Monday, May 28, 2007

West Brom to Win!

The Championship play off final has just started - I am rooting for the Baggies, a.k.a. the Throstles, a.k.a. West Bromwich Albion to win and make it to the Premiership, joining Aston Villa and Birmingham City. That way we can have more local derbys. Now there's a pun (West Brom are playing Derby County).

Well, they didn't but it sounded like a hectic game which either team could have won. Next year?

Review - Dirty Dancing

Released in 1987, this movie records a summer interlude in upstate New York, around about 1963. Apparently it is the most watched movie of all time by women. Not sure what that says about me right now but I absolutely enjoyed it and could watch it again and again!

The plot sets out to differentiate between the haves and have nots of America at the time of the Southern marches, only here this is a predominantly white persons' story set in the North. The guests and staff at a resort hotel are not to mix (unless there is the potential for a good union later in life). So when Baby (Jennifer Grey) gets in with the professional dancers (led by Johnny (Patrick Swayze) there are going to be fireworks.

Things get worse when an abortion goes wrong and Baby's doctor father (played by Jerry Orbach) gets involved. He is a class bigot (a nice one nonetheless) and much of the plot hinges on his fixed attitudes about people being kept in their place.

The title, of course, stems from the emerging presence of soul music in American culture, introducing a sensuality that steams up from Memphis and New Orleans via Chicago and Detroit into the back rooms and basements of white society. Baby blossoms at the tender, professional hand of Johnny, who ultimately learns a life lesson from Baby. A very happy ending is danced to "The Time of My Life", a major hit at the time of the movie's release,.

[A piece of triva. Patrick Swayze grew up in the Houston Heights and attended Houston's Waltrip High School (which is located a few hundred yards from a house I owned from 1981 to 1998). He may be the reason the movie is the most-watched by women!]

Sunday, May 27, 2007

iTunes Movies

The range of movies available for download on US iTunes is limited and, perhaps because Disney dominates, many of them are aimed at the teen market (National Lampoon, for example). I am looking forward to a wider selection of adult-oriented (not necessarily adult!) movies but there are a few already in the catalog. Examples include Secretary and Cold Mountain.

Borat - a Review

I watched this movie over the weekend and, to be absolutely honest, I thought it was a load of rubbish.

The HIP Fiasco

HIP here stands for Home Information Pack, a scheme first introduced by Prime Minister Tony Blair in 1997 as a concept to prevent gazumping. Ten years on the HIP was supposed to come into effect on June 1, 2007. After all this time you would have expected that the concept would have been honed to a high luster. Apparently, it has became a blunt intrument instead and is likely to be phased out before it is fully implemented. The main emphasis is now on whether a home is energy efficient. Gazumping has dropped off the radar screen as the main reason for its being.

Two of the Tony Blair "babes" have come in for the harshest criticism, namely Ruth Kelly and Yvette Cooper. "Blair's Babes" were apparently the new influx of women into politics that would bring fresh ideas into government - fresh ideas that were very much needed, by the way. However, they seem to be the founders of the modern Nanny State, imposing their ideas on how the rest of the country should live. As "Blair Babes" they will no doubt fall out of favor in a few weeks time when Gordon Brown selects his own cabinet, so we are probably going to see a sea change in how Britain is run, even though it will be the same Government (in name only).

Having just completed on the purchase of a new home in the UK, I have to conclude that the Government Nannies have got it all wrong! What is needed is a heavy dose of US style real estate transaction management and in particular the introduction of Title Insurance, coupled with an increased "Buyers Beware" mentality that is fast disappearing as the nannies do our thinking for us. This would simplify the entire, expensive process of dealing with solicitors, etc.

It amazed me that I had to do most of the solicitors' work following a simple "gentlemen's agreement" between developer/seller and buyer. Our own solicitor didn't even understand what a gentlemen's agreement is! Well, I suppose he wouldn't as it basically squeezes lawyering out of the transaction!

One common feature to this observation is that the lawyers will always have the lion's share of the home purchase business. Why? Because most MPs in government come from a legal background. They look after their own.

Saturday, May 05, 2007

Bird photography revisited

The set in Flickr on European Birds could start to get a lot larger. And access to my tripds would help a lot as well and that should materialize in a couple of weeks. Hand held shots of small English finches need all the help they can get when using a 300mm telephoto lens!

What a good site this is! The combined Town Hall Symphoy Hall web site breaks with the NEC Group with a new design that is really useful and looks good too.

It has a number of innovative features for helping you to remember what's on - you may never miss another must-go-to concert, particularly as there is an *.ics feature that works with iCal (and maybe other calendar programs). As well as RSS feeds (if you subscribe to them all right now you will get 162 news items) there is also a cookie driven "my events" listing that remembers what you seem to be interested in and finds more of the same.

Tip of the hat to Created in Birmingham for the information.

Friday, May 04, 2007

Blues back in the Premiership!

Congratulations to Birmingham City! After a traumatic see saw season they made it back to the top flight after one season in the Championship. In previous posts I have written my opinion about manager Steve Bruce and I stand by it. The team has yo-yo'd in performance all season and I see this as a reflection of the manager. Under pressure they perform, relax a bit and they lose games that should never have been lost.

So, what's at stake Sunday with the last games of the regular season in the Championship League? Blues are one point ahead of Sunderland. So if they win, they take the trophy. If they draw or lose and Sunderland wins, then Sunderland gets the No. 1 position. Sunderland is playing relegated Luton and will want to win. Blues play Preston, a team with a chance of gaining promotion via the play offs. Preston will want to win. But will Blues have the desire to trump Sunderland?

If Blues win, then I concede that Bruce should stay. If they lose, he goes!

Tuesday, May 01, 2007

BBC iPlayer - Mac Users to get Rebate?

What a nerve! The BBC has been allowed to introduce its TV program catch up service using it's own iPlayer, a rip off from the Apple i**** series of products if ever there was one, without offering Mac users any support. Microsoft users will have the benfit of the full range of services from the BBC while Mac users will - eventually (whatever that means, perhaps 2 years from now!)

Which means that anyone with a Mac user can claim a rebate on their UK TV license.

Well, not really.

I wonder what would happen if all Apple users in the UK refused to pay their annual license?