Harry Potter star Daniel Radcliffe performs his party trick, which is singing "The Elements" by musical humorist Tom Lehrer, in this video clip spotted today by Helena.
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Wouldn't it be great to go to South By Southwest (SXSW), the music festival in Austin, Texas, right before NPRA? Can it be coincidence that every year the major US petchems meeting in San Antonio is timed right after the world's biggest urban music festival?
The Blog family has talked about this before but never quite managed to pull it off, what with exam timetables and peak Easter holiday airfares.
The appeal of SXSW is indisputable: a well-organised US event, good music, comfortable places to stay, pretty Austin, sunshine, easy travel, and American food. No-one needs to draw the obvious comparison with UK summer festivals.
Last night I had the privilege of seeing the magnificent Peruvian tenor Juan Diego Florez in concert at the Salle Pleyel in Paris.
His third and final encore, Pour mon ame, from Donizetti's La Fille du Regiment, which has a series of high Cs that propelled Pavarotti to fame, was so wonderful I could hardly fight back the tears. The auditorium was on its feet and everybody finally, grudgingly, left feeling uplifted.
What has this self-indulgent rambling got to do with chemicals, I hear you say.
Well, on the way home I began to ponder about different aspects of the show. For example, what does he do during the interval when we are all people-watching and sipping our glasses of La Doucette Pouilly Fume? If he lies down, and I am sure this is what he will do, will he take off his superbly cut dress suit, to avoid creasing, or will it contain just a tiny amount of Lycra, to withstand crumpling? No, it must be pure Italian fine wool, and a number of lackeys will be there to press it before he comes back on stage.
And what about those heavenly patent leather shoes, so obviously hand-made, even from a distance? How does he keep them so shiny and elegant? Well I can't say how Juan Diego keeps his shoes looking so good, but I did read that a naphtha-based cleaner can help keep patent leather shoes in tip-top condition. And his hair- what chemicals would he... no stop... this is going too far. I have been doing this job for too long.
What is it with men and T-shirts listing concert tour dates?
On the way to a John Mellencamp concert, there are men sporting tour-date T-shirts for other bands. They are saying, "Look at me, I've been to other gigs too."
Then in the venue itself, the crush around the T-shirt counter is greater than around the bar. These guys want to remember this special evening and show off to similar minded people about where they've been. They want to show that they are part of a defined group, a fan base. I'm never going to do this, but I do at least understand it. It's a souvenir, like an "I ♥ New York" T-shirt.
Strangest of all, some of the guys buy their T-shirts then put them on straight away to go in to the concert. What is going on here? They don't just want to watch the band, they want to BE the band.
Is there scope for petchem conference organisers to offer tour T-shirts: "Brussels, Brussels, Berlin, Brussels ..."
Music and movie downloads may have decimated demand for CDs and DVDs, and hence polycarbonate, but now a bright new world of cut-price discs is dawning.
Top sellers have been Shakespeare's Macbeth and King Lear, selling 12,000 in recent weeks, which the Blog is guessing is down to them being on some exam syllabus rather than a revival of the nation's cultural interest.
The cheap high street store is also selling "pre-owned but fully refurbished CDs under its Replay brand, enabling it to sell CDs by artists including Britney Spears, Girls Aloud and Westlife."
Musical prowess in the chemical industry tends to be focused on karaoke nights, but the Blog has recently heard that two petchem folk are involved with a real big band.
The Bokito Big Band is managed by Folkert B, and in this video of the band, you can make out Michiel B playing trumpet in the back row. The band was playing at the opening of the theatre season at the Koninklijke Schouwburg in Den Haag, on 4 September 2010.
On the way to Houston the conversation turns to karaoke. It seems that petchem folk are divided between those who hate even the thought of it, and those who love it, who look forward to it, who just can't wait to jump up on the stage and grab the mike.
People who have Playstation's SingStar at home, claiming it's for the children, are the most eager. They have turned singing for pleasure into a competitive sport. The spontaneity of an unexpected karaoke moment is subverted by these people who are constantly in training for such an event.
Conferences provide the perfect opportunity for petchem folk to get together and indulge in a spot of karaoke. The Blog's phone reveals a number of blurry shots of favourite friends singing their hearts out at a recent spectacular party in Europe around the time of the ICIS Olefins Conference at the beginning of March 2011.
There were some spirited renditions of "House of the Rising Sun" and other favourites. Right at the end of the evening, the Blog and friends joined together for a belting and rather camp version of Abba's "Dancing Queen" and the evening ended with a rousing ensemble production of Queen's "WE ARE THE CHAMPIONS, WE ARE THE CHAMPIONS (continued late into the night.)
It was a pretty good day yesterday. First there was a morning meeting with an aromatics major player with Truong followed by a pleasant lunch on the South Bank. Then over to the massive Base Oils Conference in Lancaster Gate, followed by an early dinner at the Saatchi Gallery and in the evening a Paul Carrack concert at Cadogan Hall.
He still has a great voice and every song was a belter - Eyes of Blue, Always Have Always Will, etc. There was even a spot of singalong and dancing during the encore.
Meanwhile 540 base oils delegates were out on the town in
Here we are, the new 2010 update of all-time-favourite Top Chemical Songs - all contributions gratefully received ...
1 Anything by "The Chemical Brothers" or "My Chemical Romance"
2 Anything by "The Vaselines"
3 "The Plastic Ono Band"
4 Ethylene - John Hiatt
5 Slow Chemical - Spongebob cover version of Finger Eleven original
6 Plastic Beach - Gorillaz
7 Stuck inside of
8 I am xylene, I am xylene (parody on Sailing by Rod Stewart)
9 Fake Plastic Trees - Radiohead
10 Polyethylene - Radiohead
11 Polythene Pam - Beatles
12 Plastic Fantastic Lover -
13 Rumours - Fleetwood Mac
14 It's Now or Never - Elvis Presley (last chance for a price hike)
15 The Carnival is Over - The Seekers ($100/barrel crude oil)
16 N E C A (to the tune of YMCA - Village People)
17 Toxic - Britney Spears (MTBE)
18 Wipeout - The Ventures (US economy)
19 Thanks for the Memories - Fall Out Boy (cheap crude)
20 A Little Less Conversation, a little more action - Elvis Presley (for Olefins...)