Friday, February 25, 2011

how the boys are

hey everyone

well, i seem to be getting a bit poor in respect of frequent updates of James and William, am i not? sorry about that, although they did feature in the recent post celebrating Grandma's new camera!

never mind, here are some pictures now! here's William, quite interested in some sort of squeezy stress ball James got with his kiddies meal during the week!

William, as you can see, is modelling one of the many, many fine jumpers / cardigans that Great Grandma Harland has very kindly sent on to us! sorry that he's looking so serious in the picture, i think it's due to me being in the way of where he wanted to throw the ball!

whereas William doesn't yet eat and enjoy the kiddies meals that come with toys which james thinks are so marvellous, he does still have a rather healthy appetite. so healthy, in fact, that he often wanders off to the kitchen to see if there's anything which takes his fancy.

the regular readers of this site shall be all too familiar with "back of the head" shots like the above one, for James went through a stage of preferring not to have his picture taken. William is continuing this rather interesting trend, in particular when i try and get a photo of the two of them together!

and when i do manage to get an image of the two of them facing the same way, it's not like they are always looking at the camera!

i think though, in fairness to them the above picture was taken as James was getting ready to do an elaborate dance-along to the theme of the magnificent TV show Gigglebiz, and William was just interested in seeing for how long he could get away with walking around whilst carrying James' football and wearing his schoolbag!

well, as you can see, both are healthy and happy at the moment! i shall do the best i can to keep the updates somewhat more regular!

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

blue sky thinking

hey everyone

not much really, just a quick picture of me assisting my good friend and colleague Zama with an urgent matter at verk.

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

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

retirement with Grandad

hey everyone

well, some, if not many, of us long for that era of our lives that is to be known as "retirement". as much fun as verk can be from time to time, i am pretty sure that all of us at one point or another have dreamed of giving it all up for good in order to sit back and relax for a bit.

granted, my Dad is in a phase of "semi-retirement" rather than outright retirement, and we were all kind of hoping he might, after many fine years of hard work, consider putting his feet up a bit and just take it easy. not so.

yes, rather than have a nice sit down and watch a DVD box set or read any one of a thousand books he's ordered recently, Dad has decided that "taking it easy" involves yet more building projects.

i must say this one looks rather impressive, possibly made all the better by the fact that i, a disaster with any sort of DIY project of note, have not been called upon for my input. Richard seems to have been roped in to a degree, though - here he is standing and observing.

nice work, Richard - not sure Dad would have managed to bang all those nails in without your guidance and opinion, as unsolicited as it probably was, being given!

for those of you with a thing for before and after pictures (yes, Dad, this would be you), here's what all the wood assembled and nailed in looks like before the varnish hits it.....

...and here it is all lovely with varnish and that on it.

nice work, Grandad!

no doubt he has several more projects all lined up and ready to go - one of which, i certainly hope, features working out putting up some blinds at the home of one of his children!

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

Monday, February 21, 2011

Grandma's new camera

hey everyone

as a birthday present Grandma got her very own camera off Grandad. you feel this gift was partly because Grandma wanted something she could just fit in a bag and take the odd snap with rather than using one of Grandad's elaborate, Hubble telescope size things, but mostly so that Grandma can take whatever pictures she likes without hearing "they're all blurry, you are doing it wrong".

whereas it really isn't for me to comment on Grandad's view that every picture in the universe not taken by him is blurred, here are some of the pics that Grandma has taken thus far which strike me as being somewhat blur-free, really!

first off, and who else but James, doing something very, very interesting indeed....

there are many, many fine reasons that James loves going to visit Grandma and Grandad. high on the list, of course, is that he is allowed into Grandad's Jag whereas Daddy isn't. close to that, though, is that Grandma has an impressive range of freezers, matched by her apparent willingness to let James fill as many vessels as he cares to find and shove them in the freezer.

that, i think, is the fault of George Lucas. in The Empire Strikes Back and, more specifically, the Lego Star Wars game, James thinks that Han Solo frozen in the carbonite is the best thing ever in the history of history. who are we to argue with such a valid point?

William is learning to take a shine to visiting Grandma and Grandad too, even though he hasn't quite mastered the fine art of freezing stuff at random. he does, however, quite like the idea that Grandma and Grandad have many, many fine surfaces, such as tables, upon which he can do a little dance and have a walk around.

William is also, with deep thanks to the Reverend Charles Kingsley, developing into quite the water baby. once he gets into the water it is rather difficult to get him back out!

he's a touch different from his big brother in this regard, really. James quite likes the idea of this water and swimming business, but really doesn't like getting all that wet. if James' time of interest can be measured in minutes, it would be hours for William, as it were.

still, all and sundry enjoy it when we are all in the pool at once, if you will excuse the appearance of a less handsome chap with a beard in the picture below.

i suppose my presence in the picture just underlines how beautiful the other three are!

i have no doubt that more pictures will follow from Grandma's class new camera in the goodness of time!

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

Lyla and Ruby-Lee

hi everyone

well, a much, much overdue update on two of the three fine nieces i have been blessed to be called Uncle by! Erika has been kind sending on a few fantastic pictures of late, and this one simply demanded to be seen by a much wider audience than my inbox!

good to see that both are clearly healthy and happy, and what an absolutely wonderful picture, Erika!

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

Friday, February 18, 2011

the Hastings ban

if ever a film truly deserved to be described as "infamous" then surely it would be Stanley Kubrick's adaptation of the novel A Clockwork Orange by Anthony Burgess. it is a film that Kubrick made after the disappointment of not being able to get funding for his ambitious film about Napoleon, and would be the film that would cast a shadow over his entire career.

now, the world is awash with articles, books and documentaries surrounding the, and there can be no other word for it, controversy created by this film, so you will excuse me for not repeating large amounts of it. i did, however, feel that it was worth mentioning today as this marks the 38th anniversary of "the Hastings ban", one of the pivotal moments in the history of this film.

movies were not given the widespread release they are these days back when A Clockwork Orange made its debut. despite being released in late 1971 in the USA, and a limited run in London in 1972, it was only towards the end of 1972 and the start of 1973 that the film started being prepared for a wider release in the UK. it was really around here that the controversy surrounding the content of the film started to surpass any critical praise heaped upon it, and indeed when actions against the film commenced.

despite national laws and regulations being in place, local governments and councils within regions of the UK can pass laws and take actions irrespective of what the national ruling is, and this is particularly true in the case of movies being screened within their area. theoretically, any movie passed by the censors could go on general release in the UK, but councils reserved the right to refuse permission to screen the film in their area if they objected. it was really only when A Clockwork Orange was put out by Warner Bros for a release beyond central London that councils opted to exercise this right.

the ban placed on the film by the council in Hastings set a precedent for other regions. rather than simply just refusing to allow the film to be screened at cinemas within the borders controlled, the council took the decision to pass comment on the film and in some way explain the ban, claiming that A Clockwork Orange displayed "violence for it's own sake" and further had "no moral".

it's not often the case that local authorities get to flex their muscles, but A Clockwork Orange gave them, if you will, an excuse to do so. certainly it is the case that the film is not for everyone, but that is exactly why the British Film Censors passed it with a restrictive "X" certificate. by over-riding the national censor, local authorities like Hastings could show that they did indeed have some sort of power, and indeed appeal to the "moral majority" of their electorate by acting "in the best interests of society".

it would be fair to say that the Hastings ban is widely seen as the starting point of Kubrick quietly deciding to withdraw the film entirely from the UK, with the film remaining legally unavailable to see or be screened until after the sad passing of the director in March 1999. a number of local authorities followed the path of Hastings in banning the film "on moral grounds", with a roughly equal number declining to do so, either just trusting the decision of the national censor or, in isolated cases, appreciating the artistic content over the controversy generated.

i suppose i should encourage my readers to see A Clockwork Orange to judge for themselves what all the fuss was and indeed is all about, but i am reluctant to do so. the truth is, as much as i admire this film and rate it as one of the greatest works of cinema ever, the controversy is both warranted and justified. it is brutal and bold in its depiction, and certainly not for all tastes.

i am pretty sure that something else happened in February 1973 around the time Hastings council decided to ban A Clockwork Orange from being screened, but it escapes me at the moment as to what it could be..........

be excellent to each other, or if you will, viddy well...........

Thursday, February 17, 2011

come on, sugar, let me know......

hey everyone

well, believe it or not, i am not alone on this earth with my devout worship of Frankie Goes To Hollywood. in fact, there is an excellent forum where like-minded (superior) minds get together and discuss Frankie.

that said, on that forum i am in a somewhat limited circle that believes that their cover of Do Ya Think I'm Sexy?, which was not released as a b-side as intended and features legendary Paul Rutherford on lead vocals, is a "lost classic" and deserves a proper CD release.

over on the forum i might have mentioned this once or twice, to the extent that the magnificent one they call Tuumble has created this to celebrate my love of the song

i think it's excellent! and also somewhat flattering!

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

i want to see this movie

hey everyone

the magnificent Cracked site usually has some splendid, fun reading and excellent creative reader competitions. every now and then they have a submission that you really wish was real, and this one from "28 typos that would have changed everything" is at the top of the pile for me!

not that there was anything wrong with Batman Begins (far from it, it was excellent), but this film would be......well, wow, really.

my compliments to the genius who created this (someone called Akron); i cannot believe this was not chosen as the number one!

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

peeled (chocolate) orange

hey everyone

well, finally, here's the finale of the adventures of the somewhat infamous Chocolate Orange as it looked around New Zealand and Australia. or did it?

i thought it was mildy suspicious that Dad & Gillian would rather take the Chocolate Orange around with them instead of just eating it as soon as possible. these suspicions, it seems, were rather astute, as it seems that they did in fact eat it as soon as possible!

the pictures we have all been admiring since were nothing short of an impostor, quite frankly. the Chocolate Orange was eaten within days of arrival in New Zealand; the pictures we saw were of a child's toy (i am led to believe a plastic bowl from a tea set or something, no less) wrapped in the packaging!

well, that kind of ranks up there with Memento and The Usual Suspects as an interesting twist in the tale, does it not? many thanks indeed to all in New Zealand, and i believe Grant in particular, for creating all these wonderful images, then!

i gather the good people of New Zealand now have a taste for the magic of the Chocolate Orange as a consequence of me (indirectly) sending one their way. well, i am sure we can arrange, somehow, for another one to be with you eventually!

sorry again for the lack of frequent updates of late, will try to do better!

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

Thursday, February 10, 2011

new mug from New Zealand....

hey everyone

well, every year or so a new mug comes my way from New Zealand, and this year is certainly no exception. to clear up some confusion for those of you "in the know", however, this one is not a gift from my dear sister, it was bought by Mum. the ace mug that Gillian did send me, a classy Mr Bump affair, is safely at home for my use there.

moving on, and it has become something of a custom for me to have several pictures of me and the mug taken with the fine, fine people at my place of verk, as if to give proof, evidence and testimony that it is being used. i am not one to break custom , and so here we go with roughly half of the pictures taken, and these pictures are as ever taken by my expert, personal photographer, Trigger.

first off, here is me showing off the mug to Galilee, who i suspect was rather more interested in the telephone conversation she was having at the time Trigger decided to take the picture.

and who could blame her?

next off is Sandy, which is quite interesting. the problem i have with coffee mugs is that the handle tends to break off them due to over-use, or generous use if you wish to be polite. i have no quarrel at all with blaming this quite natural phenomenon on Sandy, and i am not shy about letting people know that she is probably to blame.

and here i am with Viv who, for her sins, gets to work directly with me. i am not quite sure how she puts up with me at verk, but i am very glad indeed that she does!

the more observant / bored of you shall have noticed that my shirt colour appears to change in the pictures. believe me, this is neither magic nor some sort of optical illusion created by Trigger - they are in fact two different shirts as the pictures were taken across two different days.

the fact that both are shades of blue does lead quite nicely to the next picture being of Shaun, whose only real crime is a love of Everton.

the man does get an amnesty, though, as he knows an awful lot about quality music. and yes, by quality music i do mean "that which was recorded in the 80s".

moving along, and here's a fantastic picture of one of my dearest friends ever, as well as the person in this world who has the unfortunate pleasure of being responsible for explaining the more non-standard things i get up to at verk.

in many respects Ronel and i could quite well be called the "beauty and the beast" of verk. i shall leave it to you to work out which is which, but it has been a while since i made the long list of a beauty contest......

joining the list of those who were surprised and not quite sure as to what this photograph business was all about is Nedine, who is also someone i am very proud to call a friend.

she has known me all the time i have been at my place of verk, which is pushing 12 years. she does not appear to have been driven crazy by the experience as such as of yet, or is just very, very good at hiding it.

and, just to show how excellent my place of verk is, here are some images of me with yet more of the fine ladies i have the distinct honour and pleasure of working with. behold, if you will, Tanya, Kim and Stacey.

if you are wondering, i am the one in the middle-ish section, the one who is somewhat taller and wider than the others.

and do not think that the beauty is limited just there. oh no, here we go with more!

yes, of course there are many chaps at our workplace too. here are some men being men, for the viewing pleasure of some of my lady readers and a few of the men too (hello, Spiros).

it was not too long after that picture above was taken that Michelle, also known as "Ace" for reasons i would prefer not to disclose here, decided that she wished to be in a picture too. it's actually quite rare that someone wishes to pose for one of these pictures, so it's a delight to post it here!

moving back to men, and no more man do you get that the legendary Leslie. he has many, many, many excellent qualities, but alas he has the achillies heel of supporting that Man United bunch, something which is not always easy to overlook or put aside.

as is the case with Viv, Leslie too verks directly with me. i really have no idea where he finds the willpower to put up with me, but remain very glad that he does.

and just what would a coffee mug be without something in it? nothing, except an empty coffee mug i suppose. i am delighted, then, to bring to you an image of the ladies who work so hard in our area to make sure we have coffee in the mugs!

we are nearly at an end of the pictures, by the way - well done for reading this far!

next up is the wonderful (yes, she made me say that) Iggy, who when i started at verk took me in and tried to teach me how to do my job properly. if i do not do it properly, it really isn't her fault.

Iggy was also kind enough to attend the wedding of Michele & i, and futher made sure that i got married. well, it really is best not to argue with her!

i have been fortunate enough to meet some very remarkable people in my life, but of those few have been quite so remarkable as Claudia.

Claudia is someone who doesn't so much see the glass as always being half full, but rather as overflowing with potential, possibility and good things. i and a great many others would be far better people if we could follow her example sometimes.

just two more to go!

here is Anthea for your viewing pleasure. i must say she was concerned about the pictures at first, but when i assured her that they were not for that sort of web page she was quite happy to play along.

and finally, Hedge and Zama, making all sorts of "gangsta" signs.

i have included Hedge and Zama partly because they are exceptional colleagues and good friends, but mostly, it has to be said, because if i didn't have their picture here then they would cry about being excluded like a right pair of big girls' blouses.

for those of you reading this who didn't feature, my apologies, but i shall treasure those pictures all the same!

in the mean time, i do trust and hope you have enjoyed these images of my latest chalice of coffee!

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

Wednesday, February 09, 2011

the further adventures of A Chocolate Orange.....

hey everyone

well, Dad has politely reminded me that i haven't finished the quest of the Chocolate Orange for your reading pleasure. i perhaps should be in bed right now, but it's Holly Johnson's birthday, so what better way to spend it than sat listening to Frankie and writing tales of luxury confectionaries?

the journey of the Chocolate Orange around New Zealand has been rather well documented here, i believe. whereas i have about one thousand other pictures of it in New Zealand, only a few more shall follow later. in the mean time, then, let's have a look at the jolly good idea my Dad had, which was to take the Chocolate Orange along to Queensland to see how it would fare when faced with a cyclone warning.

i must say, to my eyes it seems like the thing was very keen to get on the flight.....

......presumably so it could have a go on this rather large cannon.

Dad, it has to be said, has got very attached to this Chocolate Orange, and has been taking it absolutely everywhere with him. i think you've worked that out by now, but to me it's like "do we really give you that few presents, Dad?". i mean, there are probably dozens of well thought out, considered gifts that all three of us have bought him over the years sat gathering dust; see one Chocolate Orange, buy it thinking "that'll cheer the old bugger up for a couple of hours" and the next thing you know it's being taken around the world with him.

here, for example, is the Chocolate Orange being taken on a tour of a mining site.

and not content with that, Dad took the Chocolate Orange off to see how government works in Queensland.

very well, one would hope it works - Queensland faces a massive era of rebuilding that i hardly need to highlight here; we're all hoping it's speedy.

and this brings to and end what is effectively the penultimate chapter in the travels of A Chocolate Orange. how will it end, do you wonder? well, fans of the excellent film Memento might be impressed when all is revealed, but i shall give no further clues. instead, i fear i must retire for the evening, i am very tired and first need to set the machines to record this 24 show off the tele.

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

my ride - pimped

hey everyone

well, a few updates featuring your humble narrator are on the way. well, two i suppose, and for the most part they feature people more interesting than me. Gillian has sent some very interesting items to me from New Zealand, and thankfully my personal photographer, Trigger, has been on hand to capture a visual slice of some of these items.

my sister knows that not only do i have some rather (usually self-created) bad luck with drving, i really am loathe to take to the wheel too. however, life down here means you have little choice but to drive. Gillian has taken it upon herself to make it all the more bearable for me by providing a number of items to "beautify" my car with, or if you will "pimp my ride", which i am led to believe is the phrase that 'the kids' use these days.

the most significant item of these would perhaps be the 100% genuine sheepskin steering wheel cover.

magnificent, is it not? apparently, it keeps the wheel cool in summer, warm in winter, what a remarkable use for a sheepskin, then!

i think it looks absolutely magnificent, and really turns my car into even more of a fanny magnet than it usually is.

you don't have to just take my word for it, you know. my good friend, colleague and a chief of the team that i consider my personal mechanics as and when my car breaks down somewhere near verk, Jayson, was so overwhelmed by the raw sexuality eminating from it that he refused to touch it, but was prepared to touch someone who was touching it.

indeed my good chum Sinbad was so taken with it that he was lost for words, but did immediatley start sending messages to all and sundry about what an amazing sight he had seen.

Gillian's beautification of my car does not end there. i also have a sign on the back now, either warning or advising of sheep for the next 1600kms.

not sure if that means i am supposed to drive for 1600kms with the steering wheel cover on, or if i am just giving some helpful advice, really. however, i do know that Jayson was also very, very impressed with this one too. very impressed indeed.

further to this, my car also sounds like an open homage to early 80s New Zealand new wave, new romantic music, with great thanks indeed to Gillian, Grant, Katie and Daniel for providing me with a rather rare CD of The Swingers' one and only album. but more on that later.

righty-ho, more pictures of more gifts from New Zealand to come along later!!

in the mean time, be excellent to each other!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!