Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Congratulations on the Oscar, Al!

Davis Guggenheim, Al Gore and Melissa Etheridge. Al Gore. Another of my heroes.

I went to see An Inconvenient Truth soon after it came out and I thought it was amazing. Absolutely brilliantly done, and completely compelling. I can't believe that anyone could see it and not understand the enormity of the threat to the planet posed by climate change.

Poster for An Inconvenient Truth. I've been aware of (and talked endlessly about) climate change since 1980 when I took a paper on Conservation and the Environment at varsity, as part of my Biological Sciences BSc. It was the most depressing course - we covered at least 20 ways in which man is destroying the environment - from CFCs depleting the ozone layer, to widespread pollution of earth, water and air, from the destruction of the rainforests to the rapidly increasing number of species that have become extinct. And Global Warming. The Greenhouse Effect. Climate Change.

When I took that paper 27 years ago, Global Warming was generally accepted as proven scientific fact. I'm pretty sure it still was when I worked for Greenpeace in the early 90s. But then I guess Exxon, Shell and the rest decided that they'd better do something, and quick, before the wider community actually started doing something about it - like buying less gas for their cars, for example. And so the lies and the twisting of the truth - the denial of the truth - began, aided and abetted over the past 6 years by ex-oil men Bush and Cheney.

And yet... and yet... what Al does so well in An Inconvenient Truth is to let the facts speak. Give people the facts, and let them decide for themselves.

For instance - how could you look at this:

and then look at this:

...and not understand that something is terribly wrong?

There's more...

How about this - Glacier National Park, Boulder Glacier - 1932 and 1985:

Glacier National Park 1932 and 1985.
Or this - Glacier AX010, Nepal - 1978:

Glacier AX010, Nepal - 1978
...compared with this - Glacier AX010, Nepal - 2004:

Glacier AX010, Nepal - 2004
Here's another - Peruvian glacier - 1980:

Peruvian glacier - 1980.
...and the same glacier in 2002:

Peruvian glacier - 2002.
And maybe occasionally Al can put a bit more drama into his presentation (as if these images weren't dramatic enough!) - let's have him following along the line on the graph that shows CO2 (Carbon Dioxide) concentrations as measured in the atmosphere and in ice cores:

And when he gets to the end of it - the bit following the Industrial Revolution where this fairly static and regular line suddenly begins to skyrocket upwards - let's put him on a cherry-picker that lifts him high into the air so he can reach the top of the darned thing!

It's a brilliant and chilling movie, one that everyone should see without delay - and one which I believe has already started to redirect the opinion of the masses in the direction of The Truth - Inconvenient as it may be to the oil companies. Go see it (or get the DVD) if you haven't already.

An Inconvenient Truth totally deserves its Oscar - congratulations to Al Gore and to director Davis Guggenheim and producers Lawrence Bender and Laurie David.

And finally... here are 10 things you can do today if you want to help stop global warming. You can change a light, drive less, recycle more, check your tyres, use less hot water, avoid products with a lot of packaging, adjust your thermostat, plant a tree, and turn off electric devices when you're not using them. As well as saving the environment, they'll also save you heaps on your utility bill. Click on the pic to make it bigger:

10 things you can do to help stop global warming.
I bought petrol for my car the other day. I keep a log book and record the date, how much I bought, the mileage on my car etc each time I buy some. I realised that the last time I filled up the gas tank was exactly a year ago. Not bad, eh? If I didn't need the car to take the cats to the vet, take me to the supermarket and to visit my friends, and to bring back plants from the garden centre once in a while - I'd get rid of it all together.

Interesting links

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Wednesday, February 21, 2007

HitTail - trying it out on Blogger beta

Early HitTail results. I've always been interested in my visitor stats - well, it's an ego thing, isn't it? I spend hoursandhours researching and writing stuff for my blog, and I'm naturally interested in whether or not anyone's actually, you know, reading what I write. Turns out that quite a few of you are (hooray!) and over the past couple of months I've noticed that Google referrals have become the number one vehicle bringing many of you to my site.

Once my Most Popular Posts widget is up and running again I'll have a minute-by-minute view of the 10 most popular posts on my blog (their server's currently having problems talking to the SQL Server database that holds all the widget data - but they assure me it'll be back online soon).

UPDATE 28/02/07: It's up again! Yaay!

It's very interesting watching various posts floating to the top of the pile. There are some I hadn't realised were so popular - most of my Blogger beta hints and tips are regularly in the Top 10, for example.

There are also those that I know are up there - currently it's the Wii Fatality post (massive number of hits from a link on The Enquirer), my Roger Waters Dark Side of the Moon Live concert review (fascinating to watch the hits coming from all around the world as the tour traverses the planet), and an old one about my Teevy boyfriend Clay Aiken, entitled Is Clay gay or straight? It's none of your business!

But what about the posts that aren't so widely-read? And, more important, what about the search words that are used to reach them?

HitTail is an online search word analysis tool that "reveals in real-time the least utilized, most promising keywords hidden in the long tail of your natural search results."

Long tail? Natural search results? Wassat then?

The complete collection of search words used by visitors who arrive at your site has a bunch of most-popular words and phrases, and then a much longer list of less common words and phrases. This is the long tail - and together they account for more visits than do the most-popular bunch. In fact Google reckons that over 50% of all searches are unique.

Natural search results are the ones you find on Google that aren't the paid-for ones. They're the real ones, if you like - the ones that are there through their own merit and not because someone's paid for them to be there. And that's where you want your blog posts to appear...

Hidden within the long tail of your natural search words and phrases are some that you can use as inspiration for further blog posts, and which will, over time, increase traffic - increase hits - to your blog. HitTail figures out which words and phrases are the "magic" ones, and makes suggestions about what subjects you could blog about, based on these.

Hmmm. Interesting. Now, I know that I certainly don't want to write stuff only because it might increase my visits - that's not the point of my blog at all - I write about what I'm interested in, my subjects are things I feel passionate about. But I think there might be occasions where what people are searching for matches up with what I want to write about - in which case, it'll be interesting data to have, and data which I might use. We shall see.

It's easy to put into Blogger - you just register your blog at HitTail, they give you a bit of JavaScript which you put into the body of your Blogger template (I placed it immediately following my opening <body> tag), and as soon as you get a new visitor to your site (referred by a search engine) the stats start coming through.

Once there are sufficient stats, HitTail starts making suggestions of subjects you could write about. It takes a while - I've had mine up for a few hours now and although I have stats, there are no suggestions yet. I guess it might take a few days for the tail to get long enough for suggestions to be made. I'll let you know.

Currently HitTail is in beta, so it's free. I'm not sure if they eventually intend to charge for it, but right now I'm happy to give it a free trial and see if I like it. Again, I'll let you know - and I'll be keeping an eye open to see if it makes a difference to my visitor numbers. Meanwhile here's a cute little demo about how HitTail works.

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Sunday, February 18, 2007

Blogger beta - Most Popular Posts widget

Please note: This post is now somewhat out of date, as AffiliateBrand have introduced version 2.0 and have switched everyone over. This post describes how to set up version 1.0. If you want to know how to install version 2.0 in Blogger, please visit my new post - How to restyle your Most Popular Posts widget - Part 1 - setting up your widget. Parts 2 and 3 of the series (how to restyle the widget if you want to) are linked from Part 1.

Alternatively, if you want to use this post (which it seems many of you still do), start at instruction 6 further down this page, and ignore instructions 1-5, as they are no longer valid.

The completed widget. I was randomly surfing around, looking for interesting blog widgets, and I found this one from AffiliateBrand.com - the blog window widget which displays my most popular posts. You can see it in my sidebar. Currently it's at the top of the sidebar, but I think I'll wait until it's fully populated and then I'll decide whether or not to move it further down the page.

Okay, I moved it down a bit. I figure for maximum effectiveness it needs to be near the top of my page, with at least part of it above the fold, but I think it looks a bit egotistical being right at the very top, so I've moved it under my "Friends who blog" list.

Gene Kavner, who created the widget, reckons it's increased the length of time people spend on his blog by 25% - because it catches your eye and might tempt you into visiting another post or two. I'll let you know if it has the same effect here.

I must say that's quite appealing, because the majority of you arrive at my blog via a Google referral, and many of you view just one post and then leave again. *sniff*! I'd like to share a few more of my musings with you! Won't you stay awhile?

I'm also interested in this widget because while Site Meter gives me some awesome statistics on my visitors (which I review daily), it doesn't really give me an easily accessible day-by-day summary of which posts are the most popular - which is what this widget was designed to do.

OK. You can see that it works in Blogger, so here's how to make it do its thing...

Start off by going here - Enhance Your Blog With AffiliateBrand Blog Window Widget - this link will open in a new window so you can keep reading my blog while visiting AffiliateBrand.

Follow the instructions (which are very straightforward) on that page. Firstly you'll have to create an account and register your blog URL with AffiliateBrand, because the widgety goodness comes from their site via a piece of JavaScript you put in your template.

Once you've created an account and verified you're not a spambot, and have registered your URL, you'll be taken to a page where you are given the two bits of JavaScript you need and can then configure your widget to your own specifications:

  1. Copy the first piece of JavaScript from your AffiliateBrand configuration page.

  2. In your Blogger Toolbar, click on Customize and then select Edit HTML from your Template menu.

  3. Before you do anything else, you should back up your template, so you can restore it if anything goes wrong. There's a link to Download Full Template under the heading Backup / Restore Template at the top of the page.

  4. Scroll down in the Edit Template window until you come to the closing tag of the head part of the template. You'll find it almost at the end of your template if you're using Blogger Beta, because all the styles and variables are also stored in the head. You're looking for something in your code that looks like this:

    Add that first bit of JavaScript into your template, DIRECTLY BEFORE the </head> tag.

  5. Save your template.

  6. Now copy the second bit of JavaScript from your AffiliateBrand configuration page and click on Page Elements in your Blogger Template menu. This will take you to the page where you can add and arrange Page Elements.

  7. In the sidebar area you'll see a link that says Add a Page Element. Click on this and you'll see the Choose a New Page Element popup window.

  8. Select the Page Element called HTML/JavaScript.

  9. Click the Add to Blog button.

  10. Type a title for your Page Element into the Title box. Mine is entitled Most Popular.

  11. Paste your second piece of JavaScript into the Content box.

  12. Click Save Changes.

  13. In your Add and Arrange Page Elements page you will now see your new Page Element listed at the top of the sidebar. You can reposition it now or later if you want to.

  14. View your blog. You will see the new widget at the top of your sidebar. If there's no content yet, and all you can see is the box and the blue header don't panic! The moment someone visits your blog (now that you've added this widget) you'll see it start to populate itself with the titles of your most popular pages. Keep on refreshing your blog page every so often to see the pages start to appear in the list.

The original unstyled widget. Let's assume everything went as planned and your widget is in place and starting to populate itself. What else can you do to it?

The easiest changes can be made via your window configuration page at AffiliateBrand. You'll see there are two coloured boxes on this page - one orange, the other yellow. In the orange box are the current settings for your widget. You can make changes by putting new values into the yellow box and saving them. You can change:
  • The width of the widget
  • The height of the widget
  • Over how many days you'd like your page popularity to be measured
  • The number of lines (ie how many posts you want listed at any one time)
  • The text for the widget title
  • The stylesheet URL (we'll get to that later)

There's also a nifty set of boxes entitled char's to cut off from LEFT and char's to cut off from RIGHT. Blogger adds the name of your blog at the beginning of every page title, which is a lot of repetition and takes up valuable space, so you can cut this off in the page titles within the widget. Just count the number of characters in your blog title. Include each space as 1 character. WebWeaver's World: is 19 characters including a space at the end after the :

Put your number into the yellow box entitled char's to cut off from LEFT - new and click save changes. The page titles in your widget should now display without your blog title at the begining of each one.

Now that your blog widget's up and running, you may decide to change the colours and styling on it, so that it more closely matches your blog. You do this by creating your own stylesheet for the widget and replacing the existing default stylesheet with your own. You'll have to have somewhere to host your stylesheet - so if you don't have access to a server you won't be able to do this bit. My stylesheet is stored on my website at WebWeaver Productions.

Go to Make Your Blog Window Look Like Your Site With a Stylesheet and follow the instructions. You'll see a link to the default stylesheet which you will need to download and modify, and then host on your own server. The instructions on what style in the CSS refers to which part of the widget are very clear, so I won't repeat them here.

I found the easiest way was to save a copy of the default stylesheet on my server, then go back to my configurations page at AffiliateBrand and add the stylesheet URL in the yellow box.

The completed widget again. Once the stylesheet was in place I changed one thing at a time (eg the colour of the title), re-uploaded it and checked the effect of the changes in my blog. It took me a while to get it how I wanted it, but I think it looks much better now that it's the right colours, and matching font.

The widget is built inside a series of nested tables, and there are some things that you can't change (like cellspacing, for example). I did figure out how to make some changes to the table borders, but I eventually trashed these because I decided the original was better. In some ways I'd rather it wasn't in a table at all, or at least that I could make it disappear completely using the stylesheet, but overall I'm happy with the way it's looking.

The only other weird thing is that the addition of the JavaScript seems to have caused my Blogger toolbar to move down about 15px from the top of the page, and there's now a gap above it. Not very pretty! I'll see if I can figure out how to fix that...

I think it's a great little widget. I hope these instructions have been of use to you if you want to add it to your Blogger template.

Update 30/04/07: This widget has gone down a couple of times due to a server error at AffiliateBrand, but I think it's such a useful widget, that I'm willing to live with that. It doesn't happen very often, and when it does I just comment out the JavaScript until it's back online again.

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To wear or not to wear knickers on a date

I have Site Meter on my blog (you can see the link at the bottom of this page) and it gives me stats on those of you who visit WebWeaver's World, which pages you visit, how long you stay, where in the world you come from - all that interesting stuff. I love looking at all the places you come from - it's so completely cool. I pay a small amount per year for a bunch of additional info including the search words you come in on.

I know I've had at least one visit from The White House (can't be George though - he can't even refer to "the internets" properly - and he certainly has no idea how to use "The Google"!) - but my very favourite piece of info I've picked up from my Site Meter stats recently is that the phrase

to wear or not to wear knickers on a date
was actually used in a Google search by someone who ended up on my site, at the post entitled What not to wear. Good Lord! I came sixth in the Google search results for that particular phrase.

So, anonymous from Milton Keynes in the UK who is trying to find out whether or not they should don underwear when meeting up with that special person - I'm terribly sorry that I wasn't able to supply you with an answer either way - but thanks a million for making my day!

I hope you figured out what you should do - and that the date was everything you'd hoped it would be. Now please excuse me while I roll on the floor in helpless hysterics for a wee bit longer. You rule! God I love the internets!

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Stand for Mayor, Georgina!

I conducted a (very) informal staw poll at Iain and Alice's place this evening. My question to Iain, Alice, Angela and Jones was "if Georgina stands for Mayor of Wellington, will you vote for her?

Results were 4:1 in favour of Georgina:

Angela: Yes, defintely.

Alice: Hell yeah! (actually Alice would vote for anyone-who-isn't-Kerry-Prendergast).

Iain: Yes because she's a left-winger and Kerry's a right-winger and he'd rather have a left-winger as Mayor.

Jones: Probably not, partly cos he's heard she wasn't entirely popular in the Wairarapa but mainly because he probably won't be voting for anyone.

Me: DEFINITELY!! I love Georgina! I think she's smart, and funny, and an amazing character, and she's got bags of experience and heaps of ideas. She's motivated and - well - pretty awesome really. I think she'd do a brilliant job. And I hatehatehate Kerry Prendergast with the heat of a thousand suns and I will NEVER forgive her for the fucking nightmare that is the Te Aro Bypass rant rant rant.

We then all got into a full-on rant about the fucking nightmare that is the Te Aro Bypass and how it now takes three-quarters of an hour for Alice to "pop into" town because the traffic's so appalling waiting at the bloody traffic lights so that the motorway traffic can save 30 seconds getting to the airport - and how I haven't driven through town once since the bypass was opened 'cos I haven't a clue how to get anywhere any more. I drive around the edge which is further and takes longer.

I'm so completely and utterly disgusted by the bypass. Always was, always will be. That the might of the automobile can trump the way of life of an entire inner-city community is totally abhorrent IMO. Let's save 30 or 60 or even 90 seconds getting to the airport - and destroy a community in the process! Plus (and this is something any student of road-building and human behaviour could tell you) if you build a bigger road, more cars will use it, and any time-saving you might have made will soon disappear. Plus everyone else not on the motorway loses far more time waiting at the bloody traffic lights! Insanity.

Oh - and I'm not too keen on the "no-conflict-of-interest - honest" situation with Prendergast and her husband, developer Rex Nicholls either...

Anyway, negative rant over.

Postive (and brief) rant begins:


I think you'd walk it - and if my straw poll is anything to go by - you'd have a sizeable majority of the votes...

Small voice disclaimer okay so all my friends are lefties, but still... :)

Beyer ponders contesting Wellington mayoralty

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Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Happy Valentine's Day!

i heart you - borrowed from www.davidchoe.com. I'm not that keen on Valentine's Day. For 364 days of the year I'm quite content being single. Okay, that's not quite true. Let's say for 364 days of the year - minus a few hours once every 2 or 3 months when my PMS gets the better of me - I'm quite content being single. The one day a year that I'm pretty much guaranteed to feel at least grumpy about not being one half of a couple is February 14.

On Valentine's Day it feels as though there's a grand conspiracy against all of us saddo singles. Everywhere you look couples are rushing out buying each other red roses and taking each other out for dinner, sending each other soppy cards and generally being very LOUD about the fact that somebody-loves-me. It's like a giant finger pointed in the direction of the unattached, accompanied by the accusing cry of "LOSER!!! LOSER!!"

Yeah I know. I'm being very over-dramatic. It's not even as if it bothers me the rest of the year (apart from during that PMT thing I mentioned earlier!). I'm not a single person who's desperate to be half of a double. I don't believe that finding The One will somehow complete my life. I'm perfectly well aware that I make my own happiness, as we all do, and that it's not up to anyone else to make me happy - it's down to me.

Still... on that one day a year, I do have a bit of a tendency to feel a bit sorry for myself. So why am I wishing you a Happy Valentine's Day this year?

Valentine's card - borrowed from Lora. Well... it's funny, but this year for some reason I haven't felt so bad. Maybe I'm just over it. Maybe I'm just so used to being single that it just doesn't bother me anymore - not even on February 14. Maybe it's because Matt V told me yesterday about his secret plan to surprise his wife on Valentine's Day, and I thought it was sweet and lovely - and it made me feel happy for them, rather than sad for me.

There actually is a person I quite like - althought I'm such a wuss that I didn't send them a Valentine today. Maybe I should have. Mind you, they didn't send me one either :)

Anyway, it wasn't such a bad day today. I wasn't Mrs Grumpy-Pants at all, and that's always a good thing. You wouldn't want to hang out with me when I'm being Mrs Grumpy-Pants.

Happy Valentine's Day!

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Monday, February 05, 2007

Stop press: George Bush worse than Satan!

In an AP poll yesterday a few weeks ago, George Bush was voted Top Villain of 2006 - worse than Osama Bin Laden, Saddam Hussein, President Ahmadinejad of Iran, North Korean leader Kim Jong Il, and Satan combined. Sounds about right to me. Enjoy!

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Sunday, February 04, 2007

Five things you may not know about me

Ooh! Ooh! Zef tagged me! Sorry it's taken a while Zef - I didn't realise I was "it". So here goes - Five Things You May Not Know About Me.

[1] I could read and write before I went to school

I guess my mum must have taught me, and she also instilled in me a life-long love of reading and writing.

The first word I ever wrote was "dog", in purple crayon on a piece of wood I'd been playing with. I have no idea why I chose to use a piece of wood instead of a piece of paper. There was a picture of a dog next to it that I drew in brown crayon. I may have got my d's and b's mixed up - it's possible that my first written word was actually "bog" or maybe even "god". Or "gob".

I was so good at reading by the time I started infant school at four-and-a-half, that our teacher had to tell me to keep quiet during Flash Card sessions 'cos I wasn't letting anyone else get a word in edgeways. By the end of my second year at school I'd raced through every single reading scheme book they possessed, so they let me loose in the school library instead. Wonderful!

Later, mum would take us to the local library every Friday after school, where we were allowed to choose 3 books to take home for the week. By the time we got home, I'd be halfway through the first book.

[2] I was the last girl in my class to wear a bra

...and also the last to get my period. My headteacher took my mum aside and told her she thought I was a "late developer", and not to worry. I have to say it was somewhat annoying, having to wear a stoopid vest when all my friends were prancing around showing off their training bras in the gym changing rooms.

Mind you, I quite like being a "late developer" these days. It means most people have no idea how old I actually am - they usually guess around 10 years younger. Ha!Ha! Long may it last!

[3] My first taste of "fame" was when I was 12 years old

I entered a competition in our local newspaper, which involved tracking down historical and geographical information about our city, in order to answer a dozen local knowledge questions. Today I could probably Google the answers in 10 minutes, but back then (before the internets were invented) it involved hours of research in the library, and journeys to various places around town to find all the answers.

I slipped up and gave the name of the first Mayor of Birmingham instead of the first Lord Mayor, but because I was only a kid and I'd got all the other answers right they sent a photographer over to our house to take my picture, and they put a little article about me in the paper. Woohoo!

[4] I have an honours degree (BSc) in Biological Sciences

...and a Post-Graduate Certificate of Education, specialising in infant teaching.

My final year dissertation was on The effects of Sulphur dioxide (SO2) pollution on the metabolism, physiology, growth and yield of green plants.

My final year project was entitled The predatory behaviour of wild passerines: The adoption of a Specific Searching Image for artificial prey exhibiting both colour and shape polymorphism. I know you really wanted to know that.

I loved doing my degree. It was absolutely fascinating. Plus being a student was the best fun ever. Initially I wanted to be a marine biologist like my hero, Jacques Cousteau. Then I decided I wanted to do population research with my project supervisor Professor Brian Clarke, 'cos I had a bit of an academic crush on him. He offered me a PhD place if my degree was good enough, but alas the lazy webweaver genes kicked in and I didn't start revising for my finals until two weeks before they began.

I got 20 hours sleep in a week of exams, filled my short-term memory with screeds of facts every night, which I regurgitated onto paper and instantly forgot the following day - and ended up with a 2:2 instead of the expected 2:1. My own stupid fault, and it put paid to my academic career. Never mind! I went travelling the world with Andy Brown instead!

[5] The last boy I kissed was David Long, former guitarist with The Mutton Birds

He was my boyfriend for a while, and I thought he was pretty wonderful. We met at the after-party for a play I'd helped my mate Bruce do the scenery for, when we were introduced by a mutual friend. We got chatting, discovered mutual interests (I was organising The Gathering at the time and he, of course, was a musician) and for a couple of hours the world around us disappeared as we talked, and talked, and talked.

I was sure he'd get in touch again (and if he hadn't done so I'd planned to ask our friend to invite us both to dinner), and sure enough he did, with a careful invitation to meet another friend of his for whom I might be interested in doing some work. We got together soon after, and for a while things seemed to be going really well.

But I frightened him away by unguardedly talking too soon about The Future and my dreams of having a little house together. Such a shame, he was a really lovely guy (even though it was a little weird having our meals sometimes interrupted by Mutton Birds fans wanting to talk to him when we went out to dinner!)

So there you go, and now you know....

Okay - I'm tagging Rose, Bronya, and MissD. Go for it, guys! It's your turn! And make sure you let me know when it's up, 'kay???

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Saturday, February 03, 2007

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows - release date announced

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows - JK Rowling - July 21, 2007I love the Harry Potter books. I still read a lot of classic (mainly English) chidren's literature that I loved when I was a kid - Swallows and Amazons, The Borrowers, The Secret Garden that kind of thing - and I think the quality of Jo Rowling's work is right up there with the best of them.

I love the fact that she never dumbs down her language or concepts in order to cater for kids - which is just as it should be. Kids get it! And stuff they don't get at first they will understand as they re-read favourite books over the years. I first read The Lord of The Rings when I was 11 and I've re-read it pretty much every year since then - and I still find new things I'd never noticed before.

It's the same with Harry Potter. I've read all 6 books more than once, and there's always new things to discover, and new clues to pick up along the way. So I'm completely thrilled to see that the release date for the final book - Book 7 - Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows was announced yesterday. It's due out on 21 July 2007. Woohoo! At this precise moment (according to The Leaky Cauldron's countdown clock) there are 165 days, 8 hours, 8 minutes and 39 seconds left to wait. And there'll be somewhat fewer by the time you read this.

Time to start thinking about reading the whole series through again in preparation for Book 7. Let's see - a week or so for each book - say 2 weeks to be on the safe side, 6 books, that's 3 months. Hmmm. Not quite time to begin - but soon.

When I had finished reading book 6 I wrote the following piece for one of my message boards (hi CH literature thread!), and I thought it would be interesting to revisit it now that book 7 is nearly here. It lays out my theory about Snape's role in the books, and my answer to the famdom-dividing question of Snape: Good or Evil?

Warning: this piece is basically one big spoiler of book 6, so don't read any further if you haven't read Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince yet (assuming there's anyone left on the planet who's still planning to read it but hasn't gotten around to it yet!)


Monday 25 July 2005

Oooh ohh! I just finished reading it last night! I cried at the end. I just didn't see that coming at all. Oh boy.

OK. Here are my thoughts. Apologies in advance at the length of them. Once I got started I just couldn't stop.... It's mostly about Snape 'cos I find him fascinating.... *g*

I don't think Snape is a Death Eater. I think he's DEEP under cover and he has to stay that way. Voldemort is the most powerful dark wizard ever. He's equal in power to Dumbledore - pure evil vs pure good. Dumbledore wouldn't have been able to defeat Voldemort - of course, that's Harry's job - but I also think that he decided long ago that a double agent - a hidden enemy - would be much more likely to be able to weaken Voldemort in some unexpected way than he (Dumbledore) ever could. Thereby allowing Harry to finish off Voldemort at the end of book 7.

Did you notice when Snape was talking to Bellatrix and Narcissa about Malfoy's task that he never actually said anything specific until they had already mentioned it? He talks in very general terms - or says nothing at all - and lets Narcissa spill (some of) the beans herself. This makes me think that he doesn't know what the plan is at that stage, but wants to find out - and needs to keep under cover, whatever the price. That's why he agrees to the Unbreakable Vow - and why he twitches his hand when Narcissa puts in the final bit about doing the job should Malfoy fail. Because obviously he doesn't want to agree to that, but has to, or his cover will be blown.

So throughout the book we have Snape trying to find out from Malfoy what his task is - and Malfoy refusing to tell, thinking that Snape wants all the glory for himself. Snape has figured out that Malfoy has to kill Dumbledore - Malfoy says that Snape guessed it was him with the necklace and was angry about the fact that it could have "blown everything". Dumbledore also tells Malfoy that he had figured out he was trying to kill him. But Snape doesn't know details, and I think it's these that he's been trying to get out of Malfoy.

I think that Snape and Dumbledore would have discussed it, thought through all the consequences of the Unbreakable Vow - and would have come up with a plan. The problem was, Malfoy never told Snape about the Vanishing Cabinets, and so Snape would have had no way of knowing that there would be other Death Eaters at the school that night - which kind of complicated things for him.

And once again Trelawney sees it coming in the cards. Cool.

OK. So they both know Malfoy has to kill Dumbledore. They both know that he may not be able to do it. In which case, Snape will have to do it for him. If he doesn't, his cover will be blown - oh, and he would die anyway, for breaking the Unbreakable Vow. Dumbledore believes that, in the end, Snape will be of more use to Harry than he (Dumbledore) could be. He's always looking at the bigger picture, and I reckon he knows he must sacrifice himself in order for ultimate good to triumph over ultimate evil.

Dumbledore makes sure that he gets the whole story from Malfoy before he dies - and that Harry is forced to stay where he is so he hears it all too. There's obviously stuff in there which Harry will need to know in book 7. I think Dumbledore is telling the truth when he tells Malfoy that he couldn't have spoken to him about his task, in case Voldemort used Legilimancy on Malfoy. But I think that's as much to do with maintaining Snape's cover as protecting Malfoy.

Having said that, I think Dumbledore's very keen to "save" Malfoy - to bring him back from the dark side - which means ensuring that Malfoy does not kill him. I think this is partly because Dumbledore has an abiding ability to see the best in people and to believe the best of them - and also - from JK Rowling's point of view - because I think she actually wants Malfoy to redeem himself in book 7 - for her readers' sake maybe? Bad boy turns good - "hey kids, you can stop bullying your mates and be a good guy instead" kind of a thing. Maybe?

Dumblwdore's pleading with Snape just before Snape kills him wasn't to spare his life - it was to take it - something which Snape would have obviously not wanted to do (assuming I am right about Snape, of course! *g*). Snape's look of "revulsion and hatred" just before he does Avada Kedavra could be read as being towards Voldemort, and because of what he has to do, rather than towards Dumbledore.

I think it's also possible that Dumbledore either knew he was going to die soon anyway from having drunk the potion in the cave - or, that he knew if he stayed alive, there was something in the potion which would allow Voldemort to read his thoughts or something (remember how he tells Harry that he didn't think the potion would kill right away, because Voldemort would want to know who had drunk it and whether they knew about the horcruxes). So he has to die before Voldemort gets inside his head, otherwise Snape's cover will be blown - and Voldemort will know that Harry knows about the horcruxes.

It's interesting also that Snape could have killed Harry as they race for the front gates - but doesn't - and that he stops one of the other Death Eaters from doing it too. OK, he says it's because Harry needs to be saved for Voldemort - like a mouse for a cat to play with - but then why doesn't he take Harry with him right then? Or he could just have gone against Voldemort's orders and killed off the only real threat to Voldemort's power. End of problem, Voldemort rules the world. OK, he might be a bit pissed off that Snape spoiled his fun, but still, he'd rule the world....

Did you also notice that Snape stops Harry from doing the Cruciatus curse - that's one of the Unforgivable Curses - in fact he says that to Harry as he parries away the half-spoken curse. Is this because he needs to ensure that Harry stays "pure", stays "good" and isn't sullied by the speaking of a Dark curse? [It occurs to me that this might also be why he's so angry with Harry for using Sectumsempera (which he describes as being Dark Magic) on Malfoy - as well as, because, you know, he nearly sliced him open!]

And his mighty over-reaction in the chase to the school gates when Harry calls him a coward - he goes nuts! I think Snape truly dislikes Harry - he can't get over what Harry's dad and his mates did to him at school - so imagine how he would feel if this upstart kid - whom he has sworn to protect at all costs - including just murdering his good friend Dumbledore for the greater good - just called him a coward when actually he's nothing of the sort. No wonder he freaks out!

And I think Dumbledore is definitely dead (much as I'd like to think otherwise). The fact that the Freezing Charm lifted from Harry once Dumbledore fell, and that Fawkes sang the lament and then flew away, makes me think that. Although, Harry does think he sees a phoenix rising from Dumbledore's funeral pyre, so maybe........ we shall see. Maybe Nova's right and he will do a Gandalf....

I think from a plot/storyline point of view, Dumbledore had to die - it is the classic Merlin/Arthur, Gandalf/Frodo pattern, isn't it? Wizard/mentor/father-figure teaches star pupil all he can, and then has to die off so that the boy hero can become a man and fulfil his destiny. (As far as Frodo is concerned, Gandalf is dead, so that still fits, even though G is resurrected.) In the end, Harry has to do it by himself. The fact that (if I'm right) Snape will help him somehow, which slightly spoils the classic storyline, is mitigated by the fact that Snape and Harry truly dislike each other, and that Snape can in no way be seen to be playing the father-figure/mentor role.

Interesting that Hogwarts may close next year, which means that Ron and Hermione are free to go with Harry on his quest with no regrets (which Hermione might otherwise have had) and that we have no regrets about missing school either, because there is no school.

I also agree that Ginny isn't going to get pushed away quite so easily. It's a crap argument anyway – “I can't love you because then you'll be a target for Voldemort" I mean, Harry loves Ron and Hermione as much if not more as he cares for Ginny, so they'll be obvious targets anyway. Mind you, again going back to the "classic storyline" - the hero generally does have to kill the dragon before he wins the fair lady.... But I just think JK took care in this book to build Ginny up into a strong, no-nonsense kind of girl, who in the end won't allow the others to go off into danger without her.

And of course Ron and Hermione will get together. How could they not? Rowling's been building up to that one since book 1!

Ohohoho - and did you notice the veiled reference to possibly slightly more than snogging going on between Harry and Ginny???? When Romilda Vane asks Ginny whether Harry has a Hippogriff tattooed across his chest? Although Ginny reports that she made a joke of it and told Romilda it was a Hungarian Horntail, the fact that Romilda asks, and Ginny answers, and no-one's in the least bit surprised or shocked make me think that *gasp* Ginny has seen Harry with his shirt off. Oooh-er! Snigger.

So there you go. Did I fill a whole page???? I used to love English at school. I had a crush on my English teacher in fact. Sigh.

UPDATE 14/04/07: Since I write this post, the cover art for Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows has been released. Here's my in-depth analysis of the cover art and what it might reveal of the storyline for book 7.

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Thursday, February 01, 2007

Roger Waters - Dark Side of the Moon Live - Auckland 2007

Well, it's taken me a few days to get my act together, but here goes... my review (with pictures) of Roger Waters The Dark Side of the Moon Live in Auckland.


Roger was passionate, and incredibly political (which I LOVED!), and looked as though he was having a great time. He's looking a bit older (aren't we all?) and his voice doesn't have the range or purity it once had, but oh.my.God - what a privilege, what a thrill, what an honour to see the man who wrote The Dark Side of the Moon actually performing it - right there on stage in front of you. Wow.

The sound was absolutely crystal clear, and the visuals were fantastic, with an enormous video screen stretching the width of the entire stage, across which played visuals specifically designed for each song.

Shine on You Crazy Diamond.
It was one of the happiest gigs I think I've ever been to - everyone was obviously pretty darned pleased to be there, and the crowd was so good-natured - it was just a complete joy to be a part of it.

I think I'll post my pictures now and put little comments in between them. There's quite a few. Some are pretty blurry, but I like them anyway, so here goes... and if you make it right to the end of this blog post, you might also find a few snippets of video along the way. Enjoy! And if you want to see a bigger version of any of the pictures, just click 'em!

Shine on You Crazy Diamond.
I was so awe-struck by just being there that I didn't even get my camera out until Shine on You Crazy Diamond, which was the fourth song. So I have absolutely no record of In the Flesh, Mother or Set the Controls for the Heart of the Sun.

Which is a shame really because there was some lovely stuff on-screen for Set the Controls..., with old black and white footage of Pink Floyd frolicking in a field, preceded by an incredibly huge and stunningly beautiful closeup view of the burning edge of the sun, which slowly made its way up the screen and disappeared, only to reappear and make its way back down the screen at the end. There's a pic of it in the programme - maybe I'll scan it sometime and add it here.

Shine on You Crazy Diamond.
So these first few pictures were all taken during Shine on You Crazy Diamond, which is one of my all-time absolute favourite songs ever. Oh! I just adore it! Ambient music before there was ambient music, lyrical, utterly beautiful, and so heartfelt and sorrowful.

Syd Barrett - Shine on You Crazy Diamond.
Dear Syd, you crazy, inspired genius of a man. I know Roger loved you very much - and he sang this song with such passion - it was filled with all the love and frustration he felt for you, and imbued with sorrow at your death. Rest in peace, Syd - you crazy diamond - shine on.

Sax solo played by Ian Ritchie - Shine on You Crazy Diamond.
The sax solo at the end of Shine on You Crazy Diamond

You know, even the queue for the bus to the North Harbour Stadium was an incredibly friendly place to be, with complete strangers chatting happily to each other. The guys behind us had come all the way from Invercargill, and one of them was a complete concert virgin - this was his first-ever gig! Crikey! He'll be hard-pressed to beat it...

We felt awful 'cos near the front of the queue it split into three or four sub-queues, and we thought they'd already got on another bus, but as we drove away (to rousing cheers from all the passengers) we saw them still waiting at the very front of the queue next to ours. Bummer! I hope they all got there in time!

Have a Cigar was next. I got nuthin'.

Wish You Were Here.
Wish You Were Here - another of my favourite songs. This is the same screen that began the concert, as people were settling down in their seats and sorting themselves out. Occasionally a hand would reach across and change the channel on the radio, and we'd get a bit of Elvis, or Abba (channel quickly changed!) or something equally cool.

And here's the video... apologies in advance for the quite dreadful lack of control in the camera-holding department for this one. I was much too excited to hold it steady - plus I was trying to look like I wasn't taking a video in case security had been instructed to prevent any illicit video-taking. The other videos are much steadier, I promise... Maybe shut your eyes and just listen to this one :)

We're just two lost souls
Swimming in a fish bowl
Year after year...

At the end of Wish You Were Here the screen filled with flickering candles...

Wish You Were Here.
...and poppies rained down amongst them.

Wish You Were Here.
It was quite beautiful and a very moving segue into two songs from The Final Cut - Southampton Dock and The Fletcher Memorial Home. I particularly appreciated the image of George Bush that appeared amongst pictures of a whole lot of other terrorists for the video that accompanied The Fletcher Memorial Home - and by the amount of cheering from the crowd, it seems as though I wasn't the only one! Go Roger, go!

Perfect Sense.
The first inflatable appeared during (I think) Perfect Sense part 1 & 2 as this astronaut floated gracefully from one side of the stage to the other, accompanying his buddy on the screen. More was to come in the way of inflatables... much, much more...

Roger Waters closeup.
My blurry attempt to grab a close-up of Roger from the big screen at the side of the stage. I like it - I think it captures the essence of ol' Rog, even if not the detail...

The following five images are from Roger's new song Leaving Beirut, which is the story of the openness and welcome he found when in the Middle East as a young man travelling alone - and his criticisms of the Bush regime's current stance in that part of the world. It's one of the most political songs I've heard in a long time - and it was completely AWESOME. It was accompanied by a comic strip of the story on the big screen. My favourite lines (accompanied once again by a great cheer from the crowd) were:

Oh George! Oh George!
That Texas education
Must have fucked you up
When you were very small!

Here's a bunch more:

Leaving Beirut.
Every time a smart bomb does its sums and gets it wrong / Someone else's child dies / And equities in defence rise.

Leaving Beirut.
Don't let the might / Of the Christian Right / Fuck it all up for you and the rest of the world.

Leaving Beirut.

Not in my name Tony / You great war leader you / Terror is still terror / Whosoever gets to frame the rules.

Bloody brilliant. What an awesome song.

And then came Sheep. I'm not as familiar with Animals as I am with some other Floyd albums, and I was really busting to go to the loo, so when I saw Kirsten heading off towards the concourse area I went with her. We were almost at the top of the stairs when we heard a great roar from the crowd, turned around and saw a GIANT inflatable flying pink pig being towed around the arena on a pair of kite strings.

The "pig wrangler" took it on a tour right around the stadium, and fortunately I still had my camera with me, so I got a whole bunch of pictures. It was well cool. It was covered in graffiti, as you will see. I loved it. So did everyone else.

Flying pink pig - side 1.
On this side it has an American flag on top of a peace sign, and it says Kafka Rules OK! and Tino Rangatiratanga and Cut along the dotted line next to a dotted line around its throat.

Flying pink pig - side 2.
Here you can see Don't be led to the slaughter and Habeus corpus matters.

Flying pink pig's arse.
As the pig turned away from us to go back towards the stage, another great roar went up from the crowd. Across its arse (a mighty appropriate place for it, IMO), was written the words Impeach Bush now! Heh. Heh heh heh.

Flying pink pig - side 2.
Here's side 2 again. It says Save our bacon, Don't be led to the slaughter and Habeus corpus matters - a lot! - and there's an arrow pointing towards Impeach Bush now! that reads Only dimly aware. Too right!

There was one more thing written on the pig. On its tummy it read Free at Last so at the end of the song, they freed it - and the pig sailed slowly up into the night sky, accompanied by cheers from the crowd. Wonder when it'll turn up on TradeMe...

INTERMISSION. Mad rush to the loo by all the old bastards in the crowd. Glad we went when we did. Some chick in the stands displayed her "hooters" (Gerrard's word, not mine!) to the entire crowd, who were most appreciative. They were quite good ones actually.

Everyone stands up and moves around a bit... YES! The entire crowd SAT for the whole of the first half!! (Apart from when we jumped up at the end of each song to go Woohoo! cheer cheer clap clap.) Very civilised! Getting old, you see... pacing ourselves...

Strong smell of Best New Zealand Green in the air. Stick my nose heavenwards and sniff hard to try and get a whiff. Start getting veryveryvery excited about the prospect of hearing/seeing The Dark Side of the Moon in its entirety. Small full moon projected onto the screen slowly gets larger and larger.

Stadium lights suddenly go out and we hear THE HEARTBEAT, getting louder and louder and louder. Crowd goes mental. I go insane. A red light appears at the side of the huge full moon that fills the screen, and turns into a massive satellite that hurtles towards us at full speed. Crowd goes more insane. I go more mental. Here's Speak to Me and part of Breathe...

"I've always been mad, I know I've been mad..."

Run, rabbit run.
Dig that hole, forget the sun,
And when at last the work is done
Don't sit down it's time to dig another one.

I think these next five are all from On The Run. The visuals were so pretty! And pretty full-on too, especially with that crazy instrumental. I can imagine if you were stoned or tripping it would have been a fairly intense experience.

On The Run 01.
On The Run 02.
On The Run 03.
On The Run 04.
On The Run 05.

And then came Time - with the most wonderful drum solo by Graham Broad. I loved this song when I was kid, and I still do. And now that I'm older I kinda see where he's coming from, too:

Tired of lying in the sunshine staying home to watch the rain.
You are young and life is long and there is time to kill today.
And then one day you find ten years have got behind you.
No one told you when to run, you missed the starting gun.

And the best line of all...

Hanging on in quiet desperation is the English way.

I don't have any pictures from Breathe (reprise), but I have to include my favourite lyrics from that song here:

Far away across the field
The tolling of the iron bell
Calls the faithful to their knees
To hear the softly spoken magic spell.

Last week at work Viv caught me wiping tears from my eyes as I listened to The Great Gig in the Sky on my iPod. God it's such a beautiful, mournful, terrifyingly tragic piece. I thought for sure I'd weep all the way through the live version. In fact I didn't, but I did take a bit of video of it. Carol Kenyon kicks ass! Here it is:

"And I am not frightened of dying, any time will do, I don't mind. Why should I be frightened of dying? There's no reason for it, you've gotta go sometime."

Next one of course was Money. I used to love singing along with this one as a kid - and not surprisingly, I still do.

Money 01.
Money, get away.
Get a good job with good pay and you're okay.
Money, it's a gas.
Grab that cash with both hands and make a stash.
New car, caviar, four star daydream,
Think I'll buy me a football team.

Money 02.
Money, get back.
I'm all right Jack keep your hands off of my stack.
Money, it's a hit.
Don't give me that do goody good bullshit.
I'm in the high-fidelity first class traveling set
And I think I need a Lear jet.

Money, it's a crime.
Share it fairly but don't take a slice of my pie.
Money, so they say
Is the root of all evil today.
But if you ask for a rise it's no surprise
that they're giving none away.

Oh my God. Us and Them. Apart from Brain Damage it's my favourite song on the album. Here's a bit of it, followed by a bunch of images accompanied by my favourite bits of the lyrics:

Us and Them 01
Forward he cried from the rear
and the front rank died.
And the general sat and the lines on the map
moved from side to side.

Probably the most influential words of my entire early teens. Together with my immersion in the punk scene a few years later and my first serious boyfriend who taught me about Socialism, those few words made an enormous - and lasting - impression on me. They still resonate with me today as strongly as they did mumbletymumble years ago, especially considering who's in charge of the White House right now.

Thank you Roger. Your words helped to shape the person I am today, and I'll always be grateful for that.

Us and Them 02
Haven't you heard it's a battle of words
The poster bearer cried.
Listen son, said the man with the gun
There's room for you inside.

Us and Them 03
Out of the way, it's a busy day
I've got things on my mind.
For the want of the price of tea and a slice
The old man died.

This next lot are from Any Colour You Like:

Any Colour You Like 01.
Are you beginning to notice a theme running through the graphics here?

Any Colour You Like 02.
I am...

Any Colour You Like 03.
I can't quite put my finger on it but...

Any Colour You Like 04.
There's somthing really familiar about that big round thing that always seems to be on the screen.

Any Colour You Like 05.
It reminds me of... of... of the...

Any Colour You Like 06
No. It's gone. Losing my mind I'm afraid. It's old age you know...

Anyway. Now we come to my other most favouritest song on the album. Brain Damage. Quite appropriate really.

Here are a coupla pics, once again accompanied by the best bits of the wordz (IMHO). Actually, you know what? I can't just cut bits out of this song. I'll have to include the lyrics in their entirety (sung VERY LOUDLY by me):

Brain Damage 01.
The lunatic is on the grass.
The lunatic is on the grass.
Remembering games and daisy chains and laughs.
Got to keep the loonies on the path.

The lunatic is in the hall.
The lunatics are in my hall.
The paper holds their folded faces to the floor
And every day the paper boy brings more.

And if the dam breaks open many years too soon
And if there is no room upon the hill
And if your head explodes with dark forebodings too
I'll see you on the dark side of the moon.

The lunatic is in my head.
The lunatic is in my head
You raise the blade, you make the change
You re-arrange me 'til I'm sane.
You lock the door
And throw away the key
There's someone in my head but it's not me.

And if the cloud bursts, thunder in your ear
You shout and no one seems to hear.
And if the band you're in starts playing different tunes
I'll see you on the dark side of the moon.

Brain Damage 02.

Be happy I didn't make a video of this one. All you'd have heard would have been me SINGING ALONG AT THE TOP OF MY VOICE. Best you don't have to go through that.

And finally... Eclipse:

All that is now
All that is gone
All that's to come
and everything under the sun is in tune
but the sun is eclipsed by the moon.

"There is no dark side of the moon really. Matter of fact it's all dark."


...and as the last bars of the song faded away and the heartbeats filled our ears the crowd finally - finally - leapt to their feet as one and went completely nuts.

Now the last time I went to a big outdoor gig in EnZed (Robbie Williams as a matter of fact - what's it to ya? Eh?) the crowd was so unfamiliar with "concert etiquette" that Robbie actually had to ask (in a very small voice from backstage) whether or not we wanted him to come back for an encore. Because when he first went off stage everyone went "well that was nice, what did you think of it? [insert name of friend/lover here] Blah blah chat chat... pardon? What's that? You want to know whether you should come back on again? Oh well yes that would be quite nice. Yaay."

Not so with our Roger. We might have been an old fogey sit-down average-age-somewhere-over-forty kind of a crowd, but boy, did all 20,000 of us know how to yell, scream, woohoo, clap and whistle for an encore! And thank God, once he came back on, apart from a few people who decided to sit back down (and who soon got up again 'cos they couldn't see) we stayed standing for the rest of the gig. Hooray!

My photography skillz completely left me at this point and it all went a bit pear-shaped. I have nothing from Happiest Days of our Lives (in fact I can't remember it at all), and definitely nothing from Another Brick in the Wall part 2 because I was far too busy singing along (again at the top of my voice - apologies to anyone who was nearby!) and pumping my fist in the air at appropriate moments.

I do however have two rather bad pics from Vera / Bring the Boys Back Home. I have no idea what was written on the American flag. Wish I'd caught it in time:

Vera and Bring the Boys Back Home 01.
I do quite like this one actually. Nice symbolism:

Vera and Bring the Boys Back Home 02.
The final song was Comfortably Numb. What a perfect way to finish! I was on some other planet during this song - just drifting away completely inside the music, enfolded within the lyrics, lost in another dimension with the duelling guitars. It was wonderful:

Comfortably Numb

Here's a picture of the team afterwards:

The team.
From left to right:
Paul, me, Viv, Kim, Kirsten, Gerrard.

On the way out I desperately wanted to get a souvenir of some sort. It was that kind of gig, one that you want to remember for ever. Kim was dead against going anywhere near any of the merchandise stands, 'cos she didn't want to spend any more money, so in the end I broke away and squirmed my way back through the crowd. I didn't even really have any idea what was there, but it turned out to be programmes and posters.

I am now the proud owner of a limited edition poster (soon to be framed and hung in a place of honour somewhere in the drawing room) and a programme. Didn't get the T-shirt (haha) because the queue for the T-shirts was about 20 deep before the gig, and it was right at the other end of the concourse. I want one now! Bummer!

The poster is totally fab. It's a still image from the video at the start of The Dark Side of the Moon, where the satellite's coming right at you from around the back of the moon. It's huge and really nicely designed - and the best bit? It came wrapped in plastic with a very strong cardboard backing so it didn't get munted on the journey home. How thoughtful is that?

And the programme is a complete work of art. It's printed on luxuriously thick paper and comes in its own album cover-type sleeve. It's full of the most gorgeous artwork, embossed text, awesome photos and a fascinating interview with Roger: "on the eve of the second stage of his 'Dark Side of the Moon Live' world tour, Roger reflects on its progress so far, as well as on the continuity of themes running through his work and long career."

Here's my favourite quote:
When I got to America I ran into a little bit of resistance, though it got less and less as the tour went on. It also became individual: the odd bigot who was affronted and had obviously never had any conception of what my work was about, and was probably at the concert only because of Dark Side of the Moon's and Pink Floyd's success.

There was one guy in New York, for example, who after Leaving Beirut gave me the finger all the way through the rest of the show. I think that's because the song extols the virtue of an Arab family and criticizes George Bush and the extremists of the Christian Right, he wrongly assumed I was attacking the USA. Not so. After all, the citizens of the USA are 'only ordinary men' too. It is the foreign policy of the current administration that is insane.

On the same topic, I subsequently received a letter from an American man and his wife that accused me of conducting a political rally at the Hollywood Bowl. His wife, he says, had always been a huge fan of me and Pink Floyd, and was devastated that I should express myself politically during the show. Well, she may have been a fan of something, but it was certainly never of my work, for had she been she would have known what to expect.

That's one downside of doing Dark Side of the Moon: some people will have brought tickets for the same reasons I assume this couple did - because they are attached only to a vague idea of what Pink Floyd was, and have never actually listened to the songs.

When people criticise me for being political rather than being simply entertaining (as this American couple did) they clearly haven't paid any attention to the thrust of my work. The guy also said that I shouldn't be allowed to attack George W Bush because I wasn't an American citizen which is as daft as saying non-Germans couldn't ever criticise Hitler or non-Iraqis couldn't ever criticise Saddam Hussein. It's ridiculous.

Besides, as I say in the song that so ironically upset them: 'you've got freedom of speech'. And they have in the States. That's one freedom Americans have protected. I have the right to express myself, my feelings, and my ideas. In that sense I don't choose my subject matter. I'm driven to it by my responses to the world I live in. I'm not even faintly interested in being merely entertaining.

You rock, Roger! Or, as 1956DavidC commented on my YouTube page for The Great Gig in the Sky today:

RW should, really, be the boss of the world.

How true.

Set list

Part 1:
In the Flesh
Set the Controls for the Heart of the Sun
Shine on You Crazy Diamond
Have a Cigar
Wish You Were Here
Southampton Dock
The Fletcher Memorial Home
Perfect Sense part 1 & 2
Leaving Beirut

Part 2: The Dark Side of the Moon
Speak to Me
On the Run
The Great Gig in the Sky
Us and Them
Any Colour You Like
Brain Damage

Part 3: Encore
The Happiest Days of Our Lives
Another Brick in the Wall part 2
Vera / Bring the Boys Back Home
Comfortably Numb

And here's the band, because they were awesome:

ROGER WATERS: vocals, guitar and bass
ANDY FAIRWEATHER LOW: guitar, vocals
JOHN CARIN: keyboards, vocals
DAVE KILMINSTER: guitar, vocals
IAN RITCHIE: saxophone
HARRY WATERS: Hammond organ
PP ARNOLD: vocals

At the end of the programme there are two pages dedicated to bios of the band members, great photos, and a chance for them to plug their latest albums; and a whole other page listing the entire crew. Nice!

There's also a page dedicated to Roger's charitable endeavours. Go to Millennium Promise to find out more about anti-malarial bed nets and other groovy stuff.

You may have realised that I'm not great at doing proper traditional concert reviews, so I'll leave it to the experts and point you in the direction of the review from the Dominion Post - Gig review: Roger Waters' Dark Side of the Moon - which begins with the words "Roger Waters makes you feel like nothing else outside of the stadium in which he is performing exists." Nice.

I'm not not going to bother referring you to the Herald review, which was obviously penned by an idiot with a tin ear and no heart. Come back to us when you've written something that's sold over 40 million copies and is still going strong, okay, matey?

And here's another excellent review of an earlier concert in the tour - Concert Review: Roger Waters - The Dark Side Of The Moon Live. There's an interesting political discussion going on in the comments, too.

And here's one from B.V.K. Dark side of the moon - Bright side of Waters! who went to the Shanghai gig and borrowed some of my photos cos he didn't take his camera. Nice review, B.V.K.

Golly gee I love Roger Waters.

[UPDATE 04/02/07]: There are a bunch more videos of the Auckland gig up on YouTube now. Here are links to all of them. Check them out!

Large version of Wish You Were Here candles image for theplasticpoet. Glad you like it, dude! Let me know when it's on your blog - I'd appreciate a link to my blog and a photographer credit to me (webweaver). Thanks heaps!

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