Friday, 17 April 2009

...and it stopped, short, never to go again when the old man died.

Clocks stop when people die. It happened to Richard Feynman's wife. However, he wasn't the sort to believe that the two events were connected in any supernatural way. A quick Google on the subject will lead you to numerous accounts of his earthly explanation for what actually happened.

My problem is less about clocks stopping, and more to do with earphones becoming muffled.

I listen to a lot of music. Every day, I spend about 45 minutes each way on the walk to/from work listening to music from my phone.

I have a problem finding earphones which don't fall out of my ears as I'm walking - I probably have especially slippery ears, or weirdly shaped ears - who knows. In any case, I've found several sets now which don't fall out.

However, within a couple of months, every set I have suffers the same problem. It's happened to earphones from Bose, Sennheiser and even the cheap £4.99 ones from Dixons.

After a couple of months, the left earpiece becomes muffled. The right one is fine, but the left one has almost all of the treble missing. I've tried putting the left ear-piece into my right ear just to check that it's not my left ear at fault, and it still sounds muffled compared with the right-hand earpiece.

So there is obviously something about my left ear which causes this to happen to earphones from different manufacturers and of different designs.

I know the explanation isn't supernatural; but I'm out of ideas on this one. Any suggestions?

Tuesday, 14 April 2009

Comeback failures

The story is a familiar one. A TV series finishes, a band breaks up or a writer stops writing. Then, ten years later, then either the royalties have stopped pouring in, or old hatchets have been buried, the cast/band/writer gather themselves together and decide to have a comeback.

I'm not talking about an artist taking a couple of years between albums (which the press now seem to deem a comeback) but I'm talking about The Eagles recording "Hell Freezes Over" or Pink Floyd playing at Live8. I'm also talking about "Red Dwarf: Back To Earth" which was shown on Dave here in the UK over this weekend.

More often that not, the result of a comeback is not an incredible return to form. And certainly the new work very rarely reaches the expectations of the fans who are clamouring for the return in the first place.

This weekend was a case in point. Red Dwarf: Return to Earth certainly wasn't diabolical. It had a good central idea, and a few good jokes. But it certainly wasn't the glorious return of an old friend which it had been billed as. It may have worked as an episode in the middle of a series ten years ago (in fact, if you've seen the episode "Back To Reality" then you may argue that the plot may already had appeared in a series a few years ago...).

There is a reason why groups split up. Sometimes it's because of internal differences and sometimes it's because their creativity is spent. And I'd argue that quite often the former is as a result of the tension which ensues from the latter.

Generally the nostalgia for what used to be (what other kind of nostalgia is there?) can sustain a group for a greatest hits tour, or a special of a TV series but it's rare for that to carry forwards into a successful new album, or a successful new series. The only two examples I can think of in recent years are Doctor Who and Take That. (I could write at length on the former, and hardly at all on the latter.)

It makes me have respect for ABBA, the cast of Blackadder, the cast of Fawlty Towers and a few others I could mention who are quite happy to be interviewed about the past, but resist calls (and enormous sums of money) to get the show on the road again.

One of the guys from ABBA, quoting Robert Plant - I think, once said if ABBA were to go on tour now, they would be a tribute act covering their own songs. It's just a shame that a few others don't see that...

Sunday, 12 April 2009

Well well well – it’s been a while

It’s Easter already – it’s amazing just how quickly this year is flying by.  It may be Easter Sunday, but I have so far managed to keep my chocolate cravings at bay and only flirted slightly with them by giving in to the temptation of a hot chocolate in Victoria Park earlier today.

Since I last wrote in here, I’ve decided to give Twitter a go again.  I tried a long while ago, but ran out of steam after writing a few tweets.  I’ve tried to embed a twitter thing in this page, so hopefully you can see some of my Tweets are you’re reading this, but if you can’t, you’ll find me at http://www.twitter.com/dan_mcneil 

You can follow me on twitter too, if you like – I’m not ashamed to beg for people to follow me so I can look popular… ;-)

I’m finding Twitter quite interesting.  I think it’s harder to be funny/interesting/whatever in just a hundred-and-something characters compared with the endless space given over to writing in here.  Let’s see whether I manage it.  I promise to avoid writing tweets along the lines of “I am having my breakfast” and other such random drivel.  I shall try to make every one interesting.  “Try” being the operative word there.