Robin Williams’ friendship with the Stranglers
12.19.2014
07:10 am

Topics:
Punk
R.I.P.

Tags:
Robin Williams
the Stranglers


 
When Robin Williams died in August, one of the most unexpected eulogies came from JJ Burnel, the bassist and singer in the Stranglers, who says that he and Williams struck up a friendship in the early 80s. Burnel writes that Williams visited England in 1982 and stayed at the house of drummer Jet Black, where the Stranglers were rehearsing the songs for Feline. Williams then stayed at Burnel’s house in Cambridgeshire, where the comedian and his first wife, Valerie Velardi, reportedly conceived their son Zak. Burnel remembers:

It is with great sadness that I woke up on Tuesday 12th of August to learn of the death of Robin Williams, the actor, comedian, musician and all round genius.

The word genius is often too readily used but having known the man I can vouchsafe the term is appropriate in his case.

I met him through a girlfriend of mine in the early eighties. She had met him in Los Angeles through a film cameraman called Dave Stump, a friend with whom he played in a band. At the time he had just become famous through a tv series called Mork and Mindy and the film Popeye.

When the Stranglers were to play on the west coast of the US he had invited me to stay at his house on his ranch in the Napa valley. He was a wonderful host and I soon started to appreciate his fame when I went out to dinner with him in San Francisco and saw the effect he had on a whole restaurant when he entertained them as a distraction to afford us, his guests, a diversion from the attention.

I reciprocated the gesture when he flew over to Europe with his then wife Val and met him at Heathrow. The Stranglers were in the middle of preparing Feline at Jet’s house in the west country and he was going to hang out with us at Jet’s and then come over to my house in Cambridgeshire for a few days.

Every evening we would stop rehearsals to go down to a local pub before resuming work. He would come down with us and that was when we would discover the multiple personalities and the continuous flow of ideas and comic repartee that had us all in stitches. He would literally have conversations with himself and the other personalities he inhabited.

After a week at Jet’s I drove him over to my house. I would like to think that it was the laid back atmosphere on the Fens that allowed him to conceive his son Zak at my house in the summer of 1982. At least that’s what his wife told me later.

After that, as his Hollywood career took off, he would call me whenever he was in London.

Over the years we lost touch but I have nothing but very fond memories of a very talented and genuine person.

If it is true as to the way of his death it is only testimony to his great sensibility and humanity and the world is a much poorer place for his disappearance.

The Stranglers’ original vocalist and guitarist, Hugh Cornwell, devoted two pages of his 2004 book A Multitude of Sins to memories of encounters with singer Robbie Williams, drummer Robert Williams, and comedian Robin Williams. Cornwell’s account would put Robin Williams’ visit with the Stranglers about a year earlier than Burnel’s, but Zak was born in 1983, so Cornwell is either mistaken about which album they were working on or recalling a separate visit.

I’m jogging with Robin Williams in Gloucestershire. John Burnel has met him somewhere at a celebrity dinner and he’s come down to hang out with us while we rehearse before recording the La Folie album. He’s a lovely bloke and expresses a desire to come running with me first thing every morning. He’s in good shape and is keeping up with me, even though I’ve been doing it regularly. He’s a bundle of energy and constantly comes up with funny life observations. Jet’s got a souped-up Fiesta with lots of lights mounted on the front bumper and Robin asks me if he has to pull a trailer carrying a battery for the extra lights.

 

Posted by Oliver Hall | Leave a comment
‘Tis the season for a serving of sheep’s head?
12.18.2014
02:04 pm

Topics:
Food

Tags:
Norway
Smalahove


 
In Norway, an old tradition has recently been revived: a meal of a sheep’s head with all the trimmings. Sound weird? It sure does, even more so when you learn that the eyes and ears are considered an especial delicacy.

A serving of Smalahove consists of a half-head, boiled potatoes and rutabagas mashed with salt, pepper, cream, and butter. The most scrumptious parts of Smalahove are the ear and the eye. The reason is that the meat at these locations is quite fatty—and the eyes and ears taste best when they are still warm. Yesterday the German magazine Stern ran a story about Smalahove by Denise Wachter. Smalahove is a dish with strong associations with Christmas. Interestingly, an EU directive forbids the serving of smalahove from adult sheep due to fears of scrapie, a degenerative disease of sheep and goats, even though scrapie apparently is not transmissible to humans. So smalahove is made exclusively from lambs.

Here’s what the OECD Studies on Tourism Food and the Tourism Experience: The OECD-Korea Workshop has to say about it:
 

[Gyimothy and Mykletun] describe how smalahove (salted, smoked and cooked sheep’s head) has become a part of the destination brand of Voss, a small town in west Norway. The preparation of smalahove involves burning away the wool from the head, leaving the skin intact and brown in colour. The head is then split into two halves by means of an axe, and the inner organs except the eye and the tongue are removed. It is carefully cleaned, salted, and dried for some days before it is smouldered on a cold smoke of fresh juniper, dry oak or alder. Having been both salted and smoked, the head could be preserved in an airy place for some months. The preparation of the dish is simple. The half head is first watered and steamed for three hours, then served with potatoes boiled in the skin and with stewed Swedish turnips.

 
A couple hours’ drive inland from the city of Bergen on Norway’s west coast, the town of Voss has taken up the cause of smalahove and converted it into a source of significant tourist revenue. In the past, fermented milk or beer was served with the sheep’s head. Today it’s aquavit—cumin schnapps. The sheep was once slaughtered right there on the farm; today it’s the butcher’s job.
 

 
With thanks to Thomas Schlich!

Posted by Martin Schneider | Leave a comment
Just a week after Pirate Bay raid, Tribler makes shutting down BitTorrent impossible
12.18.2014
12:02 pm

Topics:
Current Events
Pop Culture
Science/Tech

Tags:
Pirate Bay
BitTorrent
Tribler


 
When police in Sweden carried out a raid on a server farm in Stockholm on December 9th, seizing servers, computers and other equipment and simultaneously knocking The Pirate Bay and several other prominent torrent trackers (including EZTV, Istole, Zoink and Torrage) offline, it was assumed that they’d struck a crippling blow to the BitTorrent ecosystem.

But before Hollywood and the music industry could celebrate comes the news that a team of Dutch researchers at Delft University of Technology have figured out how to make BitTorrent completely anonymous and remove the necessity of central servers, producing a new client—called “Tribler”—that will keep things alive, even after all torrent search engines, indexes and trackers have been pulled offline.

Tribler’s lead researcher Dr. Johan Pouwelse told Torrent Freak: “Tribler makes BitTorrent anonymous and impossible to shut down.”

“Recent events show that governments do not hesitate to block Twitter, raid websites, confiscate servers and steal domain names. The Tribler team has been working for 10 years to prepare for the age of server-less solutions and aggressive suppressors.”

After last week’s Pirate Bay raid Tribler saw a 30% increase in downloads. The tax-supported team at Delft are confident that their encrypted torrent client can make the Internet safer for downloaders:

“The Internet is turning into a privacy nightmare. There are very few initiatives that use strong encryption and onion routing to offer real privacy. Even fewer teams have the resources, the energy, technical skills and scientific know-how to take on the Big and Powerful for a few years,” Pouwelse says.

You can download Tribler here. There are versions for Windows, Mac and Linux and Tribler is completely Open Source.

Posted by Richard Metzger | Leave a comment
There’s a Dr. Dreidel for Hanukkah
12.18.2014
09:42 am

Topics:
Amusing
Belief

Tags:
Dr. Dreidel


 
Dreidel, dreidel, dreidel, I made it out of… weed?

I feel like my blogging mission in life (at least for today) is to let you know there’s a Dr. Dreidel for Hanukkah. Yes, a Dr. Dreidel. The concept is by artist Hannah Rothstein, but made into fruition by Chris McCoy. Its laser-etched wooden sides feature four separate images of Dr. Dre, each correlating to a Hebrew letter.

Each Dr. Dre face has been carefully chosen to correlate with the ‘aftermath’ of the dreidel’s spin.

  • ג Gimmel, ‘take all,’ is a dreidel player’s dream. It gets a thumbs up from a happy Dr. Dre.
  • ה Hay, ‘take half,’ is no reason to party, but isn’t too shabby, hence the mildly smug portrait or Dr. Dre.
  • נ Nun, ‘nothing happens,’ is a boring outcome. A dead-pan Dr. Dre affirms this.
  • ש Shin, ‘put one in,’ is pretty depressing; the dreidel player loses an M & M or other such playing piece. But shins are seldom a chronic problem in dreidel. Dr. Dre’s definitely overreacting.

Apparently this was pretty much done for shits and giggles. But the Internet has responded with overwhelming affection for the Dr. Dreidel. Rothstein is now considering making this a thing and it could be available for purchase as early as next year.


 

 

 
via The World’s Best Ever

Posted by Tara McGinley | Leave a comment