Archive for January 2011


The music of goodbye: farewell John Barry

31.01.2011

It was with great sadness that I wrote an obit about my favourite composer, John Barry, today, and published it on the Lucire website.
   While Barry didn’t have to do with fashion per se, his music was often fitting themes to each era. Who can write a complete history of 1960s’ music without some of its anthems: Barry’s Goldfinger and Born Free themes must rank highly (the Academy thought so with the latter; ironic considering Born Free’s producer did not), and the haunting ‘We Have All the Time in the World’? Barry fans like me will point to even his 1970s’ output as brilliant, regardless of the merit of the film: Murphy’s War, King Kong and The Deep work as stand-alone works as far as I am concerned. This blog itself is named for a TV series for which Barry wrote the theme, The Persuaders. Somewhere in Time remains as haunting now as it did then; Barry’s contribution to Out of Africa made the film seem larger than it really was. John Barry had style—and style is the currency my magazines deal in.
   It’s easy to point to Barry’s major works, as the obits have done, but as I type, I can think of The Glass Menagerie, Across the Sea of Time, Masquerade and Swept from the Sea as excellent scores, too.
   Barry once said that he was very visual. It’s an odd comment from a composer, but what he probably meant was that he could find music to complement scenes that he saw. For someone who wanted to be a film composer since childhood, and taking every opportunity to get there, his is a career that many of us would rightfully envy. He loved what he did, was acclaimed for it, and managed to live his daily life in reasonable privacy.
   I understood the visual comment but it was hammered home best when, driving around Oriental Bay, I saw one of the ferries go out. At the same time, Barry’s Raise the Titanic theme came on my tape deck (this was a while ago).
   Now, a Wellington–Picton ferry is not the Titanic, but I was amazed at how well the theme complemented the sight of a ship in the harbour. It was then I realized just how hard it would be for a musician to convey images, and just what Barry meant. I defy anyone listening to the Raise the Titanic theme (presuming you can find it—mine was not conducted by Barry) to not get nautical images in your head when it’s played and your eyes are shut. That’s how good Barry was.
   I always knew at some point I would write John Barry’s obit. I didn’t expect it so soon, but then, I imagine, no one did. He’s the only celeb whose obit-writing caused me to tear up; when composer David Arnold Tweeted that he felt that ‘Mary’s Theme’ from Mary, Queen of Scots was fitting, I teared up a little more.
   For me, John Barry’s music is the music of my teenage years and my 20s. So much of what I did, I did to a Barry soundtrack. On Her Majesty’s Secret Service’s CD accompanied me into my first trip to Switzerland—like the experience with the ferry, it went with the snowy landscapes. As I bombed around Monaco and the South of France, it was The Persuaders’ theme (which I even referred to when I wrote a story about the experience). It was a further bond with my good friend, Richard Searle—when he got me out of some legal issues many years ago, a Barry biography was my gift to him; when I met Donna Loveday, the curator, Barry came up again—she even used one of his compositions at her wedding.
   It’s like a little bit of myself died today—that’s the feeling I get from the news. I never met John Barry nor did I meet anyone who knew him. The closest I got was Richard telling me he had been to a Barry concert, of which I was very jealous.
   But I am a fan, and will remain so till my days end. He was the only musician whose career I can say I followed for a majority of my lifetime. So this is how it feels to lose a celebrity whose work you truly admired.

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Posted in culture, interests, media, UK, USA | 3 Comments »


One for the Japanese-car buffs

30.01.2011

And with this, all the Toyota Coronas are on Autocade, with the exception of the Corona Mark II models (really forming a line in its own right).

Image:Toyota_Corona_EXiV_(ST200).jpgToyota Corona EXiV (ST200). 1993–8 (prod. unknown). 4-door hardtop sedan. F/F, F/A, 1838, 1998 cm³ (4 cyl. DOHC). Larger EXiV, still twinned with Carina ED, continuing the same formula as before. Wider than the 1,700 mm limit imposed by Japanese taxation laws and more expensive as a consequence. Rounder lines. Four-wheel drive from 1994. Deleted 1998 as these styles became less popular in the compact- and mid-sized sectors.

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Posted in cars, interests | No Comments »


There’s got to be a morning after Quora

25.01.2011

This blog post was originally published at Social Media NZ. Michael Moore-Jones has written a post in response here.

I read with interest Michael Moore-Jones’s review of Quora. He is very enthusiastic about the new website, and with some good reasons.
   I’m still in the “wait and see” camp. I joined, part of that 2011 rush he wrote about, though I had heard of the site earlier. However, I stumbled into Cwora, the spoof site, before I ever signed up into Quora.
   Quora is attractive for now because of the people on it. The folks who invited me I both respect, so, like other networks in their infancy, you think there’s a nice community of well educated people on it. But, will it always stay that way?
   I’m not entirely sceptical. I think Quora can grow, just as any other social network with a bit of momentum has grown for a period.
   However, I look at the flip side, too.
   I’m writing today after a few quiet days on Facebook and Twitter. The quietness is either down to winter blues (if you are in the northern hemisphere) or summer holidays (in the southern). Or, you can be cynical like me and say that people are “virtually socialized” out, that, after all this time on the two networks, we’re looking for other stimuli. Maybe real life?
   Facebook is, as it has been to me since I joined in 2006, a tool. I admit I have been suckered in to having it as a time-waster as well. But that seems to be out of my system. I’ve organized school reunions on it; I’ve played quizzes on it. Other than as a tool to talk to people, it no longer holds much appeal to me as a social network where I want to waste time.
   Twitter was ruined when the Twitbots started trawling the Twitterverse for other accounts to follow. I used to delete them as they came in. I can’t be bothered any more. Bots, follow away. Last week, I had nine consecutive bots follow me before I Tweeted a whinge and cheekily got a human (who un-followed and re-followed).
   Perhaps it’s the economy kicking off again. There are things to do, things we put on hold for a few years while we reoriented ourselves. Facebook—forget it, it’s not important. Tweetbots, why should I care?
   I wrote a few years ago, for one of the Happy About series of books predicting the following year, that people would go back to brands they trusted for online entertainment. That hasn’t happened—Facebook has continued to grow and become something that Altavista, Infoseek, Go and the like failed to in the 1990s. It has become a portal, somewhere where people go to before they even venture to the loo each morning, and where they can springboard to other places. Forget Google: Facebook has edited your interests for you.
   But is it happening now? That we’ve become so used to Facebook that it’s invisible? And if it is invisible, then maybe we’ve incorporated it into our lives so it’s no longer a novelty. We take it for granted, like television or radio. As a medium, it is noise. It’s just there.
   Not long ago, we of the Gen X years sat round the telly and enjoyed our two state-owned channels. There was a shared culture of everyone watching the same things. Because there was nothing else to watch. Television was the novelty and, oh, the choices we had with two channels! And, in 1989, the choices we had with three!
   Where is that wave of excitement now? Television might try to innovate with Tivo or HD, but I watch so little of it now. Very, very little on prime-time even piques my interest, when all that seems to reside on the terrestrial channels are reality shows (I live in reality, thank you—I don’t need Mark Burnett’s version of it), NCSIS: Duluth, Law and Order: the Unit without Alicia Witt and Everybody Loves Ramsey.
   In the early 1990s, it was the ’net. So we all rushed to it. We all got email addresses—I’ve had mine since the late 1980s. But who among us doesn’t now see email as vanilla, as noise, and even as an annoyance?
   The appeal with email in, say, 1992, was a growing number of people on it. Usually our peers. And those who were not our peers were well educated people who had some similiarities to us. The business people on it were often trying to learn beyond their borders, as was I. I looked at telex machines and marvelled years before. I saw War Games and marvelled. Now this stuff was becoming real, on the screen in front of me.
   Then the spammers came and ruined it.
   But, never fear, there were blogs. Blogs were the next frontier, and so many blogs were worth following and reading.
   Then the sploggers came and ruined it.
   YouTube, what a great way to watch videos!
   Then the commenters came and ruined it.
   The pattern repeats, and while Quora compares favourably to the likes of Yahoo! Answers (which has also, in some part, been affected by netizens who just want to vent and be cheeky), will it ultimately become vanilla?
   It seems there are two choices. One is to get big and risk the same-old downward trend of the other services. The other is to think small.
   LinkedIn, despite falling into a funk in the middle of the decade for me, seems to be back with a vengeance—but as a fairly closed network where they’ve insisted that you only connect with those you know and wish to do business with. On Facebook, we might waste time. On LinkedIn, we’re talking about commerce—would we happily lend our name to being someone’s connection? If you tell me you have 5,000 connections, I might think twice about your worth to me—whereas on Facebook, I’ve ceased to care about one’s number of “friends”.
   A Small World, which some have labelled ‘Snobbook’, revels in its exclusivity—I’ve certainly been picky in whose invitation I accept, again, thanks to the site’s strictness.
   Yet I have come to trust both brands. They are still tools, but neither has been ruined in the eight and six years I have been on them respectively.
   I’m going to hold back on being as enthusiastic as Michael. We are on the hunt for the next big thing, but I have a feeling it’s going to be something even more radical—as in, upgrade-your-gear-or-miss-out radical. Luddites queue here!

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Posted in business, culture, internet, media, New Zealand,