Saturday, December 30, 2006

Getting Ready For The Year of Licence To Kill

I'm finally back after the yearly commute around the nation to see the scattered relatives. This year they'd arranged themselves as compactly as possible really and thus I only had three train journeys to contend with, rather than a potential six. It was lovely to see them all, of course, but I can't deny it's very pleasant to be back at home with the knowledge that I don't have to travel anymore for the rest of the year. And as it's almost the end of the year the temptation to look back is overwhelming. In this confessional little post of twelve months ago I hoped that 2006 would be more uniformly positive. I think I can safely say that this has been one of the best years I can remember. I said I'd try to do more this year and I've cooked more, made a short film (if anyone wants to see it just e-mail me -plug plug), taken photographs, done some good work on HParOotP (I think), made a conscious effort to absorb more culture, (dance, theatre etc.), I've finally made it a music festival, something I'd been meaning to do for years and best of all I've met a wonderful woman in Tinseltroos, with whom I'm very much in love. It would be utterly ridiculous to ask for any more and I consider myself amazingly lucky. I suppose the benefit of of 2005 being a more depressing year is that when things take a turn for the better you really do appreciate it all the more. So 2006 has been very good to me and all I can say to those who've had a rotten 2006 is that these things seem to be cyclical and that 2007 may be your best yet.

Here's a little medley of fun photos from 2006 that sum up the year for me:

Charlie and The Chocolate Factory Celebration Dinner

Me on the Hallowed Turf

Looking Out

I am Pleased

Dapper Fellows

Lucas and Ziah

Triumvirate of evil

Prom 23

I Shall Sing All The Songs

Gazing at The Thames

Strange Family Ritual

Wooded Path

John Renbourn

'troos, and Soul Food

We Have Grog


Everyone a Rembrandt

The Realisation That She May Have Made a Terrible Mistake

Todd T. Dog Esq.

Griffon Bruxellois and Groupie

Food Glorious Food

Labels: , ,

Sunday, December 24, 2006

And Now Relax...

Presents, originally uploaded by Mr Atrocity.

Well I think my chores are all done. I've got all the food we're going to need in, I have the wine. I've done a metric shitload of washing, I've tidied up my computer so it's a happy little beastie again. I've tidied much of the house and the kitchen is clean.

The last task was wrapping presents for the family which is also now done. My mum sent T a little present which arrived in the post wrapped in brown paper and string. I assume that there's regular wrapping paper underneath but I was struck by how lovely parcels wrapped in brown paper are. This led me to decide to use parcel paper (like the stuff my current sketchpad is made of) for wrapping the family presents. To jazz it up a little I thought ribbons would set the paper off nicely and chose the russet as a colour that would glam up the paper without clashing with it. I love getting and wrapping presents for the family and my friends. It's one of the few time that we in the West get a little "Japanese" about something. We're very cavalier here and don't take time on presentation and careful decision-making. Wrapping presents is like making sushi. The right elements have to brought together with consideration and style. It's a chance for everyone to express a little of themselves in a creative fashion. Wonderful.

So now I'm all done. I shall go for a walk up One Tree Hill in a few minutes, then get some mulled wine on the hob when I return ready for Tinseltroos' arrival. I'm so excited that we get to spend Christmas together. After that I shall be off on a bit of an odyssey to see the scattered family so blogging may well be light or non-existent for the next few days.

Because I almost certainly won't even have the computer switched on tomorrow, let alone have time for posting I'll wish you all a very happy Christmas holiday now. Hope you have a wonderful time.

Mr. A.

Labels: ,

Saturday, December 23, 2006

The Fog

The Fog 3, originally uploaded by Mr Atrocity.

This week there's been some thick fog in and around London. It's become newsworthy because of hundreds of canceled or delayed flights into Gatwick and Heathrow airports. For me it's meant rather pretty colours on my morning walks to work when the sky is cloudless.


New Fox on the Block

New Fox on the Block, originally uploaded by Mr Atrocity.

A while back I complained that a Soho institution, "The Intrepid Fox", a goth pub on a site that had contained a pub for more than two hundred years had been forced to close, apparently because of plans by the new lease-holders to "develop" the building, I assumed into flats no-one could afford. That does not seem to have happened. The old building on Wardour Street is boarded up with "To Let" signs all over it. It appears therefore that these idiots have kicked out a successful business in order to try extort an even higher rent from some other luckless bastard and, having failed in this attempt, have been left with an empty building in a prime spot in Soho doing nothing. My tiny mind boggles.

In happier news, the Fox lives on. "The Intrepid Fox", complete with its iconic gargoyle over the door has re-opened just off Charing Cross Road. It's in a modern building which doesn't have the Dickensian charm of the old site but at least its spirit of individuality continues. We must be thankful for small mercies.

Labels: , ,

Thursday, December 21, 2006


These are the four latest doodles in my sketch book. I've been doing these whilst waiting for renders on HPatOotP and they probably provide deep insight into my psyche though I lack the psychology training to interpret them. Today was my last day of work for the year as I took tomorrow off as annual leave. I shall make myself a beef sandwich with homemade horseradish sauce from my fabulous friend LC who had it cheekily couriered over to me at her employer's expense this afternoon and partner this king of dishes with a glass of beer and a movie. I think it's finally holiday time.

Drawing 1

Drawing 2

Drawing 3

Drawing 4

A Year On

I hardly noticed but The Renaissance Monkey was one yesterday, and re-reading the entry it turned out to be quite prophetic. Happy Birthday little blog.

Looking at the entries though, a year ago today I wrote the first proper entry so today's the anniversary of actually doing something. A whole year of rants, screeds, piffle, hogwash and tripe (and recipes, though none have yet featured tripe). I hope someone apart from me was at least a bit entertained by some of it and if not, I'm very sorry but I don't see the standard of prose improving much in the next year.

Cheers! *clinks glass*

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Like, Way Cool

Labels: ,

Monday, December 18, 2006

Of Etchings and Beef

It's been a hectic weekend socially. T and I took Friday off work which was just as well since it had been another insanely busy week of deadlines. During the day we did the majority of our Christmas shopping. I'm a pretty brutal shopper. I decide what I want to get and then I launch a guerilla style assault on the shops till it's done. This meant that by the time we met back up for lunch I'd covered some serious mileage and was knackered. I did get a fairly major self-indulgence though which I hadn't planned. I'd decided to get my dad a Victorian print and dutifully pottered off up Museum Street and had a look-see. I did find a beautiful little portrait for him but I also found a something for me too. It is reasonably well understood by those who know me that I adore the work of Piranesi, the 18th Century master of copper plate etching. The shop I obtained my dad's present from had a few examples of the Roman Verdute etchings and to cut a long story short after much deliberation I bought one, and it's utterly beautiful - he really was astonishing.

Fred C Dobbs and Mrs De Winter

Friday evening rolled around and brought the work Christmas party. This year it was fancy dress, the theme being black and white films and TV. this presents a bit of a problem for the bearded as the 20s to the 50s were noted for being highly non-beard friendly times and I really struggled to come up with characters I could carry off. In the end I opted for Fred C. Dobbs, the character in "Treasure of the Sierra Madre" played by Humphrey Bogart. T went as the second Mrs. De Winter from Hitchcock's "Rebecca", and she looked beautiful. We didn't win the best costume prizes but we did get drunk and have a good time.

On Sunday I cooked roast beef and all the trimmings for several of my friends. I got a 9lb 12oz joint of beef rib and as always, William Rose Butchers did not disappoint; it was delicious. I shall be having beef sandwiches for a few days to come too. Mmm.

Arty 17th Century Dutch Still Life Thing

Me And Lots of Cow

Food Glorious Food

And then there was much cheese brought by my lovely guests and a drink or two to round off the afternoon.

No, This One!

This is one of the several plates of cheeses, truffles and other goodies.

A Perfect Manhattan

I'm back at work with avengence but it was such a lovely weekend that it really isn't so bad, though I'm grateful I only have another three days of this craziness before I can stop for the holidays.

Labels: , , ,

Thursday, December 14, 2006

Over the Next Week I Must...

  1. Buy Christmas presents for everyone.
  2. Finish off HPatOotP work for current deadline.
  3. Get the last bits of costume for the work fancy dress party.
  4. Get food in for Christmas.
  5. Cook Sunday Roast for chums.
  6. Wrap presents for all and sundry.
  7. Sort out Christmas cards.
  8. Find another controller for the Wii so we can play multi-player things.
  9. Chase up my missing train tickets for getting to my dad's over the hols.
  10. Finally put togther the calendar of submission dates for all the short-film festivals I can find.
  11. Get booze for Christmas (looking at the above this may be a larger order than I'd thought).
  12. Tidy my room which looks like a demilitarised zone at the moment.
  13. Get a haircut.
  14. Sort through clothes that need to go to charity shop.
  15. Do a lot of washing.

And then when I've done all that I can relax. Phew. Zzzz.

Dog Tired

Shiny New, Same Old?

Terrified of obsolescence I have upgraded to the New Blogger Beta which promises a whole host of stuff (or something). If anything has asploded/no longer works/works worse than it used to, please let me know and I can try smacking my head against the problem until it is fixed or I give up and sit down with an aspirin and a large drink.

In other news I have converted my flatmate to the joys of the Perfect Manhattan. Sipping those whilst watching "Where Eagles Dare" was the height of decadence last night.

Labels: ,

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Giraffe Out

Giraffe Out, originally uploaded by Mr Atrocity.

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Wii Face and Other Silliness

Wii Face, originally uploaded by Mr Atrocity.

It's been a frenetic weekend and Monday. I worked Saturday (again) as progress on HPatOotP has been like wading through treacle in heavy boots recently. Fortunately I was able to finish by about 5 p.m. and head home to cook T some stuffed peppers for dinner.


Sunday was much better. We went to London Zoo. I cannot remember the last time I went to a zoo. I must have been pretty small though as I have only the faintest memory. In the manner of all good spiritual five year olds you have to choose favourite animals regardless of their endangeredness or whatever. I like the penguins (obviously), the tigers, the tapir, the giraffes and all the monkeys especially the golden lion tamarins, which have small grumpy faces somewhat akin to a pug.

Yesterday I wanted to give Jeff Bezos a big, wet kiss. T and I decided to get ourselves a Wii as our Christmas present to ourselves. Amazon had said that delivery would be on or around the 16th December as despite getting up early and going as fast as I could through the pre-order fiasco I missed the first delivery so launch day came and went with no Wii. Monday didn't. T received the games in the morning, which was clearly some sort of tease to get us even more excited and then upon returning from a meeting mid-afternoon there was a large Amazon box waiting on my desk. I almost burst with excitement, then I showed T and she almost burst with excitement, then as news of our arrival spread around the studio there were other pockets of explosive excitement, tinged with jealousy.

Upon getting it home we played Rayman Raving Rabbids and the Wii Sports. It became really obvious very quickly what a superb little machine it is. It's so socially driven. You wave the remotes you can see me holding around to perform actions in the games so it's immediately more expressive and physical than your typical console and it encourages people to join in. Sisoftroos also partook of the merriment and collectively we had hysterical fun, throwing cows, playing bowling, dancing with rabbits, filling rabbit's snorkels with carrot juice (natch) and so on. I think this console is going to be huge, it encourages non-hardcore gamers to play, and that's the key, it allows everyone to play, not just spotty fifteen year old boys (both actual and spiritual).

Monday, December 11, 2006

Google File Search Syntax

?intitle:index.of? mp3 jigglypuff

will return lists of files with names containing "mp3" and "jigglypuff". Very handy.

Saturday, December 09, 2006

Shaftesbury Avenue at Dusk

Shaftesbury Avenue at Dusk, originally uploaded by Mr Atrocity.

The view from our studio. I've been seeing a lot of our office recently, but when it looks like that out of the window I don't mind so much.

Blogging is Light

Work has once again utterly dominated my life this week, thus I have nothing of pith or moment to write about. Actually, one bit of celeb gossip, T and I had breakfast at The Breakfast Club, a newly opened cafe in Soho prior to going to work. As we dined in came Keira Knightly and entourage. I suspect she had a tiny pastry for breakfast rather than the enormous fry-up that graced my plate. So I had a brush with fame over a latte.

Since it's resolutely now December, it's probably time for all the retrospective fun and games to begin. So I'll kick off with the albums that were new to me in 2006 that I liked best. In no particular order then:

Simple Kid's second album, the imaginatively titled "2" sees more of the guitar/banjo/sampling/drum-beats music of the equally brilliantly titled "1" of a couple of years ago. Akin to an Irish version of Beck, without the Scientology, SK's songs feel more homely and about a life that I recognise living whilst maintining a sense of humour about the whole thing. A very lovely record, it feels intimate yet never maudlin or lachrymose.

Circulus' second album is a more polished affair than "Lick on the Tip of an Envelope" but the ingredients of medieval revivalism mixed with 70s prog rock remain. There are few albums on which songs about faeries feature Moogs paired with a shawm, but here that is the norm. Brilliantly whimsical and wilfully eccentric, Circulus are a band whose philiosphy I find it easy to endorse and music I find it impossible not to smile whilst listening to.

Occupying similar territory to Kate Bush or Bjork, Bat for Lashes leader, Natasha Kahn, adds an ethereal vocal quality to these densely layered songs of love and loss. The waters run deep here, the multi-intrumental skills of the other 4 members of the group provide rich texture on every track. Their collection of obscure vintage musical instruments is put to good use creating broad sweeping landscapes of sound over which Kahn's voice can soar. The best debut of the year for my money.

At the other end of the age range, these two veterans of The Pentangle and The Incredible String Band, John Renbourn and Robin Williamson combine on this live album to form what they tentatively call The Impenetrable String Tangle a delicious pun that's indicative of the humour they bring along with the magical history of British folk music. Both master musicians, they work together to weave a beautiful spell which I was fortunate to see live myself earlier in the year. Two master craftsmen at their best.

Sounding as if they come from Eastern Europe A Hawk and a Hacksaw in fact hail from Mexico. Frenetic rhythms and bizarre musical arrangements on this epoymously titled album make this a challenging but very rewarding listen.

I was fortunate enough to see this at The Proms this year, and knew nothing of it beforehand. Very very beautiful. Nuff said.

Max Richter has done a lot of work with The Future Sound of London and much of their slightly ambient aesthetic is on show here. It's a classical album featuring a string quartet and piano accompanied by music concrete and occasional pieces of voice over. A very haunting album, it's best appreciated in moments alone.

Ralph Vaughan Williams' bawdy take on Shakespeare's "A Midsummer Night's Dream" is deeply and profoundly English and I love it for that. I was taken to see this at the ENO this year and was very grateful for the opportunity. It's seldomly performed which is shame as it's a fabulous piece of light opera.

"Unknown Terrirtory" is a recent album by Dick Dale, the king of Surf Guitar. Age has not dimmed his ability nor his ferocious energy as evinced by this high-octane album. Very like AC/DC in his single-minded devotion to a certain style and tempo you know exactly what you're going to get with a Dick Dale record and this one does not disappoint. If you have to get something done, or you feel your energy levels flagging, this is the album for you.