Monday, March 31, 2008

The Dark Knight - trailer 3

if you click on The Clown Travel Agency as of April 1, you will get the next trailer for The Dark Knight. or at least that is the current thinking, it could be a practical joke, mindful of the date!

Saturday, March 29, 2008

Chilli Vinyl

wow, somebody up there likes me! i by chance saw a newspaper article on a vinyl store. a vinyl store not only in SA, but one that is (more or less) within walking distance from our house!!

as i have been off verk for the last week, i was able to go and spend a good couple of hours with the proprietor, Steve, at his class Chilli Vinyl store. a most excellent day was had, discussing quality music in a quality format, whilst playing Joy Division's Still lp as it was intended to be heard!

there were thousands of records i could have purchased (well, hundreds) but i limited myself to a couple of great finds - a picture disc 12" of Frankie's The Power Of Love, and the 12" of Sally Cinnamon by The Stone Roses. well, OK, 4 or 5 others, but those two are the standout example of the quality available there.

if you are in the area and wish to hear music as it should be heard, i urge you to click on these words or the link on this page and go and see the Chilli Vinyl interwebnet site and get the details of where to visit them.

they are holding a record faire on April 6, and i would imagine that i shall be at it. i suggest you do the same!!

see, i am not the only one that celebrates vinyl as being greater than all this new techno stuff!!

be excellent to each other!!! buy vinyl!!!!!!!!!!!

Monday, March 24, 2008

Easter in Great Ayton

for our Easter weekend, we had mostly sunny days, with the occasional light shower to cool the land down.

it appears to have been somewhat different in Great Ayton, the village that i am from, the village which i imagine i shall always refer to as home.

still, never mind the weather, it looks like Natalie enjoyed Easter anyway!!

thanks for the pictures, Susan!!! good luck with all the snow!!!!!

Easter with Ouma!!

hello again

well, despite my promises of some of my ranting and raving instead of family updates, here are some more family pictures from Easter!!

James and Mummy went off to see Ouma, Uncle Dylan, Auntie Tasha and cousins Jade and Skyla this afternoon, to see if they could not very well go and find all the eggs haging around Ouma's garden! for those of you hoping to catch a glimpse of James' Ouma, forget it, she is about as happy to be in pictures as Michele is!!

without further ado, if in fact there has been any ado thus far, here are the pics! first up is Jade, Skyla and James posing for a picture, with Dylan dressed as Spider-Man in the background. not quite sure why James is looking rather serious, if not apprehensive in this picture? oh yes i do, look, he is proudly showing off his ace Batman t-shirt!!

next up is the business of the easter eggs, hidden around the garden. Michele seems to have managed some sort of bleach effect in the picture, but never mind, you can see the joy of James as he proudly finds a chocolate bunny hidden away!!

oddly, James does not seem to fond of Easter Egg chocolate. he loves opening them, then takes a bite, then finds someone else to eat the rest of it for him; usually Mummy or Daddy, so our figures have gone somewhat haywire over the weekend. not that mine was any great shakes, but anyway.

here's a close-up shot of Jade, Skyla and James, with Auntie Tasha and the egg basket lurking in the background. unless i am rather mistaken, James is close to the border that is the land of having a smile in this one!!

and finally, one of the egg hunt in full swing, with Tasha at the ready with the basket to either put them in or take them out of!!

well, it looks like James has had as much fun this afternoon as he did on Sunday! nice to see the lovely ladies are already fawning all over him; i suspect Grant in New Zealand in particular will be proud to see his cousins taking a shine to him. Grant does have some funny ideas, the likes of which will not be published here, thank you.

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

Waiting For The Sun

hello there

Dad sent on some pictures of Easter Sunday, and by accident included this one. not sure how he managed it, perhaps i was a little hasty in showing him the magic of cutting, copying and pasting files last week!!

the main picture, of course, is of Grandma with Katie, but have a careful look in the background. that is, have a careful look if you wish to learn more of the ways of New Zealand....

we seem to be accidentally bearing witness to some strange practice of paying homage to the water of New Zealand, or perhaps evoking powers that will cease the winds and bring sun to the land.

whatever they are doing, it looks most unusual and probably something that Grant is doing as i write this.

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

Sunday, March 23, 2008

Just James!!!

hey there

ok, go on then, a couple more pictures from today!!!

for anyone who was under the impression that i jested when i said James loves nothing more than falling off class push bikes after attempting some ambitious stunt, please behold this picture!!

i think the look on his face reveals his contempt and disdain for the bike not quite performing to his high expectations! i dare say that the Finding Nemo hopper ball thing in the background was probably part of the masterplan!!

and here he is on guard, or possibly ready to go on the offensive, with one of the inflatable spike things off the inflatable castle!!

wow, quite a few family updates over the last few days!! expect the next post or two to be one of my rants against whatever comes to mind!!

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

more Sunday fun!!!

hey everyone

a few more pictures of James and Ariella having fun this afternoon!!

here they are again in the bouncy castle! they certainly had a great deal of fun with it thanks to Grandad being in it for most of the time - those with a keen eye will note that he is there in the background!!

and here we are building blocks!! James is not usually quite so co-operative when it comes to block building; he tends to take an approach of if they are his, then they are very much his and no one else is to touch them! nice to see the two of them getting along so well as they build a tower (or, most likely, Batman ladder) to the moon or somewhere!!

and here we are hitting Stacey with the inflatable guard sticks from the bouncy castle. to give Stacey some dignity i have used a picture that does not illustrate her being hit in such a manner; those of you of a mind to see pictures like that are welcome to search the interwebnet for (ahem) "specialist" sites, or even contact my brother-in-law, Grant. i doubt many feature Stacey, but anyway.

for some reason Grandma and Grandad find some sort of sense in buying gifts for James that are aerodynamically sound and can be used as weaponry with ease. ho hum, at least they have fun with them, and did not cause all that much damage!

and here we are with the two fine families together. sorry, the kids were all rather tired by the time we remembered that it would be a good idea to get a group picture!! this image will look class on the wedding invites for James and Ariella in 20 or so years time!

and finally, it is bedtime, so Ariella is kindly tucking in James for the night. not that either went to sleep, they took turns in tucking each other in on their respective couches for a fair bit of time!!

well, that's the highlights of our Easter Sunday. i trust that you all had a rather good day too!!

many thanks for the visit, Shaun, Stacey and Ariella - it really was terrific to see you all!!! safe journey home!!

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

James, Grandad, Cars, Table

Grandma thought it would be a good idea to buy James some new cars to play with. indeed, this is a good idea.

Grandad thought it would be a good idea to race them on the table with James. this was sort of a good idea.

needless to say, James thought it would be a rather good idea to climb on to the table and race with the cars!!

sorry i don't have any of the pictures of James attempting to use the table as a trampoline!!

Lyla at Easter

every now and then there comes a picture which no comment is required for. this would be such a picture.

James, Ariella and Grandad!

hey everyone

well, our dear friends from the new Empire that is America head home tomorrow, so we all got together to spend the afternoon with Grandma and Grandad. my apologies for Grandma not featuring too much in these pictures, but as you will soon clock, Grandad was the centre of attention!!

now, granted, i am no expert in the world of guidelines around bouncy castles, but i suspect that there is some sort of recommended age limit for who can and who should not use one. no offence, Grandad, but i suspect you might be in the latter category. oh well, never mind, it did not stop you!!

one of the great things i have learnt thus far from being a father is that children, James in particular, will climb anything that is there which looks even remotely climbable. this would include, but is not exclusive to, the soft, easy to collapse walls of a majestic bouncy castle!! Grandad, very wisely, is not attempting to climb over himself, but was on hand to (sort of) catch them if they fell a bit too fast!!

and, speaking of the wisdom of Grandad, here he is running away quick whilst he has the chance to do so!

i am not surprised that he tried to make a break from it, he must have been exhausted from all the playing the three of them did!!

as you can see, James and Ariella had a most excellent afternoon and early evening, thanks in the most part to the great fun that Grandad is to play with!!!

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

I Am Batman

this, believe it or not dear readers, is your friend and humble narrator some 30 (!!) years ago! i guess there is a trend in our family to have a thing for The Dark Knight, as i was clearly a Batman fan too, just like James is!!

the best guess we have is that this was taken when i was four or five. the location will be in front of the garage at our home on Longbeck Lane (or Ave?), New Marske, a few years before the whole family moved to Australia. i think i look rather smart in this outfit! we showed James the picture, but he cannot quite imagine that his Dada was, once upon a time, just a small boy like him. oh well, i am sure he will see it again one day when he is older and laugh a great deal!!

now, somewhere there is a picture of me with Richard, featuring, if memory serves me correctly, Richard in either a Robin outfit, or possibly also dressed as Batman. Mum and Dad are looking for it, fingers crossed they find it soon!!!

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

Insect Royalty

hey everyone

just a couple of impressive pictures from my Dad!!!

they may be of use to someone doing a school project or something!!

nice one Dad, most impressive!!!!

Easter in New Zealand, a celebration

hey everyone

and, as if by magic, no sooner do i comment that they do not appear to take pictures in New Zealand over Easter, what should arrive but pictures of New Zealand celebrating Easter? thanks Gillian and Grant, here they are!!!

first up are Katie and her friend on the verge of embarking on an Easter Egg hunt, organized by Lisa. yes, they have people with the name of Lisa in New Zealand, so well done and congratulations to anyone who put a fiscal wager on that information.

Katie is doing her Mummy's trick here - very much apart posing for a picture, part "can we go and get the chocolate now please?" look about her, i dare say you may be of a mind to agree with!!

or is it the chocolate that Katie and her bunny ears seek? maybe, but perhaps not, but evidence suggests that Katie has a gentleman caller, or if you will "boyfriend" down in the sensational Land of Zeal that is New, apparently!!

i believe he is named Daniel, and they appear to have a similar passion for seeking out structures that celebrate all things water. nice one! Daniel, if you wish to impress Katie's Daddy, i suggest you walk around with a calculator!

wither, you may ask, is other Daniel? wisely, it would seem, he is staying rather close to the stash of the fish and chips, at a reasonable distance from New Zealand's famous water so as not to get them wet or in any way damp. sadly, Gillian and Grant did not deem it important to send a picture which showed Daniel's Face; this one is as good as it gets!

i am in particular impressed with Grant's pose in this image - i dare say there is an image of Grant in a similar pose, perhaps on a provocative towel down on the beach, hanging on many a wall of the sheep pens of New Zealand!!

James has thus far had little or no interest in his Easter Egg collection this morning, but with some luck i will be able to post some non-New Zealand celebratory pictures in the not too distant future!!!!

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

Saturday, March 22, 2008

hello there Lyla!!!

hey everyone

well, Erika kindly keeps sending pictures along of delightful Lyla, but i tend to not get around to (ok, i forget) updating the site!! sorry, and to make amends, here are some great pictures of the little princess!!!

first up, here she is in her rather elegant new jim-jams!! James would love these if they were not quite so pink; for like Lyla he is an Eeyore enthusiast. and on that note, go figure - all the kids i know of love and revere Eeyore at a level equal to, if not greater than, their love of perennial favourite Tigger, but for some reason Eeyore becomes a somewhat marginalized figure in the world of all things Pooh. as in it is tricky to find things of him!!

and here is Lyla proudly in command of a swing! unlike her cousin, Lyla seems content to handle a swing in a conventional way, which would be to wisely sit upon it and allow the gentle breezes of the wind to rock one back and forth. James? swings? they are experimentation devices. fear not, though, for the bruise has now faded away from the last "class idea" James had with a swing.....

and finally, here we are checking out the animals down at the zoo. or possibly at the farm. or a farm zoo. or a zoo farm. i don't know, i can't remember what Erika said they were up to that day!! what i do know is that i trust that Lyla and grown ups were careful - whatever that is that she is busy checking out, well, it has a beak and probably the temper to go with it!!

and finally, here is one of Lyla (ahem) sitting in her class walker device, i am certain this is the one that James got her for Christmas! the idea, Lyla, is that you walk with it, holding on to the handle. it appears that you have the wisdom of your father, however, as it is probably better to just sit upon it, awaiting some kind soul to come and push you along to wherever you are going!!!

my, Lyla seems to like her dummy! James never took to one, so there you go!!!

right, that's current James and Lyla pics for you!!! alas, no new ones from the land known as New Zealand for a while now - perhaps all acts of photography, digital or otherwise, are prohibited there over Easter??????

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

Actor Brian Wilde - star of Porridge and Last Of The Summer Wine - dies aged 86

in one of those eerie, if not spooky, set of circumstances, i was sat talking to Mum and Dad about him on the day that this news broke - we were unaware of the sad departure of him. what a shame, but thank you for the great comedy moments that will last forever!!!

Porridge actor Brian Wilde has died at the age of 86, it was confirmed today.

Wilde, who appeared in British comedy TV shows for more than 40 years, played prison warden Mr Barrowclough alongside Ronnie Barker in the BBC series.

He also played Foggy in the long-running series Last Of The Summer Wine.
The actor's son, Andrew Wilde, said his father died in his sleep of natural causes last night.

He said Wilde suffered a fall around seven weeks ago and had not recovered.
Wilde's agent Nick Young said: "He will be sadly missed by colleagues and family alike. He brought a great deal of laughter into many people's lives."
Wilde had minor roles in films such as Carry On Doctor in 1968 and The Jokers in 1967. He also appeared in the 1980s TV comedy Kit Curran.

Last Of The Summer Wine producer Alan JW Bell told the BBC: "He was perhaps the best of the Summer Wine 'third men' – he was the most loved of all the characters.

"He was a fine actor to work with, very professional. He was an old-school actor – you turned up, knew your lines and played them the very best you could.
"He had an enormous warmth to the public when he was off the set.

"He didn't like to hob-nob with the actors – when there was a break, he preferred to go to a pub around the corner to meet the 'real' people."


it's Easter weekend, and James already has a large amount of Easter Eggs lined up for him! this posed a slight problem, as Great Grandma Harland and Great Uncle Bobby had left some money for Easter for James. what to get for him if he already had quite a few eggs? well, simple really, more Batman stuff!!!

here's James with the class Batman Hot Wheels race track that we got for him thanks to the above mentioned people!! wisely, we allowed Mummy to build it, although Daddy was allowed to put the stickers on!!!

it is rather smart - there's a sort of Batcave looking device with a motor in it that sends the cars flying around! he's not even 30 months old yet, but James is somehow clever enough to have worked out how all of this operates, and is quite happy to switch the motor on and off himself!!

here he is sort of posing with it - it's a pose that suggests "if i sort of sit still for one picture, maybe they will leave me alone to play with Batman"!!!!

and here's another shot of the track, or at least as much of the track as i could fit into the picture! i think it's called "Arkham Asylum Escape" if you are interested, but to James it is just the Batcave for Batman to go driving around!!

well, i guess we have a Batman filled Easter ahead of us! James' Grandad is supposed to be scanning and sending a picture of a very young me dressed as Batman in the not too distant future; as soon as he gets around to it i will be putting it up here!!!

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

when James met Jamie....

hey everyone

a belated update, as this was last weekend!! i think i have only just about recovered from the cocktails ace barman Ryan chose to serve me!!

Maryke and Ryan invited us over to help celebrate Maryke's birthday, and of course to meet young Jamie at last!!

i am delighted to report that James and Jamie got on rather well indeed. this was true in particular when Jamie was in his walker ring, as James was thrilled to push him around, testing the patience of various items of furniture along the way!

as for the cocktails, well, i do not believe that i have ever had quite so many margaritas in my lifetime, really. the screwdriver and the tequila sunrise were also rather pleasant. pina coladas? they were on offer, but unfortunately there were no umbrellas available, so it would have been just plain wrong to drink one.

by the way, Ryan and Maryke, i now have the pina colada song on my phone for the next time!!!

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

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Writer Arthur C Clarke dies at 90

British science fiction writer Sir Arthur C Clarke has died in Sri Lanka at the age of 90.
Born in Somerset, he came to fame in 1968 when a short story The Sentinel was made into the film 2001: A Space Odyssey by director Stanley Kubrick.

Once called "the first dweller in the electronic cottage", his vision of future space travel and computing captured the popular imagination.

An aide said he died at 0130 local time after a cardio-respiratory attack.

A farmer's son, Sir Arthur was educated at Huish's Grammar School in Taunton before joining the civil service.

During World War II, he volunteered for the Royal Air Force, where he worked in the then highly-secretive development of radar, and foresaw the concept of communication satellites.

Sir Arthur's vivid and detailed descriptions of space shuttles, super-computers and rapid communications systems were enjoyed by millions of readers around the world.

In the 1940s, he maintained man would reach the moon by the year 2000, an idea dismissed at the time.

He was the author of more than 100 fiction and non-fiction books, and his writings are credited by many observers with giving science fiction a human and practical face. He collaborated on the screenplay for 2001: A Space Odyssey with Kubrick.

British astronomer Sir Patrick Moore had known Sir Arthur since they met as teenagers at the British Interplanetary Society.

Sir Patrick paid tribute to his friend, remembering him as "a very sincere person" with "a strong sense of humour".

Tributes have also come from George Whitesides, the executive director of the National Space Society, with which Sir Arthur served on the board of governors, and fellow science fiction writer Terry Pratchett.

After a failed marriage Sir Arthur moved to Sri Lanka, then called Ceylon, in 1956, where he lived with a business partner and his family, and pursued his interest in scuba-diving.

Saturday, March 15, 2008

The World Won't Listen

hey everyone

ok, time for another tirade against modern music (mostly), so if you are not interested (or just bored of this from me), skip it!!

it is increasingly the case that the content of music itself is no longer the priority, it is the format and "presentation" of it. i will qualify why "presentation" is in quote marks later. basically, when this format below was all of a sudden (just about) dispensed as obsolete, we sacrificed more than we bargained for.

the time and effort put in to creating a vinyl record mostly meant a good deal of careful planning and work before you went in to record something. sure, there were some bad albums made along the way, very bad in some instances. but you didn't take the decision to make or finance a long player lightly.

likewise, going to buy a new album was an event. you may have heard an advance single or two from the album up front, either on the radio or by buying the 7", but there was so much more to discover. the artwork of the album was usually something to behold, and listening to all the new stuff from the band or artist, trying to work out what would be the next single.

playing a new album was often a social event. you and your mates would get it, head back to someone or other's house (whoever had a record player, or as we called it "stag", in their bedroom), and you would listen to the whole thing from start to finish, in the order it was laid out by the band.

now? well, if you are patient, you go and buy the plastic CD, stick it in the car or load it to your ipod or chosen "media player", and skip about the tracks here and there, giving each song a small percentage of its duration to catch your attention. the musicians do not help much, either - in most cases an album seems dominated by a desire to either fill as much of a CD up as possible to make it appear "value for money", or concern themselves with making a bonus DVD to give away with it, or increasingly (and worryingly) see if they can't release the whole thing on some sort of "memory stick" or make it "download only" for the novelty value.

on that last note, there's a good chance that some of you have heard the album long before it even arrived on whatever piece of plastic amused the musician/s anyway; the dubious amount of "leaks on to the internet" means that most can hear the majority, if not all, of an album before any mock release date. and then they get to hear it out of sequence, or play bits and pieces of it, out of the order that was intended.

yes, all these new ways of listening to music are better quality wise in regards of an old slab of 12" of music, but does that make it a better experience? are we any better off listening to anything new in isolation, via headphones or in the car, as opposed to gathering around and hearing the crackling of the needle as it hits the groove?

we have made music a shiny, pristine and individual experience when, in most instances, it was never ever intended to be this way. music is meant to be about an artist performing something and the debate around whether it is any good or not; differences of opinion, whether or not it inspires passion, excitement, hatred, contempt or anything between that. these days you tend to just play something to yourself and then you either keep playing it or you just discard it. sure, you can have the odd conversation about it, but more often than not these are limited to the realms of interwebnet chat forums and the like.

back in an era of proper musicians, before my time, The Beatles gave up on live music because they could not recreate the sound of their records on stage, whereas The Who got frustrated by the fact that they could not quite capture their dynamic live sound in a studio. this debate or problem no longer exists with the digital era of production and creation - musicians these days don't have to work too hard to produce either sound, and as a consequence have got rather lazy indeed.

it's not just music that has suffered - look at Disney and other animated film makers. before each frame of a film had to be perfectly drawn and designed. now anyone with a computer can more or less make an animated feature, and they are not always good. go compare, for instance, the magnificent The Jungle Book with the recent Jungle Book 2 as way of illustration!

going back to the thrust of my argument, however, proof of the truth of what i am saying is in the alarming closure of modern music magazines. Smash Hits, the king of fun and entertaining pop stories and interviews, closed a couple of years ago. equally as disturbing is the rumour that will not go away - NME, the voice of new, alternative and interesting music, is on the verge of ending publication too.

the reasons for the end of these two (or at least possible in the case of one, and let us hope that it turns out to be not true) magazines are debatable to some, clear to me. they say its because people are getting the news off the internet in an immediate way that is just not possible with print. a fair point, but then again articles and interviews are timeless. no, for me, the problem lies within a desperate lack of any variety of bands or singers to write about, and those that we do have are for the most part too dull and unimaginative to give too much time or concern to.

it is rather telling that the nature of those music magazines which appear to be still going strong, and here i think of things like Q, Uncut and Mojo, is to look towards the past and concentrate on classic icons of rock and pop, giving little space of note to any new bands. and i do not blame them - why not look back to a time when artists would book a concorde so that they could play England and New York on the same day, or blow all their money on jets, yachts and trout farms when today's equivalents are the tiresome exploits of the likes of W(h)inehouse, Doherty and the Arctic Monkeys? in regards of the first two, the mind boggles as to how they got any sort of record deal (no it doesn't, they are cheap and create their own dull publicity), and as for the latter, well, if your claim to fame is that you released your stuff all over the internet to such an extent that you get Gordon Brown name checking you, you have got lucky doing something that anyone could do. the whole point of music is that only a certain type of person can and could do it.

and yes, the finger of hypocrisy can be pointed at me, for i am sat with CD's in abundance and of course an ipod. but what choice have we really given ourselves these days? sat in the car doing the "shuffle and skip" with hundreds of tracks on the ipod, i really do miss the time when one would make a tape for their car from their library of 7"'s and 12"'s, putting thought and effort in to it so you did not have to skip past songs by the dozen, you actually wanted to hear the whole thing.

well, enough of my ranting i guess. i hope for some of you this has mostly been a memorable trip back to the memories of when music mattered, and when buying and playing it actually meant something. for those of you of the plastic generation that never quite got to experience what i lament, i can only wish that you could have.

consider this article the next time you get a CD and the two most notable elements to it are that it is in some sort of fancy fold out box and the fact that the CD is just about full to the maximum running time. when the actual music on it is the third thing mentioned, you know the dark, dull days of music of which i speak.

family portrait

hey everyone

well, Dad's been finding more pictures again!! here's a family portrait from the hedonistic, extravagant and most excellent eighties!!

i am not sure what the occasion was for this to be done, but how splendid that Mum & Dad did decide on it! exactly when was this taken? here memory does not serve me as well as it could. it looks like i am wearing a 2nd or 3rd year Nunthorpe School jumper in the back there, so it is most likely 1985 or 1986 at a push.

i dare say that most of you reading this site will know exactly who is who in the above picture, or could soon work it out from all other pictures posted!! i have no idea why the photographer decided to have me stand at the back, maybe it was to give a Dallas style look to it all!

speaking of Dallas, many of you are of a generation and of a place that would not know of the brilliance of the mid-80's. there were only four TV channels, so everyone watched the same thing (be it Dallas or similar), so the next day people actually had things to talk to each other about. music was of the highest quality, it was fun and it was the experience of the weekend to go to town and buy records. if we are talking 85/86, we are talking the era of Sigue Sigue Sputnik and the return of Frankie Goes To Hollywood, not to mention whatever 60's song was being used on the latest Levi jeans advert. Commodore 64 games were ever improving, some taking less than 15 minutes to load via tape. the news was full of Royal happiness, the miners strike at the iron rule of Thatcher. at the cinema, well, this would be around the time of Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome i think, and if i am not mistaken classic films that all could enjoy, the kind that no one seems to make anymore - Back To The Future and The Goonies will have been from around this period. that said, i think it was around this time that McCartney made the less-than-successful Give My Regards To Broad Street film. good enough soundtrack, not quite good enough movie!

and so on, and so on, to end my rambling!!!

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

Friday, March 14, 2008

final poster for final Indy?

i am sure all of those with an interest would have seen this already, but if not, here's the finished article in regards of all things "poster for Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull related!!

one would have to assume that this is the 'crystal skull' so celebrated that it has its very own kindom in the middle (ish) of the poster!!!

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


The tiny human-like bones found on a South Pacific Island may have belonged to small furry creatures known as 'Ewoks', and not Hobbits as previously thought.

For months the scientific community has been split over whether the remains were evidence of Hobbits, and if so, whether they were Bagginses or Underhills.

But now a team from the Institute for Studies has blown the debate wide open with the claim that the remains are evidence of a small furry species that was sort of a cross between a monkey and a bear.

Professor Henry Brubaker said: "The Ewoks did not look particularly human but they could walk upright and were able to manufacture clothing, tools and elaborate treehouse cities.

"We also found parts of a huge military machine, which suggests they may have been involved in a battle with some kind of evil empire."

But Dr Denys Hatton, one of the leading Hobbit advocates, said: "Not only are they Hobbits but they are very clearly Baggins Hobbits.

"Look at the all the clay pipes and big, round, green doors we found. Do Underhills have green doors? Do Ewoks smoke pipes? I think not!"

Meanwhile a third school of thought has emerged which has dismissed the Hobbit and Ewok theories, insiting the bones belong to a species of three foot-high, second hand robot salesmen called 'Jawas'.

Dr Wayne Hayes, of Dundee University, said: "They lived a long time ago and roamed the desert looking for stray robots which they would then recondition and sell to primitive farming communities.

"We believe many of them may have been wiped out during a search for two rebel droids."

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Classic Album - Misplaced Childhood

well, my homage to Frankie Goes To Hollywood caused some eyebrow raising and comments a few months ago, but nonetheless i am keen to promote quality music on this site. if you don't like it, don't read it, i guess!

a tribute is perhaps long overdue to the best album of 1985 (Frankie released in 84 and 86), one of the best albums of the 80's and possibly one of the greatest, overlooked masterpieces of all time - Misplaced Childhood by Marillion.

for those of you unfamiliar with this work, Misplaced Childhood is what they call a "concept" album, although i am loathe to use the term as so much rubbish gets that label. a well themed story of an album it is; and in the genre can sit comfortably with any comparison you care to make to Tommy, the greatest "concept" album of all time, and an album that is something of a kindred spirit to, if not a musical relative to Childhood.

so what's the story, theme or "concept" behind it? broadly, it's standing still to look backwards with the occasional glance forward, really. an apparently quasi-schizophrenic narrator guides us through a past littered with regret, sorrow and the occasional moment of joy, all through a vocal which melts from bitter to a sort of acceptance throughout the album. this is interspersed with commentary from the "reality", if you will, of the present tense of the album, and ultimately leads to a form of redemption in conclusion; the location of a childhood that was misplaced and/or wrongly neglected, forgotten, overlooked.

my, that insight into the album feels a touch bloated! ho hum, let me try and go through some of the highlights. that said, however, there's really no need for me to comment on the two singles that became hits from this, Kayleigh and Lavender. except to say that yes, that slice of trivia is true - the name "Kayleigh" did not exist until such time as Fish combined the names of two ex's for the story he sings in this song.

the intention was to release this as track free, just as "side one" and "side two". now that we are in the era of CD, the album works even better, as the whole thing flows as one piece of music; a 40 minute experience of lyrical genius with a talented, compelling soundtrack. this makes picking out one or two tracks complicated, as it feels unfair on the rest of the album. that said, there is one small section that i will celebrate as artistic genius until the last star falls from our skies. on the epic track Bitter Suite there's a section that is, at best, two minutes long called The Blue Angel :

The sky was Bible black in Lyon, when I met the Magdalene
She was paralyzed in a streetlight
She refused to give her name
And a ring of violet bruises
They were pinned upon her arm
Two hundred francs for sanctuary and she led me by the hand
To a room of dancing shadows where all the heartache disappears
And from glowing tongues of candles I heard her whisper in my ear
jentend ton coeur, jentend ton coeur
I can hear your heart, I can hear your heart, I can hear your heart

the subject matter of this hardly needs any clarification for me. i defy anyone to find me a more poetic, vivid or quite frankly beautiful use of the English language given to any shape or form of subject matter in the 23 years (and counting) since Misplaced Childhood was released. the depths of human nature, understanding and interpretation vocalist Fish (no idea where the name came from) reaches here are astonishing to say the least, and carry on throughout the whole album. i believe alcohol and (ahem) other substances were well in place right throughout the creation of this album, and there can be no surprise in this with the bare soul searching conducted. absinthe makes the heart grow fonder, one might say. granted, the symbolic references (magpies, rainbows, rain) are not for all, but you never know, give it a try!

the man they call Fish tends to get a lot of credit for this album, but that's rather unfair on the talented band that is Marillion. granted, Fish is your narrator here, and it does seem to be the story of Fish for the most part, but the whole thing would not have worked had it not been a whole band effort. on that note; Steve Rothery, Mark Kelly, Peter Trewavas and Ian Mosley, your work here was first class. and of course thanks to Robert Mead for posing for the iconic artwork, and nice one Mark Wilkinson for creating the artwork.

with all due respect to the artistic achievements and fanatical support Marillion and Fish have enjoyed since the parted ways in the late 80's, Misplaced Childhood is the zenith of all involved; a towering work that neither came close to bettering, but then again not something they regretted creating, i would imagine. the worlds of Marillion and Fish other than this album are worth seeking out, but be warned, this is as good as it gets.

is there a flaw with Misplaced Childhood at all? well, sadly kind of, as it appears it was never captured live. i have only heard the official live version on the double live album La Gazza Ladra, and quite frankly it is a bit of a mess. it does not help that it's not a one off recording - the whole of Misplaced Childhood has been assembled from at least two, possibly three different shows. the recording does, however, reveal that they tried to perform the album "as is" on stage; that is they did not adapt it to a live medium, much like The Who rather successfully did when presenting Tommy at gigs. a small gripe, but there you go. ahem, if anyone knows of any good live recordings of Misplaced Childhood, official or otherwise, let me know!

whereas i am certainly not in business with any other site, if you want to hear this album (and you should), you can get it at amazon - they have the standard version for a giveaway four pounds, or the deluxe 2 disc set for ten quid. the deluxe edition has some great extras, in particular the brilliant Freaks and Lady Nina, but it's the album itself which should reside in all music lovers collections, so fear not in purchasing the lower 1 disc version!

Misplaced Childhood has a place in the collection of all music lovers. i guess it has a specific resonance for all of us who grew up in the 80's for a variety of reasons which i would rather let all interested to discover, or perhaps rediscover, for themselves. it's also an album from a time when music mattered, music was important and albums were crafted and treated with the respect they deserved. unlike most of the trash that is slammed out on plastic discs, memory sticks or made available online these days.

a lamenting love song, Misplaced Childhood is a qualified classic record and the 40 minutes you spend listening to it, if you choose to do so, are 40 minutes very well spent indeed.