Archive for December, 2005

Countdown to 2006

Saturday, December 31st, 2005

Okay so here I am celebrating New Year in traditional fashion (for me at least): on my own at home free from all the disappointments this particular date seems to hold for anyone who dares plan ‘a good time’.

Seriously, I’ve had so many f***ing disasters on New Year’s Eves I took the pledge about six years ago never again to venture outside after 4pm.

‘Twas not always thus – up north I had a couple of good New Year’s at the Hammond’s legendary new year’s eve bashes (before Richard became a famous TV celeb) and then on to the market square for torch-lit processions and random snogs from strangers. (Er, for all except me… never quite figured that one out!)

In later years it was New Years Day that was the major event, it being a friend’s birthday and what with her having a father with a very well-stocked beer and wine collection it was probably my first introduction to serious Roman debauchery. One year I entered into the most hallowed of institutions: local gossip. I believe the tale is still told of how I – but no, I will save you the lurid details.

But those occasions are, as I’m sure is true of most people, rare islands in a sea of shipwrecks.

There was one ‘perfect’ new year, that popped up quite randomly – me, a friend and two of her girlfriends, gatecrashing the mayor’s party and dancing on the town hall balcony as the chimes of Big Ben (on the radio) counted us in to 1998, several bottles of wine and a classic Carry On movie on TV when we finally got home for copious cups of tea. So good it was that we decided to attempt to repeat it the following year. And therein lies the mistake. You can never repeat the experience of a good new year – you might as well admit that you’ve had your one and only good one, and submit to the call of pipe and slippers for the rest of your life.

So here we are – ten minutes to go. I’ve just finished watching Revenge of the Sith on DVD, listening to a pleasant bit of 20th century English classical music and drinking a few bottles of quite frankly abysmal German lager (brewed in Wales).

Time for another cup of tea while I watch the fireworks outside and then to bed, because while New Year’s Eve is always going to be disappointing unless you do what I do and stay in, I have high hopes for 2006: England winning the World Cup, me winning the lottery, and maybe – just maybe, the patter of tiny feet. That’s right: I’m thinking of getting a hamster.

Ego massage: I’ve been reviewed!

Saturday, December 31st, 2005

The kind folks over at The Weblog Review have taken a look at this blog and given it a rating of 4.5 (out of 5, I’m hoping! God, if it’s out of ten forget I mentioned it!)

The review reads:

(the) weblog, “A Word in Your Ear”, has the potential to be a hit. Before even beginning my journey through Jonathan’s archives, I tried to block out the fact that the site is hosted through Blog*spot and does use one of the many charming Blogger templates. Thankfully, Jonathan has done a bit to spruce up the design. I’m hoping his writing does even more.

The archives date back to May 2004, giving Jonathan over a year and a half of posts to go through. His first post is actually an essay written in 2002 about graphic design in education. It didn’t take long for me to realize that when Jonathan posts, he puts a lot into what he is writing and the end result is something that is very easy to read and, while it may not pertain to the general blog-reading population, he is able to make each topic understandable.

Jonathan writes a lot about graphic design and about creating website using HTML and CSS and whatever else is the latest and greatest designing code. With as much talent as he possess in his writing, I have a feeling his coding skills are just as polished. No excuse for a Blogger template, Jonathan, none at all! 🙂

This site is extensive. The entries are long and there is quite a bit to read considering the site is updated nearly daily. Jonathan dabbles in a little bit of everything and makes it no secret to his readers. Whether he shares music he’s been working on or ideas of his future employment, guessing the content from each post to the next is nearly impossible. With such a wide variety of topics, readers can easily become enraptured in one topic or another.

Jonathan falls into the category of bloggers that like to write. A lot. His daily posts are lengthy, but are well written and easy to read. “A Word in Your Ear” is a site that is at least worth a glance, simply due to the wide range of topics the author can competently scribe in his entries.

I’m not sure what’s wrong with Blogger as the engine of choice (it’s free after all) and yes, I do keep meaning to fiddle with the design more than I have done but… well, you know how it is!
Other than that I’m rather happy with this review; I was dreading reading it!
Mind you the ‘dabbles in everything’ bit bothers me. I was a t a job interview recently, for a ‘leading’ university, and it was clear they were rather disdainful of my finger-in-pies approach. But I like to make connections between things – what’s wrong with that? Why is polymathy and interdisciplinarity so out of fashion in universities nowadays?

Mind you, this review is easily topped by a comment I found thanks to a late night, end-of-year peruse through my visitor logs. I found that someone had recently come to my site via a link on another blog, and this is what ‘bindigrrrl’ (who I now want to marry) says about me:

I’ve made the most astounding discovery in the writings of Jonathan Baldwin, Academic, Designer, Writer and fellow Scorpion. Not since Gord have I savoured the words of another so delectably. I’m fascinated by this gentleman’s mind, and anyone who knows me can attest to that being no small feat. From political coverage to dirty weekends in Brighton, and ironing board mishaps, it all makes for an excellent read! Jonathan’s writing is to be enjoyed with a glass of chilled merlot and the score to The Hours by Philip Glass. It can also be enjoyed over breakfast. Pop over and have a look. You’ll not regret it.

The grating sound you hear is me trying to get my head through the door 😉 Nice way to end the old year!

Bargain over at iTMS

Sunday, December 18th, 2005

Now I don’t know if this is a mistake or what, but I just spotted that you can download all nine of Ralph Vaughan Williams’ symphonies from the iTunes UK music store for the princely sum of £7.99 – that’s 7.5 hours at about £1 per hour!

If you’ve never heard his music, it’s worth giving it a go. My favourites: The first symphony is a huge setting of Walt Whitman poetry, the second a marvellous requiem for London before the Great War, and the first movement of the sixth has one of the most famous musical openings ever. The seventh symphony is based on the music RVW composed for the film Scott of the Antarctic. The 2nd and 5th are probably the most accessible but at this price, take a gamble – one of Britain’s greatest composers.

Also included are the beautiful ‘Tallis Fantasia’ and ‘The Lark Ascending’

Highly recommended: iTunes UK link

Vaughan Williams: Complete Symphonies and Other Orchestral Works

(NB There’s an error in the track listing on iTunes if you do download this – they list ‘Symphony No. 6 in E Minor twice. In fact, the second listing – the one with five movements – is Symphony No. 7 ‘Sinfonia Antarctica’. The movement titles are correct).

War posters (and more) online

Wednesday, December 7th, 2005

I’ve been using this resource for a while in my teaching and been meaning to mention it here for some time. So the following message appearing in my inbox today gave me the prod I needed. This site is well worth checking out, not just for the war posters but for the other collections available online too.

There were few more powerful mediums for influencing pubic opinion in wartime Britain and abroad than posters. They were used, most famously, for recruitment – think Alfred Leete’s famous design of Lord Kitchener and James Montgomery Flagg’s ‘Uncle Sam’, but also for all kinds of propaganda in general, promoting an official viewpoint and justifying the need for wartime restrictions.

The Imperial War Museum has the largest and most comprehensive poster collection of its type in Britain, documenting the social, political, ethnic and cultural aspirations of warring nations from the First World War to more recent conflicts. The collection includes work by leading twentieth-century designers from Britain and abroad, and is an essential resource for looking at the development of mass communication, propaganda, publicity, commercial art and graphic design.

Over 3,000 posters from this internationally important collection are now available via AHDS Visual Arts. The digital images form part of the AHRC Posters of Conflict project carried out in partnership between the Imperial War Museum and the Manchester Institute for Research and Innovation in Art and Design at Manchester Metropolitan University. The first two-years work of this three-year project are now available online, with more to come…

The Posters of Conflict collection complements other Imperial War Museum collections already available from AHDS Visual Arts including the Concise Art Collection and the Spanish Civil War Poster Collection.

AHDS Visual Arts now has over 60,000 high quality images freely available for use in research, learning and teaching.