Wednesday, May 24, 2017

a phoenix for the flame


for just slightly south of fifty years - ever since we had a comparative choice, look you see - a wonderful conversation to have is "who is the best James Bond". it's a subject that anyone who has ever seen two or more different actors play the role is prone to have an opinion on.

i suspect, however, that the rules have always been wrong. it's perhaps not that we should have been debating who the best was, but rather discussing who our favourite is. there is, after all, a world of difference between what you like and what you can acknowledge as being the best.

to this extent, to me, for me, my Bond was, is and forever shall be, Roger Moore.

on what was a pretty bleak day for all of us here in the UK, if not the world or most of it, yesterday Sir Roger Moore passed away. at the age of 89 and having lived a remarkable, wonderful life full of achievement one is left sad at the passing of someone that gave us so much for so very long.

indeed yes there was more, so very much more, to Roger Moore than James Bond. but it is the role he was forever identified with. that is something he never once complained about. far from it - he loved the association. this was particularly true of the way it drew attention to the many causes he championed in this world. being Bond for about a dozen years, for instance, meant that attention was always given to his work as an ambassador for UNICEF.

once there was a time when the British TV channels would show a short notice tribute to someone of note when they passed away. that seems to have changed now, although perhaps the darker, more troubling news of yesterday understandably prevented any such decision.

in the absence of a broadcast tribute, i took my Bond collection out of storage and watched my favourite one again, A View To A Kill.

the film was the last time Sir Roger played the role. it's not usually considered as one of the best, but i like it. a lot. i have nothing at all but fond memories of the film. from numerous trips to the Odeon to go and see it (tickets were 99p a go back then in 1985) through to the awesome theme song, it's just ace. also, the plot might have seemed outlandish back then, but right now it's decidedly plausible.

so who was, is the "best" Bond? whichever one you grew up with, really. i grew up with Roger Moore playing the part, and so he is mine. this is as and how it should be, i think.

that said, in one interview from the last few years, Sir Roger Moore commented that the current Bond, Daniel Craig, was "perhaps better than us all". if you wanted an expert opinion on the matter, far be it from me to argue with the gentleman.

the sadness we feel about Sir Roger Moore passing is, maybe, because it closes a chapter on our own lives. the thing for us, though, is that we could always go back and read that chapter again.

after thoroughly enjoying watching A View To A Kill once more, i do believe i shall go right ahead and watch them all again. perhaps, even, the Bonds i didn't quite like so much.

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

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

a cigar from a sailor


many are the ways in which life twists and turns as it progresses, look you see. things come, things go. sometimes we like them, sometimes, alas, not.

it is in keeping with the above that, to be sure, my time as being an enthusiastic user of most splendid tobacco products, or if you like cigarettes, draws to a close. perhaps, since this is being written in advance of the publishing date by a few days, they have become drawn closed already.

undoubtedly more shall be spoken, or if you like written, of that by me in the days ahead, but for now let us concentrate on what we have. and what i have is, as the title of this post pretty much tells you, a cigar. from a sailor.

controversial, perhaps, but yes. i have indeed used the other other Commodore 64 camera mode that i have available for pictures; this one featuring dithering. whilst i am perhaps sinister looking in general, on the whole this mode does tend to make things seem all the more sinister. hence, i suppose, it not being used quite so much.

so, anyway, cigar. this was indeed a most splendid gift, as said numerous times already, off of a sailor. as gifts are so prone to be it was of course an unsolicited offering, with the proposition of being given one occurring at a social soiree within the grounds of the sensational Harlo residence.

at this stage you are probably skipping over all of this text and are simply seeking a clearer image of this cigar. let me not stand in the way of this a moment longer.

don't say i do not put any effort or thought into the images for this blog. in truth, yes, i did indeed wear my outrageous, often provocative "anchor" shirt especially for the purpose of the above image. it just seemed to me to be appropriate.

the regular readers of this blog might well be somewhat confused, if not taken aback, by this. such an instance as this - a short term but mutually beneficial friendship being struck with a sailor that resulted in a gift - would be an activity that you'd associate with Spiros. whilst i have every confidence that Spiros has indeed engaged in such an exchange at some point, i am not familiar with any specifics. as point of fact i really do rather discourage him from telling me the gifts or other such "special tricks" he and his chums share.

and just where did this sailor - a naval officer, no less - obtain this cigar himself? i say himself for yes, he was a sailor of the gentleman variety, or if you like a seaman. the Netherlands, or if you like Holland, as it happens. but of course yes i made a passing reference to the song Port Of Amsterdam, recorded by David Bowie and others. alas no, he did not pick up on it. never mind the fact that he would be too young to be aware of it; in all likelihood his parents were possibly born at some stage after the David Bowie recording.

is it that the Dutch are renowned or celebrated for their cigars? not really. my suspicion is that the provenance of this cigar goes to Havana, or possibly some other, most likely South American, concern. Europe is not really known as a hotbed for producing the quality of tobacco plantations required for cigars.

have i smoked this cigar as such as of yet? no. generally smoking cigarettes is the most unpopular and frowned upon thing in the world here. i do not think i would do my name and reputation any favours if i were to go for a stroll puffing away on this beauty.

yeah, go on then, above is a "classic" Commodore 64 mode with scan lines on image of me and the cigar for you. that has something of an accidental 3D feel to it, so it does, to be sure.

my exceptional and most prestigious thanks once again to the young naval officer who presented me with this most spectacular gift, then. should i ever ignite it - perhaps with one of my matches from Mumbai - i shall surely record the moment and share it here.

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

Sunday, May 21, 2017

the micro comics strike back


a little while ago, as in a year or so i think,  did a post on some Star Wars "micro comics" that i picked up at Toys R Us or similar. those items promised, look you see, to have another series of them, only celebrating the second film off of Star Wars rather than the first which was the concern at the time.

it is quite likely that i offered, promised or otherwise suggested that should i ever get some of this second series of them i would share images here. let me, then, honour whatever obligation i may have made in that regard right here, right now.

ah, yes, here you go - here's the link to the original ones of these i got, way back in June 2016. so i wasn't far off in saying a year or so ago, if indeed i said a year or so ago above. no, i don't proof read or edit what i write, that's my excuse for errors. 

just as with the ones off of A New Hope, these micro comics in celebration of The Empire Strikes Back cost just ever so slightly south of £3, or if you like they were £2.99 a packet. no inflation damage caused to the world of Star Wars merchandise as such as yet, then.

what's inside the "micro comic" packets? same as last time, but let's have a look.

from what i can see and make out, you get a "micro comic" (surprise) featuring a section of the story of The Empire Strikes Back, a 3D poster of the cover of the edition you have, some 3D glasses for your poster viewing pleasure and some sort of collectable card. well, collectable if you want to collect them.

the collectable card aspect is most decidedly dodgy. i think there's 36 cards to collect in total, and yet only 6 different comics. so i believe they want you to own each comic 6 times in order to get all the cards. and that's if you are lucky and don't pick up any duplicates.  the least you could spend to get all of the cards, on the assumption of the price i paid, is just north of £107 or if you prefer just south of £108 good luck with that.

behold, for above is one of the 3D posters. i have absolutely no clue if the 3D qualities of it have transferred across when scanning it in, or when you look upon it now. should you have some 3D glasses to hand and wish to try, please do not see me in any way trying to prevent you from doing so.

with respect to the 2 collectors cards i got in these packets, 1 of them you have already seen if you are a regular reader. should this not be you, don't feel bad. if you want to have a gander, here you go, here's a link to my most smart Fett Ice post where you can see it.

meanwhile, for the sake of completeness, here's the other card, then.

no, frankly. i do not believe that i will be spending any further funds on packets of these. certainly, at the least, not another 34 packets in the hope that i get all of the other cards in this series. as, admittedly, splendid as they look.

and for some sort of sense or idea as to how splendid they do in fact look, here you go. on the back of the 3D poster there's a guide, or if you prefer advert, to be sure, for all of the items which are theoretically available for all of this Star Wars micro comics series.

ideally yes, of course, i would have liked to have scored editions four and five of these Empire Strikes Back micro comics. that would have meant that i got the ones which featured Boba Fett and Lando on the covers. but, that's the joy of buying "blind bagging" items. you have no clue as to which ones you shall obtain.

to move slightly away from these micro comic things, here you go. each month thus far this year i have shared what my Star Wars "concept art" calendar has had on display for the month. let us not allow May to be any different. here you go, then.

yes, quite. surprisingly, and disappointingly, it is yet more concept art off of the first released Star Wars movie, ostensibly referred to as A New Hope. i kind of assumed they would divide the 12 months of the year by the 3 films, giving you 4 months per film. alas, no. it looks like 5 months of the first one, 5 of the second and just 2 of the last, Return Of The Jedi. perhaps there was just not much art to concept for that last one, then.

the other 3D poster for your further 3D viewing pleasure? of course.

it's not for me to wade into that whole debate on the subject, but yes. quite a few people regard this, The Empire Strikes Back, as being the better or the best of all the Star Wars films. to be honest i've just enjoyed them all, and have not really ever felt a need to rank them in preference.

no, it's not just you, it is me too. i don't believe that i have said all that much about the quality, value and indeed etc of these Empire Strikes Back micro comic things off of Star Wars. they are just lovely things to have a look at, i suppose, and so it's probably been best for me to let the pictures do what they ostensibly exist for, which is to be looked at.

a formality of a question, if not a theoretical one, would be if i have any interest in getting some of these off of Return Of The Jedi when they come out. going on fate and pattern thus far, that should be mid-2018. i suspect certain readers of my blog would really very much like a 3D poster of Leia in that boss "slave" bikini she had on, so we will see. if it's convenient for me to get them, and i actually spot them on sale, then yes, sure.

right, off i go, then. as ever or as usual, i do hope that some if not all of these images have been of some degree of interest!

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

Saturday, May 20, 2017



to say that which i have once said before, this blog started off as a fairly simple thing to keep family and friends up to date with my exploits. from such humble wishes and intent it has gotten all sorts of out of hand, look you see, with somewhere over half a million people having come and had a bit of a gander. this i still find staggering in a highly flattering way. thank you all for the visits, and i hope you've found something of entertainment and interested. and, indeed, that you continue to do so.

quite the laboured introduction, that, to the words that this shall then be one of them "keeping family and friends around the world" updated sort of posts. and indeed yes, it is the update that most of you in those groupings would prefer.

of my immediate family unit there's 75% of the members you all like, with myself forming the "meh" 25%. from that 75% as 100%, the 66% you are most interested in hearing how they are getting on is undoubtedly formed by the boys, and so here they are.

i wouldn't really imagine you'd need me to tell you this, but yes, that is the two of them out and about shoe shopping. and yes, as my sister observed when she saw this, they do seem to be suspiciously smiling and seemingly well behaved for young boys out shoe shopping. well, i guess that's down to the provision of some building blocks, or if you like lego, by the shop proprietor. wise move.

now, the title of this post suggests adventures are to be looked at. unless you do it in a really interesting way i would suggest that yes, no, shoe shopping is not much of an adventure. well, from experiences i have yes it can be, but no.

on the other hand, climbing up a massive structure and then doing a boss slide is most decidedly an adventure. so it is just as well that they boys did something akin to this, and that i have some lovely images of the business end of that.

the above is William doing what he assures me is called the "leap of faith". apparently the rules at where they went to do this - Go Climb, i think - state that climbing is a one way street. as in when you get to the top you come down via this mega slide looking contraption rather than retrace your steps down.

indeed he was rather nervous about going down such a mega steep slide. it was not the lack of choice or option that saw him go down, however, but rather that he said he saw others doing it and, in his words, "not become pancakes", so he figured it would be safe.

James had little or no such hesitation, but then again he'd the advantage of being before. i think he went along to this most splendid looking place in celebration of the birthday of a friend. as he had so much fun there he requested that the sensational Harlo gang take him and William along. with this physical activity business being more their sort of thing than it is that of me or my (considerably) better half, they were most enthusiastic about doing so.

should there be a need to promote or encourage mountaineering in the world i would have every reason to suspect that this Go Climb place has hit upon quite the winner. the idea of climbing something like Mount Everest, or that massive one they have in Japan, is to me something that just seems expensive, exhausting and an awful lot of effort to go to just to say "woo hoo, look how high up i am". the idea of being able to slide down one of them after climbing it is, however, to me, exciting.

heading off to this Go Climb place with the Harlos was not the only adventure the boys got up to over the weekend just gone. oh no. as we are well and truly within the season for it, there was cricket to be played too.

second match of the season for James, and yet again another good performance. a wicket taken, some runs scored and in once instance the ball dispensed to the boundary for a four. as i have said before the most important thing in any cricket match is that the beauty and spirit of cricket wins. it was, however, a delight to see that James and his team went on to win this particular game.

as an aside, indeed yes i am distressed by news from Australia. whatever is going on with the cricket over there is apparently on the verge of the professional players calling a strike. this poses a threat to the Ashes, due to start or if you like commence in November. it is my deepest wish that this all be resolved and the much cherished series go ahead unblemished.

William, too, has taken quite a shine to cricket. whilst there are no organized team games for children of his age they are encouraged to come along and have fun. it is through having fun you learn the beauty and the ways of the game.

erm, yes. William has indeed elected to go with a rather sleek, stylish black clothed look for cricket rather than the tradition of wearing whites. not for us to question, i suppose, and who knows - perhaps he will start off a new trend for how all players dress.

apologies that the image looks quite small above. i can but show what i have, and the above was taken at some distance by my (considerably) better half. should you "click" or otherwise "tap" on the image, perhaps it shall appear somewhat larger and more easy to see, depending on the device you use.

a final picture for you for now of the boys, stood before a certain old school house. well, one still in use, but anyway.

the above was, in point of fact, taken one late Sunday afternoon during the later stages of April. we had recently attended a church service of remembrance, where some family members we have so sadly lost were commemorated and cherished in thought.

and so that would be that for this update on how the boys are getting on. keeping busy, as i suspect you have concluded from yourself, and loving life. just as is the way things should be.

i trust all is magnificently splendid with you, wherever you are and whatever it is you are up to, adventure or otherwise!

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

Friday, May 19, 2017

random bowie - tonight


And so here we are with another edition of a random Bowie album. Impressive, look you see, that I’ve managed to keep to my idea of one a month for five months at the least. As an aside, this is one I am writing whilst wrestling with that greatest nemesis of mine, for once again I am plagued with man flu what has ebola and sarin gas injected in it. Yes, that bad and no I have no idea if I shall recover.

But you care not for my health at the best of times, and certainly less when you are here on the promise of musings about Bowie. And not just any Bowie this time, oh no. In this edition let’s have a look at, indeed a listen to, the Tonight album.

Rudimentary facts first? Sure. By the commonly accepted standard of counting them Tonight was Bowie’s 16th album proper. It came out in late 1984, some 18 months after the big selling Let’s Dance album and a short while after completing the successful Serious Moonlight tour. Whilst not selling quite as many copies the record was a success, with somewhere over two million copies shipped.

Despite the success it enjoyed it is not an album fondly remembered. This is as true of the people who made it as the majority of people who owned or played it. Usually it is Tonight or 1987’s Never Let Me Down which gets called out as “the worst David Bowie album to exist”. I, having played the album a few times over the last couple of weeks, am not at all sure this is fair.

I am going to reference my Aladdin Sane edition of random Bowie here. That was a record which Bowie was dismissive of, saying that all he ever wanted to say on the subject covered was said in Ziggy Stardust. A similar situation existed with Tonight. With Let’s Dance it would be fair to say Bowie had pretty much delivered the best polished pop record he would ever do. The record, however, had given him a huge new number of fans. He, rightly, felt the best approach was to give this market more of what they clearly wanted.

To do this he brought together most of the musicians and talent behind the success of Let’s Dance, with one glaring omission – no Nile Rodgers. This absence could be seen as a reason why, for many, the record didn’t quite hit the targets. That and the perceived “lack of effort”, as outside of the covers albums Pin Ups and Toy this album surely features the lowest number of songs composed by Bowie specifically for a record.

If for some reason I was ever quizzed or otherwise taken to task on the subject, yes. Yes, if the subject is "which David Bowie album features his name in the best and most interesting font", the answer is Tonight. I just love the way it looks on the front of the album, and on the CD. On the tape, alas, it was just a standard font used by EMI, in red on a white casing. 

Whilst I appreciate being poorly structured is a staple of all things I write here, in this instance I am not sure what to do. More musings? A track by track look at the record? The latter, I think, and then more rambling from me.

Loving The Alien – the second best song on the record. A sprawling, seven minute odyssey of lyrical and musical production genius. And one which has courted controversy in all sorts of ways over the years.

Bowie himself suggested that the song was about his “frustration” with organized religion. With references stretching from Templars and Saracens through to then modern concerns about things in the name of religion, this does come across. It seems to go much deeper than that, however, and touches on the strength of faith he’d explored before and would explore again. The passionate dynamic range of Bowie’s vocals certainly underline how important this was to him.

The song today would undoubtedly cause controversy for the religious slant, but back then not so much. It was the video that caused upset, although no one ever really said why. Some stills from it beautify this post. In its original form the video for Loving The Alien was “banned” from TV and had an 18 certificate slapped on it for sale. And yet there is nothing gratuitous or explicit in it. Strangely, when one scene was cut – that of David having a nosebleed – it was passed as suitable to show to all.

Loving The Alien resurfaced in the early 2000s. Bowie performed it on that final tour in support of Reality. The version played live was a stripped down, acoustic version, with David introducing it as being “perhaps the way it should always have been played”. Perhaps this was David’s way of telling us, the fans and the listeners, that we should have been paying more attention to the lyrics than we had.

Don’t Look Down – one of three Iggy Pop covers on the album, one of five songs on the album which Iggy Pop is credited as a writer. David and Iggy were, after all, good mates.

A sort of slow, quasi jazz, reggae, soul and swing fusion number, then. One which may surprise you to learn doesn’t really work particularly well. By the minute mark Bowie already sounds bored with the song.

God Only Knows – I would argue that in 1984 the UK audience at large would recognize The Beach Boys by Barbara-Ann, Surfin’ USA, California Girls and maybe Sloop John B. Over the last 20 or so years God Only Knows has come to be better known, of course, through things such as the ingenious use of it in Boogie Nights and the curious choice of it by the BBC to promote their commitment to music. In respect of the latter, but of course the British Broadcasting Corporation would select a song by one of America’s most treasured artists.

For his cover David decides to go with a slowed down version of a song not generally known for its high tempo. The delivery is quite perplexing, for it’s a deep, strong and committed vocal delivered but there’s always a sense that he has absolutely no interest in performing the song at all. Actually, I am not entirely sure the vocal is as good as I am saying, maybe he’s just taking the proverbial with this.

Tonight – another Iggy cover of sorts, but Bowie did co-write this with Mr Pop for the Lust For Life album. For his version David changed things a bit, wisely getting rid of the original opening lines that referenced someone dying of a heroin overdose. Also, in as seemingly as hidden and unacknowledged way as possible, David does it as a duet. With Tina Turner. Yes, that Tina Turner.

There was something of a rejuvenation of Tina’s career in 1984. Earlier in that year she released the Private Dancer album, a record that garnered much deserved critical and commercial success. The album, strangely, features Tina doing a rather obscure Bowie cover, 1984 from the Diamond Dogs album. Perhaps someone at the label thought it would be a good idea, what with the year being what it was.

Tonight is a really, really good song but perhaps for all the wrong reasons. It’s soothing more than it is seductive, more a lullaby than a love song. Rather beautiful it is, too, and well worth a listen.

When Bowie released it as a single – making no reference on the credits or cover to Tina’s presence – it didn’t chart, at least not in the top forty. Oddly when Tina released it as a single (a live version of it with David) in the late 80s it did really well.

Neighbourhood Threat – mindful of the fact that this was in practical terms pre-CD, why wouldn’t you start off side two of your lp or tape with another Iggy Pop cover? As with Tonight, the original can be found on Iggy’s seminal Lust For Life album.

Sorry, but this is just poor. No one involved in this recording sounds at all interested in being involved with it. One can only assume that it might have seemed like a good idea at the time, but when it became clear that it wasn’t there was no time to find another song to do instead. Quite possibly the personification of the term “album filler”.

Blue Jean – the jewel in the crown of the Tonight album. Not only does this edge out Loving The Alien for the title of best song on the record, it’s also one of the best songs David’s ever done. Yes I mean that. Sure it’s not deep and meaningful, but it is a beautiful, perfect pop song that makes you feel good – and ultimately that’s exactly what music is supposed to do.

A bombastic start, a catchy tune and a wonderful song to have a smart singalong to. When it was all trendy to do so I used to have this as the ringtone on my mobile phone.

The single was accompanied by a 20+ minute short film, Jazzin’ For Blue Jean, directed by the 80’s most uber avant garde filmmaker, Julien Temple. I can remember sitting and watching the premiere of it on Channel 4; from what I recall it was on a Wednesday night but I may well be wrong.

Other than a lovely reference to Frankie Goes To Hollywood (something along the lines of “I refuse to support Frankie until they tell us who Frankie actually is”), the video saw David do something he’d not done in a while – develop a musical character. Screaming Lord Byron was his name, but alas as fancy as he looked in glitter and gold he just seemed not to endear himself to the fans as much as Ziggy, Aladdin and the Thin White Duke had done. Still, some boss dancing moves in the video.

Tumble And Twirl – another Bowie-Pop collaboration, but one written for the album.

Ostensibly the song is David and Iggy reminiscing about a holiday the two of them had just recently had in Indonesia. Without that knowledge, it’s simply an upbeat, happy go lucky wonderful little ditty. Sorry, don’t have much to say about it in isolation – the tune does its thing and doesn’t really cause any strong reaction, good or bad.

I Keep Forgettin – one of the more interesting decisions made on this record. David shared the date of his birthday with The King, Elvis Presley. It sort of makes sense, then, to do a song written by Jerry Leiber and Mike Stoller, although so far as I know He himself didn’t record this one. Someone who did, however, was Ringo Starr. The version by the 3rd best ever drummer The Beatles had was released just a year before. I had no idea that the world needed so many versions of I Keep Forgettin.

This is actually pretty good. A high tempo, sharp number that feels decidedly 80s yet pays homage to its early 60s, early rock origins. Hear it and you can imagine Bowie crooning it whilst wearing a smart hat and a very shiny suit.

Dancing With The Big Boys – and so the album which started with a comment on organized religion concludes with a swipe at corporate greed. Well, perhaps not greed as such, but how giant corporate companies were conspiring to crush individuals. Done in search of profit, presumably, so yes greed then.

Another Pop-Bowie collaboration, this one apparently stemming from a “brainstorming session” when locked in a studio together. Such circumstances can usually produce great records, and this isn’t much of an exception. It’s very 80s big pop sounding, sure, but it holds up rather well. One dear friend of mine, now so sadly lost somewhere in time and across oceans, had this as their favourite Bowie song. Not for me to question its merits any further, then.

Looking at the above I would say that retrospect says a bit more time should have been given to planning and deciding on this record. Strangely, after playing it a lot lately, the sum of the record is greater than its parts – the whole thing plays well, and isn’t simply dominated by the two outstanding tracks. But still, perhaps dropping at least one of the Iggy covers for another original song (if written with Iggy then so much the better) might have made a difference.

This happens to be the David Bowie I fell in love with. My Dad bought the tape, presumably for his car. I promptly pinched it for exclusive use on my walkman, taking it with me across Europe on school trips. I confess, however, that I used to play Loving The Alien on side one, then switch the tape and fiddle with rewind a bit to play Blue Jean, and that was pretty much it. Somewhere I still have the tape, stored away safely. It was what I would consider to be a childhood friend.

It was only a few years after the album came out that it became popular to be critical of it. Bowie was very much at the forefront of giving that criticism. In 1989 when part of Tin Machine he made noises that he found the record upsetting, and in 1990 when promoting his Sound&Vision greatest hits shenanigans he, in one press conference, said he was “coming to terms” with Tonight. Back in 1984, however, it got fairly good reviews. This was particularly true of NME and Rolling Stone. It just so happens that, at around the time they were going to review the Tonight album, both of those esteemed publications were offered territorially exclusive interviews with David. I am sure this “helped” the reviewer understand how excellent the record was.

Is Tonight an album worth getting, then? Yes, or maybe. Both Blue Jean and Loving The Alien are amazing songs and should be owned under any circumstances. Should getting the Tonight album to do this be particularly upsetting, then you could always get The Best of David Bowie 1980/1987 instead. The album versions of both songs feature. A very nice DVD comes with some versions of the release too, featuring the shortened version of the Blue Jean video and the censored version of Loving The Alien.

But, as I said more than once above, over the last few weeks I have had no quarrel with this record being on repeat. In no way is it a masterpiece and it’s certainly not one of Bowie’s greatest. The album, however, is nowhere near as bad as it is conventionally considered.

Phew. Thanks as usual for reading. No, I have no idea which Bowie album will be next up for random selection. That’s what makes it random, I suppose. If you come back, and indeed should I survive this latest bout of manful, we shall discover the choice together. Except you will only read about it after I have made it. But still, in spirit, together.

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

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

the oversized or if you like large Nevada t-shirt of my dreams

hey y'all

i wouldn't describe myself as the most ambitious person in the world. that said, a life without some form of aim, hope or purpose is no life at all. one really, look you see, needs to set targets to hit in life in order to keep a sense of it all going along for some reason. it matters not how slight, modest or small those targets are.

as many of you who are regular readers here will hardly need me to say a long-standing ambition of mine has been to obtain a t-shirt which both celebrates Nevada and is somewhat oversized in terms of how it fits me. it is with nothing but joy and pride that i tell you this target has now been hit.

yes, there it is - still with the tag on. absolutely magnificent, isn't it? an added bonus is it's exactly the right shade of colour that i always wanted it to be in, too.

now, some of you might be struggling to recall the times exactly when, over the last 12 or so years and some 4,000 posts i have done (!), i mentioned that i had long held a dream of a Nevada branded t-shirt. the more cynical might even suggest that i have never shared such a dream, and that the only reason i now own this t-shirt was that it was going for a bargain price of £6. shame on you, i say, if you are in the latter group.

for your enhanced or if you like optimised viewing pleasure, yes, there above is my smart new Nevada t-shirt in Commodore 64 mode. with, but of course, the scan lines on.

i mean sure, yes, in fairness i might never have explicitly stated "i have a dream and that dream is to own a Nevada branded t-shirt which is loose and baggy in terms of size", to be sure. that doesn't mean i haven't gestured towards this in a decidedly tacit way, which i have. plus, the low price of it was an absolute bonus.

well, thank you for sharing my making the dream real. hopefully you agree that this is a most splendid t-shirt with Nevada celebrated on it, otherwise this will all have been something of a waste of your time in reading. if so, sorry for that.

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

Monday, May 15, 2017

glad to be wrong, feel the love

howdy pop pickers

well, that's my pessimism about the modern world put a little bit in its place, look you see.

in my look at the latest Kasabian album, For Crying Out Loud (2017), i speculated that the album might not be a chart success in terms of all things number one. this was due to the bizarre, messy way in which charts are compiled, specifically with reference to multiple free plays on streaming services counting.

as it turns out, i was quite wrong.

nice one, lads from Leicester! i honestly didn't expect the Ed Sheeran stranglehold to be broken at the top for quite some time, but there you go.

happy days for Blondie, too, as getting in at number four is absolutely certainly no disgrace.

so that's quality and variety ruling the day in the album charts. it remains a huge shame that they have killed the singles chart for no good reason, but at least all is not lost.

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

Sunday, May 14, 2017


hello there

one of the interesting traits of modern life is just how upset people get when "spam" email lands. oh, make no mistake, it is annoying, to be sure. it's just that the reaction to it, in particular when people get all "take legal action" is somewhat different to how we treated what could be called "old school" spam.

by "old school" spam i of course, look you see, mean junk mail. to this day junk mail comes through our doors, and yet no one seems to kick off about it quite  the same way they do as spam. strange, if not peculiar, as spam is an awful lot easier to dispose of and stop.

for what reason is this a point of departure for this post? Spiros apparently had nothing better to do that gather up a selection of items which at worst are "junk" mail and at best are unsolicited promotional adverts and send them on to me.

yes, behold and admire, for these are items that went through the letterbox of one of the several estates which Spiros resides in, and were handled by him personally. well, the main envelope in the background never went through his letterbox. note how Royal Mail seems to have abandoned franking stamps and has now taken to crossing them with a marker pen.

there is much of interest in this rubbish which Spiros sent me instead of simply recycling it or throwing it out. indeed yes, that is a promotional thing for the Lib Dems in advance of the forthcoming election. alas, no, Zac and the Conservatives have not sent him anything.

an item of great interest is that "blackjack strategy" card. Spiros, as the greatest legal mind of his generation, has no need for this. whenever Spiros goes into a casino he simply instructs the dealer to issue 5 cards up front, face down. he then proceeds to use his legal prowess to argue how he does indeed have an unbeatable 21. it is a case he always wins, and so clears out the casino.

Spiros does seem to get quite a few adverts for handyman services, does he not? quite useful, i suppose. that said, Spiros does, as regular readers shall appreciate, normally have no issue at all in meeting tradesmen and engaging in various exchanges with them.

overall i would suggest that my emotions are ones of being quite overwhelmed by Spiros sending me all of this. it is exceptionally kind and thoughtful f him to think that i, simple humble me, would be the best to benefit from these items.

and so anyway off i go for now, but i will be back. until then,

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

Saturday, May 13, 2017

there is no more English summer scene

hello there

yes, indeed, look you see. the title of this post is the opening line to a rather famous poem; one of those illustrious ones where people only recall the first two lines. the second line to this one evokes images of cricket being played on the village green. and so this must be all cricket related.

during the course of the week James told or if you like informed us that, at invitation, he was to resume his cricketing career. as you might expect my (considerably) better half and i were most supportive of this. even, as it happens, when it transpired that we would need to be up and about tres early on Sunday morning to take him to a match.

well, that last bit was of course much more of a supportive challenge for my (considerably) better half than i. as it even further happens i tend to be an early riser, so to speak, enjoying a couple of hours of peace and quiet in the morning before anyone else is up.

not the greatest quality picture i know, to be sure, but the above is indeed James batting. although maybe it is just my eyes and you could all see that quite clearly.

exactly where was it that James made his "return debut" to the game that he has a passion for? not his home ground as such, but rather the M.C.C. ground. no, not the M.C.C., at least not yet. rather Marske Cricket Club; a venue where his grandad possibly once played and most likely had a pint or two at.

i say "return debut" as that's kind of probably what it is. whilst he played at school in South Africa, he hadn't really picked up the game here, at home for us and at the home of cricket. when playing for fun with some friends his talents became clear, however, and they requested that he reconsider his sort of retirement. hence us being at Marske Cricket Club around 9am on a cold, wet and windy Sunday.

but of course William came along too, for he had absolutely no choice in the matter. apparently there are laws or some such condition about being a parent which means you can't just leave them alone, not even if you promise to check in on them every half hour or so.

that sounds like he wasn't interested, which is most decidedly untrue. William seems keen to get playing cricket to, and had some wonderful fun in the practice nets, throwing the ball and bashing away with the bat.

a picture of James prepared and ready to go off and bat? sure, why not......

how did he get on? allowing for the fact that he was lacking in practice and warm ups as such, rather well. unlike his father he seems to have patience, which is to say that certain deliveries he let go by rather than try to welly all out of the ground. an unfortunate snick saw him play the ball onto his stumps, but otherwise some most splendid strokes saw the ball roll across the outfield.

it would be unlikely that you'd particularly wish to see me, but be warned the next picture contains exactly that. it's of me and my (considerably) better half, and as she is 33% of the 75% of my family whom you all like a good deal more than you like me, you will just have to put up with it.

yes, indeed, my beard is getting quite formidable, pronounced and long, is it not? chance has not permitted me to travel to London as such as yet, hence me not using that splendid Fortnum & Mason gift card for a beard trim and style. perhaps i should, in the interim, consult some form or sort of non Fortnum & Mason means of having it trimmed. although the people seem to prefer it this length.

as mentioned earlier, it was a cold, wet and windy day that day. so much so that, as point of fact, i expected the match to be called off. no such approach exists in the game today, with matches being played in a bold manner, no matter how brutal the weather is. no bad thing, i suppose.

James had a bit of a bowl too, as it happens. rather wisely, and at the insistence of the coaches and his mum, he did so with hi black bodied, white sleeved jumper jacket thing on.

and how did the bowling go? a very tidy first over, with a splendidly bowled wicket taken with just the third delivery.  his second over, however, revealed there is much he needs to learn in order to develop and improve. generally a good line and length was found for his bowling, but the loose nature of his approach pleased the batter very much indeed. as in the ball got dispensed around the field a bit during that second over.

the result of the game? cricket of course won. every single match of cricket should end with the principles, the spirit and the beauty of the game being declared champion.

from a match conclusion perspective, alas no, James and his team were not triumphant. not that they did badly. with it being their first game of the season as opposed to their opponents' third, and the fact that they were one player down, they all did extremely well. 

and, most importantly, they all had a thoroughly good time, with all of them playing a game that, even at their young age, they have a great love for.

unless summer comes along soon i have every reason to suspect that there are several cold and wet mornings ahead of me over the next few weeks, if not months. this is no bad thing. since i am up and about early anyway, what better things to do with my time that watch a spot of cricket?

with that, until the next time, then.....................

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

Thursday, May 11, 2017

that wasn't half bad

halló þarna

and so off towards another adventure in the realm of less than celebrated films, look you see.

whilst i have quite a collection of critically acclaimed films sat here that i just haven't gotten around to finding time to watch it seems that i can, as point of fact, always find the time for things that some might consider not worth it. oh so very often it turns out that those who consider in such ways are right, but every now and then a gem gets screened.

the title of this particular post sort of gives the game away i suppose, but to clarify what i did indeed watch this time is close to being a gem.

Harpoon is what the film is called, with it also having the addendum title of The Reykjavik Whale Watching Massacre. although in some nations it seems it is just called by that added on or if you like addendum title alone.

we shall get to how i came to find out about this film and subsequently watch it shortly, but for now i am sure you want some plot details and that. as it turns out, however, pretty much all that you could wish to know of the plot is kind of in that addendum title which i seem to wrestle with.

so anyway, plot. after something of a start which is misleading, but isn't, but does eventually create a massive hole in the plot and a considerable continuity error, we get the plot proper. a bunch of tourists have come from around the world to Iceland (presumably Reykjavik in particular) to go out on a boat and see some whales. one thing leads to another, with "things" involving good reason to change boats more than once, and then the film becomes something of an ode to gratuitous violence and some rather disturbing sexual assault. as if, in respect of the latter, there was such a thing as non-disturbing.

how i came to watch Harpoon is a story which is just about as interesting as it is in fact not. bored one evening i attempted to watch a film, pictured above, called The Tortured. whilst the cover and the reviews suggested it would be just over an hour of sensational sex and violence, it turned out to be a rather dull and dreary attempt at a dark and depressing drama. very, very badly written and acted, too. whilst i switched it off after a few minutes, i am indebted to this disc for the fact that it had a trailer for Harpoon on it. as soon as i saw the trailer i pledged to see it. which i did, hence us being here.

so anyway, the film is totes demented. with Gunnar Hansen in the cast, presumably to catch the international audience, basically this is Texas Chainsaw or The Hills Have Eyes or similar shoved into Iceland. as in yes, the gist of the story is a bunch of people in a remote, desolate area are tormented, tortured and (mostly) killed by a bunch of hill billies of the most likely inbred nature.

considering the abiding lesson of this film is "never go to Iceland, the people there do not like foreigners and they will f*** you and kill you and not always in that order or in sequence" it is with interest that i note the Icelandic Film Commission in part financed this. along, strangely, with some UK types. by having some State sponsored funding in place, it's like the Icelandic government, or politburo or Supreme Leader or Emperor (i have no idea what their political system is) has decided that yes, this is the image of the nation they wish to project to the word.

at about one hour twenty minutes this film keeps your attention. that is if you quite like all the horror and scary stuff. the effects are pretty good and gruesome, with some aspects being unsettling and unpleasant to watch. as mentioned above, though, there's one huge plot hole in the film, unless one character really was sat talking with strangers for more than 24 hours before they got a call.

the film at one stage proudly announces that Iceland was the world's third "best" Whaling nation, but is now happy to be the third best nation for watching the whales, rather than killing them. if we take as a given that number one for both is probably Japan, not quite sure who would be second.

surely, every famous person ever to come out of Iceland is referenced in this film. this translates as yes, indeed, there is a reference to Bjork in the movie. you have been warned.

my overall investment in this film is ostensibly £1.51. or possibly £2.51, if you include the cost of the film that i bought and saw the trailer for this one on. indeed yes, i believe i completely got value off of it, although i suspect i shall not watch the film again.

as this film is some 8 or so years old i have no idea who this write up might benefit. perhaps, like me, you were unaware of it and now that you are it's a decision you have made to find it and have a bit of a gander at it. happy days if you do.

vertu frábær fyrir hvern annan !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Tuesday, May 09, 2017



my mobile, portable, compact and usually wireless phone is, by the standards of this current world, normally quite the hive of inactivity. whilst only a select number have my, erm, number it is but a mere fraction of those that actually use it. this is certainly advantageous in leading a quiet, normal life. it also means that when sounds or vibrations alert me to something coming in on my phone then usually it is of interest.

whilst i could highlight the above with a few choice examples, in this instance for the most part i shall illustrate it, look you see, with some images if not pictures which my brother sent me.

should the above strike you as looking very much like a pig in a field that would be because it very much is a picture of a pig in a field. not any old pig, though. for a start this is a young one, so far as i can work out. and also it has a name, and that name, Richard assures me, is Koos.

for what reason is Richard sending me images of a pig? well, now that is a story. it just so happens that he is the incumbent owner of this pig, or present custodian depending on how you are in terms of possessions, ownership, etc.

and just how did he come to be custodian of Koos the pig? ladies and gentlemen, this is Richard, as in the Richard. he won it in a game of pool. indeed, the mind does boggle as to what exactly he put up as his wager or stake in the match.

nope, the above image has absolutely nothing whatsoever to do with Koos, Richard, pool or pigs in general. my mate Fraser sent us that picture. as this is the first picture he has sent me for several years - probably close to ten - it is obviously important. i figured that if i put it up here then its importance could be celebrated and remembered somewhat.

so, back to Koos. no, i have no idea why exactly Richard would agree to a game of pool where the prize was a pig, but i have long since ceased asking questions or seeking reason in this regard. he just does that sort of thing.

as for what he will do with the pig, well, as the above reflects, Koos is now running around a farm. so far as i can ascertain he, for Koos strikes me as a decidedly male name, is enjoying his new domain. if it were possible for Koos to convey such emotions i have every confidence that Koos would be expressing delight that Richard was most triumphant in a game of pool.

the above picture, i would imagine, answers any questions you may have about how delighted the family of Richard are, or if you like is, about Richard's generally renowned skill and prowess at the game or sport of pool.

by all accounts, and in that i mean the one, it was a most splendid drive with Koos down from (i assume) the venue where the pig was won to the farm. and apparently yes, during the drive Koos did feel required to more than one proverbial call of nature. i am sure this was a great deal of fun to clean up.

and so that would be that. many thanks indeed to Richard for the latest insight into his world of adventure. also, of course, thanks indeed to Fraser for sending me on whatever exactly the other thing is.

kube kakhulu komunye nomunye!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Sunday, May 07, 2017

and some more book reviews

Hello Reader

And so I’ve finished reading another two books, look you see. If a tradition has formed around this then it is tradition which dictates some reviews from me. Well, I don’t know if they are reviews as such, more musings if not observations.

So as usual, then, a look at the books which have been read, followed by some quick, spoiler free overview comments. And then the business end, which may contain spoilers.

The Hanging Club by Tony Parsons is a quick, tight and mostly good thriller. It’s the third to feature DCI Max Wolfe and the second one I have read. Black Water Lilies is the second book by Michel Bussi to be translated into English. It’s a murder mystery story that doesn’t quite fall into the “thriller” category. That said, it is one of the finest, most involving and interesting novels I have encountered.

If you’ve been interested in either and were wondering, stop reading this. Go and grab either or both and enjoy, if my opinion is of any validity or influence in such things. From here on out, for the most part, consider a *** SENSATIONAL SPOILER WARNING *** to be in place about the books.

As ever, any links below are purely for ease of reference or ordering, no matter where you are in the world. Thus far I have managed to resist the temptation to switch advertising on here, so links are not a form of affiliation, endorsement or otherwise from me.

To begin where I began, then, The Hanging Club by Tony Parsons. The provenance of my copy, going on the sticker which seems to be on both books, is Tesco. Strangely, though, whilst they are part of a ₤7 for 2 promotion I am convinced I bought them on separate occasions.

Plot? DCI Max Wolfe is pretty much as I left him in the first novel to have him in. He combines being a single parent with his career. This career usually sees him having to investigate and solve serious and seemingly unsolvable crimes. In this instance, a vigilante group has taken to kidnapping and hanging men who have served time for crimes. Popular opinion is on the side of this vigilante group. This makes Max Wolfe’s job tricky, as he is hunting down a group that has become public heroes. Not helping is his own impulsive drive to seek justice outside of the law he is sworn to obey.

As I have said in the past on this blog, I have a lot of time for Tony Parsons purely because he is a very knowledgeable man when it comes to A Clockwork Orange. He’s also, bar none, the UK’s finest tabloid journalist. Maybe you interpret that as a dig or a slur, but I do not intend it as one. What I rather mean is he knows how to make a big emotive impact within a taunt and tight controlled amount of text.

This serves to make the novel possibly one of the more controversial, if not dangerous, I have encountered. Parsons presses the buttons. You, just as the London public represented in the text, come to overtly or covertly have admiration for the vigilante group and wonder if they don’t have a very good point. This comes at the expense of a loss for sympathy for the narrator, or if you like protagonist. A bold move.

Much of this book screams “brutal and celebrated 80s ITV cop drama miniseries”. With television always looking for constabulary related source material for audiences it’s only a matter of time before this, if not all the Max Wolfe books, get snapped up in the rights sense of things. I have little doubt Parsons has had this in mind, and that’s no bad thing.

But of course Tony Parsons presents Tony Parsons in many areas of the novel. I am certain it is no accident that the biographical elements of Max Wolfe echo the real life of the author. And I would be all but certain that the recurring journalist character, Scarlet Bush, is a not even close to thinly veiled reference to Julie Burchill. Write what you know is the advice always given to authors, so there you go.

Why have I read only 1 and 3 of the Max Wolfe novels? I never saw 2 on sale. This, I suspect, is mostly due to the cigarette counter at Morrisons not stocking books any more, and me not being near Tesco or similar when it came out. Perhaps one day I will get it. These two, mercifully, have been self-contained despite the recurring characters.

On, then, to Black Water Lilies. The provenance of my copy is establish in the above, and so I shall waste no time on that subject save for this sentence.

Plot? A murder occurs in the small, peaceful village of Giverny. This village is known for being the home of Monet, and the source of inspiration for his celebrated paintings. Certain aspects of the murder seem to echo Monet’s work, and indeed the impact he had on making sure the village appeared as it did. In attempting to solve the murder the police must first find a motive. This is no easy thing, as many yet also no possibilities seem to exist for this. Could it, however, all relate to a mythical, final painting by Monet, one believed to feature the black water lilies of the title of the novel?

I first encountered Michel Bussi when I gave the first novel of his, After The Crash, a go. From what I remember I didn’t give that novel all that a great review. And yet here I am, a year if not more later, remembering After The Crash a lot. Whilst reading that felt like it took some endurance, the story and twist of it has remained with me.

Not so here. Black Water Lilies is just sheer excellence. As my regular readers will know I’ve read quite a few novels of various natures and I can quite honestly say that this is one of the finest I have ever had the pleasure of reading.

The frustration is that I can’t say too much, less I give away a very genuine and brilliant sequence of twists. No, you absolutely do not “see it coming” and no, it is not absurd. Genius, is what it is.

Perhaps the best I can do is say that as a novel this is an engaging and engrossing story, wonderful to read and, indeed, very difficult to put down. Credit, perhaps, to the translator of this novel, but I’d like to think the bulk of praise should always remain with the author.

How very splendid to have taken a chance on two novels and both turned out to be very good reads. Well, yes, the Parsons was a calculated chance, but Michel Bussi was something of a risk. On to the next books, then, and hopefully something of a good luck streak continues.

With good fortune these comments or if you like reviews have been of some use to someone out there!

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