and red caps are so cool. I find the phenomenon of New Metal hard to come to grips with, at least it has extended the shelf life of Kerrang magazine. Bands such as Linkin Park and Papa Roach are selling records in the US by the bucket load. These records are so depressing and nihilistic. The sad thing is I think the stuff is growin on me. I guess you can be brain washed into liking everything these days.

Friday, August 17, 2001
This Sunday sees the last episode of The Future Just Happened, a tv series about the internet on BBC2. Last week they ran a feature about a 3D chatroom called Alphaworld. I logged on after the programme finished and the room was packed full. Over 200 people had logged on after watching the show. The moderater was overwhelmed by all the requests to explain how the place worked. The chatroom was not bad, but the best 3D chatroom I have come across is Cybertown. You can buy your own house and buy furniture and electrical equipment to furnish the house. You can also get a job abd earn cybercash. You can also design your own products to sell in the shops and make money that way.

Big Brother 2 is over but the gossip still goes on. I read on Yahoo clubs that Brian who won was offered a £100,000 contract to present the new breakfast show on C4 but he declined the offer because he enjoyed his job as an air steward so much.

Finally, my vote for best video of the year so far goes to Teenage Dirtbag by Wheetus. The video is just so sad and funny and the lead character is such a geek. Although I am 36 I can relate to the song, I think there is a teenage dirtbag in all of us.

Thursday, August 16, 2001
Today I was searching the web for Birmingham sites and I cam across IC Birmingham which is the site which belongs to the Birmingham Evening Mail. By coincidence, there is another site I came across while looking for blogs ( which also stands for bi-sexual, lesbian, and gay society) called IC: Birmingham which is an adult bondage site, the ic standing for informed consent. I can see some unfortunate accidents occurring with this similarity in names. Some web users may be in for a shock if they try to log onto the Evening Mail site and instead come across all the latest news in bondage gear. Back to more mundane things, I checked out the latest Nelly Furtado video yesterday, a gorgeous girl from Canada. The single is Turn Off The Light, a follow-up to I Am Like A Bird. I saw the video on The Box first of all, then I logged onto Launch and watched the video on the net. Its a cool video with everyone dancing in a really muddy lake, the song is really good too. Finally, another worthwhile Flash site to check out is Bulbo.com which is a black and white cartoon series. It is funny and well put togehter. Check out Bulbo in the Twentiethe Century. Its really cool!

Wednesday, August 15, 2001
I recently read an article about the downfall of Stan Lee Media, the creator of Spiderman in the Marvel comics. Stan Lee Media turned their talents to website design and featured their cartoons on SCIFI.COM and Shockwave.com. The cartoon series were really excellent, one series called the 7th Portal won great acclaim. The company was quoted on Nasdaq and was worth $300 million at its height, when it went out of business it was valued at $9 million. It just shows that creative talent alone is not enough to survice on the internet. I love cartoon series on the net although they take a long time to download. One of my faourites is Radiskull. It tells the adventures of Devil Doll and his girlfriend Candy Angel. It is simple but effective, the colours are excellent and the music is funny. Check it out! It is my intention to talk about music videos as often as possible, since I spend most of my time either watching music videos or in bed listening to radio five live. Today's featured video is Video Killed The Radio Star by the Buggles, great video and impressive pop song. I did not realise that it was the first video ever played on MTV which recently celebrated its 20th birthday. It heralded the birth of themed channels and those dreadful gardening and food channels featured on cable followed closely behind. MTV has diversified and now does non-music programmes which I do not like which is why I prefer to watch The Box, non-stop music at all hours of the day.

I have been off air for nearly 12 months now. But I have decided to start up this diary again because I am trying to promote Birmingham Bloggers which is a website I have just launched. I don't really do much these days. I have been out of work for more than 5 years now due to illness. I feel isolated at times but things get better as time goes by. I spend a lot of time watching The Box on cable. One of my favourite videos at the moment is Stuck In The Middle With You by Louise, its a parody of Reservoir Dogs and Louise looks sensational as usual. I alos write poetry, dark, gloomy stuff. I have four poetry sites the most recent of which is Birmingham Poets . I am trying hard to build up an internet community in the Birmingham area so that we can hold meeting both on the internet and face-to-face. I hope the project takes off.

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