Wednesday, April 29, 2009

not the kind to say i told you so, but.....

hey everyone

last January i wrote an article on 15 films that you would want a sequel to. on that list was the Oliver Stone masterpiece Wall Street.

well, wouldn't you know, it seems that someone with power and influence in the world of cinema had the same good idea as me, since this article seems to confirm that a sequel is indeed on the way!

i somehow doubt my article had anything to do with this, but all the same i am glad to see that my thinking isn't in the minority!

it's great to see that Oliver Stone and Michael Douglas are in on the project, but equally disappointing that it appears Charlie & Martin Sheen have opted out. ho hum, can't have everything!!!

Greed is good, greed is right..................

When In Doubt, Fire Wildly Into The Woods

hey there

click on these words to see an excellent article on the film Predator!!!

it's one of the funniest yet most honest i have read for a while! the 8 Life Lessons one can learn from the film Predator are as valuable as they are entertaining!

here's a little taster :

When In Doubt, Fire Wildly Into The Woods

When we learn it: After his first encounter with the Predator who has just killed his squad-mate, Mac picks up old painless and peppers the nearby shrubbery with bullets. The rest of the team soon joins in.

Why it's important: It takes a whole hell of a lot of bullets, but one finally catches the Predator, spilling some of his blood and providing an important clue. It's not the most efficient model for getting things done, but it's a lot better than sitting back and doing nothing.

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

Monday, April 27, 2009

feeding birds

hey everyone

well, down here April is a bonanza of public holidays. there's only 17 working days in the whole month, which is bad and good. bad because, in my grown up voice, verk is somewhat slow, and i am not sure that any economy can absorb 4 or 5 non-working days in one month. good, however, as it allows everyone to catch their breath, lets one catch up on some film watching (see the two reviews posted in one day), and of course lets James run wild, in particular when he visits Grandma and Grandad!

we went over to see Grandma and Grandad on Sunday. i went off and tried to do some gift and card shopping (you don't want to know how many wonderful events we celebrate in May), Michele put her feet up, Grandma got the camera ready and James and Grandad busied themselves with the important task of making sure that there was plenty of food for the birds which frequent the garden.

as you can see in the next one, James almost reaches the top of the bird table, and he more or less gets all of the seed onto it!

James, i am happy (and indeed proud) to report, loves all animals, and enjoys nothing more than trying to look after them, feed them and play with them. this doesn't, oddly, extend to the insect royalty of ants - he gets really upset when he sees them in the garden. it does, however, extend to a wish to feed even those who take pictures of him feeding the birdies, as the next picture shows!

if you're in our part of the world, i trust that you've also made the most of all the breaks! if you are in a part of the world that would rather verk than celebrate life, well, hope the working days have not been too bad!!!!

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

The Stone Roses

back in June 1987 the 20th anniversary of The Beatles' Sgt Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band. was rather big news. it made the papers, the television news (back when there was only a 30 minute bulletin, rather than today's 24 hour channels that are always desperate to full the air) and even had a retrospective documentary on the uber-arty The South Bank Show, hosted by renowned cultural snob Melvyn Bragg.

it made the news partly because editors no doubt felt there was some good journalistic copy in celebrating the 20th anniversary of an album which began with the words "it was twenty years ago today", partly because The Beatles' albums had all just been made available on this new compact disc format, but mostly because it was a great album and seen by many as a landmark or breakthrough in the development and direction of pop music.

the album which celebrates twenty years of being with us around about now (accurate timing wasn't really an issue for this band) is unequivocally and absolutely no different at all.

The Stone Roses was, is and always shall be one of the most audacious, awe inspiring and dazzling works of art that human ears have ever been privileged to hear. without peer in its time, and very few albums have come close to the majestic beauty of it since. by fate, quirk, grand design or accident, four lads from Manchester created a sound that shall forever reverberate though the world, the known universe and all that stretches beyond.

as there are so many biographies, histories and stories of the band across the whole of the interwebnetthingie, i'm not going to trawl through their history here. other than giving a strong recommendation to the fine book The Stone Roses by John Robb, this update is purely a look (listen, if you will) to this fine album.

here it is then, track by track......

I Wanna Be Adored
i don't need to sell my soul; he's already in me

a slow, sparing build up to a monumental sound, occasionally littered with sparse lyrics about wishing to be idolized and knowing that you're going to be. this would be considered as arrogance from a band who were already worshiped by the masses, never mind some new indie band on the first track of their debut. Ian Brown sounds like a man who fully believes that he is the centre of the known world, Mani, John and Reni create a sound the likes of which you imagine primitive man once heard, didn't quite understand or comprehend but went out and built Stonehenge and the Pyramids as a tribute to it all the same.

She Bangs The Drums
Kiss me where the sun don't shine, The past was yours but the future's mine, You're all out of time

a statement of intent as much as a roving, bass-driven gem of a pop tune, She Bangs The Drums is the band delivering on the arrogance of the opening track. at times a simple love song, at times a metaphorical reference to the joy of music and drug use, mostly it's a celebration of the band knowing that theirs is the sound to command. one generation under the same groove.

Now you're at the wheel, Tell me how, how does it feel? So good to have equalised, To lift up the lids of your eyes

astonishing. a simplistic yet devastating rhythm compliments this apparent homage to equality, liberty and celebration of the feminine. i have yet to meet the lady who, no matter how much she proclaims to hate the band, doesn't love this track. a song to be played loud in the car, with the windows all down. arrogant and cocky the band may very well have been, but this arrogance was one they wished to spread an ideal of universal love and harmony across their domain with. they succeeded very well indeed with this track.

Don't Stop
What's the matter for everyone i feel, Pain, blues singer

this track is Waterfall played backwards. and i do mean played, as in they performed it this way rather than just feeding the tape in backwards. the lyrics, presumably, arose from what they heard playing the tape backwards. a rather strange, curious free-flowing psychedelic tune that just lets you drift away into a very fine state of mind as you hear it. you didn't want the vibe and momentum of Waterfall to stop, neither did the band; here you go.

Bye Bye Badman
Here he come, Got no question got no love, I'm throwing stones at you man, I want you black and blue and I'm gonna make you bleed, Gonna bring you down to your knees, Bye bye badman, Bye bye

ah yes, the anarchic, smash-the-state side of The Stone Roses. ostensibly inspired by the French Student Uprisings (hence the lemon motif, there's some research for you), here's the band dismissing oppressive authoritarian control with a simplistic, innocent and child-like "bye bye". and all with a great looping guitar and fantastic beat. which leads nicely into the next track.

Elizabeth My Dear
Tear me apart and boil my bones, I'll not rest till she's lost her throne

less than a minute on the record, this acoustic number is the band making it loud and clear, in softly spoken words, that The Royal Family's days are numbered. with four lines and an acoustic guitar they whip up the enthusiasm for an end to the status quo that Republican politicians can only dream of. if the sentiment of the song upset anyone, that's probably why they did it.

(Song For My) Sugar Spun Sister
It takes all these things and all that time, Till my sugar spun sister's happy, With this love of mine

it's not all pro-feminine and equality for The Stone Roses, then, as this classic sounding tune seems directed at either unrequited or demanding love from another. had the band not been destined for greatness, the line "every member of parliament trips on glue" would have been changed to something less demanding, this would have been released as a throwaway summer hit and the band soon discarded as one hit wonders. they were, however, destined for greatness, and so the song stands as it is as an anthem for the frustrations of love.

Made Of Stone
Sometimes i fantasise, When the streets are cold and lonely, And the cars they burn below me

lyrically, the song seems to be about the sacrificial, ritualistic burning of someone whom The Stone Roses clearly feel the world would be a good deal better off without. for many, Made Of Stone is the standout track from the band, it certainly established them as a band to pay attention to. a classic rock-pop number delivered with apparent ease, there's so much been said in twenty years about this song that the only thing i can say is go and play it.

Shoot You Down
When the day is done, And it all works out, I'd love to do it and you know you've always had it coming

this song completes a rather dark trilogy on the album. after the unrequited love of Sister and damnation of it on Stone, here we are in a reflective mood, realizing that the narrator is at fault, but will shoot down those in the way all the same. a somber, jazz-blues mood persuades through the musicians on this one, giving further credence to any celebration of their vast talents and delivering one hell of a song too.

This Is The One
I'd like to leave the country, For a month of sundays, Burn the town where i was born

the sound of the previous track carries on to this one, building up to some clear, perhaps special resolution. it's something of a dark twin of Waterfall, lyrically seeking escape and equality, only this time wiping the slate clean and starting again afresh. a certain large team based in Manchester and supported by the band plays this every home game before kick-off, it's not so much for the song itself as because it indeed really does serve as a prologue to something very, very special.

I Am The Resurrection
Don't waste your words i don't need anything from you, I don't care where you've been or what you plan to do, I am the resurrection and i am the light, I couldn't ever bring myself to hate you as i'd like

wow. as if the arrogance of the opening track wasn't quite as in your face as it could have been, acting as a closing chapter is the ultimate self-assured, dismissive of all who don't believe in the band, statement of intent song that you could deliver. it also happens to be one of the greatest songs of all time, if not the greatest rock song. what's the best thing you can do with a vocalist, one guitar, one set of drums and one bass? i defy you to find anything better.

the song is epic in its ambitions and scales these ambitions with ease. two minutes of venom and bile spill forth, followed by the quoted line which has to be the greatest triumph speech ever (i don't care that you hate me, i will not be you), followed by the most astonishing, whimsical instrumental coda break you have ever heard in your life. the finale of I Am The Resurrection is the sound of an coronation of a new emperor; it's the noise of victory marching over your ears. whatever it was that one was inspired to build from the sound emanating from the opening track, this closing track is the delivery of reward.

so there you have it. eleven tracks, one of which is another played backwards, and one being a short acoustic break. very few bands had released anything as ambitious or audacious before this; so very few have even tried after it.

how do you follow that album up? well, somehow, they did, releasing a single that would define the shape and sound of music for the next few years.

Fools Gold was a close to ten minute epic homage to the fledgling "e" generation, and very much the sound of one generation under the same groove. delivering this classic on the back of their phenomenal debut album gave rise to the view that The Stone Roses would reign for a very long time indeed........

....except of course, they didn't. lengthy courtroom battles, (ahem) "disagreements" with a succession of record producers, sheer laziness and a calling to different musical directions within the band led to a five or so year absence, the eventual delivery of the (at best) follow up album Second Coming, and a very sad, tragi-comical dissolving of the band.

but forget about how it ended. go back to the start. either get out your copy of The Stone Roses, go and buy a copy or, if you will, wait for the 3xlp, 3xcd, 1xusb, 1xdvd deluxe box set to be released in August and just listen to what a masterpiece sounds like.

who is and who isn't.................

Crank 2 - the most insane film ever made.

ok, let me try and review this outright masterpiece of entertainment!

first up, it would be appropriate to state *** SPOILERS AHEAD *** here. that said, when they have gone and made a film about a character last seen falling some distance from a helicopter, bouncing off a car and hitting the ground, it's difficult to know exactly what a spoiler would be. i will try and refrain from sharing some of the "surprises" in the film, in particular the cameo appearances (although the imdb page list them so be careful), but there's not much in the way of margin for surprise when the protagonist of the piece is impossibly indestructible.

the film starts with Chelios (the magnificent Jason Statham) being scooped up from the aforementioned helicopter "incident" and being bundled into a mysterious black van. as it turns out, for no given but clearly obvious reasons, someone very much wishes to get their hands on his apparently invincible heart.

it's not so much the loss of his heart that spring Chelios into action, but the next organ that they wish to take. those of you have seen the infamous "red band" trailer for the film know exactly what they wish to cut out (off) him next, and so he goes on the predictable but rather enjoyable rampage to claim his heart back.

the trick this time being that he has an artificial heart in him, and instead of requiring adrenalin to keep it going, this time he needs regular jolts of electricity to make sure it keeps beating.

well, beating or whatever it is that an artificial heart does. cue, then, many inventive scenes of Chelios needing to get electrocuted. not that, of course, it's all just him shoving electric cables into his mouth or on his body.....

....for those of you worried about there being no repeat of the magnificent "public display of affection" adrenalin charging scene from the first film, fear not at all. the wonderful Amy Smart returns as Eve, and sure enough she is conveniently on hand for another bout of "public display of affection", this time to create static electricity rather than the urgent dose of adrenalin. in a film full of laughs, this is perhaps the funniest scene, and it is certainly more public and more exotic than the similar part in Crank. oh yeah, this scene makes the film worth watching on its own!

so then, another 80 minutes of Jason Statham on a mission to absolutely knack everyone that crosses his path as he attempts to seek reunification with his heart, all filmed on a "modestly budgeted" digital camera and edited by someone who felt that the 'blipverts' out of Max Headroom was the only way to go. is it, as if my review so far hasn't hinted at, worthwhile?

oh, hell yes! if something like the mental Shoot Em Up raised the bar for all out action entertainment, this one smashes the bar into very small pieces, sticks it back together and hits a large number of people with it. Jason Statham famously turned down the chance to be in RockNRolla to appear in this and Transporter 3, and wisely so. Statham is not a bad actor, but he's clearly very comfortable with the idea of being a much worshiped and appreciated "cult actor", clearly having as much fun making this kind of film as us audiences have watching it. neither Statham or anyone else involved with the film is under any pretense of any great or noble art being on display here; the film is so much the better for it as they can just get on with the business of entertainment.

the only possible film that could be made which would be more insane entertainment than this is Crank 3. let us all hope that they are working on that film right now!!!

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


and so, the claims are, Guy Richie "returns to form" with his latest film, RockNRolla. well, yes, kind of, if you define "return to form" as being a reworking of the formula which brought him success with his first two films; Lock, Stock & Two Smoking Barrels and Snatch.

this isn't necessarily a criticism, by the way. "sticking to a formula" can be a bad thing if one thinks of the rather depressing sequence of Police Academy films, likewise it can be a rather good thing if one thinks of it in regards of Sergio Leone's westerns, or even Martin Scorsese's mob / mafia films. in regards of the latter, don't balk - how many times have you thought of a scene you think you saw in GoodFellas that was actually in Casino, or vice-versa?

so where does Guy Richie fall on this scale? well, he's nowhere near as bad as the Police Academy films, but he's not quite as close to Leone or Scorsese as he might like to think.

the plot for RockNRolla is as contrived and convoluted as the first two films from Richie - two young players (Gerard Butler and Idris Elba) want to make a name and some money for themselves, and so have to do business with an established (for want of a better term) "crimelord", here played by Tom Wilkinson. Wilkinson takes them for a ride, and has a bigger business deal on the go (with some curious Russians, no less), a deal that Butler's character inadvertently ends up involved with.

not much different, then, from the shotguns in Lock, Stock or the diamond in Snatch. oh, there is an actual physical object at the core of RockNRolla too, but i will refrain from mentioning it so as to avoid spoilers.

an interesting "twist" is the introduction of a spanner in the works in the form of Johnny Quid (Toby Kebbell), an interesting character that serves as part narrator, part apparent and unrelated-to-plot slur on rock n roll stars. now i think this film was written and made before the director divorced his rather infamous wife, so i doubt this is a direct reference to her. although you never know, it could well be a contributing factor to the split.

another interesting move was the introduction of a (substantial) female character, and something akin to a love interest in the form of Thandie Newton, playing the accountant for the dodgy Russian. considering the lack of females in Lock, Stock and Snatch other than being as characters to deal cards or die, as well as the outright mess he made of a prominent female lead in Swept Away, a rather brave move for Guy Richie, and one that works. Thandie Newton gets a substantial part of the better dialogue to work with, and gives a credible acting performance with it. if nothing else, then, Richie has shown that he has avoided the Quentin Tarantino trap of not being able to write and define a female part at all. and before you start screaming Kill Bill, how was The Bride anything but a male character played by a woman?

The biggest problem I had with the film was Tom Wilkinson playing the old, established figure of Lenny Cole. Wilkinson is not a bad actor at all, but when you see him in the film, it only takes a few lines to clock that he was far from being first choice for the role. it's clear (and i have not seen any interviews of comments to this effect) that Guy Richie's actor in mind when writing this was Sir Michael Caine, followed with a second choice of Bob Hoskins. if either were ever approached and knocked it back i don't know, but i do know that watching it you can just tell that Wilkinson is doing the best he can with a part that clearly wasn't written for him.

that disappointment aside, there's nothing but top notch performances on display. Guy Butler as one-two is excellent, as are the rest of his "wild bunch" and indeed the actor that turns out to be "the wild bunch" (you'll understand when you see the film). great too is Mark Strong as Lenny Cole's henchman Archy, as well as the previously mentioned Thandie Newton.

otherwise, the standard for Guy Richie is in presence - some frenetic and wild editing, and a brain smashing soundtrack.

so, is RockNRolla worthwhile? yes, pretty much so. there's none of the fresh, new excitement of Lock, Stock and there's not the laughs and thrills of what is increasingly looking like Richie's masterpiece, Snatch. there is enough to keep you entertained for the 100 or so minutes of the film, although when you reach the end of it you might be surprised to find that the ending is the ending.

and so, for Mr Richie, it's onwards to Sherlock Holmes. this one looks very, very promising on the basis that Robert Downey jnr is in it, but also looks very, very dodgy by virtue of the fact that the horrid, talent free annoyance that Jude Law is appears in it too. good luck with that...

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

Saturday, April 25, 2009

depeche mode - sounds of the universe

"only teenage girls and, really, really honest people go out and pay for music anymore.".

- Bono out of U2, Rolling Stone interview 2009.

it's rather odd that Bono, who loves shooting his mouth off about everything in the guise of some sort of expert, can't quite get a statement right in regards of the art that has made him his fortunes. i don't know too much about the teenage girls side of things, but either there are considerably more "really, really" honest people in the world than his depressing opinion suggests, or he is just flat wrong.

the phenomenon, if you will, of downloading music is indeed real, with tunes being downloaded legally and not quite so legally. to suggest, however, that not many want to go and buy the music and actually own something other than a data file is ridiculous. a good many of us are, as we have always been, happy to go out and purchase music that we like. nothing beats owning a quality record, and a download is not even better than the real thing, Mr Bono.

sure, if you are U2, and release a single that just features two songs that will feature as is on the album, you can't really expect people to rush out and buy it. likewise, there is a good deal of rubbish, and here i think of horrid, awful sounding "internet phenomenon" the Arctic Monkeys, as well as all the lazy, sampled/remixed tracks that seem to get issued by people with nothing better to do, that just isn't worth buying as it's either talent free or made on the cheap anyway. and if those self-absorbed, vastly inflated opinion of themselves wielding clowns Radiohead wish to put their album on the internet and say "you don't have to pay for this if you don't want to", what would one expect to happen?

musicians who are not quite so pompous and dismissive as U2 (as good as the recent album from them is) know this, and put as much effort into how their records are made and released now as they did before anyone thought to shove cables into computers and share music. recent singles from Oasis and Morrissey have come with lavish packaging, extra tracks and what have you, making them ace to buy. some musicians still care about a quality product being delivered to their fans, likewise their fans appreciate it enough to go out and buy it.

which brings us to the return of Depeche Mode. they have released not only an excellent song in the form of the single Wrong, but have also released it in a very desirable set that made someone like me, a casual fan of the band, very much wish to buy it, which is what i did.

if you haven't heard Wrong yet, well, switch on the radio or, even better, purchase it from your favourite store or the link above. the band, yet again it has to be said, retains their distinct sound yet deliver a fresh, new tune that's rather difficult not to turn up that bit louder on the stereo.

as well as being a great song, the album of course gets one interested and, if you will excited, about what else is to follow. and, sure enough, the album does not disappoint.

sounds of the universe is an actual, proper album. it's not a collection of songs put together to fill up a compact disc or to be just listed on some music download site. it's a record that you want to play from start to finish, with the tracks selected and put in this order with some care and consideration by the band. this is a compliment these days, once upon a time this was how all music was made and released.

how does it sound? well, "standard Depeche Mode" really, even though that's a touch lazy of me. the inherent sound and direction of the bands' music prevails here, but as ever they find a new angle or edge in what they deliver this time. the only real oddity is perhaps the title - it's a collection of introspective, soul searching songs rather than some reach for universal ideals as the name suggests. and this isn't a bad thing.

beyond the single Wrong, there's some amazing music on here. a particular standout is In Sympathy, a track which reminds one of the best the band has done, and as consequence will be ripe remix material should they (wisely) put this one out as a single in the near future. Hole To Feed is an elegant mix of a thumping funky beat and Dave Gahan reaching for the all out rock voice last heard on I Feel You. Martin Gore's obligatory go at lead vocals on this one is a great song called Jezebel; a restrained electro-jazz number which tips the hat to two bands who themselves owe rather a lot to Depeche Mode, Massive Attack and Portishead. the same could be said for Spacewalker, a beautiful instrumental piece of a sound that, now that i think of it, gives some credit to the lofty ambitions of the album's title.

if the album comes anywhere close to not being perfect, it would be the track Peace. now, unless the song is by John Lennon, any and all songs with the word "peace" in the title should be approached with caution. whereas this one isn't bad musically (the ace bass intro is quality), the lyrics, although for the most part as introverted and personal as the majority of the album, often sound a bit like that which Bono would jot down after a meeting with the Pope, the Dali Lama, Steven Jobs, Bill Gates and Dick Cheney. except that, going on the sound of his bands' last album, Bono couldn't write a sing this good right now.

so then, if you haven't worked it out, sounds of the universe is an album well worth your time. give the single Wrong a listen - if you can get into the groove of that, then do not hesitate in purchasing the whole album.

now if only more bands (like, for instance, U2) put this kind of effort in.

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

dressing up in New Zealand

hey everyone

well, it seems that Katie and Daniel have been busy in the wardrobe! Katie loves nothing more than dressing up like a little princess (well, she is a little princess after all), and who would stop Daniel from finding out what all the fuss was about?

it looks like they are having an ace time playing with it too - look, here they are ready to hit downtown on their wheels to show off the new look!

and, if i am not mistaken, they have decided that the clothes are most suitable for a quick go at doing The Time Warp!!

nice one! it looks like these two are having just as much fun as Grandad is sleeping on the couch from a post or two ago!

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

Nurse Katie

hey everyone

well, it would seem that Katie has adopted a taste for a medicinal lifestyle! here she is showing off her ace nurse uniform!

it's no bad thing at all that she is bringing her skills to New Zealand. Q disease, my research has led me to believe, does not exist in New Zealand and thus does not affect their sheep population at all. it is probably very wise, then, that Katie gives her daddy Grant an inoculation for this so he doesn't spread it about when he goes for a "walk" to see the sheep!

whoops! oh dear, it looks like Katie has given daddy a little bit too much inoculation, leaving him fast asleep on the couch.

oh well, i dare say there will be one or two delighted shepherds, as well as several disappointed sheep!

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

Saturday afternoon

hey everyone

here's a great shot of Dad and Marmite getting ready to watch tv on a Saturday afternoon!

now, in fairness, Dad's been putting a new filter in the pond for most of the morning, as well as some work in the garden, so he deserves some rest! Marmite will have had a busy day running around after him, too!

although, it has to be said, for the first few months that we were together this was the view Michele had of my Dad when we went to visit. after the first 4 or 5 times of seeing him laid on the couch she did wonder if he was actually disabled, but was too shy to ask!!

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

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

our friend Fred fishes his whopper out and waves it about in France.....

hey everyone

well, you may very well remember our good friend Fred appearing on this site a little while ago. yes, that's right, he was the gent who was on holiday here when Johannesburg Water decided to just have water outside of houses instead of letting it flow through the pipes to the taps within the house, and thus had a shower in the street.

when Fred is not visiting us, he has many, many fine interests that keep him occupied. one of them would be the noble art of fishing. thanks to the glory of the interwebnet thingie, i am delighted to be able to show off some of his fine catches here!

these pics are from an expedition to France. i would suggest, then, that they have some rather large fish in the waters of France!

whilst we all love and admire Fred and all that he has done, this next picture is a touch on the sinister looking side, isn't it? rather than Fred, he looks like "Don Fredo", and the look on his face suggests that he's thinking "any more pictures and you will be sleeping with the fishes".

nice one Fred, congratulations on what very much looks like a rather successful trip across the channel! erm, unless of course these fish were the ones that upset the French fishermen so much that the barricaded the ports, in which case you may want to keep a low profile!

in the mean time, we all hope you and Chris are doing well, and we of course look forward to your next visit. we promise to try and make sure that the water works along more conventional means when you are here!

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

my mate Spiros - action man

hey everyone

well, my good friend and bum chum Spiros is a vastly talented gent with many interests. one of the lesser spoken of is his penchant for getting hot and sweaty with other men whilst performing the craft of martial arts.

this has been something that Spiros has been dedicated to for many years, and he is rather good at it - a black belt, no less. sure, it hasn't been all plain sailing, with the occasional defeat to an 11 or 12 year old girl in a high profile tournament causing the odd setback. he is, however, more dedicated and talented in this fine discipline than i would usually give him credit for.

now, this next "action shot" of him is rather interesting. to the untrained eye he might look like has a bit of a limp wrist thing going on with his left hand, he assures me that this is part of his special style.

as it is unlikely that i would survive more than a few seconds in a bout with him, i am quite happy to take his word for this, and indeed applaud his class style.

when not involved with this, Spiros is currently trying to find the film Turk 182. this was a rather fine "cult" film starring Timothy Hutton and the late, great Peter Boyle. whereas he has not found this film as such as yet, he did find a low budget, sort of amateur film starring a "hairy Turk gent". it didn't really sound like it had a plot anywhere close to Turk 182 (or any plot at all for that matter, since the whole thing seems set in a gentleman's rest facility), but nonetheless he seems rather to have enjoyed it anyway.

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

Monday, April 20, 2009

the three Rs......... in Ridley Scott, Russel Crowe and Robin Hood!

this film is due for release in 2010, so there's a little while to go yet, but at least one picture has emerged from the set thus far!

now, a lot of people are mumbling about this. the main gripes would be that they can't see Russel Crowe in the part, hoping instead that Christian Bale would have taken it on. well, Bale as Robin Hood and Crowe as the Sheriff of Nottingham would have had some appeal i guess. more appeal that Ridley's first (and i think since rejected) idea of Crowe playing both parts, at least.

my view, however, was that the standard of actor suitability to to play Robin Hood dropped to practically anyone (except the horrid Jack Black) being qualified to play the part after Kevin Costner was seen as a good choice for it.
as the picture shows, however, thus far Mr Crowe at least looks the part. Ridley Scott has a rather good record with films, let's trust him!

i would imagine that all proper film fans, as in not those who just complain about every film ever made, wish this project well.

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

Saturday, April 18, 2009

New Zealand observations......

hey everyone

well, firstly, my rather sincere, heartfelt and earnest apologies to a number of people for the delay in putting up some pictures from Mum & Dad's trip to New Zealand. i know that i promised to quite a while; i just have not had the chance to sit down and give them a decent write-up. it has also taken quite a bit of time to go through some 50% of the 9GB (!) of pictures Dad alone brought back; i have yet to dare to look at the ones Mum has!

anyway, on with the pics and the comments, or observations, i guess! a great hobby of my father is the apparent quasi-stalking of people. fanatical or disturbed readers of my site may recall the infamous Stalking Barrie update from December 2007, where my Dad took a number of pictures of this fine gent for me to post here. well, being on holiday in New Zealand to see Gillian, Grant, Katie and Daniel didn't stop him from stalking them a little bit too, as these pictures reveal....

this is at a race track, where Mum & Dad went ahead to before the fine Farnworth family. i am sure there was some sort of reason given for them going off ahead of them, but as we see and kind of know, the actual reason seems to have been to sit and wait to capture them on camera arriving, no matter how many hours my Dad had to sit on a roof and wait for the perfect shot.

in his defence, and i do with reluctance defend his "stalking" habits as a bit of good fun, he did get some rather nice 'surprise' real life images of them! as you can see, Grant is well aware of cameras being focused on him, so he has a bit of a George Clooney / Michael Jackson without the face-mask disguise on the go.

and speaking of Grant, it's his birthday in May. one wouldn't wish to spoil any birthday surprises, but it seems that Mum and Gillian spent a little bit of time weighing up a possible birthday gift for him.

it's a very cute little lamb, and i am sure if they got this for him, Grant would have hours of fun watching the little thing chew grass in the garden. and he might even take it for walks. and, of course, [TEXT OBSCURED ON LEGAL ADVICE] probably wouldn't occur to him, but you never know.

speaking of something which rhymes with something that Grant might do with a sheep, here's the elegance and grace of dining out in New Zealand. i am no expert on the subject, but looking at the size of those glasses, i guess they take their wine rather seriously over there!

no Katie and Daniel in that picture - it's entirely possible that they were the ones taking the photographs, though. who knows? perhaps they have been inspired by James' fine worth as a lensman!

as nice as it is that my Dad gets to stalk people in a "friendly" way and eat at fine restaurants, the main purpose of his trip to New Zealand was of course to see Katie and Daniel. the dear cousins of James and Lyla are not as lucky as they are to see Grandad so often, and so Katie and Daniel made sure that they made the most of the time they had.

my Dad's dream is to one day have all of his grandchildren all together. this would be a dream well worth pursuing, i think it's something that we would all love! donations of a strictly financial nature to make this happen would be gladly received!

still, it's not as bad as it could be. with all this new-fangled technology we at least get to speak and see pictures on a frequent basis. when we moved to Australia back in the 80s, all that was available was the occasional late night, expensive phone call!

on that note, here's some fine pics of the two of them! first off, Katie and Daniel enjoying a fine spot of lunch out in the garden!

that looks like a rather nice spread indeed! it's very handy that they have a slide close by too - one never knows when one shall need the feel for a bit of a slide after a bite of a sandwich or a spoonful of whatever is in those bowls!

and on that note, here's Daniel about to have a go down that slide. it rather looks like his ace looking Winnie the Pooh ball is going to be going with him - i guess he gets the same class ideas that James does from time to time!

here's Katie, enjoying some refreshments on a pleasant summer afternoon in New Zealand. well, i guess by now you know she's in New Zealand, but i thought it was worth mentioning again.

i love how she is innocently having the lemonade with two pints of ale nearby whilst the camera is out! she does have a touch of her mothers' naughty look about her, so i dare say she will be supping a pint when the camera was put away. or, rather, she would have a sup of the pint if the camera was ever put away.....

...which it wasn't ever, apparently. Dad must have been thrilled to see that McDonalds have spread as far as New Zealand, and what better place to try and do some more 'stalking' pictures? Katie and Daniel seem to have got a bit wise to this hobby, and have wisely taken shelter behind a most excellent looking Bill & Ben machine toy thing!

i wonder if one can buy Root Beer to go with their tasty meal in a McDonalds in New Zealand? other than the fact that the McDonalds here does not do their ace bacon & cheese burger, they also have dropped this fine beverage from the menu for us in South Africa too. a great shame.

anyway, here's a shot of Katie and Daniel playing with their toys in the garden. each others' toys, that is.

well, i think that they are playing with each others' toys, although that could me just being old fashioned. i have no doubt that it would seem like a good idea to Gillian to get Katie a motorbike, and i dare say that Grant would consider it a great idea to get Daniel a make-up table and accessories, as he probably wanted one as a child and never got one!

and finally, Mum and Dad on a ferry in Auckland. Dad quite likes the sea life - NOT in the "hello sailors!" sense that some, like my good friend Spiros, take to, but just being out on the vast water the world has to offer.

so, there we have it. Auckland in particular and New Zealand in general really look like amazing, beautiful places. with some good fortune we shall get over there ourselves one day to see the place and our dear family there!

righty-ho, with several thousand more pictures sat at Mum & Dad, there may be space and time for yet more images at a later date! until then, hope you have enjoyed the above!!!

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

the horse whisperer

hey everyone

well, today we took James off for a bit of a surprise. the very noble and worthy organization Animals In Distress held a Teddy Bears' Picnic on their farm in Midrand today, so we went along to support it.

James was rather excited about the idea of going on a horse ride, it has to be said. however, when we got to the horses, he changed his mind. this isn't the first time he's done this! i don't think that it's because he's scared of the horses, he just perhaps doesn't like the idea of climbing onto one.

just to clarify that a bit, he's not scared of them at all!

James seems to take a shine to all animals, really. he loved walking around the grounds, looking at the horses, sheep, cows, dogs and all other animals that need a safe home. of course, we didn't tell him that the animals are there because they are poorly, we just wanted him to have fun.

the whole Teddy Bears' picnic was wonderful. there were two gents with acoustic guitars playing some classic songs (they did a really good version of Venus for a start!), some girls from a nearby school did a great song and dance routine, and there was "donkey pooh bingo". James was a bit tired so we left before either of the two donkeys had poohed on a number, but if ours got poohed on in the filed (42), they will call us next week! Michele also had a go at "pin the tail on the donkey" (not a real donkey), and James wasn't sure where to start with face painting, colouring in boards and jumping castles, so he rather just watched them all instead of doing them!

going back to the fondness James has for animals, here's James with his hat off. he was very concerned to see flies landing on the horses' nose, and so took his hat off to wave them away from his new friend!

it really was a fantastic way to spend a morning, and i hope that it has helped raise some funds for this very worthwhile cause. i did manage to find a book sale there too; James now has two Masters Of The Universe books. one of them, by pure fate, already has "James" written in crayon on the inside!

now, regular readers of this page will know that my dear brother-in-law Grant will have been very excited to see me casually mention sheep in the rundown of animals there. here you go Grant, just for you!

Animals In Distress are, as you could imagine, reliant on any and all donations to keep going. they are good-hearted people who are doing a wonderful job, so we shall certainly be supporting them in any and all ways we can going forward.

hope you all had a fun Saturday morning too!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

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