Sunday, May 31, 2009

a rare and justified plug....

well, a very big thank you indeed to the chaps at Matrix Computer Warehouse for their rather astonishing and fast ability to fix the PC upon which i write this! well done chaps, getting it sorted in about 30 minutes (!) is impressive, considering i blew the power pack, the overwhelming majority of the RAM and for good measure corrupted the operating system too!

it's very nice to have a proper, professional computer store in South Africa, which Matrix Computers most certainly are. all too often people who don't know better get conned by those complete clowns at "Incredible Deception", filled with staff that barely know that they sell computers let alone know anything about them!

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

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

classic album : Once Upon A Time by Simple Minds

exactly how much confidence do you have to have in yourself, or how vastly an inflated ego do you need, to leave the biggest ever single of your career off your album? well, to my surprise at the time, that's exactly what Simple Minds did with their 7th (and by some distance best) album, Once Upon A Time.

released in late 1985, i bought it in February 1986 with some vouchers i got for my birthday. i picked it up on tape, and yes i still have the tape and subsequent vinyl purchase. i bought it partly because i liked the band, but mostly because i wanted the excellent (Don't You) Forget About Me in my collection. alas, for reasons unknown to us who had never heard of a film called The Breakfast Club, the song was not included on the album.

never mind - despite the mega, insane size hit single they declined to drop from the album (reasons given : not written by them, didn't like the production, pure spite), it was not and is not missed in the elegant sounds of what was deemed ok to leave on the album, which yes is saying something.

well, where does one begin? right at the beginning, and let it play all the way to the end, really. then play it again. the eight tracks which make up this album are all killer tunes. there's no fillers or "let's make up the time on the record" here, folks, it's all good. a special mention of course to the two big singles from it, All The Things She Said and the amazing Alive And Kicking. other than that, you have the equally impressive Sanctify Yourself, which i seem to recall was also put out as a single.

one of the more interesting tracks on the album is Ghostdancing, featuring the lines You talk about the Lebanon, You tell me 'bout the Dawn in Eden, You talk about South Africa, I tell you about the Irish children, which suggests they were rather fed up of the likes of Bono, Sting et al telling them all about problems around the world instead of looking at their own home. the tragedy of Simple Minds is that they didn't keep it as simplistic and home based as this; within 5 years of this album they were pontificating to levels even worse than Bono. i believe it was in Glasgow that Jim Kerr brought a concert to a standstill to discuss the "blood on the grass" for 5 or so minutes, purely because some South Africans had stood upon it. fans got bored, and wandered off.

after Once Upon A Time came their brilliant, audacious reading of Belfast Child, followed by a disappointing album, the a-cause-and-a-cliche-per song borefest that was Street Fighting Years. they are still active these days, but distinctly low key. a great shame, for when you listen to this album once again, you realize just how bloody brilliant the band were.

most of you with no Simple Minds would probably be better off getting one of the many greatest hits packages available, the first of which, Glittering Prize, remains the best. at least on the hits albums they allowed Forget About Me to appear! picking up Once Upon A Time is, however, well worth your time. it's the sound of a band on top form, and a sound from when music mattered, and musicians had to push themselves to greater heights than they do now to get success.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

read the book, play the game......

every now and then one gets taken by surprise at the arrival of a decent, above average debut novel. whereas i would not normally touch a debut novel until i had read the further three or four published works of a writer, i made a happy exception in the case of something called Devils Island by the rather well hyped but nonetheless slightly mysterious Frank de Sales. whereas there's a good deal about him on the interwebnet and countless radio appearances by this writer, his origins are somewhat sketchy.

no matter, this macarbe horror / thriller debut of his is a marvel of dark humour, wit and entertainment. in many respects the book is the personification of post-modernist ideals; as a work it should be considered as the purest deconstruction of existentialism since the latter works of Pynchon.

you can order the novel, and indeed play the fine game inspired by it, by clicking here.

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

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

New Art Riot

hey everyone

well, as commented on earlier, rather bewilderingly a decision has been made to censor or obscure the artwork for the new Manic Street Preachers album. whereas this has had some fair press coverage, with most people and papers coming out against the decision to cover up a fine work of art, the campaign against it hasn't had as much coverage, if any.

a rather committed of Manics fans have launched an admirable campaign to make sure the artwork in question is indeed visible in and around the stores which have bewilderingly covered it up, and where possible placing a sticker on the actual artwork over the blank cover which takes its place on the shelves.

whereas not quite as nosy or merry as the G8 protests or things like that, it sounds like the spreading of these posters and the proper artwork have been widespread enough to at least warrant a mention somewhere in the press, but alas so far no. oh well, as ever, the press (in particular in the UK) just love banging on about the right to free speech and expression, but rarely enjoy covering examples of it. that, and knowing full well who dictates (or at least greatly influences) editorial policy, perhaps the advertising managers of certain publications have stepped in and suggested the story not be covered. ho hum.

a very well done indeed to those who have made a stand and a statement against this rather silly decision to block the world seeing a fine piece of art!

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

Monday, May 18, 2009

fun with haircuts

hey everyone

James, for reasons we cannot fathom, has a major issue with his hair. he really can't stand to have it washed, and he's really not a happy camper when it's time for a trim. Michele does her best to do it quickly and nicely for him, but it ends up being a rather theatrical crying session, and costs us an awful lot in lollies and sweets to try and keep him still.

Michele eventually managed to get his hair trimmed a bit (well done!); it was going right over his eyes and ears so we had little choice. one of the factors, oddly, that persuaded him to let us cut it was having a go with our new vacuum cleaner when done!

here's the finished product!

a very good job with the hair under rather trying circumstances, well done munchkin! and yes, i know i am probably going to get knacked for putting up pics of you in your "Sunday best", also known as your pyjamas!

James was somewhat more enthusiastic about the vacuum cleaner than he was about the hair cut. a pity that he didn't actually hoover up any of the trimmed hair, but never mind!

now, usually James doesn't like having his picture taken. today, however, instead of wanting to get home from school and watch his favourite shows, he was rather keen to show me his skills on the jungle gym climbing frame thingie, and have me take some pictures of him! enjoy them, it's rare to get posed images!

sorry the quality of these are a bit off - i believe my settings on this phone camera thing are wrong. well, that and quickly wiping remnants of Marlboro leafs and shreds of a rather fine chocolate muffin that hit my pocket probably didn't help.

i very much doubt that we shall try another haircut before November / December, really. who knows? by then he might have become a bit more style / fashion conscious and ask us to do it!!!!

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

40 years (and 2 days) ago.....

hey everyone

well, after his birthday Dad "remembered" (as in Mum reminded him) that it was 40 years ago on his birthday that the two of them got engaged! to mark the occasion, here is a pic of their engagement day / evening!

a rather good scanning job, Dad! didn't take too long to neaten it up to post here! oh, and as you were going to send this to me to scan in an envelope, do i take it as Mum didn't know you were sending it? will leave you to explain that one!

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

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Happy Anniversary Richard and Erika!!

hello there

somewhat late, but i only got the pictures today! a very happy anniversary indeed to Richard and Erika!! four fantastic years, and here's to many, many more!

it hardly seems that long ago! their wedding was a most excellent day - The King and someone who isn't The King called Frank Sinatra performed for us all, we quaffed several ales and, to the sound of Relax by Frankie Goes To Hollywood, we let the family know that James was on his way!

of course, it wasn't long before you were making an announcement of your own!!

looks like you had a fantastic time away to celebrate!!!

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

Longaberger - what an ace idea for a building

Longaberger are an American Company which makes baskets.

they apparently do so from premises which look very much like their product!

what an excellent building! hats off to Longaberger for daring to have a building that they wanted; rather than some pony-tailed architect have them build something that looks like a shopping centre and/or every other Corporate Headquarters!

thanks for taking & sending on these pics, Dad!

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

photo season returns to New Zealand

hi everyone

well, it seems that once again people can take pictures in the land they call New Zealand with gay abandon. many thanks to Gillian, Grant, Daniel and Katie for sending some new ones.

by the way, does anyone have any rational answer as to why "New Zealand" fails a spelling check thingie? do the Americans who designed all the software (and thus enforced their inane grammar and spelling on us) think that it's all part of Australia or something?

anyway, first up it's a rare picture of the superhero they call New Zealand Man.....

now, i am not allowed to reveal his secret identity, and further i am not in any way, shape or form allowed to discuss how much he looks like Daniel. let us just leave him to do his work!

on the subject of Daniel, however, it seems that he and Katie are sworn to a mission whereby they make Grant's morning as interesting as possible. James does similar things, insomuch as he doesn't like getting out of bed on a cold morning (who does?). he doesn't, however, subject me to this treatment. yet.

what a good sport, Grant, it makes mornings look like fun!!

onwards, then, to a place called Matheson Bay. they all went off for the weekend to this fine looking place, and it would seem they had fantastic fun. Katie found a rather elegant, excellent play castle to become Queen of!

and when not dispensing Royal summons from there, it looks like Katie found the time to go for a walk along a rather sandy beach in a place called Omaha. now that is interesting; i type Omaha and get no spelling quarrel, but still do with New Zealand.

looks all very nice, if not a touch windy when you all went to visit!

now then, here's one of those pics which speak for itself, so i will add nothing to it. enjoy!

and finally, many of you probably are not missing my comments about sheep. for the one or two of you that are, however, i must confess i think that making comments about Grant and sheep are childish, silly and getting a little stale. i will not, then, be writing about Grant and sheep in this post.

how fortunate, then, that Grant would willingly pose by some llamas for a picture, and how wise or unwise of Gillian to make sure that i got a copy of it!

i have not before encountered or heard any tales of having fun with llamas, i must confess. however, that low-ish, easy to climb or cut down fence couple with the smile on Grant's face suggests that, much like with the sheep, Grant could probably [TEXT OBSCURED ON LEGAL ADVICE] without having to get as much wear and tear on the knees as usual. that said, the llamas do look somewhat faster than the average sheep, so i would imagine that Grant would probably have to [TEXT OBSCURED ON LEGAL ADVICE], or in an extreme case ask someone else to hold the leash and politely look away.

many thanks for the new pictures!!!!

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

In The Court Of King Keith

hey everyone

well, my Dad returned from the USA with one of the best books ever. quite frankly, The Wit And Wisdom of Keith Richards, compiled by Mark Blake, is one of the funniest things in print. it's also probably the definitive look inside a Rock legend.

there's nothing i can say about Keith Richards (or Keith Richard as the Americans insist on calling him) that hasn't been said. in fact, there's nothing anyone can say about the legend of Keef that he hasn't said better himself, which is why this book is such a gem. lovers of rock and renegades should flock to buy this book as soon as possible. to convince you, here are a handful of the hundreds of choice Keef quotes!

There was a knock on our dressing room door. Our manager shouted 'Keith! Ron! The Police are here!' Oh, man, we panicked, flushed everything down the john. Then the door opened and it was Stewart Copeland and Sting."

"I'm always sorry for Mick's women, because they end up crying on my shoulder. And I'm like, how do you think I feel? I'm stuck with him."

"for younger generations born after 1963, 64, you've got the sun, the moon, the air they breathe, and you've got The Rolling Stones. We've always been there."

"I've never had a problem with drugs. Only with policemen."

"I've said it before : this is all I can do. I'm a lousy plumber."

"I love my kids most of the time, and I love my wife most of the time. Music I love all the time."

"I'm all for the quiet life. I just didn't get one."

well, there you go - if you enjoyed these snippets, you will love the book, and will not be able to put it down! go on, treat yourself, pick up a copy!!!

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

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Class of 1982

hello there

well, here's a class class (if you will) picture i found from Everton State School, Brisbane Australia!

i will be honest and say that i do not really remember anyone in the pic with me, although for some reason "J Chesterton" sticks in my mind. ho hum, thought i would post it here anyway - you never know, someone from the same class or year might be searching, bonus if they find this here!!!!!

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

fun with a graduation gown

hey everyone

well, i imagine anyone who has hit this post with a google search thing or something might not quite find these pictures feature the content they were hoping for, but never mind them.

on Mothers' Day last week Michele, Mum, Erika and i had a really fun time digging through a box of old pictures. we found some absolute gems which i will be posting here eventually. of those, here are some from my graduation ceremony in 1997. it was for my BA Degree, and quite an excellent day!

the saying goes that if you give someone a new pen, the first thing they will do with it is write or sign their own name. i'm not so sure that's true, but i do know that if you give someone a graduate outfit, the first thing they will want to do is wear it and mess around a bit.

here, then, is my dear brother Richard, trying on the outfit!

Richard didn't quite stay on in education as long as i did, but you can't knock his knowledge and intelligence all the same. not only is he a great success in his career, but he has also made it a mission to ensure that no one, but no one, knows more of the life and career of Jimmy Nail than he does.

at face value, Richard and i are in appearance like chalk and cheese. except we are not. we are in fact either different varieties of cheese or chalk. actually, we are both made of the same cheese and chalk, just put together in a different order. that sounds very much like the kind of philosophical statement which Nigel Tufnel out of Spinal Tap would make, doesn't it?

happily, Gran and Gramps were over visiting us at the time of the graduation ceremony, and so we were able to get some pictures of Professor "Stormin" Norman Henry Ricketts in the appropriate attire. and, of course, once appropriately dressed, Gramps' first instinct was to instill discipline on his unruly charge.

i have a feeling i may live to regret sharing the next pic. i was at least wearing a very comfortable pair of pants, but did wish that i had any one of the several books i studied down them!

great memories!! i have no doubt that a few more will follow in the near future!!

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

Happy Birthday Dad!

hey everyone

well, this morning i was woken up with two wonderful events. first off was James wishing to watch, as a matter of some urgency (to him), Wonder Pets. secondly, as i kind of dozed off on the couch whilst James watched Wonder Pets (sorry Ming Ming, no offence!), my Dad calling to say thank you for his birthday presents. nice one, it's always a good feeling when you get gifts right!

and then, as the title suggests, Happy Birthday Dad! we hope you are having a good time up on a brief "holiday" of sorts! it should be a good day as long as you avoid the TV between 4 and 6 this afternoon, don't spoil your day with the inevitable!

happily, by co-incidence i have been busy scanning pictures again. there are probably enough ace pictures and wonderful memories to fill up several web pages, but let me limit it here to just a few!

first up, and regular readers will be of the view that this was a favourite holiday of mine, let's head to the Torquay / Cornwall holiday of 1983!

this was indeed an ace holiday - Richard wearing a t-shirt of The King, a great camp site where we met all sorts of interesting people and made brief "holiday friends", going off on a blow up dinghy with Dad and some fishing lines, learning to admire the fine art of admiring ladies wearing only 50% of their bikinis with the legendary, loved Steve Lloyd, a Radio One Roadshow, The Kinks Come Dancing dominating the chart and radio play, and the debut of a certain band called Frankie Goes To Hollywood......

the camp site also had a great entertainment centre on a night, where we coerced Dad into a competition where you had to pretend to be James Bond. i have no memory at all of who won, but watching Dad running around, doing ninja chops and an ace jumping head-butt on some imaginary SPECTRE agents made him the winner in our eyes!

onto February 1988, and our (up to now) last picture together at Scotta House Farm.

this was just before we all headed here to our new home. we may all have moved backwards and forwards in our lives here, but we also benefited from a great home built by our Dad, and we all have found love, happiness and our place in the world. all thanks to our Dad - nice one.

i have no doubt that Dad is proud of most of the things we have done with our lives (i suspect that he wouldn't have minded if Richard, Gillian and i had not damaged quite as many cars as we have), and it's always a great feeling to make him proud, considering all he has done for us over the years. little would probably top the look on his face and in his eyes on our wedding days or when he met his grandchildren for the first time, but every now and then there are other moments. like, for instance, when i graduated with my first degree (yes, i have more than one. i am that clever when it suits me, thank you). here, then, is me with my father and my father with his father just before my graduation ceremony.

it was a great day, and as i think i may have mentioned before, one of a number of instances involving something to do with me where Richard had pinched the suit that my Dad intended to wear for the day.

and finally, a republish of a picture, but one of the most important pictures of my Dad there is!

it's important not only because my Dad looks incredibly cool in it (cooler than i could ever look, as my friends are always thrilled to point out to me), but because this is the man our Mum fell in love with, and made us three (and our wonderful families) possible.

i might not have paid attention and learned all that i have from you straight away Dad, but all the good things i am are because i did, in my usual, roundabout sort of way, eventually pay attention. i am still listening and learning, and hope to be doing so for a very good deal more time yet. Happy Birthday once again, Dad - happy reading and watching!!!!!!

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

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Banned Street Preachers

hey everyone

on 18 May 2009, the Manic Street Preachers release their 9th studio album, Journal For Plague Lovers. it certainly sounds like being an extraordinary album, and i dare say that i will (ahem) post a review after the release date, when i will have (cough, splutter) heard it, as obviously there's no way i could (whistle, whistle) hear it before then.

the album features one of the best, most enchanting artworks yet. this is saying something, as the Manics releases (except perhaps Know Your Enemy) feature fabulous covers. here is the cover.

you had better look at it here, as it seems that, according to this article, store propose to cover up the artwork, as it might "be inappropriate if it were prominently displayed on the shelf. ".

there is much i could say of the stupidity of this decision, but why should i when Mr James Dean Bradfield sums it :

"You can have lovely shiny buttocks and guns everywhere in the supermarket on covers of magazines and CDs, but you show a piece of art and people just freak out."

buy this album, cherish the music within (which i assume at this stage is excellent), and burn any and all covers that attempt to hide away this beautiful painting.

be excellent to each other!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! except thick philistines that wish to suppress the Manics!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Happy Birthday Richard!!!

hey everyone

well, on the right day, a very happy birthday indeed to my dear brother Richard! we did also get him an excellent present for his birthday, but as he might not have gotten around to opening it, i won't mention what it was/is.

anyway, Richard got the present he wanted on Monday night. a rather unexpected, rare present too, and one that i would rather he didn't get. as he didn't show off or gloat about this gift, well, as it is your special day, here's some special pics of that present.....

i am not too happy about putting these here, really, but fair's fair.

and finally here's the man my brother would, right now, gladly donate a liver or kidney too. whether he wanted or needed it or not, as it happens.

well, there you go Richard. it wouldn't be the most difficult thing in the world to enjoy reading this more than i did posting it, but nonetheless i hope you appreciate the gesture!!

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

Happy Birthday Dylan!

hey everyone

well, a belated happy birthday to Dylan, who turned 11 yesterday. this post being a little late is fine, as we held his birthday party somewhat early last weekend. which, i have just clocked, makes this update even later. erm......

now, Dylan is a well brought up lad (thanks to my wonderful mother-in-law), and it is rare that he ever asks for anything in the world. he did, however, ask if it was at all possible for him to have a PS 2 for his birthday. we explained to him very nicely that they are rather expensive, but we would try and get him something that he would appreciate and like all the same. he understood this, and just got on with things.

in retrospect, though, we decided that he had been a very good boy with his studies at school, and perhaps deserved a treat. and it's not like the credit card company was doing anything intelligent with the money anyway, and so.....

well worth getting him one to see the joy and surprise on his face! we are very happy to have been able to get you one, Dylan - hope that you are still enjoying playing with it!

i think the main reason he wanted one of these was because that's all you could get a Ben 10 game on. i have no clue what a Ben 10 is, even though Dylan very kindly and patiently explained it all to me. irrespective of my age now apparently being one where you don't "get" these new things (what's a blu ray?), we got him that game too!!

Monica, my most wonderful and excellent mother-in-law, laid on an ace party full of treats for all the children. this allowed James plenty of time to play and eat sweets with his much loved Uncle Dylan, as well as his cousins.

now, yes. there have indeed been instances where i have found myself outside on a blanket with a blonde or three myself son. and you know what? yes, i did exactly what you did under those circumstances, which is have a good sit down and read a most splendid book. no, you cynical bunch, i am not just writing that because my wife reads this. honest, i just read a book; the name of which escapes me for the moment.

oh dear, look! a masked monster approaches the party!

phew! what a relief, it's just James playing away!

considering James' outright aversion to wearing a hat, or combing and washing his hair, i was surprised that he quite liked wearing a mask. impressed, but surprised all the same!

now, what's an early birthday party without a really good early birthday cake? here's Dylan with his best friend Cobain admiring the beauty of a Ben 10 cake!

and, of course, the purveyor and purchaser of all things quality Ben 10 cake related, my much cherished mother-in-law. actually, on my list of mother-in-laws, she is number one on all of them that i have.

righty-ho, so how did the birthday present we got Dylan work out? very well indeed, really, especially as his Auntie Tasha got him an ace Ben 10 controller thingie for it!

it was very kind of James to sit in and be of help to Dylan in working out the mysteries and magic of the machine. James has, after all, commandeered mine as his own, and is quite a wizard with it!

well, there you go. we had a most wonderful day, and are delighted that Dylan had a very good time too!

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

my wondeful, magnificent mother-in-law

hi everyone

well, my darling wife and, as it happens, my mother-in-law never ever tire of telling me that i have a wonderful, fantastic mother-in-law. it is very kind indeed of them to remind me; one would simply hate to inadvertently forget this little gem of knowledge.

in the earnest and sincere hope of letting them know that i know this, i have decided to do a pictorial tribute to her. if i am very lucky, it will make them happy, and give me every excuse to snooze on the couch on an afternoon over some weekends and thus not happily and of my free will be forced to go and visit her.

here, then, is my (as mentioned) dear mother-in-law, getting ready to travel on her preferred mode of transport.

now, to the untrained eye, it might look like i have coerced her into posing on a broom to imply, suggest or even perhaps outright say that she is some sort of witch. well, as this is not a broom but some sort of leaf rake thing that i thought was a broom, there is that myth dispelled. likewise, it is wholly unfair, immoral and wrong to suggest that i refer to her as "the wicked witch of the east". if, and this is a big if, i had ever called her that, i would imagine it was only on each and every single instance in which she came up in conversation.

actually, we really do get along just fine. we have rather similar tastes and a peculiar shared sense of humour, and think that she has brought up, or is bringing up, three wonderful children.

which is why it is such good fun to post pics like this one below, i guess!

hope you have enjoyed this special tribute Monica, luvvies as ever xxxxx

be excellent to each other!!!!!!!! even, in exceptional cases, your mother-in-law !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Spiros rejoice! George is free!

well, it is as you know rather rare for me to turn this site over to someone else, but my good friend Spiros made a rather passionate plea to me to include the news that Boy George is free from prison. free and, in the words of Sprios, looking like he has "really benefited from the prison lifestyle".

to be honest, i have not really followed the case of Boy George with the same kind of passion and interest that Spiros has. i believe Spiros went to the trouble of writing to him on a regular basis, and indeed forwarded him a book or two to read whilst being detained. i wouldn't say i am not interested; i would, however, stress that the affairs of Boy George do not excite or motivate me as much as they do Spiros.

well, there you go mate, hope that this update is what you wanted!!!!!!

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