Tuesday, January 23, 2018

random bowie - reality

Howdy Pop Pickers

And so another year, look you see, but a continuation of this whole “Random Bowie” thing I started in the last. This is all down to demand – thank you, yet or if you like once again, to all those who read, share and enjoy these.

It was two years ago this month that we said, no, when David Bowie said goodbye to us. He elected to do so in the most astonishing, artistic way possible. Yes, I will press on and do all the albums, so Blackstar will feature here one day. But not today.

For this edition, considering the time of year, I thought it appropriate to do Reality. This record, as many of you will know and as we shall look at here, was the one that for close to a decade seemed to be the rather unintended “farewell” album.

To start as usual, some quick and fast facts. By the commonly agreed measurement of them, Reality was David Bowie’s 23rd solo album. It was released middle to late 2003, just slightly over a year after Heathen. Several of the songs came from the Heathen sessions, whilst some – in particular the two cover versions on the standard edition of the album – were ones he had tinkered with for years. Reality was supported and promoted by a tour far more extensive than Bowie had undertaken for the previous two records.

I kind of get the sense that this one is the most neglected on the Bowie discography. There are all sorts of reasons for this, and none of them are to do with any lack of quality on the album at all. Perhaps it’s due to no particularly huge hits on the record, that it came out far too soon after the celebrated Heathen or it was simply overshadowed by the abrupt end to the tour in support of it. Well, all I can do is throw this at the internet, then, and maybe one or two shall discover, rediscover or simply remember how good Reality is.

Above I mentioned that there were “no huge hits”. That’s probably down to no song in particular being released as a single in any conventional sense. Yes, I know, bear with me. Whilst in some countries New Killer Star was released as a single proper, not so for many. Here in the UK it came out as a DVD single only, featuring the headache inducing video and his clearly struggling to keep a straight face whilst doing it cover of Sigue Sigue Sputnik’s Love Missile F1-11.

Somewhere on this blog – and if I remember I will link here – is a piece I did on that DVD single. New Killer Star is a brilliant, catchy single, and does the job of conveying much – if not quite all – of the tone of the album it ostensibly previewed. Yes, the ownership for listening pleasure of this song makes the price of admission worth it alone, but there’s so much more.

Of particular interest are the cover versions. There are two on the album proper, three if you pick up one of the “special edition” variations, or indeed four if you include the Sputnik celebration mentioned. For now, let’s stick with the standard two.

When I picked up the album – as point of fact I think my Dad picked it up for me on one of his many overseas business trips – I was hopeful, when looking at the tracklisting, that one called Pablo Picasso would be that version of the song. Indeed it was, a cover of the song by Modern Lovers. My first encounter with this tune was on the soundtrack for classic 80s movie Repo Man. Perhaps that is where Bowie heard it too, although I suspect he would have been aware of it earlier. Anyway, much like Love Missile F1-11, it seems that Bowie had enormous fun with the funny lyrics. Bear this in mind for later.

The second standard cover is of a George Harrison solo number, Try Some Buy Some. Indeed, it’s entirely possible that he recorded this as a tribute to the recently deceased quiet one from The Beatles. It’s more likely that his passing prompted him to get around to recording it, however, as it’s known that Bowie had wanted to do a version of it for many years. As in, back in the 70s he wanted to do it.

I have given focus to the covers with good reason. Despite some serious moments, the tone one – well, I – walks away from Reality with is of Bowie having fun, enjoying it all, being relaxed and entirely at peace with himself, both as a private person and his public persona. This is evident in the clearing enjoying and entertaining himself – although never taking the p!ss – nature of Pablo Picasso and Love Missile F1-11. All further evidence you could wish for of thjs is right there on the A Reality Tour DVD and CD set. And, indeed, in the wonderful behind the scenes, on tour footage revealed in the BBC documentary The Last Five Years.

What of Bowie’s original compositions for the record? Little to no filler. Not bad for your 23rd solo album; many musicians have clearly run out of steam by the 23rd minute of their first album, after all.

Other than New Killer Star, one of the most interesting – and intriguing – songs to be found on Reality is The Loneliest Guy. The song exists, perhaps, somewhat outside of the fun element I’ve focused on. It’s a haunting, quasi jazz piece and, I dare say, shows Bowie at his clairvoyant best.

Just remember that this was 2003. Whilst the internet very much existed, it was not as it is today. Connection to it was not widespread, and was done so mostly via dial up. Speeds saw you take some 20 minutes to download a 3 minute song. Social Media had yet to dawn. My Space had only just started, and Friends Reunited was in essence a glorified message board – an expensive one at that. And yet Bowie foresaw how people would come to use the internet, with the narrator of the song seeing himself as the “luckiest” rather than “loneliest” guy by living life away from people in reality but through people on his computer.

It’s a brilliant song, arguably the strongest and most direct return to the theme of isolation Bowie had done since Station To Station and Low. Also, quite intriguing. The line “the pictures on my hard drive make me the luckiest guy” has been picked up on by more than one person, I think, or maybe it is just me. Exactly what was it Bowie hinted at having stored away?

There is not, in truth, a bad song on the album. Much of it is light hearted, whimsical maybe, but never lazy or giving a sense of “this will do”. But, knowing now what we did not know then, there is a danger of reading things into some of the songs which were clearly never there. Many songs reference or touch on a sense of time, and indeed death or departure. To suggest that this is so because Bowie “knew” something was up is just plain wrong. He had been referencing such subjects from the start. Consider, off the top of my head, the fact that a cover of My Death featured prominently during the Ziggy Stardust tour of 1972.

An obvious example of the above might be Never Get Old. It’s a wonderful, whimsical pop tune that’s simply uplifting. Lyrically it’s about not feeling your age, about being happy and content with who you are, where you are, when you are. Maybe it’s a nod to Pete out of The Who, referencing the intent of that most famous line from My Generation. No, Bowie wasn’t feeling old, so had no hope to die.

The Reality Tour, then. In terms of releases, the DVD of a gig in Ireland on this tour came out in 2004, with an excellent 2 CD set of the same being released in 2010. With regards to the latter, it really did seem that it was to be “that’s all”, as it was part of a sequence of releases of live stuff year after year, with notable ones being the VH1 Storytellers set and an official release for the much loved Santa Monica 72 bootleg.

I would have no hesitation at all in saying that The Reality Tour, as DVD and CD, are essential to own. To be blunt, frank or whatever you wish, the way you see and hear David Bowie on this release is the way to remember him, always. It really does capture him at peace and at one, and absolutely, unrestrainedly, delightfully comfortable with being David Bowie. He’s relaxed and at one with the fans, he is clearly loving the band he plays with and, perhaps most importantly, he’s embracing his entire catalogue. Other than a wonderful reinterpretation of Rebel Rebel, there’s an acoustic take on Loving The Alien. This is introduced with quite a story, in which he makes clear how sad he was that this song “didn’t work” as well as he had hoped.

You probably do not need me to tell you this, but yes, The Reality Tour was the last time David Bowie was accessible to the public. Beyond some outrageously great performances, and classic Spinal Tap incidents such as the “lollipop in the eye” gig, it ended abruptly. Stories are unclear as to what exactly happened, but the gist is that Bowie had a massive heart attack prior to or during one gig – one which by all accounts he was most fortunate to survive. Whether he had pushed himself too hard with the tour, or his lifestyle had caught up with him, or both, doesn’t really matter, I suppose.

Between the unintended end of the Reality tour and the surprise release of The Next Day all sorts of stories circulated. Reports were that he was frail and fragile, with some even suggesting he was suffering the onset of dementia. He rarely spoke publicly or gave any interviews, save for one hope for the fans. At some stage during those ten or so years he, in between denying he was involved with various rumoured projects, said that it would “have to take something really spectacular” to see him make new music. Some of us fans speculated – maybe hoped – that this might come in the form of a soundtrack for a film made by his son. Now, of course, we all know what that something spectacular was that saw him return to the recording studio.

An obvious answer to the standard question towards the end of these Random Bowie episodes is yes. Indeed, Reality is very much an album worth getting and owning, irrespective of what level of Bowie fan you are. Few, if any, of the songs on it turn up on “best of” compilations, and they are just too good not to be heard.

The question is “which version”, as there are at least three. If it’s the most freely available then I would say that the standard one, commencing with New Killer Star and closing with Bring Me The Disco King, is worthwhile. From what I remember, and probably have here somewhere, there was a 2 CD version too. The second disc features the re-recorded take on Rebel Rebel, as well as a track called Fly and some remixes. OK, but not essential – in particular if you pick up A Reality Tour, featuring the fun live version of Rebel Rebel.

Best of the lot, though, is the CD and DVD variation, coming in packaging what is silver rather than white. On the CD there is one extra track, a superb cover of Waterloo Sunset by The Kinks. And I do mean superb. It’s beautiful, loving and wonderful. David Bowie may well have turned down a Knighthood, thinking it was “silly” to accept when he no longer lived in England, but boy did he retain his love for London through it all.

The DVD showcases a specially arranged gig, in which Bowie and the musicians assembled perform the entirety of the standard version of the Reality album, no more and no less. He did a similar, smaller scale thing for a video to go with Black Tie White Noise. This one, however, turned out to be rather inspirational. All of a sudden “full album gigs” were a thing. Or if you like a thing once more. Sure, The Who, Marillion and to an extent Pink Floyd had done “album gigs” performing certain rock operas in full. After this, though, all of a sudden you had everyone from The Rolling Stones to Suede to the Manic Street Preachers doing gigs focused on one album in particular.

In truth, much of what I have tried to say here about Reality could have been achieved via a simple count of how many times New York is mentioned. No secret was ever made of how much Bowie loved the city, or for that matter that he'd made it home. The number of references to it - whether in his own compositions or in the cover of Pablo Picasso - kind of shows how relaxed, at ease and at one he really was during this period.

And so I think that is that for this episode. There is undoubtedly a whole load more I could be saying or writing on it. But, mostly, hopefully this prompts you to go off and discover, or rediscover, the audio and very visual treats on offer in the Reality releases.

Thank you, once again, for taking the time to drop by and read this. I hope it has been of some interest, even if just so in passing!

be excellent to each other!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Saturday, January 20, 2018

the people's wrestler of hearts

hello again

it is so that frequent, or if you like regular, look you see, readers of this blog will have already considered my musings from the Christmas just gone. or, if you like, Christmas 2017. that post featured, briefly and in passing, a hint of some of the gifts what i got.

now, then, is the time to look at one of them gifts in particular, in more detail. i have made an honest and fair assumption that the one you would all wish to see more of is the Brock Lesnar t-shirt. to this end, then, that is what this post shall consider, indeed concentrate on.

yes, indeed, that is a picture of me in regulation Commodore 64 mode, wearing the Brock Lesnar t-shirt of hope. and i know that it is a Brock Lesnar one, for it has his name on it, and the boys explained to me who he is exactly. not, as it turns out, the wrestler what done that James Bond film but another one.

for what reason was i given this item as a gift for Christmas? well, it was a fitting gesture, i suppose. i mean my all time favourite wrestler of all time was Honky Tonk Man, but he has retired now. a school of thought suggests that Brock Lesnar is, in many respects a "Honky Tonk Man for the 21st Century" or for a new generation. except, presumably, without the hair or guitar.

no, i am not really sure who exactly Brock Lesnar is. i mean, one of the characters in the class film Boogie Night adopted the persona of Brock at one stage, so i just pretend that it is him.

would i recognize Brock Lesnar if he came up to me in the street? that would depend on circumstance i suppose. i mean, if he came up to me, punched me in the face or did a boss move (which i assume "splx cty" refers to), picked me up, helped wipe away the blood and said "by the way, i am Brock Lesnar", then yes i would.

cynics, or those prone to cynical ways, might look at this and go no. it might be that they suggest the only reason this gift was mine is that it happened to be both £4 off of the WWE shop and they had it in my size. well, if you have nothing better to do with life than think like that, that's up to you.

oh, no, the above has nothing to do with the Brock, or anyone else who works so tirelessly for the World Wildlife Fund or whatever it is called. that there above is a most splendid gift, it being a coaster crafted with an image of a David Bowie concert ticket from January 1973.

just who presented me with such a magnificent gift? the splendid nature of it, i would have thought, should inform you. yes, it comes from the generosity of that gentleman i know who is both the Viscount of Stockton and the Marquess of Tees Valley, whatever the latter is. a most kind and generous gift from his excellency, his grace. one that shall be treasured and displayed.

yeah, that's the back of the Brock Lesnar t-shirt. i am assuming "eat sleep conquer repeat" is his slogan, or banner. a variation on that whole "eat sleep rave repeat" thing, which interestingly enough i have printed on the front of another t-shirt, one which so far as i am aware is unrelated to panda breeding or other such concerns.

is Brock Lesnar the people's wrestler of hearts? no, i am asking you this time around, rather than proposing it as a question for me to answer. i really have no idea. maybe he is.

one question i can answer is yes, i am indeed most pleased and very happy with my smart t-shirt, celebrating as it does that chap. it's a most splendid cut, a perfect size and made from a lavish, quality material that makes it most comfortable to wear.

but, as that is just about all i can think of to say about the shirt, i will call it quits for this post.

be excellent to each other!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Thursday, January 18, 2018

some book reviews, then

hello reader

well, why not keep doing the same kind of regular post what i did last year, and the year before. and, look you see, for a number of years before that too. as i have finished reading a couple of novels, to be sure, time to give a sort of review thing here for the benefit of any who might wish to have a gander.

in truth i finished reading these off a little while ago, as in the end of the last month of the year just gone. for a number of reasons, none of them at all sinister, it's only now i have gotten around to writing this sort of thing.

as usual, then, a look at the two books what i read, and a quick(ish) overview which seeks to carefully avoid spoilers. from then onwards, of course, a spoiler warning will apply, to be sure.

both, as it happens, were really rather good. that said, not for all tastes. Arrowood by Laura McHugh is a sort of eerie,  partially creepy thriller. it is engaging, but it is not, despite the quotes on the front, all that complex to work out the "twists". nor is it an "old fashioned gothic mystery", as catchy as that might sound. on the other side Alex was a brilliant crime mystery thing, but do take caution as it's unsettling and has some truly disturbing imagery.

right, then, for many of you that will be enough and all you need to know of my thoughts. if that is you, off you go and thank you for reading as much as you did. for all others who go on, please note that, as careful as i shall strive to be, a *** SPOILER WARNING *** is in place for the rest of this article. also, as usual, links are for convenience, and are not an endorsement, affiliation or recommendation from me as to where one should, or for that matter should not, purchase either novel.

to start with, then, where i started with these two. which would be Arrowood  by Laura McHugh. 

provenance of my copy? i am almost certain that it was £2 at Tesco in their "try me" deal of the week on books. it is possible, however, that it was £2.50 or thereabouts under the terms of their controversial "cheaper when you buy The Sun" deal.

the plot? Arden has inherited Arrowood, the place which was once her family home. it has been left empty for a while, and mostly is home to some terrible memories. several years earlier Arden's two siblings were abducted from the garden as they played, never to been seen or heard of again.

much of the narrative follows the story of the disappearance / abduction, with an eager unsolved crime enthusiast keen to try and work out exactly what happened to the children. Arden wants to find out the truth of the matter too, in particular when several things she considered to be "fact" around the disappearance turn out not to be the case at all. This all happens as Arden too struggles with the present, trying to fit back into a world she wants knew.......

the novel works on two levels, really. firstly, and primarily, the "mystery". it is absolutely not so difficult as the quote from Lee Child on the cover suggests, as i don't think there's even four possible scenarios given for you to consider, let alone be misled by. but still, it's engaging, not too obvious, and makes you want to keep reading.

second, the idea of "going home". the narrative is perfect. whenever you return home after an extended period away there's an assumption, maybe idea, that all shall be exactly as you left it; that everyone and everything simply paused, coming to stand still, until you came back. it does not work like that. the writing captures this exceptionally well indeed.

no, not a clue on the "old fashioned" gothic review. there is a "modern" understanding or interpretation of "gothic" which says "any contemporary novel which features a female protagonist and a mansion". it might be the case that this sort of covers the plot in broad strokes, but then that would make this, at best, "modern" gothic rather than "old fashioned". all the same, the novel is superb. i mention this purely as i would not want someone enthusiastic about "gothic" novels as they are more better understood to be defined and being left disappointed to find that Arrowood is not really one which meets the criteria.

right, a brief break as i consider my thoughts on the second novel.

yes, well, quite, there you have it. do make what you will of the above picture, or collage, or if you like public service announcement. i am sure it is of resonance to someone, somewhere.

the second novel what i have recently read, then. Alex, it is called, and was originally written by someone off of France called Pierre Lemaitre. for ease of reading, however, i elected to read the English translation of the novel, as translated by Frank Wynne. nice one Frank, cheers.

provenance? i am 100% certain that this one was, with no doubt as 100% suggests, a £2 deal off of Tesco. so both books together came in, no matter what, at a cost south of £5.

of the plot? a woman, Alex, is kidnapped and held captive in a quite barbaric, stomach churning (you have been warned) way. we have no idea, as readers, why. also having no idea is the police, who are some time later alerted to the fact that there "might" have been an abduction, although no one has any idea at all who may have abducted and who may have been the abductee. when it transpires that yes, such a crime really did happen, investigations and chance take place which leads them to find the potential identity of the abductor, if not who exactly was taken. as the constabulary (or whatever they are called in France) draw close, things take a quite unexpected (but for the reader plausible) turn......

this was brilliant, to be honest. again, i cannot state often enough, though, that it was gruesome, graphic and highly disturbing in parts. if you like crime novels but not ones with explicit descriptions then you should really rather skip this one.

yes, of course it does that which which most French art from the second half of the twentieth century onwards does. that is, it's "symbolic". once again in a work from France we have a woman, violated, abused, tortured and invaded being symbolic of France itself. the aggressor, usually male, is ferocious, brutal and unforgiving, and is meant to represent if not Germany then the Third Reich. as ever, the authorities are indifferent or complicit with the aggressor, save one or two voices speaking against, with that being symbolic of the general sense of shame and frustration the French carry in regards of how their supposed leaders so easily capitulated and crumbled in the face of invasion. understandable, i suppose, but the fact that we still have such heavy handed symbolism - there's even a trip to the German border in this novel - then i guess it shall dominate French art for some time to come yet still.....

my understanding is that Alex is the middle, business end of a trilogy of crime novels featuring the chief, decent copper, Camille. there would appear to be no need to know of the first novel to read this one and understand it. that said, i may seek out the other two. although i have a mountain of novels here to get through. and, now that i think, i still have not found or read the third novel what Child 44 was the first part, and i read the second although the name of it escapes me.

so there you go. two most splendid reads, in truth, and ones that i would not hesitate in recommending to others. except for the caution expressed regarding the graphic content of Alex, that is.

well, that's that, then. undoubtedly, so long as time is with me, further reading adventures shall be looked at here. in the mean time, or interim if that's right, hopefully some of this has been of use to someone somewhere!

be excellent to each other!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Tuesday, January 16, 2018

lynx you anthony joshua under review


well, a promise is a promise, look you see. in days gone past - at some stage last year - i proudly showed off, or if you will showcased, a set of variations of the 'You' deodorant produced, marketed and sold by Lynx. or, depending on where you are in the world, Axe, for they call it so in other places.

one such variation was a "limited edition" type, ostensibly endorsed by and mostly celebrating boxer Anthony Joshua. i purchased it, partially out of admiration for his achievements but predominantly because it was on special offer. i think £2, maybe £1.50 a can.

where does the promise aspect come into this? from what i remember at the time i said that if i ever got around to using it, and further remembered to do so, i would pass comment here. and so here we are, then.

i would not say that i engaged in use of this particular product with particularly high expectations or other such exalted expectations. my understanding was that it would be pretty much the same stuff as the You range tested - namely the "classic" original, and the "Refreshed" version, which was decidedly better. to me, it made sense that this was one or the other, just with a picture of Mr Joshua (but still the boxer Anthony, and not the character played by Gary Busey out of Lethal Weapon) placed on the tin to encourage sales.

to this end, i suspect i was as wrong as i was right. i mean it has been a while since i had used the other versions, instead electing to stay safely with the Frankie Goes To Hollywood inspired Black Night White Light version. so, whilst i cannot remember 100% what the other versions of You were like, this non-Busey Mr Joshua one seems somewhat different.

and what is the scent? interesting. for sure, as is standard with Lynx and their You branding, the musky aroma of manly men musky sticky and sweaty is there. in this instance, though, the musk evokes idea of a dressing room in a gym scenario, rather than the standard towelling down area of a Turkish Bath.

but this is not all that there is to it. no. quite pleasant, it is, really. in many respects it speaks less of Mr Joshua the famed and successful pugilist; more of his other dimensions. it's pretty much more Anthony Joshua the philosopher, the philanthropist, the poet than it is the Anthony Joshua who is really good at punching people in the face, quite hard.

indeed, i am aware that i am far removed from the target market for this merchandise. quite close, as point of fact, i am to being some three times (3x) the ideal median age proposed for use of this product. but, mostly, Lynx are the only ones what i consider to be "proper" deodorant, and thus i have little choice but to pursue a life of using it. undoubtedly the ladies who work the tills at checkouts when i make a purchase pour scorn, considering me to be someone desperately trying to cling to youth in doing so. well, so be it.

once again then, yes, i am aware that the premise of Lynx is that feral teenage types may be drawn, if not attracted, to each other for brief interludes of quasi mating purposes. no, i have no desire whatsoever to attract such, feral or otherwise. other than my (considerably) better half informing me that i am quite happily married (very), the proliferation of pornography of a peculiar proclivity across the youth of today suggests they would have all sorts of funny ideas and expectations which, frankly, i would find to be most ungentlemanly to engage in whilst being recorded and broadcast over this whole "internet" thing.

so, well, anyway, bravo Mr Joshua (not the one out of Lethal Weapon), for the most part this deodorant named in your honour is a triumph. or, if you like, another triumph, to be sure.

be excellent to each other!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Sunday, January 14, 2018

hello, sailors


nothing too much of interest, look you see. except maybe it is, as point of fact.

recently, as in a couple of months ago or so, i stumbled upon this picture of me, or if you like moi, and did with it what everyone does with such these days. that is, scanned it and threw it to the four winds what are social media.

overall, i would say, it got most favourable comments. very, actually, as i had more than one request for a signed copy of it. and so here you go.

this was taken a little south of 32 years ago. i know this because it was on this trip when i bought the True Blue album by Madonna, on cassette. yes, probably off of HMV. if not HMV Oxford then one near or around the Oxford area. but not Oxford Street, London, innit. actual Oxford. well, there was no current Frankie release, and i quite liked the song Live To Tell.

not that you needed such clarification, for everything about the image says 1986. beyond the pub, my Andrew Ridgeley shorts, dapper trainers and penchant for a sailor's hat all scream, yet scream in a loud and clear way, that magnificent year. also the "tank top", or sleeveless t-shirt thing i have on the go. quite the rage it was, to be sure. and yes i am certain it was as much branded with Adidas as the dapper trainers. or maybe, perhaps, it was one of them Nike ones.

i am not at all sure i would be interested in printing out and signing any more copies of this picture, in truth. but, you never know unless you ask. why someone would want it i cannot imagine, but here i am, giving the people what they want.

be excellent to each other!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Friday, January 12, 2018

thoust shall follow false prophets not

hello there

from time to time, or if you like every now and then, look you see, there's a quite serious subject what comes up here. it is entirely possible that this is such a time, or, to be sure, a now or a then.

succession and continuation are complex matters, of not perpetual ones. they require planning and thinking ahead. failure to do so can be quite catastrophic, or barely even noticed depending on how it all works out.

in terms of modern society there is of course one man who this issue has had relevance for twice. well, twice at the least. yes, Jim Bowen. for many the issue of his succession is based entirely on his current role as Pope Francis I. there are fears that he is so good at it and brilliant that no replacement, whatever their qualities, will succeed and perpetuate his work.

these fears are real and well founded. we faced a similar problem with his earlier, better known work, and the failed succession plan, when it came to Bullseye.

on several occasions i have mentioned the importance of Bullseye to our culture, society and way of life in general. this i have done not so much to inform as to remind many of you of what you already know. had we not had Bullseye as a sort of touchstone or similar, life would be a lot different now.

at the time, the great era of Bullseye when there was world peace and so forth, none of us really gave consideration to what we might do if either the show stopped or if, understandably, Jim Bowen felt that he needed to move to a different, maybe lesser, platform from which to spread his vital message.

we, in a very real sense, were then all guilty of just taking it for granted that the era of Jim Bowen was something that would simply be, now and forever. and so we must take blame, too, for the failures of the woeful succession plan what they came up with.

yes, that there above is the hallowed podium from which Jim Bowen spoke. no, that is not Jim Bowen stood there, handling the question card. some Google research tells me that this is, as point of fact, a chap called Dave Spikey. so far as i can tell he is an OK, decent sort of bloke. he is just not Jim Bowen.

sometimes you can get away with replacing a front man. other, and if you say lesser than Bullseye that is fine, tv shows have replaced the host and all has gone well. examples would be The Generation Game and, i think, Family Fortunes. but Bullseye was not normal tv show. it existed as much as a conduit for the teachings of Jim Bowen as it did to provide light entertainment for the masses and the opportunity to own a speedboat for the chosen few.

it was, i suppose, brave of this Dave Spikey to step forward and present himself as a successor to Jim Bowen. the truth is anyone would have failed. well, all but one, but we will get to that.

above, in rather fetching Commodore 64 mode, are the contestants assigned to answer questions on this Bullseye re-imagining, or if you like "redux". the agony and pain of being thieves in the temple is etched firmly across their faces, is it not? it is as though they came to pay homage to something that they thought they should, but did not.

who is it that could have successfully ascended to the role of Bullseye leader? to those who are keen students of history there is an answer hidden away in the fate of the War of Spanish Succession. yes, Tony Green.

if they had truly wanted all of those who believed in Bullseye to accept a new order, one without the leadership and guidance of Jim Bowen, then they would have elevated Tony Green to the position of presenter. he had spent years as a loyal, devout even, servant to Jim Bowen. an appropriate reward for this would have been to afford him the opportunity to move up and present.

doing this would have allowed Tony Green to appoint a scorer - Ross Bray, maybe - who would one day have succeeded Tony Green. succession and continuation would have been assured, and done so in a way that would have appeased the devotees of the show. but no, they went for this Dave Spikey bloke, and left Tony Green where he was.

whereas the failure to correctly anoint Tony Green as the new custodian of Bullseye was the biggest mistake made, other factors did not help. like, for instance, the ridiculous, opulent new set they created.

i mean, just look at it. the whole set is far too massive, as if to physically represent what a soulless void it all is without the teachings of Jim Bowen being at the forefront. they might as well have just shoved it all on the stage at somewhere like the O2 Arena, really.

undoubtedly someone somewhere, probably with a ponytail, horn rimmed glasses and wearing a "power tie", thought that the dartboard motif on the floor was a good idea. it isn't. to do this simply distracts from the true message of what Bullseye was all about.

as, for that matter, does the selection of contestants to compete for the Bronze Bully statue who raised money for charity.

here we see celebrated weather soothsayer Andrea McLean score 103 points with 9 darts, which translates as £103 for charity and no chance of winning the trophy.

whilst that's admirable for someone not proficient at darts - it's no doubt higher than what i would get - it goes against what Jim Bowen established.

yes, i know that in the early days of Bullseye they had celebrity, non-darts professionals come in and have a go. they were, however, people like Acker Bilk, George Best, Bonnie Langford and verious friends of Terry Venables. people who were at home in a pub, and could have had just an excellent career in darts as they did in whatever they did instead of that.

above is one of the prizes offered on Bully's Prize Board. yes, it is a metal detector. no, it is not even one of them Bill Wyman endorsed ones, it's just a regular one. and here's another issue, then.

sure, ostensibly the main point of Bully's Prize Board on Bullseye was to allow competitors to win some smart prizes. but it was much more. for a generation various manufacturing companies, as well as scientists and other such types, used the Prize Board as a conduit to showcase their latest inventions. the very first encounter millions of people had with wonders such as an alarm clock what made tea, or a portable tv set, or a stereo with a "laser record player" (later CD player) in it was through watching Bullseye.

gone was this celebration of innovation, once so proudly seen under the leadership of Jim Bowen. the sight of just a common, every day type of metal detector being offered as a prize must have made the contestants truly regret appearing on the non-Jim Bowen led version of the show.

lost also was the secrets and magic of the audience. as looked at here, once it was a haven for celebrities, the aristocracy, the landed gentry and royalty. in this "revamped" - i am reluctant to use the word "rejuvenated" after consulting a dictionary - the audience seems to have been made up entirely of people who went on something called "an internet" and requested tickets. no VIP invitations extended, then.

that's probably why, as far as i could see, Tony Green spent the entire episode with his back to the audience. it seems that, although they were probably all decent people, there was no one of national importance in the audience for Tony to keep an eye on.

i am not going to discuss the controversial Bullseye Christmas Gang Bang here, dear reader. as far as i am concerned all that i had to say on the subject is found in this earlier post. as opposed to one which i have not yet done.

standards were indeed allowed to slip at every level, as the above illustrates. once contestants were rewarded with a proper pint tankard, genuine, big size £10 notes, solid, meaty and chunky darts and a bespoke effigy of Bully. on this non-Jim Bowen version they got a cheap tin tea cip, some "streamlined" darts, a low cost rubbery Bully and some dodgy looking tenners. bank notes which, you will observe, were placed directly in to the tea cup, rather than being safely stored in the suit jacket pocket of the host. perhaps Dave Spikey had some religious reason for not copying the trend established by Jim Bowen, or maybe he just didn't feel confident enough to carry around so much cash.

Bully's Star Prize? there, and yes indeed, as tradition dictates, it was a speedboat. but a speedboat with a difference. and not a good one.

when you move past being distracted by the deft camera angle and all the shiny lights, you will note that the speedboat on offer is an actual speedboat; as in one that looks like it could go quite fast. this is not how it was in the era of Jim Bowen. no, back then contestants were rewarded with a rudimentary boat that went at a fairly consistent, steady speed.

had a contestant dare complained that the speedboat was bereft of speed to Jim, he would no doubt have struck them down with a quip like "how fast do you want to go? Australia is not going anywhere, it will be there when you dock". perhaps such comedy genius was too much to ask of anyone, even Dave Spikey, and so they just elected to give a proper, actual speedboat instead, hoping that no one would notice. well, i did.

yes, Tony, i agree. we all wish Jim Bowen every continued success in his current role as Pope Francis. but we surely, and sorely, miss him being at the helm of Bullseye. perhaps when he has tired of his role at the Vatican he will return.

until such time, this newish version of Bullseye is best forgotten about. rather just watch repeats of the many fantastic episodes which his excellency, the great Jim Bowen, agreed to host.

be excellent to each other!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Wednesday, January 10, 2018



and so here we are again. once more we are on, or at, 10 January, look you see. this day, to me, is Frankie day, for it marks the day on a year gone by when i got to see Frankie Goes To Hollywood very much live and very much in concert.

that is a year in the past, to be sure, as opposed to one yet to come.

yes of course i still treasure this, and indeed i do remember it all. well, perhaps not as well as i once could recall such, for time does ebb away at our memories.

luckily, though, a few years ago someone passed along to me a recording of the very gig what i was at. i, and of course Uncle Colin, who was so kind as to take me along to it.

the recording, alas, was made on the technology of the day, which is to say one of them at the time fancy new walkman devices what had a microphone welded on to it. in this regard it is not quite so perfectly good as you might hope, but you can hear stuff.

literally, you can hear stuff, for here is a snippet for you.....

that's the grand opening to the gig, in the form of Warriors Of The Wasteland. as all Frankie fans will know, that was the opening song on the then new, still second record album off of Frankie, Liverpool. once that song was done they went into a personal favourite of mine, The Only Star In Heaven, but this has slightly better quality so i thought that this would be the best one to use.

for the benefit of not so much Google indexing as those using a Google to find this, yes, this was Frankie Goes To Hollywood at the Manchester G-Mex on 10 January 1987.  if it just so happens that you were at this gig too and curiosity lead you to search out and be here, then nice one!

it would be splendid to say you can hear my teenage self screaming on that recording, but no. to be frank, Frankie, i was just stood in a silent awe of seeing the bestest band ever of all time live, and in the flesh.

lots and lots of thanks, always, are due. many thanks indeed to Mum & Dad for getting me the tickets, to Uncle Colin for taking me, to the bootlegger who recorded the gig, to the fellow fan who shared the recording with me and, but of course, thank you Frankie.

enjoy it or get out the game...............................

Monday, January 08, 2018

optical generosity

hello people

one of the more not entirely unreasonable questions to be posed to me, look you see, is that of whether or not absolutely everyone in my circle of contemporaries must be the greatest or most important of what they do. in truth, no, but it is always splendid when they achieve such.

the most prominent example of the above is of course Spiros, whose many wonderful adventures are chronicled here from time to time, as and when he feels like it's a matter to share. for a change, then, let us spend a moment in celebration of one of the most significant, important and challenging artists of his generation, Steven Legget.

most, actually all, of you shall be aware of this chap via his sonic ambitions. via the conduit of Four Hands he unleashes music the likes of which no mortal was meant to hear. but we do, thanks to his connection to the elements and his ability to channel it all, superbly so, into vibes. here, this in a different colour is the link to one of the platforms where you can here his music.

above, and indeed below, are examples of his voyages into the optical, or if you will visual arts. this is the field in which he first really achieved greatness. indeed he does so to this day, and beyond, when it so interests him to do so. much of his artistic work has made the front page of newspapers from time to time.

these two works are a gift, for you, so that you may beautify your mobile phone device thing. an enhanced experience is yours, having these works of high value, as your phone wallpaper and/or lock screen, if you so see fit to do so.

provenance of the art? i believe he created them in one of his many residences. one of the fascinating aspects of "Secret London" is that the Thames is populated with a few hundred islands, or island like land masses. several of them have opulent properties on them, and Steven owns several of the several. well, owns in the sense of any of us owning anything. all is transient, and so is this.

what's the message of these two most splendid works of art? that's up to you, really. for me, though, they, to be sure, reference that idea that what we understand to be our waking conscious state is in fact the point of dream of ourselves in several parallel universes. when we sleep the dream state is our true connection to existence, and in it we crave the sleep that we consider our awake time, for this delivers a consistent, standard level of mundane living. i know, far out man.

but, as with all great art, you are free to interpret it as you will. except you are not, in a real sense, for your freedom does not carry so far as to not interpret them. it is so that you must have a reaction.

should these works have been placed on the regular artistic market for art things then they would have summoned a price of several hundred thousands of any currency you like. and yet here they are, free, gratis, and complimentary for your own engagement, enjoyment and interpretation.

be excellent to each other!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!


Saturday, January 06, 2018

aggressive marketing


every now and then i have, to be sure, mentioned how the filter coffee off of L'Or is a most splendid thing indeed. it tastes lovely and is one i rank quite highly. the problem with it, look you see, was the cost. whereas most regular coffees, tasting from good to great, are around £3 for a standard bag, L'Or is, or was, in the £4 range.

if i am going to spend that much money on coffee then best it come in a Fortnum & Mason tin, and be Fortnum & Mason coffee. as things stand, then, i, or rather we for my (considerably) better half also drinks it, only get to taste the L'Or when it is on special. or, indeed, free.

whilst out shopping, shall we say somewhat recently but not this year, i was delighted to find that L'Or was on special, to the tune of £2.50 a bag. happy yes, but no i didn't do a little skip or dance about it. smiled, maybe, perhaps, and grabbed a bag.

the most interesting aspect of this special was that one bag, out of several, had a sticker on it which offered one the chance to "try it for free". i grabbed this particular bag, then. part of me expected it, to be sure, to have some sort of elaborate nature to it where "free" was debatable. no, that was not the case at all.

i purchased the coffee, then, on special and at £2.50, and then took it home to inspect and read the details of how i may be able to try this all for free.

as it turned out it was all really rather simple and painless to try it for free. the requirement was to either scan in or take a photo of the receipt, go to their website, upload the scan or photograph and type in the unique code on that bag of coffee. you also had to give the details of your PayPal account.

this was all done, and with a really nice email confirming such, within a day i had indeed been given back the money what i spent on the coffee. yes, all £2.50 of it and no, apparently none of the standard charges one would normally experience when using PayPal.

quite aggressive marketing, that. add that to the lavish and clearly expensive TV adds which flight from time to time they really are quite keen to get a substantial share of the filter coffee market. if this is what they want to do - and surely that is what all businesses would wish to do in any field - then i would suggest that pricing is what they should be looking at.

i am no expert, but if the standard pricing for filter coffee is around £3, then that is the way to go. whereas i, we, have favourites, ultimately pricing determines what we buy. this, i would assume if not imagine, is true of the majority of shoppers.

what's that above? why, it is the L'Or next to a bag of Cafe Italia coffee, with the latter being one that i picked up at Poundland for £1. no, neither i nor my (considerably) better half have been quite brave enough to give this one a try yet. the last time i got some coffee off of Poundland for £1 - a jar of unspecified instant stuff - it did not go down well. we are not sure how this one will, if and when we ever give it a go. maybe.

so, well, anyway. good luck to L'Or with this campaign. it is a lovely coffee. and best of luck to you all in finding a pack with the sticker on, enabling you to give it a go for "free", or at least with the cost of it refunded. as far as i can recall, this special runs until February 2018.

be excellent to each other!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Thursday, January 04, 2018

and some more travels with Spiros

hello there

well, 'tis quite a way into this brand new new year, look you see, but many of you will, to be sure, want more of the same as last year. and the years before that. mostly, i suspect, what the more regular sort of readers here would want is further Spiros adventures. let me not be the one to let you down, then.

a bit of a cheat, really, as these were, as point of fact, all escapades from late last year. i have no doubt, however, that they reflect this very year ahead, so here we go.

now then. when you are the greatest legal mind of your generation, which is what Spiros is, generally it is expected that you attend certain events, dinners and what have you. pictured above is a band what was booked specifically to entertain Spiros at such an occasion. 

it was, alas, not the case that he found them particularly entertaining. for a start, the band pictured refused to perform an interpretation of Panama. this was a shame and indeed a disappointment, as Spiros has always wondered exactly how the famous guitar off of that song would have sounded when presented through the conduit of the accordion. should you happen to be aware of an accordion based interpretation of Panama, please could you leave the details here and Spiros shall have a look.

what was the actual music and songs what they done like? i am not sure. although i tried to engage in some discourse on the subject all Spiros would say is "none of the songs what they did was Panama". apparently this distracted him from appreciating the moment.

many might see the above sign as a rule or cautionary reminder which should be obeyed. to Spiros, however, it is simply a challenge. he points out that compliance with the law relies on you taking an "every day" interpretation of the wording, rather than an actual, legally sound one. to this end, the "ban" to the letter of the law implies that only pure alcohol is banned on public transport. drinks which happen to contain alcohol, such as beer or rum, are not specifically stated as banned. 

to this end, does Spiros take to tasting the ale whilst on the tube or similar? i am not at liberty to say. plenty do, i suppose. i mean, if you put the sauce of your choice in a flask, or mix it within a soft drink or "energy drink" bottle or can, no one is going to know. also, absolutely no one talks to anyone else on the tube, and everyone seems trained to look anywhere but at other people. so how would someone even know?

in any case, there's a widespread expectation that the incumbent Mayor of London is going to rescind or otherwise scrap the law banning alcohol (of any nature) on public transport. he is expected to do this to show how in touch he is with what London wants, and to dismantle the outstanding work done by Boris so his own achievements may look all the smarter in comparison.

yes. Spiros did tell me what exactly the above was, but no i cannot remember. there's an idea that i have about it being some sort of vegetable popular, native to and appreciated in the more eastern areas of Eastern Europe, but that is about it. what i can recall is that he was most pleased by the shape of it. i think he got given one, so to speak, by one of the gentleman he met in a public bathroom facility; one that he formed a short term but mutually beneficial friendship with.

but what of Spiros himself? well, yes, sure, much of his spare time (which is limited) remains spent making such friendships, with every now and then a fight being provoked with a taxi driver about some news story or other. for the most part, though, he is out there, doing his thing for those that can afford his worthwhile but very high fee, resolving matters of importance on national and international scales. and private concerns.

however bad you think the state of the world might be now, know that it would be a damned lot worse if Spiros were not sticking things in certain holes which appear in some walls.

well, anyway, that's that. if fortune smiles upon me perhaps i shall make it to somewhere or other in the world to meet up with Spiros this year. failing that, it will certainly be my delight to convey his adventures - or at least them what can be disclosed - here as we all go on and get on with things.

be excellent to each other!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Wednesday, January 03, 2018


hello again

wowee, i did not see this coming. so this post means, look you see, that 33% of my published posts for 2018 thus far relate or pertain to Microsoft and their inability to let use use their rather expensive X Box device.

just earlier today i posted about the 0x801901f4 error we have had for 3 (three) days. having posted that, and the details of how Microsoft are unaware of what that issue is, i tried again. for my troubles i got a brand new error message.

yes, so now i am getting an error code called 0x8027025a. also, a suggestion that i please try again, rather than the "come back later" one we have had. for three days.

i decided, or if you will elected,  to search this error on the Microsoft platform. whilst they were aware of this error code, they seem to think it relates to another problem all together.

not much help, then.

hey ho, let me see if i can contact them and ask what's going on.

and an update on that. at first i was sat waiting, with the message saying there were 3 users waiting to chat. when i glance at it again, this had increased to 4. i guess i am not a priority for them.

if you are in the same boat as we are, good luck - hope it is all working soon.

from my other post on all this, which you can read here......

UPDATE : more at the bottom, but basically it has taken me (and Microsoft) all day to discover that 0x801901f4 means there is a "corrupt file" somewhere in your profile on the X Box One. to fix you need to delete profile, do a full reset (but can save the games and apps), restart and re-add the account.

THE FIX : really, some attrocious service from Microsoft, but in the end some excellent help. basically i ended up creating a new account to try logging in with, and that worked fine. somehow a file or detail in my profile on the X Box had become corrupt, so the fix was deleting the profile from the console, doing a reset (but selecting the one that saves games and apps), starting over and re-adding the profile.

be excellent to each other!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!


hello there

UPDATE : more at the bottom, but basically it has taken me (and Microsoft) all day to discover that 0x801901f4 means there is a "corrupt file" somewhere in your profile on the X Box One. to fix you need to delete profile, do a full reset (but can save the games and apps), restart and re-add the account.

the above took me one frustrating online chat, one horrible phone call, one try things and inform phone call and finally one very, very helpful phone call to work out. five or so hours of my life, i don't mind if i do not get it back so long as that helps someone.

first and foremost, to be sure, my apologies if you have found this post by doing a smart google or similar search for the error code x801901f4 and are here in the hope of an answer. i don't have one. this should be no surprise, look you see, as neither does the generator or if you like creator of this error code.

that creator would, of course, be Microsoft. it would seem they are having some issues with their assorted gaming platforms. not that they are being particularly helpful or forthcoming with details, information or what you might call fixes for it.

we, or rather the boys, are now on the 3rd day of this brave new year of seeing this as they attempt to play on that fancy X Box thingie. no, i don't play myself - nature decreed that i more or less stop playing with such things when the number of buttons on the controller exceeded the number of fingers i had.

a search around the web - including the official Microsoft site - gives the gentle hint of a suggestion that there is a major issue with their network at the moment. sadly, as is all too common in this day and age, details and information are both scarce to the point that they possibly do not even exist.

one of the more interesting aspects of the above is seen in the below. how fascinating that Microsoft should issue an error code for three straight days, yet have absolutely no information at all on what that error code might be.

this is truly the personification of the modern world. we live in the "information age", where there is an abundance of means and channels to distribute and easily access knowledge. and yet all major companies seek to limit or close down how much information is available.

it is incredibly frustrating that these new fangled game machines require you to access the network and sign in to be of use. as things stand, the fancy x box of the boys has been sat as a lump of useless plastic for three days so far this year.

say what you will of my nostalgia, but one did not have such problems when you simply switched on a device, loaded a tape or plugged in a cartridge and just got on with playing a game. sure, the graphics and that were not as fancy, and to play against a friend you had to have them come to your house, but at least it all worked proper.

yes, indeed, Mircosoft, something went wrong. thus far what we have established is that what went wrong is called 0x801901f4, but you do not know what that is and i do not know either.

no, i have not done a "hard reset" as it seems someone tried to do that to fix the issue with no joy. yes, we have unplugged the device, restarted it, switched off internet, reset routers, etc. the problem lies on the Microsoft end, they just seem unwilling to sort it out.

undoubtedly many others out there, possibly reading this now, have the same issue. hopefully it gets all sorted soon, and nice nice, as it would be nice to be able to use the device we and many others have paid an awful lot of coins of money for.

THE FIX : really, some attrocious service from Microsoft, but in the end some excellent help. basically i ended up creating a new account to try logging in with, and that worked fine. somehow a file or detail in my profile on the X Box had become corrupt, so the fix was deleting the profile from the console, doing a reset (but selecting the one that saves games and apps), starting over and re-adding the profile.

be excellent to each other!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!