Tuesday, February 28, 2006

Red Hot Chilli Peppers

Todays top tip. Don't under any circumstance think about rubbing your eyes after preparing fresh chilli peppers. I was playing with chilli peppers a couple of hours ago and just now rubbed my eyes.Jeeeezuz crucking almighty. It's not funny. And we eat these things?They ought to be labelled hazardous to human life.Even after washing my face four times my eyelids still sting.
OK you can laugh now. It is actually funny.

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The Rifles


I went to see the guys at "The Evening Telegraph" today. They are really impressed with my latest photos. They want me to move up a notch and start taking photos of more important bands for them. So Friday I'm doing a photo shoot of "The Rifles" They are a Yorkshire band compared favourably with The Jam. I've checked out the website and it seems they've died before they started but maybe.... just maybe... they've got their act together. We'll see

meanwhile

Rock on dudes (you know you want to)

Mikel Posted by Picasa

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Sunday, February 26, 2006

Opaque Album Launch

You just wouldn't believe how much fun it is taking music photos in London. Last Friday I photographed the Album Launch gig of Opaque It was brilliant. The guy at the box office wasn't given the guest list so everyone had to pay to get in. Except me. I blagged it as usual by saying the one magic word. "Press" Straight in no messin'.
The same thing happened when I wanted to get into the VIP areas and backstage. No one questions someone who is confident. But aside from that the venue was great to take photos in. The lighting incredible. I was mucking about with using flash and not using flash just to get the effects I could imagine. There's a load more photos of the gig -->here<-- I personally think they're a cut above my usual standard. This is my idea of photography.

Rock on dudes Posted by Picasa

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Friday, February 24, 2006

Madness

This story goes on and on. The latest is Helenes husband, yes she's still married and can't get rid of the bastard, has said he will follow her to the West Indies and play recorder for the American Tourists (sic). She tells me she will have to kill him. It's the only way to get rid herself of him.
Now I must explain that her husband plays recorder, yes the childrens instrument, he practices night and day, much to the dismay of their children. Now he might be very good at the recorder, but no one takes him seriously. Not even his own children. He's even threatened to quit his job so he can get some practice in, if his own children wont let him practice in the evenings. Is this guy for real?
I can't see playing recorder for the Americans is going to be a big draw for the crowds at Martines Gallery.

Meanwhile tonight was another crazy night taking photos of bands. I was doing a job for the local paper, shooting the Battle of the Bands competition at "The Solstice" at the same time as shooting "The Unity Club", opposite sides of the city. I couldn't believe the winners tonight. A four piece girl band "Playful rays" none of them older than fifteen years old singing (or shouting) songs about "you aint gonna fuck me, you aint gonna touch me." They aint getting anywhere. I guess they had the cute factor on their side.
God I've got seven more weeks of this. Who said being a photographer was fun?
Then at Unity we had Tom playing keyboards who was so pissed he didn't know what he was doing. And a comedian/ guitarist who couldn't play guitar, couldn't sing and wasn't funny. But then we had James Chadwick who was brilliant. You could easily cry yourself to sleep after hearing this guy play, he is so brilliant. Watch out for that name James Chadwick he is going to be big.

I've got to go to bed now I've got to go to London after work tomorrow to photograph an album launch for the local paper, all expenses paid. WE don't get back 'til 03:00am and I have to work the next day. Zombie city.

Hells teeth! Batman, when do we get to sleep?

Rock on dudes

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Thursday, February 23, 2006

It's a Small World

So I'm agonising over whether to go to the Caribbean to work in an Art gallery and who should text me but Helene. Saying "Guess what? I've been offered a job by Martine Coton working in her Gallery in the French West Indies."It's a small world.Martine was quick off the mark. No sooner had I declined the offer than she got in contact with my ex amour Helene (She's the one in "my novel". So the fact that we (Martine and I)have sat naked on the beach together doesn't count for anything? I'm gutted.I only said no tentatively not definitely. I needed time to think. To mull things over. To weigh up the pros and cons. But apparently she's exhausted. She can't continue by herself. It's too much for one person, and all the time she's selling paintings she doesn't have time to paint more. So eventually she will grind to a halt. So it seems she's flying Helene over to Guadaloupe in favour of me.Piss Shit and Arse'oles.There's a lesson to be learnt here. Grab it while the iron is hot.
I was in a nightclub tonight taking photos. This young girl ran up to me and wrapped herself round my neck, I didn't know her, but she seemed to know me. I wasn't bothered. She was just someone, anyone, a brief moment in a blink of time.But as I sit here I can smell her perfume on me. It's most disturbing. I can't even tell you what she looked like, apart from she was shorter than me by at least six inches and younger by at least twenty years. But her perfume lingers on, tormenting me. Helene wore a very similar perfume. It does stuff to you....
Rock on Dudes

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Monday, February 20, 2006

The Offer Of A Lifetime


Dontcha just hate it. I had a phone call this morning from the French West Indies. A French Artist friend of mine, Martine Coton, called to repeat the job offer I had three years ago. That is to run an Art Gallery / shop in Guadaloupe. It seems she is so busy running her own Art gallery, she hasn't time to paint the pictures to replenish the stocks. So she wants me to take over the Art gallery so she can sit on the palm fringed beaches painting her exotic pictures.
Why me? Because I speak English and although it's the French West Indies they are getting shit loads of American tourists. There's more to it than just speaking English, she know I have a passion for Art and I'm a business man, which is what she needs.
Oh God! Can you see me living in the tropics? Sipping beer on the beach? Taking money off Americans? Taking photos of exotic sunsets and selling them. When I could be living here, in the cold and damp, scratching a living selling paper bags for vacuum cleaners. (amongst other things).
Yes I can too.
But then reality rears it's ugly head. I have responsibilities here. I run the family business and if I take off, half my family is out of work. My children need me here. (until they are established themselves). So reluctantly I had to decline the offer for the second time.
But it's a great dream, living the life as an ex patriate, never having to wear a suit again, (not that I wear suits now), never having to endure another black dog winter, living a simple life under the palm trees.
Well that would cover six months of the year the other six months would be in France running the second gallery in Pont Aven. Pont Aven is the French equivalent of St Ives in cornwall a mecca for art lovers.
So it'd be April to September in France then October until March in the West Indies.
They say as you get older you gain baggage. Well I've got a shit load. I guess over the next few years I've got to shed all this baggage and start again. Become a free spirit. Sometimes I think the life I have is a millstone round my neck.
Meanwhile there's fun to be had taking photos of bands.

Rock on Dudes

PS Todays photo was taken on a dull dreary day with the wind cutting through me. It's heavily cropped. But I loved the sight of all those birds just toughing it out on the telephone lines. I need a longer lens. Posted by Picasa

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Friday, February 17, 2006

Falling Into Place

Finally it's happening. I'm getting the recognition I need. Last night while photographing the local "Battle of the Bands" competition I chanced upon the editor of the local paper, in fact he chanced on, and collared me.
"I'm glad you're here." he said, "it's like pulling teeth to get my people to photograph bands."
Whoopee! So we had a chat and the local paper is officially endorsing me as a freelance photojournalist. Fabulous!
My first job as an official media photographer is to go on an all expenses paid junket to the Café de Paris, Leicester Square, London, for the launch party of an album. I can do that and get back in time to get the photos into the the news office.

What this endorsement actually means is I can now apply for a press pass and not have to lie. I just tell them I'm working for the local paper and they will confirm it for me. Meanwhile last night was a whirl of activity trying to cover 5 bands in two different venues each on the opposite side of town to each other.
But in all that I did catch one band called Moosejaw.
They were a little hard to categorise being a rock band with a country flavour with a little Nick Cave thrown in for good measure. The lead singer looks like a school teacher complete with Corduroy jacket. Which isn't surprising because he really is a school teacher.

Rock on dudes Posted by Picasa

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Tuesday, February 14, 2006

Taking photos

It's not all fun and glamour being a photographer. Over the weekend I had been commissioned to take photos at a Masons dinner dance. Oh joy! First job take photos of everybody as the arrive for the meet and greet. Half of them didn't know what day of the week it was. Pose?
OK at least pretend you've arrived together. Before the couple march off in different directions.
Dinner was interesting Salmon with crushed potato. Crushed potato? I guess due to the lumps it was mashed potato not very well mashed.
Then later I had to take pics for the local Evening Paper, the presentation by the masons of a cheque for £500 to the head of the local Renal Unit. I had barely got into postion when the cheque was handed over. No posing no standing there shaking hands smiling for the camera just a "here's yer cheque now bugger off"
"Cheers mate. That'll do for the Christmas bash."
I had to stage a rerun after wards explaining that we need to actually get a photo not a photofinish of a race.

There's no pix with this post they're all too too boring.

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Thursday, February 09, 2006

The Washing Machine Dilemma

So you want to buy a new washing machine?
Oh dear! oh dear! oh dear!
It's a mine field. Do you buy the "A" energy rated one or the one with the faster spin? Do you go for the one with the five year parts warranty?
The Make
OK lets start with the make. Go for a brand you recognise like Creda, Hotpoint, Zanussi, Electrolux, Whirlpool. Because then you're going to be able to buy the spares easily.
If you buy a Miele not only will you find spares difficult to source they'll cost you an arm and a leg. Well the arm up to the elbow anyway. But to be fair they're so well built you rarely need spares.
What about Proline or Matsui or other strange makes. Forget it. They may be cheap but you'll fall at the first hurdle if only the smallest thing goes wrong. So think before you buy a cheapo washer, ask where can you get spares, don't accept "Oh anywhere." get a name and address and number of a supplier.

Spin speed
So you think you want a faster spin machine? So you think a 1400 spin is going to dry the clothes any better than a 800? Think again. It's basic physics. To be able to have a faster spin you may notice that the drums are smaller. So what you gain psychologically by having a fast spin speed you lose in reality by having a smaller drum. The other downside is these really fast drum speeds fuck up the bearings quicker than the slow speed ones. So it's a lose lose situation.

Functions
You like your gadgets don't you? You want a machine with 156 programmes. With more buttons and dials than Concorde. Why? There's more to go wrong. You barely need three programmes general wash, delicate wash, and boil (to get rid of the nasty bacteria that grow in your machine due to continual use of low temp detergents)so why pay for all that stuff you aren't going to use?

Washer Dryers
Don't! Unless you actually are really pushed for space or live on your own and only wear shorts and T-shirts all year round forget it. Don't let them tell you in Currys that a washer dryer is great because it isn't. You put in a full load and then have to take out half of it to dry it then put the other half back in later.
IMagine coming back off holiday and you need clothes fast. With a seperate machine you can be washing the next load while the first is drying. You can't with a washerdryer. Be warned...

Little gripes and miscellaneous
The manufacturers are moving on to cold fill only machines. Supposedly to save you money (you only heat the water you use). But it saves them money in production and they haven't reduced the price accordingly, and if you're in a hurry unless you fill it full of hot water through the detergent drawer , the wash cycle is longer because you have to wait for it to heat up before it even starts slosh sloshing.
The five year warranty. Don't start me on this one. Five year parts warranty? Pah! You only get your parts free of charge if you call the manufacturer out and they charge you £90 for the privelige. So if your hotpoint needs new carbons in the motor you get them free gratis thrown in with your £90 labour charge. Even the meanest local engineer will only charge you £40 to fit Hotpoint carbs. Or do it yourself for £14.50. So don't be too impressed with that one. It only pays if something really major goes wrong.
"I've had a *insert brand* for 20 years so I'll buy another one." Bollocks!
20 years ago they were all building machines to a higher standard than today, but with cost cutting and corner cutting they aint the same machines. It's not a valid argument to use.
For instance Bosch used to be up there with Miele. but they've dumbed down considerably trading on a past reputation that isn't being upheld. They will shoot themselves in the foot over this one soon.

So what do you buy?
I like to think of Washing Machines in terms of cars. That way the likes of Doctor Rob can get a handle on what's going on.
Your Prolines and other obscure brands = Seat or Old Skoda
Indesit = Ford Fiesta
Hotpoint/Creda = Ford Escort
Zanussi = Vauxhall
Bosch = Volkswagon
Miele = Bently/Rolls Royce

Beko/Teba/Teka/Technics Don't go there! = Trabant

Finally
For your delight and edification I have done a straw poll of all my washing machine engineer friends and asked them what they would buy right now if they had to. I asked for their top three. Miele was mentioned As was Whirlpool but interestingly although no two engineers had the same top three they all agreed that in that top three would always be Zanussi, 1st 2nd or 3rd it's always there.
So there you have it. The Mike Da Hat guide to Washing Machines.

I hope this helps Doctor Rob.

Rock on Dudes

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Monday, February 06, 2006

Spring is here

Last week there were no signs of spring. This week it's all happening. I found drifts of Snowdrops in the woods. Then after consultation with fellow walkers found a load of these yellow Winter Aconites.
Also in flower were Dogs mercury but you can be forgiven for missing them as the flowers are tiny green and insignificant. Poking their stems out of the ground were the first of the Bluebells promising a massive display in a months time. The first Lords and Laydees were growing deep in the woods they'll be flowering soon as well. This year I'm going to be publishing photos of the flowers as and when they appear. It starts today.
In between times it will be the usual music and other stuff.

Meanwhile

Rock on dudes

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Friday, February 03, 2006

The Real Little Finger Game

Last night at the night club I finally ran the competition for the "Little Finger Game". Here's the result, a fine collection of beautiful young laydees who were up for a laugh.
God! Don't you wish you had my job? It's such a lot of fun.
My personal favourite to win this competition is not Abi who you'd expect (bottom row second from right) but Mel (top row second from right) I think she's giving it maximum attitude.
But if you've got your opinions let me know. Maybe it's the other Mel (bottom row second from left) or Lisa (bottom left corner).
I wish I'd taken up this sort of photography years ago. Next week I'm going to suggest a wet T-shirt competition or as it's cold maybe just a seasonal best boobs competition. Watch out for the close ups. Heee Heee.

OK just to balance things out I also ran a "LIttle Finger Game" competition for the boys, so now you girls out there can vote on who you think is giving it maximum attitude.
My vote on this one goes to the guy in the top right hand corner who is giving it the hypnotic look. I can't see any of the other guys pulling based on their performances last night. But hey I'm just another guy perhaps you girls can see potential where I can't.

Meanwhile...Rock on dudes

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Thursday, February 02, 2006

The Sales Pitch

Due to the unexpected popularity of my mention of Dysons I thought I should mention one of the cardinal false selling points used by the likes of Currys and Comet etc to dupe you. IN fact it's not all their fault it's the manufacturers. It's not even the manufacturers it's you people who demand bigger and better so you get what you deserve.
So you want to buy a Vacuum cleaner?
What do you look for?
That's right the Wattage. So when the spotty faced oik in Currys tells you that this 'ere goblin sports a 1700w motor of course you're going to be well impressed especially as your old Hoover Turbo 2 only has a 1000w motor. So it's got to be better right?
Wrong! All the wattage really tells you is how fast that little disc in your meter cupboard is going to spin round and how much electricity it comsumes. It doesn't tell you how efficient the motor is.
For years Numatic (the makers of Henry) have been publishing their machines performance results in terms of vacuum in mmhg and in terms of cubic litres of air moved. The cynics amongst us will have noticed that no other manufacturer has taken this on board and all resort to saying "Yeah but it's got a two and a half kilowatt motor. so it's got to be better."

So poor old Henry has only a poxy little 1200w power rating. Compared with the latest Goblin at 2500W. What's the difference?
Well the old Henry motor has a huge fan chamber that creates a load of air movement thus suction.
The Goblin motor is a lot smaller the fans are less efficient. To get anywhere near the same suction the motor has to spin at much higher speeds.
Guess which motor wears out quicker and which lasts longer?
You don't need rocket science to work that out.

I hope this little sojourn into the miracle of salesmanship has enlightened you so next time you go and buy a vacuum cleaner you wont be fobbed off by stupid salesmen who don't know their arse from their elbow.
Next time we're back on track with tales of rock and roll, sex, debauchery and wild flowers.

Rock on dudes

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Wednesday, February 01, 2006

The Press Card

So I wrote an Email to the National Union of Journalists today to get a Press Card. It's not that easy. To qualify you have to earn 90% of your income as a journalist. I only earn pocket money so far so that hardly qualifies. I wrote back explaining this. I haven't had any reply yet.
I phoned a professional photographer friend of mine to ask if he had a press card. He hadn't.
"So how do you get around that?"
It seems what I have to do is write to the press office of each event and ask for a Media Acreditation form and fill it in. Then get a sponsor in the form of a publication. I could chance my luck and make up a fictitious magazine I'm working for but I'm going to try the regular route and get the glossy magazine I worked for recently to sponsor me.
Oh the trial and tribulations I have to go through just to get recognised as a professional photographer.
I'll let you know how things are going as and when they happen.
Meanwhile

Rock on dudes

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