Friday, December 28, 2012

were things excellent in 2012?

hi there

as we approach the end of the year i thought it only fair to go back to the start of the year and review a semi-predictive post. following this link will whisk you off to a post i wrote then, speculating on certain things that could well be excellent. were they? well, let's have a look at all the things i listed there.

please be warned that it is highly likely that there are *** SPOILERS AHEAD ***

the mostly magnificent TV series House finally came to an end. for many it simply ran out of steam a season or two before the end actually came. it did, for the most part, at least redeem itself in its last run of episodes.

sadly, a much hoped for "fanboy" moment of reaching nirvana never happened, there was no cameo or sighting of Hugh Laurie's friend and comedy partner, Stephen Fry, anywhere in the series or in the final episode. no doubt Mr Fry was far too busy tweeting to fly to the States to do it. oh well.

as for how the series actually ended, well, there was never ever going to be a perfect ending. what they came up with, though - an act that was both selfless and selfish - was much better than it could have been. many will miss the show, and i am one of the many.

over to the cinema now, and yay, behold, for this film turned out not to be too bad after all.

there was every chance that this film could have been a complete mess. too many characters, too little plot and lots of things blowing up was the risk being run in making a film of The Avengers, a risk that was more or less avoided.

how it was avoided, though, means that the film is not perhaps as great as many have said. in essence the film is not The Avengers as such, it is basically Thor 1.5. if you remove any character other than Thor or Loki then you still have a film, and the whole thing revolves around the bit tagged on the end of Thor. that's not a complaint as such, for it worked.
what didn't work was the fact that it was the personification of smoke and mirrors. it looked and felt excellent as you watched it, but in retrospect it feels like the most hollow, shallow film ever made. of all the characters in it, only - oddly - Hulk was given any depth or detail, something that they managed to spectacularly fail to give in either of the recent films dedicated to the character.
The Avengers was not a disappointment, just disappointing in certain aspects. was there a film that was both disappointing and a major disappointment? of course there was.

the warnings that this would be a bad film were there before it even had a script or a name. Prometheus, made by Sir Ridley Scott soley as he wanted to "do something in 3D", represents a major waste of time, money and talent.
born from the horrid Avatar giving people the idea that 3D + Sci-Fi = money, this film just never ever got going. it can't decide if it's its own thing or an Alien prequel, a matter not helped by Sir Ridley giving a different interpretation of what exactly it is in each interview he does.
whereas i was doubtful of the project from the start, i really did try to give it a fair watch in the hope i would be wrong and this would be a masterpiece. sadly, nothing great was hidden away in it at all, and i would be surprised if either the critical or - most importantly - box office response allows for the making of a sequel the ending suggests.

a film which, thankfully, did not disappoint at all was The Dark Knight Rises. there was a huge weight of expectation resting on this film after the spectacular success of The Dark Knight and in no way, shape or form did the film buckle or crack under the expectations of it.

The Dark Knight Rises was as impressive as the first two Batman films made by Christopher Nolan, and a fitting, sensible end to this re-imagining of the character. full credit to Warner Bros for backing the director 100% on this, letting him make the films his way and insisting on no changes or inclusions. sure, they suggested one or two things (for marketing Warner asked Mr Nolan to "consider" a Robin character and to please make it in 3D), but when he said no they accepted it.

was The Dark Knight Rises the best film i saw in 2012? probably. it would be a close call between that and Safety Not Guaranteed, i think.

in finishing off in film, the Star Wars 3D re-release appears not to have been all that successful. i base that on the fact that they are now planning to rush the remaining 5 films into 3D theatres a good deal quicker than one a year. never mind that, though, there was of course somewhat bigger news involving the universe of Star Wars......

for some bizarre reason, although if we are honest everything they do is bizarre, the "fanboy" brigade were up in arms about the idea of Star Wars now being owned by Disney. why? George Lucas had previously made it clear that he had no wish to make any more films. in the deal he has struck - and Mr Lucas has basically given away every cent paid to him by Disney to good causes - these beloved films are now in the hands of arguably the greatest movie making studio of all time, a company known for only delivering high quality finished products.

the idea of more Star Wars films, made with the same love and skill that the original ones were, is a cause for great celebration. many are saying that they will refuse to go and see the new Disney produced films. i have no doubt that they shall be the loudest - good or bad - when the films emerge.
on to music, and oh dear. ladies and gentlemen, The Rolling $tone$.

there were many, many things they could have done to mark their 50th anniversary. a get together at one of the old pubs and clubs they used to play at. a nice, honest, uncensored documentary about their ups and downs. something practical and a great legacy - a Stones scholarship, perhaps, or opening up their own recording studio to give future generations a chance of making a record and getting success.

instead we got overpriced and, by all accounts, less than fantastic concerts.

the 50th anniversary of The Rolling Stones was not all bad, however. one of the new songs they recorded this year, Doom & Gloom, ranks along with the best they have ever done. and, whatever faults there were in the concerts they arranged, Bill Wyman and Mick Taylor were invited to join them, a rare break from the "once you are out then you are out" view the band usually has towards former members.

2013 will no doubt see the Stones become the $tone$ further. Ronnie Wood has recently got married again, so there is a divorce he will have to pay for in the near future. will they actually backtrack from their "we don't do mud" approach and play at the Glastonbury Festival? if enough money is thrown at them, i would imagine so. i had previously thought that there was no chance of it, but now i am not so sure.

the 50th anniversary of The Rolling Stones was not, believe it or not, the biggest disaster in regards of celebrating 50 years of pop music that changed the world. that honour, somehow, fell upon The Beatles.

you would have thought more noise would have been made about this anniversary, but not to be. for some reason all and sundry ignored the date on which John, Paul, George and Ringo first went into a studio together, instead opting to celebrate the day on which their first record went on sale.

efforts to celebrate the commercial side of the 50th anniversary of The Beatles was a total failure, too. the well intentioned decision to re-release a 7" single of Love Me Do fifty years on went as badly as it could have. somehow the wrong recording was used, and what went to press was a version of the song that did not have Ringo Starr on it. the pressings were destroyed before ever being shipped, so don't bother looking for one. the fact that they decided not to re-press the correct recording of the song and issue that hints at a worrying apparent lack of interest to celebrate the history of a band that really did change everthing.

and finally, the musical highlight of the year. need you ask what it was?

The Stone Roses at Heaton Park. one of those once in a generation (if you are lucky) moments. i have probably written more than enough on this subject already, if you wish to read more then simply go through my posts from earlier in the year, particularly around July!

although John Squire has confirmed that "one or two" new songs are in the bag, there's no sign of any new album by the band, although onwards they go with more concerts in 2013. i hope everyone that wants to gets to see them, and experiences the same magic as we did at Heaton Park.

well, i am certain that covers all the points from my post in January! will i have a look at what may or may not be excellent in 2013? not sure at the moment. other than Beady Eye and Primal Scream offering new albums, there's nothing scheduled for release that looks too exciting at the moment, to be honest.

thanks for reading!

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

Thursday, December 27, 2012

glimpses of Christmas

hi there

well, as promised a post or two ago, here's some relatively still in time pictures of Christmas celebrations that were sent to me!

in respect of a respect for the way in which the Earth rotates / orbits in relation to the Sun and the calendar we have created as a consequence, it is only fair to start off with where they celebrate Christmas first, or at least the first of those to send me pictures. that would of course then mean a visual trip to New Zealand.

this picture may well be considered a trifle late for the annual battle of the Christmas tree pictures, but considering the trouble it is to send pictures from New Zealand it is not for me to quibble. behold, how a tree stands in upside down land!

that is quite a splendid tree, i must say, and an equally impressive set of Christmas cards stuck to the door just behind it!

whatever speed be lacked in regular pictures from New Zealand is negated somewhat by the happy, regular arrival of the self-portrait of the family every year. This year, of course, there were two people joining them. surprised that it was not three new faces - where had Marmite got to?

if such a thing as a conspiracy theorist lurks and stalks this blog they will no doubt be having the above picture declared a forgery. why? well, Dad has normal coloured footwear on. there's not a hint of red there. the smile Grant has suggests he has hidden them.

across an ocean or two and wave of time and it came to be Christmas time in our home. to that end, Father Christmas was exceptionally good to the boys. as indeed were the Harlo gang, who arranged for some class presents for the boys. here's James showing off what he got from them.

that is a super shirt! speaking of super, if any Harlo gang member (or anyone for that matter) knows where one can get that shirt in XXXXL size (or thereabouts), do not hesitate - go get it, and send it along to me!

Father Christmas also kindly delivered some presents from Grandma and Grandad for the boys. oddly nothing sheep related, not really featuring red shoes. they would have loved such items, of course, but they seem to appreciate the new Batmobiles all the same!

how clever Father Christmas was to bring those, he must have known they would go rather well with the exceptionally ace Batcave toys that they also got!

with this being the 21st century it was inevitable that the boys would be getting some modern and sophisticated toys. William was very impressed indeed about getting one of them "Leap Pad" things.

i have not had a go on it myself, but i have replaced the batteries on it a couple of times already and it does look like a rather top present!

moving over to England, and Trevor has very kindly sent on some pictures of the previously mentioned Harlo gang celebrating Christmas. well, they are good people and thus celebrate life every day really, so Christmas is one presumes a time of uber-celebration. except, perhaps, for young Chris.

where as 75% of the people in the picture above look most content, there is that wayward look in the eyes of Christopher. he has, after all, been seduced by the ways of the life aquatic, and is clearly yearning for a return to the high seas. as happy as he is to celebrate with his family, he is clearly of a torn heart, for he feels he belongs out there on a ship, helping some burly, tattooed naval type do some rope rigging, or whatever the hell it is they do at sea.

Chris is also quite possibly hankering for a return to Paris. that would explain the ho-he-ho-he French shirt he has on, and indeed the fact that he left out a treat typical of French cuisine, namely a bowl of coco pops and a massive glass of Pernod, for Santa on Christmas Eve.

all that you could want to know of why Chris would be wishing to head to the seas, or Paris, or even to Paris via sea, is on display in the next picture.

yes, that is Andrew randomly taking yet another picture of something wrapped in tinfoil. and yes indeed that is Colin giving some sort of hands on demonstration with a Christmas pudding. one can only hope that Colin is explaining the intricate ways of the offside trap there, but alas it cannot be ruled out that he is in fact giving some sort of impromptu and you would imagine unsolicited sex education lesson of sorts.

well, i do have a few more Christmas pictures to post here, but i am kind of waiting for my dear mother-in-law to read and review a certain book first. when she does, or if i simply lose patience, an update shall land!

i sincerely hope and trust you all had a most excellent Christmas!

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

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

now and then and now again

hi there

well, those of you visiting hoping for something akin to a festive update are likely to be left frustrated by this post. sorry about that, but be assured that i will try and do some Christmas pictures reasonably soon.

i had reason to go out to the shops today, this being Boxing Day or whatever one choses to call it now. Day Of Goodwill is a phrase i have heard in passing, as indeed is Family Day. it was the family that gave me reason to head out, as it happens. Christmas is a time for gifts that frequently require batteries. to this end, i had indeed stocked up with some 30 "penlight" batteries in advance of such gifts. i was caught somewhat offguard, however, by just how quickly one of them ":Leap Pad" devices devours the energy contained within batteries! ho hum, off i went, then, to get a rechargable set (or two) and a charger.

after that, it was off for some basics in the form of milk and eggs. who should i bump into, in a mostly deserted shopping centre, other than my good friend, nay bum chum, Spiros. a photograph or two was then in order. here, for your viewing pleasure, are the two of us in that most notorious of places in any supermarket, the egg aisle.  

as chance, or if you will fate, would have it, my considerably better half was recently cleaning up the house and found a most interesting item from the past. well, it was unlikely that she would find one from the future. moving on, and here is the item - a picture key ring, no less, although it is one formidable in size key ring.

that is Spiros and i some, what, 15 or more years ago. probably closer to 16 or 17, really. that was back in the days when i did not have a beard but did have ace "Morrissey" style glasses, and Spiros had something of a Michael Bolton thing going on with his hair.

other than that, as you can see, very little else has change about the two of us!

i did suggest to Spiros that we do something along the lines of a "proper" pose, but as far as he is concerned these are in fact proper poses. as his great artistic ways were only recently shown off on this blog, i am in no position to argue with him.

i do hope and trust that you bumped, as it were, into some people of interest over Christmas too!

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

Saturday, December 22, 2012

The Litigators

hi there

let me start off by accepting the rather pointless nature of giving any sort of review or criticism of a John Grisham novel. books with the name of Mr Grisham on tend to sell rather well. very well indeed, as it happens - on average, ten million copies of each book published. certain people out there love to just run down his style of writing and the fact that he seldom deviates away from the 'legal thriller' genre.

in respect of those run downs, i am pretty sure he makes a fair few thousand in the time it takes him to read how "poor" his written style is. as for sticking to a 'legal thriller' genre, well, he kind of invented, or at least rejuvenated, this kind of book. sticking to medical mysteries hardly harmed the series House much that i noticed.

with that qualification, i must say how pleasantly surprised i was by The Litigators, a book that i appreciate has been out for around about a year now but one that i've only got around to reading now.

i am reluctant to give too much of the plot details away since it is a novel that i encourage you to go and read for yourself. in short, it's the story of one of those quasi-enslaved corporation lawyers, working some 100 hours a week minimum, who eventually decides enough is enough and does the unthinkable - walk out on a major law firm.

what follows is something of a far-fetched but all the same hugely enjoyable spin on the classic comedy Trading Places, with the young(ish) lawyer stumbling in to the offices of two getting on in life if not with success lawyers and contriving to end up working for them.

if you saw the word "comedy" in there and raised an eyebrow, well spotted. comic elements in John Grisham novels tend to be noted only for their absence. this book is, if not literary prize winning material, rather funny in places. after a couple of serious works of late - some non-fiction legal work and the novel The Confession - it's fantastic to see the writer not belittle any subject, but still find the time to inject a little humour into the story. it's probably the presence of some light relief and genuine laugh out loud moments that saw me finish this novel within 4 to 5 days, something that i have not done for quite some time.

his previous (legal thriller) novel, The Confession, took me upwards of 4 months to get through. it was a novel that was far better than the previous two or three (and i am thinking in particular of the one that was basically 300 pages of eating in Italy, The Broker i think) but was tough reading to get to a conclusion you may well have predicted rather early on in it. whereas this novel hardly carries a major element of surprise or suspense, it's just so wonderfully engaging it really is a trick to put down.

if you do for some reason read my blog frequently but have not up to now read a John Grisham novel then this one is a pretty good starting point. i would rank it up there with my favourites by him, which off the top of my head are The Runaway Jury, The Street Lawyer, The Partner and of course The Firm. most of the ones mentioned there are ones that i read and thoroughly enjoyed whilst on some lengthy journey; if i had taken The Litigators on a plane or train i am confident it would have been read in one sitting.

be wary of anyone trying to tell you "John Grisham writes rubbish". he does not, he writes (for the most part) wonderful, entertaining stories. if someone insists on slamming him, do check, to the nearest million, exactly how many copies of their work sell in comparison. John Grisham has sold somewhere close to 300 million copies of books with good reason, and all of those reasons can be found in this book.

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

Bane as Max

hi there

well, the long awaited Mad Max sequel / reboot Fury Road has made a fair bit of news today, it would be fair to say! the first image of Tom Hardy as Max has been unleashed upon the world in rather unusual and generous circumstances.

a fan sent a letter to Mr Hardy asking for a signed picture and presumably was very surprised indeed to be the recipient of the first official picture from the film to feature the title character!

what an excellent way to unleash an image! full credit goes to Warner Bros for not making a big song and dance about this "leak". you could speculate it was deliberate marketing i suppose, but if it was so what? other studios, notably the infamous anti-consumer kings Sony, would have had a fit about such an incident.

as for what to make of the picture, well, ace i suppose. he looks the part at the least. there are a number of people out there who, for some reason, wanted Sam Worthington in the role instead of Tom Hardy. that would be the Sam Worthington who was rubbish in the rubbish Terminator Salvation, who was awful in the horrid Clash Of The Titans remake and just about found his level as a mostly computer generated smurf-like thing in the terrible Avatar. i think you will find Tom Hardy tends to be less of a jinx in respect of anticipated films.

Fury Road is due in the middle of 2013, let's hope it is as cool and as insane as we all want it to be!

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

Friday, December 21, 2012

the art of Spiros

hi there

yeah, starting off with the "sorry for lack of updates" thing again. just been too busy, sadly!

i did receive a delightful picture from my friend, nay, bum chum Spiros that warranted getting my act together and posting here. Spiros, when not being a Turkish Baths or Greek Hotel promoter, is quite proudly a patron of the visual arts.

his, for want of a better word, relationship with Willem Boshoff is quite well known about, of course. Spiros once arranged for me to have lunch with him which, at the expense of Standard Bank, was very nice indeed. beyond that, Spiros is celebrated in certain circles for his controversial 'Space' paintings, and indeed his manipulation of certain corporate profile pictures with unspecified liquids.

today, though, he has unleashed on the world a new work of art. he has delivered an impressive rendering of a picture in a Spur restaurant somewhere or other. the challenge was to do an exact copy of a picture presented to you, but Spiros seems to have let his creative juices get the better of him.

yes, the observant of you may have noticed,yes he has indeed handed this in with my name and phone number on it. i see i am also 9 years old.

i am not sure what exactly i will get if, by some miracle, i win, but i will be sure to share the details here. probably a balloon or similar.

yes, there will be retribution for Spiros for this. yes there will.

in the mean time,

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

Saturday, December 15, 2012

Australia, are you watching?

hi there

well, some credit for me for trying to do regular updates, please, even if the two before this were not the most pleasant of things!

a much, much happier topic to post on today. two topics, actually - James and cricket. two very fine things indeed in this world, i do, then, is James showing off his rather dapper new cricket gear!

he really does look the part! well, i am not sure many Test batsmen go out to the wicket wearing a set of Lego Star Wars pyjamas, but then again perhaps it is a look that will catch on!

a question James has to answer is exactly which Test playing nation will he play for. he is, after all, as qualified to play for England as he is South Africa. actually, it seems the best approach these days for South Africans to play for England, so that might answer that.

he has a theory at the moment that the ICC will let him play Tests for England and one-day shenanigans for South Africa. as long as he plays in the Ashes, fine by me.

it will probably be another 11 - 12 years before he makes his full Test debut, if we are honest. i know the greatest modern cricketer, Mr Tendulkar, started early, but James is way taller than him and unlikely to get a call up as a consequence. i think James will be ready for an Ashes debut around the 2023/2024 series. Australians, consider yourself warned.

i do have a few other pictures from today to post, incluing us having cake and coke for breakfast (NB the non-Oasis, non-Keith Richards variant of coke), but it's late in the day and i have an online appointment with a Frankie......

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

Thursday, December 13, 2012

what makes a dickhead a special kind of dickhead?

hi there

it sometimes gets difficult to tell a regular, normal dickhead from a special kind of dickhead. this recent post of mine helps one understand what a special kind of one might be, depending on if the driver was disabled or not. i am talking, of course, about the more public special kind of dickhead.

a special kind of dickhead is one that would, for instance, somehow manage to be stripped of their captaincy twice. they would also, perhaps, conclude that a judge finding you a dubious character and delivering a sentence of "not guilty due to lack of evidence" translates as "completely cleared and found innocent". and it of course goes without saying that a special kind of dickhead would always prefer to share his romantic ways with the partners of his team mates rather than with his own wife.

a special kind of dickhead, and i do mean someone so special that they seem to revel in being declared the king of all dickheads, would probably post a picture rather like this one for the whole world to see.

i am sorry, but no you cannot ever unsee the picture you have just seen.

with certain, special exceptions.......

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

Emazweni Mining And Projects - progressive employers

hi there

just one of those random posts where i wish to wholeheartedly congratulate a company or business for their progressive ways. today it is the turn of someone called Emazweni Mining and Projects who clearly have a wonderful record in employing disabled people.

i am assuming they employ the disabled, since one of their vehicles was parked in a disabled bay at some shops earlier today. looking at the way they had parked, the employee of Emazweni Mining and Projects must suffer some exceptional disability as they were unable to park the car straight.

one can only assume that the driver of this car was disabled. there was no disabled parking sticker on the vehicle, but it would take one special kind of dickhead who was not disabled to park a vehicle with their company name all over it in a disabled parking bay if they were not, no?

bravo, then, Emazweni, for either hiring a person with disabilities and giving them a company car, or for making sure that everyone knows which company employs people with an alarming lack of concern for anyone else at all.

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

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

The Amazing Spider-Man - that bad?

hi there

i was quite surprised to open up my email at verk this morning and be greeted with the news that The Amazing Spider-Man is the subject of what i believe the kids of the interwebnet call a "fire sale". it would seem that, a little over a couple of weeks since it was released, certain online retailers are rather keen to sell off whatever stock they have.

here's a screenshot thingie of it over on the site takealot where they have it at more or less half the price of it on release.

and an identical price for it is available over on loot, as you can see below.

those of you rather keen to pay the full release price for the disc can of course simply pop over to kalahari, where you can pay a good deal more and as a bonus be subjected to their ratrher curious interpretation of what does and does not constitute "24 hour delivery".

i would imagine, indeed assume, that anyone who purchased this on the day of release some three weeks ago will be mildly annoyed at seeing this. i certainly was about a year ago when i purchased the excellent films Rise Of The Planet Of The Apes and Narnia : The Dawn Treader at the full price, only to see them to drop in price to less than half (!) that a month later. with the movie companies prone to bleating about how interwebnet piracy and pirate DVDs are "killing the industry" it makes it most strange that they would endorse a move like this that just angers those of us who appreciate and prefer to have the genuine article in our collection, making one feel like purchasing or otherwise obtaining a less than legit copy is the way to go.

that said, it could be the case that a bit of Nigel Tufnel's Clam Caravan is on the go here, and the price has dropped simply because they have not sold a single copy between them. it is a release that, after discussing with my (considerably) better half, i am skipping for a start.

earlier this year i gave as lenient and diplomatic review as i could to the film mostly due to my cousins and Uncle seemingly enjoying it a good deal more than i did. for all the merits of the production (and here i am thinking Martin Sheen, Denis Leary and Sally Field) there's no avoiding the sense that the film just falls flat and never feels like repeat viewing would be worthwhile. as elements of it are far, far too dark for the boys, it is not like i would be prepared to buy it - even at this reduced price - for the boys to busy themselves with.

apologies to anyone reading this that really, really loved the film. the evidence, however, suggests that i am far from alone in thinking this film was a little bit of a wasted effort.

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

Monday, December 10, 2012

Nasher Says Read

hi there

the history of the rock and roll autobiography is littered, to borrow a music phrase, with more misses than hits. leaving aside the misses for the more negative writer, perhaps the greatest rock book of all time will indeed be declared as Life by Keith Richards - a hefty tome that was so superb it was considered for "proper" literature awards. Ian Hunter's Diary Of A Rock And Roll Star, capturing as it does the moment Mott The Hoople went from struggling giggers to (briefly) the biggest band in the world, is rightly celebrated. aside from that, only the book on The Stone Roses by John Robb and of course Hammer Of The Gods, the tale of Led Zeppelin, spring to mind as being books which read as good as the musicians sounded.

happy days are here, then, for Nasher Says Relax, the autobiography of Brian Nash, joins the list of great music autobiographies. for those of you wishing to skip any sort of lengthy review, it's of course essential for any Frankie fan and indeed eye opening reading for anyone who, like me, grew up in the 80s but never quite left the music of that decade behind.

if you read on, well, i won't be giving away too much of what is in the book, but hopefully shall be saying enough to have you click away and order this gem of a read for yourself!

for all the huge, successful artists of the 80s, few if any came in from as leftfield and as rapidly as Frankie. they were not really an overnight sensation as such, but it was something like less than a year between the line up as we know it forming and doing gigs and the band selling over one million copies of their first single, Relax.

The band was, fairly or not, split into two camps by the media - up front you had Holly and Paul, two outrageously good looking, (rightly) unashamed to be gay front men. behind them you had three "rough as you like", no-nonsense lads in the form of Mark, Ped and Nasher. If you wished you could look as good as Holly or Paul did (whether you had the same sexuality or not didn't matter), it was the three lads you wanted to be part of; either wishing you were in a gang as cool as them or, indeed, wishing you had one of them as an older brother.

of the three, Mark had the classical good looks that you imagine would see him seduce anyone that took his fancy, Ped was in appearance a wild card, the life and soul of any party, and Nasher was the one in-between those two. his image was, and indeed is, "stick together with us, we'll all be fine".

nothing much in the book takes away from that impression, save to indicate that perhaps Paul was closer to the Lads than he was to Holly behind the scenes. to this extent, Nasher's story is as anecdotal as it is informative.

to that extent, yes, the book does clarify some of the myths, legends and criticisms of Frankie Goes To Hollywood. this "the band couldn't play and didn't feature on the records" story gets dealt with in, if i may say so, a very interesting comparison to other records of the time. exactly how and why they ended up with one of the worst deals any band in the history of the music business ever signed is also exposed, touching on the prejudice against certain ways of life in the mainstream media and industry, shall we say. not playing Live Aid, the time away and a whole host of other incidents are presented here by Nasher, giving only the second account of the band after Holly Johnson's A Bone In My Flute, published some 20 years ago.

it also deals with the seemingly inevitable break up of the band. in no way is it a happy side to the story, but Nasher presents it as something that some of the band had come to terms with long before it actually happened. the efforts to keep the Frankie phenomenon going are nothing short of a revelation. for instance, and this was released to the press by Nasher so i give not too much away here, the world came this close to seeing a certain Simon le Bon take over as the vocalist for Frankie. as to the how, why and eventually why not of that, well, read the book!

despite the pictures here and the title of the book, there's somewhat more to the life story of Brian Nash than Frankie Goes To Hollywood. he was, after all, in the band for just 5 years of his life. to give that some context, a quote from Mani. when it was put to him, prior to the recent reunion, that he had (at the time) been in Primal Scream longer than he had been in The Stone Roses and pressed on his feelings, his answer was "I've been in both bands longer than I was ever in The Beatles, but that's life".

the account Nasher gives of growing up in Liverpool is a joy to read. a mostly happy, average and normal one if the truth be told, but every now and then subjected to certain kinds of prejudices. different, of course, from the ones that Holly spoke of in his book, but in essence two sides of the same coin. the account of the transition from watching Top Of The Pops to being a regular guest on it is in particular impressive reading. no "we always knew we were destined to be big", no sense of entitlement, just the sheer thrill and love of being able to make music for a living and appreciating all those who liked the records he made.

equally, life after Frankie is a captivating read.we grew up thinking rock stars = piles of money, mansions, drugs, women and easy days for life. the reality is somewhat different to that, both for Nasher and for many other stars of the 80s that we had assumed were "set up for life" on the basis of a string of hits. Nasher's astonishing bad luck streak with record labels leads one to wonder how any record label manages to keep going and get records out; all this "internet downloads" crying would be a lot more convincing if the rest of their business model was in order.

with three solo records that sell reasonably well year-on-year and the skills to pay the bills when he's away from the recording studio, the resounding message delivered by this book is a content, blessed and fortunate life. considering the dodgy deals pulled on him and lack of either financial reward or indeed artistic appreciation for just what he and the rest of the band did with Frankie, his rejection of most animosity to how they were treated and how it ended and his refusal to remember anything but what a wonderful time it was with the band is a credit to him and a lesson to us all.

a number of you, perhaps regular readers of this blog or people who have simply googled your way here, will be aware that there was something of a delay in the publication. this was down to "legal reasons", with an unknown party or parties seeking to block publication. i can confirm that the book out is unedited and as intended. everything in the book, good or bad, is fair comment. whoever sought to stop it either got bad legal advice or seriously misunderstood the intention of Nasher. there's no mud slinging or accusations here, just his side of the story.

as for who might have sought to stop publication, who knows and to an extent who cares. a lot of speculation (and i have no inside information at all) comes to the conclusion that it was someone who has the letter H in their name. all i know for sure is this - no more can i listen to the Liverpool album without hearing, if i have done the maths from Nasher's figures correctly, some £40,000 of entirely superfluous prodution material on each track.

it doesn't really matter who tried to stop Nasher's story, what matters is that it is freely available from booksellers and it's a book you should really, really buy.

for those looking for a super deluxe gift for the 80s child in your life, visiting Nasher's amazon store allows you to get a copy of the book not only signed but with whatever dedication you would like. this might be just a touch late for the Christmas gift idea, but Nasher will do his best and it's the perfect gift for any time of the year!

from me, just an average Frankie fan wandering around the world, a big thank you to Nasher for writing this. putting your own life story out in the world is a brave and bold move. it gives a superb account of the band many of us love that takes a different angle from Holly's book but yet does not take away (too much) from what was in A Bone In My Flute. beyond Frankie, Nasher's story is one of just your average fella that got to live the life he loved and love the life he lives. no one should ever ask for more than that; so few of us accept the beauty of it.

thanks for reading this, but most importantly i do hope you're now considering reading this amazing book.

well 'ard!

R60 at KFC

hi there

a Monday can be a most tricky thing to navigate, especially at verk. Trigger, however, found a pretty useful way to map out a course for it; a map reflecting a destination of KFC.

as a number of you will be quite aware, i really don't deal with menus or other such listings when it comes to KFC. i usually have a ponder on the matter and, in cases such as today, discuss with Trigger a set amount of coins of money that i would like to receive KFC to the net value of.

whereas i leaned more towards a R50 figure, Trigger argued - with some success - that R60 was an even better amount. his argument, if you are at all interested, was to simply state that R60 was a better amount.

and thus it came to pass that this was my lunch for today.

what does R60 get one for lunch from KFC? as it transpired, 2 of them "streetwise" burgers, a small issue of the celebrated sprinkle pops, 3 (three) fine pieces of The Colonel's finest fried chicken and a reasonable amount of chips.

it was bloody hard work getting through that lot, i can tell you, but i did it.

hope you all had an excellent lunch and an outstanding Monday!

many thanks indeed to Trigger for the guidance.

be excellent to each other!

Saturday, December 08, 2012

Christmas tree wars

hi there

Christmas is here once again, so let's all have some fun. thus spoke Peter "Ped" Gill, one of the wisest statements he ever made in a lifetime of wise statements. the season to be jolly, you hardly need me to point out, is indeed upon us.

this means that, alas, the usual battle rages across the oceans with my family about who has the best Christmas tree, who put theirs up first and so on. we put ours up last weekend, but quite frankly anyone who wants the title of "first to put their tree up" instead of us is most welcome to it.

there's no sense of bah, humbug to that view. it's just that i can't go around being all confused and bewildered by Christmas displays going up in stores around October and then contest a "who put their tree up first" challenge, now, can i?

anyway, here is ours!

i had, it has to be said, little or nothing to do with the look of the tree. what you see before you, or if you will above, is the hard work and artistic vision of James and William, aided by their Mummy. the class Santa you can see is the work of James!

Richard, Erika, Lyla and Ruby-Lee have a most impressive tree up on display, featuring something that i dare not put on ours; something that i am surprised not to have been asked about yet!

ace work everyone! and yes, the mystery item on Richard's tree that is not on ours would be Christmas crackers. if i put them on now, James and William will just go bonkers wanting to pull them all straight away. they are, then, still in their sturdy and hidden away packaging in our house!

should friends or family around the world send me images of their tree i shall do my best to put it on display here!

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

Friday, December 07, 2012

clever marketing (at a cost)

hi there

some of you may recall that a little while ago i reviewed a film anthology called V/H/S. if you cannot be bothered to click on the link there, the basics of my comment was that it was fairly hit and miss, with it overall not being (sadly) as awesome as the premise suggested. still worth a look.

despite the widespread availability of the film across the interwebnet (both legally and not so much legally), the film is for some reason only getting a release in the UK in January 2013. it is at the least getting a pretty good push for the release, with a most awesome poster for it.

on top of that, there's an excellent example of correct marketing tie-in for you with this release. V/H/S will be getting a limited (as in 300 only) edition release on.......VHS!

i am not sure that all that many people will rush for the £60.00 price listed on the cover, to be honest. that said, despite some indifference from me for the film, i am sorely tempted, as it just looks class!

details of how and when you can buy this, if you so wish to, will apparently be revealed on the V/H/S fan site in the not too distant future.

meanwhile, a sequel of sorts is already in production - S-VHS will be the name, by all accounts. i don't recall the "Super" VHS being too popular, so i suspect this marketing trick will not be repeated as and when that surfaces!

i suppose the prequels will be V2000 and Beta?

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

birthday time!

hi there

well, i did warn in the last post that things are busy, so updates shall be far and few between! these last few weeks have just been exceptionally hectic!
one of the things we were rather hectic with was William's birthday last weekend. hectic in a very, very good sense of course!

on the morning of his birthday William walked downstairs and remained rather oblivious to a considerable pile of presents. he is rather unassuming in that way. when his brother came trotting down the stairs, singing happy birthday, he did clock that they were for him!

as you would expect, James was ready, willing and very able to "help" William unwrap his presents!

after messing about with his new birthday toys for a while, it was ready to get ready for some special visitors. Dylan and my dear, beloved, please allow no harm to befall her mother-in-law came over for a spot of lunch.

after getting dressed, William decided the best way he could get things ready for the visitors was to test and try out every possible dangerous thing there was to do in the garden; be it climb up slides and jump off the top or turn swings into an obstacle course.

as Michele was busy pottering around in the kitchen and he was left under my guardianship, i figured i might as well just let him get on with it. what possible harm could befall him?

Dylan and my mother in law (see earlier praise) did indeed arrive, and if the truth be told we all had a wonderful time. so good, in fact, that i was a little sad when Monica said it was time for them to go. blimey, and it's not even Christmas.

never mind that, whilst they were at us we did have a splendid time. Dylan, James and William had a most splendid sword and light saber battle in the garden, for a start!

that the boys broke nothing in the house or garden, nor brought any harm upon themselves, was a most excellent bonus!

now then, what is a birthday without a birthday cake? as William really, really likes dark chocolate i got one of them gonouche (ganouche?) cakes.  it was a wise decision, as it turned out, as all and sundry loved it. William in particular, of course, but more on that just now. in the mean time, here is the cake!

and here is William blowing out the candle, possibly for the sixth or seventh time!

we eventually managed to persuade William that perhaps eating some of the cake would be even better than blowing out the candle again and again. this he more or less agreed to, which meant that subsequently everyone had a conventional, or if you will routine, slice of cake.

when he had finished his slice, William opted to have a second serving. this is fair enough, it was his birthday after all. however, he went for the rather less conventional way of getting some more.

yes, you are seeing right. William just shoved his hand right into the cake and helped himself to a handful of a slice!

i suppose i could have tried to stop him, or discourage him at the least, but then again why would i? his birthday, his cake and his way of doing things!

the important thing was, as you can truly see below, William really, really liked the cake!

well, what else can i say but that all and sundry had a simply wonderful day, hopefully William even more than the rest of us!

i promise to at least try and do a post or two over the weekend, so long as time allows!

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

Tuesday, December 04, 2012

December already?

hi there

blimey, it's December? what can i say but sorry to the regular visitors of this site (and bless you all, i do appreciate you taking the time to pop by) for the lack of updates of late. absolutely no sinister or untoward reason for the gaps in posts, just exceptionally busy at verk (makes a change, i know) and at home too. will do my best to get back on here on a regular basis!

in the mean time, here's James attempting to show off his 'student of the year' award, and William thwarting the effort a touch by showing off William! 

James did exceptionally well in his year end awards, and yes of course we are exceptionally proud of him! William too, of course, who informed us that he was the "William of the year". hard to argue, really - it's him or Hauge i suppose.

more posts and updates as soon as i can find a minute or two!

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