Saturday, December 31, 2016


hello there

on the crest of a new year it is somewhat inevitable to, look you see, gander back across the one which has passed. and what a formidable one it has been, for both good and bad. all years are, i suppose, but this last one is one i'd suspect most would agree as being rather more event laden than most.

here, then, i will give only what i can give. that would be my look at the best, and sometimes the not so best, of the year that was in vibes and cinema, the movies. the very definitive list of the best of 2016 is basically that which you enjoyed the most is the best. don't worry so much about what other people think you should have liked or disliked.

off we go, then, with what has been - should i have the word right - a tumultuous year for vibes.

the above be just some of the major record releases from the year that was, or shall soon have been. missing, for a start, from the above are releases off of Robbie Williams, The Rolling Stones and Suede, although the latter shall pop up just now. also missing are the 2 - two!!!!! - new singles off of The Stone Roses.

for a variety of reasons it could be said, then, that music mattered once more this year. over the last few years music has allowed, in the acute observation of JJ Burnel out of The Stranglers, to become wallpaper. no more, it was back at the forefront. we lost and we mourned some of the finest talents the world of music has ever known, we rejoiced at the release of quality albums.

best album of the year? for me, in my opinion, etc, it was comfortably - if not controversially, considering how much of a fan of certain others i am - Girl At The End Of The World by James.

i would describe myself as, at best, a casual James fan. i've got a best of from them tucked away somewhere, maybe Laid and/or Seven too. this album was bought very much on a whim on the day of release of another, more anticipated release - possibly the decidedly underwhelming Chaosmosis off of Primal Scream.

what makes Girl At The End Of The World my choice for best of the year? not sure, after many months of listening to it, that i can word it. the whole thing just touches on so many emotions and feelings as it goes along. a perfectly constructed album from start to finish, wonderfully performed, well written and oh so beautifully sang.

the best part of this record was that i was not alone in reacting the way i did. in the week of release word of mouth spread and people picked it up. it very nearly became number one, challenging the top of an album chart that had spent some six months dominated by Adele and David Bowie. if you haven't heard the album, or of the band, then you could do a lot worse than give it a try.

second best of the year, although that title sounds rough and not quite right. and no, it's not that album, although the singer off of this one provided one of the best comments i have ever heard, when Morrissey described him as being "perpetually angry at God for not making him Angie Bowie".

yep, Night Thoughts off of Suede. this record came out, i think i remember right, towards the end of January. it was always planned that way, but boy did it come when we needed it most. a reminder, after a terrible start to the year in music, about why music matters, why musicians are celebrated, and what makes music oh so beautiful.

for the cynics out there, the best thing about this Suede album is that it's the first one i can recall when Brett "Angie" Anderson does not rely on references to diesel, cellophane, plastic or anything like that. it's all the personification of passion, lust, desire, longing, wanting, being. again, like Girl At The End Of The World it just flows as a perfect record from start to finish. and again, a record well worth your time obtaining.

third best? hardly. the most profound, important, bold and complete one off statement of the year came in the form of the first major release of the year; the last major release in the lifetime of someone that was, is and always will be so very important to me, and millions more who are now or are yet to exist.

Blackstar by David Bowie. a confusing release for that first weekend, as the blog post i made and did not take down revealed. but a release that made all the sorry sense in the world just a couple of days after it came out. looking back it's obvious what he was saying with it. maybe we just didn't want to see it. one person said at the time of his passing that it simply had never occurred to them that David Bowie could die.

i've just finished listening to the record again. it's a really strange thing; whenever i play it a speck of dust or something must land for a tear seems to form in the eye. me, and many others, have written lots about this record and the artist who used it to say goodbye. all i can add is just listen to this, and all the other music.

other releases in brief? sure, why not. Hidden City from The Cult underlines what an underappreciated band they are - solid, classic hard rock album. Heavy Entertainment Show off of Robbie Williams showcased his status as the last mega-mega pop star standing. it's a record of enormous fun, but people seem to be avoiding enjoying it and rather having a pop at him. there's a handful of highlights on Chasomosis by Primal Scream, but overall as mentioned it underwhelms and disappoints. Encore off of Barbs is Barbs allowing you to listen to her for an hour or so. Blue & Lonesome is The Rolling Stones rediscovering what made them fall in love with music at the start, and in so doing reminds the world why we fell in love with them. Hardwired....To Self Destruct is a great, great metal record which for some reason Metallica themselves decided to try and distract from with bloated packaging and dumping the whole thing dans le internet for free the day before it was available in the shops.

actually i've just put Hidden City off of The Cult on now and it's even better than what i described it as above. it really is a sensational record. and sorry for any other releases that i missed out above. it's just been that there's been so many fantastic ones this year.

on to cinema then, or if you like the movies. most would seemingly agree with the idea that whilst 2015 was a vintage year, 2016 was not so much. there was, however, more than enough to keep one entertained. even i, he who had not set foot in a cinema for some three years, saw two movies on the big screen, and a few of the other new releases at home.

of what i saw, then, what did i enjoy the most? well, an honourable mention to Rogue One, but i'm not jumping on the "second best ever Star Wars film" bandwagon. it was good, but i'd agree with those that say it would be even better if they had an opening crawl and cut some 30 minutes out of the film as the tone and characters were all set up in that crawl.

my favourite film of the year was, and this took me somewhat by surprise, this one.

yes, the (loving) remake of Pete's Dragon. my (considerably) better half summed it up best when she said that the only thing worse than them remaking a beloved classic and it turns out awful is when they take a film which you had fond memories of and they go ahead and make a much, much better film.

as far as i am aware Pete's Dragon more than doubled its (hefty) budget at the box office, so it was by no means a flop. and yet it still feels like the film flew somewhat under the radar. there wasn't an excessive marketing campaign associated with it, and weirdly from what i could see little or no merchandising.

Pete's Dragon is a wonderful, sad, happy, emotional rollercoaster ride of pure family entertainment. great cast, outstanding effects and if Robert Redford really does bow out of acting after this then what a truly great way to say goodbye. if you skipped this one, go grab it, watch and enjoy.

it's quite likely that the previously mentioned Rogue One will be the biggest money making film of the year. or, if not, then this one will end up being that, if not just a handsome close second.

i am one of those that has a concern that all these super hero / comic book films will crash upon reaching saturation point, that it will all end up being quite tired, repetitive and, well, leaving us all at a stage where enough's enough. not so, thus far, and Civil War was indeed brilliant.

yes, comic book / graphic novel fans, i am aware that this film has nothing to do with the illustrated story of the same name. i, like many cinemagoers, not so much don't care as just plain don't see the relevance. the story they do here fits in perfectly with the "Marvel Universe" on the go.

the only downside of Civil War is that to "get" the full thing you really do have to have seen the previous ten or so movies that feature or reference the characters involved. as they are all really, really smart films, however, no bad thing.

by no means would i call this next film one of the best of the year, but it was way more entertaining that those loud voices of discontent on the internet made out. and, in truth, there really was only the one major thing wrong with it.

Batman vs Superman Dawn of Justice was a very, very good idea allowed to deviate from its nature and natural course. the protagonist and antagonist of the title (you feel free to decide which is which) was a clash enough in itself to provide entertainment; but no they shove in "son of" Lex Luthor and some massive monster. it is the former that really is the main problem with the film, Jesse Eisenberg is terrible and very distracting in giving an awful performance.

i really, really liked Man of Steel. the performance of Superman in it was the best we are going to get now that the greatest to play the part is sadly with us no more. as for Affleck as Batman, even those that didn't like the film take the time to say how perfect the part was played.

should you have wished to see this film but got scared off by all the noise on the internet, ignore it and give it a try. whilst it lacks the humour and bright colours of the Marvel films off of Disney, as i said there are more good parts than bad ones in it.

also, there's a super massive spoiler for the above in the start of the next one, and as i thoroughly recommend watching the next one i suppose you'd best watch it first.

again, i appreciate that Suicide Squad did not deliver on all the expectations. these were not unrealistic expectations either - Warner Bros, a studio i seldom speak ill of, really did mislead audiences with just how prominent or relevant the character of The Joker would be in it all. but still, as and when he is in it, he's good.

to be honest about it i didn't watch this one by choice. the boys had seen the marketing of it and wee keen, but it came with a 15 certificate. we watched to "vet" it, and elected that it was just about suitable for the eldest but the youngest was to be kept away from it. well them's the breaks.

overall i would say i very much enjoyed it, and will say that Will Smith was 100% right to drop out of a belated Independence Day sequel to do this instead. my favourite character, though, is the Australian one. which should not be much of a surprise.

nice one if this has all been of some interest to someone out there. if you disagree with my choices and highlights, well then so much the better. it'd be a dull world - although admittedly a welcome quieter one - if we all agreed on everything and liked the same stuff.

now let's see what the year ahead brings......

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

Thursday, December 29, 2016

Christmas Bullseye

now then

there's nothing particularly seasonal or extraordinary about me watching repeat broadcasts of Bullseye, look you see. i am unashamedly a fan of this marvellous show, and take great delight that they screen each and every episode of it again and again. many cry for something new to be forever on tv, deriding repeats as lazy broadcasting. where is it you go, though, when you have achieved perfection?

it is, however, with sheer delight that i have been watching very, or if you like uber, seasonal editions of Bullseye, for as the season dictates they have been showing the various Christmas editions of the show over the last few weeks. and most splendid they are.

those of you who are all too not so familiar with the show will, quite naturally, at this point be wondering about that Christmas episode of the show. surely, in this day and age, they either censored that one edition, or simply buried it? no. they went ahead and screened the most controversial episode of Bullseye ever, and did so with no further cuts than what was made at the time of broadcast.

the above is indeed Jim Bowen. he is now, but of course, one of the most famous men in the world today, but this was all long before he was elevated to the position of Pope Francis. back then when this was made he was but a simple man - a Monsignor, if you like, or perhaps a humble Pilgrim.

no one at the time saw the destiny, or if you like path to greatness, that Jim Bowen was on. the clues, in as is always the case in retrospect were all there right before us, for as you can see in the above Jim, as ever, administered a special healing blessing over the questions for the contestants. a sequence of questions which of course took the form of what was at face value a dart board, but now so obviously looks like the round table off of King Arthur that he so proudly took the seat at.

why was this Christmas special of Bullseye so controversial? surprisingly it's not just because of all of the above. the whole episode entire, which is what whole means i guess, sought to break barriers, push frontiers and scatter taboos to the winds. in order to do this, a significant set of guests were required and, as is the way of Jim Bowen, put in place.

that is indeed the young Phil Taylor performing his art above. so far as i know this stems from a time when Phil Taylor was just Phil Taylor, and not Phil "The Power" Taylor. to my knowledge it was a time before that band, Snap i think, even did the song The Power and long before darts players had a "theme song" to walk up to the oche to. as point of fact if you were playing darts in a pub then and asked the landlord to play your special theme song before you walked up to the oche then you'd probably get glassed or barred.

as you can see, this is from the time when Phil "no nickname" Taylor had both a thick head of hear and facial growth of hair. as has been pointed out in this blog in the past, in a way that has not attracted any cease and desist letters, his facial hair growth was styled was what is affectionately known as a wanker's tache. this is not to say that Phil was the former word there, it's just the name of that stringy, scraggy growth that never transforms into a full moustache.

heads were turned, eyebrows were raised, etc, at the fact that one of these moustaches was allowed not just on television but on what was ostensibly considered light entertainment for the family. i am not 100% sure when this particular Christmas special was broadcast, at least in terms of the year, but i am confident it was at the height of the sinister Conservative regime that was determined to suppress all expressions of free will and individual thought. it is unthinkable that such a brazen display of individual choice as Phil Taylor not caring that he had a wanker's tache was ever allowed to be broadcast.

did the episode get any more controversial? yes, yes it did. Jim Bowen, in a very well intentioned but perhaps ill-advised gesture to show his unilateral support for the freedom of love despite his own more conventional views, attempted to bring the wonder of what is colloquially called a "gang bang" to early evening Sunday entertainment television.

whilst broadcasting gang bangs on Sunday evenings had, by this stage, long been a staple of entertainment in countries such as Norway and France, it was unheard of in the UK. sure, some rumours persist about certain thinly veiled episodes of Songs Of Praise, but at this point no one had ever proven anything. Jim Bowen's plan was to align the UK with aspects of Europe, and bring down this taboo.

how exactly was this going to circumvent the censors? an ingenious plan was hatched. whilst all forms of entertainment were subject to harsh, totalitarian forms of censorship by the Conservative government, all historical, documentary and factual based shows were exempt.

to comply with this, Norris McWhirter off of Record Breakers was brought in to officiate and measure the gang bang. if this incredible vision of Jim Bowen was to be presented as an ambitious attempt to make sure Britain held some sort of gang bang related world record then the footage would be considered to have exceptional historical value and would be permitted to be broadcast, no questions asked.

now i am not for one moment saying that Jim Bowen is a member of some organization such as the Majestic 12 or the Bilderberg Group, but i am just leaving that there for you in case you are wondering how it was possible for him to summon Norris McWhirter off of Record Breakers to the show, crossing the rubicon that is a BBC employee appearing on commercial network television.

you might be reading this and wondering how come you've never heard of the record breaking gang bang attempt on a Christmas edition of Bullseye before. well, that's because in the end it never went ahead. i will try and explain why.

rock folklore and legend says that The Beatles nearly reunited in the 70s. on an episode of Saturday Night Live, i think, it is rumoured that the guest host Steve Martin offered The Beatles $5 each to come and reunited on the show. by a quirk of fate all four Beatles were in New York, called each other and said "yeah, why not". according to the legend, it was only traffic that stopped one of them - i think Ringo - making it to the studio in time.

how the above relates to the failed gang bang is the lack of the correct musical score for the attempt. as a massive fan of the band, Jim Bowen instructed the producers to secure the services of Black Lace for the segment, so that they may perform their most noted hit, (We're Having A) Gang Bang (Against The Wall) as the for want of a better term participants all got on with it. with, presumably, Jim Bowen saying smashing and nice one as they did, and Tony Green, in a most splendid suit, keeping some sort of score.

sadly, Black Lace were never on this Christmas edition of Bullseye or any other. at least not as far as i know. with the right music not available, but Norris McWhirter still on hand, the planned gang bang never went ahead. instead an attempt was made to set a world record for number of darts thrown within a minute by two teams of three players. was it a success? i am not sure, i went off for a cigarette during that part when it became clear that there was to be no gang bang.

any other controversies on the show? yes. Steve Wright off of Steve Wright In The Afternoon was one of the guest contestants. the most triumphant one, too.

the presence of Steve Wright virtually assured something controversial would happen. his blatant doing of things like playing pop records and making jokes was, in many respects, blamed by the Conservative government for subverting a generation; convincing them that they should be free and feel happy. Thatcher would have loved nothing more that Steve Wright to be eliminated, so that the kids could be all put back in their place of slavery and indentured labour. the BBC was having none of it, and developed something of a siege mentality around their broadcast building.

that Steve Wright was allowed to leave the BBC fortress and appear on commercial television was to tempt the tremor of intent of government assassins. fortunately, in the season of goodwill, no attempt was made, and Steve Wright was able to look quite knowledgable as he answered a variety of general knowledge questions.

you might well think that all of this was simply a result of me laying on the couch, messing with my relatively new phone, working out how to zoom the camera and thus fabricating a story to go with several of the many pictures i took off of the tele with the camera on zoom, and that it just happened to be Bullseye that was on at the time. it's not my place to correct you if that is so.

should there be any New Year or Easter or Valentine special editions of Bullseye and i happen to think of anything to write for them, i will surely do so here.

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

Wednesday, December 28, 2016

i would want again tomorrow

hello there

at the very great risk of sounding like a future Adele lyric, or look you see one that already exists for i am not so familiar with her works, my (considerably) better half and i are fortunate that our present or if you like current career vocations allow us to take that Christmas towards New Year week away from all commitments verk related. this has not always been the way, but unquestionably it is the way we prefer. it has, after all, allowed us to spend time together, and that time together of course in the company of our rather smart children.

indeed yes, that's young William, sat atop of one of them smart wooden fort / castle play park thingies which we have in, as you might quite expect, the local play park.

boxing day, as i remember, is when we went out and about on this stroll. as the sky somewhat reveals, we had a lovely blue clear day. was it warm? alas no. the air had that icy, cold and crisp (hello, Faye) touch to it. there's also a serious amount of frost to the streets and paths. a frost that isn't shifting even when the sun strikes upon it, so snow remains a real possibility.

but hey, it didn't snow the day that was the day we took these, so we move on.

that is indeed James in what looks like a swing designed by Neil Pye, the hippie type character off of The Young Ones. no, not the Sir Cliff film, the other version. it is indeed one of them wicca weave sort of magical be at one with nature sort of type of hammock attached as a swing.

quite smart it is too, as it happens. the boys both loved it. no, i didn't get on it. but i did sort of give them a push as the sat, or if you like laid, upon it.

ostensibly yes, indeed, quite, the features of the play park that are not the fields or the benches are intended as the preserve of the younger members of a visiting family. far be this, however, from preventing or precluding my (considerably) better half from having a go on something what took her fancy.

how does one describe the above? no, not my (considerably) better half, the thing what she is stood, or if you like elegantly balanced, on? as far as i can make out it's styled as a snake, with the head of the snake being there before you. swinging suspended snake sort of swing, that will do. boss it is, too.

another thing i seem to have forgotten the name of is something that i would normally refer to as the "death slide", for that is what it seems to encourage a challenge to. zip line, or maybe zip slide i think. well, know i suppose, as my (considerably) better half informed me so.

yeah, it is quite a low level zip line thingie, so calling it a "death slide" would be a little bit dramatic. this is all meant for the younger of kids, and to be played on without dozens of supervisors or other such Health & Safety aficionados. so the focus is on fun, but without the danger.

i would be all but certain that you'd rather see some pictures of the boys on the zip slide as opposed to a picture which features moi, but toughies, you will have to either be patient or simply scroll past this snatched moment of my (considerably) better half and i.

hopefully the outrageous headwear we have on (indeed that is my "Thug Life" beanie, the more specific details of which you can read right here, in particular if your Japanese is up to scratch) underlines what a cold, cold day it was. also, that is once again the jacket what Zama got me off of the back of Jo'burg or if you like Jozi taxi rank.

we will have a closer look at that latter aspect in a bit, which indeed yes does mean more images of me to follow. for now, though, back to the zip line. 

yes, William is dressed up in one of them boss "camouflage"  style jackets. he now has a full on Commando style wardrobe, all received with thanks as celebratory gifts off of the sensational Harlos. they have been quite taken with William's passion for outdoor pursuits, with particular emphasis on the hunting and trapping aspects of interacting with nature.

it's not that James isn't equally passionate about embracing the outdoor beauty of Yorkshire; far from it. he's just happy to rather enjoy it for what it is as such, and doesn't quite feel the need to set out on quests to cleanse the woods and walkways of certain species. not that we let William do this, but then what's an imagination for if not allowed to wander?

that got sidetracked somewhat. here you go, James on the zip line or if you like zip slide thing, with his brother very kindly "assisting" him in getting ready for a class swing.

whilst this was mostly, we believe, William helping his big brother out, we suspect there's a good deal of method to the, for want of a better term, madness. the sooner James has got on with it and had his go is the sooner that William can have another go. smart thinking, and win-win as far as i can see.

now then, you were given a warning, or if you like you had a hint of foreshadowing, that i would feature again in this particular post. the last two images of this update feature me, so proceed with as much caution or care as you believe this requires.

here i am, then, testing the tension patience of the ropes and cords what hold the swinging snake swing thing in place.

this alleged Levi's jacket which Zama very much did get me off of the back of the Jozi taxi rank, then. i remember his words, some three years ago, so very clearly. "sharp", he said, "this will keep you warm in those cold English winters i have heard of, Mr Ricketts", he continued. this was all with a big smile, a thumbs up and expressions of "number one", "lekker" and so forth. it was full of heart and hope, and completely lacking any comprehension and understanding of just how cold an English winter is.

much like the time that Zama told me that all in needed to do in order to speak his native isiZulu was to put the letter "e" before every word (something i tried and got absolutely battered off of Khanyisile for doing), i'd like to think this was a noble and well intentioned gesture that did not quite work.

another picture of us, but rather taken from the insides of a property, as in our home? sure, why not.

and so, family and friends around the world, this could well be the last update for the year that relates to me and the 75% of my family that you all like a lot more than you like me. and wisely so. and why not.

no doubt more stuffs of things shall crop up in these last three days - a "best of" look at the year for a start. but that's for then, when it happens, not now, when it hasn't.

i'm not so good at writing a last part for these family update posts, am i? well, just who is it that likes to say goodbye, after all.

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

Tuesday, December 27, 2016

back to books

Greetings Reader

And so, for the last time this year, I’ve managed to plough my way through another two books, look you see. I think that would make about a dozen I have read this year, perhaps fourteen if lucky. Once again, to be sure, this is so very sadly down from the 24 – 36 I was able to read when I could take the bus to verk, but Arriva, as frequent visitors to my blog will be all too aware, decided that the ambition of public transport should be to run as few buses as possible.

What two books did I read this time, then? Strangely two works by British writers set, ostensibly, in other lands. First off it’s a recurring author here in the form of Peter Robinson with one called No Cure For Love, and then it was on to something called Our Endless Numbered Days, a debut novel off of Claire Fuller.

A quick, as standard, spoiler free review of both? Of course. No Cure For Love is a non-Banks, mostly non-British set novel and is good with some flaws. Our Endless Numbered Days is, frankly, rubbish, and I am genuinely baffled by the awards and positive reviews out there for it.

From here on out, then, please note that a *** SPOILER WARNING *** is in place. This is particularly true of Our Endless Numbered Days, for I cannot highlight what makes it so bad without giving the game away. Which, in fairness, the author herself does within the first few pages of the book anyhow.

Whilst you let the spoiler warning sink in, a standard disclaimer. Links are absolutely no affiliation, endorsement or promotion off of me; they are here just for convenience for you if you want to have a gander at prices, etc.

Right, starting off with No Cure For Love, then. Provenance of my copy? I was somewhat tricked into buying it. In January of 2016 I was in a Waterstones, and they had a pile of copies in their new release section with a class “half price” sticker on them. I assumed it was a new one off Peter Robinson and bought it; as it turns out it’s a reissue of a rarely non-DCI Banks novel off him from 20 years ago. But, hey, as I’d not read it this was still a “new” novel to me.

Plot? Sarah Broughton is a Yorkshire born actress living in LA. She stars in a popular TV series, and so as a consequence receives a lot of bizarre and bewildering fan mail. One letter spooks her, though, as it unquestionably refers to a somewhat murky past. A detective called Arvo is called in to investigate. Whilst Sarah returns home for Christmas to face the family she left behind, Arvo must find the fan fast as they seem to be leaving quite a trail of bodies.

Overall this is actually rather good. In terms of the main plot tension builds up well, and the twists and turns are very effective indeed. Bereft of his usual British settings, Robinson is forced to write of police doing police work – there’s no English way of doing things here, which is to say crimes are not solved either by coppers sitting in a pub thinking or by the villain simply handing themselves in for no reason.

It would, in truth, be a whole lot better of a novel if the entire “return to Robin Hood’s Bay” sub-plot had been ditched entire. This bit features some rather tired, by the motions depictions of family tensions and the return of a child home, but just takes up time in doing so. Absolutely zero character development or plot movement happens.

It’s amazing that, so far as I am aware, this one has not been bought and filmed by Hollywood. In this novel Hollywood darlings are shown to be the most perfect and innocent of pure heroism; exactly how they love to project themselves in their movies. And why not, for they control the train set. Buy the rights, ditch the entire return to England for Christmas sub-plot and you have a very decent two hour detective film.

Our Endless Numbered Days, then. Oh dear. Provenance of my copy? 50p off of a charity donation stall at a hospital. As friends and family will know, I’ve spent a fair bit of time visiting hospitals this year, and in doing so was able to pick up some novels in support.

Plot? You saw the spoiler warnings, yeah? A young girl in the 70s, Peggy, has interesting parents. Her father, James, is one of them leftie types from that time, convinced that nuclear war is coming. Her mother, Ute, is a renowned German concert pianist. Whilst the mother is away playing a concert series, James decides to take Peggy away, to an uninhabited forest in Germany. There they set up home in an abandoned lodge called “Die Hutte”. James informs Peggy that all other life has been wiped out, and they alone are the last two people on the planet left alive.

The above to me sounded like a spin, or if you like homage, or if you prefer honesty a total rip off of My Side Of The Mountain, a novel I remember very fondly from my younger days. At times it tries to borrow from this, but fails. As it pretty much does at every possible level.

Firstly, the novel starts off after Peggy has come home – nine years later. So you know she survives the time in the forest. You don’t know the specific details of how and why, but you know that the father has not returned. So there goes all the suspense and possible interest of if and how they will survive. In terms of the how, there’s some brief hint of nearly starving but then in a very “English way of doing things” approach, they simply make do and get on, with scant insight given into how this is possible.

A read of the positive reviews out there suggest most were impressed with the “dysfunctional family” and “psychological breakdown” of it all. Each to their own, but I do hope they find better examples. Indeed the predictable and inevitable happens between the pair – super ham-fisted clues and hints at this eventually give way to a horrible, tacked on feeling ending.

Parts of Our Endless Numbered Days are well written, and give hope that it’s just a bit of clumsy first novel syndrome going on in the ham-fisted parts. Alas, no. This is something of a miserable and tiresome reading experience, and in no way is this redeemed by any sense of value from the conclusions drawn at the end of it.

And so there you go. Yes I have indeed started reading the next novel on my list – one with quite a rude name, and one that Spiros sent to me. As the last book he sent to me, HHhH, was the finest novel I had read this year, I felt it best to trust his choice once more.

Hopefully these reviews, comments or what have you have been of use. I do feel like maybe I have missed something as I seem to be going against the tide in my views on Our Endless Numbered Days, but I can only tell you how I reacted to it.

More as and when, then, more as and when.

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

Monday, December 26, 2016

to see what parcels are for free in curiosity


Christmas day may very well have been and gone once more, look you see, but we are still within the realms of the festive season. this is the truth, at the least, at the time of writing - nothing i can do about this should you be reading this in August or similar, to be sure.

this post, then, is a look back at the day we had on Christmas day. hopefully, for the benefit of interested friends and family around the world, i've managed to capture the excitement and the wonder of it all from our side of things. and, of course, in doing so, hope that you had a most fantastic time of it.

the above does indeed show the boys getting ready to go into the lounge. this would be the lounge where Father Christmas, or if you like Santa Clause, deposited gifts - if any - for them.

indeed the two of them very much are wearing Christmas jumpers. the very same Christmas jumpers from a little earlier in December; the ones what have bells on them that jingle and jangle as bells are so prone to do. a link to the initial wearing of the jumpers? surely, here it is, click here.

and yes of course i made them wear them for Christmas day. partially this was out of a wish to make the morning "more Christmassy", but mostly, to be sure, it was to extract as much value as possible off of these jumpers. it's not like they will willingly wear them when the snows come in February or March.

were there gifts waiting for the boys? but of course....

the boys had prepared some not greedy but all the same formidable lists of things that they wished Father Christmas to bring them. James had a locked in list early on, but William's was a thing of revision up to more or less the day before. Father Christmas had to rush around a bit to meet some of the late requirements.

i know what you're wondering. indeed yes, earlier in the year James had a little side chat with me, asking if Father Christmas was real, and if the miracle of some dude in red distributing gifts was all true. i assured him that it most decidedly was for, if he chose to stop believing in Father Christmas, then surely it would be so that Father Christmas would not exist and thus not bring him gifts. he allowed this scenario to sink in, thanked me for clarifying the situation and pledged to remain a firm believer for the foreseeable future.

that is, at the least, what he told me.

the above is indeed my (considerably) better half having a Christmas hug with the boys. it seems the boys have clocked that Mummy some how exerts some control over what exactly Father Christmas brings, and so they expressed their joy and merriment and gifts in with her.

do i want, need or crave any gift beyond my loving family? no of course not. ha ha, yeah, right, sure. i like shiny things and i expect shiny things to be gifted to me at opportune moments for this to be done, and done it indeed was.

what did Father Christmas bring for me? well, as you can see, The Stone Roses off of The Stone Roses on vinyl, which weirdly i've not owned in this format before, a spiffing 5 CD set of Warren Zevon, a pen with Boba Fett on top of it and a Hot Wheels racing car styled as though it would be suitable for Boba Fett to drive. also a boss tin of After Eights, but they are not shown above.

but hey, Christmas is about the kids, or if you like children, and so on we go to a world of wonder and surprise.

earlier i mentioned that William kept revising his list of wishes for Father Christmas. his most latter revision - December 23, i believe - requested a telescope, a microscope, a lovely world, potions and a skateboard. i advised William that Santa could possibly get one of them, and (ahem) he did in the form of a telescope.

no, so far as i am aware, William has not yet watched Body Double, mostly as my (considerably) better half reckons it's barely suitable for adults, so violent and disturbing it is. with that being the case i have absolutely no idea what has inspired him to want a telescope.

that look of excitement right there is James opening up either Space Battles War Front or WWE Panda Wrestling 2K17 or something. in either case, a game for one of them fancy new, la-de-dah versions of the Atari what the kids all seem to want.

Father Christmas (ahem) had the good sense to ensure that the "free download code" for FIFA 17 was used and the game installed before Christmas, as the 50GB of download watching might have spoiled the day. what, erm, Father Christmas did not count on was the fact that each and every game put in to the new machine would seem to need 20GB of "updates" to be downloaded prior to playing. it was never like this with a Commodore 64 tape, or Atari cartridge.

i, alas, have no idea what it is that William is opening up there. oh actually i do, looking at it now it's a most smart tin containing treats, shaped and styled to feature that one with the black mask off of Star Wars. no, not the new one with the black mask, the old one. the old one that was somehow back in the most recent film.

it would be quite something to go through each and every present that the boys got for Christmas, and so i am not going to do that, thank you. besides, you have a full rundown of what i got, so if you are curious just go and read all of that again.

that said, do let it be known that the boys were most impressed with their stash, and very happy with everything. like, for instance, this present for James off of his Great Grandma. via, erm, Father Christmas.

yes, that very much is a Jurassic World branded latex hand puppet thing of a velociraptor; the self-style chicken of the dinosaur world. boss it is, too.

and so that would be that for them particular festivities and gifts for one more year. most splendid and nice it all was. lovely, as point of fact.

what did we have for Christmas dinner? not turkey, as although the traditions of the English way of doing things dictate that this is what you should have, none of us particularly like it. my (considerably) better half, then, instead prepared a leg of lamb what had garlic, rosemary and bacon shoved into it. splendid and most tasty it was.

right, Warren Zevon is currently singing of night time in the switching yard, so time for me to bring this post to close.

once again, i really do hope that all of you who take the time to read all of this - and everyone else - had a most amazing and wonderful Christmas.

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

Boba Threads

hello there

and so yes, look you see, more bowing down to face the demands of the commercialisation of the character Boba Fett out of Star Wars. this is, spoiler enthusiasts take note, despite the fact that the new paymasters of the franchise didn't take advantage of the setting and did not shove him in Rogue One for fun.

a somewhat slightly different spin on my collection of Boba Fett related stuff this time, dear reader, as this was an item which i did not spend a single penny on myself. not directly, at the least. no, this time around i came to own some more stuff off of him via the kindness of a friend, the co-pilot himself, the man with the call handle, or handle call, Magic......

yes, that is indeed him blasting away on what looks like a comic book cover. except, of course, it is not a comic book cover you are looking at. well, it is, but it's not on a comic as such, rather it has been transposed or if you like transferred onto a t-shirt. hence the threads reference in the title.

a very generous gift indeed off of Magic, one that i have thanked him kindly for and celebrated his indulgence.

a picture of me wearing it? i suspect such a thing would distract from how class it is, but aye, go on then.

my apologies to all who have had the smart image of Boba Fett spoiled by seeing me wear a t-shirt with him on, but oddly there are some people out there who would consider that something that they would like to see. which they now have.

Boba Fett is, of course, the fifth best character in all that Star Wars stuff, and on my personal list of favourites he comes in at an impressive third, just behind Lando Kardassian (or whatever) and Lobot. them two were most smart, they were, and i hope that both feature in one of the other films that they are making.

a look at the Boba Fett t-shirt in Commodore 64 mode? why not.

actually i might have a look at that ebay thing or something, see if you can get a smart Lobot tie, or pair of Lando sexy time pants. either would, to me, go very well indeed with this t-shirt.

thank you once more, co-pilot, for your generosity. i would imagine this will make you all the more popular on here, which would take some doing. your requested appearance on here has already clocked up about 500 views, making it somewhat more popular than the usual stuff i do......

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

Sunday, December 25, 2016

Chas & Dave Cockney Christmas Knees Up 1981

Merry Christmas

that is, look you see, if you have so kindly taken time out of your day on Christmas Day to come and have a bit of a gander at this. if, as i suspect will be the case, you are looking at some stage after the fact, well then I trust your Christmas was indeed a most merry one. or, you know, whatever you want it to be.

first off, then, a bit of an apology i suppose. i am sorry that i referred earlier in the month to Channel 5, and the Radio Times, as being "absolute b@stards" or similar for not showing Chas & Dave Christmas Cockney Knees Up this Christmas. they have, or at least did - just not on Christmas Day, as has come to be the tradition. instead this televisual feast was broadcast on December 21, which is an important date in itself for reasons which escape me. perhaps that's the "proper cockney" day for Christmas, who knows.

i should really warn Dave enthusiasts that Chas happens to be my favourite of the two. not that there's much between them, for they are both excellent, but just so you know there's more images of Chas than what there is of Dave coming up. and, you know, video too.

if for some reason you've never heard of Chas & Dave Christmas Cockney Knees Up 1981, either here on this blog or anywhere / nowhere else, best i fill in some blanks for you. actually no, for it really is pretty much is all there in the title; a title that does what it says on the box.

for some reason Channel 5 here in the UK has obtained the exclusive rights to this show, and do without fail (it now seems) screen it at least the once every Christmas. which helps make Christmas all the more special.

the above is indeed the first of many images of Chas out of Chas & Dave that will feature in this post. well, not maybe that many, but still. indeed i did take the above in Commodore 64 mode with my relatively new phone, and yes i am happy with how it came out.

here's a few seconds of Ain't No Pleasing You for your enjoyment. it's timeless, so don't worry if you are not watching at Christmas, you can enjoy this whenever you jolly well like.

what's the appeal of Chas & Dave? they're two blokes with some musical talent that just want to be happy and make other people happy. it's an ambition that's as simple as it is noble, and they are much cherished for it. sure, plenty will knock them or have a cheap pop, but that's their problem and not something for Chas or Dave to worry about. i would think you would find they're far more worried about achieving their stated aims than they are about anyone with absolutely nothing better to do than knock them.

Dave off of Chas & Dave fans, here you go. a Commodore 64 style portrait of Dave which, if i say so myself, has come out really excellent.

that's really boss, that is. if i were a Dave off of Chas & Dave enthusiast i would probably get that image printed on a t-shirt, or perhaps even a mug from which to drink cockney style tea out of.

but, so that it may be recorded for research for all time that this blog stands as testament to it, more details on the show for you.

Chas & Dave Christmas Cockney Knees Up 1981 is, at heart, a light entertainment and variety show. true, the driving force behind it is the music of Chas & Dave, but there are many guests of note. popular comedian Jimmy Cricket is, for a start, on the bill. people who were in both Cream and Blind Faith are represented too, in the form of Eric Clapton.

all of these were noble and impressive guests, but the ultimate, if you like uber, star of the show was a spectacular VIP presence of Lennie Peters off of Peters & Lee.

it's easy to forget now, some 35 years later, but back in 1981 there was always a feeling that 1981 would be forever known as the year of Lennie Peters off of Peters & Lee. i mean, he was absolutely massive, man. he could pick and choose any gig he wanted to play - and name is fee - and yet there he was, or if you like here he is, playing down the local boozer with Chas & Dave.

did Lennie Peters off of Peters & Lee perform a song with Chas & Dave? despite it being unheard of to share a stage with anyone other than Dianne Lee, yes he did.

i have little or no doubt that at the time there would have been a lot of excitement, buzz and speculation about the above. many probably thought - hoped - that Lennie Peters off of Peters & Lee would be joining Chas & Dave on a full time basis, making the band Lennie & Chas & Dave, or some variant like that. it never happened, of course, but it's nice to have a think about what might have been.

a similar incident to that famously occurred in 1992. George Michael was so excellent with Queen at the Freddie Mercury concert that many expressed the wish that he would be an absolute boss permanent replacement for Freddie. a lovely thought, but it never happened.

another image of Chas out of Chas & Dave? i don't see why not.

nope, sorry, not sure what the badge what Chas off of Chas & Dave is wearing says. i would bet at least a quid that it's some notable charity that he either supports or is a patron of, or then again maybe it is for something to do with Spurs, which i seem to remember is the team that he has a preference for.

a little snippet of the song they call The Pub Song? absolutely. at least i think that is what it is called, they have done a lot of songs and i bet or if you like bertcha they can't keep track of what they're all called.

as far as i am aware the only way that you can watch Chas & Dave Cockney Christmas Knees Up 1981 is when Channel 5 screen it. this is a shame, as i would love to be able to get the DVD of it and send it all around the world as a gift to people who may not have seen it, or would wish to watch it once more.

hopefully the above situation is reviewed and a change comes about. if that's in time to allow for the sending of the disc as a gift in time for Christmas 2017, then so much the better.

for now, then, a final look at Chas out of Chas & Dave, this time in the "classic" Commodore 64 mode with scan lines most decidedly turned on.

so, yes, well, right, then. with my viewing of this masterpiece of light entertainment it feels as though at last the magic of Christmas has come into my world. i hope this is true for you, whether it featured Chas & Dave or not.

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

Saturday, December 24, 2016

Rogue One


yes, i know. lots and lots of people have already beautified the internet with comments and thoughts about this new Star Wars film, look you see, but i thought i would add my bit. there is, to be sure, the novelty factor of me having been to see a new film within the first few days of it being released, after all.

a somewhat spoiler free review for you, the person who doesn't quite know how this all ties in to the rest of the Star Wars films? sure. after a sluggish start it gets going rather well, and delivers the personification of "fan service". this film is "mature" enough for all those 40+ year old fanboys who take it all waaaay too seriously, yet remains (just about) fun enough for it to be enjoyed as the family entertainment it was always supposed to be.

yeah, that there is our movie ticket seats. we did indeed - well, my (considerably) better half did - cough up extra for them "XLR" bigger seats. be warned, patrons who don't buy these tickets and yet try to sit in them seats anyhow - they come along with a map and check that only those who have paid more are actually sat in them. so don't get cheeky.

there shall not be any images of Rogue One in this post, but there are however likely to be some spoilers in my comments, so please consider a *** BIG SPOILER WARNING *** in place if you've not yet gotten around to seeing it and yet have ambitions to do so.

plot? well in the Star Wars universe i guess this would be Episode 3.9, or if you like Episode IV.IX, although i am not sure the Romans were that fussed about decimal places, in truth. anyway, it all takes place just before the first ever released of the films started, and ostensibly shows both how the Death Star got its immense capabilities and how the rebellion was able to clock how to twat it one, right out of existence.

that is indeed the boys before a poster promoting Wonder Woman, with the picture taken not at all long after we saw Rogue One. as you can see, they were happy to give the movie their thumbs up.

on the one side it's a film that need not have ever been made. no one was really all that bothered about this story until it was announced that they were making a film of it. at this point there was something of a collective "yeah, that will be smart, that" reaction from fans and, well, here we are. dismissing this as being "pure fan service" is then somewhat disingenuous - for what reason would you wish to make a film if not to appeal to as large an audience as possible, in particular an audience that shall enjoy it?

oh that above is just a look at Colin Cheng for those interested. we went past it on the way home and i thought that some of you might like a picture to see it is still standing.

the great controversy that seems to have kicked off about Rogue One is that of the "digital" presence of certain characters in the film, in particular (and note i did put spoiler warnings up) the late Peter Cushing "returning" as General Tarkin. there's a flash, so to speak, of Leia done in this way too. i have no problem with the moral aspect of it, although i see some social media warriors are saying that it is "disrespectful" to the memory of Peter Cushing to have done it. a simple fact is that they wouldn't have been able to tell the story the way they wanted to if they hadn't done it, and "lookalike" replacement actors would have been disjointed.

no, and again i point out spoiler warnings, Boba Fett does not turn up in it. what a shame, as there were many locations in the movie where he could have made a fleeting - and valid - appearance. as they did this with Bail Organa (Jimmy Smits returning to the part from the prequels), it's baffling that they didn't for Boba Fett, since they've been marketing him substantially for the last couple of years.

yeah. that's one of them selfie pictures what i took, in the vicinity of Colin Cheng no less. that is indeed William behind me. i did want to get one that featured all four of us, but it would have been somewhat tricky whilst my (considerably) better half drove as the driving conditions were challenging if not tricky.

Darth Vader? yes of course they managed to sneak him in. inevitably so, since they insisted on taking the film right up to the point where Episode IV starts. his appearance is 100% fan service, as he adds virtually nothing to the story at all, but is smart when he shows off all his impressive - and violent dark lord knight of the sith jedi tricks.

if this is the future of Star Wars films - self contained movies that benefit from knowledge of the rest but can be enjoyed without watching other parts - then the future looks good. overall, a well made film with a splendid cast and some truly amazing effects.

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

Friday, December 23, 2016

who but we remember these

hello people

yes, i've been going through my boxes of discs again, look you see. time to wallow in some nostalgia, then, and have a look, or if you like gander, at something found that prompted all sorts of thoughts.

much of my sunday gone, as opposed to the sunday to come, was spent with the sounds of David Bowie on the stereo. which recordings? mostly the Christiane F "soundtrack", which is more of a Berlin-era compilation really, and the 1. Outside album. but also Reality.

ah, but of course - i took the pictures with one of them Apple devices, and so blogger has gone ahead and turned one of them, the one above, upside down. sorry about that, unless for some reason it comes out the right way up on your side, and then i am not sorry.

the above reflects a segment of my Reality collection. sorry, haven't got it all out. the silver copy of the recording features a bonus track in the form of a cover of Waterloo Sunset, and a boss DVD of David and his merry musicians doing the whole album live. the black covered record in the middle is the Reality Tour double CD set, which came out some 5 - 6 (maybe more) years after the tour; a tour which always seemed and turned out to be the last he would undertake.

that one in the middle laid down is the New Killer Star DVD single, and it is to the the main focus of this blog post.

yes, you read that right, a DVD single. like a single, but with video. when these started turning up in the early 2000s it was seen as embracing the new technology, but was of course nothing too new - back in the 80s and in aspects of the 90s we had VHS "video singles" for some select releases. the biggest, and quite possibly still the biggest selling video of all time, was of course Thriller off of Michael Jackson.

what can i tell you of the DVD single? broadly they were an interesting idea kind of wasted, as they featured little content, were expensive and could only be played on your tele at home. in respect of the latter, a CD you could pay on your stag, on a portable player, make a tape off of for your walkman, play in your car, etc. not so much a DVD. it wasn't like a DVD drive was standard in computers then, either.

cost? from what i remember £4.99 a go, that compares to, from memory, between 99p - £1.99 for a cassette single, and between £1.99 - £3.99 for a CD single. this was in the days when you bought music as you had no choice. as hard as it might seem to think now, back in the early 2000s the internet was slow and not widely used, so there was no social media or streaming. illegal downloads? sure, but it took about an hour to download one song, and if your internet connection got interrupted you had to start all over again.

the above video clip, for those able to play back the video what i place on my blog (if you use Firefox for browsing purposes you should be cool), of New Killer Star. this DVD single followed the suspiciously standard pattern which was true of every DVD single ever released.

what you got for your 1p south of £5 was the music video for the single, an "extra track" that was either audio only or a pretty basically filmed thing, and an interview or promo of the artist. the interview bit was very seldom over five minutes, and the DVD itself was rarely more than 1GB in terms of use. 

with respect to the last content part above, on New Killer Star you get what is called the "Reality EPK", which i eventually worked out was "electronic press kit". basically, then, David Bowie decided to just issue snippets of interviews to the people, rather than do interviews.

actually, David did very much do interviews around this time, say 2003 or 2004. as ever, in those interviews he was wildly ahead of the curve. he was the first reasonably famous person you saw using something called an "iPod", at a time when Apple products were considered the exclusive preserve of 6 or 7 obnoxious twats with no social life. he also said, in a time of dial up internet connection, that he saw a time when all music would be available all the time across computers, and it would "run like water". i'd like to think that the name for this now, "streaming", was taken as inspiration from his greatness.

do i own any other DVD singles? yes, but not many. Whispers off if Ian Brown, Elevation off of U2, and i think the two singles what the Manic Street Preachers released off of Lifeblood. no, hang on, i am sure there was a video single for There By The Grace Of God off of Forever Delayed too.

but i haven't taken them out, as such, whereas i have with New Killer Star.

what makes New Killer Star different from the above examples i have mentioned is that the DVD single was it, folks. to my knowledge, no CD single, no cassette single and no 7" of the song was issued, at least not in the UK. a bit of a bold move, and one which is probably reflected in a poor, if at all, chart appearance.

this meant, of course, that the extra track was one that you could have in a format to play on a stereo. although, in fairness, few wished to.

yes, the above is indeed what appears on  tele or computer monitor if you, for some reason, wished to listen to the David Bowie recording of Sigue Sigue Sptunik's Love Missile F1-11.

should you be able to play back video here and for some reason you wish to hear this, here you go.

please, don't get me wrong. as catalogued here somewhere, i absolutely love this song and Sigue Sigue Sputnik. it's just that the David Bowie recording of it is, dare i say, not at all good.

i have often wondered what exactly inspired him to have a go at this as a cover. perhaps it was another case of "revenge" off of him. back in the early 90s he did famously cover Morrissey's I Know It's Gonna Happen Someday purely because when he heard the original he noted it was a "cheeky" steal from his own celebrated Rock N Roll Suicide. Bowie described his recording as "me doing an impression of him doing an impression of me". when you listen with that knowledge, you can hear Bowie struggling to avoid breaking out in laughter.

who knows, then, maybe Bowie heard what Sigue Sigue Sputnik did in terms of a cover of Rebel Rebel and decided to, so to speak, return the compliment.

for a long time - nearly a decade - Reality was something that growingly came to be accepted as Bowie's likely farewell. he, as is well known, suffered a very serious heart attack during the last days of the Reality tour, and appeared to withdraw from public life. in the rare instances he spoke during those years, one comment he gave was that it would have to be "something really, really spectacular" for him to record and release music again. knowing now what we do, The Next Day and Blackstar in particular would absolutely tick that box, alas.

a quick scout around suggesting you can pick up the New Killer Star DVD single for about half what it cost at the time. is it worth it? probably. as far as i know the video, which David doesn't appear in, isn't available on any other compilation. also, the interview bits are worth a look. but, you know, with the world being what it is, the whole thing is probably on that you tube stuff anyhow.

Reality is, however, an album very much worth getting. it was the third of three relatively quickfire releases, and maintained with ease the quality of hours.... and Heathen. which, you know, was a surprise at the time after the "interesting" record that was Earthling.

i can, as ever, but hope that this has all been of interest to someone somewhere!

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