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Saturday, August 08, 2009

Summer of 69

A couple of weeks ago much was made of the 40th anniversary of the Apollo 11 mission and the first men to walk on the moon. This weekend, hundreds of Beatles fans gathered on the famous pedestrian crossing in Abbey Road to re-enact the iconic cover photo of the album with the same name, which was originally snapped 40 years ago to the day. And next weekend many aged hippies will be marking the 40th year since Woodstock.

I was an infant in the summer of 1969. I'm not one for nostalgia and yet I am moved to mark each of these events in my own way. The Apollo 11 anniversary took me to Second Life, where a 3D sim of the landing site was created with lunar module and all. Earlier today I watched Beatles fans and tourists annoying the hell out of motorists on Abbey Road through a webcam I discovered via Mashable. And I'm not sure what I'll be up to next weekend in relation to Woodstock. Luckily no one has thought to recreate the 1999 fiasco where all we really remember is the commercial exploitation of fans, which resulted in enough mayhem to make the Hell's Angels proud.

My old friend Alfie Fabri (and others) equate the summer of '69 (and Woodstock in particular) with the way we saw things in Malta about fifteen years later. Having lived through the 1980s as a teenager in Malta, I couldn't disagree more. I know what they really mean and it's all connected with the complex way popular culture in the Maltese islands has developed during our lifetime. Yet, I seriously doubt anyone will bother to cash out on the 25th Anniversary of MaltaSajf'84.

The local music scene has come a long way since those days. In many ways things are really better now. The one thing I really miss from back then is my physical youth. My cultural youth is rejuvenated every weekend through my weekly Mużika Mod Ieħor podcast. The 174th edition in the series brings in yet another opportunity to hear new music made in Malta.

Manwel T returns with a new album on Dubkey Records called Virtual Dub. He's giving the album away for free through the Dubkey website. You can also find other Dubkey releases there, including In the Temple of Dub, which has Manwel T collaborating with Mind's Eye Dub. This music is way cool. Reggae beats have been in Manwel Tabone's life for decades now, and it shows through his dubs and remixes. I've picked one called Thirsty Dub performed by HotDrop, and it's an excellent way to open the podcast.

London-based Fraser Gregory has maintained his Maltese connection on his upcoming debut album entitled A Garden At The Top Of The Tree, which was recorded at Temple Studios, produced by David Vella and mixed by Luuk Cox. The album should be released sometime soon but you can hear a track from it called There is a Forest right now. If I manage to get my hands on a copy of this new album I'll gladly play another track or two from it, especially if there of the same caliber as the song I've included as the second pick on this week's MMI podcast.

A few days ago I heard Lyndsay Pace's new single. It's called Addicted and shows this young singer at her best. It's quite rocky but not too rocky. To put it another way, this is the best thing I've heard from Lyndsay. She's quite good. I'd say that if she keeps on this track, she may truly end up making her mark on the local scene one day sooner or later.

From time to time I'm thrilled to discover new acts which fall neatly under the ambient and/or minimalist banner. Sonitus is the most recent of these finds. I have no idea who Sonitus really is. The only picture on the MySpace profile page is deliberately very blurry. I almost don't want to know Sonitus' true identity. The music speaks for itself after all. This genre is quite an acquired taste and I know that many regular MMI podcast listeners wouldn't necessarily pick it as one of their personal choices. There's no harm in trying something new every now and then. Sonitus' track is called Asphixetamol.

The RSS feed for the Mużika Mod Ieħor podcast is available here or you can simply click here to subscribe directly with iTunes. You can also follow each new episode through the MMI Podcast: Facebook Fan Page or on MySpace. If you have no idea what any of this means, just click here or listen to the podcast on the player right below this text.

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Saturday, July 25, 2009

Someday Soon

The last few days have been quite a whirlwind in terms of travel. Following the weekend in Cardiff Bay, I went to the Isle of Man to deliver a public lecture on Virtual Worlds, hosted by the British Computer Society (BCS). I was touched by the warm welcome I received during the two days I was there, and I look forward to returning for another visit sometime in the future.

After I had returned to Scarborough mid-week, it was time to head out to Leeds for an editorial board meeting for the International Journal of Performance Arts and Digital Media; I'm the book reviews editor for that publication. After the meeting, we decided to visit the Royal Armouries (again), mostly because it is such an excellently designed museum. I'm not too keen on weapons, but the museum layout and the display arrangements are among the best I've ever seen at any museum. Well worth a return visit.

Now, finally, I'm shaking off the road and getting ready for a productive summer, which should lead into an even more productive autumn when I'll be working on finishing my Franklin Furnace book. I've now made peace with the fact that to produce the level of work that I aim for, I first need to clear the decks from all the smaller tasks I set myself up for from time to time.

As ever, my weekly Mużika Mod Ieħor podcast remains the noticeable exception to this. I may have a short break for a week or so later this summer, but there are some pretty remarkable developments afoot with the podcast too, so we'll see how it goes. Meanwhile this week it's time for the 172nd edition of the MMI podcast. Somehow, I've managed to fit five tracks into it, a couple of which are even by performers I hadn't featured on previously.

The Rifffs are currently promoting a track from their cracking debut CD album Moonstomp this summer. Champagne Charlie's Ghost is a delightful ska-tinged song that has this venerable band playing in peak form. I can see how and why they've picked this as the track to push this summer. They've just come off touring in Germany and the Czech Rep. but Maltese fans can catch them at one of three upcoming dates in Ta' Qali: 26 July (this weekend), 15 August (supporting Ali Campbell from UB40) and 12 September (with the national orchestra). The comeback is over: The Rifffs are back where they belong at the forefront of the Maltese pop music scene.

Two instrumental tracks featuring guitarists up next. Both musicians are new inclusions on the podcast but neither one of them is new to the local music scene. Andrew Zammit has been playing guitar since the early 1980s. Some Tigne old-timers may remember him as the lead guitarist with metal band Overdose. Not too long after that he set up his own professional recording studio in Birkirkara: Tone Studios. Paul Giordimania recorded his new double album Letter to Bernie (dedicated to the late bassist Bernard Scerri) at Tone. Andrew has now also released a couple of tracks showcasing his guitar playing. You can hear them all on his recently launched MySpace page. I've picked one called When All Is Gone.

The other guitar instrumental comes from Stefano Farrugia. Most recently his music has been heard in many Maltese households as the main theme and soundtrack for the drama series Pupi, earning him a nomination for Best Score at the 2007 Malta Television Awards. Maltese metalheads may also remember him playing guitar about ten years ago with the now defunct band Angel Dust, which has now metamorphosed into 26 Other Worlds. Rumble is an excellent track to hear not only his guitar playing skills but also his abilities as a composer.

Any regular listener of the MMI podcast knows that I am always keen to include material that uses the Maltese language in one way or another. No surprise then in having the UK-based Ethnamorte return to the podcast again, this time with a tune called Belt is Seħer featuring guitarist Malcolm Callus, who is better known as Gool. I should probably also include one of this non-Ethnamorte recordings someday soon.

The final track I've managed to squeeze into the podcast this week's is Closest Thing To Love (Because of You) the new single from Chris Enriquez. This is a follow up to An Angel In The Making, which I originally played last February. Back then I also commented that I firmly believed this was not the last we'd heard from Chris Enriquez. He's back within just a few months and judging from this new song I have a feeling there's plenty more to come from him.

The RSS feed for the Mużika Mod Ieħor podcast is available here or you can simply click here to subscribe directly with iTunes. You can also follow each new episode through the MMI Podcast: Facebook Fan Page or on MySpace. If you have no idea what any of this means, just click here or listen to the podcast on the player right below this text.

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Saturday, September 20, 2008


Having finished the chapter on performance I was writing for a book on Learning and Teaching in Second Life (to be published early next year by a Norwegian academic press) I am now able to apply myself to other things. This may be as close as I'm getting to a break before the new academic year. I plan to make the best of it and stay away from the sort of things that have kept me extra busy this past summer.

One of the things I'm keen to see happening over the next few days is actual on-air use of a videoconferencing system I've been testing with David, Ruben and Lino from Where's Everybody? This is scheduled for an upcoming edition of Bondi+. I don't have full details about the show yet, but I can tell you that I should be appearing on air using Skype with iSight and the built-in mic on my MacBook Pro, which is being fed directly into the video mixer by the WE technical team via the S-Video output on a Windows-based laptop. I'm able to see and hear what's going on in the TV studio through a simple set-up that consists of a decent microphone and a Skype-friendly webcam aimed at a studio video monitor. Not a very sophisticated set-up by professional broadcasting standards, but it should do nicely as another pioneering moment in my media output in Malta. You'll be able to judge the output as soon as the thing goes on air (details to follow in another blog post) and/or on YouTube if/when I get clips from the transmission.

Since it's the weekend it's also time for another edition of my weekly Mużika Mod Ieħor podcast. The 132nd offering in the series is quite the rock show, featuring all new tracks from four diverse bands that share a passion for distorted guitars. First up is the new single from Stillborn. Following up with the first release since their last year's album Thy Feeble Soul, Angel showcases singer Diane Castillo's excellent voice very well. I hope the band continues to take their stuff to a mainstream audience the way they did last year at Rockbaze. Check them out at Rookies next Saturday night and see what you think.

Subculture return with a new line-up and their fourth CD. Revolt is released tonight at the Remedy Rock Club in Paceville, with a gig that includes sets from two other Baħri+Ħamiemu bands: the indestructible Abstrass and the earthshaking RAS. Shattered Pride are also on the bill so it should prove to be quite a night. Subculture now includes teenage bassist Dani Dolt and singer Ramona (the Cat). Ramona is a welcome newcomer to the alternative scene. Listen closely to the track The Earth Dies Screaming and you'll hear much more than the type of voice you expect in any punk band. Although I haven't heard the new album yet, I have good reason to believe that there are other tracks on the CD where Ramona's voice can be appreciated to the full. I'm really looking forward to it. Ejja Ray!

To make sure that fans of Ray il-Baħri know what he's up to (you know he's too cool or just plain old busy to update the status line on his Facebook account regularly) I thought I'd play a track by another band that now has him in its line-up. Publik Waste has been around for a couple of years with members coming and going but now they've released a new recording with the current line-up. The song is called Nobody Listens and provides a great doze of classic punk complete with off-key singing.

Since this week's podcast has taken on a very rocky sound I thought it would be most fitting to close it with the black metal sound of Lustre. This is a new duo that has emerged from a collaboration between Martin Ciappara (know to MMI podcast listeners through his Prayer of the Dying project) and Sarrum from Turkey. Divine Fetish is as good a sample of their work as anything else you'll hear from Lustre...that's if extreme metal is your cup of tea.

The RSS feed for the Mużika Mod Ieħor podcast is available here or you can simply click here to subscribe directly with iTunes. You can also follow each new episode through the MMI Podcast: Facebook Fan Page. If you have no idea what any of this means, just click here.

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Saturday, September 13, 2008

Trying To Pull Myself Away

Things should be better by this time next week. Right now I'm just fighting against the clock to make a Monday deadline on submitting a chapter I'm writing about performance in Second Life for a book on learning and teaching in this virtual world. The book will be published by an academic press in Norway within the next few months. On top of this, life goes on and my "to do" list keeps getting longer and longer. Ironically, as the impeding start of the new academic year looms over the temporal horizon I long for it to all come into place because it helps me structure things better.

The other thing that helps me structure things better is of course my weekly Mużika Mod Ieħor podcast. In the midst of the final sprint to get my Second Life writing done on time, I can't but pause for a few hours to produce this week's MMI podcast. By taking time to do this I find that my brain works better when I get back to writing about avatars and the conceptual possibilities of virtual worlds.

I'm very pleased with the new recordings from Dean Saviour. His Marshmallow Girl was picked to top the 2007 MMI podcast listeners' picks in the online releases category. He now returns with two new online releases. Hallway of Kites is the one I've picked to open the 131st edition of the MMI podcast. I'm sure Dean's music will receive a good number of votes again on this year's listerers' picks. More about that in a couple of weeks or so.

I'm also thrilled to discover that Brikkuni are in the process of putting together an album and it looks like it'll be entitled Kuntrabanda. They've just released to unmastered tracks from it on their MySpace page. Brussel is one of them and it captures the unique sound of this band fronted by former Lumiere singer Mario Vella. The band now includes a prodigious line-up, which includes Danjeli on keyboards, his mate Michael Galea on drums, Daniel "il-Flambu" Cassar plays bass, and the other former Lumiere Matthew Cuschieri on guitar. Additional musicians include Ruth Abela on clarinet.

Their earlier recording was too raw for comfort - I featured it on the 47th edition of the MMI podcast anyway - but it also encouraged me to include a track from a recent batch of recordings I discovered on Facebook by a defunct band called A Fuscia Sun Vessel. This trio was only together for about six months in 2006 and since then Robert Farrugia Flores has emerged as one of the foremost performers on the underground scene along with his new band Dominoes. They will be appearing at the Poxx Bar with Explicit next Friday the 19th of September.

Since I've gone back in time a little bit for A Fuchsia Sun Vessel, I thought that this would be a most appropriate time to play a track from a CD I've been wanting to feature on my podcast for a long time. I finally acquired my own copy of Sigo's Perfect Existence from 2002. Sergio Gatt, the singer-songwriter who also goes by the name of his band, has withdrawn from performing original material since then but thankfully he still gigs regularly playing covers. This is a shame because as you can hear from Bliss, a duet with Marvic Lewis, there's much more than meets the eye to this performer who has been active for about 20 years now. I must dig out some of my old tapes one of these days and play you something from his days with a band called Big Foot, a time when survival on the local music scene was a much harder slog that it is now.

The RSS feed for the Mużika Mod Ieħor podcast is available here or you can simply click here to subscribe directly with iTunes. You can also follow each new episode through the MMI Podcast: Facebook Fan Page. If you have no idea what any of this means, just click here.

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Thursday, November 22, 2007

How Soon is Now?

Earlier this week I attended a symposium at the University of Salford's Think Lab entitled New Performance Paradigms: New Languages. I was invited to present my most recent research on Second Life along with several other performance scholars and practitioners. Together we form a research network that's involved in facilitating a new language to study and discuss contemporary performance. Mary Oliver and her team at the School of Media, Music and Performance at the University of Salford did a magnificent job in putting together the day's proceedings.

I was very impressed by the facilities at the Think Lab The Pod at Salford's Think Lab(pictured here). This place is quite conducive for this sort of activity. To be honest, when I first stepped into the Think Pod I felt like stepping into the future. It's a great feeling. I hadn't felt that way since the first time I visited HIVE at the University in Hull or MARS in Italy.

Aside from the academic gathering, this event gave me the opportunity to spend a couple of nights in Manchester's city centre. I must admit that I found it nicer than I expected. It feels like a city in renaissance and, as cities go, one I wouldn't mind visiting over and over to partake in its vibrant activities.


Thursday, November 15, 2007

You Can Make Me Dance, Sing, Or Anything

Something I found out about today made me want to post a quick blog entry to mention it along with something else I should have blogged about a few days ago. I was amazed to read today about the fact that Maltese Foreign Minister Michael Frendo participated in a joint virtual press conference in Second Life, together with the Foreign Ministers of the UK and the Maldives. I wonder if Minister Frendo is a Second Life user beyond this PR stunt intiated by the Maldivians at the Maldives Virtual Embassy on Diplomacy Island in Second Life. Now that's certainly something that should feature on one of the various Maltese politics-related blogs that have surfaced recently, in light of the upcoming general elections. I am particularly surprised I've read nothing about it on The Malta Chronicle, yet. Second Life? What's that?

The other thing was just to bring online (as a PDF) something I wrote for a magazine that's not available online. My article Facebook Value (10 things about Facebook) appeared on last Sunday's edition of FM, the magazine that comes with one of the Maltese English language Sunday papers. As an article it's not that special, but what I'm pleased about is how many people have been in touch with me about it and/or joined Facebook after reading it. Have a look at it and please feel free to either leave your comments below or get in touch with me on Facebook.

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Saturday, November 10, 2007

Busy Being Fabulous

Just as expected, the last few days have been mostly about Second Life. I'm actually grateful for my weekly podcast because it's a great way to cool off from all the SL activities I've been involved in since the last one. As soon as I submitted my first academic paper on Second Life for the International Journal of Performance Arts and Digital Media earlier today I jumped straight into the production of the 90th edition of my weekly Mużika Mod Ieħor podcast.

Former Dripht guitarist Patrick Galea has been promising us a new studio recording since last year. Recording as Pekletrick he is now all set to release his first solo album on 24 November at Rookies. If Reclaiming Space, which is presumably the title track, is anything to go by, this should be a fabulous debut album. Bring it on!

Last night, Cable 35 launch their first CD release entitled My First EP at the Poxx Bar, with BNI as a support act. The track A Beautiful Story shows that they have very capably mastered the ability to shoot out a 3-minute pop rock tune that's very radio friendly and can give other wannabes enough to worry about to spare us from saturating the local market with too much of this stuff.

The follow-ups on my podcasts never fail to amaze me. After I featured a track by Acces To on last week's podcast, I found out that the band's bass player is a very accomplished composer of incidental music. Justin Martin recorded a show reel of this material last year and has included some of it on his MySpace page as Valley Wave Sound Solutions. I've selected to play The Pirate's waltz, which really shows Martin's compositional prowess to the full.

Also this week, I found a new clip on YouTube showing Corkscrew playing live on a local TV show. Apparently they played more than one track during this programme. One of them is Insomniac from their 2004 album No Ordinary Maybe. If nothing else, it's always great to see ir-Rex play bass in so many different formations. Is there anyone who works harder than him in the local music scene?

Eve Ransom seem to be making quite an impression these days. They've released a new song called Souvenier and it's apparently receiving a considerable amount of airplay on some local radio stations in Malta. I've been wanting to play something by this band on my podast since last year and I've finally managed to get my hands on Believe, which is also used on the cable TV show Kick Off. They'll be added to my list of nominations for the 2007 Listeners' Top Picks, which will be launched for voting in a couple of weeks or so.

The RSS feed for the Mużika Mod Ieħor podcast is available here or you can simply click here to subscribe directly with iTunes. You can also add the latest episodes to your My Yahoo! page. If you have no idea what any of this means, just click here.

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Friday, September 21, 2007

Life's What You Make It

I'm currently in London for a couple of days. Most people who visit London for such a brief period usually take some time to catch a theatre show or take advantage of the many shopping opportunities that exceed what's on offer where they live. I used to be like this but apparently not any more. This particular visit to London is taken up mostly with a whole day event on Second Life organized jointly by Eduserv and JISC's Center for Educational Technology and Interoperability at the London Knowledge Lab, which is part of the University of London's Institute of Education.

To tell the truth, I'm also visiting some friends who live in London while I'm here. I am sure that most of my readers would rather not read about any of that and read more about the Second Life conference. This is quite alright with me, since one of the things any serious Second Lifer needs to do is find a balance between their offline life and their online life. Oddly enough, I've had a strange experience with this. I say oddly enough because it seems that the more time I spend in Second Life the less time I find to write about it. A quick look at my blog entries since I first started exploring Second Life last spring shows that I've been wanting to write a decent entry about it but never really have. So, finally, this must be it.

The conference brought together many of the most important points of interest I've found in my own Second Life experiences. To give some context to any of my readers who are not at all familiar with Second Life I'll intertwine some comments about the presentations at the conference with my own interests and activities in SL.

Eduserv's Andy Powell gave a very interesting introduction on SL. Aside from discussing the rational for Eduserv funding, he gave a very comprehensive overview of what people expect and think about SL. He did this through specially designed t-shirts I believe that professional t-shirt enthusiasts Howard Besser would find this approach highly innovative and engaging. Andy Powell sees a relationship between second life t-shirts and the status line in Facebook. I find this connection quite intriguing since I'm familiar with both. Admittedly, the Facebook status is much simpler to update than text on a SL t-shirt, but for anyone who has used both the connection between the two is fairly evident.

The highlight of the day's proceedings for me was Hugh Denard's presentation entitled: Theatre, Performance, History and Creative Pedagogy: Theatron's Second Life. Based at King's College London, the Theatron project has drawn praise from all theatre and performance historians who have come across it. Originally started in 2001, this EU-funded project has created 3D models of 10 historically significant theatre buildings in Europe. These include the amphitheatre of Dionysus in ancient Greece, the Teatro Olymipico of Vicenza, Shakespeare's Globe, and Appia's revolutionary Helleraus Festspielhaus. In conjunction with Palatine, the Higher Education Academy's performing arts network, Theatron has now moved to SL giving five educational institutions the opportunity to explore some of these 3D models and all the auxiliary data gathered around them.

Theatron is a very impressive undertaking, both in and away from Second Life. Even people who are not scholars of theatre and performance can appreciate the pedagogical possibilities, to say nothing of the entertainment value, of this project. I'm sure I'll be writing more about it in the coming months (though not necessarily on my blog) since, to my knowledge, no one else is so heavily invested in SL through theatre and performance as the Theatron group. I am most interested in this aspect of SL as my own research and activity in SL involves an understanding of the history of online performance dating back to the text-based environments Dungeons and Dragons inspired environments that flourished in the early 1990s.

Over lunch I had a conversation with Brett Lucas, from the English Subject Centre of the Higher Education Academy. Among other things we spoke about how anyone who wants to do anything significant in SL needs immerse themselves in this online world for more than one or two brief sessions. It is not possible to introduce SL or any other multiuser online world to non-users, say in a classroom, without dedicating several sessions to first have them familiarize themselves with the basic techniques of being in world. This is undoubtedly a hurdle for many who could be interested in exploring SL without wanting to invest the not-so-brief amount of time needed to get used to being in SL.

The other three presentations for the day dealt with other aspects of teaching and learning in Second Life. Diane Carr and Martin Oliver spoke about issue that anyone who attempts to do anything that's engaging, and not just education-related work, comes across. Issues of context, conventional behaviour and methods of conducting various activities are things that will come up time and time again in any attempt to understand the various uses of SL. Many of these issues will crop up again in the coming weeks with students taking my Psychology of Internet Behaviour module in Scarborough.

What attracts me to SL is not the thing itself. I'm interested in SL from a historical perspective. History is a term that usually evokes a not-so-recent past, but the history I speak about here is one of online performance, which only really goes back to the early 1990s activities I mentioned earlier. I see a natural continuum between text-based networked environments like IRC, MUDs an MOOs, and much of the activity that goes on in SL, but there are striking differences too.. In this lineage, SL is merely one of several 3D multiuser online role playing game, even if it only shares some formal qualities with World of Warcraft or The Sims.

Anyway, I don't want this blog entry to be much longer than the ones I usually write. Through it I hope to have opened a window into my fascination with SL for anyone who wonders why I'd want to dedicate any of my precious time to something like this. More to come soon...and next time I'll also produce my weekly podcast to see if I'm able to cope with both at the same time without bringing the podcast into SL.

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Saturday, June 30, 2007

Don't Stop Now

It's been a very productive week and this weekend I'm cherishing the brain space I've managed to free up by attending SecondFest. I'm typing this between sets from Slim Girl Fat and Tony Moore on Chillout Island. In case you have no idea what I'm talking about, I should add that all this is happening in Second Life. I'll be blogging more about my adventures in Second Life in the coming weeks. There's a already a lot I'd like to say but I don't have enough time to say it just yet.

This weekend I'm using some of my free time to bring you the 72nd edition in the Mużika Mod Ieħor series. Following last week's rerun of the special edition dedicated to Frans il-Budaj, this week's podcast features four brand new tracks, which are bound to be on the 2007 listeners' picks poll.

The Bubble is a new song from Ambulanza. As you may recall, this is one of Mario Cordina various projects from his base in Poland. Just in case you missed my earlier mention of Mario on MMI, check out the podcast I did all about his bands and other music projects last February. Ambulanza have a new album called The Drug and you can hear some of the tracks from this new recording on their two MySpace pages.

I'm very pleased to finally hear a recording from the new band Shilloo's Tree. They recently recorded a couple of original tracks and I've included Waiting for Your Smile of them on my podcast this week. If this is what they sound like on their debut recording we can expect more great tracks from this band in the coming months and years. I haven't seen them live but I have a feeling they're a good live band too.

Another new band from Malta is called Club Murder. This one fuses hardcore metal with hip-hop in a way that's quite unusual for a Maltese band. This evening they're playing a live gig at Poxx Bar with Eurythuria and Inner Link. It's undoubtedly a splendid evening for metal fans and you can sample it through my podcast with the song Preserved in Pain.

To close off this week's podcast I'm playing an instrumental track from ipconfig who I discovered on MySpace this week. The track is called Lag and other that there's another one from the same person on ipconfig's MySpace I know nothing else. This happens every now and then, and I must I've come to enjoy the sense of mystery that comes with such encounters.

The RSS feed for the Mużika Mod Ieħor podcast is available here or you can simply click here to subscribe directly with iTunes. You can also add the latest episodes to your My Yahoo! page.

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Saturday, May 26, 2007

The Boy In The Bubble

I've been catching up with life on Web 2.0. Twitter is on the blink but my YouTube account is alive and well. I'm now also on Facebook. MySpace remains a constant presence, of course, while Second Life creeps up to the top of my daily agenda. Since it's not on the web but on the broader internet, SL is not part of Web 2.0 but it still involves collaboration and social networking - two of the most essential elements in any Web 2.0 experience.

This morning I also realized that I didn't mention anything on my blog about the Web 2.0 article I wrote for May's issue of PINK, the monthly magazine from The Times of Malta, edited by Ariande Massa. This is possibly because I've been absorbed in all sorts of other things but most probably because PINK is not available online. Maybe I should just upload it myself. [check back later if you're interested in this...]

The 68th edition of my weekly Mużika Mod Ieħor podcast
may not seem like an obvious part of my Web 2.0 activities but it more ways than one. MySpace plays a crucial part in the selection of the tracks I include from week to week. Thomas Hedley's new song Just Your Picture On My Mind would not have come to my attention if it wasn't for MySpace. I said something similar the first time I included a song by Hedley on my podcast.

Just when I thought that the Eurovision Song Contest was over and done with for this year, two things crossed by desktop reminding me that I can't really get away from it just yet. The first of these is the Eurovirtual Song Contest currently accepting votes on Paris Link. This is not the first European virtual song contest, even if it is the first edition of this particular one. The Heavy Metal Eurovision is most amusing and I've featured it on my podcast back when Maltese bands still took part in it.

Malta's entry on the Eurovirtual Song Contest is Carrie with Flooded Roads. You can vote here. She is currently leading the pack with more than 590 votes. I really wonder how Carrie would have fared at this year's Eurovision with this song. I'm sure that someone somewhere would have written that it's not a typical Eurovision song, and indeed this is probably why it's doing so well on the Eurovirtual song contest.

Back to MySpace before I move on to the second Eurovision incident I mentioned earlier. Vince Bongailas is someone I remember clearly from a chance encounter at Bighi about 10 years ago when he was recording some songs with Kenneth Mizzi. Vince is also known to many as one of the best Maltese boxers of all time. He has now resurfaced on my radar as Ailas via MySpace. I've included a song called My 36 out of the tracks you can currently hear on his MySpace page. Vince is a very interesting character and I'm glad I'm able to bring the sound of Ailas to my podcast listeners.

Commenting on a recent blog entry, Antonio Olivari (formerly known as the blogger Arcibald) pointed out that in my Eurovision haze I failed to give any attention to the 32nd edition of the YTC festival L-Għanja tal-Poplu. I actually have a lot to say about this song contest but I'll save it for another day (or year) and simply do what Antonio suggested and play the 2007 winning song. Hawn Jien by Corazon Mizzi is quite an unusual song. Corazon has a lovely voice and the song she has written is unlike any I would ever expect at the Eurovision.

I hope that this is indeed the last I hear or write about the Eurovision for a while. Even my good friend Immanuel Mifsud is still mentioning it on his blog, which has now relocated to WordPress, so perhaps this is just another wish that will come to naught. We Maltese really do give more attention to this contest than we should. This is why I'm so interested in it. This is why I cannot ignore it. Why are so many Maltese people obsessed with this event? And what does it really say about Malta as a nation?

The RSS feed for the Mużika Mod Ieħor podcast is available here or you can simply click here to subscribe directly with iTunes. You can also add the latest episodes to your My Yahoo! page.

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Monday, May 21, 2007

Changing Of The Guards

No more about the recent Eurovision debacle. I've really had enough of it...for now. Perhaps I should be blogging about the Blair-Brown changeover (or even the upcoming switch from the Maltese Lira to the euro) but my blog is not what it used to be, so I'll move on.

This entry is actually meant to serve as a public announcement of my presence on YouTube. I've just been spending too much time in Second Life to create my YouTube account earlier. It also just occurred to me that I haven't even mentioned anything about my adventures as a 3D avatar. I wonder why.

I really need to sort out my priorities in terms of my interests and what not. I guess the first thing on my agenda must be to get the Franklin Furnace book published. To get to that I have to clear all the other odd jobs that have piled up over the months. The first of these is a MaltaMedia feature about the sainthood of Dun Ġorġ Preca. An equally pressing task is a huge pile of essays by my students, which I need to mark in within a period of about two weeks.

And now you may have an idea why I don't always blog as often as I should between my weekly podcasts.

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