Friday, July 31, 2009

rest in peace

whilst in reality this day was inevitable, my overwhelming sense was no, it was not. such was this gents enthusiasm for life, a love of it which had seen him beat the cancer that tried to infect and take his body some five times since the early 90s, that you felt he would be with us forever.

the many, many heartfelt and beautiful tributes from all around the world say it much better than i could.

Sir Bobby had a love of life, a feeling of goodwill to all and never a bad word out of place for anyone each and every day he was on this earth. most of us, at best, aspire to be like that just for one day.

thank you for showing us the way life is supposed to be lived.

baking day

hey everyone

well, it feels like a little while since i put some pics of young James up, a little bit naughty as i haven't updated here with his rather fine new haircut. a haircut that was almost fuss and hassle free, by the way - well done Mummy!

every Friday at James' school (or creche, or perhaps even daycare, whatever you call it in the corner of the world in which you dwell) one of the children takes a turn to be the "baker". they bring in some treats, sweets or anything neat, and all the other children pay a small fee for them; the money of course going towards all the toys, paints and pencils they all play nicely with (ie destroy).

James was very excited as his turn was this week, and one of the teachers very kindly took some pictures of him distributing the treats!

now, when he was born, James had a slight red tint to his hair. that seems to have gone now. this is a bit of a pity, really, as if he still had it i suppose i could have called this post "Ginger Baker". if you don't get that, google away and thank you for making me feel old!

Jams loved doing this, and it seems that all liked the sweet packet he handed out. it only took me a couple of hours (!) to pack them all up, delighted to hear that they were appreciated!!!

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

an advert for a big omo

hey everyone

well, i know with a title like that many of you would be expecting to see an image of one of my friends, perhaps (most likely) Spiros. sorry to disappoint, it really is just an advert for a big omo.

i am not sure i would wear such a shirt, but there you go.

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

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

a message from King Monkey

why are you reading my web page thing when you could be hearing a track from Ian Brown's new album over on his site?

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

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Happy Birthday Grandad

hey everyone

well, just a quick blast from the past picture to wish my Grandad Stanley a very happy birthday. he is no longer, sadly, with us in person, but with us in spirit always.

here we are some 20 odd years ago!

that's Grandad watching on as i open up a present, my first (and very much loved) typewriter!

it's impossible not to smile when one thinks of Grandad Stanley, mostly because he was, and i would like to believe currently still is, always smiling. he never had a bad word for anyone, and always had a wonderful story to tell or yarn to spin.

be as excellent as you possibly can to each other.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

a "not Elvis" update

hey everyone

well, despite what i have led you to believe, the next edition to our family will not, it seems, be called Elvis. James has made his views on this rather clear. when we ask James what the baby will be called, then, his response is "not Elvis".

so, to that end, ladies and gentlemen here is today's scan of Not Elvis.....

if you look carefully, you should be able to see where the right eye is developing, and follow the rest of the body from there. mostly the head, it has to be said - baby seems rather camera / scan shy at present!

the doctor is delighted with progress - blood tests are all fine, and all the organs are developing as they should. we even got to see all the fingers, thumbs and toes!

Mummy, Daddy and Big Brother are all well, happy and excited - as indeed is Grandma!

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

The Return Of The King Monkey

fantastic news! Ian Brown returns in September with what is bound to be the best song of the year, Stellify, on September 21, followed on September 28 by the second best album of the year, My Way. sorry, Ian, but not even you can top the Manics' Journal For Plague Lovers.

it sounds like he's going back to the funked up sound of usual, rather than the orchestral last album, The World Is Yours. can't wait to hear it!

if you do consider purchasing the latest slices of quality from the great one (ie you are not my sister and thus appreciate quality music), please consider using the magnificent record store online store to do so. i have no direct interest in them, but they deliver worldwide and have given me nothing short of outstanding service over the years.

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

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Terminator Salvation

well, here we go. rarely has a film been so widely anticipated and heavily criticized in roughly equal measure from the time of announcement right through to the actual release as Terminator Salvation has.

in regards of the former, well, it is the film that was to finally deliver the "man vs machine" battle promised in the first three films. in respect of the latter, a good deal of misguided "fans" believe that only James Cameron can make a Terminator film, leading to rather unwarranted slamming of the fine third film and an apparent threat to boycott this one. well, their loss really. until such time as a film studio chooses to hand these fans hundreds of millions to see if they can make a film, they might want to just get on with watching what has been made instead of dreaming about their own ideas.

insofar as *** SPOILERS *** are possible in the realm of Terminator films, there may be some below, so consider this your warning!

as far as the plot goes, we are indeed in the future, where SkyNet has become "self aware" and has decided to rid the world of humans by means of a range of mechanical wonders, the most wonderful of all of course being the series of Terminator cyborgs. John Connor (Christian Bale) has known the war is coming, and has a legion of followers who accept the "prophecy" that he will lead the human race to victory.

on top of the raging war against the machines, John Connor is preoccupied with finding Kyle Reese (Anton Yelchin), who for obvious reasons he has to keep alive and send back in time, and unraveling the mystery surrounding a stranger who has arrived amongst their ranks, Marcus (Sam Worthington). to a disturbingly lesser extent, Connor has also apparently married Kate from T3 and they are expecting a child, although this plot thread gets nothing more than visual presentation.

now, a great deal of fuss was made about the fact that Terminator Salvation was made with a lower age rating in mind, presumably to boost the potential box office audience. the removal of foul language is not that notable (except when you raise an eyebrow at the rather restrained language John Connor uses when faced with a life or death situation), but the spectacular effects and action sequences do somehow manage to feel rather cheap with the lack or fear of close-ups and dwelling on certain scenes certainly evident.

action scenes are certainly what this film is about, as set pieces certainly get more attention that developments of the plot. for the most part, though, the rather spectacular special effects and sequences are undermined by (yet again) the decision to have a rather shaky, "reality" cam effect when filming. As amazing as this was in the Bourne trilogy of films, not every film requires this "let's make the audience dizzy so they think they are in the action", fourth wall breaking effect, and this once certainly did not.

as far as the acting goes, well, it does the job. Christian Bale does his usual effort where he is the leading man surrounded by considerable talent (take that as you wish), and the criticism that he is outshone by Sam Worthington isn't entirely without justification. i suspect that this is more down to the makers deciding "well, everyone watching this film knows who John Connor is, so let's not worry about developing or expanding the character too much" than any fault with Christian Bale; the same is certainly the case with his efforts in The Dark Knight. as Marcus is the (ahem) shiny new character, the writers seem to have been more concerned with him, really.

The biggest disappointment is that it's all very much about the male characters. in The Terminator and Terminator 2, the strong resilience of Sarah Connor was a major factor in the success. Here we have one reasonably strong, female character, Blair (Moon Bloodgood), but her part is limited to showing mostly how violent she can be rather than any strength of character.

star of the show is this young lad Anton Yelchin as the teenage Kyle Reese. he plays the part perfectly and, allowing for the "mystery" around the Marcus character, is by far the most entertaining to watch.

oh yes, there is the appearance of that other actor associated rather heavily with the Terminator films. i didn't intend to mention it here, but since the studio decided to include it in the trailers and promotion work, here's Arnold.

or rather, there was a computer generated Arnold Schwarzenegger face on another actor. something of a nice touch to bring him back into it all for the devout fans, and to a degree adds to the continuity of the series. his introduction does hint at a fifth film, ending presumably with two familiar characters travelling back in time to start the cycle once again.

time travel is notably absent from this Terminator film. as the makers rightly pointed out, a fourth film with basically the same plot would be a film too far. having said that, one could go as far as saying that the entire concept of Terminator has gone too far.

the greatest trick in any horror film is not revealing too much of the monster. in the Terminator films, the "monster" was always the future, and the horrific war which it would bring. the snippets in the first films were scary; an entire film dedicated to it makes it somewhat sanitized and acceptable. fear of the future was a great part of the suspense in the series, if you show the future being conquered, where is the suspense?

Terminator Salvation is an average slice of science fiction action entertainment. that's the problem, as the high standard of the first three films doesn't allow for average. all involved do the best that they can, but the reality is that the Terminator concept has been routinely exhausted. if this is really the best effort which can be mustered, then i am not going to be surprised or critical of the lack of tolerance if they announce a fifth film in the series.

there are enough slices of interest for Terminator fans to make this worthwhile watching, but in no way will this be as cherished as the other films.

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

Monday, July 13, 2009

King of Toasters

up until this morning, right, i thought that we had no problem whatsoever with our toaster. it works pretty much as one would conventionally expect a toaster to work, and i haven't really paid that much attention to it.

now, of course, having seen this, i am aware that we have a lesser toaster, and urgently need to buy this new one!!

how excellent is this? sadly, i suspect the $55 (!) price tag on it means that we won't be having this in our home any time soon, but if that kind of money suits your budget, you can purchase it by clicking here.

meanwhile, here's a rundown of the device from the Daily Telegraph :

Lucasfilm has developed a must-have gadget that threatens to part even the most financially-challenged Star Wars fans with their money: the Darth Vader toaster.

The device is clad in a black plastic mould that resembles Darth Vader's infamous mask. But that's not all.

As it toasts your morning slice of bread, the gadget burns an image of the everyone's favourite Dark Lord of the Sith on to the side. It is predicted to be a huge hit with fans of the franchise. said the toaster was bound to be a sure-fire sell-out: "How else would you get a chance to smudge jam into Darth Vader's grill?"

may the force be with your toast.

Sunday, July 12, 2009

shoveling SOMETHING with Grandad....

hey everyone

after the exploits at the cinema James went to visit Grandma and Grandad and, quelle surprise!, Grandad was doing some more work and building out in the garden. needless to say, James was very excited about going off to help Grandad with this!

for the most part, James was rather keen to get his hands on his shovel and help fill the buckets up with manure, the source of which Grandad helpfully pointed out was cows - sorry Grant, i don't think sheep manure is used that much here.

even more helpful was Grandad's expansion of James' vocabulary, as he proudly told James that he could go to school and tell everyone that he had been "shoveling s*** with his Grandad this weekend.". nice one Dad, thanks for that.

we think we have persuaded James not to describe his weekend activities in the way that Grandad told him to, but then again i am both eager and anxious to see if his teacher would like a quiet word with me when i pick him up tomorrow!

shoveling sh....manure was not the only thing they did in the garden. interestingly, Grandad asked James to help him install some solar powered lights on the much celebrated bridge over the river koi; bewilderingly he encouraged James to give them a good hit to get them into the soil.

only one got broken as a consequence of this, which is not bad going at all!

wither Marmite, you may well ask? never all that far away, although it has to be said she did eventually go and hide from James, so exhausted was she from playing with him!

and that, with the cinema, was Saturday. hope yours was good, needless to say we are having a very lazy and taking it easy Sunday today!

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

Telkom - where efficency and common sense do not dare dwell....

hey everyone

well, oddly, i was one of the few people living in South Africa that hadn't really had much of a problem with the much reviled, once upon a time only telephone company here, Telkom. not perfect, and it does have to be said that the one threat of violence i received from a senior manager there did lead to a nice apology and my service being installed anyway.

how curious, then, that i should only experience their banal and bewildering ability to give no service or sign of common sense when i canceled their services.

when i received my last invoice from them, they had somehow calculated that they owed me R100 or thereabouts, around about enough for a new DVD or something. i thus followed their instructions in regards of collecting this "refund" or reimbursal of sorts and headed off to one of their rather humorously named "client centres".

the fact that the two staff working there were considerably more interested in private calls than helping anyone was something i could certainly put up with, since presumably this would be the last time i would have to deal with them. alas, that seems not to be the case. i handed over the letter they sent me with the advice that they wished to give me money. in response, i was informed that they would take a copy of the letter and "immediately log a dispute on my behalf, which should be resolved within 28 days". yep, days.

i did sort of ask exactly what sort of "dispute" was being logged, since this was them telling me that they wanted to give me the money rather than me expecting, asking or even demanding it, but to tell the truth the heart is not particularly in this battle. i just walked off, and will presumably hear from then in 3 - 4 months.

as for the reason behind getting rid of them, well, Telkom wishes to charge a fortune for a heavily capped and limited broadband service. they are not the only kid on the block here anymore, and the rather brilliant NeoTel offer one unlimited broadband for a fixed fee. it's interesting that when i called to cancel Telkom and gave them this reason they asked if i "would be interested" if they made a similar offer. i said yes, of course, but as i had been asking them for it for a few years and they said that they would never ever do this, there was their answer!

in tribute to those who have had considerably more problems than i have with them, here's a cartoon for you as to how they appear to usually work.

thanks to whoever created the above!!!!

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

Ice Age 3 - Dawn Of The Dinosaurs : almost a success

hi everyone

well, at three and a half (ish), we had an idea that James might be ready for a visit to the "big cinema", as he calls it. and what better opportunity for him to go and watch a movie on the big screen than the release of Ice Age 3?

James had been excited the whole week about going, and indeed on the morning of our visit he was positively bouncing!

when we got to the cinema, the rather impressive posters and displays on show for the film did nothing to curb his enthusiasm!

sorry again for the poor quality pics, my cellphone is supposed to be rather good at taking them; it seems to be forever selective as to when it does wish to show how good it is at taking them!

anyway, it was all going rather well until we got into the cinema itself. he was rather intimidated by the size of the screen (i kind of didn't expect it to be on in the biggest theatre still as it had been out for two weeks) and was reluctant to be there as a consequence. oh dear.

when the trailers started, commencing with an ace one for some class looking film featuring a quack squadron of guinea pigs, the sound was also a bit too loud for James. a scary big cinema screen and high volume meant that he wanted to leave, and thus of course that's what we were going to do, then.

we did, however, end up staying and watching the film! i cannot praise the staff of Nu Metro at Brightwater Common enough for their spectacular efforts in accommodating us. seeing that we were leaving before the trailers had even finished, they were happy to either refund us or, when they learned of the problem, turn the sound down. in respect of the latter, a nice gesture, but i wouldn't have wished to have inconvenience everyone else just for us, plus the louder the sound in the cinema the less chance of idiots having conversations during the film on their phone - if you are that important on a Saturday lunch time, do not go to the cinema.

a happy solution was found when it was clocked that James was, strangely, very happy to stand in the doorway and watch the film. the staff brought a big chair or bench thing along for James and Michele to sit and watch the film from that vantage point on, whereas i went and sat in our seats again! result!

as for the film itself, well, tricky to give a fair review, as for much of the film my mind was more concerned about how Michele & James were getting on. as no ushers came to tap me on the shoulder i could more or less relax and enjoy it, i guess, but would like to see it again at some point. no doubt the DVD will be out in time for Christmas!

what i can say about it is that there are some riotously funny one-off moments in the film, as there were in the first two, but it seems that the film is rather built around them than they just crop up within the story, a disappointing opposite of the case from the first two.

with glaring frequency, too, it seems that some of the lead cast have rather just phoned in a very pedestrian dialogue delivery for their characters. all too often there's a sense of the likes of the great Denis Leary just going through the motions with the words. ho hum.

an outright winner, though, would easily be the wonderful animated dinosaurs - easily the best seen on screen since the magic of Jurassic Park. they are well drawn / generated and a wonder to watch. perhaps this is the intention anyway, but methinks the guys who made Ice Age should leave the wonders of mammoths and sloths alone for the next project and just do one of the dino world.

cartoon characters having babies is always an easy winner with animated sequels (refer Shrek The Third and imminent Shrek Goes Fourth), and the makers of Ice Age 3 have a clear appreciation for this. i would not wish to go spoiler heavy or even spoiler light for you, but needless to say we are confronted with as many new "baby" characters as they could possibly pop into an hour and twenty minutes. no bad thing, really!

i appreciate that the review here hasn't said a great deal of the "plot" as such. well, as indicated above, it's a rather contrived and formulatic one, put together as an excuse for some fun. no bad thing at all, really - any review that focuses on that rather than the fun is to be read with caution anyway! that said, with no character definition or development whatsoever, if you haven't seen the first two then you need to steer clear of this!

fortunately, it has to be said, we are all too familiar with the first two, since James has had us watch them, well, "more than once", shall we say. i dare say that when the DVD lands of this one we shall also get to see this mostly fine film again and again too!

having slept on the matter, James informed us this morning that he would "like to try the big cinema" again. well, we shall see - the next time a good looking film comes up (and that one with the guinea pigs does look ace), we'll ask him if he wants to go, wait for it to be on a smaller big screen and head off!!

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

Friday, July 10, 2009


hey everyone

many thanks to The Daily Mail for putting these excellent pics up on the interwebnet!!

if you happen to be in San Franciso, whether with a flower in your hair or not, i guess you are lucky enough to be able to go and see (presumably not meet) Odin....

i know James would love to go and "play" with him. we shall just have to explain that he's a bit too far away, and might be a bit too naughty to play with!!

sensational pics!!!!!!!!

Be excellent to each other!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Wednesday, July 08, 2009

a truth that washes that learnt how to spell

hey everyone

well, with regards to the title, James is in the bath right now and he does prefer to wash himself, so there you go. one or two of you reading this will, of course, clock where the title line comes from; if that be you, dear reader, by all means treat yourself to a coconut or something.

erm, why the title to begin with? James has been showing off his artistic flair once again. not so long ago, my dear visionary wife purchased a whiteboard thingie and put it up in our bedroom. i was somewhat concerned as to what she wanted to make notes of, or perhaps even record the score of as you can well imagine, but i am delighted to say that it was purchased for James to do drawing and writing on.

drawing he has certainly been doing, and has now taken those precious first steps towards writing too!

although one would hope that the picture speaks for itself, it is a picture that James informs us is of his baby brother (hence their being no hair, James had none in his baby pics) who, you may be interested to know, James has decided to name "not Elvis" for now. Just for good measure, he has started to try and write his own name, as you can see between the mouth and nose. the "J", "S" and to an extent "M" are rather good, the rest will follow soon enough!

i have no idea at what age children are supposed to read or write, and quite frankly it's not really an issue, as i am not comparing or measuring James to anyone or any sort of guide. we are just thrilled with what he's doing so far!

now, my chum Sinbad is currently doing a high-end photography course, and shared with me some tips about colour and balance. i have, alas, forgotten a bit (most) of it, and i don't think our camera is quite up to the challenge of it. basically, went with one pic with the flash on and one with it off, hope that either or both are fine!

James, as is the way of the temperamental artist, refuses to be in the picture with his fine work - sorry!!

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

Monday, July 06, 2009

multi-tasking at verk

hey everyone

well, whilst for the most part we are focused, professional individuals at the place i call verk, every now and then you have to do some blue-sky, out of the box multi-tasking.

my colleagues faced a bit of a dilemma today, as they needed to, for no apparent reason, dispose of some of those polystyrene bars that protect printers as they are shipped. they of course do not protect printers from a good kicking after they have been unpacked and insist on jamming 3 of every 4 pages, but at least they ensure that they get to the intended destination relatively boot-mark free.

anyway, i felt obliged, if not honour bound, to assist my colleagues with this important but irrelevant task. as it turns out, the best way to get rid of some polystyrene bars is to give them a right good smack with your forearm whilst Zama and Cooper hold on to it. don't believe me? how fortunate that, as ever, young Trigger is on hand to capture the moment on camera.

now, you have to bear in mind that we are professionals at my place of verk. despite no prior training, we are experts in doing this. please do not try this at home, unless Zama and Cooper pitch up at your house / desk with some polystyrene.

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

Saturday, July 04, 2009

Yoo-Hoo Sailor!

Hi there

well, as you may recall from a post a while back, nautical expert Uncle Trevor sent on some pictures (well, a picture) of the tall ship that cousin Andrew set sail on the high seas (the North Sea, no less - around the corner, that's the Arctic Ocean). well, Andrew has returned, and as Trevor is always keen to meet and greet sailors, here's a wonderful pic, artistically out of focus, that he has sent on!

nice one Andrew, it must have been great fun! he hasn't mentioned anything about any encounters with Somali pirates off the coast of Belgium, but perhaps he just has a "don't ask, don't tell" policy on the go. i hope he didn't wear that shirt on the boat, there's no way he would have gotten into Europe with it on (boom boom).

otherwise, all change in the world that i once knew. it seems that the Harland's rather fine garden has been replaced with an impressive and massive trampoline! here's Andrew and Christopher showing off how happy they are with the change!!

and finally, back to Great Ayton, and the old School House where i used to live has now become part of the school to which it is attached!

many thanks indeed for the pictures, Trevor!!!!

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

hello there Lyla!

hey there

Grandma and Grandad recently made the splendid, picturesque trek up north to go and see Richard, Erika and of course Lyla. unusually, you might think, Grandad took along his camera and got some great pictures!

when visitors come to see Lyla, there is always the chance that James is with them. to be safe, then, Lyla decided to grab and keep as many toys as possible, just in case he decided to come along and help himself.

alas, and sadly, James was not along on the trip (and sadly neither were we - and i have noticed that there are not one thousand chocolate chip cookies on the table when we come, thanks for that), but Grandad very much was, and he for some inexplicable reason was rather interested in getting his hands on some pink dough....

you will have no doubt noted that Grandad is growing a beard again - nice one, he has an excellent Ernest Hemmingway, or Popeye's Dad out of Popeye, look when he does!

and finally, here's a pic of Lyla smiling away!

ace pictures, thank you! hopefully we shall see you all soon!!

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

Daniel and (possibly) Katie

hi again

well, i have had quite an influx of pictures of late and just have not gotten around to updating the site. sorry, but the whims and cravings of the mother to be on this side means that myself and the more obscure shelves at the shops are seldom strangers these days. barley, on that note, is rather reasonably price here.

anyway, moving on, i have no idea what barley costs in the fine land of New Zealand, but i do know that Katie is developing a habit of hiding a little bit when the camera is out. this is probably a consequence of Grandad's visit earlier in the year, but could also be down to Gillian and Grant not quite being as wily as they could when taking pictures! here, anyway, see what i mean.

first up here's a pic from a place that i think or suspect is called Lollipops. sorry if it isn't! they all went along as some sort of end of term thing (yes, they have schools there), and it looks like a most excellent place.

see what i mean? either Katie sped up a great deal to beat the camera flash, or Gillian (or possibly Grant) decided against taking a proper picture. which is most likely? neither, yet both.......

Daniel seems rather keen to help Katie out with this whole business of avoiding the gaze of the lens, as you can see in this rather splendid next picture!!

and here's Katie not avoiding the camera as such, but, possibly wisely, inspecting exactly what it is that Mummy has given her to eat now!

you will note that Daniel has absolutely no problem whatsoever with eating everything and anything that Mummy gives him. Grant, clearly, has not been a good enough boy to get a delicious looking cupcake, but i am sure he was happy enough with the cup of (hopefully cold) tea in his hands!!!!

thanks for the pics, NZ family!!!

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

A Tale Of Two Dogs.....

hey everyone

well, thanks to the wonders of the modern world, i am able to be kept up to date and abreast of any and all developments with numerous (ok, two) dogs owned by family across the world. it is rather unfair that i have kept such news to myself; therefore here is an update of what all (each) of them has been up to.

first up is Marmite, who is wisely making sure she is all nice and warm with the current winter weather we have.

and next we go all the way to magnificent Great Ayton, where we find Ruby out and about with Uncle Trevor on what should be a barmy summer afternoon, but does in fact look like a typical "overcast" Yorkshire summer day!

back over to Marmite, and whilst keeping warm she seems to be rather impressed that what must be the one millionth picture of her is being taken!

meanwhile, back in Great Ayton, Ruby seems to be making friends the good old fashioned way.....

hope you have enjoyed this update!!!

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