Wednesday, July 29

York Cells

A visit to York Castle Museum was recently recommended to me, due to the £200,000 refurbishment that has been carried out on the York Cell's, and so I jumped at the chance.

As Museums go, it's actually pretty interesting - showing the change from Victorian life right up until today. Even the 1960s section is worth a look. But what about the actual reason I went... those cells. Let's put it this way... they were underground, dark, dingy, cold and spooky; and that was it. I suppose everything you'd expect a prison to be... if you were a criminal. As a visitor, I went expecting detailed information of the criminals who were kept there, and the conditions that they were kept in. However, the modern revamp meant that instead of written information, each cell contained a projection of an actor dressed as a criminal, moaning about being unrightfully locked up.

Well, as you'd expect I was less than impressed. Neither I, nor anyone else there could be bothered standing in each cell listening to the entire monologue of this person who was never actually imprisoned there. I'd heard that Dick Turpin had been kept there, and sure enough there 'he' was, in a cell, talking about how he shouldn't be there... Not exactly want I went to hear.

I'm surprised that this refurbishment cost £200,000, and I think a lot more could've been done with a lot less money. I paid £6.50 to see the whole Museum, which allows free admission for the rest of the year. The Museum itself was very good, but I can't say I'd walk through those less-than-average cells again even for free. In fact, you'd probably have to pay me. Or lock me up.

Tuesday, July 28

Camouflage Art

Whilst reading the Metro last week, I stumbled across an article entitled 'The Invisible Man'. Chinese artist Liu Bolin uses his own body as a canvas, merging his body with whatever is behind him. At first glance, I barely even realised he was stood in the foreground of the photograph, and had to read the article in order to understand what it was about.

I was amazed when I first saw Bolin's art style, as it's really unique and I've never really seen anything quite the same. Out of interest I further researched Bolin's work and discovered that the artist was removed from his studio by the Chinese government, which he claims is the inspiration of his photographs. For me, this explanation, and Bolin's claims that he is 'Hiding in the City' makes the series of photographs even more engaging and inspirational.

I think the most effective photographs include those such as the earthquake rubble shown below. The attention to detail and colour amazes me - each photograph taking more than ten hours to complete. The location options are endless with this particular type of artwork - might this be the latest street entertainment craze?? I hope so...

Monday, July 27


I can't begin to explain how frustrated I get when I'm out and about - in a club, or a café - and a song comes on that I love, but just can't quite put my finger on what it is.

That was until i discovered Shazam, a mobile phone based music identification service. When that annoyingly familiar song starts playing, just call 2580 (if you look on your keypad it's pretty easy to remember!), and hold your phone up to the music. Within a minute or so, the name of the song and artist is sent to your phone.

Yes it costs, but in my opinion it's a small price to pay to keep me from thinking about nothing else for the rest of the day.

Also, a small word of warning - Shazam doesn't work if you have a song stuck in your head, which you then 'sing' down the phone after dialling 2580. Believe me, I've tried.

Saturday, July 25


Imagine having unlimited access to music for just £10 a month.
Better still, imagine having almost the same thing, for free!

Well now you can. Spotify is a Swedish music streaming program through which users can browse artists, albums or create playlists from a huge catalogue of music. I have been an eager user of Spotify since I heard about it a few months ago, and have so far been able to listen to about 90% of the songs I have searched for. There are a few major bands such as The Beatles, AC/DC and Metallica whose music is not available, as these artists have 'opted not to be added to Spotify' yet. However, I for one feel that I can sacrifice their music in favour of up-and-coming artists; after all, I think I've had my fair share of The Beatles' music during my Liverpudlian-fuelled childhood.

Of course, there's always a catch, and here it is. Spotify is funded by advertisements and paid subscriptions. Therefore, the standard, free version of Spotify - only available in parts of Western Europe - is occasionally interrupted by a 15 second advert. Whereas, if the user chooses to pay an unnecessary £9.99 a month, they can listen to the music 'ad-free'. Some people think that infiltrating their music with adverts is a step too far, and leap at the chance to waste £10 a month in order to get rid of them.

When I stumbled upon Spotify, I asked myself, 'Since when has anything been free?' - Apparently it's when I stop being excessively fussy, and allow a short ad to interrupt my listening every half an hour.