Sunday, April 30, 2017


hello there

this post would be a bit of rounding out the total number of posts for the month, then. i seem to have not done so many updates here of late, look you see, so here's one more for those that like quantity over quality. although the quality is of course and as ever debatable.

also i seem to have quite a few things (three, i believe) related to all that Star Wars stuff to shove on here. quite a few of you are enthusiastic about things to do with space battles, i know, but it would be rather dull to show them all off at once. so, then, to mix it up a bit, here's a bit of merchandising i got related to the most recently released of these films, and further got on the cheap.

indeed yes, as you can in a peculiar way see quite clearly in the clarity of Commodore 64 mode, i have procured some new coasters for our home. not just any coasters, mind. these are Star Wars Rogue One coasters. and not just any old Star Wars Rogue One coasters, but rather 3D ones.

is it me or did all the excitement and interest in Rogue One come and go in a way that's even more disposable than the usual modern standards? i mean, it was a pretty good film, but somewhat forgettable. a lot of that could be down to attention now all being on the next Star Wars 'proper' film, The Last Vulcan or whatever.

but also the merchandising, at least by Star Wars and Disney standards, seemed to be a good deal lower down in key level with Rogue One. to the extent that what merchandising did turn up, like this one, now seems to be getting sold off at a quite reasonable if not ultra low price.

that's the 8, or if you like eight, different coasters in the pack, then. sorry that the 3D element does not come across too well in the image. that effect probably would if i had still got my blackberry phone with a camera welded on, but we all need to move forward with that.

at £3.99 for the set i cannot argue too much, although many might wonder why there's 6 of the bad guys in the film and ostensibly 2 alone of the good guys. or vice versa, if you believe that the Empire was in the right, and simply trying to keep the galaxy safe and secure. yes, in fractions just ever so slightly north of 49p a coaster.

is this a valid form of merchandising tie-in? i suspect actually it is. whilst i don't recall the finer details of the film i have every confidence that at some point at least one character would have liked something to drink. placing the chalice or other fluid receptacle used on a coaster is quite likely, as them spaceships look expensive and stylish - you wouldn't want to stain or damage them.

indeed yes, that's just the coasters once more, presented in Commodore 64 mode for those who, like me, greatly appreciate this way of seeing the world.

what am i going to do with these coasters? use them in the intended, if not conventional, way. nothing really comes to mind in terms of any flamboyant or creative alternate use, i fear. no, as it happens, we did not need new coasters so finding these at such a splendid price was not as fortuitous as it could have been, but quite smart all the same.

anyway, i have things to do, or which must be done, and you probably do too. should you be quite the fan of either coasters or Rogue One then i sincerely hope that this has been of some interest to you.

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

Saturday, April 29, 2017

kookaburra quest


one of the more noticeable, if not particularly interesting, aspects of life in Yorkshire is one seldom sees wildlife more commonly associated with Australia. seldom yet, look you see, not if ever. certain splendid specimens of the Australian way of life sometimes make it to this fair part of the world. and no, not by cheat means, such as being brought in captivity or as part of a touring cricket side.

something i have become quite enamoured about is that there have been sightings of that most splendid of birds, the kookaburra, here in Yorkshire. i am quite sure that i've mentioned this in another post, but to recap the sightings stretch back at least a decade. whether it is an elaborate hoax, or if the birds somehow escaped captivity i know not. i do know, however, that i am quite keen to try and spot one. but just not so keen that i am prepared to look anywhere beyond our garden.

as the quality of the image tells you no, the above is not an image of a kookaburra taken by me. it's far too good. instead, then, this is one of them "free to use" images of the bird i wish to see, placed here so that you may have a suitable point of reference in evaluating, if not judging, my valiant efforts to attract such a fine bird into our garden. although yes, if a kookaburra turned up and was keen to be in the house, i might consider allowing it.

do i have some sort of issue or quarrel with the more English in nature type of birds that visit our garden? far from it. mine is the pleasure in regularly placing food out for them, and it is always a delight to see them swoop down and eat it. to me it just seems jolly pleasant, really, the idea of a kookaburra coming all that way to come and peck on stuff here.

my hopes are always raised when i see a bird of decidedly Australian colour come into the garden. that and this was and is the case with episodes like the below, where through the magic of zoom you can sort of kind of see a bird resplendent in the colours of Australian gold and green perched on the seed feeder.

whilst clearly not a kookaburra as such this bird is reasonably close. a suggestion would be that this bird is, too, Australian, or at least has a fondness for the place. why, after all, would the bird cover itself in shades so closely associated with the country if it were not from it or passionate about it?

there are of course those who would suggest that i am courting danger, if not death, by attempting to attract a kookaburra to our garden. this is because of the fact that, despite this not being widely known or recognized, the kookaburra is the single most deadly animal off of Australia.

yes, i will leave that to sink in and indeed will go into further detail just now, but first here you go, here's another look at this delightful little bird.

there are of course many, many wonderful contenders for the most lethal and prolific of killer creatures from Australia. which is the greatest, or most dangerous, is determined by the frames of reference used.

many, for instance, might consider the great white shark (not the golf one) to be Australia's most prestigious predator. true, perhaps - if you are in the sea. no, i am afraid, you cannot place conditions on how and when such a life form may be considered the most dangerous. if we say the shark is at home in the sea and the kookaburra is at home in the sky, then a common middle ground between the two is land. i shall forever argue, and indeed would be prepared to place money on, that in a fair measurement a kookaburra is a far more proficient and successful killer on land than any sort of shark is.

where a kookaburra is not at home is in a storm of hailstones, or if you like in the midst of a hailstorm. as this is the kind of weather phenomenon we have been struck with during late April it is then of no surprise that i have not seen a kookaburra.

indeed yes, the above is a look at the window on the world i have from my elevated shed, and what you can see is the hailstones gathering upon it. this is instead of a kookaburra flying by.

should you have the capacity to play the videos i from time to time upload here and for some reason you wish to watch ten seconds of the hailstones hitting the window, you will love the below.

whilst the above has all been a wonderful and, i trust, welcome diversion for those of you who really like adverse weather conditions i suppose we'd best get back on subject. and that subject is the presence of kookaburra in my garden, or rather the distinct lack thereof.

like many, many gardens across England - nay, the UK - it could be said that what i presently lack in terms of kookaburra presence is amply made up for by the number of pigeons i appear able to attract with seed, bread and the occasional bit of fruit. like, for instance, this one.

great in number is the amount of people who are diligent in providing food for a variety of birds with the finest of intentions yet seem to succeed only in making one or two pigeons considerably fatter than they normally are.

also great in number are those who, and this can be said to be a consequence of the above, consider pigeons to be a nuisance and a pest. rats with wings is how i have heard them described, and more than once. whilst admitting they are not the most attractive of birds - familiarity breeds contempt and so forth - i wouldn't go so far as to express such dislike. my approach is that all birds are very welcome to feast upon what i provide; it's just that i'd really prefer it if a kookaburra would drop in at least once.

is it not possible that the kookaburra are visiting my garden - just not at times when i am watching? yes, i suppose. and no, i am not going to set up surveillance to record such things. if i were to resort to that then i might as well just watch existing videos of this most magnificent - if lethal - bird.

the above may or may not be the same lovely Australian green and gold bird from the pictures above. it was not an image captured at the same time, however. this was from a quite different, indeed earlier day.

and so on to tits, then, in conclusion. tits are of course phenomenally popular. this is a good thing, as frequently there are indeed tits on display both in my garden and in gardens across the land. whilst tits come in many a fine size and colour, it is the little blue tits of the world that i see most frequently in my garden.

here is a picture of a tit in my garden, eagerly pecking away at some nuts.

yes, sorry about the low quality image of the tit in the picture. or rather the low quality image. i was understandably quite excited to be seeing such a fantastic tit in my garden and so my hand was a little shaky as i took the picture.

and so off i go, then. to where? well, probably to place some more seeds and so forth out in the garden. i remain optimistic that one day i shall in fact place out the correct blend of seed and feed to attract a kookaburra. should i have my camera or phone at the ready when this happens, most happy day and i shall surely share the image with you here.

until then, then,

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

Thursday, April 27, 2017

stats sell stories

hello there

it is, look you see, something of a universal truth that if you hear a phrase such as "no word of a lie" or "i swear down" or perhaps even "i swear to God"the person speaking them is informing you only of falsehoods. whether or not we choose to accept such falsehoods as a variation of truth depends entirely on if we are willing to do so and how convincing the distributor is. not convincing, perhaps, but rather how distracting they are.

there is, of course, no greater distraction than numbers. numbers are accepted across the board, excluding no one on the basis of language, culture or other. time, money and numbers are the sole things every living being accepts. this makes all of them rather good selling points.

we have always, always, always had "fake news". it's a term that has become ever so popular of late, but it wasn't invented around the incumbent President of the United States. for some reason, though, it's become quite a popular term to band around.

sadly, just as "racism" is being ignored because of the preposterous number of inaccurate attributions of that to events which have nothing to do with race, "fake news" is being diluted as a concern. this is mostly because in many cases people are dismissing stories they simply disagree with as "fake news", irrespective of truth or fact.

how do you spot what is and what is not fake? not easily. you have to think and look in to things to see where the truth lies. here, let's have a look at a recent story from the Metro, a newspaper handed out gratis in London and with a popular web presence.

goodness me, what? according to that headline, for an article by someone called Richard Hartley-Parkinson, there has been a rethink on the referendum result. knowing that this headline was clickbait, i clicked on it to read more.

interestingly, and as we shall see below, the headline on the actual story substitutes "More" for "Most". oh. so it's not as quite a dramatic shift as this initial headline suggested. but still, more is more, so to speak. how many more?

well, statistically, there's been a 2% increase in the number of people who think Brexit is an act of folly, or if you like error, to be sure. according to a poll by YouGov and The Times the increase is from 43% to 45%. should my maths be fine, so far as i am aware 45% is not "most". but that's not the only problem.

statistics and a survey are only as good as your understanding of those surveyed. in this instance the only information presented in terms of who participated in the survey is that 1,590 (one thousand five hundred and ninety) people were asked.

ladies and gentlemen, the current population of the UK is estimated at 64.14 million. or if you like 64,140,000. the number 1,590 represents - rounded up to be generous - 0.00245% of the population. i do not see how less than half of that percentage can be taken as representing the view of "most" in the country, and that's without getting into the messy business of the sociological demographics of exactly who was approached and quizzed.

oh, look, during the course of the day someone at the Metro thought it might be a good idea to change the headline a little bit.

and yet still it says "more". we simply have no idea if those questioned had changed their mind on the subject or if they had always felt exactly as they answered. we also, for means of comparison, do not have statistical data to show how many of the 1,590 questioned changed from being against Brexit to a stance where they are now for it.

in order to make sure that you don't think of these kind of information and statistical issues the article swiftly moves to distraction. after a look at the numbers they want to, the article shifts over to focus entirely on Ms Gina Miller. this well known anti-Brexit activist is currently very concerned about "voices not being heard" and "democracy not being allowed to work". to address this, she is raising funds so as to unleash "tactical voting", in which people will not vote for who they initially wished to, but rather for who she (and, strangely, Sir Richard Branson) believe should win so that Brexit can be stopped.

fixing democracy by breaking democracy has all been done before, of course. and will be done again. will Ms Miller (and Sir Richard) succeed in corrupting the democratic process in such a way that suits their ideals? we shall see in a few short weeks, i suppose.

To quote Ms Miller, "Only tactical voting in this election can ensure that Parliament plays its full role in the future of our country. We need MPs to be strong and open minded about what is best for Britain.". This is at odds with my idea that people should vote for who they believe to be the best person to represent them, but there you go. neither i nor Ms Miller are standing for election; presumably what we have in comment is that neither of us believe we ourselves would be "strong and open minded".

to be fair, Ms Miller's campaign, according to the article referenced and linked above, has "almost" 10,000 "backers". to be generous and to call it exactly 10,000, that represents (rounded up) 0.0156% of the current UK population.

is this article from the Metro an example of a "fake news" story? i leave that up to you, although i suspect pro-Brexit people will say "yes" and anti-Brexit people will say "no". so far as i can see and understand it, the article is most decidedly an example of using numbers in the way which best serves your point.

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

sunshine, and a rainy day

hello there

yes. and no. but yes, look you see. no this blog post isn't a tribute to the celebrated song Sunshine On A Rainy Day by Zoe. to my mind it was celebrated to the extent that it should be, to be sure, upon release back in the early 1990s. nearly thirty years old that song is, then, and yet it still lives on.

instead, then, this is just an update for friends and family around the world who endure my ramblings here to see how the people in my family they like (which is to say all of them except me) are getting along in life. as a couple of pictures have happened now seemed a suitable time to do such an update.

these updates are indeed from a sunny day and, as rare as such a thing is here in England, a rainy day.  start with the rainy day, then? it is decidedly so.

indeed there before you are the boys, flanking Uncle Colin at the House of Harlos. no you can't quite make it out, but i promise you that it was bucketing it down as we attended his barbecue or if you like BBQ or indeed if you prefer braai.

Colin had invited us all over in celebration of his birthday, having made plans to cook outdoors in a traditional way to celebrate. tried as it might the rain did not dampen the celebrations or the food (well, not too much in respect of the latter) and much merriment was there to be had.

a little while before the above, as opposed to some unspecified date in the future, we had a sunny day. not quite a warm one as such, but sunny all the same. sunny enough, indeed, for us to take a stroll as a family and enjoy the day.

and, as the above shows off somewhat, what better place to enjoy the day than down at the play park?

my (considerably) better half really, really likes this "snake balancing" rope thingie, she does, to be sure. this is no bad thing, and as you can see the boys like gently swaying upon it with her. perhaps it is all to do with some sort of longing for a life on the seas, i just don't know.

anyway, that's how they all are, as it were! a big hello to all of you off of all of us, and more to follow sooner or later, no doubt!

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

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

a quick dip


in what might well be a pleasant return to things here for many of you, some news off of Spiros. as i need not telling, look you see, Spiros leads a life far more exotic, interesting and exciting than mine. the consequence or if you like result of this is that you all far prefer hearing of his adventures than of my own.

something of an unusual update from the world of Spiros, this, as it doesn't feature him flexing his skill and prowess as the greatest legal mind of his generation in another part of the world. he has instead decided to groove around London (innit) for a bit, seeing what he can see there.

one of the most interesting sights he saw was down at the canals of Tower Hamlets. this rather picturesque area of London has one which has long since fascinated Spiros; something which suggests that one can find a lot of sailors there.

alas no pictures of sailors as such, but some items which have been discarded into a particular canal down at Tower Hamlets. whilst there are many, many interesting items for you to consider, i believe in regards of this particular post the flotation device shall be of specific interest.

this is not just any random aspect of a canal in Tower Hamlets. no, dear reader. Spiros advises me that what you see in this image is the first part of the canal where you could climb out of the canal and return to land if you had happened to have entered the canal in the Canary Wharf area.

for what reason would one have entered the currents and streams of the waters of Canary Wharf? it happens more than you think, and seldom by choice. the private security charged with being custodians of safety in that most prestigious area of London have been known to place people clearly of no business in the Wharf into the waters. this is a most wonderful thing, and the fact that they get a bit wet is more than compensated for by the fact that they get to a suitable area all the quicker. making a flotation device available for these quasi-sailors is, i think, a  lovely touch.

no, the above advert for Lloyds bank is not near the canal. to my knowledge this is taken in a tube or if you like underground station. this is of course a very different advert for Lloyds that was there before, with you being able to see the other one by clicking here.

Spiros is quite distressed by this change for a couple of reasons. the first and most obvious is that the other advert allowed him to meet other men for short term but mutually beneficial relationships with relative ease. the second reason is that Lloyds appear to have "borrowed" a slogan used by a South African bank, i believe Absa, during the 1990s. perhaps they thought no one would notice. or maybe some clever advertising agency charged Lloyds about £100,000 or so to make the loan.

anyway, i am sure you'd rather explore some more canal action with Spiros. alas, i don't have much else to tell you about that. if it helps, though, here is a bit of a sort of map thing for you to see how an intrepid sailor would go from Canary Wharf to Tower Hamlets via the canal system.

indeed yes, that there in blue is a stretch of the Thames which probably features on the credits of that popular soap opera thing, Eastend Street or whatever it's called. Hollyoaks, maybe. the one which didn't have a window cleaner called Sinbad in it.

should you wish to take this mostly aquatic journey yourself, don't worry so much about planning it, or working out the logistics. simply get along to Canary Wharf and misbehave. you will soon be introduced to this if not unique then quite peculiar form of travelling around London. one of the best aspects of it, of course, is that it is free.

thanks as usual to Spiros for sharing the insights from his travels. and thank you very much indeed for dropping by to read.

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

Sunday, April 23, 2017

some shoes suit snooker

hello there

the last week here in the UK has, look you see, seen little of consequence happen. no major news or events have come along which in any way managed to distract everyone from watching the most splendid snooker on at the Crucible in Sheffield.

i am not too different from the rest in this respect. i've not been able to watch all of the snooker, for i have many a thing to do, but i have endeavoured to watch a decent amount. and so far this is most pleasing, for outside of one or two games it's been rather enjoyable.

one of the most interesting aspects of it all has been, as i am sure you can guess from the title of this, the shoes which select snooker players have elected to wear. if you are wondering whether or not i am going to look at choice ones in this post, indeed yes i am. mostly.

the above is indeed an image of Rory "Connor" McLeod, presumably of the Clan McLeod. for some reason beyond me the BBC have often mentioned that he is the oldest person to be competing in this tournament. to that i say no, really, in a most sarcastic way. that's McLeod, so as he is obviously immortal but of course he will be the oldest. that boss documentary on him and his Spanish mate showed you all his adventures through history, after all.

and so the Highlander had quite a smart week. well, it was smart at the time of writing this. he got through the first round, taking out an opponent called Trump who was, i believe, one of the favourites to go on and win it. all this whilst, i am sure you will agree in spirit, looking like an absolute badass Marvin Gaye double.

one possible downside to his week is, alas, his dress sense. and this relies on me relying on something i was taught or told many a year ago. here, have a look at this shot of Connor McLeod in action.

better quality images of the issue are below. sorry if they are not up to the usual standard; i was all excited about what i saw when i snapped away to get these images off the tele. anyway, that debate distracts from the point of all of this.

yes, as you can see, yes. Rory "Connor" McLeod of the clan McLeod, slayer of the Kurgan, is indeed wearing brown shoes with black trousers. black socks, too, but that part might be allowed. but i was always told that you should never, ever wear brown shoes with black trousers. it is, from what i recall, considered a massive fashion faux pas.

many of you will recall that my outrageous and often controversial cowboy look came about because of this rule. when the only shoes that could fit me were brown ones i had to get some blue jeans as i only had black jeans and black trousers. so i must be right in thinking this.

this shoe phenomenon at the current snooker tournament in Sheffield is not the exclusive preserve of Connor McLeod. 

yes, you are right. the above is indeed Luca Brecel. no, not that Luca Brecel, this is the Belgian one, off of Belgium.

he was involved in what was, to me, the best and most exciting match of the tournament so far. he took on Marco Fu and somehow snatched defeat from the jaws of victory. Fu is a fabulous player, but Brecel was so far ahead at one stage he should have wrapped it up. he's only 22, however. whilst obviously not a McLeod and thus presumably not immortal, he still has time to come back and dazzle again.

speaking of dazzling, his shoes were at the upper levels of the higher ranking of dazzle rating. observe.

that is indeed one of the feet of Brecel from Belgium. no, it's not bad lighting or a reflection. well, actually it is a reflection, but the reflection is all off of his shoes. for some reason he was wearing the most amazing, shiny, glitter loaded shoes what i have ever seen anyone wear.

so far as i am aware most of what a snooker player can wear in a tournament is regulated. smart suit trousers, a long sleeved shirt, a dapper waistcoat and perhaps a bowtie or traditional tie. all snooker players abide by this, although the more rebellious ones (Ronnie O'Sullivan) wear a black shirt instead of a formal white one. the regulations, it would seem, do not stretch to which shoes they may wear.

a quick break from looking at the shoes of snooker players, then, to look at the audience. an audience which is entirely bereft of dress code, with the only condition of them spectating is that they remain silent as and when instructed.

see if you can see why i have included this picture of the audience before you read below the picture.

do you see him, or rather what he is wearing? no? look at the chap sat behind the bald gent with a beard. the one in red. yes, that's right. one of the spectators has a classic Middlesbrough FC shirt on. the sponsor is Dickens, which makes it from the 94-95 season,  the time when Bryan Robson was our player-manager.

if you are thinking that was the best shirt i saw a spectator wear, alas no. i didn't get a picture of it but in one of the matches someone had a t-shirt on which had the cover of Van Halen's 1984, or if you like MCMLXXXIV, on it. an amazing album, that. arguably peak David Lee Roth, although the Van Halen debut could also claim that, as could Diamond Dave's Eat 'Em And Smile solo recording.

but we are not here to discuss David Lee Roth, as admirable as his prowess as a sexualist is. no, we are here for the shoes of snooker players, or at least two of them in particular.

here, have a closer took at the brown shoe of Connor McLeod.

please note that i am not being critical of the shoes themselves. in isolation both are really smart pairs, and i would be proud to own such a fancy pair. it's just that i would not wear brown shoes with black trousers, and i might hesitate about wearing shiny glitter sparkling shoes before appearing in front of a television audience of several million.

another look at  Luca Brecel, or rather at his feet in shiny shoes? but of course.

i would confess to limited knowledge in general, but when it comes to Belgian snooker players i must confess that i know of no further ones. maybe Jean Claude Van Damme has a game every now and then, but so far as it is possible to be aware i don't believe he has gone pro.

perhaps the Belgian minister of arts and culture has instructed him to wear them because of the above, should Belgium indeed have such a minister. he has been sent out to play in this tournament as a kind of ambassador for the nation, and so it would make sense that they wanted to ensure he was noticed. if shoes is the only place that a snooker player can show off some personal flair and national heritage commemoration, then there it is.

it could also be long term planning. when, many many many years from now, Luca Brecel is beatified and commemorated as the patron saint of Belgian snooker players, these sparkling, shiny shoes will make all statues in his honour distinct and distinguished. they also allow for some interesting merchandising opportunities, i suppose.

yeah, the above image is another look at Connor McLeod, proudly strutting his brown shoes whilst wearing black trousers.

would i take Connor McLeod aside and point out his error? no way. i am a massive fan of the documentary about him. whilst at heart he is a good man, let us not forget that he has, through the centuries, decapitated - with a f*****g massive sword - people who have displeased him by being immortal. just imagine what he would feel pressed to do to those who dared question his dress sense.

also, it is not like i am some grand fashionista. i can't really, going on the way i dress, go around pointing out the folly of what others are wearing.

another look at the Belgian shiners to finish? sure, why not.

well, there we have it. shoes for snooker, or if you like a look at what some snooker players wear as shoes when they are doing their thing.

at the time of writing there was still a fair way to go in this tournament. that means plenty of opportunities to watch quality snooker, and the chance to see more shoe action. unless they are really spectacular, though, i do not believe i will have anything further to say on the subject.

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

Saturday, April 22, 2017

new old good

get down, pop pickers

i suspect it would be fair to say that this year, whilst not bereft of moment, has been neither as prolific nor dramatic as last year was with the vibes, or if you like new music releases. 2016 was remarkable, with both hello to music and goodbye to those who made it existing in the same, i suppose quantum, space.

moments in music still come along this year, of course, and not all of them are the decidedly background yet in your face sounds of Ed Sheeran. once again, though, the parts which are striking me the most as being the best are those trusted hands who have been making music for many, many years.

like, for instance. Lindsey Buckingham and Christine McVie. yes, them two off of Fleetwood Mac.

in the absence of (ahem) rumours and reports as to what Fleetwood Mac might be getting up to i was quite surprised to spot a story on the news of this 40% of the best known line up of that band doing a record together.actually, make that 40% in name, yet 80% in recording, for i am led to believe that Mick Fleetwood and John McVie both appear on the album. leaving Stevie Nicks out of it, for reasons at this stage being unknown and untold.

the important stuff first, or if you like the business end. the album credited to Mr Buckingham and Ms McVie is called In My World. that just so happens to be the name of the lead single from the record. yes, indeed i did purchase this single in its digital form.

what is the single like? brilliant. there is no point avoiding the comparison, in melody and tune it sounds like the classic line up of Fleetwood Mac at their best. and yet it also sounds, perhaps surprisingly so, fresh and quite new. not modern in any sense of the noise generated today. there's just a revived, refreshed and vibrant feel to it. it's a really, really good song.

good enough to go on one of the better Fleetwood Mac albums made? perhaps even their very best work, and one which has a genuine claim to the title of greatest album of all time? possibly.

the fact that this song is so good can lead one away, or if you like since it would seem to be a preferred word of mine at the moment distract, from the questions this record poses. like, why are Christine McVie and Lindsey Buckingham making a record together? so far as i know the two of them, whilst no doubt friend and bonded with the years together, were of the few (ahem) personal pairings not experimented with during the recording of Rumours. from what i recall Christine McVie was also quite reluctant to once again join the band or throw herself into the toils and demands of making music.

in considering 80% of the band are reported to feature on the record, there's a question to ask about why not just have Stevie involved in it too and release as a Fleetwood Mac album. such a release would, to be honest, line their bank accounts a very great deal. asking such a question is quite dangerous ground to stand on. with the dynamics and politics of the band being what they have always been, who knows what's the deal with relationships (ahem) between them all now.

also, there's the problem of the last time Lindsey Buckingham "gave" an album to Fleetwood Mac. briefly and broadly, Lindsey was sat on gold with a solo record, but Fleetwood Mac were falling apart. he sacrificed the solo record to give the songs to the band, and thus Tango In The Night came in being. a move that saved the band but caused resentment. and that led to Lindsey leaving, only to come back at the explicit request of Bill Clinton, no less.

a most wonderful thing would be if the album, if not this single too, goes on to be quite a big hit. that relies pretty much on the rest of the album being up to the quality of the song In My World. there is no reason to think it will not be, for surely these two are in a position where they only need to release what they believe to be good.

no, sorry, no video clip for the few of you who can play them here, and no links either. i am sure you would not have much in the way of trouble in finding the song online. hopefully to purchase, but if the band and label are making it free to play somewhere then that's up to them.

this perhaps goes without saying, but bring on the album, then, and let us see what other old new good music gets a release this year.

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

Friday, April 21, 2017

a broken frame


contrary to the view that some, if not several, have held or possibly remain as holding of me, i am someone with low expectations and relatively simple means of keeping happy. no, stop laughing those who think otherwise.

to this end i, look you see, quite like shiny things. distractions too, as we have indeed seen within the text of recent posts. with this in mind, then, i do quite like playing a handful, as in three or perhaps four, of the games that they have on offer over on that 'facebook' thing.

it is with some discord if not distress that one of them has been unavailable for quite some time now.

for some reason that Candy Crush Saga has been unavailable for a while. the error message bears all the hallmarks of someone getting carried away and overthinking things, as in i suspect they have elected to "upgrade" the game and done so in a way that means it no longer works. this is the way of things on the internet. should it not be broken then seek not to fix it is a sentence seldom used in respect of those who control things online.

how much of a blow is this to me? quite a significant one. often has been the case that playing this game has saved me from doing things which could be productive or constructive. that might sound negative, but it isn't. should i be playing a game which is little more than a variant on Tetris, or perhaps Columns off of Sega, then i am not causing harm to fall on others or the world in general.

let me seek similar security services from the other games on offer, then.

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

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

remembering easter


as things of pretty much every nature get treated in quite the disposable way these days i suppose this title is fitting if not apt. reminiscing and recalling something as long ago as the weekend just gone, look you see, seems to be the order of the times.

no matter, let us not lament or dwindle on this. there are, strangely, some positive aspects to this modern approach, as it happens. one can just get distracted by the downside of this instant gratification culture. moving on, then, and some pictures from Easter weekend for you. ten, i believe.

yes, family and friends around the world, this blog will mostly consist of images of my family for you. i'd suspect you are long overdue some images or updates on how everyone all is, and so here you are. even better for most of you, i would probably imagine, is that this post shall feature in some exclusivity only the 75% of my family you like the most. this is to say that i do not appear.

much of Sunday this Easter, or should you so wish Easter Sunday, was marked by a grey sky and some considerable rain falling. this was, however, not quite the case in the morning. the day started with a threat of it being quite sunny and pleasant. quite the bonus, this, as it allowed for an Easter Egg hunt throughout the garden of our home.

should for some reason you be unaware of what an Easter Egg hunt is, let's have a look. no, it does not involve foxes, bloodhounds or horses. well, it can, but not the way we do it. instead, the Easter Bunny hides Easter Eggs in a location, and the people - normally children but those all grown up can join in - then go to seek them out.

here you go, why not try playing yourself? see if you can't find the Easter Egg hidden in the below image.

did you find it? good. i am assuming the answer is yes, as you are now reading this and so have left the image alone. but i suppose it could be the case that you just got bored of looking and gave up, or for some reason you prefer my writing to the images. which would be quite weird.

origins or provenance of the Easter Bunny? not sure. probably lost in time, really, or subject to debates and different ideas from people. most probably, though, something to do with Easter, as a northern hemisphere event, being in Spring, and Spring being when bunny rabbits come along. if, indeed, that's when they appear.

what i can do for you, however, is provide details, information and nothing short of photographic evidence of who our Easter Bunny is, should a digital image taken off of a phone what has a camera welded to it be something that you would classify as a photograph. i suspect it just gets called a "digital image", but no matter, this simply distracts.

indeed, yes. my (considerably) better half, who assures me that i am very happily married, acted as our resident Easter Bunny. this was a particularly kind thing of her to do, and also sensible. had it been left to me at best the boys would simply have been given a bag of chocolate eggs and told to get on with it; at worst i would have hidden them in places that would lead them into danger and adventure to get them.

speaking of which, William elected to have a look for an Easter Egg or two near the palace of Spiny Norman. should one have been hidden there, he would have to be fast, lest Spiny Norman get it first.

who is Spiny Norman? i am certain he has been mentioned here before, if indeed he is a he. Spiny Norman is a hedgehog who lives in our garden. perhaps with the Spiny Norman family (presumably also hedgehogs), but on the rare instances a sighting has been made we have only ever seen one.

why call a hedgehog Spiny Norman? you need to brush up on your Monty Python to find out, with particular emphasis on the celebrated Ethel The Frog investigative piece what they did.

was there an Easter Egg, or similar treat, near the lair or gateway to the palace of Spiny Norman? yes, probably i am not sure. i think i got distracted by how interested and excited William was at having a look at this most prestigious area of our garden.

indeed the above is James, doing that "why are you taking so many images of me Dad" look so well associated with boys of his age over the years. no doubt soon he shall, like the majority of his generation, come to believe that taking "selfies" is the greatest thing ever, and one shall not be able to move for images of him, taken by him for reasons best known to him. that is the way of the kids today.

by this stage you are, i would imagine, itching to have another go at a sort of quasi, or if you like virtual, Easter Egg hunting on this very page of this very blog. should this indeed be correct, then you shall most decidedly love the next picture. here, see if you can find the Easter Egg hidden by my (considerably) better half in the below image.

a clue? sure. the wrapping paper on it is not yellow, and nor is it black.

hopefully you managed to spot the Easter Egg with little fuss or frustration, should indeed those two items be in some way exclusive. with any fortune and favour on your side, my most earnest hope would be that yes that you did, and i am indeed running out of things to say.

oh, look. William is doing some sort of little dance before the gateway to the entrance of the palace of Spiny Norman. this might well be proof, if not evidence, that he did indeed find an Easter Egg in that particular area. nice one if he indeed did.

do bunny rabbits hibernate like what hedgehogs do? i mean, i don't know. my comments about them being associated with Spring only really makes sense if they do emerge at this time of year. that or start breeding i suppose, but i was always led to believe that breeding is a constant for rabbits. they are always at it, they are, to be sure. rabbits are most probably like the David Lee Roth of the animal kingdom.

it's just that if rabbits don't emerge, or get born or hatch or whatever, during Easter and Spring, then perhaps what they should have done is gone for the Easter Hedgehog as iconography, or whatever the fancy word is for an image you project in close association with something.  not that i have a problem with rabbits in general or the Easter Bunny in particular, it's just that the Easter Hedgehog might make more sense.

perhaps there was quite a stack of Easter Eggs and similar treats near to where Spiny Norman lives, as both boys at one stage appeared to congregate there.

have we done much of anything else this Easter weekend beyond this Easter Egg hunt? kind of, but more of that in a bit. for the most part we've just done exactly what the opportunity presented itself with as being the thing to do, which was effectively try and relax and spend some time together.

another image of James doing that "Dad why are you taking another picture of me?" look which he does so rather well and enthusiastically? sure, why not.

the only other thing, that i am aware of and what is fit for publication, that i have images of from the Easter weekend is an ambitious plan launched by William and my (considerably) better half. this involved balloons, newspaper and glue. which, of course, means papier mache, or however one is supposed to say it. probably a lot of them Frenchie things over some of the letters.

to what end were the two of them getting busy doing this? not sure. normally, of course, one makes these papier mache things with balloons as and when one wishes to make a mask. that's not what they are doing, though. i mean, they did tell me, but i kind of stopped listening a few words in and can't remember. i believe it might be some sort of capsule or egg like thing to store a specific toy in.

and so that's that for a look back at the Easter that was this year. hopefully this has all brought back some most splendid memories of your own Easter weekend, if you happen to live within a part of the world that celebrates it. and, of course, i trust family and friends have rather liked a quick catch up with how all the ones off of my family you like are presently doing.

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

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

random bowie - 'hours.....'

Howdy Pop Pickers

And so another month, another random Bowie album selected for a listen. It is also, look you see, one again from the 90s in the form of Hours, or if you like (and David did for this is how it appears on the album cover ‘hours…..’.

Just how random has been my selection of this record? Partial. I’ve been playing it a bit of late as it is one I had considered to be a “forgotten” record. It was a Bowie release that came along but very nearly got blanketed out by other Bowie releases. Also, as I was doing this, my good friend Jonathan mentioned in passing that he had listened to it recently. Some of his observations on things he heard shall be included.

Fantastic facts first? Surely. It is, by the widely accepted understanding of his discography, the 21st studio album by Bowie. By releasing it in 1999 it marks his final album released in the 20th century, and perfectly rounds off his obsession with releasing records only during odd numbered years during the 1990s.

There are firsts and lasts to this record. Ostensibly the record stemmed from Bowie and Reeves Gabrels (yes, that one off of Tin Machine) creating a soundtrack for a long forgotten computer game called Omikron, one in which Bowie as a character featured, no less. As part of Bowie embracing the modern and the new, it was also the first album (from a major artist on a major label) to be sold as a digital release, with it being available to buy and download (presumably off the much missed service) some two weeks before the physical release. Impressive, when you consider this was all before iTunes etc, and that portable mp3 players did not at this stage exist as we know them now, if at all. So far as I am aware, this was the last time that Bowie worked with Reeves Gabrels – if so a spectacular way to bow out, as each song is credited as being written by both of them.

Should you be in a rush, the question you have right now is of whether this record is any good or not. The answer to that is yes, no, maybe. As I mentioned earlier on it feels like quite a casual if not anonymous release, one which is better than the end of deal, contractual obligations release you might assume but also not particularly outstanding. In many respects the best way to describe this record is as a distraction. Let’s see if I can back that up.

This record came along a relatively short space of time after the Earthling shenanigans, an experience many fans were still healing the scars from. We will get to Earthling in detail one day, so long as I keep doing this, but for now it’s safe to say that record was one which “surprised” fans, what with David apparently saying “look kids I am totally down on this drum and bass thing” whilst terrifying his usual audience with some particularly screeching aggression.

Strangely the aggressive ways of Earthling remain in ‘hours….’, but they are masked by distraction. The two best known singles off of the record, Thursday’s Child and Seven, are musically soft, quasi-acoustic affairs. Both are quite peaceful sounding and give a sense of being uplifting, which underlines the distraction as lyrically they are quite dark.

Neither of these singles reflects the album entire in any sort of proper representative way, in truth. It’s a far more edgier rock record that the instrumentation of those two let on. Can I draw a parallel to that? Sure. Imagine about 10 years before ‘hours…’, or if you like 30 years ago, you happened to hear that nice song about a girl whose eyes seemed to remind of childhood memories, hiding from thunder and rain etc, and so went off, bought the album that the song (Sweet Child O Mine) was off and then you got to hear things like You’re Crazy, Out To Get Me, Mr Brownstone, My Michelle, etc.

OK, fine, so the singles might not reflect the album as such, but is the music on the album as it is any good? Yes, in a decidedly distracted average way. There are some amazing highlights – well, the two singles plus Something In The Air plus The Pretty Things Are Going To Hell – but they are punctured by if not quite average then somewhat anonymous feeling songs.

And yes, indeed. Something In The Air ended up on the soundtrack of the film adaptation of American Psycho, despite the fact that Bowie was one of the few musicians not to get a mention in the novel. Not that I recall, at the least. Been a while since I read it and frankly I do not feel emotionally stable enough to read it again; now or possibly ever. 

A big distraction is the fact that this album might well have gotten away with calling itself The Borrowers. Whilst all musicians borrow from all others in some form or another, and many have borrowed off of Bowie, this record is remarkable in how much of it sounds like other things Bowie might have heard in passing. If you play virtually any song off the record you can detect moments from songs by other artists.

With the help of my friend Jonathan, here’s some examples of what I am speaking about in that last bit. The instrumental break on Thursday’s Child sounds similar to Something In The Air by Thunderclap Newman, something Bowie perhaps acknowledges by doing a song of that name on the album too. The closing track, The Dreamers, sounds like something we think is a Kate Bush song but can’t quite place. Most brazenly, What’s Really Happening isn’t really much more than You Keep Me Hanging On by Kim Wilde slowed down a bit and with some new words thrown over.

This “borrowing” does become a big distraction, for once you hear it you can’t really unhear it, so to speak. It kind of split the critics, as those who didn’t go for the trusted “best and most important record since Scary Monsters” approach did indicate that this record was somewhat embarrassing for someone of Bowie’s talents. Me, as I have said, I sit somewhere in the middle of those two reviews with this record.

Bowie himself kind of stole the thunder of ‘hours….’ by sanctioning the issuing of “Bowie At The Beeb” less than a year after the album release. The 2 CD look at his BBC performances between 68 and 72 was accompanied by a stunning concert he did in June 2000 for the same broadcasting outfit. The magnificence of this set really distracted me from remembering that ‘hours….’ even existed.

Was anything particularly missed by ‘hours…’ getting distracted into relatively obscurity by everyone in general and the artist in particular? For sure. There was lots of conversation to be had with this that never really got discussed. Such as? The cover, for a start. Is that the younger yet now obviously elder long haired early 70s Bowie from Man Who Sold The World and Hunky Dory laying the petulant child of 1. Outside and Earthling to rest? Was the idea of styling the album name ‘hours….’ a very deliberate way to echo the way the song and album “heroes” was pressed?

For those of us who quite liked Tin Machine, though, the question is whether or not this record is any indication of just what exactly a third album by that band might have sounded like. One of the more commonly accepted musical reasons for the band splitting was that whilst the brothers Sales wished to press a harder, more edgy sound, Bowie and Gabrels wish to pursue a more melodic, commercially accessible form of music. Elements of ‘hours…’ hint at this, for although there’s a distinct rock edge to many numbers you couldn’t imagine the brothers Sales would be satisfied playing on them.

Do you, the casual Bowie fan exploring his works, bother to seek out this record in any great hurry? No. Anonymous and distracted from it may very well be, but it’s sadly no lost masterpiece or forgotten classic. As much as I may like some of the non-singles tracks, I would be sure the singles feature on the post-2000s “best of” sets, and in essential terms they are all you really need to know from the record.

That said, no this is not a record to be avoided all together. It’s just not as vital to hear as, say, all the ones he did in the 70s, some of the ones he did in the 80s, all bar one of the ones from the 90s and none of the 00s or 10s. Right, I’ve type that and feel bad, because it makes the album sound worse than it is.

Hmn, perhaps it is best I end this look at ‘hours….’, then. Ultimately the record, both in terms of the music and presentation, poses many interesting questions, but just gets too damned distracted to answer them.

What next? Who knows. I don’t at this stage, in truth. But I will think of something, and if matters such as time and health allow, I will write more. Until, then, then,

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

Sunday, April 16, 2017

now let us praise famous men

hello there

earlier this week, as recently as friday in fact, i found myself considering options for breakfast. it is indeed true that normally i would dine upon croissants for my first meal of the day. this is but of course borne from my love of all things French, look you see, looking at how many hits i appear to be attracting from that fine, fine nation; one that has contributed a great deal to the world but the specifics of which escape me for the moment.

anyway, i was bereft or if you like without or if you prefer sans croissants on this particular morning. it is not always possible to obtain them, especially when strictly speaking you are not in France. as when is or is not in France has been extensively covered in an earlier post, let us move on.

so moving on to what i had available rather than linger on that which i did not, it occurred to me that i did as point of fact have a most splendid item from my travels of the year before this. one which i had not yet made any, less sufficient, use of, and one which was appropriate for serving at breakfast.

yes. as you can quite clearly see in the above, presented in the splendour and magnificence of Commodore 64 mode, i elected that particular morning to be the one which i cracked open the jar of Royal Sovereign  Strawberry Extra Jam Preserve which i had personally procured from Fortnum & Mason during my travels to the capital during the year before this.

one must be careful with what they do and do not admit to in this particular era, with some preferring to remain silent on absolutely everything just to be safe, no matter how silly or peculiar that may make them. i shall not do this, though. it is appropriate for me to admit, if not confess, that yes, quite a significant amount of time has passed between me obtaining this fine jam and the actual use. several months, as point of fact, if not rather closer to nine or ten in specific. no particular reason for the delay, i just had not gotten to it and no, i had not forgotten it was there.

such a special jam required, but of course, special treatment. whilst the jam itself was to be spread over the finest toasted bread, or if you like toast, available, it was essential to have the correct tea to drink so as to perfectly complement it, with this tea being served in the most appropriate chalice or vessel.

ideally yes, i would have had some Fortnum & Mason tea to go with the jam. alas, i had none. my own reserves were long ago depleted, with the means of disposal being either i having consumed tea crafted from the tea bags, or the tea bags were despatched to locations both across the Atlantic and across the English Channel. Yorkshire Tea it was to be then, what with it being the very finest tea in the world as it is from Yorkshire.

as for a suitable chalice, well, The Who are rock aristocracy or if you like nobility or if you prefer royalty. also, the image of Mr Pete Townshend very much doing his thing with a guitar has been coloured with a union jack / flag style scheme, so it seemed appropriate to use. it is highly probable, is it not, that members of The Who had at some stage also had tea and toast, with strawberry jam placed on the latter. considering the enormous sums of money they have earned and their elevated class status, it is also quite probable that they, too, have eaten jam prepared and supplied by Fortnum & Mason.

please note, however, from a point of legal requirements, i am most decidedly not stating as fact that any member of The Who has eaten Fortnum & Mason jam. all that i seek to do is raise the possibility that they may have, and indeed may have done so without knowing that this was the case.

for some peculiar reason one or two of you may believe that Commodore 64 mode is not the best nor the most visually articulate way to present the details of an item which is being observed. should you be within this demographic i can only trust that the above image of the front of this Royal Sovereign  Strawberry Extra Jam Preserve from Fortnum & Mason is pleasing.

i would be certain that i discussed this last year and the label makes it somewhat obvious, but yes, for you text based digesting of information enthusiasts, this is indeed a special extra jam preserve which Fortnum & Mason commissioned in honour of the 90th birthday of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II. no, alas, i am unaware of whether or not a jar of this was indeed presented to her as a gift. you would, however, suspect that yes, indeed it was.

who knows? perhaps Her Majesty, along with whichever members of her family she allowed to join her, had this very same jam for breakfast on the same day i did. as she is quite busy and i had an unusually late start to my day on friday, however, i would have every reason to suspect that if she did so, it would have been at a time a good deal earlier on that day than i did.

to please the food puritans or enthusiasts who might well be reading this when normally they would be nowhere near my blog, the above is a look at the untouched extra jam preserve. it was taken mere moments after i took the lid off. this was a lid that, i shall have you know, took quite some effort to remove. i trust that Her Majesty had considerably better fortune in opening her jar than i did, although granted it is more likely that she had a footman or similar servant to do this for her.

could i not summon such servitude from someone? not really. whilst our children, as would be routine and expected, ignored my fanciful celebrations of opening some jam, my (considerably) better half simply suggested running it under some hot water. this i am led to believe is an action which can indeed loosen the lid on a jar, but i feared it would cause harm to the most splendid label. so i persevered until i got the lid off, and off it came in what i consider to be a most dignified way.

what exactly, or if you prefer precisely, is in this Royal Sovereign  Strawberry Extra Jam Preserve? as the image of the virgin jam, and indeed the name of it, suggest, strawberries. beyond that in my view it would be better to simply trust Fortnum & Mason to put in it whatever they so felt as being suitable. for those somewhat more curious, and in meeting with certain legal requirements, Fortnum & Mason have however placed the ingredients on the label on the reverse or if you like back of the jar.

a point of interest for me in the above is that Fortnum & Mason have not so much suggested as they have strictly stipulated that i must consume all of this jam within a 4 week, or if you so prefer 28 day period. far be it from me to quarrel with this, then. one can take it as a given that i shall be eating a considerable amount of Royal Sovereign  Strawberry Extra Jam Preserve over the course of this time period then. that, of course, is if you consider 340g to be a considerable amount.

would it be appropriate for those who do not support the monarchy, as in those who consider themselves to be republicans despite the fact that they are British subjects, to obtain, own or consume this jam? i would believe that the answer to this is no. such people would be best advised to go to a supermarket or other such retailer with a reputation for being a place where such republicans congregate, so that they may purchase jam which has not been infused with a sense of the importance of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II. in speaking from a purely personal perspective, i would not wish to have anything to do with such a jam, as it would not have been made with the same sense of care or importance.

normally i would consider it a crass act, republican in nature and intent, to picture and share an image of a meal which i was to eat. that sort of thing is best reserved for channels such as that "twitter", where people air republican views and show off their food. in this instance, however, i have made an exception. i felt it appropriate to show off the correct way to enjoy this Royal Sovereign  Strawberry Extra Jam Preserve.

my apologies, though, for the fact that it all seems to inadvertently look like one of the opening shots, albeit in colour, of the controversial promotional video for the pop single Every Breath You Take by  the curiously name popular music trio called The Police.

quite. the correct way to cut toast when it has Royal Sovereign  Strawberry Extra Jam Preserve on it is in this diagonal, or if you prefer triangular, way. although this form of cutting toast is, on a day to day basis, most commonly associated with the way in which hotels, guest houses and other forms of accommodation businesses which serve food, an interesting fact is that it is also the Royal way of presenting and serving toast. to have your toast in this way is to show your class and distinction in an effortless, subtle and yet effective way.

what punishment could you expect for serving toast which has Royal Sovereign  Strawberry Extra Jam Preserve on it in a way not as pictured above? the law has become quite relaxed in this respect over the years. i would trust that the culprit would be apprehended and cautioned under questioning, but with such strained resources i dare say the constabulary no longer even send out a detective to investigate such a matter.

for many people there is a sense that we live in a world where people should be free to cut and serve toast how they wish, and that there should not be any criminal charges or other such persecution in relation to this. i am relatively happy to abide by this. it is, on reflection, justice enough that those who do not serve their toast in a correct way are explicitly showing off their lower status within the overall class system. calling a police officer to attend the matter would be a significant waste of resources for all parties involved, so please do not do this, no matter how passionate you are about toast, the monarchy or indeed being a republican.

oh, how does the jam taste? most splendid, as you would expect. sorry if you believed that this would be a review of it. i took it as quite the given that as it was made by Fortnum & Mason and done so in honour of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II it would be one of the finest foods ever created. probably not, however, suitable for those who do not like strawberries, jam or the monarchy.

anyway, little in the way of good or benefit could come from any further comments i could make, so i shall now take my leave of you and conclude this post in the usual way.

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