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Archive for the Category "General"

Britain’s Got Talent – No Really, it does… May 30

If the viewing figures are to be believed almost a quarter of the UK’s population is wrapped up in the fever of ITV’s Britain’s Got Talent. As I write this the bookies favourite is still Susan Boyle at 8/11. The rest of the final line up are Aidan Davis (4/1), Shaheen Jafargholi (8/1), Stavros Flatley (9/1), Flawless (10/1), Julian Smith (12/1), Diversity (10/1), Hollie Steel (16/1), Shaun Smith (33/1) and 2 Grand (50/1).

Personally I’ve never liked the attitude shown on screen by Susan Boyle and if alleged reports of her ranting and swearing are to be believed, it wouldn’t surprise me – From what I’ve seen it would be in line with the personality I’ve seen so far. In agreement with a comment made yesterday on the BBC Breakfast News, I think she doesn’t have as angelic a voice as everyone was convinced when watching her audition for the first time.

She has a powerful and generally good singing voice, that much is true, but I consider most of the wow factor to come from the fact that she walked out on stage and based on her appearance, everyone assumed she would be bad or mediocre at best. I think it’s somewhat more telling of the western world that only “beautiful” or “normal” people are considered likely to have talent…

Someone like Shaun Smith proves the point, in that he looks the part we’d expect of a professional singer and he has a fantastic voice – his version of U2’s With or Without You was incredible and yet despite singing with far more conviction and talent than Ms Boyle, the bookies have placed him 9th by the odds. There wasn’t so much wow factor as people most likely assumed he could sing.

To his credit Shaun never tried to be Bono when singing his semi final choice of song and it’s probably a good thing too, as Bono can reach and hold those long high notes. However, he brought his own style to the song and as far as this U2 fan is concerned, he nailed it. The same could not be said for Susan’s performance of Memory, which despite the positive finish, was shaky at the start to say the least.

If the first semi final had been voted for on talent alone, then the final would have included both Diversity and Sue Son, who despite her excellent performance had already been branded the villain after some dubious press coverage made her out to be self-serving at the expense of her friendship. Although somewhat harsh, Simon Cowell summed it up in the first semi final when he commented that Sue was talented and her friend wasn’t. She had been put in a difficult position and in all honesty I think most people would have made the decision she did and most likely with less thought to the possible impact on their friendship.

There was at least one other act that should have made the final based on talent, but the judges put through the wrong act and that meant young Callum Francis’ endearing smile and fantastic take on the Jungle Book ended in the semi finals. Sweet as 2 Grand is, I don’t think they were the better act on the night. All being well Callum will be given his chance at the West End/Broadway, as he clearly deserves it.

But the fact remains neither Sue nor Callum made the finals and therefore I have to look at the acts that did go through. Based on the talent and performances in the semi finals, my personal pecking order would be: Julian, Shaheen, Flawless, Shaun, Stavros, Diversity, Aidan, Susan, 2 Grand and Hollie. As you can see Susan wouldn’t even make my top 5.

I know that my considering Stavros more talented than say Diversity or Aidan would be considered controversial, but their talent isn’t in their dancing – it’s in their ability to entertain and that they have done by the Fez load. I can’t deny, but part of me would love it if they won and got to perform in front of the queen.

Personally though, I’d love to see Julian Smith take the night. He’s humble, inspirational, cool and most importantly talented, but I suspect that it won’t be talent that wins in tonight’s final. At the very least, he should get to release an album off the back of this and I’d certainly buy it.

So enjoy the final of “Britain’s Got Popular Voting” and just pray that my scepticism is wrong.

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Customising your WordPress Blog May 28

One of the things I like about running my own WordPress Blog, is the ease with which I can customise the functionality and the layout of the site.

I’d recently loaded my Blog and realised that the front page had become ridiculously long. As such my customisation plans included the desire to control the number of posts showing on the front page. A quick Google search of “how do I control the number of posts on front page wordpress” and Voilà I’d found a couple of worthwhile results to explore.

Having settled on Scott Reilly’s Custom Post Limits and installed it, I’ve got to say nothing could have been easier to setup. Unlike the default WordPress setting that is globally applied to all pages, I now have the ability to separately control the number of posts shown on the front page as well as all other sections of my Blog.

For anyone looking for new Plugins for your WordPress Blog, I’d highly recommend taking a look at the Plugin Directory and Coffee 2 Code

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Seriously why?!? Mar 28

I do realize that in comparison to the dot-com generation, I’m no doubt getting a tad long in the tooth, but I do consider myself to be technically savvy and while I may not be the quickest to jump on every technological bandwagon, I do think I’m fairly up to date for my age…

Worryingly, I’ve just found out what the Twitter phenomenon is all about after spending the last several months believing it was going to be another MySpace, Facebook or Blogging type service. I guess I can only blame myself for not bothering to look into what Twitter actually did, but having just followed a Google search onto someone’s Twitter site, I figured “what the heck”, let’s find out what Twitter actually is.

Quoted from Twitter’s own home page:

Twitter is a service for friends, family, and co–workers to communicate and stay connected through the exchange of quick, frequent answers to one simple question: What are you doing?

It was at this point that the light bulb came on and I suddenly pieced together all the separate references to Twitter that I’d seen, previously. My instant thought:

Why oh why would anyone actually be interested in a constant feed of inane dribble from complete strangers, yet alone their own friends, family or co-workers? It’s not communication, it’s verbal diarrhoea…

Let’s face it, this ability to update the world in an instance on what you’re doing is only really possible because of mobile Internet found on virtually every up to date mobile phone or PDA type device. If this service was not available from mobile devices and only from in front of a computer, people would probably stick to Facebook or Blog’s.

The Internet is fantastic for giving people like myself the ability to have an audience, where previously this was the exclusive right of the press, broadcasting media or book authors, all of whom would have had their work scrutinized before being released to the masses. Equally, the costs involved are generally prohibitive to those amateurs, who could only aspire to work in those fields professionally.

I can sit here and write my Blog about anything I chose to, knowing that it’s there for someone to find. In reality I do not even need to worry as to whether anyone is bothering to read what I have to say – it hasn’t cost me anything. Not all Blog’s are useful or interesting and with millions of people writing them, covering a hugely diverse range of subjects, it should at least be possible to find a Blog that you’ll consider of interest.

While I can’t deny that at first I found the status feature in Facebook to be novel and a bit of fun, I soon came to the conclusion of who really cares what I’m up to at that moment in time.

While the following may seem a tad extreme, the logical sense in my mind is that should everyone in the world Twitter, then I would foresee the art of conversation dying further as why would people need to find out how the other person is, as they will already have announced it to the world.

In reality this shouldn’t actually happen as I’ve generally found people need social interaction, but considering how much of an impact lazy text speak has had on the English language in the last 10 years or so I can see that there will be plenty more changes to come – I just hope some of them are for the better…

Twitter or Blog? – Suspecting that no one out there actually wants to know: when I’m hungry; when I need a pee; that I’m nervous for that job interview or any of the other countless status updates that people tell the world, for me it’ll always be a foregone conclusion, as my Blog allows me far more room to witter in general…

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Don Diego by day, Zorro as a Hero… Mar 11

Zorro“We kindly ask that anyone wishing to eat wrapped sweets during tonight’s performance do so quitely.”

These weren’t the words that I expected to hear prior to the actors taking the stage in the West End theatre production of Zorro. I was expecting the seriousness of Romance, the angst of the belittled residents of early California and Swashbuckling adventure and sword play, but not humour. It was a pleasant surprise to say the least and fitted in perfectly.

Of course I should have remembered that all of these elements could be found in the last two cinematic outings for our hero Zorro. Having enjoyed  Antonio Banderas’ Mask of Zorro and Legend of Zorro, I entered the Garrick theatre with high hopes and great expectations.

I can happily say that I walked out just under three hours later, still humming along to the music of the Gipsy Kings having thoroughly enjoyed the swash-buckling adventure of Diego; the son of the popular local Don of the peublo; a gypsy showman; a mild-mannered gentleman of peace and above all else, the greatest swordsman in California.

With a mixture of songs created for the show as well as a number of popular tracks from the French Gypsy Latino band Gipsy Kings, the music is stirring (Entrada), emotional (Libertad, In one Day), familar (Bamoleo, Baila Me and Djobi Djoba) and fun (One more Beer).

For me I found nothing to fault in the acting, clear singing and sets, but I did feel that the two things that stood out for me the most were the sword play from Matt Rawle’s Don Diego and the Gypsy Inez, played sublimely by Lesli Margherita. If it wasn’t the comical nature of her character, it was the way she purposefully exaggerated her rolling R’s for suitable effect.

In summary I would highly recommend Zorro, especially for anyone who grew up wishing they were rescuing the damsel playing out the roles of such characters as Robin Hood, Sinbad, d’Artagnan and of course Zorro. Of course if on the otherhand you dreamed of being swept off your feet by any of those adventerous heroes, then prehaps you might find yourself wishing that Zorro will carry you out of the theatre to the envy of all your friends…

Please note: For those of you like me, who suffer from a case of “long leg syndrome”, it’s worth being aware that even with my 6′ 4″ frame I had no problem sitting in the stalls and would happily recommend row F seats 9 and 10.

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