Welcome..

Since I seem to be getting through an alarming amount of movies these days, I have decided to create a movies category to review and rate those that deem worthy of my time, and also those that I wasted 80 minutes of my life on.

I’ve decided to go with the star system. Yes, original, I know.

That would be a 1 star rating. Which, yes, you guessed it, isn’t very good.
You can expect movies like ‘Down with love‘ to have lifelong membership in that club.

And that, is 5 stars. The Die Hard trilogy has automatic membership to that club.

But, you’re all intelligent enough to work this out for yourselves.
Stay tuned for the reviews to come sliding out in the next week or so…

What happened to ULTra?

In 2001 Cardiff County Council announced their plans to develop alternative methods of transportation. Where other cities had built tram and metro networks, Cardiffs answer was ‘ULTra’, Urban Light Transportation. A press release went out almost 5 years ago, in June 2001 announcing that work had begun on building the test track and that “the trials would last for about a year before the first routes would be started in Cardiff Bay.”

ULTra

In fact, in the April 2002 Comittee of the Council, the minutes include the following exchange of words between then council leader Russell Goodway and present council leader Rodney Berman;

Berman:
“Do you not agree that it is now time for this Council to drop its pursuance of such a highly experimental transport system as the ULTra, which is unlikely to significantly address the real and pressing transport needs of this City, and instead pursue the option of a more tried and tested, and potentially cheaper, mass-transit system?”

Goodway:
“I’ll make this prediction:
ULTra will succeed.
Not only that – it will mark Cardiff out among European Capitals.
And then – and only then the Leader of the Opposition and his party will say it’s a brilliant idea.
But will they give credit to the Council?
Of course, they won’t.”

Of course, as usual Russell Goodway used the topic to make a political thrash at the opposition leader whilst Berman stayed professional, but, that is neither here nor there.
We all know Goodway is an incomptent oaf anyway, this has just re-affirmed that.

During 2002 there was much talk about it, it was brought up numerous times in council meetings and was highly publicised in both council and publically controlled media with articles being run in all news sources relevant to South Wales.

The Capital Times, the free newspaper produced by Cardiff council speculated in 2002 that the first phases of the operation could go live as early as 2003 and BBC News reported that “If the tests are judged to be a success, funding would be sought for a £45m project linking the city centre, the civic centre at Cathays Park and Cardiff Bay starting in 2004.”

However, four years later, the plan is barely closer to realisation than it was then.
A test track was built at a cost of £3m and showcases were held for councillors and Welsh Assembly government officials at said test track, but since then, we have heard nothing.

Focus appears to have shifted to BAA and Heathrow airport who have expressed an interest in running the ULTra service too.
The ULTra website is currently awash with press releases regarding their involvement with Heathrow airport, but the last mention of Cardiff was in 2003 which was when they announced that the passenger trials were completed.

Being the inquisitive sort, I have decided to start my own investigation, to find out just how the ULTra project is doing and how long it’s going to be before the travelling public will be able to get a ride in one of these futuristic pods, if ever.

To do this, I plan to do the following things:

  • Get a comment from Advanced Transport Systems Ltd, the company behind ULTra regarding the progress in Cardiff.
  • Get a comment from the Welsh Assembly government to find out what they know of the progress of the project.
  • Get a comment from Cardiff County council regarding the progress of the project.

I have already done the following things:

  • Written to Council leader Rodney Berman
  • Written to my local councillor, Gavin Cox

Hopefully we can get a result on this as it seems a lot of money for the Welsh Assembly government to be simply wasting, or just handing to a private company to build a test track that they will be using to make profit selling their idea to other interested parties, parties like Heathrow Airport that obviously aren’t even in Wales.

Watch this space.

The Other Smiths

Well, I managed to shake off the cold that almost crippled me on Friday by chugging litres of Beechams cold medicine.

I had been looking forward to this gig since tickets first went on sale back in late November last year, naturally I snapped mine up as quickly as humanly possible.

Poster We last saw the band in October 2004 at Barfly again. They unfortunately don’t come down south very often and they also only do it really as a hobby, so they don’t play that many gigs either, which is real shame.

Anywho, we get to Barfly nice and early, about 8pm. It’s quiet, but that’s to be expected, bands here don’t usually come on until about 9ish.
We get some drinks and reserve our standing spots right in front of the stage, as close as possible. I’m purposely not drinking too much so as I can enjoy the show. There’s nothing worse than being absolutely hammered and not remembering a second of it.
Especially since it’s a rare ocassion that we get to see them.

The venue starts to fill up, almost totally full by now. Little room to swing a cat.The other Morrissey
9 O’clock rolls around and finally, they appear!

Simon (the other Andy Rourke), followed by Dave (the other Johnny Marr), then Sam (the other Mike Joyce) and Stuart (the other Morrissey).
They’ve recruited a new member since the last time we saw them, Mike, the keyboardist.

They open with the classics, Still Ill & Hand in Glove to get things going.
Things went from great to greater as the set went on, Stuart is extremely convincing as Morrissey, his mannerisms spot on.
The rest of the band were really on form too, Dave on guitar bashed out some amazing solos, Johnny M would be proud, I’m sure.

The other Smiths split their sets into two parts, first part is mostly The Smiths, 1983-1985.
The second half is 1986 onwards and Morrissey solo work. Well, it was this time anyway.
The last time they played here, they only did one Morrissey track, Suedehead.
But sure enough, this time around, they had added a lot more into it, and I don’t think anybody was dissapointed.

I stole the setlist!Not only had they added Morrissey solo tracks, they had added the most iconic solo tracks, not to be confused with the most popular, or the biggest hits, which was a great choice, in my humble opinion.
They started out with ‘The more you ignore me (the closer I get)‘, Moz’s anthem especially written for Mike Joyce after the kerfuffle in ’96, one of my personal favourites.
What I could not believe however, was what came next, totally unexpected, but delightful nonetheless, ‘The national front disco‘!! The track that is possibly second or third (I’m yet to put together a decisive list) in my all time favourite Moz & Smiths tracks. But, it’s a song that you will probably not hear Moz himself perform again as it was so controversial last time around. Simply because the press did not get it. Moz was branded a bigot and a racist, the feud running for more than 10 years with the NME

Once they had finished doing an amazing job on the aformentioned track, they immediately blasted into another of Moz’s greatest solo achievements, ‘November spawned a monster‘. I was so glad to hear this in the set as it gave the whole band a chance to shine and it injected a hell of a euphoria to the crowd, especially at the break in the middle.

By this time, I had totally forgotten about my cold. I was just so happy, beaming ear to ear and dancing like a maniac.
I still had only drunk 3 bottles of beer too, it usually takes a least 7 to get me to even do a little jigg!

The obligatory rendition of Suedehead followed, I mean, what type of Morrissey tribute wouldSignatures they be without it?
Every day is like Sunday came next, a darling rendition too if I may say so myself.

The one track pulled from Moz last album, You are the Quarry was to be their final, apart from the encore.
First of the gang and it was very well done, a great note to go out on.

Stuart and the band really do the Morrissey solo stuff justice, as close as you are going to come to the man himself.

After the usual screams from the crowd of ‘Morrissey, Morrissey, Morrissey’ and ‘More, More, More…’ they came back on and did two more for us.
Big mouth strikes again and finally, There is a Light, these really finished off the show on a high, real energy coming off the stage and inflicting on the crowd. The atmosphere by the end was amazing.

At the end of the gig, I stole the two setlists from the stage. Well, when I say stole, I actually asked one of the guys with the band who was on the side of the stage if I could have them :p

Stuart, Me & Dan (in front)I then got the band to sign the back of it, all except for Mike and Simon, who I couldn’t find whilst I had a pen, (which I stole from Jo)

I then had a short conversation with bassist and webmaster Stuart (the other Andy Rourke) which was very insightful.
We talked about what the band did other than being ‘The Other Smiths’ and what their plans were for the future of the band, which admittedly looks very rosy.
Dave was a great guy, obliging for me to take his autograph and have a short chat about the evening.
I then managed to catch up with Stuart as he was clearing equipment away, (does the real Morrissey do that, I think not!), got to thank him and the rest of the guys for putting on such a great show. They were so courteous and humble.

On our way out then, we caught them one last time, coming out of the tiny dressing room near the stairs for the exit. At this point we were considering ourselves ‘groupies’, but thought we had best leave it there, for fear of being banned from future gigs.
We had another quick chat and had our photos taken, unfortunately I decided not to bring my camera, with it only just coming back from repair three days ago and all, so the best we had were phone cameras. They kinda did the job though, you could tell what was in the shot…

Thanks again guys!

Here you’ll find, my heart and I, And still we say come back, Come back to Cardiff
And I’ll be good…I’ll be good…

The great crisp taste test

Walkers have radically overhauled their crisp manufacturing operation.Walkers, new & old
They are now using Sunseed oil and have totally elimitated the use of vegatable oil.
The use of this new oil is said to decrease saturated fat by 70%

The new style taste different, but how different? And are they better, or worse?
We put them to the test.

Three hardened tech support junkies with nothing better to do seem like ideal candidates for our little test.

Adam
Mark
Jon
Adam Mark Jon

And here is how they line up..

14022006.jpg

We have the both old and new style Roast Chicken & Cheese and Onion crisps. To be fair, an independent adjudicator, me, placed one crisp from each bag onto tissue paper and remembered which was which.
The contenstants were not allowed to see which was which.

Results

Adam;
Guessed correctly the difference between the Cheese & Onion, but not the Roast Chicken. Prefers the new to the old in both varieties.

Mark;
This crisp connoseuir was able to detect with ease the difference between the new and the old varieties. 10/10. However, he did not know which was the better crisp. Indeed, Mark even remarked something that I think we had all been thinking for many years….
These don’t even taste like chicken.”

Jon;
Correctly guessed the Cheese & Onion new from old, but failed miserably with the Chicken as by the time he had guessed the Cheese ones, he had forgotten what the Chicken ones tasted like, D’oh! Also reports that he is indifferent as to which is the superior potato product.

Conclusion
Messing around with 4 bags of crisps really makes a mess of your desk, and also, nobody really cares as much for crisps as I do. Go figure.