Sunday, September 28, 2008

note to Marmite

the innocent, sweet "it wasn't me" look in the eyes works a good deal better if you do not have the evidence in your mouth at the time.......

Driving Miss Lyla

hey everyone

James and Lyla had a great time playing with each other on Saturday morning. unless i missed something (and i might have, what with a quest for 50 ice cream cones seeing me head off to the shops), they didn't do quite as much "mine!", "no, mine!", "MINE!", "NO MINE!" fighting over toys as usual!

despite both of them being rather good at this walking business, the walker frame thingie does provide for some fun times! rather than posing for the picture, you will note that the two of them are looking as if to say "we are coming through. get out of the way or get hurt"!!

and here's a nice bit of cornering! nice one James, you are already a better driver than Daddy (i would have been in the wall), so soon you will be challenging Mummy for the title of best driver in the house!

i must confess, as good as that cornering was, i am not sure of the point of it. James was turning them towards the fish tank that he wishes to fill with more food than there are fish in it, not to mention a rather steep step into the house!

mind, perhaps they were just trying to pop into the house for big luvvies with Grandma....

hope you all had a good weekend!!!!

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

Oasis return

all things considered, the world is a better place with Oasis in it. and well done on getting this far, boys. line-up changes, having your biggest selling album (Be Here Now) seen in retrospect as not much good, a sound that goes in and out of popularity and numerous skirmishes with the law and tabloid headlines has sunk many musical careers. not Oasis. they seem to thrive on it. for a band to deliver a seventh album these days is quite an accomplishment in itself; to have it sound any good across the entire running length suggests there's more to follow. Dig Out Your Soul would suggest, then, that we have Oasis in our world for a while yet.

many reviews will take Dig Out Your Soul and bang on about how it isn't as explosive or groundbreaking as their debut Definitely Maybe, nor is it as career defining as their stunning, reputation building second, (What's The Story) Morning Glory. well, they would be lazy reviews. as this is not their debut, and nor do they have to prove anything to anyone, they couldn't unleash an album like either of those even if they wanted to. this is a band a good, what, 14 or 15 years into their career. give reviews like that a break, i think, concentrate on the here and now instead.

to briefly hark back to the early days, however, they have achieved what they said they would. during the infamous "rivalry" with Blur, Noel Gallagher went on record as saying that his only competition was bands like The Stones and U2. to this effect, Oasis have become U2. Dig Out Your Soul features one or two outstanding tracks and several songs that range from "decent" to "not bad" with the odd "ho hum" in between. This is what U2 do with an album to justify a worldwide tour that features sets comprising of a, shall we say, healthy reliance on the "classics" that the fans want to hear anyway. for the record, to become The Stones would involve turning out an album of songs which ranged from "not bad" to frequently "ho hum", safe in the knowledge that all they will do on the next tour will be the bona fide classics anyway. not a bad fate if you just want to rake in many, many $$$$$ after many years slaving away at your art, but not a fate that Oasis are ready for just yet.

so how far have Oasis developed artistically with this album? not any great particular distance, really, depending on how you see Noel now including The Doors within his list of artists that are worthy of a, well, homage to. have a listen to the opening of Waiting For The Rapture and if you don't start singing "no one here gets out alive" to yourself in your own interpretation of a Morrison voice well, then, i guess you're not too familiar with The Doors. like all previous, if you will infamous borrowings Oasis have committed, they get away with a bit of cheek as they at least sample some of a classic song to make a decent one of their own.

there's only one true clanger on this album, the curious (Get Off Your) High Horse Lady. this track would appear to be some less than subtle dig at someone or other, be it a journalist, critic, ex, groupie or someone that they just didn't at all like the look of. at least the band have accepted the song as such, and thus all the "experimentation" they could muster has been slung onto the four minutes of it; get ready for some bizarre blues / country & western fusion with some distorted vocals thrown in for good mix. this song might fall to more interested ears as and when we are told who exactly it's about, until such time i would not expect too much in the way of fans at gigs demanding to hear it.

with that unpleasant business out of the way, let's rather consider the better aspects of the album. the single The Shock Of The Lightning kind of grows on you after a few plays, but there's one or two tracks on Dig Out Your Soul that snack you straight away. interestingly, they're not Noel compositions. a firm fave so far would be the psychedelic journey To Be Where There's Life, the one and only contribution from Gem Archer. going on this, either Gem just took every good idea and slammed it into one track, or the rest of what he wrote was that good that Noel was having none of his tracks overshadowed too much and so they were dropped. it's rather tough not to appreciate Liam's Ain't Got Nothing, really. musically it's standard rock / punk fare, but the lyrics show the cocky, arrogant ways of the lad finally appearing in his words - "out on bail, to unveil" indeed! that's a rhyme that's up there with Pete Townshend at his angriest, and that is meant as a compliment.

Noel on form, however, remains the strength of the band. and what form he's in with the opening, Bag It Up. the obligatory "sunshine" lyric crops up here, but all that means is classic Oasis. that would mean a thundering, percussion driven overwhelming sound with some ace guitar licks laid over it all for good measure. take your thinking a bit too far and the lyrics frequently (and rightly) nail those currently courting fame and fortune with little or no claim to (Whinehouse, Doherty, this would be you), but in essence it's Noel saying "i can do this, nobody else can". this number distorting and morphing into the second track, The Turning, goes down very well indeed and gives you one of the strongest openings to an Oasis album yet.

and i do mean "yet". Dig Out Your Soul is an album by a band that's clearly full of the energy, enthusiasm and outright love of making music; nowhere near bored enough to just crank out average efforts to sate the taste for the fame and money. this isn't the best album by Oasis, and nor is it the best album of the year (Beautiful Future by Primal Scream looks to have that award). it is however one of the best rock albums you will hear this year. if you don't check it out, i doubt very much that the band would lose sleep, but you will be losing out on 40 odd minutes of quality vibes.

who you gonna call?

hey there

oh dear! Lyla arrived at Grandma's on Friday, and found herself with lots and lots of toys to play with.

there were so many toys that she couldn't possibly play with them all herself. time to put a call in for someone to help, then!!

and here to the rescue is James to come and play with all the toys too!

and, ahem, there's your humble narrator in the background, happily playing away with one of those dragon-donkey babies from Shrek!!!!

more pics as soon as i sort my camera out!!!

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

Paul Newman

well, the world is going to be full of (justified) glowing tributes to the great, sadly late Paul Newman.

i can't add much. thanks for the laughs in Slap Shot, thanks for putting a piece of everyone's father and grandfather into Nobody's Fool, thanks for the brilliant acting in The Verdict, bravo on going toe to toe with McQueen in The Towering Inferno, thank you for personifying "to thine own self be true" in Cool Hand Luke, thank you for the dozens of other cinematic bursts of entertainment i have missed out here.

"The light that you think you emanate is not necessarily the light that other people see. You think of yourself as a shy, retiring whatever it is, and some other people will see you in an entirely different way. ... You have to constantly learn. Obviously, you have to start with some kind of gift, but people don't understand that. ... I don't have a gift for anything. I've only had a gift of pursuit."
- Paul Newman, 1990.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

James seems to like eclairs.......

hey everyone

yes, before you all start, i am quite aware of the importance of a healthy, nutritional, well balanced diet for youngsters, as well as any other hip buzz-words you wish to apply to being careful about what they eat.

James has a nice, healthy taste for the better foods in life, and doesn't really get greedy or over indulgent when it comes to treats. and besides, what's life without the odd indulgence in something that may not be good for you, but isn't all that bad in the grand scheme of things?

besides, if i didn't gamble a few Rand at the shops on the off chance that James might like the idea of eating an eclair, i would never have got class pictures like these!

he is quite the image conscious gent, mind. he's not happy with having bits of cream and chocolate all around his mouth, and thus was wiping away at his face with a tissue after just about every bite!

go on, it's nearly weekend - if you are reading this, why not head off and spoil yourself with something that concentrates on calories as a good thing?

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

new lows in tabloid radio broadcasting

to take apart and discuss the sad state of Johannesburg's Radio 702, as any of you who have heard it lately will know, would be worthy of a full, somewhat depressing blog of its own. i, like many listeners i suppose, really only switch on to it at every 15 minute marker as they have frequent (although usually incorrect) traffic updates.

i suppose that's why most switch to it, i say, as when you listen to parts around the traffic, it doesn't sound like there's that much of an audience for it anymore. the shows tend to have all the production values and professionalism of a gang of 15 year old kids with a CB set. the advert breaks tend to be loaded with promos for their own shows as well as one downright hilarious one where the talk show presenters hope to hired as TV presenters, and there's a suspiciously large number of "callers" to the shows that tend to be fellow presenters or friends and acquaintances of the hosts.

their content leans towards dreary and dubious at the best of times of late, and those best of times are far and few between. lest we forget the tale of amazon refusing to ship to South Africa anymore because of widespread theft by the South African Post Office. the South African Post Office happened to be running a large advertising campaign on the station at the time and, wouldn't you know, the hosts all of a sudden tried to spin the story into one of how amazon customers were somehow stealing the items that the South African Post Office were not delivering. no, i can't work out how one steals something that they never got to so much as see, let alone touch, either, but it all made sense to the hosts as they lavishly introduced a bulletin sponsored by the Post Office. draw your own conclusions.

so why bother giving them any time at all? because today they really excelled themselves in regards of the dire, questionable content they throw out on the airwaves, and i suspect the dodgy nature of today's folly will be picked up by many elsewhere.

today was a rather big day for South Africa, what with a new President being sworn in and all. sadly, this prestigious event fell at a time when the ever declining Jenny Cryws-Williams was on air. Jenny tends to commit some horrid crimes against the English language ("revert back" and "very unique" are apparently fine in her lexicon), and is solid proof that reading thousands of books does not necessarily mean that one has understood or grasped them. if you are of a mind to do so, by all means hit their web page and download what Jenny refers to as a "pod cast" of their weekly 'Ad Feature'. the advertising expert that co-hosts it with her uses his rather swanky posh voice to get away with all sorts of linguistic folly; a personal favourite being when he once referred to an advert as having "three protagonists". erm, yeah - a story can have but one protagonist, referred to in the plural if the protagonists happen to be a group of people.

anyway, let me set the scene today. it's ten minutes before the new President is to be sworn in, around 3:30pm. Jenny is chatting to the man sent to cover it, the smarmy, aloof, superiority-complex suffering and rather nasal Stephen Grootes. desperate to fill the time with something (anything), the two of them manage to conjure up what they believe is some unusual fact around the incoming President and Vice President. the "fact" would be so banal and insipid that it escapes my memory. Jenny's line after this fact is announced by Mr Grootes was a gem : "and that's the sort of thing which might appear in the Guinness Book Of Records, which as we all know is a great book and a big seller and is always popular as a gift at Christmas.". Stephen Grootes, oddly for some reason seeing Jenny as one of the few people in the world that is his equal and not beneath him, readily and rather excitedly agreed with this.

well, there's one conclusion you could draw from that, in particular in light of the Post Office / amazon theft debacle, but oddly enough i don't think it's the case that someone received a gesture to promote the (admittedly fine) Guinness Book Of Records. i think it's pure and simple the case that the imagination of the two involved is so limited that this was probably the only frame of reference they actually had to discuss something. lest we forget that Jenny, bless her, had a sulking fit of note when everyone she asked solidly refuted her description of the personality, interest free Thabo Mbeki as an (sigh) "enigmatic man" back at his inauguration in 1999.

as i said, draw your own conclusions, but if you are in a position where you have the misfortune to hear 702 on a regular basis, methinks you will soon agree with the notion i have. as for the rest of the station, well, if i get really bored, i might one day compose a few notes on the absurd, hilarious "Comment by John Robbie" section which i usually go out of my way to avoid. it's an oddity to say the least, where the host gives you his concise, well thought out, aloof and apparently valid view on something or other, right in the middle of his three hour show in which he invariably pleads innocence and claims that he "just doesn't know" anything about most of the topics raised.

be excellent to each other and, if any of you know of a more reliable, regular source of traffic news in Johannesburg, won't you be excellent to me and let me know of it!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Top Ten Bond Themes

Hi Everyone

Well, I took it as a given that the whole wide interwebnet thingie would have been bursting at the seams with lists like this one. I was somewhat surprised to see that there were very few, if any, like it!

With Bond fever about to grab the world (or bits of the world interested in Bond) again with Quantum Of Solace, I figured why not have a look at the best themes delivered thus far?

Cutting out the really bad ones was easy (Madonna are you reading), but trying to rank the ten, solid great ones was a tough battle. I suspect, or at least hope, that I do have the best ten listed below, just maybe not in the same order that a few of you would have them.

Feel free to comment, so long as it is considered and not going to cause offence!

01 The James Bond Theme -John Barry and Monty Norman

there’s no point in arguing this one. the original Bond theme is perhaps the single most recognizable song anywhere in the world. you go anywhere in the world and start going “dingdadadadingding da da da dingdadading ding ding dum dum dum dah-daaaah, da da da” and more than half the people you do it to will know exactly what you’re humming / singing / air guitaring. a work of genius.

02 A View to a Kill - Duran Duran

my favourite of the lot. i respect that the majority of fans would select the track i have as number three for the top spot, but this one just does it for me. Duran Duran were the biggest band in the world at the time of this, and showed exactly why they were with this tune. A brilliant reworking of the Bond theme into their own pop art style, A View To A Kill is blessed with lyrics above and beyond the standard fare (“first crystal tears fall as snowflakes on your body”) delivered with a whole hearted vocalist and a dynamic, thrilling performance from the band. Duran Duran reached their heights with this and, for better or worse, this theme set a standard so high that no Bond theme which followed thus far (except, perhaps in time, number five on this list) has come close to.

03 Goldfinger - Shirley Bassey

this is the favouirte Bond theme for the favourite Bond film of most fans of the franchise, and it’s not difficult to understand why. Shirley Bassey delivers the lyrics with all the passion and power of the world of Bond, giving us a song that if you only heard it once you would never, ever forget. If Goldfinger was the film that firmly put Bond on the higher end of cultural significance scale, then Goldfinger the song is the one which made the theme for a new Bond film an important event.

04 You Only Live Twice - Nancy Sinatra

you kind of get the feeling that the film producers would have loved to have landed the king, Frank, to do a Bond film at some point. they would never have got him unless they agreed to let him star in the film as Bond, you would suspect. getting Nancy to do the beautiful, melodic theme for You Only Live Twice was not a bad alternate option, really! this one was considerably more subtle than the themes before and after it, but in no way was this a bad thing. it’s rather unfortunate that the majority of the world today would associate the delightful melody of this one with Robbie Williams since he sampled it for the not bad track Millennium, but maybe that just underlines the quality of the song.

05 Another Way To Die - Jack White feat. Alicia Keys

wow, what a track! the Pierce Brosnan era Bond themes gave one the feeling that the film producers were not interested in the theme for the latest film being a significant event. GoldenEye was at best average, the themes which followed declined until you got to Madonna’s Die Another Day, possibly the worst song in history let alone in Bond films. the comeback to the importance of the theme started with Chris Cornell’s You Know My Name, granted, but this mind blowing track suggests that once again the naming of the artist and the releasing of the theme song will be seen as just as important as the actual next Bond film. Jack White does his astonishing thing to the Bond theme, in essence delivering a White Stripes-esque song that is a homage to all things great and stylish to the character. this is has all the makings of a classic despite the presence of the usually annoying Alicia Keys, time will tell if it stands up with the other greats. for now, partially because of the buzz this track is generating, it’s fair to include it in the top ten. what would you do, drop it for Sheryl Crowe? didn’t think so

06 Live and Let Die - Paul McCartney & Wings

it’s a shame i didn’t have a joint 4th or 5th slot on this list, as this should perhaps be higher. a Beatle, and one with a very healthy 70’s career, doing the Bond theme no less. this shows just how important and what an honour doing the Bond theme once was, and makes me all the more sad that it’s been allowed to fall from grace of late. like all of the above, it stands as a classic track in its own right as well as being a sensational Bond theme. it’s a three minute cut that’s loaded as much with sympathy as it is aggression; it is quintessentially Bond. Heck, even the “reggae” bit doesn’t sound like that much of a mess!

it’s so good that even that egotistical megalomaniac Axl Rose stayed faithful to it when his band (or what was left of it) delivered a not at all bad cover version.

07 The Living Daylights - a-Ha

this was the last attempt by the Bond makers to show they were paying attention to modern culture until the likes of Chris Cornell and Jack White were called in. a-Ha were big in Europe at the time, and i would have imagined this got them some airplay in the States. a great song in a similar vein to A View To A Kill, the only thing that let this one down is that the actual film was mostly incoherent and dull. It doesn’t quite stand on its own as a great song as much as the others do, but it’s still worth the occasional spin every now and then. that’s no bad thing for any 20 year old track now, is it?

08 Nobody Does It Better - Carly Simon

hmn, an annoying inclusion, this one. when you first hear it, the feeling is that it’s rather middle-of-the-road, dangerously bland. however, after you have heard it, the words for it kind of stay with you, don’t they? at least, unlike Carly's other well known song, there's no question of who this song is about, as it's more of a straightforward, worship the man homage to Bond than an actual theme song, but a good one! well, nobody does do it half as good as him, i guess!

09 The Man With The Golden Gun – Lulu

all too often this one gets overlooked, which is a great shame. a manic, wild ride of a song in which the singer, the once upon a time teen sensation Lulu, is totally out of her depth with some sort of quasi-Joplin attempt at singing. now that i think of it, you do get the feeling that maybe this one is the one that the late, lamented Janis should have done. manic and frenzied, it pretty much encapsulates the film’s manic and frenzied plot of Bond vs Anti-Bond. go on, play it in the car, bet you are shouting along to it by the last chorus!

10 Thunderball - Tom Jones

not the greatest track, hence it being down in tenth position, but not at all bad either. Tom Jones was a big star when he got this job (not that he is any less of a star now), but at times it feels like with this one they were trying less to get a Tom Jones classic as a theme, more that they were trying to do a male version of Goldfinger. it hasn’t, to be honest, really withstood the test of time. it’s still a good, solid theme that makes you at least interested in seeing the film, and you would not object to hearing it more than once.

Well, there you go.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

who's watching the tree?

hey everyone

sorry, probably one of those "me, me, me" posts that apparently peeps like i are supposed to do all the time.

as i suspect i alluded to in an earlier post, we have been doing quite a bit of verk in the garden of late. this continued today, and with the subject for this post in mind, Michele decided it was time for me to update here with some pics.

the tree for which someone to watch over is being asked is pictured below!

and why does it need moving? because i, with little or no garden experience and the ability to match, somehow managed to move the tree to where it is from the other side of the garden! i am quite chuffed that it is still standing, but nonetheless appreciate someone keeping a keen eye on it just in case it does fall over or something. well, fall over really. if we assume that "or something" would be it running away, methinks this not a likely scenario. you never know, mind, it has about a metric tonne of compost on it.......

anyway, here's the corner of the garden where it once stood, and a glimpse of the other plants we have been putting there!

sorry, don't think i get the full majesty of it, but there's two lilies there (Michele's favourites) and all sorts of other colourful things. including, might i add, a small rose bush, for which i have hopes. i really miss the rose bushes we had at our former home!

on lilies, however, here's the uberlily i picked up today and planted for Michele.

as James kind of (well, very much) took a broom to the one i planted last weekend, i thought i had better play it safe and get another one in the garden for her to admire!!

this is all a glimpse of three weekends in the row for a garden for me. i must say i am rather enjoying it. why the sudden taste for horticulture? not sure, really. James loves the outdoor life, so i guess it's a consequence of that. it's all possibly because i am getting old, or turning my interests towards those of my father and his father before him. hey hum, no bad thing no matter why i am out there in the compost!

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

Friday, September 19, 2008

of these, hope

2008 has been rather dismal for music if we are honest. and we all do try to be in the business of honesty. the year is pretty much summed up by my comments below in regards of awards being given for "best reunion", i suppose.

it is not, however, all doom and gloom. let us not forget the magnificence of Primal Scream's Beautiful Future album. the new Metallica one, Death Magnetic, is also better than its predecessor and back to the sound that made them big enough to sell many records, but quite enough has been written across the interwebnet about that one already i guess.

it would seem, however, that 2008 has some rather nice aural gestures to give us yet. there are some very tasty releases on the way i am delighted to say!

Oasis return, sounding very much like Oasis. the new single, The Shock Of The Lightning, sees them borrowing from the more guitar heavy era sound of The Beatles once again, but i don't see how this is a bad thing. Oasis are just a decent, solid rock band that want to hit a good groove, play some tunes and make music that millions like. no bad thing there, and all too few musicians these days forget that the whole point of music is to entertain and have some fun.

i wouldn't go so far as to say that Lightning is a mature, refined and sophisticated slice of Oasis. i would however suggest that it is a rather fine rock number, and a promising notification that the imminent album, Dig Out Your Soul will be one of their better efforts. happily, i note that Liam and Noel have dropped any rhyming variant on the word "sunshine" from their lyrics for this track, a significant development which "classic rock" music journalists 20 or 30 years from now will no doubt deliver 5000 word articles on. in the present day, get it on your stereo as soon as you can!

the best thing i have heard of late, and possibly the song that will be declared to be the best of 2008, is easily Another Way To Die by the gifted, talented Jack White. there were many fears in advance that the presence of Alicia Keys and her whiny, nasal moaning singing style would ruin a classic chunk of White's all our guitar sound, but fear not. she behaves herself, and her voice is sufficiently distorted to fit in with the astonishing Jack White sound.

how does Another Way To Die sound? exactly like it should. this is the genius of The White Stripes applying his talents to the once sacred world of The Bond Theme, and the song gives credibility and respect back to the concept of The Bond Theme being a major event. it's a masterpiece that would not only sit comfortably on any album by Jack or The White Stripes; it sits up there with (personal fave) A View To A Kill as one of the greatest Bond themes. let's hope the film is as good as the song. bless you, Jack White, for once again making The Bond Theme relevant and important once again.

two quality songs does not a vintage year make, but at least there's two quality songs that will outlive the year they were recorded.

be excellent to each other, and stop voting in lame competitions.........................

why the 21st Century world of music pretty much sucks

The Spice Girls have beaten Led Zeppelin to an award for the best music reunion of the last 12 months.

The girl group won best live return at the Vodafone Live Music Awards after getting back together for a world tour.

It was judged to have been better than the one-off comeback by rock legends Led Zeppelin, with The Verve and James also nominated.

The nominees were chosen by a panel of judges, with the winners decided by a public vote.

Emma Bunton was the only Spice Girl present, and said she was "a bit shocked" to beat such venerable rock acts as Led Zeppelin.

now then, there's some really dumb developments in modern music (Pop Idols wanders joyfully to mind), and then there is acts of folly that seem hard to beat. the entire idea of "best reunion" as some sort of award is very much in the latter camp. what precedent is there for this? why didn't Kubrick get a "best comeback" Oscar for either Full Metal Jacket or Eyes Wide Shut? will writers who leave a gap of 6 or 7 years between novels be up for a "best return to publishing" award? i am reminded of the radio episode of Knowing Me Knowing You where Alan Partridge references an Oscar for "best use of an animated dinosaur"!

perhaps the only thing more ridiculous than the award existing is the notion that people actually to the time, trouble and imagination to vote for it. the winner, however, suggests an en masse burst of sarcasm, though. i mean, the world had somehow managed to struggle along without the Spice Girls for what, 5 years (at best) until they reunited for a tour that, if i recall, ended after a mere two shows due to in-fighting and arguments about, amongst other things, matching tattoos.

it's not like the other options were any better. Led Zeppelin, and i know this is an unpopular view, were a mildly talented if somewhat limited quasi-blues band that managed to inflate their reputation to be remembered rather than their talent (or lack thereof). exactly how it is they have been suggested as "best reunion" contenders is a mystery since they never split up in an official sense. the current ranting and raving about Led Zep is less to do with a genuine affection, more to do with the fact that, for one, they are still (mostly) alive, and secondly because the proper legends (Stones, Who, Beatles) have been exhausted in the nostalgia stakes for the time being. and what reunion, if anyone could call it such? a one off gig for a "charity" that somehow managed to raise millions for several parties, not all of them charitable?

as for James, they were ace in their day, but it's been more of a rapid decline since their "Best Of" album in the late 90's and it hasn't got better since they "reunified". a sad thing to say of them as their light shone rather bright, but boy did it burn out quite some time ago.

The Verve? do me a favour! tiresome one-hit wonders with the magnificent Bittersweet Symphony, conned music journos into believing they were "The Smiths of the 90s" (they were not), disappeared once music buyers clocked that it wasn't ever going to be as good as that one hit record, came back and it still isn't any better. Richard Ashcroft, the self-styled "voice of a generation", is about as much of Morrissey as is he a monkey. one can only hope that the next batch of "artistic differences", which can only be as far off as the meeting to discuss why their "comeback" album has been a qualified failure, sees them disappear forever this time.

we have awards like this because we live in a world where 4th runners up in a second rate "talent" show are guaranteed record contracts, contracts that they tend to squander on ill-advised cover versions before vanishing into obscurity after (surprise surprise) failing to sell too many copies of their own composed, produced and performed efforts. stupid is not a word to be used lightly, but this is a stupid idea for a stupid award with four stupid nominations.

as i am sure you can guess, i cannot quite fathom why a large number of people would deploy all our fantastic new technology (cell phones, the internet) to make it clear that they were sad to see the Spice Girls go, but were equally thrilled to see them make a brief return. the way things are going, some sort of revival or critical reappraisal of Spanga, Bros and/or Taylor Dane can be but merely months away.

be excellent to each other, and try to pay attention to proper music....................

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Another Way To Die

wow, a James Bond theme that we can almost get excited about! i have not heard Another Way To Die as of yet, but my copy is on order from those ace guys at recordstore. needless to say, my advice to you is to go and order a copy for yourself.

why can we all of a sudden get interested in a Bond theme again? well, Jack White is involved, which can only be a good thing. i mean, if the rumours of Duran Duran coming back and doing the theme turned to truth that would have been class, but then again there's no way that they could have topped A View To A Kill, the greatest Bond theme of all time. after several years of mediocre and dull themes (although the last one, You Know My Name, was a step in the right direction), it's pretty safe to bet on White delivering an ace tune.

there's also the fact that this track is a vinyl only release. that's right, no CD, no download, nowt. just pure, quality vinyl, the way music was intended to be heard.

the only downside would appear to be the appearance of Alicia Keys on the record. i am no fan of her music & style, and nor are many others that i know. in an ideal world, it would have been a Bond theme done by just The White Stripes, but you never know, she might do OK on this under Jack's guidance.

despite the rather odd name for it, this Quantum Of Solace is looking like a pretty decent film. the trailer doing the rounds certainly suggests that it is going to be good viewing, at least!!

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

Thursday, September 11, 2008

all things Terminator.....

so, is Arnold going to be in Terminator Salvation? well, this picture would say yes, maybe.....

of course, a lot of people out there are saying this pic is a few years old, from when Bale was making Batman Begins. doubt it - Bale in this pic doesn't look like Batman / Bruce Wayne in that film (hairstyle, dears), and he's too well built for the other film he made at the time, The Machinist. also, apparently this video shows that this is current. also, doesn't the lass in blue jeans look just a bit like it might just be Cameron out of Terminator : The Sarah Connor Chronicles? haven't watched the vid, so no idea if you see her face.

on the subject of Terminator : The Sarah Connor Chronicles, i am delighted to see that it soon returns for a second series, with the first episode getting some pretty good reviews from those who have (ahem) seen it in advance. they have come up with some class posters for it at least!

the pic above is my favourite, the one below included mostly to see if you agree with me about the Arnie picture possibly featuring Cameron!

the future is looking good for us Terminator fans i guess!!!

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

ET 'better than my Gandhi film'

hey everyone

this is a great article from the BBC about one of the greatest films of all time.

Gandhi was an astonishing film, make no mistake. the point is, and i believe the one made here, that ET never really received the critical acclaim that it should have. i have been saying this for a dozen or so years!!

Steven Spielberg's film ET: The Extra-Terrestrial was a better film than Gandhi and should have won more Oscars, its director Richard Attenborough says.

His biopic about Indian independence leader Mahatma Gandhi won eight awards, including best director and picture, at 1983's Oscars compared with ET's four.

Lord Attenborough told BBC Radio Five Live Gandhi was a wonderful story "because it's about a wonderful man".

ET was "extraordinary" as it "depended on the concept of cinema," he added.

In an interview with presenter Simon Mayo, Lord Attenborough said ET was "an infinitely more creative and fundamental piece of cinema" than Gandhi.

He added: "[Business partner] Diana and I went to see ET in Los Angeles shortly before all the awards and we used language, when we came out, to the extent of saying 'we have no chance - ET should and will walk away with it'."

He added: "Without the initial premise of Mahatma Gandhi, the film would be nothing. Therefore it's a narrative film but it's a piece of narration rather than a piece of cinema, as such.

"ET depended absolutely on the concept of cinema and I think that Steven Spielberg, who I'm very fond of, is a genius.

"I think ET is a quite extraordinary piece of cinema."

Lord Attenborough said the standing ovation he received at the 1983 Academy Awards was a career highlight.

"It was when they stood up - the entire huge auditorium stood up at the end of the show - and the fact that I'd got best film and so on and I didn't weep…

"I had difficulty speaking in that I was, what is known as, choked up a bit."

The Oscar wins for Gandhi included best actor for Sir Ben Kingsley and best screenplay for writer John Briley.

ET's four awards, meanwhile, were in less high-profile categories including best sound and best visual effects.

ET - starring Henry Thomas as Elliott alongside a young Drew Barrymore - tells the endearing story of a cute alien who befriends an American boy.

if for some reason you have not seen one or either of these films, you have missed out - off you go!!

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

Junior scientists sacked for using Large Hadron Collider to play conkers

Two junior particle physicists were dismissed today after using the Large Hadron Collider to smash conkers into each other at near-light speed. Thousands of scientists had arrived in Cern for the big switch on of the world’s largest particle accelerator, only to find that the interns had ruined the equipment by leaving the debris of horse chestnuts scattered everywhere.

One of the disgraced pair told a friend ‘We thought there would be a clear winner, with one conker smashed and the other carrying on going round and round the accelerator. However, all that happened was that they both shattered into a big conkery mess. We spent a few minutes trying to clean the lumps off the detector. But it’s quite difficult to clean a Large Hardon Collider in the dark.’ The young researchers’ case was not helped by them repeatedly calling the billion dollar construction ‘the Hard-on’ collider, and then giggling at the innuendo.

However the research notes of the young scientists showed that they had at least taken some trouble to prepare properly for their experiment, soaking the conkers in vinegar and baking them in the oven. ‘The conkers selected weren’t just ordinary ‘one-ers’ but had beaten many other conkers on the way to this ultimate encounter. Simon claimed his conker was actually a ‘sixty-two-er’’. Previous experiments had included putting conkers in the middle of the road and seeing whose got run over first.

With the world’s press gathered in Cern, the leader’s of the ground-breaking research project were forced to explain that there would be no major scientific breakthrough today. ‘We had hoped with the near-light speed collision of particles we might have found a Higgs-boson, creating the material that holds the universe together’ he said. Journalists stared blankly before asking if they could see some more conkers smashing into each other.

Sunday, September 07, 2008

for those of you who are about to rock.......

hey there

well, as mentioned in my earlier post, James went to visit Grandma and Grandad over the weekend. he did a little bit of gardening, but it sounds like he mostly left it to Grandad. i think James is getting a bit too wise for Grandad and has clocked that it is always him that gets to push the barrow along!

oh well, they did get some seeds planted at least!

i would imagine, however, that with James' growing love of music, the lure of Grandad's array of musical instruments was too much to pass up on in favour of going out and planting stuff. it looks like James is starting to work on an unusual guitar style!

nice one James, i am sure that you got it to make a rather class sound! wait until Grandad unleashes the banjo on you, you will not believe your ears!!

one of James' favourite songs at the moment is Queen's iconic We Will Rock You. we are not at all sure where he picked up on the song from. we are pretty sure we never played it for him, and he seems to know most of the words quite well. hmn, methinks that the song might be part of the school concert this year.....

i would imagine that James was playing We Will Rock You in this picture, it would certainly seem that he was singing/shouting the song!

now James, if you are reading this, Mummy & Daddy love you a very great deal indeed. we are sure you will understand, however, that rather loud drum kits are just for playing at Grandma and Grandad's house, which is what makes it so special. that's why we will not be having one in our house!!!

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

the constant gardener

hey everyone

well, usually, James gets his gardening activities all done at Grandma and Grandad's house. this he sort of did this weekend too, as he went to visit Grandma and Grandad. i believe James inspected Grandad's new array of plants, but it would seem that he was not as active as usual in digging things up and planting things down.

that said, in a rare move, he was gardening with Daddy today! it's a rare find to discover me in the garden, but we had some weeds growing that even i could no longer ignore, and those nice chaps at verk gave us some sort of plant, tree or bush seeds to plant as part of the celebrations of all things spring. well, it beats sitting around reading Chaucer to us all in the minds of some.

the more observant will notice that my beard has fallen off between Friday and Sunday. yes, Grant, went to Mo's, and they pass on their best wishes!

as far as the weeding (or de-weeding?) of the garden went, it sort of went ok. many of them had put some firm foundational roots in our garden, and were none too happy about me coming along to try and dig them out. on top of that, our one cat, Caremon, was rather displeased as she has been using the weed crop as a nice place to sleep. James was keen to help, however, and was delighted to throw bucket after Batman bucket of water onto the soil as Daddy dug away. i just about got the lot of them out, then the trowel thingie broke. oh dear, will have to send Grandad off to get me the right gardening tools! actually, it might be wise just to leave it all to Grandad!

in regards of planting the seeds from verk, James was rather excited as we told him it would be like Eva's plant in Wall-E. to that effect, James was rather delicate and careful with putting the seeds in!!

the phrase "just a little bit of water at first", alas, did not hold the kind of resonance with James as i had hoped, and thus the table got a perhaps much-needed watering at the same time as what is now called the Eva seedling!!!

never mind, after doing the seedling James was rather happy to sit down with a nice cup of strawberry pop and reflect on a job well done!!

digging weeds out of the garden, planting seeds and engaging in a rather futile attempt to encourage James to water the grass, plants and trees instead of the tiles under a forbidding, blazing sun was not quite how i intended to spend a lazy sunday afternoon, but my word it was fun regardless!! next sunday, however, might find me sat with a cup of tea and a dvd; if James wishes to perform his art of gardening, Mummy can jolly well go and do it!!

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

Lyla and KFC

it gives me great delight to advise that Lyla has, it would seem, fallen in love with the ways of the finest foods known to man; the splendid menu that is offered by The Colonel at his many, many KFC outlets. what a pity that KFC do not do a breakfast menu (outside of in China for the benefit of THE KING), but i am sure like the rest of us she appreciates what she can get!

just how good is KFC? well, it is the choice of food of THE KING, for a start, and a classy Chicky Meal is one of the few things in this world that James will stop and eat because he wants to, rather than having to!

Lyla, it would seem, has taken quite a shine to The Colonel's fine ice creams!

nice one Lyla! i am not really that fond of ice cream, but if were presented with a dairy concoction that was provided by The Colonel, i too would soon eat it in thanks for the fine foods he gives us all.

i did once unwisely allow James to eat an ice cream in the car. he ended up looking much like Lyla at the end of it, as did the car windows, the car seat and everywhere around him. there is a happy end to the story, mind - we were in Mummy's car at the time!!!

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

Friday, September 05, 2008

about my chums

hi there

well, as intimated in a previous post, here are some of the people i am lucky enough to spend my days at verk with. they are a terrific bunch indeed, making the bad days get resolved and the good days seem all the better!

first up, here's a whole bunch of us. with your humble narrator is Jayson, the delectable Sandra in the background, Zama proudly showing off his hat and glasses, and oh look there's Kelvin lurking around.

i must say you are rather lucky - to have two pictures of Kelvin and him retaining his pants in a traditional state (ie zipped up and on properly) is a rather rare thing!

here's another of Zama, so you can have a good gander at how much better he looks in the hat and glasses than i do!

Zama is a rather interesting chap. as i recall, my first conversation of consequence with the lad occurred in the gentleman's facility in our verk building. it was a rather profound chat and we shall leave it at that, quite frankly.

speaking of interesting chaps, my good friend Prenasen is certainly that; a gent with many strings to his bow. sadly, we said goodbye to him today, as he heads off to pastures new with a rather interesting and great career opportunity lying away from us.

he is a great lad, and i will be staying in touch with him wherever he ends up!

ah, now what would a Spring Day celebration be without an image of Sinbad?

like Ronel, Sinbad is a manager at verk, and will thus be first up against the wall and shot when the revolution comes. actually, even if he wasn't a manager this would probably be the fate which befell him, friendship regardless.

and here's Iggy. a wonderful friend, who took me in on my first day and taught me all that i know. Spiros then showed me how to shortcut all that, of course. she also sat at the main table with Michele & I when we got married; a rather clever move as if anything ever goes wrong i can just blame her!

yes, Iggy is a manager too (sorry, i have a complete lack of career ambition in that regard), so will in all likelihood end up against the wall when the revolution comes, etc, etc. in the mean time, however, she does command a reasonable, if not notable, amount of respect, and we try to show that. sometimes we show that by putting hundreds of sugar packets and tea bags in her handbag in the hope that security will stop and question her as she tries to leave the building, granted, but there are other ways we do. like for instance this rather impressive ceremonial dance that Zama and your humble narrator created for Iggy today....

look at the unbridled joy on her face!!

that's probably it for Spring Day pictures, unless anyone at verk that i took a pic of gets upset about not being here and i shall gladly upload them!! those who are uploaded here and don't want to be, alas, will not be removed. well, not until i receive a cease and desist letter from a lawyer or something.

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