Saturday, January 18, 2020

x-ray reasons


today, it being 18 January (2020), look you see, is the 124th anniversary (or "birthday") of the first ever display of what we now know as an x-ray machine. or x-ray generator, if you so wish. as i have absolutely nothing else to write about at the moment, i figured sure, why not, let me mark this relatively important device coming into being.

a history of x-ray machine generation stuff? right. it is a chap called Wilhelm Conrad Röntgen who, if you are of a mind to do so, we should thank for the existence of the device. yes, i agree, his name sounds more like he should be the frontman for a smart yet only moderately successful metal band, but here we are, he did science instead of thrash.

for a first x-ray he decided to do one of his wife's hand, and it is stated that this image above is one of those initial x-rays. in respect of provenance or credit, the above is lifted off wikipedia, and the text suggested it was free for common use. anyway, i did make one of those "price of a cup of coffee" donations to them, so much like the BBC licence thing i suppose i am allowed to do what i will with that which i have paid for. traffic cones too, but that is another matter and not really x-ray related.

was there any particular reason for this splendidly named chap going right ahead and inventing the power of x-ray? some, but the real motivation is never discussed. there is a clue in the fact that Röntgen, possibly "for a laugh", tested it all out on his wife first. yes, then, like most artistic and scientific discoveries or inventions, the main driving force to create it was probably just to excuse or in some way justify an ambition to see people naked.

every single time there has been a dramatic, or significant leap in artistic, technological, medical or scientific endeavour and achievement, somehow it has amounted to being used mostly as a means of seeing other people naked. cave paintings, oil paintings, plays, medical examinations, surgical treatment, cameras, motion pictures, the internet, etc - all just conduits to carnal enjoyment. and why not.

well, why not, really. everyone seems to shy away from the point above, no matter how true it happens to be. a legacy from the Victorian era that we appear unable to shake off is that we should not discuss such things, at least not in an open, non-private way. such shaming is what causes it to become a problem, or at the least contributes to it.

the era Röntgen found himself in was particularly challenging in this regard, or in respect of this. he was around at the time of the height of the Victorian prejudicial approach of being all pious, prudish and puritan. one may not have glanced at so much as the ankle of a fellow human in its natural state without the fear of being arrested and having either a custodial sentence or death penalty imposed on them for something quite natural.

despite absolutely no evidence whatsoever existing to suggest such, it is entirely possible that Röntgen was just testing the waters with a hand x-ray, with the intention being to ask his wife if she would mind, "for a laugh", posing for an x-ray of another part of her anatomy. it is simply not possible to ascertain or establish if this happened, as no one has confirmed or denied that any such sort of x-ray image of this nature exists.

how does the existence of x-ray machines (or generators) affect modern day life, here in 2020? well, ostensibly, it is heralded as being of vital importance to the medical professions, which it is. using an x-ray machine can let doctors and so forth see what parts of a person (or animal, if vet) are knacked without cutting them open, unless of course they really wish to. mostly, however, x-ray devices get used to enhance efficiency at mail sorting offices and airport baggage facilities. if the staff can x-ray parcels, suitcases and what have you, then it makes everything faster and easier for them to steal items of value, rather than having to rip everything open.

in terms of the probable real reason we have x-ray, again we are at airports. they now have "full body" x-ray generators, where everyone walks though. people who really, really like to look at other people naked all day, every day, tend to gravitate towards a career operating such magnificent security devices.

right, then, that's about all i would imagine anyone probably needs to know about this x-ray stuff. all that remains is for me to wish it all a most wonderful anniversary, and continued success. may each and every single one of your own x-ray adventures be truly functional.

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

Thursday, January 16, 2020

king of films


let me describe a film for you, look you see. if i were to tell you that i had recently watched a 90s science fiction film in which a future is presented where everyone is plugged into some giant, malevolent, controlling network, you might suspect you know what i had watched. should i give more details - like, for instance, that the film was created by brothers, special effects are showcased, the obligatory and ostensible "big bad" is played by an Australian, and that the ostensible lead male hero actor is a wooden, inept and dire talent, you'd be certain that i had just watched The Matrix.

not so. instead i watched a film, or if you like a movie (motion picture, perhaps) that was made some five years prior to that particularly iconic one. actually, i would suggest (or speculate) one that was heavily influential on it. yes, indeed, i watched Plughead Rewired : Circuitry Man II. which i am guessing is a sequel to a film what i have never ever heard of but would be bold enough to speculate was called Circuitry Man.

yes, that is indeed the DVD menu screen. also yes, that is unmistakably, although you may not have recognised him, Australian acting legend Vernon Wells. it is his presence in the film, as the partial titular character of Plughead, which is how i came to take custodianship of this film.

provenance of my copy? it was a most generous Christmas gift from His Excellency, the Viscount of Stockton. and many other titles he has, but he does not like a fuss to be made or attention to it all drawn.

if for some reason you wished to have (fairly) immediate proof of this film being made by brothers, well then the above image is for you. this is one of the first moments in the film that s Plughead Rewired Circuitry Man II where you get a sense that every chance exists of the Wachowski brothers (now sisters i believe) might have watched this film just before having their entirely unique, original idea to make The Matrix.

let me be honest here. i have taken far, far too many pictures, images and screenshots of this film to showcase here in relation to what i could possibly say of the movie. but, i will try.

there is a shot from the opening credit sequence. as you can (relatively) clearly see, that's Traci Lords and Vernon Wells, being prepped for some sort of operation or surgical procedure. it kind of makes sense for them to be shown together early on in the film, as the DVD cover has their names most prominently, indicating they are the stars of the show. well, film, not show.

something of a trick is missed in regards of this marketing. well, sure, yes, Vernon Wells is A grade box office and brings in an audience. also, there is a certain, specific market for Traci Lords films too, and this is not just limited to those who appreciated that one time she sang with the Manics. but an entirely different audience could have been reached, as we shall see as we go on. if you keep reading.

above is what i take to be the plot, or if you will synopsis of the film. most useful and handy for those of us what had never ever heard of the first film, but for some reason have found ourselves watching this, the only sequel to it that i am aware of.

perhaps a *** SPOILER WARNING *** sort of thing should have appeared in this post by now, or at some stage of it. not so, i believe. the main motivating factor (other than Vernon Wells) in watching this film is shown in the next picture, and believe me there is no relevance whatsoever to the plot. also, knowing the entire story of the film will not blemish your extraction of pleasure.

indeed that is Deborah Shelton, of fame from my much beloved Body Double. also she was in Dallas for a little while, and some other stuff, probably. here she is pictured with that rather wooden, stale and inept male lead i mentioned earlier. no, it is not Keanu, but i think when they more or less remade this film as The Matrix Keanu ticked all the boxes for a similar acting ability to this chap.

there was no stage of the film at all where i was entirely confident that i knew what the plot, or the story, was. perhaps it is fitting then, that i would appear to be writing of it in a decidedly non-linear way. if you are confused about how my comments are structured, well, this is better preparation for you for watching the film. no need to thank me.

maybe it was meant to be that this film was just addressing the (presumably many) loose ends or unanswered questions from the first Circuity Man film. having not seen it, i simply do not know. this would, however, explain the 20 or 30 plot lines that seem to be on the go, featuring ill defined characters doing stuff for no apparent reason.

like, for instance, these two. the film appears to expect audiences to know who they are, and just maybe those what saw the first one do. i did not. all i know is that they were in some sort of weird Brazil prison, where they were hammering wooden sticks or poles of some material into the ground, and then they escape and head off, apparently in pursuit of Plughead.

another two characters i do not know about form 66% of the above picture. to be specific, it would be the fairly obviously male 66% you can see. as far as i could work out, they were fbi agents or similar, and were also quite keen on catching this Plughead fellow. no, at this stage i had no idea at all as to what Plughead may have done that was so naughty or wrong.

the most interesting element (or aspect) of the above scene was that them two chaps were securing a vehicle for use in chasing Plughead. one of them, from what i recall the one without a hat, had to pay for such transportation by giving the lady you can see in the image his shoes. this is a rather interesting and partially fascinating glimpse into how money works in the future according to this film, but is a concept which is never again touched after this scene.

what of Vernon Wells, you may ask. if you did, i shall try and answer. in this motion picture event, Vernon has been at last elevated to the echelons of his natural peers. just like Brando in The Godfather and Hopkins in the silence of the lambs, here Wells is pivotal, embracing minimal screentime to give the maximum, dominant performance in the film. prejudice, presumably, and modesty perhaps precluded him from Oscar consideration for his sentimental portrayal of the titular character.

much of the motivation, purpose and reason for his character is somewhat lost in the film. this is due to them never quite explaining who he is or why he is doing anything, but maybe that was all made clear in the first film. certainly, one driving aspect of his performance is a wish to impregnate Traci Lords. this, however, tends to be a basic plot premise of every film what Traci Lords is in.

yes, that is Deborah Shelton out of Body Double, along with the inept, wooden actor in a strait jacket, about to be transported (to Brazil, i think) in some fancy mail teleporter device. the Spanish looking chap operating the machine is, i suppose, quite like the Laurence Fishburne / Morpheus character what was created for Matrix, although Morpheus was way better, man.

one of the more interesting elements (aspects, maybe) of the whole teleporter concept was how they paid to use it. cash, basically. well, i think so. in the future, then, according to this film it remains that cash is king, that cash is tax free, that cash is the absolute best way to secure goods and services which one does not wish to have any official trace of the transaction for.

this point, or notion, or concept, or theoretical idea, or premise (or similar) is emphasised, illustrated, compounded and explored with the juxtaposition of the above scene. here we find our two fbi (or whatever) agents heading to Brazil (or wherever) in the vehicle which they purchased with the apparently recognised currency of the future in the guise of shoes. from what i recall some valid reason was given for them having to wear the white overalls or jumpsuits, but i have forgotten what that was. i suppose i could look it up, or watch the preceding scene which featured them and explained it all, but i am not particularly interested.

in terms of scenes which appear relevant to the plot, and also showcase the vast, dynamic range of the talents of Vernon Wells, there was the below. although contextually this part of the film made no sense as Vernon (or Plughead, i suppose) was all of a sudden in a suit and doing some business, all the same it was very entertaining indeed.

well, when i say entertaining, that's on the basis that everyone is like me and is just in awe of what an amazing actor Vernon Wells is. here he directly evokes Brando in Godfather, as he sits brokering a deal, offering the chap a cigarette and conducting the sale of something or other which appears to give the chap more life than he anticipated having. unlike Brando, Wells did not need to use a prop such as a cat to accentuate his performance, unless the cigarettes were intended as a metaphor for a cat in channeling that memorable scene out of The Godfather.

from what i could work out, the Vernon Wells character owns, controls or directly influences this massive network thing what everyone can or does "plug" in to. this is perhaps not as evil or as sinister as it may sound, and it does not seem as negative as it was presented in The Matrix. at one stage, for instance, several people are shown plugged in to a big massive joint virtual reality rave thing, where sex and drugs and mediocre music flow freely.

at several points during my screening of Plughead Rewired : Circuitry Man II yes, it was true, i was quite tempted to switch it off, due to it being a load of f*****g rubbish. however, the rather talented directors clearly anticipated this, and found the means and ways to renew an engagement with the audience and the subject matter. the dominant, or if you like most effective of these was the perpetual, gratuitous, unnecessary and yet extremely effective and welcome cleavage shots of Deborah Shelton out of Body Double. on seeing such well crafted scenes i felt compelled to keep watching, my interest in the plot being refreshed and renewed.

how does Vernon Wells get on with his ambition of impregnating Traci Lords? quite well, from what i could ascertain. as far as i was able to understand it, the original ideas were for Traci to get pregnant off of Vernon by that fancy looking procedure at the start, or by means of this "plugged in" Matrix inspiring network stuff what Vernon appears responsible for. or in control of, at the least. for whatever reason this appears to be unsuccessful or displeasing, so an "old school" (in the context of the motion picture) approach is embraced.

one of the biggest challenges for Vernon Wells in his portrayal of Plughead must surely have been the inability to rely on the generally natural homoerotic overtones he is so fondly associated with. in this film he was seemingly stopped from using his go to tools of the trade. from what i could work out his trousers, for instance, were just regular and perfectly serviceable, and were neither leather nor had is arse hanging out of them, as was the case in Mad Max 2. also, he is completely clean shaven, and does not wear any butch macho man chainmail, meaning we don't perceive him as the big bushy moustached man love machine he was in Commando.

a quite controversial trend in modern arts is that of "subverting audience expectations". in present times, this catch all comment is used to deflect valid criticism when something that should have been good turns out to be totally and utterly sh!t, infuriating both the paying and pirating audience. this exceptionally lame and pathetic excuse has most recently been used to laughably defend rubbish such as the final series of Game Of Thrones and The Last Jedi. here, though, you get audience expectations subverted exactly as they should be. seeing Vernon Wells play a purely and unequivocally heterosexual character was quite a shock for audiences, and a mostly (or partially) successful one.

my interest in the film falling away was once again anticipated by the directors of Plughead Rewired : Circuitry Man II. apparently they knew that a point in the film was reached where people were likely to go "no, this is cr@p, i am turning it off", so threw in a scene where Deborah Shelton out of Body Double and that wooden actor encounter some "warriors of the wasteland" tribal types. no, they are not really as smart as the ones in Mad Max 2 and the scene is not very interesting, but the directorial decision was made to have Deborah Shelton out of Body Double take further items of clothing off for the scene, so i kept on watching.

do i have any interesting "going back", as it were, and watching the original Circuitry Man? yes, as it happens, i do. i suppose i could watch it now, after seeing the sequel, and view it as some form of elaborate prequel. from what i recall i watched Rocky III long before i saw the first or II and that did not have an adverse affect on my enjoyment. however, a quick browse suggests that the original (or first) film is very rare indeed, with copies selling for just subliminally south of twenty pounds, cash. even magazine adverts for the first film are listed at around ten pounds, which is more or less five times the price of another copy of this sequel.

yes, i suppose i could see if it is available on one of them "streaming" services, or simply pirate it, but to be honest i simply cannot be bothered to exert all that much effort into it. if i was going to use all that much energy, i would probably do so to find Circle Man (or Last Man Standing), starring Vernon Wells.

the above is a scene which is just a fraction of a millimetre of a second before the moment in which it became perfectly clear that Plughead Rewired : Circuitry Man II was in fact king of films as the tile of this post suggests. a scene which i shall never forget, and one which meant that this motion picture ranks as (at least) one of the ten best motion pictures i have ever seen. yes, Deborah Shelton out of Body Double has a topless scene in this film. allow yourself a moment to consider this.

exactly what the thinking was in not exploiting or drawing attention to the above in marketing the film remains a mystery. the DVD box does not even mention that Deborah Shelton out of Body Double is even in the film, let alone has such a pivotal, important scene in it. had they made all of this clear when they released it, i would probably think that Plughead Rewired : Circuitry Man II would have been the first ever motion picture to make over one billion dollars on its theatrical release, and no way would they have dared "borrow" the plot details for The Matrix or anything else.

just a final image from the film, then, with a final look at Vernon Wells, resplendent in some sort of fancy make up and special effects, at the devastating conclusion of the film. well, i think it was devastating. i am not sure. everything after that pivotal scene with Deborah Shelton out of Body Double is a bit of a murky blur, in truth, with me not being particularly interested, for i was satisfied that this film was excellent, despite it being a load of complete and utter f*****g rubbish.

would i recommend audiences seek out Plughead Rewired : Circuitry Man II at all? no, perhaps, maybe, yes, absolutely. the merits and interesting points of the premise and plot (whatever they actually were) are all elements which were probably better handled in the quasi remake of it as The Matrix. but Vernon Wells, man. also, that key, pivotal and brilliant scene featuring Deborah Shelton out of Body Double. i suppose whether or not you would enjoy or appreciate this film comes down to what exactly you want a movie to do.

if they ever do a blu ray release of this film, or one of them 4K UHD restoration things, then yes i would purchase it. also, if they re-release it on Beta, or VHS, then i would also buy it on those formats. for now, i may just go and buy loads and loads of copies of the DVD, which generally you can get for 1p south of £2, in the hope that it boosts attention on (or for) this quite remarkable, landmark, genre and era defining motion picture.

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

Tuesday, January 14, 2020

in 1981

hi there

just another quasi cultural throwback to the 80s, look you see. specifically, or indeed pacifically, 1981, as the title of this post kind of hints. well, i had to, really. to go back to 1980 would mean confessing that the 80s are as good as 40 years ago, and it feels not to be that way.

for those who crave provenance and such substantive information, this is all january 1981. well, the images are. some references in the text may go beyond, but i suspect several of you just look at the pictures and kind of skip over what i write. and why not.

to be even more specific, or precise, it was an edition of Smash Hits from that month and year which i had a gander at. and here for your consideration are not three, four, six, two or seven items i have taken from the pages of that much vaunted magazine, but five.

ah, yes. the classic, cheeky referencing of one band in a headline for a story about another band. quite a common occurrence in the days when we not only had a fun element in the music press, but a real, genuine, actual music press too. in this instance, my much beloved Split Enz have been referenced in this story concerning the Joe Jackson Band splitting, with titular Joe apparently going solo.

i would like to think that the editorial staff of Smash Hits (which at this time may well have included one of them out of Pet Shop Boys) had little or no interest in the Joe Jackson Band at all. they did, however, have a healthy appreciation for Split Enz, and were delighted to get their name into every edition possible.

perhaps the above will work out, or maybe it will not, but you have to give it a go. that is indeed a most smart wordsearch puzzle above. if you click on the image it might (might) make it a decent, large enough size to warrant saving and printing and having a go at, if you are bored. there are some really ace well known bands included, and a few i have never ever heard of.

the modern world has an idea of people being toxic and wishing ill upon each other as being sort of new, with "social media" being the forum which has enabled such evil. not true, alas. we didn't have an internet to take to in order to spew our bile. but, we did have the school playground, where fellow students could be decried and declared as gaylords or similar for liking the wrong band. also, we had the letters page(s) of the music press. for the price of a stamp, some paper, a pen and an envelope, one could ensure their views were considered for publication and observed by a fairly wide audience.

most of the letters in the edition of Smash Hits i perused appeared to be a not particularly class argument about The Nolans, with readers writing in to express their views for or against them. as such holds little particular interest for me, i have selected the above. the idea that Dave Lee Travis, or if you like DLT (also or if you like the "hairy cornflake"), was mostly responsible for the success of disco, and that somehow Mike Read was better, generally personifies the notion that people have always held outlandish, extreme views in respect of music and have always sought to air them.

had i ever written in to the music press, with the expression of some weirdly specific notion that i embraced an extreme position on? probably quite a few times, yes. the only such instance i can recall, however, would have been in the 90s (when you would have thought i was of an age enough to be old enough to know better) when i made some desperate, probably angry plea against the idea of The Stone Roses doing a James Bond theme. as (so far) they have not done so, maybe my letter hit home.

any notable people who had a passion for using the "twitter" of the day, expressed by frequently contributing to letters pages of the music press? undoubtedly the most well known would be Stephen Morrissey, who frequently bombarded the NME with his views, before he changed his name to Morrissey and formed The Smiths. from what i recall a volume of these select writings were published, although i could be quite mistaken.

so far as i am aware, i have never ever purchased an item on the basis of it being endorsed or otherwise promoted by a professional footballer. let me go further and state that under no circumstance would i consult, solicit or consider the opinion of such in respect of any stereo (vibes) equipment. but, apparently, something of a significant target market would indeed part with money on the basis of such.

yes, that is indeed Kevin "King" Keegan above. actually in the late 70s / early 80s footballers didn't really become mega superstars beyond the realm of the game, so credit to him for becoming so. it would probably be fair to say that Keegan was sort of a neil shipperly of his day, although obviously quite as cherished, loved, celebrated or talented.

no, i suppose that i could not end this without a Bowie reference. this below presentation of his lyrics is interesting mostly as the font used creates an at a glance impression that his name may have been Daniel Bowie.

the lyrics for songs appearing in Smash Hits was most useful. not particularly to enable singing along, but to understand those tunes where the vocals were somewhat hazy. by no means was it a given that albums would always contain the lyrics printed on the inner sleeve, and there was no "google" thing to go and check up on such.

were there any "incidents" with magazines publishing not exactly correct lyrics? why, yes. if i remember it right, it was when Smash Hits had a go at presenting the lyrics for a Deacon Blue song, possibly Wages Day. rather than the actual lyric, "say, say, say, say", in their wisdom Smash Hits presented "sex, sex, sex, sex" as that which was being sung. parents got infuriated, and an apology (of sorts) followed in the next edition.

right, then, that shall do for now. many thanks as ever for reading all of this sort of thing, or indeed for just taking the time to have a gander at the pictures. and good luck with that word search. no, there is not a prize for doing it, unless you consider the satisfaction of doing it a reward. which, in fairness, you should.

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

Sunday, January 12, 2020

where are we now, where are we now

hello there

and so we are told, for the third time, look you see, that Star Wars films are now "over". such a proclamation was made in 1983 or thereabouts after Return Of The Jedi, and then again around 2005 after Revenge Of The Sith. now The Rise Of Skywalker apparently marks another "end" of all things Star Wars films, or at the least "how we know them". after north of 40 years of telling the (pretty much same) story of (more or less) the same characters again and again, custodians Disney shall maybe make something "same but different" next.

which really just leaves one with the margin, scope or means to comment on the current "last ever" Star Wars films, and muse on whether or not bringing the whole thing back for a new (ahem) spin was worthwhile. yes, that can answered be with a "yes" up front, as in order of priority Disney have made a good deal of money out of it and some fans were happy at some stages.

it would be reasonable to assume that common sense suggests one should not read any further if they hadn't seen this Rise Of Skywalker business and had no wish for any sort of "giving it all away" information. however, as some sort of quasi indemnity in terms of the law of the internet, please note that from here, or after the picture, a really, really big *** SPOILER WARNING *** is resoundingly and resolutely in place. that which is known cannot be unknown.

but, for those wanting an overview, it turned out that The Rise Of Skywalker was a rather good film. really f*****g good film, as it happens. indeed, if you like, surprisingly very good film, considering just how bad the previous two, the dull Solo and the hideous Last Jedi, ended up being. a welcome delivery on the promise of quality entertainment made by The Force Awakens and Rogue One, then.

yet the whole Disney revival still feels like it fell well short of what may have been. they had gone ahead and created all that they needed to which would keep the fans happy, then went right ahead and ludicrously wasted much of it.

absolutely, several aspects of this post shall be lamenting how they let someone who appeared to hate Star Wars and wished to "subvert expectations" (a catchy term that apparently defends either being lazy or simply not liking audiences that pay you) go ahead and make what should have been the pivotal middle part of the new trilogy. whereas every effort shall be made to avoid sounding like a toxic or whiny fanboy, it may not always be possible.

the best part about The Force Awakens was not how they got Han, Leia, Luke, Chewie, the gay robot and the bin robot back. no. it was creating three (ahem) brand new, same but different heroes in Rey, Finn and Poe. as with the original trilogy of heroes, little time was wasted in "origin" stories, instead trusting audiences to work it out as they went.

of course, The Last Jedi went out of its way to "subvert" this winning formula. just about the first thing which The Rise Of Skywalker does is fix that, putting the combined characteristics, talents and abilities of the three together at the heart of its swashbuckling tale. well done, someone worked out a good idea to tell a good story is to give the audience what they expect, hope for, want and have paid to see.

further fixing was required with the Kylo Ren / Ben Hope character. again, this was done as early as possible in the film, mostly achieved by simply gluing his mask back together.

i really (as you may have worked out) had low to no expectations for The Rise Of Skywalker, and very little hope. The Last Jedi did many, many things wrong, and led the story to a point where it appeared not to have any sensible way of continuing. so, then, bravo to this JJ Abrams bloke. in just north of two hours he manages to undo the brick walls Last Jedi smashed the story into and deliver a decent continuation story too.

so, to the story of The Rise Of Skywalker. the rebellion to the new Empire like First Order is all but wiped out. just when things seemed not possible to get worse, it turns out that the leader of the old Empire, Emperor Palpatine, is not quite as dead as being in the middle of a Death Star as it blew up had previously suggested. time, then, for a final throw of the dice, a do or die sort of thing.

go on, have a guess at how it ends, or all works out.

a great deal of the success of The Rise Of Skywalker is the fast paced way in which our heroes end up in seemingly impossible to escape peril, only to of course escape. further, how in the face of impossible odds they succeed, with good managing to overcome evil.

certainly, there's a (fair) bit of seen it all, done it all before with the above, but so what? it works. for some there is a complaint, or frustration, that Star Wars appears to just tell the same story again and again, with minimal changes ("let's do it on a snow planet this time instead of a desert one" and so forth). fair enough, i suppose. my counter argument to that would be that for close to 60 years essentially the same James Bond story has been told in a slightly different way north of 20 times, and just about all of them always work very nicely indeed.

in short, if you deliver on audience expectations rather than seek to subvert them, generally you get an audience quite happy with the time and money invested. with regards to continued business success, it is odd that rather large film studios need to make expensive mistakes to work this basic principle out.

yes, finally, at last, Lando returns. there was general disappointment when he wasn't in Force Awakens and then massive anger when he was overlooked for a return in Last Jedi. it was the announcement that the most excellent Billy Dee Williams would be present that made me think, ok, maybe this film will be pretty decent.

overall, the return of the original "big" characters was handled quite well in this new trilogy. the reintroduction of Han, Chewie, Leia, Luke and Lando worked. sure, Lando's comeback was late, and Luke's return completely wasted, but still, the introduction of them all back was smart.

but then, the bringing back of original, much loved characters is also a flaw in this new trilogy. why, i still ask, go to all the trouble of having them in, and not give them one last adventure together? i get that Harrison Ford made the death of Han Solo a condition of his return, but was it really impossible to do this and have him twat around with Luke and Leia again for a bit, one last time?

indeed, lightsaber battles. or laser sword fights. Rey and Kylo Ren have some smart ones as The Rise Of Skywalker goes along. really good ones, too. again, a pivotal part of any Star Wars film and for some reason all but absent in The Last Jedi. the one they did condescend to have in that film might not as well have been in, really.

going back a touch, just how does the most preposterous and ridiculous sounding return to Star Wars, by which i mean the return of Emperor Palpatine (or if you like Darth Sidious) work out? surprisingly well. if you kind of sort of remember that Star Wars, like all science fiction fantasy stuff, tends to work out better when you just suspend belief or disbelief and allow yourself to escape realities, the return of this particular character makes some sense.

actually, it doesn't really matter if it does or does not. it is just good to have a familiar, decent villain back in place, after the total mess they made of the Snoke character in the first two films of this new trilogy. and by "first two", yes, i do indeed mean how they ruined the character in Last Jedi.

so, where next for Star Wars? by all accounts (ahem) this The Mandalorian series has shown that they can make decent, new stuff set in the "expanded universe" of it all without overtly relying on familiar, well known characters. but, also, the imminent Kenobi series is one fans shall be hoping is as excellent as The Mandalorian (apparently) has been.

the point of where next is, i guess, that The Rise Of Skywalker shall probably make fans care, or at the least be interested again. after the disappointing mess of Last Jedi and the dull, boring, missed what fans loved about the character, needlessly overthought Solo, for a little bit it did seem that the concept had been exhausted. not so, evidently, not so.

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

Friday, January 10, 2020

laser beams

hello frankie fans

yes, here we are once again, look you see. it was so that on this day in history in 1987 (if you happen to be reading this on January 10) that i had the honour, the privilege and the sheer joy of seeing Frankie Goes To Hollywood, live and in concert, at the Manchester G-Mex.

it's a date, or perhaps better, anniversary which i select and elect to mark. well, why would you not.

does the memory not fade, at all, over time? a little, i suppose. but, also, seeing them, my all time top band of all time, feels fresher and more recent than anything (much) from the 90s, for instance.

anyway, over the years i have probably written and spoken of the gig in just about every way possible, probably twice. let me just rather leave this snippet from the gig below, then. sadly audio only, but i have made a bit of a video to go with it. assuming that sound and video on this blog work just fine on whatever device you are using.

not the greatest quality recording, i know, but the greatest in generosity was shown by someone in passing along a copy of the actual concert i was at. indeed, the performance there was of Relax, which Holly introduced as being a "blast from the past". undoubtedly a fraction of the screaming and shouting from the audience you can here came from my very direction.

oh, yes, i am fairly sure another noting of the date, and another selection from the gig, shall appear right here on this blog again next year. maybe the one, after too.

should you have stumbled upon this from a search because you were at the gig, or are just a Frankie fan, then nice one and welcome!

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

Wednesday, January 08, 2020

spirit rose a meter and stepped aside

howdy pop pickers

just trying to honour my pledge, look you see. that one i made around about a year ago, when after completing the random bowie posts on all the official (and ones that should be official) albums by him that i probably would not make a post a month on the subject. for me this has been a spectacular, if not qualified, success so far.

the idea of a "new" david bowie album release is an interesting one. as far as anyone is aware, there is little in the way of unreleased material stored away. for as far as anyone knows the only completed album not to have thus far had an (official) release is Toy. but, even then, the whole thing is out in an unofficial capacity (Brian Eno will often "tweet" a link to download it), and select tracks have been on official releases.

what remains, then, seems to be to repackage, "remix" and (re-re-re-re) re-release those albums which already exist. slight variations on well known albums is hardly a new marketing phenomenon. the really interesting part is how it tends to be successful, in particular with precise target markets.

and so it has come to be that i have taken custodianship of, and indeed listened to, the 50th anniversary "remixed and remastered" variation of the album which is most commonly just called space oddity. surely and certainly, this is the record of three names, as it has also been called (and in certain circles remains as referred to) as david bowie and man of words man of music.

in confession, whereas this was a highly appreciated (i chose it) gift of christmas, i was not entirely over enthusiastic about hearing it. the idea of hearing a well heard album how tony visconti now felt it should be played wasn't as exciting as the shiny gold sticker on it indicated. further, i had no quarrel at all with the sound of the original release of it. but, what the hey, a bowie release it is after all, and if nothing else then an excuse to listen to a fine album. albeit one that is probably not in my top ten records by him. well,they can't all be.

pictured above is a work of art i had not seen before. it's called the depth of a circle, and is credited to george underwood. with no other information provided in the sleeve or case, i shall take it as a given that this is the george underwood; he of long term friendship with bowie and the one who famously (or infamously if you like) gifted bowie his iconic different coloured eyes by a precision punch on one of them.

so, the album. actually, a rather pleasant listening experience. it has been around a year (or so) since i last heard it, but it would be agreeably fair to say i am quite familiar with how it sounds. the worst thing this release was going to do was give me an excuse to play a fine album again; instead i seem to have something of a reasonably close to best outcome of a fresh appreciation.

there really isn't all that much one can do when they "remix and remaster" an album. i have mentioned this before, of course, but have also gone right ahead and bought such variations. truly, i have lost count of how many copies of Tommy by The Who and bowie's Station To Station i presently own. here it is a success. parts of the music previously buried are nicely accentuated. the most telling such example is probably the song space oddity itself. much more music is brought to the fore at the track begins, making the record feel a good deal more psychedelic than it did, and perhaps this is how it should always have been.

no, i am not going to do a "track by track" thing. well, kind of not, bearing in mind what i have to write in the next paragraph or so. effectively, this new mix seeks to bring a different dynamic to each song. not a better or improved one, just different. and this it delivers. whereas the album as known was one which, broadly, juggled a triumvirate of folk, psychedelia and hippy in each song, more or less what happens in this new version is that one of the three is more to the fore than it was before. if that makes sense. maybe just pick it up and hear.

has the order of the album been fiddled with, by any chance? yes it has. not necessarily in a bad way, yet does so in a way that evokes a controversy that i have never, ever understood as to why it was so controversial. yes, indeed i am speaking of the south of thirty seconds ditty that is don't sit down.

why in the past people have kicked off over this tune is a mystery. effectively, it's a little bit of a musical jam doodle, with bowie, as you might guess, singing and giggling the line "don't sit down" from time to time. on the original uk lp it was a bit on the end of unwashed and somewhat slightly dazed, on most versions of the album released around the world at the time it was gone, on the 1990 cd issue it was a separate track, on some cd releases since it was included back with unwashed, on some it was gone all together. here, it has gone all together.

i have yet to find any rational or reasonable reason as to why this little ditty may have caused such distress and upset over the years. for those of you who are bereft of a version of the album with it included you are not particularly missing much; if you have the song well what can i say, it is what it is.

a most welcome alteration is the decision to include Conversation Piece as part of the album proper. previously heard as an extra on the 1990 CD release, and then re-recorded by bowie around the time of heathen, here it is again. either this is previously unreleased vocal take, or i have dramatically misunderstood how much difference a "new mix" can make. it sounds so very fresh, crisp (hello, Faye), innocent, clear and beautiful in its woeful melancholy. truthfully, this version of this song along makes purchasing the thing for around £10 worth it alone. but of course that is qualified by my confession of it being one of my all time favourite bowie tunes. 

right, that's that for this. are we going to be getting a succession of 50th anniversary releases, i wonder. on the basis of this, it might not be so bad if we are. whereas all of the albums would not need such, neither did space oddity. yes, probably and of course should answer any questions which may be out there as to whether or not i would consider thinking of purchasing any such releases.

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

Monday, January 06, 2020

yet more commodore car wash

hi there

well, this is tricky. i am not going to lie, look you see, but rather tell it as it is. there is perhaps (possibly) absolutely nothing new i can write about of the car wash experience, or for that matter how it all looks when pictured (and in a sense "filmed") in Commodore 64 mode. but, a fair few of you seem to really, really like frequent posts on the subject, so here we are. well, i am. if you are reading it then you are too.

so, with that in mind, here you go. further images of what goes on to the visible eye in a car wash facility. presented in Commodore 64 mode. again.

yes, that is one of them big, soft fluffy roller type of things, brushing away, spreading soapy water, or water with some soap in it, across the windscreen. so far as i am aware it does the same to all over aspects of the vehicle. i cannot name specific parts as there is too much of a culture clash in respect of it. whereas the proper term for the front it is bonnet, for instance, our friends in America for some reason call it the "hood".

i suppose there is something different i can bring you in this post. usually, or invariably, the images i take are of me sat in a vehicle (with the engine off, in full compliance with the law) as the car wash does its thing. recently there have been occasions when i have had to wait for another vehicle to finish before i could make use of the facility. so, of course for environmental reasons (shout out to Greta) with the engine off, i could film this.

one can see them big fluffy rollers doing whatever it is you want to say that they do in action, then. the less than stable camerawork carried out by moi is something of an accident, but i like to think it brings a quite interesting and spectacular dynamic to it all.

did the person (or people) in the car before me also feel obliged to take pictures, images and quasi video of their experience, also in Commodore 64 mode? in truth i have no idea. also, i could not see any circumstance in which i would go up to someone who has just had their car washed in a facility like this and asking them if they perhaps recorded moments of it. i suspect such an approach would find no favour, or positive response.

the rather avant-garde, metaphorical lighting transposed on the above picture makes it a little tricky, i confess, to work out exactly what is going on. from what i can remember, this is one of them brush things attending to the right hand side of the vehicle. that would be the right hand side if you were sitting in the vehicle, which i was. had you been stood before the vehicle, facing it head on, then what is happening in the above would appear to be on your left side. i think, at least, for i am not certain how such things work.

for balance, and to be safe, i did the vice versa of the above. or, if you like, the opposite. so you can, with some and every confidence, say that in this post you saw how a car wash tackles both the left and the right of a vehicle, no matter which one has the appearance of left or right on the basis of the angle you view from. unless you were for some reason looking from the side, under which circumstance i cannot help you.

just how the camera work ended up slightly more stable, yet slightly more jumpy, is an interesting aspect to this one. no, i cannot explain how i did it, i just did.

quite a few of you, i would hope, shall find the next image of interest. often, or at least sometimes, it has felt that i have failed in capturing the more water based elements of the car wash experience. for me, and to my eyes, this next picture makes some amends in this respect.

well, maybe. that certainly looks like it is a lot of water over the windscreen. it could just be that Commodore 64 mode has made it appear like that, i am not sure.

one more view of the rear of a vehicle in a car wash as i wait to make use of it? again, in a more animated format? why not.

that is indeed an entirely different car wash to the one pictured above. no, i have no particular sense of loyalty to one car wash facility. as and when i need to make use of one, generally i just go to the closest nearest to get the job done.

it's entirely possible that there shall be further car wash updates as the year goes on, but one must never count on such being. with that in mind, i would suggest you rather just enjoy this one, rather than worrying too much about what may follow.

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

Saturday, January 04, 2020

the southerns of spenny

hi there

there are some things which are quite pleasant to do in even numbered years, look you see. one such activity (although you should really strive to do an even number of them in even numbered years) is to take in all that there is to offer in Spennymoor. or not, if you do not particularly wish or (nor) care for such a thing.

my most recent trip might not (or might not) have been, strictly speaking, in an even numbered year, but we are here now. since here is where we are at, let us have a look at what i saw, or if you like observed, on this most recent expedition. or excursion, i suppose. trip or visit, even.

yes, the drinking habits of the place. well, perhaps more precisely, the social aspects or elements of such; indeed it is entirely possible to best describe it as the dependency drinking. i am really in no position to either speculate or say if the consumption of certain, strangely specific alcoholic drinks is due to an enthusiastic social life or an addictive condition. both have merits and faults, i suppose.

one of the specifics i mentioned above (or in the last paragraph) is the nature of the vessels in which such drinks are held. as you should more or less (within reason) be able to see in the pictures, it would seem that in the Spenny they are passionate and enthusiastic about them little miniature bottles of booze you can get. which are some how different from the bit or massive miniature bottles you may be able to get, now that i think on the subject after having typed that.

it is entirely possible to say that this post is just as much about the littering habits of the people of the Spen, too, i suppose. or those that are fortunate enough to make a trip to it. my ability to view and observe these (presumably) empty (i didn't look that close) miniature booze bottles came about mostly due to how they were discarded on a street.

do i approve of littering, or the casual discarding of items no longer wished for by their custodian? certainly not. although such behaviour allows for me to write things such as this, since i would not see such, then believe me i would be as happy as you not to have composed what you are reading now. waste, rubbish, litter and so forth should always be disposed of in a responsible way, with opportunities to recycle or reuse always being explored.

to go back to the specifics i mentioned above (now a few paragraphs ago), it would seem that, at the least in this particular area (or aspect) of the S, it is just southern comfort which is the tipple of choice. yes, it is entirely possible for one to make a comment on a drink referencing the south to be quite so popular in a place renowned (celebrated, even) in a place so north. but no, it is not for me to make any such comment.

why do i think miniature bottles of southern comfort are so popular up there? it is a rather splendid drink. also, not sure if you can really say popular, as i think i saw just the three empty bottles. perhaps it was four, and i only took images of three. or two, and i pictured one of them twice, sorry, i cannot remember.

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

Thursday, January 02, 2020

new dawn fades

hi there

yes, new month, new year, new decade, etc, look you see. welcome to it.

in keeping with tradition, then, here are the calendars what we have around the house. these i share not to show off as such, but rather because some of you simply cannot be bothered to purchase your own. for you specifically, then, i trust these images let you plan your days ahead for the month.

many of you shall be quite familiar with these posts over the years. for this year, there is something a little different, yet also the same as has been known. well, you shall see.

the wrestling what i did with myself in respect of selecting a new calendar for 2020 came to something of an end when Mum & Dad kindly sent one on. it showcases, as you can clearly see in this first one, aspects of things that are New Zealand. whilst i have every confidence in the perfect clarity of Commodore 64 mode, for those who wish to have confirmation, yes that is indeed Matapouri Beach in Northland depicted.

any important or memorable dates in january? well, all of them, i suppose. but, in keeping with the tradition commenced last year, here are a few things for you to give consideration to.

3 - on this day in 1962 the 23rd pope to be called John decided to kick Fidel Castro out of the church. no, no idea what he did that was so comparatively bad.

8 - apparently the single most magical day in music history, for in history on this day both David Bowie and The King, Elvis Presley celebrated their birthdays. man, if they had ever had a joint celebration party, that would have been class.

10 - what is widely regarded as the best, the greatest and the most important concert ever to happen in the northern hemisphere happened on this day in 1987, at the Manchester G-Mex, no less.

13 - the reign of Do They Know It's Christmas? at number one came to and end on this day in 1985, with Foreigner's superb I Want To Know What Love Is taking the top spot.

19 - seminal film classic Tremors, considered to be Kevin Bacon's greatest and most important cinematic role (at the time) since Footloose, was released on this day in 1990. which was now 30 years ago.

21 - a very happy birthday indeed to Brian O'Driscoll, the legendary Irish rugby player, born this day in 1979. yes, a drink would be appropriate.

23 - experts reckon this is the most depressing day of the year, due to bills from Christmas and New Year catching up with one just before any sort of traditional pay day. so, whistle a happy tune, chat with friends and family, watch something funny. everything will probably be all right; we can but try and get though this together.

26 - strewth, fair dinkum bruces and shielas, it's Australia Day.

27 - Andre the Giant out of Princess Bride and some sort of American variant of wrestling, passed away on this day in 1993.

31 - it is believed that on this day in 2020 the number of nations in the EU shall drop from 28 to 27. but, we have heard this before.

do bear in mind the above are just my random selections, and should not be considered as any form or sort of definitive list of the most important dates of the month. well, yes, no, obviously the ones mentioned for the 8th and 26th are.

what calendar hangs in the kitchen? an enforced change one, as it happens. i went off looking for the usual, but alas no, i was betrayed by Poundland. for some reason they did not have any Winnie The Pooh calendars this year, so instead this one shall have to do.

yes, Star Wars. indeed, the whole concept / franchise had gone somewhat stale of late, after the fiasco disasters of Solo and Last Jedi. but, redemption is never far away. it turned out that Rise Of Skywalker was a decent film, and (ahem) i am led to believe that the series The Mandalorian, which of course people outside of the USA shall only see in March or April 2020, is excellent.

a decent enough start to the year with this calendar, then, with (proper) Han Solo and (proper) Chewbacca beautifying the kitchen wall for the first 31 days of the year. well, that could be more if i forget to change it over.

righty-ho, i hope this has helped all of you who use my calendar instead of having one of your own out. or, alternatively, given you some interesting notes on select dates. if both, well then so much the better.

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