Saturday, December 30, 2017


hello, for the final time this year

it has, i think, become a bit of a standard for me to do a sort of something about the better parts of a year which has gone by. every year, look you see, or when i remember to. quite tricky to know what to do with this year, though.

for me, and many of us i suspect, 2017 cannot exit soon enough. it's been miserable for all sorts of personal and general reasons. may we never see the likes of it again, and congratulations to all who have made it this far through it.

still, nothing is all bad. well, nothing except Van Halen with Sammy Hagar on vocals, and of course Mr Kim Kardassian or whatever he is called. and so, with a for what it is worth bravado to it, here's my choice of highlights, then.

.....album of the year


to be perfectly honest, if any of the three best albums of last year - Girl At The End Of The World by James, Night Thoughts by Suede and of course Blackstar by David Bowie - had been released with an extra track or two in 2017, well they would have walked to the title best album of 2017.

but this is not to say it has been all bad. far from it, but only as far as "above average". pictured above are the top three from the year, then. in no particular order beyond release, For Crying Out Loud (2017) by Kasabian, As You Were by Liam Gallagher and Songs Of Experience by U2. all three are consistently excellent, solid rock albums.

honourable mentions go to the two pictured below, namely Low In High School by Morrissey and Piano Portraits by Rick Wakeman, with the latter being the first album of the year what i picked up.

any disappointments? surely, sadly. Spirit by Depeche Mode, which just so happened to be the most expensive album i bought, what with it being about 1p south of £18 when i bought it on day of release. plus £1.50 for 10 minutes parking. although it is not a bad album it is not a particularly outstanding or memorable one. i've not been tempted to revisit it, put it that way.

will there be decent albums in 2018? hopefully. Manic Street Preachers have one on the way. we can only hope that if The Stone Roses really are finished, then one of the four puts out some new music.

.....excuse of the year

probably quite a few things would qualify for this, but sometimes you just have to go with either what you remember, or what was most recent, or indeed in this instance both.

yeah. that came in response to a query as to why exactly all of a sudden our internet connection was blocking stuff like Facebook, You Tube, Instagram, Twitter, etc. needless to say the person i contacted for help was of no use, but switching it all off and all back on again did the trick. of the year

it does feel like i read more good than bad during the year. so much so that i cannot recall exactly what stood out the most, so i will be as simple as the above and go with one of the more recent what i read.

yes, In A Cottage In A Wood by Cass Green was most splendid reading. sort of spooky and scary, but more of a mystery thing than an outright horror. as i commented in my review of it not so long ago, probably the most "unputdownable", let me just keep reading this sort of book what i had encountered since the magnificent The Girl On The Train by Paula Hawkins.

....selfie of the year

no, not one of me, or any of them there "celebrities" what do them. kind of not, at least. here you go, here's one what my Dad sent me. 

cheers Dad. i am not all together certain that "selfie of the year" is actually a thing, but it probably is. no doubt them fashion and gossip magazines all have an award for it, so there you go, my contribution to it all. or my Dad's, i guess. of the year

somewhat tricky, this, i confess, as i have not seen nearly as many of the films released during the year that has been 2017 to make a qualified opinion. that said, i did end up at the cinema 3 times during the course of the year, which is probably more than in the previous four or so years combined.

of what i saw, by some considerable distance Dunkirk was the best of the lot.  

this was magnificent film-making, to be sure, so it was. a simplified take on a complex moment in history that managed to avoid being dumbed down. to really capture the point of the story, the significance and the importance of the events at Dunkirk in a film which ran for less than two hours took some doing, but genius Christopher Nolan did it.

other choices? The Lego Batman Movie was fun, but far too long for what it was. Star Wars Episode VIII : Battlestar Galactica had marginally more good than bad to it, but was simply not a magical, wonderful Star Wars film. Wonder Woman was mostly good but the pacing was off.

worst film of the year? no contest. Alien Covenant was pointless. horrible, awful, dull film, whether considered in its own right or part of the "expanded" Alien concept.

 ....criminal of the year

there are probably a few contenders for this, i just have absolutely no idea who they might be. for this award, then, i trust Spiros, as he is the greatest legal mind of his generation. and, for him, the best criminal of the year was some chap called Abdul Adan.

enthusiastic supporters and followers of Spiros will have no reason for me to explain why he has given this award to who he has. there is not a lot i can add, except perhaps some applause for Mr Adan and his enthusiasm for mobile phones. well, that and something else he is clearly quite enthusiastic about.

onwards, then.

.....portrait of the year

i dare say, suspect even, that there are loads of them. for me, though, there is no need to look any further than this picture what my Dad took of my Mum.  

nice one, Dad, and good to see you, Mum!

yeah, just about run out of things to give a "best" award to. hence the next one.

......Florence speech of the year

frankly, no, i would not go out of my way to give an award to anyone for giving a speech in Florence. but i bet you that someone what did give a speech in Florence during 2017 arranged for an award to be given for it. with this in mind, the self-appointed winner of such an award would be Theresa May, who is still somehow Prime Minister despite George Osborne's promises. 

the most memorable part of the speech came after it, in truth. whereas Mrs May does not answer questions from people in Britain, unless she has to in Parliament, she is eager to do so with people in other countries like Italy. anyway, in answer to one question she said that she would "safeguard" the interests of Italians in the UK, as she had me "one or two" of them and "quite liked them".

my hope, then, would be that she meets one or two British families - like mine for instance - and quite likes them too. that might mean she safeguards us, instead of threatening to tear thousands of families apart simply because one member is not an EU citizen.

.....snow of the year

a difficult choice to make, as we had a lot more of it this year than we did last year. my favourite ever snow is the one that falls in a different country entirely, or comes at night and is melted away by the morning.

failing that, this snow what fell was quite picturesque, i suppose.

yes, well, my blog, so indeed i did decide to sneak a picture of moi or if you like moi in here, despite knowing that a good many of you would care not to see me as such.

and that's that, then.

thank you, one and all, for reading my various exploits, shenanigans, thoughts and what have you throughout the year. more of the same, i would think, to come in the next. well, seems daft to stop now.

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

Friday, December 29, 2017

hours before the winter sun's ignited

hello again

an invitation to cast your thoughts back, look you see, as far ago as four days. yes. in these modern times of instant gratification, coupled with an immediacy to disposal, our perceptions of memories can be something subject to change.

this would be a look back, then, at our Christmas, to be sure. hopefully, and it would be my sincerest wish that this is so, you all had a most wonderful time. for family, friends and those strangers who sometimes wheel by this blog, here's the tension, the drama, the buzz, the atmosphere of highlights from our day, then.

but first, this. prior to any sort of youthful celebration of Christmas, one requires a certain gentleman to come along and deliver things of stuffs for one to open on the day. as it happens, on Saturday he did indeed drive past our home, led or if you like powered more by a land rover than the expected or anticipated reindeer.

indeed, there to one side - the darker in the shadows side rather than the business end what is all red and lit up - the boys watch on. as point of fact, and as is his way, one can see James watching over his younger brother William, ensuring he is all ok, or if you like in the festive season way all fine and dandy.

speaking of business end, onwards, then, to the business end of Christmas morning, and the boys inspecting what gifts and presents Father Christmas, or Santa Claus if American or preferred, might have brought for free in curiosity.

yes, of course the boys believe in Father Christmas, and his generosity. well, they know that Father Christmas engages in conversation with their Mum & Dad to discuss the potential and possibility of what gifts may be appropriate. James elected to hold speculative talks with me about how it might be that there isn't really a Father Christmas. quite early in this conversation i put forward the idea that it would be a great shame if James was correct in this, as a lack of belief in him would probably, nay undoubtedly, conclude with a lack of gifts from him. James has not raised the subject since.

on we go, then, to opening up some gifts. no, i am not going to go into great or lavish detail about what they all got. it would, however, be appropriate to say that it very much did the heart of both my (considerably) better half and i much good to know that they were delighted with that which they received.

indeed that is young William, most delighted to have secured another splendid, smart and exceptionally dapper new shirt as part of his Christmas gifts. as many will be aware, William places a high level of value, or stock, in fashion. he wishes to look good all of the time, and why not.

what exactly is he wearing behind the shirt? his much treasured Kylo Ren out of Star Wars outfit. it is quite fair to say that the wayward, somewhat easily distracted and rather unruly one from the imaginary Solo and Skywalker families is a firm favourite of his.

a return to other gift opening, then. from what i can make out - my camera what has been welded to a phone seems to have gone blurry - and indeed recall, this is a most splendid quasi miniature table tennis set they are opening.

that was a gift which was bought on a whim, yet turned out to be a jolly good whim. it was an immediate favourite, has remained so after the day that was Christmas day and sees them play most splendidly with it. well, sure, there has been one or two minor incidents of them twatting each other with the paddles or if you like bats or if it is right racquets, but that is common and standard and normal for table tennis. or "flippy floppy" or whatever it is that Boris Johnson turned up in China, announced it was called and upset all of Asia.

now, then. the title of this blog. it, and certain lines throughout, are quoted from the song Christmas off of Tommy, the greatest work of art the twentieth century produced, by The Who. that quote was chosen to, in many respects, reflect my own morning, rather than the 75% of my family who you like a lot more than you like me.

of course yes, that above is indeed some mild, rather harmless stalking. that is me hovering over James at around 8:30am on Christmas morning. he is indeed asleep, but i had been awake for quite some time; north of 90 minutes. why? well, in her infinite wisdom my (considerably) better half had left her verk alarm clock set on her phone, and her phone downstairs. this woke me rather early, but no one else.

an exciting question to ask at this time of year is how do the people of other nations, or in another country, celebrate all things Christmas? conventionally, i suppose, is the best answer. but, as ever, where i can i am most happy to give some insights.

indeed yes, that is one of them cinema screen thingies, set up outside and with a projector and portable DVD player combo throwing an image upon it. so yes, this is from the Africa in the South, and so it is off Richard. certainly, Richard enthusiasts, there is an image of him later.

what's the idea of the above set up? for Richard, nothing says "Christmas" more than holding a screening of the superb cinematic experience that is Convoy for the benefit of family and friends. true, this is of slight difference from any other day of any other week within a month of any given year, but in this instance he would hold the screening whilst wearing a smart paper hat what he got out of a Christmas cracker. undoubtedly he would have also held a screening of Smokey And The Bandit, along with any one of the Vacation films what has Cousin Eddie in it.

for sure, yes, my (considerably) better half celebrates Christmas too. and not just by randomly leaving the alarm on her phone to wake me up. look, here she is.

being married to moi does pose that age old challenge; what does one get as a gift for someone who would apparently have everything, and then some, that one could wish for in this world or the next? a formidable challenge to be posed or faced with, truly. in the end i elected for an answer which came in the form of one of them Vinyl Pop! figures, with this one being a sculpture or if you will effigy of Jareth, the self-styled Goblin King out of Labyrinth, as portrayed by David Bowie.

indeed, my (considerably) better half is quite the fan of Bowie, Labyrinth and the whole concept of the Goblin King, so this was a most splendid gift idea, methinks. she, at the least, seems to really rather like it. so either i got it right, or it's just the power of voodoo.

how about some more mild, minor stalking? well, sure. the one i took of my (considerably) better half is over on that facebook thing, but here i am with a not quite awake William.

i believe he was slightly woken by my stalking the remainder of the family, but was also aware of the fact that it would have been highly beneficial for him to be up. to this end, then, yes, he is quite awake as he peeks over the bedsheets to see what exactly Daddy is up to. taking a picture, as it happens, taking a picture.

further images of celebrations of Christmas from around the world? surely. come, let us go even more south, i think, if my geography is correct, to the realm of New Zealand.

yes, Grant enthusiasts, as a treat there you go, an image of him with family. of the many disappointing things what have happened in 2017 i know for many a key one was the lack of images of Grant appearing here on this blog. may this image of them all celebrating in some way make up for all of that.

what of me, you say or maybe ask? quite possibly no you don't, as i dare say that most of you would rather read this without seeing or hearing too much of me specifically. for that peculiar, unusual minority interested, then, yes but of course i did indeed celebrate Christmas too.

and there i am. yes, that's me with a most smart set of Teletubbies branded bath and shower gels for me to use on my person, presented as a gift from my family. also, another gift is on display in terms of my smart new Brock Lesnar "Supplex City" t-shirt. apparently, and as far as i can work out from what i was informed, Mr Lesnar is now my totes favourite wrestler, what with Honky Tonk Man retired, and despite me having no idea who exactly he is.

would i know who Brock Lesnar is if he came up and punched, or "Supplex City"-ed, me in the face? yes, of course, if he helped me back to my feet after that and introduced himself. otherwise, no. but anyway, i will, during the course of the year ahead of us (2018), do a full rundown blog on the shirt. for now, then, back to those of my family who you actually like.

indeed, that there above is James most thrilled - chuffed, even - to have secured the gift of a Chocolate Orange as part of his Christmas haul.

oh, to be sure, a Chocolate Orange is a particularly splendid thing to get at any given time. for James, though, they are extra special. he knows that these are a fine treat which his Grandad loves, and so getting one allows him pause for thought to think of Grandad.

yes, over on the other side of the world, Grandad did indeed get one for Christmas too. so he and James took to all that "video calling" stuff to show each other their respective gifts and comment on how excellent it was to have such a thing.

above is indeed William, still resplendent in the robes of Kylo Ren, being most pleased to have got, yes for Christmas, a portable (as in you run it off batteries rather than a power cord) light up Death Star off of Star Wars.

did James get one too? yes, but not of the Death Star. he got one of Chewbacca, or if you will Chewie, instead. and here he is showing it off, with James now resplendent in a Seth Rollins (i think) t-shirt what he got for Christmas too.

a really, really strange thing happened as we, erm, consulted with Father Christmas in respect of what gifts to get for the boys. something we wanted to get them was a gift related or otherwise pertaining to Star Wars, as both love all that space battle stuff. our ambition was to get something pertaining or relevant to The Last Jedi, being as it is the most recent film. there is a significant lack of marketing merchandise related to the film available. at least this was so on the shelves of the shops, as no one had any sort of action figures or similar related to the film.

hey ho, it matters not. as i would certainly hope is the case, the above two pictures show that the boys were most happy - thrilled, indeed, even - with the Star Wars related items what they got. but i shall have a bit of a gander on the internet; see if there is any reason why the usual avalanche of marketing associated with Star Wars has not come along with the most recent film, or if you will "episode".

right, then. for all you Richard enthusiasts who were patient and didn't simply scroll down, your patience is here rewarded, for here is Richard and family.

true, surely, yes. from what i can work out in respect of the above picture, they all had a magnificent Christmas where they were. also, one which was much, much warmer than what we had. although in fairness it was ever so slightly close to mild here.

did we, what with it being cold and indeed Christmas, just stay at home the whole day? no. off we went for a stroll, prior to a most splendid of Christmas lunch, to see Gran. or, from the point of view of the boys, Great Grandma. although surely, truly, all Grandmas are great.

a most lovely morning, then, with some splendid coffee and further gift exchanges. indeed, Gran had suggested not to get her anything, but of course we got her something, and she was most delighted with it. as too, to be sure, were the boys with their gifts.

well, anyway, or if you like phew, that would be just about that for this. just one further, and i would suggest most splendid, picture of the boys on Christmas day, then.

and so there we have it, or had it i suppose. oh yes, there was much more merriment and celebration to be had, to be sure, but that will do for a glimpse.

once again, then, i do hope you all had a most splendid of Christmas this year, whether you actively celebrated the day for what it represents or just had the time off.

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

Wednesday, December 27, 2017

so, star wars episode eight........


So, off we went to see this new Star Wars film, Star Wars Episode VIII – The Last Jedi, look you see. As it happens we went on the Sunday of its general release. This review, or think piece, or random ramblings, are being shared here some time after that so as to limit the likelihood of moi being responsible for massive spoilers. And there will be spoilers, so be warned. Or you have, to be sure, been warned.

Before we get to any sort of spoiler stuff, as much of a spoiler-free overview as I can. In these early days of its release there’s a massive disparity between critics and fans. Professional, paid critics have hailed The Last Jedi as a “masterpiece”, stating that it is “the best since Empire Strikes Back”. Fans, not so much. There’s disappointment with it all. It’s a level of disappointment which is snowballing into anger, but that’s not such an unusual thing these days on the internet, is it?

My considered and as well formed opinion, still spoiler free for now, is that the film was a not so bad, not great, fairly average Star Wars film. It has several magical, wonderful moments. It has several confusing, waste of time moments. Yes, it is likely worth a watch, but unlike the majority of other Star Wars films, it is not one that you would care to watch again in a hurry.

Right, *** BIG HUGE SPOILER WARNING *** in place for the remainder of this review. Do not read on unless you have seen the film, or otherwise have no intention of watching it, or at least soon, and care not for any ‘secrets’ being revealed.

Where to start. Plot? Ostensibly this all takes place shortly, if not immediately, after the events of the much lauded previous one, Star Wars Episode VII – The Force Awakens, or Star Wars Episode VII – Mission To Moscow as it is more commonly referred to as here. Young Rey has tracked down Luke Skywalker and is getting him to train her in the ways of the Jedi, whereas the Rebels who stand against Supreme Ruler / Leader Snoke are gathering their ships into a convoy in order to flee Snoke and his First Order.

Unfortunately there’s not been a Police Academy 8 yet, so I am a little stumped with a replacement title for this one. Except I am not. From here on out, this film will be called by two alternate names. Mostly, though, it shall be Star Wars Episode VIII – Battlestar Galactica, as in the original and proper 70s version, as it is to that Star Wars rip off which much of the plot seems to come from.

A ragtag convoy of survivors fleeing from a technologically advanced adversary who would wish them all wiped out. That’s Battlestar Galactica, that is. In order to make sure we get the message that it’s a homage to proper 70s Battlestar Galactica there’s even a subplot involving a casino planet, a la the TV pilot / episodes edited together for a film start of the adventures of Apollo and Starbuck.

Now then, ripping off proper Battlestar Galactica from the 70s is not necessarily a bad thing. It was, is, and always will be, mega brilliant and epic, after all. But it is a bad thing when it’s Star Wars what is doing it, and in doing so takes the story away from what was set up as a story arc and towards, well, towards nothing at all, really. Let’s go back a bit, then, to see where trouble with this instalment of Star Wars comes from.

When Star Wars Episode VII – Mission To Moscow came out there was universal praise and love. The overwhelming sense was delight that most of the best loved characters from the original were back. Sure, no Lando or Lobot, but still, the best of the rest. And yet there were whispered mumblings of disappointment.

Quite a few of these whispers were how the film was, in essence, simply the first ever Star Wars retold, only with some events in a slightly different order. My main gripe, however, was that they had spent all this money and gone to all this effort to bring back the original cast, yet elected not to give Han, Leia, Luke, Chewie and them robots just one more great adventure together. Instead we got Han’s story completed, which for some reason saw him go from the greatest and most infamous smuggler in the galaxy to hero of the Rebel Alliance and then all the way on to becoming a bumbling idiot shipping animals for a living.

The payoff, or if you like compensation, which ensured complaints were kept to a whisper, was the arrival of some truly excellent new characters. Rey was an interesting and intriguing character, imbued with a strong sense of the force for reasons as mysterious as unknown. Poe was the greatest pilot in the galaxy, trusted by Rebellion leader Leia and a clear cut hero. Finn was a stormtrooper at odds with being this, and his metamorphosis from a solider with a sense of doubt to being at the forefront of the rebellion was one of the best parts of the whole thing.

Certainly, the villains of the piece all looked just as interesting. Kylo Ren was no Darth Vader, but all the same had room for development. Supreme Ruler / Leader Snoke was kept as mysterious as The Emperor at first, and was certainly intriguing. Captain Phasma was a wonderful character, and one you certainly hoped to see more of as this new trilogy progressed.

For some reason the goodwill created with the new characters upset Disney, ostensibly the owners of all things Star Wars. This is the only reason I can think of as to why they effectively elected to completely change just about all of them in Star Wars Episode VIII – Battlestar Galactica.

Poe has gone from being the greatest pilot and the most trusted by Leia to someone who is thoughtless, reckless and not at all trusted by Leia. Finn becomes an errand boy. Rey kind of isn’t interesting any more, and the mystery around her is trashed in a throwaway line towards the end. Kylo Ren goes from being vital to Snoke to someone that Snoke humiliates and seems quite cross with. Snoke goes from being the curious “big bad” of the new films to someone that gets killed off early on. Phasma is shoved in towards the end as an afterthought, fights very badly and then would seem to die.

To this end, the second suggested other title for this one is Star Wars Episode VIII – If It Works For Game Of Thrones It Will Work For Us. I come to this for the propensity the film has to kill of major characters when there’s no immediate plot idea what came to the mind of the writer/s. I get the feeling that Snoke was killed off so as to be as shocking for the audience as any of the three hundred thousand or so major characters killed off in Game Of Thrones. In Star Wars, this move means that we are 66% into a trilogy and have no idea who the “big bad” is supposed to really be, as surely there’s no chance they really expect us to accept it as Kylo Ren, do they? Also, Admiral Ackbar. He / It of “it’s a trap” fame has, unlike Lando and Lobot, been brought back, but only to appear fleetingly on screen in Mission To Moscow and then to go flying out of blown up spaceship here.

Luke. Yes, Luke is in this a good deal more than he was in Mission To Moscow, but not all that much. Mostly he moans about how the Jedi should end because of his big mistake. Also, we get to see him fish and, in one of the more interesting moments of the film, milk a sort of space cow sort of beast of the field. And then drink the milk. He has a few funny lines, and for the most part his portrayal of Luke Skywalker is rather more closely related to his parody performance in Jay & Silent Bob Strike Back than it is to the original three Star Wars films. It is not entirely incorrect to say that the money and effort spent on bringing Luke Skywalker back in this film is as much of a wasted or discarded opportunity as was that with Han Solo in the previous one.

Mark Hamill, as in he who is Luke Skywalker, is quoted thus -

"I pretty much fundamentally disagree with every choice you've made for this character [Luke Skywalker]. Now, having said that, I have gotten it off my chest, and my job now is to take what you've created and do my best to realize your vision."  

You have seen all the spoiler warnings, yeah? The “big” spoiler secret was the return of another character loved by some, Yoda. He turns up for a few moments, in Force Ghost form, and mostly to set fire to a tree, man. As is his way. The possible excitement of this is gone as you stare in disbelief at just how appallingly bad the CGI Yoda is. I mean it’s distractingly rubbish. My much loved cheap and rubbish horror films off of Poundland feature better looking effects work. Again, what a waste. One they have no excuse for, not when you recall the perfect work they did with Leia and Grand Moff Tarkin in Rogue One, or more accurately Renegade Ten, just a year ago. Computer technology has not gone backwards since then.

Much like Rogue One, by the way, them apparently ever popular robots ("droids") C3-PO and R2-D2 are shoved in pretty much for the sake of it. They crop up for no reason, bar mild comedy relief, and seem to be there just so that they can feature in the merchandising. New marketing goldmine, the ball BB-8 thing, does get some stuff to do, however.

Any other major wastes? Plenty, sadly, and just about all of them time related. For some reason they cannot get Lando or Lobot into these new films, yet they have time to have a scene of Imperial / First Order uniforms being ironed. Yes, that bit is about as interesting as watching Luke milk the cow. But also just about all of the “Casino planet” stuff. It goes on far too long and serves little purpose. The running time of the film could easily have been trimmed to 2 hours, and it’s cuts in the casino scenes that would have done it.

One redeeming feature of the Casino stuff should have been Benecio Del Toro. Alas, no. Instead of being interesting, all Benecio does is a parody of two of his more famous roles; Fenster out of Usual Suspects and The Collector out of Guardians Of The Galaxy. In jokes can be fun, but in this instance it’s just distracting. For some reason there are people suggesting that Benecio's character, DJ, is the "Lando of the new trilogy". Erm, no. He is known to one of the minor characters in the new trilogy and he absolutely, certainly does not have a characteristic or nature which sees him save the day. Also, he has no Lobot. 

Also distracting is Laura Dern turning up with purple hair. For some reason she is declared the new leader of the Rebellion, despite clearly being not up to the job. Why, for instance, does she keep the major plan of escape secret? All that serves to do is give a tedious plot element and prolong the running length of the film.

And yet there are moments of greatness. The opening, with Poe taking on one of them massive baddie ships from his little X-Wing, is spectacular. More of the same is true with the final assault on Snoke’s big massive spaceship, something which culminates in one of what I would call the greatest lensed special effects of all time in terms of space films.

The greatest scene might be the key to understanding the general weaknesses. For me the best part was when Rey and Kylo Ren team up (!!) and take on the lethal guards what had only just recently failed to guard Snoke with success. It’s a brilliant, exciting, wonderful, breathtaking action packed sequence. Also, however, it draws attention to the one thing missing from this film. Whilst them two use their lightsabers (“laser swords”, as Luke dismissively calls them) to fight the guards, you note that that there is no actual lightsaber duel in the film. Rey and Kylo do not fight, and the “showdown” between Kylo and Luke isn’t really one either.

Yes, no, Luke “dies” at the end, or disappears and fades away, presumably to become one with The Force. In a nice touch he looks out at two Suns on the planet he is on. Ultimately, though, it seems that Luke dies via means of “using The Force too hard” to simply say “cheers, Leia, sorry” and to tease Kylo Ren rather than for anything explicitly noble.

It seems that Disney, etc have made it quite clear that the next Star Wars, Episode IX, will be the last in the story. At this stage it is difficult to guess, understand or have any idea in what direction exactly that might go. It’s not so much that there’s a mystery around it as there’s no clear idea of a main story arc. At this stage, Episode IX will need to craft some story from these two episodes and then somehow end it all, too. Good luck. The final scene of Episode VIII, where a young, ostensibly slave boy hints at having Force powers and looks out towards the galaxy with hope, would have been a scene I would have held on to for the last moment of IX.

Oh, I totes get what the "intention" is here. It's far too heavy handed not to notice it. The "you have to let go of the old, the past and embrace the new" is prevalent in the film and Disney's intention with where they want to take the Star Wars concept, or if you like franchise, to be sure. I just don't get why they didn't crack on with this rather than bringing back the old characters to kill them off, and indeed introduce new characters (Snoke in particular) with an apparent link to the old ones and then just kill them off too.

What you have to ask is whether or not an average Star Wars film is better than having no Star Wars film at all. I suppose the answer, from a fan perspective, would be yes, but only just. The box office thus far suggests yes by an even bigger margin.

A disappointing film, then, if not necessarily bad one. And the more I think about it, the more I am sure I’m saying it’s “not a bad one” because I did not in my heart want it to be. Perhaps in my head I am slowly understanding that I am fooling myself with this.

But, you know what? Both the boys loved it. They thought the film was brilliant. Which is, ultimately, who counts. Yes. I know some have elevated the status of the films, but at heart the originals were always meant to be family adventure films, with the appeal centred on the younger members of families. If the kids love the film, rather than whiny wanky adults with internet access and keyboards, then that’s a win.

Hey ho.......

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

Tuesday, December 26, 2017

looking back at birthdays and snow

hello everyone

yes, indeed, this is coming to you as most of you, the people, still celebrate Christmas. but, look you see, time for one of them "throwback" things here to as far away as earlier this very month. assuming, of course, to be sure, that you are reading this in that month, which is December.

it is a month which gets formidably busy for us. on top of Christmas there are birthdays. two here in my immediate family, and one extra special one across the seas. here, then, is a look at the first two of them, with some more snow thrown in for good measure.

mostly, indeed, this is all for the benefit of family and friends around the world. random strangers who for some reason find me interesting and rather like my family a great deal more than they like me are of course welcome, so long as you are not some sort of weirdo.

yes, the above is as point of fact the most recent of the two birthday celebrations. James, to be precise. that just looked like a lovely picture to begin all of this with. and i can assure you that no, our house does not always look quite so neat and tidy. it is frequently absolute chaos and disorder with the two of them. 

it would be fair to say that friends and family around the world are probably more interested in celebratory pictures than my writing. to honour this, then, forgive me if the words are slender. also, i have uploaded a stack of images - video too! - and probably don't have all that much to add for each, for i trust you to work them out.

like, for instance, this one here above. indeed yes, that is me, wandering around in the snow. no, actually, i am not wearing the "legit and not a bootleg, honest" Levi jacket. the one what Zama got for me off the back of Jozi taxi rank and assured me would work splendid in English snow. it doesn't, as it happens, and so that's why i have a hardcore waterproof warm one on.

the beanie is just a pretty standard one. no more than £2 or £3 in cost off of Primark, i think - a lovely find as it is one of the few things what they sell in my size. a dream would be to own a beanie with a barcode on it, like what Edge out of U2 wears sometimes. that or one of them splendid "Thug Life" ones, like what Spiros wears to top level meetings.

every now and then you get lucky with pictures. taking dozens, if not hundreds, of them with a camera what has been welded onto a phone means you, by default if not design, can get one which looks special. like, to be sure, this one above, with delight from William at what he has found under some wrapping paper.

reports what i have had suggest that most, perhaps all, of you are now able to play back the video what i add here from time to time. with this being a given, then, i invite you to enjoy the smart birthday card what we got for William.

that, to be sure, is a Minions one, as in the Minions off of the Despicable Me films and, for that matter, their very own Minions film. you open the card, tickle the Minion illustrated within on his / her / its tummy and there you go, some splendid laughter.

away from cards and onto gifts. William got a few things which we thought might interest him. this was done as, surprisingly, he has given little away in terms of hints as to what he might want. for the most part this then amounted to magic and magician sets. this is because he has taken a shine to doing magic tricks, and i figured that if he had his own sets then he may well cease destroying my few decks of playing cards as he perfected his art.

but also the above, a dapper waistcoat, tie and fancy shirt set. William is quite fond of his fashions, so he is, to be sure. this is evidenced frequently in the amount of time he spends doing his hair on any given morning, and his love of smart clothes. every now and then i shall put the celebrated Night Fever sequence out of Saturday Night Fever on, so that William may see how John Travolta prepared himself for a night on the lash. William, without any knowledge or understanding of what a night out on the lash is, is nonetheless suitably impressed with this.

some more snow? well sure, why not. i mean, kind of. here's a view of a street from my travels, with by some mercy much of the snow cleared away from the road and the pathway.

at my time of writing this we are, splendidly so, free of snow. there is, alas, more forecast for the next couple of days ahead, and for all i know there might be more as and when i select a date to publish this post, or if you like when i mark it to "go live".

one of the great myths of life in England is that idea of how we always used to have a "white Christmas", which is to say one beautified by snow. not so. whereas i imagine our friends to the north in Scotland get them frequently, not so much south of the border. without resorting to doing one of them google things in the subject, i think we have only had snow on Christmas about 10 times in the last 100 years, or if you will once every ten years.

America, of course, gets them a lot. they tend to dominate mainstream media on a global scale, too, so their perpetuation of the idea of a "white Christmas" in film and television shows is why, arguably, many in England think they can remember experiencing more than what they probably have.

but, back to birthdays and one of the most integral parts of any birthday celebration. actually, one of the most integral parts of any celebration, or life. cake. yes, cake.

above you can see William's cake, made to order by my (considerably) better half. indeed. it is a sequence of cupcakes, baked with crushed Oreos in the icing and whole Oreos in the cupcakes, styled in a shape of the number reflecting is age. the candles were a most splendid find off of Poundland. considering the limited stock what they had it was wonderful to find that they had William's name available to purchase.

no such luck, alas, when it came to finding similar candles for James. i did, however, select something which he found to be most agreeable.

yes. my choice of candles what said "cool dude" seemed to impress James. this was particularly all the more so when i said my choices were that, or "congrats", or "it's a girl", with the latter in pink.

the specifics of James' cake? an interesting one, with it once again being made to order by the celebratory one and created by my (considerably) better half. this one comprises of 3 flan cases, each beautified with a thick layer of caramel, with the whole thing encased in whipped cream. smart, it is, to be sure.

some more snow, then. and William expressing his jolly, merry love for the stuff.

i think i mentioned this in an earlier post, but as we are here, fine. both James and my (considerably) better half do not care for being in the snow, as lovely as they find it to see. instead, when it snows, they can be found indoors. not so William. when there is snow, well, it is quite difficult to persuade him to rather be inside out of it. and why not.

me? i tend to go out in the snow mostly as and when i am required to be out and about. but also to get all of you, the people, a photograph or picture or two.

yes, sorry for the frequent appearance of moi in the pictures here. whilst this may very well be my blog, this is only ostensibly so, i suppose. there is an appreciation that your visits to this all does not mean you give the expression of a tacit wish to actually see me on it.

back to birthdays, then, and a skip ahead from William will find us finding James celebrate.

James, it must be said, did not spend nearly as much time as his brother did reminding us that his birthday was imminent. still, though, somehow we remembered not only that it was coming up, but also when exactly it was. which was recently.

indeed, James' birthday was a source of double celebration. perhaps you can ascertain this for yourself, but if not then it was also the day that his school elected to have "Christmas jumper day". to clarify what that is, this pretty much does what it says on the box as students, or if you will pupils, are encouraged to attend school wearing jumpers of a Christmas theme.

one would imagine that "Christmas jumper day" is not particularly a thing south of the equator. for many on that side of the world Christmas falls during "peak" summer, and so wearing a jumper would be a very silly thing to do. unless you really like getting hot.

some video of James and the card what we got him for his birthday? sure.

if for some reason the video still does not play, well, there is a picture below. in effect this is a 3D birthday card, of sorts, with a replication of the Old Trafford stadium "popping out" when one opens the card.

yes, James is most partial to lending his support to the team that is Manchester United. depending on how you feel about that team, i am indeed either a bad parent or a good parent for allowing him to have such support. it was always the wish of a very good friend of mine that James would grow to support this team, and so i have no complaint.

oh yes, that is indeed William "assisting" James with opening up birthday goodies. the same was true when the situation was vice versa, or if you like the other way around. it is absolutely no bother or trouble at all for one brother to offer "help" to the other as and when it comes to opening up exciting gifts.

more of me in the snow? sure, why not.

that is indeed me off up, out and in the fields. yes, the paths to get there were slippy, as the crisp (hello, Faye) snow had hardened into a sort of solid white ice thing. no, sorry, i did not fall as such, but if it causes you amusement to think of such things yet i lost my footing once or twice.

i like the above as it makes me hum to myself, indeed singalong in my own mind, One Tree Hill by U2. even though, lyrically, it's wildly inappropriate to do so in snow. and also i was not really on a hill as such; more a slope. also, there was more than one tree. but still, you know.

but, yes, once more,back to birthdays. in order to enjoy that most splendid cake exactly as he wished, James requested that we wait for representatives of the sensational Harlo family to come and visit, paying respects as they would in terms of good wishes to him. and so it came to be.

oh, indeed yes, you can as point of fact observe some 75% of the immediate sensational Harlo gang in the above picture. and once again, yes, no, normally our house is not quite so neat and tidy.

what, other than a splendid cake and some superb cards, did James get by way of gifts for his birthday? he was kind enough to compose a list for us. a list which was impressive in size and composition; and one which he instructed us to "stick to" but delete as appropriate.

to this end, then, we got him a number of items pertaining to the realm of WWE, that mostly American but ostensibly worldwide well known brand for 'entertainment wresting' concerns.

it is not all that much of a surprise that James quite likes that whole WWE business, or if you like finds it wildly entertaining. let us not forget that, in godparent terms, no less than Spiros, the greatest legal mind of his generation, is one of his godfathers. with this in mind, it is little surprise, then, that James found a fondness for muscular, well oiled gentlemen who like to grapple each other and occasionally dress up as sailors.

moving on, then, and the cake all lit up with a most pleased James looking on. with the lights off.

celebrations of things such as birthdays and, well, birthdays are most wonderful. they can also prove to be, evidently, rather tiring.

late one evening, actually after we had spent much if not all of the day celebrating James' birthday, the boys were off to bed. i thought that things were somewhat quiet in terms of a lack of sound coming from William's room, so off i went to investigate.

and there i found him fast asleep, yet clutching hold of his tablet computer thingie, which he had clearly been watching as he dozed off.

yes, indeed, i prized the device from his hands, leaving him to carry on sleeping without the fear of it falling to the floor.

one more picture of me? out in the snow, as the sun falls early in the afternoon on another day? yes, sure. and from what i remember this was quite an exciting picture to take, for my phone started ringing as i did so.

phew.  that would be just about all of everything which is that for this post, then.

hope all is most splendid wherever you are in the world, whenever you are reading this!

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