Monday, August 27, 2007

Karaoke - 23rd August 2007

After the [derided] country theme of last week I decided to take a dip into some of the older rap stuff that I'd not gotten to having a go at yet. For those of you who don't know me, rap used to be my staple karaoke diet and you would usually see me 'singing' nothing but Eminem, Dr.Dre, Vanilla Ice (lol!) & Will Smith etc before my karaoke/music taste diversified somewhat. In fact, the nickname Shaunio came from the first karaoke song I ever did - Gangsta's Paradise by Coolio and stuck ever since that fateful event! It's a genre that I still have a lot of time for although I now prefer the older stuff a lot more than the recent years which just seems to be about money, women and sex exclusively!

Scott in the meanwhile had no time to think about a themed night when he a had a publicly voted tracklist to contend with. The results from his fiercley-contested-yet-fair poll saw Linkin Park's - What I've Done top the chart (yay!) with Bowies - Life On Mars (revived by the BBC1 drama of the same name) in second and Sam Cookes - Bring It Home in Third. Unfortunately he refused to sing the fourth placed song and one time runaway leader, Let's Get Rocked by Def Leppard, much to Tinas disapointment although he has promised that he will do it again (he just didn't say when! ;) ) Let's see what the next poll brings!

All the songs from this week:
  • Shaun: Will Smith - Miami (3)
  • Others: Fleetwood Mac - Little Lies (6)
  • Andy: Squeeze - Cool For Cats (2)
  • Scott: Sam Cooke - Bring It On Home (2)
  • Others: Cher - Walking In Memphis (2)
  • Others: Glen Campbell - Rhinestone Cowboy
  • Shaun: Nelly - N Dey Say (new)
  • Others: Burt Bacharach - I'll Never Fall In Love Again (5)
  • Scott: David Bowie - Life On Mars (2)
  • Others: Amy Winehouse - Back To Black
  • Others: Leo Sayer - One Man Band (2)
  • Tina & Hayley: Bryan Adams & Mel C - When You're Gone (5)
  • Others: Billy Idol - White Wedding
  • Others: Red Hot Chili Peppers - Suck My Kiss
  • Others: The Beatles - Back In The U.S.S.R. (2)
  • Shaun: Arrested Development - People Everyday (new)
  • Andy: Dire Straits - Romeo & Juliet (3)
  • Others: Katie Melua - The Closest Thing To Crazy (5)
  • Scott: Linkin Park - What I've Done (3)
  • Others: Zoe Birkett - Get Happy (4)
  • Others: Will Young - Evergreen
  • Tina & Hayley: Alanis Morissette - Ironic (new) (5)
  • Others: Eddie Cochran - Summertime Blues
  • Others: Elton John - Are You Ready For Love
  • Shaun: Fun Lovin' Criminals - Scooby Snacks (new)
  • Others: Bob Marley - Jammin (6)
  • Scott: Rolling Stones - Paint It Black (new)
  • Others: Jet - Are You Gonna Be My Girl
  • Others: Frankie Vaughn - Green Door (2)

This weeks stats:
  • 29 songs sang tonight
  • 12 had not been sung previously this year
  • 17 have been sang already this year (1 of which was also sang last week)
  • There have been 865 songs sung so far this year!

Nelly - N Dey Say

Another rap song I've sung which samples Spandau Ballets' - True, the other being PM Dawns - Set Adrift On Memory Bliss, this one reached #6 on the UK charts in early 2005. The first one of Nellys I've ever sung and a fairly simple track to do. I may well take a delve into some of his other tracks such as Country Grammar and Hot In Herrre now! . do-again-rating: 3/10

Arrested Development - People Everyday

Reaching the giddy heights of #2 in the UK charts in 1992 this is one of my all time favourite hip-hop tracks and one that I've neglected to do for so long. Taking it's chorus from the Sly & The Family Stone song of the same name (although that's pretty much where the similarity ends), the moral of the track as with the previous Nelly song is about 'brothers' attacking 'brothers' and how at the end of the day we're all the same 'Everyday People'. Enjoyed this one and for sure a keeper . do-again-rating: 7/10

Fun Lovin' Criminals - Scooby Snacks

I never really got into the Fun Lovin' Criminals when they were around, in fact the first time I ever heard a track of there's was on my honeymoon in Canada when the self-titled single Fun Loving Criminal came on the video screen in Niagaras Planet Hollywood. To this day that track still reminds of that moment in time! Unfortunately, that said song is not available on Karaoke but I did discover this gem from them when playing catchup on their songs. With samples from Pulp Fiction and Resorvoir Dogs it was always going to win me over cut combined with a funky bass line and simple guitar riff we had a winner. A little bit on the low side for me but manageable if you nearly swallow the mic! Fun to do (no pun intended) and may do again. do-again-rating: 5/10

No Scott & Hayley next week so I'll most likely be on me jack lonesome :( but no matter, I'll hold the fort whilst they're swanning around down Newquay :) Catch ya next week...byeeeeeeeeeeeeee

"Don't pull the pin out, unless you plan to bang" - Outkast - B.O.B.

Monday, August 20, 2007

Karaoke - 16th August 2007

"When it's time to party we will party hard!" - Andrew WK

I do like a party but unfortunately this week I partied a little too hard and got a little ill in the process (it just hit me!). Still, what's the point of having Fridays off if not to party and get a little drunk eh? :D

Not too bad a night this week from what I remember and it was certainly busier than last weeks ghost pub. Plenty of singers in tonight meant that we didn't get to do even half of what we sang last week but it's the quality not the quantity that counts (or so they say). A couple of country songs for me this week with an old school rap track chucked in for good measure (can't say I don't vary my stuff) and some classics from Scott including the track from where I pinched the beginning quote from for this weeks blog - Andrew WKs - Party Hard. Normally I'd just link to the track here but this is such a top tune (loved it from when it was in Madden 03) that I'm going to embed it right here.

Unfortunately I don't think many people had ever heard it in the hotel which is a shame as it's a real "crank up the volume and party on" type of record. Tempted to have a go at it myself sometime, maybe!

The songs from this week:
  • Shaun: Brad Paisley - Mud On The Tires (new)
  • Scott: INXS - New Sensation (new)
  • Others: Bon Jovi - Living On A Prayer
  • Louise & Hayley: Lily Allen - Smile (8)
  • Others: Johnny Rivers - Secret Agent Man (2)
  • Shaun: Warren G - Regulate (new)
  • Scott: Rolling Stones - Beast Of Burden (new)
  • Others: Tom Jones - It's Not Unusual
  • Others: Meatloaf - Bat Out Of Hell
  • Louise & Hayley: Louise - Stuck In The Middle
  • Others: Madonna - This Used To Be My Playground
  • Others: Tim McGraw - Live Like You Were Dying (2)
  • Others: John Denver - Thank God I'm A Country Boy (2)
  • Others: Billy Idol - Rebel Yell (2)
  • Others: Mariah Carey - Hero (4)
  • Andy: Dire Straits - Money For Nothing (8)
  • Shaun: Brad Paisley - Online (new)
  • Scott: Andrew WK - Party Hard (new)
  • Others: T'Pau - China In Your Hand
  • Louise & Hayley: Madonna - Hung Up
  • Others: LeAnn Rimes - Can't Fight The Moonlight (2)
  • Others: Frankie Vaughn - Green Door
  • Others: Matchbox 20 - Real World
  • Others: The Mavericks - Dance The Night Away
  • Others: Simple Minds - Don't You Forget About Me

This weeks stats:
  • 25 songs sang tonight
  • 16 had not been sung previously this year
  • 9 have been sang already this year (1 of which was also sang last week)
  • There have been 836 songs sung so far this year!

Brad Paisley - Mud On The Tires

You'd be forgiven for thinking I've lost it a little with all this country music I've been dabbling with but I have to admit that I like some of the stuff that the wife has been brain-washing me with (Scotts words not mine :p). In particular, I do like a lot of the stuff that Brad Paisley does with his injection of comedy lyrics to a not too over the top country beat. Having said all that, this is one of his slower songs but it's still a great one and reached the US Country billboard #1 back in 2004. Went ok and may do again sometime, most likely on a Tuesday :p . do-again-rating: 4/10

Warren G - Regulate

Now this is more like old me. Came across this while browsing through some of my compilation albums and can't believe I've never done it before (found plenty more stuff for next week too! ;) ). Straightforward 90's old school rap (reached #5 in the UK in 1994) which you can't really go wrong with. Great track although I do prefer Warren G's What's Love Got To Do With It which I've done previously. do-again-rating: 3/10

Brad Paisley - Online

My second Brad Paisley song of the night (written on my notes as: Online country bollocks shite type music by country bumpkins named brad - wonder who wrote that, Scott!) and this one is a piss take out of people who claim to be something that they're not when online. With lyrics like "I can have a three way chat with two women at one time, I'm so much cooler online" you can imagine what the rest is like. A very funny (but true!) song, currently at #14 on the US Country billboard and enjoyable to do. do-again-rating: 7/10

That's yer lot, so until next week, PARTY HARD!

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Karaoke Stats

These are now up-to-date as of today. Click here for the latest stats.

Monday, August 13, 2007

Karaoke - 9th August 2007

7up! No, not the drink, although it wasn't far off given that I was on-call and driving, but I managed to get 7 songs in tonight. Given that the karaoke slot is only 2½ hours (9-11:30) then that pretty much tells you how quiet dead it was, in fact, once the lady in the corner had done her three songs and left then it was just us lot singing the songs. I think we'll call this week 'Practice Night' and then pray it's not that bad again!

Still it gave us a chance to get in a few unplanned songs that were either new to us or we'd not done for a while. I had an unplanned go at The Enemy's - Away From Here and was glad to find that it was nowhere near as hard as I thought it was (thinking now of trying some of those Muse tracks I've been pondering!) while Scott went one further and did Linkin Park's - Given Up which is one corking, throat-ripping tune. Suprisingly, despite what he may think, it was actually quite a good effort and with a busier pub + atmosphere that would have been one cracking track! Scott also brought up his hundredth song of the year which I handily told him about just after he'd sang the 99th one, Hungry Like The Wolf, which had he known beforehand he says he would have shuffled his selections around. My 100th was a few weeks earlier and was The Killers - Somebody Told Me for anyone who cares :p We're getting close to now to 1000 songs for 2007 and I'm sure there will be a fight to see who get's that song! Or maybe not.

The songs from this weeks Scott, Shaun, Tina, Hayley & Andy extravaganza:
  • Shaun: The Bravery - An Honest Mistake
  • Scott: Rolling Stones - Start Me Up
  • Others: Amy Winehouse - Rehab (2)
  • Tina & Hayley: Britney Spears - I Love Rock N Roll (9)
  • Shaun: Plain White T's - Hey There Delilah (new)
  • Scott: Biffy Clyro - Folding Stars (2)
  • Others: Yazoo - Only You (2)
  • Tina & Hayley: Beautiful South - Don't Marry Her Have Me (new)
  • Andy: Gene Pitney - 24 Hours From Tulsa
  • Shaun: Reverend & The Makers - Heavyweight Champion Of The World (new)
  • Scott: Duran Duran - Hungry Like The Wolf (new)
  • Others: Aztec Camera - Somewhere In My Heart (3)
  • Shaun: Maximo Park - Our Velocity (6)
  • Scott: Bon Jovi - Thank You For Loving Me (100th song this year for Scott)
  • Tina & Hayley: Lily Allen - Smile (7)
  • Shaun: Erasure - The Circus (3)
  • Scott: Take That - I'd Wait For Life (2)
  • Andy: Keith Urban - Jeans On (6)
  • Tina & Hayley: Sheryl Crow - Sweet Child O' Mine (new) (2)
  • Andy: Toby Keith - High Maintenance Woman (new)
  • Shaun: The Enemy - Away From Here (new)
  • Scott: Linkin Park - Given Up (new)
  • Shaun & Andy: Heavy D & The Boys - Now That We Found Love
  • Scott & Andy: Hollies - The Air That I Breathe
This weeks stats:
  • 24 songs sang tonight
  • 13 had not been sung previously this year
  • 11 have been sang already this year (1 of which was also sang last week)
  • There have been 811 songs sung so far this year!
Plain White T's - Hey There Delilah

After reaching #1 in the US, the Plain White T's are now making their way up the UK charts, currently at #6, with this lovely, virtually acoustic song. I enjoyed singing this one and will definately do again sometime. do-again-rating: 8/10

Reverend & The Makers - Heavyweight Champion Of The World

A funky indie track, Reverend & The Makers peaked at #5 in the UK charts a short while ago. Straightforward enough to sing and one for the to-do-again list. do-again-rating: 7/10

The Enemy - Away From Here

I'd if'ed and are'd about attempting this for a few weeks now, even trying to persuade Scott to do it first as I thought it the 'Away, Away from here' bits were too high for me, but with the pub being as dead as it was I thought sod it and gave it a go. And I'm glad I did. I'm not saying I nailed it but I certainly had a good time giving it a go and it was nowhere near as bad as I thought it would be. I'll definately be up for this one again in the future. do-again-rating: 7/10

And so that's your lot for another week. Let's just hope that this Thursday has a few more people in!

Sunday, August 12, 2007

3D-Tastic Follow-Up

Ok, I've found an even better, and totally FREE, renderer which is quite frankly, the dogs bollocks!!! It's called Kerkythea (no idea what it means!) and you can find it here.

The software doesn't integrate into Sketchup (SU) as Podium does but you can easily export your SU model into an XML file that can then be read into Kerkythea (KT) and then this is where it is much better than Podium. Whereas in Podium you are limited to simple Reflection and Light settings, in KT you have way more settings ranging from Reflection to Specularity to Fog to Shinyness etc.... This gives you infinately more control over the appearance of your objects which in turn culminates in much better looking renders. Granted, there is a little bit more work involved but the end result is worth it. There is also no limitations on output sizes either as this is completely freeware (unbelievably given the power it has!).

Fantastic stuff and very addictive although some of the renders can take a long time! I'm still working on the new kitchen design and we've re-jigged things around a little to optimise space. I think we're definately settled on the layout now, we just need to choose the colors. Below are the new design pics rendered in KT.

Tuesday, August 7, 2007


There's not many things that make we go Wow! anymore, but after stumbling across Googles modeling tool Sketchup, I was gobsmacked to find that give it away for free (yep, that's f-r-e-e, free!). They can continue in their quest for world domination as long as they keep giving spunky apps like this away as far as I'm concerned.
Granted, there are limitations in the free version that don't exist in the £315(!) Pro version such as you can't export or import models to or from other 3D modelers but that's it. All other operations are fully functional and for the part time modeler like me who just want to see how his kitchen would look re-arranged it's a fantastic tool.

So, what is it? Well, it's a 3-dimensional modeler aimed at anyone from professional architects to games designers right down to the occasional DIY enthusiasts looking to conceptualise their latest project. I've played around with other modelers such as 3Ds Max, Blender (also free) and various other 'home designer' programs but have found them either requiring too much time investment to learn how to use or limiting in what you can do with them. This is not the case with Sketchup. Within minutes of the install finishing I was up and away creating models with Sketchups easy to use drawing tools and patented Push/Pull technology to manipulate surfaces creating 3d objects. There are also a vast array of styles you can render your models in within Sketchup such as blueprint, watercolor, pencil etc which can give even the most basic of scenes a funky final touch.

The following picture gives you an idea of what you are able to produce with Sketchup:

However, it doesn't stop there. Sketchup supports scripting and plug-ins for third party development and this is where I found my next Wow! piece of software: Podium a photo-realistic rendering engine for Sketchup.

Podium fits snugly into the Sketchup menu system and although its interface is very simplistic looking, the results it produces can be stunning. You simply tell Podium which parts of your model have reflections or lights and then hit the render button to see what were once sketchy 3d models turned into great looking pictures. There can be a bit of trial and error with getting the lighting correct and setting the quality slider high on Podium can lead to long rendering times but the wait is worth it. Best of all it's free, or at least in that there is a monthly free version that is fully functional but only lets you render at 640x480 which is more than sufficient (at the moment) for me. At $180 (around £100) it's a little more than I would like to pay for a piece of software but I'm so impressed by the results that I may well end up buying it for the larger rendering capabilities.

Currently I'm using it to re-design our tiny kitchen and you can see how it's going so far below. And this is with only using Sketchup/Podium for around a week!

Original Sketchup renders:

Rendered by Podium:

Conclusion: If you have a little spare time, a creative mind and the urge to trying something new, then download Sketchup now!

Sunday, August 5, 2007

Karaoke - 2nd August 2007

It was a relatively busy week up the Hotel this Thursday night for a change (even Louise turned up!!) which meant plenty of singers and a fairly decent atmosphere. Unfortunately, the increased number of singers means less trips to the microphone for us :( but more time for drinking!! I was a little bit 'intoxicated' by the end of the night this week, probably more than I've been for a while but you have to don't you!? All I can say is it's a good job we're only there for 2½ hours or else God knows what state I could get in :D

Mr. Sleepy was in again and yet again he fell asleep with his glass of coke (but woke up when it was his turn to sing). Unless I was absolutely rat-arsed, I can't figure how anyone can fall asleep in a pub with [loud] karaoke on or do we bore you that much. If you're that tired, stay at home you !!!! I'm also not sure what went on it the ladies toilets tonight but I wouldn't have like to have been the cleaner... Bring back the smell of smoke if it could mask that god-awful whiff that was going around the pub towards the end of the night, it was that bad! Paul, the landlord went in to take a look and I'm sure I noticed a green tint around his cheeks when he came back out [very quickly]. You had to have been there to know how bad it was. On second thoughts, you were much better off not being there!

Songwise I'd put three songs in although I only got sing one of them. The starter was Andys choice and Faint was Scotts although I didn't mind singing either. It leaves me with a couple of new ones for next week anyway so not too worry. Scott weighed in with the cracking Biffy Clyro - Folding Stars and I'm sure he'll be letting you all know how it could possibly have a been a karaoke 'world premiere' ;) Even it wasn't (you'll need to provide proof!), he nailed it first time and I definately hope he breaks his new songs only rule and gives it another go. As time was running short and it was becoming evident that we might not get a song each in at the end we joined forces (doesn't happen often) and attempted Linkin Parks - Faint, see the report below as to how it went.

This rest of this weeks warblings were as follows:
  • Shaun: Will Smith - Summertime (2)
  • Scott: Duran Duran - Rio (new)
  • Others: Johnny Rivers - Secret Agent Man
  • Others: Mariah Carey - Hero (3)
  • Tina, Louise & Hayley: Abba - Does Your Mother Know (4)
  • Others: Texas - I Don't Want A Lover (3)
  • Others: Rammstein - Du Hast
  • Others: Robbie Williams - Let Me Entertain You (2)
  • Others: The Pretenders - Brass In Pocket
  • Others: Womack & Womack - Teardrops (6)
  • Others: Travis Tritt - T-R-O-U-B-L-E
  • Shaun: Mika - Big Girl (new)
  • Scott: Biffy Clyro - Folding Stars (world premiere!!!!!)
  • Others: Burt Bacharach - I'll Never Fall In Love Again (4)
  • Others: Sister Sledge - We Are Family
  • Tina, Louise & Hayley: Buggles - Video Killed The Radio Star (3)
  • Others: Tina Turner - Simply The Best (2)
  • Others: Cher - If I Could Turn Back Time (4)
  • Others: Billy Idol - Rebel Yell
  • Others: Tiffany - I Think We're Alone Now (2)
  • Others: The Corrs - Runaway (3)
  • Others: Right Said Fred - Deeply Dippy
  • Others: Pearl Jam - Jeremy
  • Others: Gloria Gaynor - I Will Survive (2)
  • Shaun & Scott: Linkin Park - Faint (new)
  • Others: Drifters - Like Sister & Brother
This weeks stats:
  • 26 songs sang tonight
  • 13 had not been sung previously this year
  • 13 have been sang already this year (2 of which were also sang last week)
  • There have been 787 songs sung so far this year!

Mika - Big Girl

It's something different from the more indie-ish songs I've been singing lately and fun to do. The song itself was very straight-forward to sing and certainly much easier than the last Mika song I did, Grace Kelly, although not quite as funky as that one. It still managed a respectable chart position of #9 though despite being the third single released from the album. A 50/50 whether or not it gets done again. do-again-rating: 5/10

Linkin Park - Faint

I'm not sure how this one sounded as it was near the end of the night and the words might have been slurring despite knowing this inside out normally. Regardless, I f**king love this song and it's definately one of my favourite LP tracks. Thanks to Scott for agreeing to have a go at this with me even if he did have the much harder part!! If nothing else, it certainly went down well with the group of girls who were sat down at the top end. I think we may have to try this one again sometime ;) do-again-rating: 7/10

Thus ends another week of karaoke. Lets see what fun next week brings week!

Wednesday, August 1, 2007

Bikes, Cars and Accidents

Finally, after about 2 years of threatening to buy one, I've got myself a bike. It's nothing special in terms of value, in fact it was one of the cheapest as I certainly wasn't looking to spend in the hundreds as some of them were costing, but it will do for what I want it for... a bit of excerise now and then. Mainly I intend to use it to get to work (only on nice days! :p ) when we have to start using both cars to get around once Josh starts attending school.

I've been out on it already when I made my first work trek on it on Sunday. There's a canal that runs from the bottom of our estate and it takes you literally right to where I work which is handy. The journey is roughly 3 miles and despite having to get off for a couple of low bridges, it's quite a pleasant trip. I've got to change the saddle though as it's a bit thin and got a bit uncomfortable after a while, was like sitting on a razor blade!. I'll also be adding a bike computer for distance & speed measurement this weekend. They say you never forget how to ride a bike and given that it was around 17 years since I last rode one then the adage is true as I had no problem getting into the stride of the things. The gears are a little bit more complicated than they used to (why on earth do you need 18 gears!!) but I'm totally looking forward to riding this as often as possible.

With the sale of the old house eventually going through and Josh starting school in less than 6 weeks (doesn't time fly!) it was time to get Lisa's new car.
We were looking for something bigger than the Ford Focus which we currently have and had a shortlist of either a Ford Mondeo, a Volkswagen Passat or a Renault Scenic. After a little while looking around we eventually settled on the Scenic, or to be more precise, an 04 plate Grand Scenic which means that in the boot there are a couple of fold-a-away seats which can turn this into a seven seater!. It's nice car with plenty of space inside and it's definately bigger than the Focus. Unfortunately, this is where things went a little wrong....

Our drive way has two brick posts either side of the entrance and because we on the sloping part of the crescent, the drive can be a little awkward to get into.

So, given that you've just driven it straight from the garage, it's been yours for less than 20 minutes and you are now going to park it up on the drive, how do you approach this? do you:
A) Think to yourself "this is a much bigger car than I normally drive so I'd better take it slow into the drive, checking the sides at all times"?
B) Think "I've done this a million times before, I know how much room I have, the cars not that much bigger"?

If you think A then pat yourself on the back as you still have a car that looks like it's come from a show room. If you thought B (and I mean really, who would go for B eh?? ) then the above pic is what your car now looks like after being scraped along the drive post by the wife when swinging it in to park it.

I was not a happy bunny. I've calmed down somewhat since it happened and I know it was an accident (albeit an avoidable one) but it doesn't help the fact that as well as looking battered before we've even had it a day, we're now going to have to shell out x amount of pounds to have it all fixed up. You can't really see it in the picture but the wheel arch is totally crumpled up and some of the scratches go right through to the metal. I just hope it can be repaired without costing a lot of money. Still, sh*t happens and what's done is done, and as numerous people pointed out, I'll be reminiscing and laughing about this in years to come. A bit like the time when I threw up all over Lisa's bed whilst drunk when we weren't even seeing each other (She wasn't happy about that at the time either but it get's raised and laughed about once a year or so now*!). I digress...

Anyway, in order to stop this from happening again, I've had some improvements made to the brick posts to minimize damage should contact occur again:
I think that might do the trick ;)

Even the kids are giving advice...

And on that note, I think I'd better head on over to as this may be my last blog post!!

All is forgiven now, love you honey really :)

* when Lisa is not around!