Tuesday, October 26, 2010

William walking (sort of)

hey everyone

well, as William stands on the verge of 11 months old, he's taken quite the shine to this standing business. whereas he hasn't quite got the knack nor the strength of walking as yet (his crawling is impressive, mind), he is taking all the right steps to be fully mobile!

James' Grandma Monica got James an excellent "push walker" think when he was 1 or 2 (yes, i am getting old and no longer remember everything), and as James managed to not destroy it, William has taken ownership of it!

so far he quite likes pushing it at great speed whilst he shuffles along on his knees, stopping only when some sort of natural barrier tells him instinctively that it will go no further. for the most part, though, we've noticed that he seems to think it's something to just try and climb over, and indeed eat.

never mind, James is always on hand to try and help his young brother learn mysteries such as walking!

while the camera was out to try and capture Mad Will rampaging around our house in his V8 Interceptor walker, James was of a mind to pose for some pictures for a change. here's one of them!

i suspect he was just keen to show off his very, very excellent Star Wars t-shirt, but never mind, still a great picture! William, by contrast, always seems pleased to have his photo taken!

well, that's how things are here! all good, if you didn't work that out!

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

Happy Birthday & Merry Christmas, Gillian!

hey everyone

well, this is a touch early for Gillian to be getting birthday and/or Christmas presents, and indeed this is one that she is unlikely to ever actually get her hands on directly, but what the heck!

Gillian, dear sister, behold "your" new 'Mega Star' MS-6000 double cassette deck recorder!

now, in 2010 this might strike one as an unusual type of gift, mindful of the techonology freely available. however, my sister quite likes me making her tapes for her car and sending them on to her. as my last two tape decks have blown out in the last two years (the final one very shortly before this investment) and they seem all but impossible to repair in this great disposable age, i had little choice but to get it!

i must admit i do like the look of it, it has a very 80s feel about it!

some of you may well wonder why exactly Gillian has a tape deck in her car. well, the quick and conclusive answer would be that she finds it easier to have a tape deck and have me post new tapes on a (mostly) monthly basis than it would be for her to get a CD player or some sort of mp-thing device installed. and i quite enjoy sitting and making tapes for her, so there!

as for what to tape on it for her first, well, there are one or two things i know she will like, but i am certain that she's really eager to hear the 20th anniversary edition of the self-titled debut by The Stone Roses sooner than anything else. i will see what i can do!

hope you like your present Gillian!

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

welcome home, Mogga

Tony Mowbray has been named as the new manager at Middlesbrough.

Mowbray, who was born in nearby Saltburn and captained Boro during a successful nine-year spell between 1982-1991, succeeds Gordon Strachan after he resigned from his post at the Riverside last Monday.

what can i say but wow! on a scale of 1 - 10 for good, excellent news, this clocks in at one thousand, if not more!

for many of us, Tony Mowbray is Mr Middlesbrough. none of us will ever forget that, after the depressing days when Middlesbrough was padlocked and closed down, he led the team to two successive promotions.

the team at the moment is in a right mess. we needed a great, inspirational leader and we now have one. he's the man that should have had the job instead of the last two to get it, i am delighted (to say the least) that we are back on track.

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

Monday, October 25, 2010


the obsessive, odd fraternity known as "fanboys" will tell you that there has never ever been a sequel to match or be considered good enough to call itself a sequel to the 1987 masterpiece that is Predator. thus far, Predator 2 had been kind of tolerated by fans (it had all they wanted in it, plus Gary Busey for good measure), but for some reason the two Alien vs Predator films just upset them - not enough like the comics or games or something.

as i am someone who had enjoyed all four films featuring the most excellent concept of the Predator, then, i was interested to learn that the 4th sequel being made, named Predators, seemed to be one that was going to make these "fanboys" happy at last.

with some unusual and interesting cast members attached, and Robert Rodriguez (he of Desperado and Machete fame) producing, it certainly looked promising. and, if truth be told and you just want a quick review, yeah, it's a rather good, entertaining film.

as ever, you are hereby given a *** SPOILER WARNING *** in regards of everything after the poster below!

as far as a plot goes, the film doesn't muck about with establishing anything in particular, assuming and trusting that the audience knows in advance what to expect. it starts off with a group of people, specifically Adrian Brody, falling with the aid of a parachute into some unknown territory.

gradually, or perhaps quickly with some massive plot areas skipped over, the motley crew realize that they have been placed on another planet as prey to be hunted down for some sort of mysterious predators.

this is something they work out best when the one lady in the "team", a mental sniper, sees one of the predators, and by some good fortune had somehow read the debriefing of the survivor of the Predator that lurked around South America.

i think you know the drill from here - they get hunted down one at a time, just like in the original. there's the odd twist though, like the presence of Lawrence Fishburne. in a curious 10 or so minute cameo, he's someone who has previously landed on the planet, and has survived several "hunting seasons", as he calls them.

the fact that he has (perhaps understandably) been driven totally insane by his experiences doesn't seem to hamper his survival abilities (thus far) all that much, but that's just one of several plot holes that you are better off skipping if you want to try and enjoy this movie.

now the best, scariest horror / thriller movies tend to be the ones where they keep the monster hidden the most. this was certainly the case with the original Predator, and a trick they emulate with success here. just aswell, really, for the "main Predator" appears to have been designed by a thirteen year old who has just discovered the joys of death metal music.

a far cry from the original, much loved and feared Predator!

Predators is a great film if you are familiar with all the various Predtaor stories. if this is your first encounter with this imaginary, inspired creature, i would imagine on the whole it's rather confusing. there's no faulting the pacing or action - Adrian Brody is something of a revelation as an action hero, and he's got pretty decent support around him.

the major problem with this film, like all other Predator films, is that it just doesn't have this chap in it

there is, quite frankly, no replacing Arnie when it comes to battling Predators. he is the only human you could ever imagine standing a chance against one of them. also, the lines from the original (if it bleeds we can kill it, GIT TO DA CHOPPA! GIT TO DA CHOPPA! anyone?) have been loved and quoted for over twenty years now. nothing here holds a candle to those priceless moments from the original. this is to say, they've capture the spirit, pacing and style of the original, but just cannot replicate why the fans fell in love with the original in the first place.

this has been a pretty pointless review, then. all i can tell you is that if you like the whole Predator concept you will enjoy this, but those of us who do will have already either seen it at the cinema or ordered the DVD. if for some reason you've waited for my guidance, glad to give it, and proceed without fear!

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

the pizzazz of the North East in October

hey everyone

well, here's some interesting images of the part of the world that i shall, no matter where i go, forever know as home. not this actual field, you understand, but certainly that area.

my word, i can almost taste the cold bristle of the October winds across my face, and certainly recall the scent of beautiful fields battling for nostril space with the petro-chemical industries of the area. and i can certainly recall how it feels to have your feet stuck in the sludge that seems to accompany the rains at this time of year over there!

whereas i left that behind, i know of one gent in particular who you would never extract from the area. here's Norman Henry himself having a good inspection of some stuff down at the Tees Port area!

nice one Gramps, i am sure you made sure everyone did everything properly! well, i am certain that you shouted at them irrespective of how they did, that is your way and that's how you make sure we all do our best. or so you assure us!

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

Ruby Lee at two weeks!

hey everyone

Richard and Erika kindly sent on some new pictures over the weekend of the lovely new member of their family! i was going to put them up over the weekend, but rather put my feet up i'm afraid, sorry!

anyway, here's Ruby Lee with her loving sister, Lyla!

two weeks on and Ruby Lee is healthy and happy, just like, indeed, her big sister!

it's only a matter of time, if not already, that will see Lyla dressing her up and trying out make up on her!

dig the leopard skin pillows, by the way Richard, very provocative indeed!

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

Saturday, October 23, 2010

priceless, young jedi

hey everyone

this is an old one, but a classic!

back in 2002, a bar ran a sales promo for their staff. whoever sold the most beer would win, and this was indicated verbally rather than in writing, a "toyota".

the winner, a Ms Jodee Berry, was eventually lead outside to a car park and was less than impressed to discover that it was an elaborate (and rather witty) April Fool joke, and that she had in fact won....

a toy Yoda!

a lawsuit & settlement followed, whereby Ms Berry did indeed end up with a new Toyota courtesy of the bar. i would have thought, though, knowing the insanse scarcity & cost of Star Wars toys, that the Yoda toy (which looks ace) would be worth far more than some Japanese car?

oh well, Ms Berry got the toy and a car, the bar got lots and lots of international advertising (which has not been extended here), so i guess all ended up winners - presumably the lawyers from both sides more than anyone, but there you go.

be excellent to each other!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! and cover yourself by getting it in writing!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Grandma visits

hey everyone

well, James and William were delighted this afternoon to find that Grandma has popped over for a visit.

James was very impressed in particular, as he somehow persuaded Grandma to play his beloved Lego Star Wars game with him. well, i say it's his, but it's really mine.

most impressive indeed, James! for years, Grandma has had the chance to play vastly superior games on my old Commodore 64, and indeed on Richard's Sinclair Spectrum, but never expressed any interest!

Grandma did point out that she used to play Tetris and Pac Man, however. i seem to recall Mum & Dad having a marathon Pac Man session on the Atari 2600 machine back in Australia, so there you go!

it was a lot easier to persuade Grandma that it was time to switch the game off than it was James, believe me!

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

Monday, October 18, 2010

Tales Of An Ancient Empire - rubbish.

there is something terribly, terribly wrong when a rather anticipated film, albeit anticipated by a modest sized cult following, gets its premiere on DVD in Thailand for roughly US$6, is there not? what's all the more alarming is when that film is not even worth that price. i guess let's go back and start at the beginning of this sad, depressing tale.

be warned, for there are *** SPOILERS AHEAD ***, although any lover of the first film i mention would do well to read the whole post and decide if they are going to be clever or if they are going to go ahead and watch the "sequel".

in 1982 a little masterpiece of a film called The Sword And The Sorcerer was released. and i do mean masterpiece. of all the swords and barbarians films made in the 80s, this was the best - and i do mean it was even better that Schwarzenegger's Conan.

Lee Horsley starred as Talon, a kind of warrior for hire, although gold was rarely what settled his bill. i wouldn't wish to take up too much time celebrating this masterpiece here, but remember, if you will, just how cool the three bladed sword of Talon was (and indeed is), featuring two blades that fire off at any given enemy (this is an important thing to remember).

one of the coolest things about this film was that the credits promised more :

some of us spent a fair part of the 80s and 90s patiently waiting for this Tales Of The Ancient Empire to arrive. it never did. there was some excitement, then, when a few years ago Albert Pyun announced that, at long last, he was making the film, now calledTales Of An Ancient Empire.

it promised much, this sequel. not only was Lee Horsley to return, along with the three bladed sword, but the likes of Val Kilmer and Christoper Lambert would be in the cast. excellent!

so how, then, does the film end up with such a dubious premiere? well, because, quite frankly, it is complete and utter rubbish. it's taken all the wonderful elements of The Sword And The Sorcerer, printed them out, wiped several bottoms on the pages, flushed them and sent them off to the depths of the Atlantic as untreated sewage. looking for the remains of that would be far more enjoyable that enduring this - and i use the term loosely - movie.

what you get here is a kind of bizarre family reunion film. a whole load of very bad actors and actresses, all of whom appear to be the offspring of Talon, decide to unite and take on some sort of very badly acted vampire Queen. except they never actually do much fighting. or anything other than unite one by one.

as for the cast, Val Kilmer and Christopher Lambert are not in it - apparently Pyun "wanted" them to be and thus shoved their names on the poster. oh, Lee Horsely is in the film. he is not, however, cast as Talon. yep, you read that right - Lee Horsley is not Talon in this film. instead he plays a character called "The Adventurer", and mumbles some story or other for no apparent reason. here's a glimpse.

oh dear. as for the three bladed sword, well, it is in the film. however, it fires three blades, and clearly leaves one behind - somehow it is now a four bladed sword. no idea who is holding it or why, really. an unnamed actor seems to have taken the Talon role, one who will presumably feature in the "sequel" promised at the end of this very short film.

a short film? yep, it's 70 minutes long, including the elaborate and confusing opening credits. the end credits go on and on after the promise of a third film, one that you really hope will never ever be made.

a lot of people seem excited by the fact that this bloke pictured below, Kevin Sorbo, is in it. i have never heard of him, and quite frankly if this is the best kind of work he can get, not many others shall hear of him either.

every possible aspect of this film, be it bad acting, no plot or script of consequence and some really bad cinematography which serves to highlight astonishingly bad special effects, is offensive and an insult to anyone who even midly enjoyed the original film. it is disgusting that anyone has been allowed to make it in the name of a sequel to The Sword And The Sorcerer, let alone the man who made that film in the first place!

apparently, a "longer" version will be released in the USA, and the director promises that "one big action star" will be added. i really don't care. after i have posted this, i am going to pretend that this film was never made, and that they never got around to doing the promised follow up to The Sword And The Sorcerer. this will not be too difficult to do, because they in fact have not done this with this trash.

apparently pirate copies of the film are widespread thanks to this curious DVD premiere. the director seems rather excited about this, as it seems it has increased people checking out the trailer on his site for the film. don't watch a pirate of this, don't waste time and money on the original disc from Thailand or anywhere is all i can say.

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

Sunday, October 17, 2010

greetings of New Zealand!

hey everyone

Gillian, Grant, Daniel and indeed Katie have kindly sent on some pictures to show us how things are down in the land of New Zealand at the moment! all looks good, really!

now Gillian, it has to be said, gets a little (possibly rightly) uppity when i don't get the names of the places they go to as correct as i could. i can with confidence, then, state that, after some research, they have recently been to a place called either Ambury Park or possibly Ambury Farm. it could even be Ambury Farm-Park or Park-Farm of Ambury, really. i don't know for sure, but there's certainly Ambury in the name. happy, sister?

either way, it looks park-esque and farm-esque in places, but for the most part looks like a major, major fun place to go!

here's Gillian, along with Katie and Daniel, looking particularly keen on a ride they are on! Gillian looks like she is wearing one of the baseball caps that Grant sent me!

and indeed, in the garden of their home, here is Grant himself wearing a rather magnificent cap!

for too long, now, Grant enthusiasts have been denied the site of him on my blog, so i am delighted to put a new picture up of him just for you with a thing for him!

and what would Grant be doing in the garden? well, it seems that he would be helping Katie and Daniel with an ambitious and impressive cultivation corner!

nice one Katie and Daniel, hope that which you have planted grows in plentiful amounts! your two Uncles over here could make some suggestions of certain herbs to grow, if you like?

splendid to see all is happy and well on the other side of the world!!!

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

meeting Ruby-Lee

hey everyone

well, today was rather a busy day, really! Grandma took me, James and William off to see the latest member of our family, Ruby-Lee Valentine! Michele is not to well at the moment, before you ask, and thus stayed at home to rest. wisely, it has to be said, as it was a tiring if incredibly fun journey!

here i am with my new niece, with Grandma and William having a look!

she is as light as she is gorgeous! i don't remember William or James ever weighing so little! so light, in fact, that James could hold her rather well without anyone worrying too much!

we tend to be a bit weary of James holding William as he is rather rough in his approach sometimes, but not so with Ruby-Lee! he loves her to bits, to the extent of, when it was going home time, running from the car back to the house to give her another kiss goodbye!

needless to say, Grandma was rather keen on getting pictures of her with the four of her six grandchildren that she could all at once, so we gave it a go! well done to Lyla and James for sitting reasonably still; William and Ruby-Lee don't tend to wander off to watch Batman or Barbie at their current age!

there's something distinctly odd about photographs of people with babies, as they tend to be so beautiful they make any ugly mugs look good so long as they are holding them. to prove this, behold Richard & I holding our youngest!

note that Richard, for some reason, decided to wear his favourite clown shirt today!

William, as you might have picked up from the above pictures, absolutely loves his Uncle Richard! whenever Richard is around, the whole world stops for William, and he will concentrate only on him! he's very happy to try and mimic him, and giggles away at all he says and does!

this is of course very excellent. Richard, Gillian and i were always exceptionally lucky to have three actual Uncles in the shape of Colin, Trevor and Peter who remain to this day most excellent people! glad that William has a similar relationship with one of his Uncles already! wait until you meet Grant, though, William - his insights into revolutionary and counter-revolutionary accountancy principles shall have you rivited!

now, remember how i said James tends to be a bit rough with William? well, when we asked James to sit by William for a pic, his first instict was appparently to wrestle him to sit where he wanted him to be! this means that we only got the one picture, so here you go!

otherwise, as well as the company, food is always excellent whenever we visit Richard, Erika, Lyla and now of course Ruby-Lee. today was certainly no exception. someone up in their area took the decision to make the most excellent pizza ever, and then make it even better, right, by putting spare ribs on it!

all that's missing is a piece of KFC in the centre! i included the other pizza that Richard seemed so excited about for comparative purposes. that one tasted all right, insofar as any pizza could taste without a kilo or so of spare ribs on it!

well, i am shattered, but have had an absolutely ace day! hope you have all had a most splendid weekend too!!!

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

king of films and the film that would be king....

hey everyone

obligatory apologies for the lack of updates of late - been bust at verk, and indeed very busy with the boys! never mind, let me try and catch up with a few posts!

first off, some film reviews. and where better to start with than one of the most entertaining, insanely violent films ever made and possibly ever to be made?

those of us who endured the full 3 odd hour version of the awful Grindhouse will happily tell you that the only decent thing about it was the joke / mock trailers at the start and inbetween the two horrid films. of those, easily one of the best was for something called Machete. clearly a lot of people thought that this was the best "trailer", as they have gone ahead and made an actual Machete film, staying very close indeed to what was presented in that mock trailer!

there's always the great danger of a film based on a loose joke such as this becomes distinctly unfunny when actually made, but i am delighted to say that this is not the case with Machete. it very much "does what it says on the box", or if you will, did exactly what it said it would in the trailer.

plot? you want plot details? very roughly, a Mexican super duper agent going by the code name of Machete has his family wiped out and is left for dead whilst pursuing Mexcio's biggest baddie. and i do mean biggest - the wonderfully oversized, making latter year Brando look rather mobile and swift Steven Seagal takes this role. Machete surfaces some 3 years later in Texas as a labourer of sorts, and somehow finds himself in the middle of a conspiracy to help re-elect a Govenor. all hell breaks loose thereafter is something of an understatement, really.

Danny Trejo, a regular in films of this calibre but one of those actors you never quite recall the name of, shines at the front of this film in the titular role. he is mental.

the film proved quite educational for me too, really. i had no idea who or what a Lindsay Lohan was, bar being someone apparently important enough to make the news every time she was arrested. if all her films are as ace as this, in which she is either without clothes or in a nun's outfit wielding a massive gun, i am all of a sudden very interested in her.

hard to pick out many of the other cast for doing a good job, really - there are so many well known actors and actresses making a film for fun that is supposed to be fun and doing it rather well. applause, though, for Robert De Niro - he seems to have long since given up on proper acting for massive paychecks (and why not?), so it's refreshing to see him do something with little artistic merit but going full out on the performance.

Machete is something close to being the ultimate action film. despite promised sequels, it's unlikely that we shall see a film as frenetic, fast paced and outright ridicuously entertaining as this for quite some time.

which brings us on to the film that should have been the equal to, if not greater than, Machete, but falls confusingly short of doing so.

for over a year now fans have been watering at the mouth of the latest Stallone project, The Expendables. he promised a cast full of action legends and a return to "old school 80s action films" with the project. did he deliver this? yes, maybe, no, really.

The Expendables uses a very 80s style plot, in which a bunch of well armed nutcases go off to try and liberate an imaginary island from some rich guy with enough money to hire thousands of poor soldiers with bad aim. no, that really is the plot. except to say that the reason for liberating the island seems to be that Stallone's character is rather taken with one of the ladies living on it.

the cast Stallone has put together for the film is theoretically cool, but in practice just doesn't deliver. other than Jet Li bumbling around demanding more money, the stellar cast of action stars don't get to do all that much, and that would include Mr Stallone himself. all of the best action sequences seem to get left to Jason Statham, and the funniest lines tend to get delivered by - get this - none other than Dolph Lundgren. on one side that tells you exactly how funny those funny lines are, then, but it's perhaps not as bad as you fear.

Eric Roberts turns up as the really bad bad guy. he is as forgettable here as he has been in every single film he has ever made.

there is of course the celebrated scene featuring Stallone and his two mates Bruce Willis and Arnold Schwarzenegger. *** SPOILER WARNING *** if you want it. basically, Arnie turns up to say he is not in the movie, and Brucie just swears a lot. an amusing idea, then, very poorly executed. *** SPOILERS OVER ***

one of the oddities of The Expendables is Mickey Rourke's performance. my brother is highly dismissive of it, suggesting he is present only as a "favour". from whom to who he won't elaborate on. oddly, i found Mickey Rourke to be one of the better aspects of the film.

in terms of utilizing a well known cast, The Expendables finishes a poor second to Machete. in regards of a more sanatized yet trying to be fun action film, it falls short of The A Team film from earlier this year. there's an inescapable charm to the film, though, that makes it worth watching. like Machete, the actors here are clearing having more fun that they are attempting to flex their thespian muscles, and do their best to deliver the kind of film action fans crave. whereas they don't quite get it right, they don't go too far wrong, either. worth seeing , at the least. a second film is promised with, Lord help us, an expanded role for Bruce Willis' character. let's hope the follow up doesn't have the same level of bland moments, if they can learn from Machete's pacing and editing they could deliver quite a winner.

happy viewing if any of those reviews are of use to you!

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