A little bit of artistic magic

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The extremely talented Wayne at Adeptise has done a nice splash page for us to promote The Discount Sorcerer, our new online shopping venture. The problem with sites like these is that they go in and out of favour with Google, so for times when ours is out of favour, we hope this splash page will pop up in the Google results. Let us hope so.

If you haven’t seen The Discount Sorcerer yet, it’s a site we’ve created which finds all the biggest discounts at Amazon UK through some IT magic, and presents them in a nice easy-to-use format for you to click straight through to. There’s also a really great weekly newsletter which summarises many of the great bargains we’ve unearthed. You can sign up for that on the home page of the site.

Review: Monty Python at the Albert Hall: Not The Messiah

Never has so much goodwill flowed from an audience to the performers. Really, Eric and the gang could have sat and read the papers and got a standing ovation. But fortunately, it was an evening to remember anyway. I don’t think anyone expected a sketch show, or even Spamalot, which was lucky, because “Not The Messiah” was virtually an operatic piece, with the full BBC Symphony Orchestra and Chorus. However, straight-laced it was not. In fact, for much of the time it was very silly. Just as you’d expect.

Eric Idle, present on stage throughout, and John Du Prez, conducting, were obviously the main forces behind the show, but the other Pythons naturally stole the show in their bit parts, especially Michael Palin. And they were all having a ball.

Odd that such a landmark event really does appear to be a one-off. There’ll undoubtedly be a DVD to follow, but it won’t be a patch on seeing the whole ensemble. Python fans will be very glad to say “I was there”.

And yes, they did an encore. And yes, it was The Lumberjack Song. With full orchestral backing. And Carol exclaiming maybe for one last time: “And I thought you were so rugged!”

The Light at the End of the Tunnel

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I don’t know if this is ironic, or just a palindrome or something, but on the day I consigned the September 2009 edition of The Word magazine to the recycling, with Robert Wyatt on the cover and a Half Man Half Biscuit interview inside, the postie delivered a December 1985 issue of NME from eBay, with, er, Robert Wyatt on the cover and a Half Man Half Biscuit interview inside. Neither act give any impression in their articles that they expected to still be around 24 years later.

Anyway, here’s the Half Man Half Biscuit interview from December 1985; the band had just released their first LP, Back in the DHSS, which would become the biggest selling indie LP of 1986. The interview, which features that photo of the band in the dugout, is rather anodyne, but if you read the rest of that issue of NME you’re struck by how, well, dull, most of the writing is. A feature by Peter Tatchell on AIDS, at a time when just 250 people in the UK had been diagnosed with it, is more interesting than most of the music-related material. WH Smith was advertising VHS music videos (“This is Video Clash” anyone?) for £16.99, and Parker was unleashing the rollerball on the world in a double-page colour ad.

Medium-sized version:
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Large version:
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Another “Eureka Moment”. Can they do this?

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Curious news that The Times is about to launch a science magazine called Eureka. But hang on… there’s already a long-established, well-respected technology magazine called Eureka, published by Findlay Media. Whilst the subject matter may not be exactly the same, there sure as heck are many potential advertisers in common, so it could easily be argued that the two would be competitors.

Eureka (the long-established one) has impressively survived a meltdown in the trade press over the past ten years, which saw the demise of long-established titles such as Design Engineering and relatively short-lived newcomers such as What’s new in Design. What I’m sure it doesn’t need is this sort of confusion in the market.

Back in the early nineties, I remember someone else launching a publication called Eureka, aimed at kids if I recall correctly. Not sure what happened to it, but being on a rival magazine to the real Eureka at the time, we laughed. And there are others around the world too. But this new Eureka comes from the UK, and from a major publisher too. Aren’t there rules against this sort of thing? If there are none, what a trick we’ve all missed over the years, not producing our own publications with the same titles as rivals’, just as spoilers. What would happen if Findlay Media launched a newspaper called The Times?