Sunday, February 28, 2016

the taper

hello there

and here we go, look you see, with one of them sort of, partially quasi technically helpful sets of observations and tips, dressed up and somewhat covered with my random words of passing interest.

following the, if moi may be so bold as to say as such, triumph of a request from one Uncle (no, not that one or that one, the other one) to transform 40 year old tape to CD, another Uncle (actually yes that one) asked if i could do something similar. the answer was, of course, yes. well, yes followed by "let me see if the, as it were, equipment still works".

the request this time was to have a look see, you, if i couldn't transform the wonders of VHS into the format known as DVD. the first aspect of this quest, then, was to see that a TV i happened to have here up in my elevated shed still worked.

yes, it does. well, i expected it to, but you never know. it has, after all, been in storage for over two years, and sailed upon waters past sharks, Somalian pirates and whatever to get to its new, presumably final, home. i had just not bothered to plug it in since we, and our stuffs of stuff, landed.

what's that in the background? it's a smart eroticus homous calendar what Spiros got me off of Greece. very interesting and frequently arousing it is, but that's not important right now.

a working TV is essential to the project so that one, or if you like i, may see exactly what is being fed into a DVD recording device. which brings us to the next stage - with a working tele now all i needed was my smart LG DVD Recorder to be in perfect working order.

as a slice of technology, the DVD Recorder that more or less works like a VHS or (ahem) Beta must hold a record for being so revolutionary and yet dying off so quick. sure, you can still get them (despite urban legends we shall get to), but who does? these days discs are cheap to buy, TV shows that you missed are available freely via official and unofficial internet "streaming" services, and most satellite companies throw you a box that you can "digitally" record shows on.

The standalone DVD Recorder, which this machine here is, has other uses, though. and it is these other uses that i was requested to do and what i would quite like it to do.
oh, i see. after getting the rotation of the first two pictures right, google and apple are fighting once again. there is to be no third time lucky, and sorry that this picture is sideways.

what's this picture of? the back of the LG TV. it's awesome, man. look at all them connection ports. and this is excluding the other side of the back of the tele, where you can add an aerial. no less than three HDMI ports, that's boss that is.

what sort of LG tele is this? the one that was the biggest we could find that was still small enough to fit into the TV stand what Grant had left us for our house in South Africa. 34" or 36" i think, sorry, i do not have a tape measure.

why didn't we just get an absolutely massive TV set, then get rid of the confines of the TV stand that Grant left us? a mix of reasons. sentiment, for sure - Grant did leave it with us, after all. also the cost of getting a new stand. and, if we're honest the fact that my Dad pretty much hacked, drilled, welded and blowtorched the TV stand to fit where it was in our house in such a way that there was no way with ease that it could be removed, let alone replaced.

onwards, then, and the first point at which it looked like the wheels may fall off of this whole project, possibly before it began. the DVD Recorder still had the factory issued moulded two pin plug on it. as would be standard in the Africa of the South, i simply got an adaptor to plug it into, with the intention of plugging the below in and getting on with testing my VHS to DVD conversion power.

did it work? nope. here in England, very much unlike South Africa, they most decidedly do not, in any way, shape or form, f*** around with electrical safety. these two pin adaptors here are locked into a 1 amp fuse, with the intention that you only use them on low electrical use equipment, most commonly razors or if you like shavers.

does the above mean that neither the DVD Recorder, or any other electrically demanding appliance, will not work? not at all, you just need to change the two pin plug to a standard UK three pin one, with the correct fuse inside the plug. 

whereas i quite agree that the above look like boss implements, or if you like instruments of torture and persuasion, i have my screwdrivers and pliers out here to use as part of the action, or if you like ritual, of changing the plug. you can't prove that i, now or ever, did anything else with them.

how do you know the right fuse for the electrical device in the UK? there are some calculations you can do in this respect, but for the most part you do not. new plugs here, as a standard, come with the maximum street legal fuse in them, which is the 13 amp one. most appliances don't need this much amp fusing, man, but it does no harm to use the higher one. live a little, just have 13 amp fuses in all your plugs and then it's not something you ever have to worry about.

a sideways, thanks to blogger vs apple on rotation, look at my most beloved pliers? for sure.

long term readers of this blog will know all about it, but for everyone else, man i f*****g love my pliers. they are awesome, and can be used for everything from basic dentistry to assisting with drilling and smoking and, indeed, opening and closing a car window when the handle breaks off.

anyway, back to the matter at hand. did the DVD Recorder, now resplendent with a shiny new English plug, work? sure, as the below picture shows, and after i worked out which of the many ports on the back of the TV (see above) i needed to use to connect it.

when was the last time i actually used this DVD Recorder? December 2013, not long before we were all packed up and moved. i know this because, as you can partially see, the last thing i recorded before leaving SA was the memorial service for Mr Nelson Mandela. the awful, awful, lack of skill or ability broadcast by SABC, granted, but also unedited, so you can hear all the boos and abuse which greeted Zuma as he disgraced the event with his horrid, self-centred speech.

know this of the Mr Mandela memorial -  i am aware of the fact that many Americans do not like him, or what he has done to their country. but, for me and for many others, the speech with Barack Obama gave at this memorial was not only moving and poignant, but all that we wanted to hear from a world leader at that time of great grief. for his speech alone, for giving the care and the strength the world needed when one of the planet's most loved children passed away, i will be forever grateful to the man, and indeed shall always admire and respect him.

some video of the DVD Recorder doing a high speed dub from its 320GB hard drive onto a blank disc, just to see if it does indeed all work as it should? sure, but even by the low down standards of video on this blog, it's not really interesting footage.

why would i wish to record VHS onto DVD via a standalone DVD Recorder? if you are asking this then i assume it's with reference to the fact that you can get all sorts of devices to record such things directly on to a PC. i am aware of this, and all my experiences with them say that this route is the better one.

recording VHS, or any external source, onto a PC is a lot of arsing around. there are dozens of settings - ratio, sound, etc - that you have to experiment with, and even then what you settle on doesn't always come out in the quality you either expected or wanted. also, many times i have seen VHS to PC conversion end up with sound either out of synch, or just missing.

with a standalone DVD Recorder, what you see is what you get. no settings to mess with other than picture quality. just plug, play, record and do.

a picture of a video file being dubbed from the DVD Recorder onto a disc? sure, but once again they have elected to rotate the picture sideways, sorry.

oh yeah, the "urban legend" of DVD Recorders like this, i nearly forgot sorry. i am not sure about the rest of the world, but in South Africa a story started that DVD Recorders were declared illegal at the request of DSTV, then then at the time only satellite / pay TV provider. whilst they vanished off the shelves, i don't think it was so much for that reason as it was that the technology, as mentioned, became pretty much obsolete more or less as soon as it hit the market. why, after all, would the courts make something illegal just for the sake of the profits of a company which had a monopoly on services? a quick google search says you can quite happily, and presumably legally, purchase DVD Recorders like this one, both here in the UK and in other corners of the world.

as for the DVD Recorder functionality, it's smart. if you record to the hard drive first you can, as seen above, dub straight on to a disc - and at high speed to, so long as you've not edited the video. and trim or edit the video is something you can do, in a user friendly way, on the device with what you have recorded.

whilst with a DVD-R disc you simply record and go, with a DVD+R disc you have to "finalize" it so that it will play on other machines. i generally find +R discs are more reliable, so try to only use them and, on the instances when i am recording, try to remember to finalize, as you can sideways see here.

so, phase one of this taping project is done. the equipment works and is ready. now i just need my Uncle (you know which one, see above) to turn up with an armed and fully operational video machine, and the tapes to make into discs.

what will be on the tapes that i am transforming? home video mostly, i would imagine. i mean, of some of the tapes have illicit or suppressed footage that governments would kill to keep buried then nice one, but i think for the most part it's going to be family and friends having fun.

splendid be it if any of the technical stuff in this blog post has been of use or interest to anyone!

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

Friday, February 26, 2016

represents a symbol of my individuality, and my belief in personal freedom

hey there

not an overt amount to write of, look you see. i just know that a certain Wild At Heart poster tends to be popular with you, the random web browser who likes to search for such things, so here's another look at it.

only this time, dear reader, it has a distinctly different light cast upon it.

if the above looks like the poster is no longer in my home, for i would not have access to a smart rug like that (actually i may well look for one similar to it), that would be because it isn't. the person, in another land, who asked me if i would part with this poster received the benefit of this parting as recently as this week, and as requested they kindly sent on a picture. more of the story available by clicking here if you so wish.

i shall not repeat much of the story again, for we live in the now. and, in the now, it does my heart good to see that both the poster arrived safely, and that it is now somewhere that it shall be on display with someone who thinks it as cool as i do. where exactly has it ended up in the world? jeg er ked af , jeg er ikke frihed til at sige.

this episode has reminded me of just how awesome the internet once was. in the late 90s and early 00s i was able to freely connect and chat with strangers who had a common love of the same music, books, films and so on that i had. frequently we exchanged address details and posted each other stuff that was cool which we had and they did not. it's quite a shame that the pollution of criminals, groomers, stalkers and misfits across the net has made many feel it is unsafe to do this any more.

my last view of the poster before it travelled? sure, why not.

indeed yes, my (considerably) better half was commissioned to wrap and seal it up in such a way as to assure that it arrived as safely and as perfectly as possible. no easy task, the poster will be somewhere in the region of 25 years old now.

anyway, anything else i could think of to write here would be your basic sentimental hygiene. if the new owner of the smart Wild At Heart poster is reading this, i am really thrilled that it arrived as it should have and may it bring you many moments of happiness to gaze upon it.

være fremragende til hinanden!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Wednesday, February 24, 2016

at play in the fields of the lord


yeah, this blog has nothing to do with the film of the same name as the title, look you see. at least i think there was a film of that name, but what it was called escapes me for the moment.

as a builder of routines i don't normally find intrusions into my frequent habits to be at all agreeable. when the intrusion is off of Payney, and he summons you to join him in a muddy field within an hour, it is however a most agreeable diversion from the norm.

the boys, as indeed would anyone familiar with his charms, were very excited to accompany me on this trip to a muddy field, where we may be so kindly permitted to be in his presence.

that is indeed a field, or if you like a path towards fields, that we were on. yes, James is carrying an offering for Payney. one does not receive a summons to meet Payney and go without a gift, for to do so would cause him extreme displeasure.

at this stage you are probably less interested in the open worship of Payney as you are in seeing all this "at play in the fields of the lord, though not the film" business. here we go, then, here are the boys at play, if running is to be seen as being at play. which, it is.

yeah, not the clearest picture i have ever taken of the two. here, have a gander at some video. this first one, assuming that i have loaded them the right way round, is of James.

i sometimes think that we, as in my family and i, do not always take full advantage of just what a beautiful part of the world we live in. yeah, sure, right now it's cold, icy, wet and all that, but we should still be out and about in it a good deal more.

yes, Payney enthusiasts that wish to see a glimpse of him, here he is, with me in humble presence. kindly note that out of respect for him i elected not to wear my smart bomber hat in the picture.

what was the occasion which saw me summoned to a field to meet up? classified stuff, alas. give that Eddie chap hiding in Russia (or wherever) a call, he might get you the documents related to it. or that suspected sex case hiding in some embassy somewhere down south, "Jullian" or some other such hipster name.

it has been a good week for chance encounters with very dear friends, dear reader. other than Payney, over the last few days i have bumped into two mates that i would not previously have seen for close to 30 or so years. Paul, Kris, if you are reading - what a pleasure to meet you again, and it does my heart good to know that you are still alive and well in this universe.

but, back to play, and in the interests of fair balance, some footage similar to the clip above, but of William running with great enthusiasm

a most splendid and wonderful diversion from my usual Sunday morning routine, then, and with some shuffles i was able to get all that i both needed to and would normally do done. see, you can do anything, you just need the heart and will to do so.

another picture of the boys during their adventures at play in the fields of the lord? sure, why not.

and with that, time for me to retire for the evening, methinks.

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

compact trash

hi there

well, this was inevitable. i watched, as commented on, The Martian recently. this is a fairly new film which has been widely well received good reviews, look you see. the only way i was going to go after that with my viewing habits was to return, or if you like revert, to trash.

trash it maybe be that i chose to watch, in particular when engaged in some hardcore, heavy duty, no nonsense ironing, but at least it is usually watchable if not entertaining trash. for some reason i feel more or less compelled to post a review of every film i watch (a blog is, after all, supposed to be all me! me! moi! me! Me!); let me not go and break that habit right now.

i did not, as point of fact, watch Movie 43 whilst ironing. i watched it last night, with the decision to watch it tying in quite nicely with my discovering that there were no CSI or NCIS repeats to watch. also, Spiros sent it on to me, so it felt polite to watch.

Movie 43 was one that i had heard of in passing. what i was hearing in passing was that it was awful, as several reviews have indicated. Spiros, however, reckoned it was one of the funniest things what he had ever seen, hence him kindly buying (or perhaps shoplifting) a copy of it and sending it to me.

Spiros, as it turns out, was not at all misguided or wrong in his review. i laughed really, really hard at this film, as it is mostly outrageously funny.

is it a film for everyone? absolutely, indeed distinctly, not. most of the reviews suggest in slamming it that the humour is all lowest common denominator stuff - private body parts of shame, bodily fluids and bodily actions are where a substantial, if not entire, amount of the humour is drawn. and it just happens to be ridiculously, offensively funny in this respect. if you're prudish, sensitive or really do not approve of - in some instances in a very literal sense - toilet humour, then avoid. even if you are a big fan of Richard Gere, who happens to be present in the cast.

on that note, i see the DVD box says that this film has "the biggest cast ever asembled". i did not count, but off the top of my head i am sure i saw more people in, for instance, Spartacus. that it does not live up to this claim is not too much of an issue.

a video of my smart little solar powered statue of The King, Elvis Presley to break up the two reviews a bit for you? certainly, why not.

yeah, whenever His sun beats down on Him, off He goes, doing that smart dance move. it is great to watch, and i think a fitting way to remember that He, The King, Elvis Presley, is with us always.

there is next to no point in hiding away or pretending that what i did, as point of fact, watch whilst ironing is pure, unadulterated, exploitative, gritty, horrific trash. pretty well made, sure, but Rogue River is not for everyone in a far greater or worse sense that Movie 43 is not.

plot? well, i note i didn't do that for Movie 43, and there would be little sense in giving you the one for this, either. to do so would more or less be to give the film away.

content? little or no nudity (some dude in his undies), extremely graphic depictions of injuries, a great deal of coarse and offensive language, some barbaric and brutal scenes of torture, one or two very unsettling and disturbing things also. all in, say 80 minutes or so.

the stand out, or if you like outstanding, part of this film that i walk away with is that it was very well made despite the limited merits of it and presumably quite limited target market. the acting was rather good, and it felt like a film that had a substantial budget. often one finds these cheap and nasty, direct to disc horror films - in particular when released through After Dark - are little more than vanity projects by aspiring makers of films that scraped enough cash together to shoot something or other. may the cast and crew of this get to use their talents in something which is, on the whole, rather more pleasant to watch.

hmn. i seem to have just reviewed two films that i did not consider to be a complete waste of time, yet have a hard time suggesting that people watch them. well, if you've been curious about either or both and for some reason my comments help your thinking on whether to watch or not, nice one!

more than this, no doubt, later!

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

belated birthday blog

hello there

i would say, if it were true look you see, that i have some time to catch up with a few posts here. i do not, alas, but am instead sneaking away from some other stuff to do this. well, if i leave stuff about my birthday for much longer it would be one not so much looking at the one just gone but rather be left open to be interpreted as being in anticipation of the next one. it is, after all, only 51 or so weeks away now.

what did i get to do for my birthday, or if you like the annual anniversary of my given date of birth? mostly what i wished, which was spend time with my family. and not just time with my family, but also time with my family in one of them sketch booth things that i think are so smart.

why do i think them machines are so smart? i just do. weirdly i have a quasi-history of our family in this format, for we have some tucked away somewhere that were taken in the machines at Sun City, both before James came along, after James and before William and with all four of us.

it is getting quite tricky, to say the least, for all four of us to fit into the machine now. well, ostensibly the machine booth is designed but for one person. if we can't get in them any more, i guess we shall just have to look back at what a good ride we had with them.

beyond family time i also was the recipient of many, many kind birthday wishes, both from home and abroad, and indeed from friends, family members and random strangers. also, Google wished me a happy birthday.

that was, i think, a really nice touch of them, and not at all any sign of them using and abusing the massive amount of data they store about absolutely everyone. several insurance brokers and others that would like me to engage with them in business that would see me hand over coins of money also forwarded wishes, but none sent the kind of smart picture what Google did.

a selfie by the sea of me and my (considerably) better half, with me wearing my very smart bomber hat? for sure, here you go.

we did, as earlier posts have pretty much revealed, head off towards Whitby for the day. it was a rare sunny day off of that week, although as the attire we have on shows you it remained somewhat chilly.

if for some reason further photographic evidence was required that we did indeed go through to Whitby for the day, i can only imagine that this picture would meet that requirement, no?

for many people, or at least those that mark and celebrate their birthday (don't ask), cake is a customary item to be presented and consumed as part of the ceremonies. i am almost certainly no different to the many in this regard, and here is the most splendid cake prepared for me for that day by my (considerably) better half.

it would be nice to say that them numbers are wrong, but alas no. weird, though, as it only feels like about nine years since i was a hedonistic 34 year old. my my, how time flies, etc.

Google and several insurance brokers were, as mentioned above, very kind in being forthcoming with wishes for me for my birthday. my pension fund administrators were, alas, not so kind as them. they were not particularly kind at all, in truth.

from the above, and in accordance with the bizarre way my chosen pension fund administrator elects to work, i can only assume that they have deduced i am not quite of retirement age as such as yet. it is, i suppose, most kind of them to know that i am to continue in my path of verk, for i am still apparently young enough to do so. and expected to, i suppose.

another, quite possibly final, look at me and the family in one of them sketch booth thingies? sure, and in this one you can see how much of a struggle it is getting to be to get all of us in. and yeah, i can see that it is me, or if you like i, that takes up the most space.

this all feels like rushed writing to me. sorry if it does to you, but i am in something of a rush, i fear - plenty to be getting on with.

another selfie by the sea of me and my (considerably) better half? why certainly, with this one showing off the beautiful blue sky we had on the day that was the day.

my sister asked of i was now effectively living in my bomber hat. the answer is yes. i did - briefly - take it off, only to ask my self just what the devil i was doing, and so i put it back on.

and, to finish off, then, here i am in my most splendid bomber hat, next to a most splendid birthday present, blowing out the candles on the cake we all saw before.

i would like to assure you that the cake was most tasty. also, i would like to assure you that if my beard and moustache looks grey in the above picture, it is the smoke off of the candles and not me actually going grey.

if you were one of the many (i think i got over a hundred) who sent me a message of congratulations and good wishes, i trust i responded directly but regardless, thank you one and all again.
off to do stuff!

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

Monday, February 22, 2016

please do not remove

hi there

well, heck. believe it or not, look you see, i actually have a stack of stuff to update here. yes, granted, a substantial amount of it relates to my birthday shenanigans which i know many could not care less of, but there's other stuff too. the pressures, alas, of verk, family, traffic and generally being an intriguing man of mystery prevent me the time needed to do so many updates.

i'll roll out what i can of what i have over the next week or so, but for a quick one, here's a most splendid, thoughtful and kind gift what i got off of Spiros today. well, this and many a more other splendid things, but this is so thoughtful and kind and, indeed, splendid.

if that, to you, looks like a really crappy and cheap pen with "please do not remove" written on it, that would be because it is in fact a really crappy and cheap pen with "please do not remove" written on it. that's not where the value comes from, though.

Spiros was in a meeting, or attending to some sort of matter, when he saw that pen. he thought to himself, right, that if i had that written on my pens then no one would take them. rather than suggesting i write it on pens myself as such, he thought it would be better to simply take that one, pre-written so to speak, and send it to me.

indeed that is an official diary for the London Taxi Association Benevolent Fund that it is sat on, and again yes that is another gift from Spiros. his punching London taxi drivers in the face is getting so passionate that he thought he had best buy a few items to raise funds for their well being. apparently this was easier and more practical than ceasing from punching them in the face.

well, there you have it. more as and when i get the chance, darlings.

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

Sunday, February 21, 2016

Stages Bowie

greetings beautiful ones

some of you may well have detected from recent posts on here that i have indeed recently had reason to celebrate my date of birth, for it was my birthday. quite a few of you, look you see, will have happened to know this anyway. a lot of you would not care for this information at all, and you would not be wrong to be of that mind. who am i, after all, but one of millions of voices upon the internet line.

what might be of interest to a number of you is one of the superb gifts with which i was furnished. it was, and indeed is, a painting. it was constructed or if you like imagined and talented into being by my (considerably) better half with such flair and skill that you would be forgiven for once again asking what exactly when wrong that she ended up with me in this world.

behold, then, the finished painting, in as far as a painting is ever finished.

indeed yes, it is a likeness, or if you like portrait, of Bowie. my (considerably) better half has been planning on doing a painting of one of my idols for years now and, well, life took a turn which said that this subject would be most apt inspiration for this one.

i encouraged my (considerably) better half to take "stages" pictures of her work, in particular around the early stages when it became clear that this was to be something quite special. what follows, then, is a stage by stage look, starting with the preliminary sketch.

my artistic abilities would not have got even this far. at best, and i do mean at, maybe i could have pulled off a halfway convincing cigarette, and maybe a lapel or shirt button.

a painting is, strictly speaking, characterised by paint, and so the next stage was to start adding some paint to it. so my (considerably) better half tells me, at the least - i am not going to pretend that i know anything much about how all this art stuff works.

was this image chosen for specific or particular reasons? yes. everyone who loves Bowie, for we love him still, has in their mind an image of the Bowie that they love. it can be him looking cool, how he looked when they discovered him through his music or film, or one of his more iconic, well known looks. for me, that would be 1976 Bowie.

if i had to pinpoint a moment at which i turned from "quite liking" Bowie to regarding him as one of the greatest artists that i shall ever have the pleasure of experiencing the work of, it was on hearing Station To Station for the first time. the bleak, stark, isolar haunting of it that seeks to clutch at light and to be part of something really struck something in me, and still does.

also, he looked mega awesome beautiful handsome cool in this time. if i had the power to look what i would consider to be the most stylish and outrageously attractive as was possible, Bowie 76 is it. and that is why my (considerably) better half looked to images from this era for inspiration.

again, i am no art expert, but man, that shading and texture to the chin and jaw, and around the neck, blows me away. i am in awe of people who can do this sort of thing, so yes i am in awe of my (considerably) better half and i may well regret committing that to print, but there you go.

you don't really want my words, you want to look at the progression of this art.

yes, i did want to reference a lyric in the title of this blog and call it A Portrait In Flesh, but it's not done in flesh, conventional paints did the job. and pencils, i think.

Stages Bowie works for me as it references the numerous releases called Changes Bowie over the years, and plays on Stage, the name of his 1978 live album which was roundly celebrated. as, i hope, will be the case with this most splendid painting.

and, that's that. here is the first picture she took of the completed work, with the one at the start being taken later in what my (considerably) better half assures me is better light. to me it just looks awesome anyhow.

there are times, i am sure you know, where "thank you" does not quite cut it. i am left utterly and understandably blown away by this magnificent painting done for my viewing pleasure. for my viewing pleasure, for sure, but my hope is that all who love Bowie as much as i have over the years stumble on this and like what they see.

right, time for me to look upon this picture some more, then to retire for the evening.

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

sky blue benson and hedges

hey there

yes indeed, look you see. i know this sort of post is irresponsible. it's not like i even get paid to do this sort of thing, or get any sort of thanks for doing so. i mean, it would have been nice if at some stage them that do Marlboro said thanks for the post i did on their (admittedly awful) premium black cigarettes, considering some 15,000 have had a gander at it since i posted it three or so years ago.

why do it, then? to try and help my fellow smoker out, i suppose. i mean, i'm not encouraging anyone to do it - if you don't then for goodness sake do not start. it's just that in present day England, or if you like Land of Eng, it's an expensive thing to be doing.

as for what i am doing, i would have thought that straightforward from the title, but if not, here's my encounter with the Sky Blue branded range of cigarettes off of Benson & Hedges.

indeed the price you see there is steep, but weirdly low for UK cigarettes and tres low for Benson & Hedges. a pack of B&H would normally set you back somewhat north of £9 a pack, or if you prefer just a few coins south of £10 a go. what's the catch? well, there's only 18 cigarettes in a pack.

traditionally cigarettes have always been sold in packs of 20. i have discovered that this is no longer the case, with many brands here now selling in packs of 19 or 18. why? no idea. i suspect it's something to do with tax, and that selling one or two less than twenty is what allows the makers to sell cheaper. very oddly cigarettes are something which have had a fall in price over the last 3 years, with a pack of 19 Chesterfield going down from £6.25 to £6.10. not all that much of a drop, granted, but any fall in price for the cigarettes is virtually unheard of.

yes, look you, see the warning and be wary of it. do not start smoking. i am kind of resigned to the fact that me and the habit are only likely to end one way; don't be so foolish as to think it's a smart way for it to do so.

what difference does the lower number in a packet make to the overall cost of smoking in the UK? well, i am sure you can do the math yourself, but if you can't be pestered :

Marlboro Red / B&H Gold - 20 at £9.24 = 46.2p per cigarette (ppc)
B&H Sky Blue - 18 at £5.99 = 33.2p ppc
Chesterfield Red - 19 at £6.10 = 32.1p ppc
Winston Red - 19 at £7.24 = 38.1p ppc
Salty Sea Dog Players or Carlton - 19 at £6.25 = 32.8p ppc

sadly, and most regrettably, my beloved Marlboro Red are way out of my budget. i tend to go for Winston Red, then, but looking at the above if i insist on doing this smoking business i should stick to Chesterfield or Salty Sea Dog brands.

are Sky Blue cigarettes off of Benson & Hedges, or if you like Hedges after Benson, any good? weirdly and actually yes they are. unlike Salty Sea Dog brands these are not unpleasant. they have a low to light nicotine and tar level, and they are very pleasant, not causing any burning or uncomfortable, bitter sense when consumed as intended.

what do i think of the name? a waste of space. "sky blue" is some sort of aspirational name, designed to conjure up all sorts of images, ideals, plans, designs and ambitions. smokers in the UK could not care less for such stuff, i would think - the bottom line is getting cigarettes for as cheaply as is possible.

it's quite amusing, in a novelty factor sense, to be able to smoke Bensons on the cheap, really. once upon a time they were seen as the "posh fag". smoking them was strictly limited to members of the clergy, high ranking police officers, the nobility and members of the Royal family who were not of such a high ranking stature that they weren't qualified for JPS. that a humble peasant such as i may access their luxuries is a sign that we may yet get to a state of living in a classless society.

anyway, if you are a fellow smoker struggling with the high level of tax we get knacked with, hope this has been of some use or interest to you!

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

the martian

hello there

well, yes. there is a case, look you see, to say that - as would be usual - i am somewhat late to the party when it comes to offering a review, or just thoughts and comments, on the subject of the movie The Martian. it's highly likely that most who wish to see it have been able to do so already, whether at the cinema, or on disc like me, or indeed via one of them somewhat less than legal "download" things.

you never can tell, though - some may for some reason want to hear what i thought of it, whereas the occasional person reading this (thanks for doing so) might, many weeks, months or years into the future, be unaware of the fact that the film exists.

a quick, spoiler free review for those of you who do not want spoilers or are in a bit of a rush? certainly. it's very good indeed, both as in an adaptation of the novel and as a film in its own right. is it "best picture" entertainment at them award things coming up? not sure if it got nominated or not, but never mind - it's just a fascinating, entertaining idea and story in itself, it needs not awards to do this.

spoilers are perhaps unavoidable and thus likely after this first picture.

plot? it is the Earth's first manned mission to Mars. it's going really well, then a disaster strikes and an emergency evacuation is required. one of the astronauts, botanist Mark Watney, goes missing and is presumed dead. they then blast off without him. wouldn't you know he's actually, by a fluke and by chance, alive. alive and, of course, left alone on a planet.......

the story is, then, the ultimate in Robinson Crusoe / stranded stuff. Watney, played by America's favourite must be rescued or saved dude Matt Damon, has to decide whether to simply give up and be resigned to death, or to work out a way to not only live, but let Earth know he lives and see if they can't work out a way for him to get home. it's a slight spoiler, but yes, he chooses the latter, hence there being a story to tell.

what's with the images of The King, Elvis Presley with my blu ray of The Martian? i recently picked up a copy of That's The Way It Is, but more of that later.

the novel of The Martian, as per my review some two or so years ago, was one of the most entertaining things i had ever read. the narrative was brilliant and engaging. at one point i commented to my (considerably) better half that it's one of the funniest and most interesting things i've read, and yet the first 200 or so pages are little beyond farming - growing potatoes, specifically. which indicates the brilliance of the novel and its author, but always left me wondering how are they going to make this into an interesting film. well, they did.

i really don't want to get into that whole world of "book is better / worse than the film" stuff. it's a mess. i mean, clearly there are times when a film version is a disaster - Bonfire Of The Vanities, mostly - but for the most part they are two separate experiences of the same story. in this instance i was not disappointed in how the adaptation went, but we will get to that just now.

i recently got a bee in my bonnet, or if you like in my bomber hat, about watching That's The Way It Is once more. for those of you unaware of it, it's a note perfect look at The King, Elvis Presley as He prepares for His legendary gigs in Las Vegas, with of course plenty of footage of Him performing.

i could not find the box that has my most smart two disc version of it in, so i just bought a single disc copy of it off of one of them websites. yeah, i could have gone through more boxes, or i could have gone the route of one of them "download" things, but i didn't. for the sake of about £2 or so, it made sense just to get another proper copy for now.

so far i have had the disc on twice up to now. i've not been able to watch the whole thing from start to finish, but i have watched a fair few of my select favourite scenes. back in the way past, like many, many years ago, when i worked in a video store and we had stuff playing all day this was one of the films that i would have on quite often. it's smart to not only listen to The King, Elvis Presley performing his songs when He was arguably at His peak, but also the rehearsal and getting ready stuff is a lot of fun.

my most favourite bit? weirdly a very specifically remembered part, lasting only a few seconds, when The King, Elvis Presley decides to go for a tandem ride from one studio to the other.

have i tried to do a bit of video for this? in the absence of any footage off of The Martian to share here, why yes indeed i have, and if your browser supports it you can watch it below.

back to The Martian, then. one of the criticisms i read of the film adaptation was that they showed too much of the stuff away from Mars, as in the work on Earth to try and clock how to bring him home, and his chums on the space ship thingie that had left him behind. i found that this was not the case at all. it's not like much or any of that part of the story was extra or added to the novel, and it was in fairness vital to driving the story along. i suspect it's not the case that people found it to be "too much" of such scenes, but rather that a great deal of Watney's narrative had to be cut down.

it was, to me, not unreasonable what they cut down on. showing hours / days / weeks of Watney surviving would have been interesting but dull watching. for the sake of a streamlined narrative they also took it a lot easier on our left behind astronaut in the film, as at least two key sequences of peril were dropped from the novel. you wouldn't, i suspect, miss them if you didn't know about them to begin with.

oh, goodie, apple and blogger are fighting again, so this look at the back of the blu ray box, and indeed the slipcase, are rotated sideways. sorry.

what are the flaws or shortcomings of The Martian? well, not what you would think. space experts, such as Nasa and other such dorks, all reckon that how Watney survived - the actions he took, what he did and so on - are actually plausible, and there are very few instances of him doing something which would not work out in the way it was portrayed.

the biggest flaw, i suppose, is that Watney is a witty, intelligent, interesting and lively character that you cannot help but love. botanists, whilst important to the world, tend not to be this. they are dull and boring, and people who have so much as a single calorie of personality in their body are widely discouraged from wasting it on a life in which they are a botanist. no matter how plausible or realistic any of this is - assuming, of course, that one day we could actually get as far as Mars and come back - the audience still has to suspend all that they know of how the world really is and go along with the idea that, even if by fluke, a botanist is a really interesting sort of person, and one that you would on the whole care a great deal about.

on the practical levels, all is boss - great performances from all actors, even in the most minor parts, and this is Ridley Scott so you know it's expertly and superbly made. applause all around, then, for a job well done.

is the statement i am making here one of that i considered The Martian to be an excellent film, and one which is well worth the time of anyone to watch? yes i am. i haven't seen enough of the potential other claimants of this title so i couldn't really say whether or not this was the best film of last year, but if someone who had seen more than me said it was then i'd not argue with them.

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

Saturday, February 20, 2016

ride review

hi again

first off, an apology. yes, i know, there are those of you who, look you see, believe that i should start every update here with an apology for doing so. in this case, though, there is a reason beyond just my lacking in the ability to write things of interest. i fear, if not suspect, that, due to the dynamics of "keywords", many of you will have come here via google as you search for reviews of songs what Martin Gore wrote and Dave Gahan sang which have the word "ride" in them, such as Never Let Me Down Again and all them others. this is not an article with such focus.

we, as exposed in recent posts around bridges what swing, recently had reason to be at the coast. a distinct feature of the coast is, of course, attractions and, yes, rides. William, in his enthusiasm which is a characteristic of what it is to be young, went on several of them. as this was at my expense i feel that i have earned the ability to pass comment, or if you like review.

first off, then, the ferris wheel. well, a slightly smaller scale ferris wheel than usual, for it is one which is aimed at the age of William (or younger) and was distinctly indoors.

no, it's not the highest reaching or if you like tallest ferris wheel you have ever seen, but William did get quite a fright when it started going up, the sensation of being as high as it made him being quite new. how high exactly? well, above the height of my head, and i am only slightly shorter than Dolph Lundgren off of all them smart films. smart films which, so far as i am aware, have not once featured a soundtrack contribution off of Martin Gore and/or Dave Gahan.

was the ride good, after the fright factor had fallen? why yes, i believe so. if your browser supports such an action, you can watch the video below and judge, or if you like review, for yourself.

what damage did this ride do in respect of coins of money? 50p. not bad at all in itself, and as point of fact value for money as the ride went on for 5 or so minutes. that might not read like much, but in actual terms it is. i think he was betting somewhat bored towards the end of it.

if a highlight for me was the low cost, the highlight for William was the close proximity to which the proprietor of the amusement arcade had placed other rides in relation, or if you like juxtaposition, to this. this, you see, allowed him to give them a bit of a kicking as he rode (circled?) past them.

no, alas, James elected not to go on any of the rides as such. most were meant, if not intended, for younger children anyway. to bring some balance, then, here's a selfie i took down at the port, or if you like walkway to the beach, and yes i am sorry that i am present but rather concentrate on the family members of mine that you like.

but, i suspect, ports are not what you want, reviews of rides are. to that end, then, here is the other ride that William went on that i took pictures and video off of.

also costing 50p, which was very pleasing to me considering the cost of other rides, was this most splendid horse ride, which is a ride you go on that takes the shape of a horse.

this ride did not go on for quite so long as the ferris wheel one, and as you can see there were only a certain number of things close by which William could in any practical sense reach to kick as he rode. as you can also see, both in the picture and in the below video, is that William really rather liked this one.

did he enjoy this ride so much that he would like a real, actual horse to travel around on? probably. we might get one at some point, call it Bronco or Bucky or something like that.

yes, i have several other photographs - but i do not believe much in the way of further videos - of our time at the coast. i shall "upload" them and share both them and my words over the next few days. i might as well milk this content as much as i can, on the off chance that for some reason a higher level of posts makes me seem as though i am more interesting!

thanks as ever and as usual for reading, and nice one if any of the reviews have been of use.

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

things look even better with snow

hello there

yes, you may well rejoice, look you see at this - there will be few words from me to blemish this particular article. pictures, for the most part, shall be dominant.

my (considerably) better half - 33% of the 75% of my family whom you all like a lot more than you like me - went from a stroll around the part of the world in which we live whilst the last remnants of the recent snow lingered on. she took some pictures and kindly forwarded them on to me to share here, so here we go.

is the reason for forwarding them so as to show off how class and clever she is at pictures and that? no, far from it alas - she would be far too modest and shy in doing such a thing. my (considerably) better half, however, knows and appreciate that many a friend and family i have who are now abroad from home, and she felt they might like to see them.

i think that's train tracks, or a railway line in that picture. if there was a train on it we would know for sure, but of course as is the case with buses, the idea of trains is now to run as few as them as is possible, unless it is in London.

yes, i agree, and have always agreed - the touches of snow upon our beautiful part of the world does make some elegant scenes to craft pictures from. that clear, crisp (hello, Faye) and blue sky certainly helps too. it's just no fun at all, look you see, to live and work in snow.

mindful of the standard i set above, i am certain that the above is a road, even without a car, truck or similar to show off that this is a road. it's not, after all, like there would be any danger of a bus being on it.

how am i doing in keeping the words down? good. well, i must be doing good if you are still hear and reading this. and yes, that is indeed Roseberry you can see. she, he, it does kind of dominate our landscape, so long as you happen to be looking in the direction of where Roseberry is.

that's it, then, for these pictures at the least and also more or less for the snow. clumps of it linger still here and there, but mostly it has gone.

many thanks indeed to my (considerably) better half for sending them on, and i hope all of you either familiar with or interested in our part of the world have enjoyed the views!

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