Archive for the 'Miscellany' Category

Lionel S Mint

Not a lot going on over here at the moment, but I’ve had a little bit of a rebrand as I try to get myself together with this new music project. For the time being, I’ll be going by my own name, but as that has been taken on various social media platforms, I decided to use an anagram, my alter ego – Lionel S Mint, as my social media handle for twitter, instagram, and others in the future.

So… I rebranded instagram, and I ditched my old twitter account and started again…

So you can find me on instagram at http://www.instagram.com/lionelsmint

And you can find me on my new twitter account at http://www.twitter.com/lionelsmint

A quick photo

In fairness, this isn’t really writing of any sort, but it’s too cute a photo and I’ve been too preoccupied with other things to write anything of substance here tonight, so here is a photo of Bajka and me.

Iceland Airwaves: An introduction

Welcome to Iceland

Welcome to Iceland

It has been three years since I’ve been in the cold, windy, but glorious little capital city of Reykjavik, Iceland. Three years of financial and the wilderness of responsibility keeping me from the world’s greatest showcase festival, Iceland Airwaves. Quieten down there, SxSW, I can’t hear you over the plane’s engines. What? I can’t hear you. Shh.

To my count, this will be my 5th Iceland Airwaves festival and the 3rd in which I’ve been working – such as it is. Let’s face it, traveling to a week of new music and Icelandic hot dogs; that really isn’t work, now, is it? Well, I suppose my bag is heavy being, as it is, in possession of 20 of the finest looking and sounding 12” vinyl e.p.s money can buy. And of course, if you’re actually at Airwaves, you can come to Bíó Paradís on Friday at 4pm to catch the author of these much sought after records, Jón Þór, a week before we release it on my label, too many fireworks.

Radio Kampus, I’m delighted to tell you, seem to have entrusted me with the responsibility of sending dispatches from the front lines of these particular festivities. I’ll be reporting back to Warsaw each day with my thoughts on the music I’ve heard. Who should you hear? Who should you avoid? Let’s find out.

Not only will I diligently perform my duties as foreign correspondent, I will also be taking over the Radio Kampus instagram account until Sunday morning – give or take a few posts from the hard-working Kampus elves. Keep an eye out on @radiokampus and the hashtag #2mftakeover for some of these hi-jinks.

Until tomorrow, when I hope to delight you with tales of musical derring-do from Wednesday in the frozen north.

Televisual feasting

Autumn has come on suddenly with very little warning; it really could have written to us, warning of an impending visit, very much in the same way as the TV License people don’t). In Warsaw, and in Scotland, Autumn so far seems to have been cast in a Washington Irving novel, all ghostly and gloom. As I set myself to consider what it all means, another autumnal tradition, I have the scant consolation that the “fall” TV season has returned.

Keeping up with the multitude of good and evil in this pre-winter televisual feast has been surprisingly easy in this incredibly busy time on account of the daily hour-long endurance of my journey to nowhere; my exercise bike. I’m often to be found at 6:30am bare-chested, panting, and hunched on top of the impulsively purchased torture device, watching one of the many shows I’ve committed to for the short, medium, or long term.

And while first episodes of new seasons of Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., The Blacklist, The Flash, and Arrow are welcome editions to the list, they feel familiar, and a little tired – though each has every chance of building to strong climax; they’ve all done before.

Premieres though have been coming thick and fast, and though Hayley Atwell’s Conviction was ok, This is Us was touching, The Good Place was surreal enough to make it interesting and occasionally funny, and Lethal Weapon will fill my need for buddy-cop action; a favourite of the network shows is ABC’s Designated Survivor. A Kiefer Sutherland vehicle, it casts him as the Secretary for Housing and Urban Development. He draws the short straw as “designated survivor” in the event of a disaster befalling the State of the Union address. It duly does, and he is sworn in as President in an America a bomb at the capitol building has devastated the Government. As is standard now for Sutherland, his character is set on a kinetic, turbulent path. Jack Bauer would be impressed – though, thankfully there has been no torture so far.

The clear season frontrunner is HBO’s Westworld, the pilot episode of which was gripping, occasionally brutal, and on one particular occasion, simply gory. The show, developed by Jonathan Nolan and based on the Michael Crichton penned and directed Movie of the same name, sets the scene in our futuristic western theme park with James Marsden’s character arriving in town – we think he’s a guest, we discover he’s a robot. Before this, though, we are introduced – by way of a fly crawling across an eyeball – to Evan Rachel Wood’s Dolores, an advanced, synthetic android. Anyone who has seen the original film, knows of Crichton’s other work – dinosaurs, anyone? – or has ever watched the classic The Simpsons episode “Itchy and Scratchy Land” will have some idea of where our story will take us. That a western girl absent-mindedly swatting a fly on her neck can have such jaw-dropping implications is testament to the pilot episode’s wonderful crescendo.

As the weather is destined to continue resembling a summer in Inverness, I suspect there is quite some television consumption ahead of me. I will occasionally write my thoughts in these pages, not that I have any expectation of an audience. Now? Something called Frequency. Interesting.

On Twitter

Are you on Twitter?

No, I’m not interested in what Katy Perry had for lunch.

An exchange took place earlier today that prompted me to go in search of a post I made on an old blog I used to write a few years ago.  I found it but it’s so hopelessly out of date, I decided to write it again from scratch.  I don’t think I’m going to surprise many readers here but I adore Twitter and it makes me sad that it is still seen as a repository for mundanity, narcissism or self-indulgence.

Given its recent growth over the last couple of years and the increasing number of high-profile or celebrity users the social media network now boasts, it’s not surprising that you will at least have heard of it but for those who haven’t, here’s the gist…

What IS Twitter?

In the beginning there was text.  Twitter came along and allowed its users to send ‘tweets’ of up to 140 characters in length (similar to that of a standard SMS text message) to an online profile – a ‘timeline’.  In fact, users could even send an SMS to twitter from their phone and it would be added to their timeline as their latest tweet.  More recently, web, iPhone and smartphone application designers have been hard at work creating a whole host of other, interesting ways to interact with the system.  The practical upshot of all this is that you can tweet from anywhere at any time, providing a real-time record of where you are and what you are up to for others to read and reply to.

Sure, of course there are those who post the most mundane of things but, in my opinion at least, these are people who simply don’t ‘get’ Twitter – and if you’re searching for and following them, that says more about you than Twitter itself.

Following The News

I began Tweeting in 2007, primarily using the service as a nice, easy way to post messages direct to the homepage of my website.  I would ‘tweet’ about photography jobs I was working on – what I was shooting and where I was.  It was all, naturally, fairly dull stuff.  I lost interest pretty quickly.  It was some time later that I heard a feature about the service on the Digital Planet show on the BBC World Service.  They ran a story that highlighted how Twitter was being used to bring eye-witness accounts of breaking news stories to the world’s attention.  People affected by both the earthquake in China and by the Burmese anti-government protests had been using the service to post messages to the website as events were occurring, bringing the news to the outside world before the news media had even arrived.  Digital Planet’s report prompted me to look past my initial misgivings and delve deeper into what Twitter could offer.

As a self-confessed news-junkie this was a very exciting revelation and of course, over the years of using the service I began to hear more and more breaking news stories first on Twitter rather than from any of the Mass Media outlets.  The Mumbai attacks?  Eyewitness accounts began appearing on Twitter as the tragedy unfolded.  The initial reports of the shootings in Norway originated in the same way. The Schipol airport crash?  The first pictures to appear on Sky, CNN and the BBC were camera-phone images posted on Twitter.  These are just a few examples and thankfully news breaking on Twitter isn’t all death and destruction.  In 2008, the story that NASA had discovered water on Mars was posted on Twitter before it was released to anyone else when the unmanned mission’s dedicated account posted the wonderful “We have ICE!”.

Even when Twitter isn’t breaking a story it is having a wide reaching effect in keeping certain aspects of the news in the public eye.  The entirely justified indignation that followed Jan Moir’s infamous Daily Mail article on the death of Stephen Gately, for instance or indeed the equally justified indignation present after publication of anything Melanie Phillips ever seems to write or Nadine Dorries ever seems to say.  One might even argue, successfully in my opinion, that without Twitter (and social media at large), the current Phone Hacking scandal engulfing the British press would not be as widely known a story as it now undoubtedly is.

It’s A Conversation

It would be wrong, of course, to suggest that Twitter is little more than an outlet for breaking news and understanding this is key to enjoying the experience.  Twitter is so much more than a broadcast medium and its real power, and its fun, lies in conversation.  When you join the network you are invited to ‘follow’ other users.  Doing so will add their tweets into your timeline.  At any time, you can reply to that user using the convention of “@username” and hey ho, you’re having a conversation.  It’s an incredibly powerful networking tool.  As an example, musicians, designers, sportsmen, actors, painters, writers, politicians, journalists, business leaders and publishers, to name but a few, all use the conversational aspect of Twitter to get closer to their ‘fans’.  For smaller, independent musicians, like myself its a great way of finding new listeners and friends all across the world – in fact two of the record labels I’ve released music on both found me through Twitter.

Of course, all of that being said, it has to be remembered that Twitter is also a lot of fun.  In only one of many ways Twitter keeps me sane in my life, rarely a day goes by without another, normally pun-based, hashtag game spreading across the network.  For instance, the latest one I was involved in was #Fontnames.  @SentricMusic explained that a friend had heard a graphic designer had named her child ‘Helvetica’.  It wasn’t long before suggestions of Font Names were being tweeted back at him.  My favourite was the marvellous ‘Comic Sans Christian Andersen’.  My own suggestion, for what it’s worth, was ‘Mary ShelleyAllegro BT Barnum’.

It’s clear then that Twitter has many applications and my examples above don’t even scratch the surface.  There are many reasons an individual might feel that Twitter is not for them but I hope, now, that Katy Perry’s lunch won’t be one of them.

Of course if you do use Twitter, or you’re about to start… Go follow me: @NeilSMilton