Last Night of the Proms 2019

So, it’s over for another year – we will have to wait until the 17th July 2020 for the next season of the BBC Proms to start.

Meanwhile, I’ll remember the Last Night of the Proms for 2019 (last night…) with joy and affection. Some stunning music: the world premiere of a new piece, Woke, by Daniel Kidane, an arrangement of Laura Mvula’s Sing to the Moon, Elisabeth Maconchy’s Proud Thames, and all the old favourites.

And we all fell instantly in love with the mezzo-soprano Jamie Barton. What a woman, what a voice! And when she produced the Rainbow flag during the second chorus of Rule Britannia and waved it proudly for all the world to see, we were overjoyed…

Of course, the elephant in the room was Brexit, but we all managed to avoid mentioning it, and instead we simply enjoyed the music, waving Union Jacks and European flags together.

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Wise Words and Sad Leaves

Raoni Metuktire, chief of the indigenous Brazilian Kayapó people, has a few words of advice for us. Unfortunately, I doubt that we will listen.

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The Mother of Parliaments

Jos Collignon, the political cartoonist of the Dutch Volkskrant newspaper sums up the shenanigans of Boris Johnson and his gang of shits, charlatans and shysters (thank you, John Crace) pretty accurately this week…

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I see Farage has muscled in on the act as well…

Posted in Humour, News and politics | Leave a comment

Plex Drops a Bomb

Back in the mists of time (i.e. 2006), I installed a home cinema setup here: a Denon AVR with 7.1 audio, B&W speakers, and a Bluray player connected to the TV. After four years of service, I began to wonder if I could replace the Bluray player with a PC – a Home Theater PC… Six weeks later, after some research, I had made the move.

Over the next few years the setup evolved further, but in 2014 it became clear that I would need to change the player software used in the HTPC. I looked at two alternatives, Plex and Emby. I used both, but over time came to depend on Plex as being the more polished alternative. It was not perfect, but for TV and Movie viewing, it was my preferred choice.

A few days ago, Plex dropped a bomb. In their blog, they proudly announced a new version of their Desktop app. And buried further down in the text I read this:

The new desktop app is notably lacking TV mode, which means that we’re going to stop supporting the traditional HTPC setup (using a desktop computer connected to your TV or home theater) with this app. There. We said it. It marks the end of an era for us, and we’d be lying if we said it wasn’t a little bittersweet. But take heart. We looked at how most people were using the app, and most of you will have an equal (if not better) experience with a streaming device and our new players.

No, I will not “take heart”. My HTPC is working perfectly well, and I’ve very happy with our home cinema setup as it is. I do not want to have to throw away my HTPC and buy a streamer, thank you very much.

I suspect I’m going to be switching back to Emby in the near future.  I’m not feeling very charitable towards Plex at the moment.

Addendum 19 August 2019: I see that fellow HTPC owners are spitting feathers over at the Plex forum at the moment. It won’t make a blind bit of difference – Plex management has made it clear that the Plex Media Player for the HTPC  is dead as far as they are concerned.

So I’ve switched back to Emby – where Emby management has also made it clear that they have no plans to drop support for the HTPC.

Addendum 2 – 23 August 2019: so as a result of the uproar, Plex management has been having second thoughts. I’ll still be sticking with Emby for a while, just to see how it performs compared to Plex. I have already noticed that Emby is now beginning to support photo metadata tags – something that Plex has been promising to do for at least the past five years, but somehow never got around to doing anything about.

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Erwin Olaf: I Am

My blog post about the photographer Jimmy Nelson reminded me to write a post about another photographer whose work I really like: Erwin Olaf.

There’s recently been a major exhibition of his work in two museums in The Hague, and I visited it with a photographer friend of mine (this, I think, was his third visit to see the exhibition). Olaf has been making photographs since the early 1980s, and his first collection was published in Stadsgezichten (City Faces) in 1985.

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It was a collection of two styles: street photography of Amsterdam’s nightlife, and studio portraits.

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I’m pretty sure that that is Henk (on the ground) and Laurens – two guys I used to know from when I lived in Scheveningen. They were frequent visitors to Amsterdam’s nightlife. I recall a visit with them to Chez Manfred and the Floral Palace

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This is a self-portrait of Erwin and Teun, made in 1985. He reshot this with the exact same poses in 2019 for the exhibition. The two portraits hung side by side and made a statement about the passage of time.

His work has evolved over the years, taking in video and installations along the way, to creating scenes that hint at stories captured in the image. What the stories are about is left for the viewer to construct. For example, this image from the 2012 series Berlin:

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I’m pleased to have a selection of his books in the library, starting with Stadsgezichten, and travelling through Chessmen, Mind Of Their Own, Silver, Erwin Olaf, Own, and I Am.

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Carmina Burana

I was revisiting an old post of mine about a strange version of Carmen, and discovered that there’s a sequel that is perhaps even more weird: Carmina Burana – as you’ve definitely never seen it before…

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Homage to Humanity

While I was in Deventer at the book market, I popped into Deventer’s largest bookshop to check out the new book by photographer Jimmy Nelson: Homage to Humanity.

I already have a copy of his previous book Before They Pass Away in the library, which has the same theme: photographs of indigenous peoples and tribal cultures that are in danger of vanishing from the world.

I freely admit to being in somewhat of two minds about the books. The photographs themselves are stunning, but also carefully posed; almost theatrical. A sort of National Geographic crossed with Vogue. And yet, and yet – they are undoubtedly a record of sorts:  aspects of human cultures that are undeniably in danger of being swept away.

So I wanted to take a look at the new book to see whether I should stump up the cost of adding it to the library – at €125, it’s not exactly the cost of a paperback…

And, well, I was persuaded. It is a gorgeous book, printed by Rizzoli.

I’ve ordered it via our local village bookshop. Now I’ve got to find space in the bookshelves to put it.

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