Four films: Out of Sight, Breakfast at Tiffany’s, Abigail’s Party, Three Days of the Condor

Usually, I tend to fill most of my spare moments with work of one kind or another. But this weekend, exhausted, I made a policy decision to ignore the manuscript awaiting my peer-review, my own manuscript that’s awaiting revisions in response to others’ reviews, and the sermon series than I need to start preparing; and I watched four films instead. It was fun.

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Metal Jester at the Marquee in 1991

A few years ago, I wrote about the heavy metal band, Anne Heap of Frogs, that I was the guitarist for in my late teens; and then about Crossfire, the band that come out of that, and some other bits and pieces. But there is one more chapter to the story, and it’s much more impressive.

Trojan Horse, Lick That, Metal Jester

After singing with AHOF and Crossfire, Richard Whitbread went on to front a much more serious band, Metal Jester, which did well enough to get a gig at the Marquee — then, one of the top rock venues in the UK. The layout of the ticket suggests they were third on a bill of three, which would still pretty darned impressive, but as Richard elucidates below, they were actually the main act.

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Genesis: a tragedy in 15 acts. Part 2: the Collins years

Last time, we looked at the first six Genesis albums, with Peter Gabriel in the lead singer role. When he left the band at the end of the Lamb Lies Down on Broadway tour, things did not look good for the quartet he’d left behind. But they decided to carry on without him, promoting drummer Phil Collins into the lead-vocal slot. Collins would go on to sing lead on eight Genesis albums, two more than Gabriel had — but were they good?

7. A Trick of the Tail (1976)

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Passing laws and adding BIB-1 diagnostics

Years ago, I was a member of the Z39.50 Implementers’ Group. We’d gather from all around the world, maybe 30 or 40 of us, and meet for several days to discuss and vote on possible extensions to this venerable (and still important) information retrieval standard.

A common item of business was approving a new diagnostic code. Continue reading

Genesis: a tragedy in 15 acts. Part 1: the Gabriel years

About a year ago, for reasons that escaped me then and still do now, I found myself writing a whole-career retrospective review of Whitesnake’s albums. They’re a band that I like, but who I never really loved. But for the last couple of weeks, I’ve been listening to Genesis, and I do love them.

Genesis, classic line-up (1975). Left to right: Phil Collins (drums), Steve Hackett (guitars), Tony Banks (keyboards, above), Mike Rutherford (bass, below), Peter Gabriel (vocals)

Since 15 albums is a lot to cover in a single post, I’ll be breaking this one up into two: the present post on the first six albums, with Peter Gabriel as lead singer; and a follow-up on the last nine, with Phil Collins singing.

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Bolognese sauce, done right

Everyone knows how to make spaghetti bolognese … after a fashion. It’s classic student cookery, isn’t it? Onions, minced beef and tomatoes into a pot, simmer for a while — bam, done. But it can be done right, and then it’s a glorious thing.

Photo from Kok Robin’s blog.

And the good news is, it’s not difficult. It doesn’t need the ludicrous over-complication of Heston Blumenthal’s version. The main thing it needs is elapsed time. What you can’t do is make it in a hurry. But most of the time is simply simmering, so it doesn’t need to take up much of your time.

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What I’ve been reading lately, part 25

Deep Space Accountant — Mjke Wood

This was a BookBub freebie, which I picked up because it was free and I found the conceit amusing.

I’m glad I did. It’s much better than it needed to be, offering some amusing characters, a genuinely nasty conspiracy and rather an exciting finale. As I write, the Kindle edition costs 99p. It’s not great literature, but it’s well worth picking up. Put it this way: I’d buy the sequel if it was also 99p, but I’m not going to pay £2.99 for it. Continue reading