Wednesday, 26 August 2009


I’m not usually an Album person. I prefer to listen to songs rather than full albums with only a few exceptions. Hence why my iTunes & Spotify playlists are almost constantly on Random/Shuffle. But recently I've decided that my neglect of albums needs to be rectified so I've sat down and listened to some of the artists that I have directly avoided due to hype. Before I go any further I will explain my aversion to hype. Its not that i think these artists or bands will be bad or that I wont enjoy them. I just feel that the media get so saturated with these over hyped artists that I can’t bring myself to listen to them in my private home world. I still hear their singles of course. I hear them at least once a night at work or when going around shops or listening to the radio or on the increasingly frequent Spotify ads. So I tend to avoid properly listening to the artists until after the hype has died down, sometimes the wait is longer than others… I completely missed the libertines era only sitting to listen to them a day or so before the announcement of their breakup. So this is my stance on hype. Its a fluid stance. sometimes I do hear about an artist and listen to the song and absolutely love it and think I must hear more of this. Whether that’s a result of the hype or the quality of the artist I’m not sure so I’m not ruling out either.

But on to the purpose of this Blog. I’m going to talk about a few of the albums I’ve sat down to recently and what I thought about them. I’m not going to call them reviews although that’s probably what they are. They are just my thoughts on what I’ve heard.

The first Album I listened to was Imogen Heap’s latest release Ellipse. Imogen is an artist I’ve listened to quite a bit (I’ll count her band Frou Frou among this as well) in my usual listening habit. I’ve heard a song, added to my collection and fell in love with it. But I’ve never actually sat down and listened to a full album of hers. In fact if it wasn’t for following her on twitter I’m not sure I would have normally remembered that the album was released on Monday when I listened to it. The record itself is great and unmistakably Imogen. I listened to it several times under the glow of my newly fixed lava lamp and fairy lights before deciding to call it a night. I loved it. but it wont be one of the albums that falls into my “must listen in one go” category. and I still find my self reaching to switch to the lead track of the album “First Train Home” which thanks to the magic of the internet I acquired some weeks ago and have been loving since.

Next up came Florence & The Machine and her debut album Lungs. Florence is definitely an artist I’ve avoided because of the hype. Like I mentioned above I’ve heard the singles. They’re everywhere and are played in work on a regular basis. But it was the constant quoting of lyrics by two friends on Facebook and the enthusiastic recommendation that came with it that prompted me to put this as part of my Tuesday album. Of course the mistake I made was trying to multitask while listening to the album and running about the kitchen cleaning and cooking. Something which I don’t recommend you do on a first listen to an album. So I didn’t get the enjoyment which my cohorts had exhibited. In fact I found myself turning it off half way through because I just couldn’t listen to it anymore. Something about the constant Full Energy vocals just didn’t do it for me. I’m all about the rise and fall of intensity and there was none of this that I could hear. I wasn’t put off though. I have resolved to go back to it and give it my full attention.

Which brings me to today. Wednesday. and my choice today is the original version of the recently remixed, Intimacy, by Bloc Party. Now again I’ve been multitasking by writing this blog and listening at the same time but with this being a much less strenuous task I feel that I am able to comment slightly better than with the Florence album. Again they fall into my category of Bands who I like maybe one or two songs (Flux & Banquet in their case) but generally avoid the rest. The album started well, the opening chord had a pitch which reminded me of current obsession And So I Watch You From Afar and made me smile. And for about a minute I enjoyed the swelling introduction. And then the vocals started. which ruined it completely. This was the first song Ares which has prompted me to go and listen to the great AISWYFA album after listening to this one but also almost made me switch off this one completely before it had started. Not a good thing from a lead track. However I stuck with it and I’m actually quite glad I’ve found two tracks that I would happily listen to again, although not necessarily seek out directly. You know the type of track where about half way through you realise “oh actually I don’t mind this one” and then have to seek out the name of it? Well there’s 2 of those on the album and that’s quite a lot for me actually. Those songs were Halo & Zephyrus with Biko coming in as a chilled out third. So on a whole a not bad album for my tastes. Works well as background music as I sit writing this, but I do feel as if I’m biding my time before something else comes on. In fact the interrupting Spotify adverts are quite welcome rather than being an annoying intrusion.

I’m not sure how long this album phase will last. It could end tomorrow or go on for a bit. When it does go on though I will keep it in mind to put a short paragraph up about my most recent listen. And will try to do them individually rather than all in one go so as to save my readers eyes from strain. So as the Bloc Party album finishes in a fairly timely fashion I thank you for reading, I’m off to listen to ASIWYFA now.

Sunday, 16 August 2009

Re Made

I'm sitting watching an 80's remake of King Kong with Jeff Bridges and the guy who played Odo in Star Trek - Deep Space 9. I've never seen the film before although I've seen all the parodies and homage's to it. Its cheesy and its filled with Violin heavy orchestrations which remind me of old James Bond movies. The script at times is laughable but the effects of the Kong character are great! Its a great film and i'm absolutely loving it... so why did Peter Jackson have to go and make that awful Remake? I read the other day an announcement that the classic 80's Brat Pack movie St Elmo's Fire is being made into a TV series by That 70's Show alum Topher Grace. This was the latest announcement in a long line of Hollywood's recycling phase. I wonder if they realise that going Green means recycling paper and plastic not scripts and films.

Saturday, 15 August 2009

Anybody Want a Cupcake?

I sit here a very satisfied and slightly hyper being right now. This is because I have spent the afternoon doing nothing but looking at and eating cupcakes. This was CupcakeCampNI, Europe’s first ever CupcakeCamp, (think of a camp as being a conference). Now we on our corner of this rock would usually think of the traditional Bun when someone mentions cupcake, with pink and white sugar icing, and hundreds and thousands poured over the top and maybe if we were lucky you might get a sugared strawberry or lemon jelly sweetie thing on top. But these cupcakes are so far away from the norn iron bun. These are traditional American Cupcakes, complete with Butter cream icing and more alongside muffins in size. They come in all sorts of colours and flavours and when it comes to decoration, the more elaborate the better.

There were so many different flavours, some familiar but with added twists, Strawberry became Strawberries & Cream and Strawberry Cheesecake, Chocolate became everything from Mint Chocolate to triple chocolate to Chilli & Peanut Butter Chocolate! Lemon became Lemon meringue, and you see where I’m going with this. Then there were the non traditionals. Chai Tea, Pina Colada, Mojito, Mickey Finn’s Raspberry Cocktails, Carrot Cake’s decorated with little candy carrots (handmade), these joined the other amazing decorations like miniature chillis, the beach themed cupcakes complete with ocean, beach towel, fishies and beach brolley! There was gold glitter dust, iced flowers with hand carved petals, swirls, beads, jewels, there was even a Nightmare Before Christmas Themed set of cakes which looked so good it was notable that people were afraid to eat one as it would ruin the look.

Moving away from the cakes themselves which I could go on about for days, and I probably will but not here. The day itself was relaxed (from the punters perspective anyway), there was a friendly atmosphere, everyone was chatting about baking techniques, icing techniques, flavourings, and for us cupcake novices we just enjoyed the moment that event organiser Ciarán Madden gave everyone permission to get stuck in and enjoy. I was very glad I’d starved myself before the event. Not that I condone starving yourself of course ;)

My day finished just after the amusing and problematic Demo from Marshmallow Grove owner Sarah Landstreet on how to make Marshmallow Smore Cupcakes (I will definitely be making my own marshmallow in the future!) and the Prize giving that followed. The overall winner of the event was the deserving Chai cupcakes which were not only refreshing, light and spongy; but also had a slight spice to them. It was then I grabbed a Box that I had “acquired” filled it to its brim, collected my free Tshirt and said my goodbyes, hoping to make it home before the sugar crash kicked in. Which I did... just.

I had a great day and the turnout was amazing. I’ve been watching the progress of the event on twitter from its initial announcement till today and I have to say Ciarán has alot to be proud of. I know that from now on there will be alot more cupcakes in my future. But for now here is some of what we were witness to...

Friday, 14 August 2009

Please Reply

I'm fully aware that i'm at the bottom of a very steep ladder and one which is hard to even get on never mind climb. So i am not yet at the point where people are contacting me for work. i wish i was. life would be so much easier. unfortunately i'm having to listen intently to the grapevine (something else i'm very low down on) for any hints of work and then search fervently for contact details so that i can send my painstakingly thought out emails basically begging for an interview so that i can meet them in person. I fully confident that once i get to meet the person i can win the job. i'm pretty good with people. I'm polite, well spoken (when i want to be) intelligent, and good at what i do, when i finally get a chance to do what i do what i'm good at. However one thing that i've noticed in these searches for employment is just the sheer amount of people who ignore your requests. You'd think an employer or company would be grateful that a person has searched them out beyond the normal channels and sent them a personal message. But the lack of response is astounding. I know they've all been in my position. This is a hard industry to get work and the Northern Ireland media community is a small industry with a relatively large population so that in some ways makes it more difficult.
But surely it hasn't been so long that a small concise email reply simply saying "thankyou for a query but i'm afraid we cant help you at this time" is too much to ask for? I'm not asking you to instantly give me an interview just because i have emailed you. i'm not asking for the job straightaway. just a small acknowledgement that you've read my email would be nice. please.

Wednesday, 12 August 2009


I recently got told it was too expensive for me to continue the work i've been doing recently. It wasn't much, just the odd news update/research for a website and it didn't take very much time. I maybe should have put more effort into it but with little feedback on whether the materials i was reporting were usefull or correct i was never fully sure of what i was doing. I don't mind not doing it anymore. Its not really in the area of what i want to do and was just a kind of place holder to keep me on the books so to speak until they found a better job for me.
Whether or not that better job materialises and becomes financially useful is yet to see over the coming month or so.
What depressing about this latest development is the growing number of RSS updates in my browser from sites that i wouldn't normally visit. Its a constant reminder that the little work i was doing to make me feel like i was contributing i'm now not doing. and until whatever this latest position is becomes active i'm working very little in the club (shifts are rare) and barely getting by.

i'm not alone. everywhere i'm hearing about job cuts or shift cuts. nobody can find a job. funding it being heldback. everyone's afraid of the recession. and try to get work in the media is not a good place to be. it doesn't help when you're not really qualified for anything else beyond standard retail and they wont give anyone a job over the age of 17 (younger = cheaper). You might think this pessimistic of me but recently a friend told me of a job interview they went to with a fairly well known retailer (don't ask me who i can't remember) and in the interview they were told of a memo they had recieved from head office basically saying no matter how qualified a person is for the job, even if there was noone else qualified for it, they were not allowed to hire anyone over the age of 16 or 17. So not only am i now unable to find a job in my desired field i'm too old for a job in my fall back field. and i cant even afford to back to uni to qualify for my other fallback (teaching). At 23 this is a depressing thought.
But it cant be helped. we're all facing it in some way or another. we will all survive somehow, that is the nature of humanity.

Thursday, 6 August 2009

Accidents can happen... and do so quite often.

This post is inspired by recent technological tragedies of when my phone met my car door and the car door won, and the subsequent panic to try and find a spare working phone. Thankfully in this technology obsessed age I had plenty of options to choose from and am now working my way through trying out various different makes and models, some many years old, (the manufacture day on the Samsung E600, seen top of the picture without aerial, is early 2005!) some only a couple and in the case of the Samsung 2442a (on the right of the picture), it had never been used before! Oh the wastage. Secret option number 4 of course is to just continue using my Tocco which this morning miraculously started working again but which is slightly bent and has a bit of screen damage (the downside to touch screens) ... and the nokia is there but was never really a consideration for me. I’m very much a Samsung girl, just can’t go back to nokia’s.

But of course this is not the reason for this blog post. It was a facebook comment from a friend who on hearing of my phones demise instantly assumed that I would place an order on an iPhone and have done with it. And I would love nothing more than to join the iPhone generation. I just can’t afford to and with what has just happened to my Tocco (one day I’ll go into my previous history with phones...) I’m not exactly to be trusted with such an expensive piece of kit just yet; At least not without some serious protective casing.

But is an iPhone the best option? Yes it’s the trendiest; Just like a Blackberry was a few years ago. But with other similar phones being released based on the iPhone format and with them being remarkably cheaper, is it fair that we just automatically hit up the Apple website to hand over our cash?

Now I would love to be able to take a selection of the newest phones and try them out and see which works best, and which is the most cost effective, who has the best applications, and which has the best practical usability. But then I would just sound like the many other review sites on the interwebs and this would turn into a boring (or more boring) tech blog. I even thought about visiting a major phone retailer’s website and checking out their featured phones, comparing different supposedly unique features, seeing which I liked the look of and reporting it here. But this would only be a superficial exercise and bear absolutely no meaning to whether or not the phones were any good. Plus when I went to the website the main featured phone was an iPhone 3gs and let’s face it... it probably is the best phone out there at the minute. The Nokia n67, the LG Cookie and even the Samsung Tocco Lite are all aiming to replicate the iPhone and its features (with LG going so far as to rip off the look of the icons and create an app store) and hoping to mimic its success.

I will eventually save up enough to surrender my soul to Apple, and I’ll do it quite happily. They’re not perfect and they’re overpriced, but damn if they’re not pretty and they work really well.