brian's soapbox


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As always, the opinions expressed in these pages are purely and personally those of myself, Brian; they are not the official views of Queen, or of any other organisation or individual.

- Lame Claims
- Stereo and Freeview Notes



Welcome to

Please DON'T reproduce stuff from these pages without permission. And if you do, please give us credit (!! and a LIVE link. Cheers ! Bri

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**Wed 05 Dec 12**

[Responding to mail about how Toronto has made a u-turn on sharks fins. SEE LETTERS]

How horrible.

Shame on The officials of Toronto.

I wish I could help. Like so many of these decisions, it looks like this has ended up being politically motivated.

My guess is that not ALL the Chinese community take this view … just the ones who have a direct or indirect financial interest.

So I'd say the best way to fight this awful inhumane decision would be to form an all-ethnicity group which can speak for decency.

Let me know if I can help by putting some words in at any point. Or otherwise.

This is a global fight for the rights of animals to decent treatment.

Very best wishes


**Tue 04 Dec 12**

Hi dear Soapbox Folks

Just thought I'd tell you I am feeling peachy. The keyhole operation already feels like a miracle.

My amazing knee man, Professor Haddad, came in to chat to me after the op. He said that, once he was inside the knee joint, he discovered that I had had a badly ruptured meniscus which was folded over on itself. So no wonder it was giving me constant pain, restricting movement of the 'hinge', not responding to any treatment, and filling up with fluid … my body was trying to eject it!

Just the absence of that nagging pain tonight feels like new life. I am so grateful.

So I'll be out there dancin'! (kidding!)

I'm already walking just fine with no sticks or supports. The bit of bruising I have from the op feels like nothing compared with what I've had for the last year or so. Phew. This may even make me less grumpy !

Thanks for all the great messages … you guys are so kind to old Rock Stars !

Onwards !



Brian alive and almost kickin'

Brian's own photo - posted by Contact Music

Can't believe Contact Music put their own copyright on my picture which they stole off Twitter!!!

We'll see about that. Very bad behavour, which they will NOT get away with!!


Ah, well, I guess if the op made me less grumpy, it didn't take away my fighting spirit! ha ha. I will be needing that !
And by the way, the op was today, not Monday.

Queen - Brian May Undergoes Knee Surgery
04 December 2012

Picture: Brian May posted this image on Twitter with the caption:...
Brian May Undergoes Knee Surgery

Queen star Brian May is recovering after undergoing arthroscopic surgery on his knee.
The guitarist went under the knife on Monday (03 Dec12) to repair a "ripped cartilage and other stuff" and he took to on Tuesday (04 Dec 12) to let fans and followers know he was fine - and to thank them for their good wishes.
He wrote, "I'm out! Alive and almost kickin'!!! Hi folks... thanks so much for your good wishes!! Thanks for all the advice folks - and the sympathy - love the sympathy! Ha ha! I'll soon be kickin' that can. All over the place."
May also posted a photograph of himself in hospital sporting a bandage on his leg.


**Mon 03 Dec 12**

You probably have to be a Zodiacal Dust researcher or an Astro Geek (maybe they are the same thing !!!) to find this amusing, but … well, it did make me giggle … !

Astro Cartoon

ha ha!

Thanks, Virginia Ruano Perez - Bri


**Mon 03 Dec 12**

[Brian was sent a this great poster picture... see LETTERS]

Badger Cool

Thanks for this great picture and a fantastic contribution for us. I think it's a morale-lifter !

I'd like to print your whole message, too, Roxana, if that's OK with you - on Bri's Soapbox. Ok ?

All the very best



**Sun 02 Dec 12**

Well, the Diableries book is not done yet … though we are on schedule … it's a Mammoth project, but we are in sight of the finish line … for publication in the summer of this coming year. 

But the first box of cards is HERE! And ready to fly out the door … 

So what is this all about?
Well, for those who are not yet familiar with the Diableries, let me say a few words.  First … look at this.  

Here's a card from the Diableries series. 

Card front

If you're lucky enough to come across one of these, in a car boot sale, or antique shop, or auction, this is what it will look like on your desk.  Often they are spotty and grubby like this; often they are worse - torn, or scratched and faded, or water-damaged … but occasionally there will be one which miraculously has survived in good shape.  It's a stereo card, of course - French, from the 1860s.  The two apparently similar pictures that we see side by side are a stereo pair of images - left and right, corresponding to the exact views our left and right eye would have seen, if we had been there at the photo shoot of this scene.  The card is designed to fit into a stereoscope, which ingeniously presents the left image to our left eye, and the right to our right eye, so the miracle of 'stereopsis' is recreated - we see a solid, stereoscopic image, and it is as if we are actually there looking at the original scene.  The feeling of 'reality' is quite shockingly vivid; stereoscopes swept the populations of Britain and France off their feet in the 1850s, and when the effect was rediscovered in the 1950s it became known as '3-D' – three-dimensional imaging … which has now become so popular in 21st century cinema, led by such films as Avatar.  

Yes, this is a stereo card - but it's a special kind.  It's a 'French Tissue'.  The yellow surround to the image is a double layer of cardboard with a yellow coloured glaze on its front surface; between the two layers of this cardboard 'window' is a photographic print carrying the stereo pair of images.   Why is the photographic print held in this 'window' formed by the cardboard frame?  Because the makers of these tissues had a nice trick up their sleeves.  The image can be illuminated from the front, or from behind.  This picture is monochromatic … there was no colour photography in 1860.  The image is printed on thin paper coated with albumen (egg white) in which are permanently suspended silver salts, which hold the dark and light areas of the image.  To create colour, the makers turned the print over and painted in watercolours on the back.  If the card is held up to the light, so it is illuminated mainly from the back, the colours they applied can be seen in transmission, coming through from the back and transforming the whole scene effectively into a colour photograph.  The card now looks like this …

 Card back

There is more magic.  As well as adding colours, what the creators of this tissue have done is scratch and pierce the surface of the images, and apply gels on the back, to colour the piercings.  The technique is most effectively applied to the eyes of the skeleton characters - producing an eerie glowing effect.  In this case, the scratchings also give the illusion of fire around the cauldron.   As you can see, the effect, even on this quite faded and damaged example, is pretty striking.  

But what are these scenes?  How were they made?  Well, they are tableaux, table top models containing figures made of clay, and props, and suitable scenery, and each of these 'dioramas' tells a story.  They depict another world - a world populated by living skeletons, ghouls, ghosts, and devils, all engaged in various 'diabolical' activities.  They are great fun to view just as 'Scenes in Hell', but these images are dripping with dark humour, innuendo and satire … so if one has the key to understanding what was behind their creation, they gain yet another dimension.  That is where Denis Pellerin comes in.  Having studied these images for more than half a lifetime, and being an expert on an almost forgotten (even to French history students) era of French history, Pellerin has been able to reach into the darkest corners of these amazing images and reveal what they mean.  This is the basis of the text of our book, "DIABLERIES: Stereoscopic Adventures in Hell", which will be on sale next year, all being well.  

Not many people in 2012 have ever seen these cards.  They are hard to find, and nowadays can be expensive to acquire.  And really no living person has ever seen all of these amazing views in good shape.  Until now.  For the last 5 years or so, I've been working with Denis Pellerin, a French photo historian, and Paula Fleming, an American former museum archivist of images, to collect, reproduce, research and annotate ALL the Diableries produced in France between about 1860 and 1900.  It's the first time such a project has been attempted.  And we are now close to completing the task.

But what IS already prepared is the first group of our republished Diablerie cards.  This is the fulfillment of a dream for me.  The reproductions of the cards in our book are restored to the point where 170 years of wear and tear is stripped away, and hopefully we see the cards exactly as they were meant to be seen.  But we have long shared the hope that we might be able to produce new card versions of the diableries images, in a form in which they could be enjoyed in the OWL stereoscope, just as the originals could.  We have not yet been able to produce tissues as such.  But we have taken the restoration process many steps further, to produce images which combine the clarity of the views when front lit with the exotic colours of the backlit versions, and we have carefully realigned and repositioned the pairs of images to make them comfortable to view in the stereoscope.  The final magic?  Well, it's different from the 1860s versions, but what we have done is overlay the eyes in shiny foil, so they pick up whatever stray light is around, and make variable sparkling eye effects - a new kind of magic.  It's taken a long time to get to the point where we were satisfied with the quality, but now we have our first sets of 12 cards, ready for your enjoyment.   

We've put them in new surrounds and numbered them according to their place in the series of 72 originally published by Adolphe Block in 1868.  Our first selection is the set of numbers 13 to 24, for reasons we'll explain later.  And there are two bonus cards, one of which is a very modern ‘spoof’ take on the genre, called “Queen en Enfer” (Queen in Hell) modelled by Ed Donnen, and the other is the mysterious and unique A(0) - Enfer -  which we have already seen as an original card, above.  This is what our cards look like.  


We can't show you exactly what the eyes do on a computer.  These are physical things - not digital!  

But this close-up might give an idea of how they sparkle …

 Eyes Sparkle

Very rarely the original cards are found in boxes, and it is on these boxes we have modelled ours for these new sets. 



Here are the first 12 'out of the box'  …

 Black Cards

So, folks, this is what we will have on sale in a day or so.  We hope you’ll enjoy. 

I’ll publish details of how to purchase your sets in the next message.  There will also be details of the new OWL’s NESTS!!!  Yes, it’s all too much to take in, isn’t it!




**Sun 02 Dec 12**

WELL DONE THESE GUYS ! Magnificent effort.

This is what we need for Christmas Number 1.


Santa and Attenborough

The Present of Life (Music Video Only) -
< Video no longer available >

Sir David Attenborough in anti-badger cull Christmas number one bid


**Sat 01 Dec 12**

I spent a significant part of yesterday (Friday) battling with someone at the Torygraph over their editing of a piece I am supposed to have contributed to their paper for publication today - Saturday. At 7.15pm it was still not agreed. So I have no idea whether it will be in there or not … and if it is, how close it will be to what I actually wrote. Well, let's see. It seemed like another chance to explain the case for vaccination rather than culling of badgers, but I think it will come across more as a reply to that article in the Sunday Times which accused me of 'hypocrisy' over culling. I'll publish what I really want to say on these pages tomorrow anyway. The ST article seems to have been quite a well-planned stitch-up - a calculated attempt to undermine me, and Team Badger, and for all I know, it may still be going on. We shall see. The facts they 'revealed' actually could have been put under the headline "Brian May stops culling of deer in forest land in Dorset for the first time in many decades", for that is what happened … but of course there was a negative spin put on it. Well, that's one of the sentences the Telegraph wanted to take out of my new article today! Like I said, we shall see!




**Sat 01 Dec 12**

For those of you who enjoyed the 'Island in the Sky Video (and about 5,000 of you did, I hear !)

Here's another lovely one - also by Christophe Malin and his colleague Babak Tafreshsi.

New Time-Lapse Gives Rare Glimpse at Atacama’s Starry Nights - -
< Video appears to be no longer available - sorry >

This one was filmed, not in the Canaries, but in another observatory, in a place I have never been - Paranal in Chile. What a view !

Enjoy ! cheers
- Bri

Time-Lapse Chile


**Sat 01 Dec 12**

I went down to visit our dear friend Sir Patrick today. He is poorly, and very frustrated because it's stopping him working. Although he's quite weak and finding it exhausting to talk, he was able to say "Damned Annoying" very clearly !

We're all a bit concerned, but on the other hand we have all seen Patrick laid low many times before, and even been worried if he would make it through the night; but Patrick has always had an uncanny knack of bouncing back the next day and demanding to know what the fuss us all about ! Even this afternoon he managed to tell us a joke or two.

So we are all hopeful he will be fully functional again in a few days, and able to concentrate, among other things, on planning an event for his 90th Birthday ! Here's a pic of him you may not have seen - in fine form at the launch of our most recent book, the Cosmic Tourist. Photo courtesy of Carlton Books.

Cheers !


Sir Patrick Moore


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