Tuesday 29 September 2009

An offer I couldn't refuse...

.....was the opportunity to see The Godfather on the big screen last night.
So I adjusted my fedora, stuck my hand deep into my trenchcoat pocket to make it look like I was packing some heat, and caught the "L" downtown to the local movie emporium, avoiding cops and mooks on the way.
Anyway, back in the real world, The Godfather is one of my favourite movies of all time. An absolute masterclass in acting, direction, cinematography, music, you name it...
It was a treat to see the film on a cinema screen as originally intended, with all the wonderful detail of Coppola's compositions on display.
And what a cast! Marlon Brando, Al Pacino ( should've got the Oscar! ), James Caan, John Cazale, Robert Duvall, Diane Keaton, the list goes on.
And not forgetting Francis Ford Coppola, without whom etc. etc. Working under extreme pressure from the studio, under constant threat of replacement, fighting to use his personal choice of actors, Coppola took Mario Puzo's pulpy novel and turned it into an epic view of the dark side of 20th century America.

Monday 28 September 2009

More Billie

Here you go, Matthew, some more pics of the lovely Ms. Piper. Aren't I good to you?

Sunday 27 September 2009

Lazy Sunday afternoon

I've got no mind to worry
Close my eyes and drift away

Lazy Sunday by the Small Faces

Saturday 26 September 2009

Bands That Time Forgot: Vardis

Back when the Dinosaurs Of Heavy Metal walked the Earth ( the 80's ) certain people of a long-haired persuasion paid good money to see a barefoot guitarist play ear-shredding solos whilst whipping his talcum-powder-filled blond hair over the crowd. Such a man was Steve Zodiac of Vardis, purveyors of ridiculous, 100mph boogie to the masses. One of the first, and loudest, bands I ever saw and probably the least cool.

OK, so I missed Favourite Gig Friday yesterday. Ate too much curry and birthday cake at James' birthday party, then fell asleep after watching the new episode of Peep Show. Exciting, huh?
Perhaps Bands That Time Forgot should be a new feature.....? I've got plenty of shameful memories of dodgy bands. ( I see that Skunk Anansie have reformed. Remind me to post about guitarist "Ace" who I remember under the less- rock 'n' roll name of Martin..... )

Friday 25 September 2009


Double figures at last!
Happy 10th Birthday, James. Lots of Love from Dad, Mum, Sophie, Hero, Jasper and Flappy.
It's a great life being a pirate!!

Thursday 24 September 2009

Hi Baldy!

A warm welcome to new Follower That Baldy Fella from that there blog of his, Nick Nack Blog Attack.
Check out his blog for his views on movies, Cockneys, smells (!) and loads more.

And don't forget, happiness is egg-shaped.

No. 150

Post number 150 : Special Double-Sized, Collector's Item Issue!!

Wednesday 23 September 2009

Happy Birthday, Boss!

Bruce Springsteen is 60 (!) today but obviously not ready for his pipe, slippers and Ovaltine just yet. Above is a pic of Bruce, Clarence and Mighty Max on stage in Des Moines, two nights ago.
Happy Birthday, Bruce! Keep a rockin' !!
These are better days, baby
There's better days shining through
These are better days
Better days with a girl like you

Tuesday 22 September 2009

English Rose

Happy Birthday to Billie Piper, 27 today!

Soundtrack: Honey To The Bee by Billie

Sunday 20 September 2009

Looks like we got us a reader

Two quotations on the subject of books:

Graham Greene from Travels With My Aunt:
"One's life is more formed, I sometimes think, by books than by human beings: it is out of books one learns about love and pain at second hand."

From the Facebook page of an 18-year old work colleague:
" I cant reed or right n if i did i wuldnt spend money on poxy books."

I go through phases of reading different genres until I get sick of them. I had a sf / fantasy phase a while back and read
Nova by Samuel R Delaney
Beyond The Golden Star by Hannes Bok
Winter Warriors by David Gemmel
Use Of Weapons by Iain M. Banks ( don't forget the "M" )
The Werewolf Principle by Clifford D. Simak

More recently I had a "ripping yarns" sort of phase and read
Flashman by George MacDonald Fraser
Going Solo by Roald Dahl
The Prisoner Of Zenda by Anthony Hope
The 39 Steps by John Buchan
Mauritius Command by Patrick O'Brian

To make a change from all that testosterone and empire-building I've just read Graham Greene's Travels With My Aunt, a funny and witty story of repressed , retired bank manager Henry Pulling and his outrageous aunt ( or is she? ) who whisks him around the world, involving him with drug deals, fortune tellers, war criminals and CIA agents. The next book on my "to be read" list is The Lovely Bones by Alice Sebold, which looks far heavier ( in content, not weight ) but is such a well-regarded novel and is the basis of Peter Jackson's next movie, so I thought I'd best give it a go. Anyway, it only cost me 50p (!) secondhand, sorry "pre-owned", from a local charity ( Slimbridge WWT ) so what the hell. Oh, yeah: while I've been reading all the above books I've also been ploughing through Michael Palin's Diaries 1969-1979: The Python Years, a real doorstop of a book but well worth it.

Soundtrack: Abbey Road Medley by The Beatles

Friday 18 September 2009

Favourite Gig Fridays: Metallica

OK, this week I'm growing my hair, splashing on some patchouli, wearing my leather jacket no matter how hot it gets, and turning this motherhumper up to 11, 'cos it's Metallica time!!
To be more precise it's September 1988 at Newport Centre, the Damaged Justice tour. I'm there with Mark, Jon, Matthew and Steve ( where are all those guys nowadays? ), we've just missed support band Danzig but we're not too bothered 'cos Metallica hit the stage just as we walk into the venue, and EXPLODE into first song Blackened. Riffs, drums, screams, strobes, volume! Before we know it the song's over, a few choice f-words from James Hetfield and we're on to For Whom The Bell Tolls, our eardrums destroyed already.
And that's the way it goes, one mighty slab of sound after another crashing down on our heads, beating us into submission. To be honest, I could do without the bass solo ( a way of apologising to Jason for mixing his bass so low on the album? ) and Kirk's Hendrix tribute, the kind of self-indulgence I thought "thrash" metal had left behind. But who cares anyway? Metallica steamroller their way through classics like Harvester Of Sorrow, Creeping Death, One ( the strobes! the helicopters! ) and Last Caress ( yay! ) until the inevitable occurs: with a blinding flash their Halls of Justice stage set crashes to earth in a completely Spinal Tap, none-more-metal kind of way. It's ridiculous and perfect at the same time. A final encore of Whiplash and the band are gone, taking our hearing and sanity with them.....

Soundtrack: Last Caress, Helpless, Crash Course In Brain Surgery, For Whom The Bell Tolls and other sweet love songs by the mighty Metallica.

Thursday 17 September 2009

Gregory's Girl

I've just watched Gregory's Girl ( on BBC4 ) for the first time in ages. After all these years it still stands up as a warm, charming and funny movie about awkward adolescents in pursuit of love. Or, at the very least, a snog in the school corridors. Some lovely, naturalistic performances from John Gordon Sinclair ( where is he now? ), Dee Hepburn and Clare (Altered Images) Grogan.
Here's Dorothy showing the scar on her leg to a smitten Gregory.
"Bella, bella!"

Wednesday 16 September 2009

District 9

Just got back from District 9. Interesting place to visit, wouldn't want to live there.....

As usual I get round to watching a film after half the western world has already seen it, and my opinion is instantly old news. But I'm gonna give it anyway...
So, I'd heard all the hype: first-time director, unknown star, $30m budget ( cheap by Hollywood standards ) etc. etc. But all that doesn't tell you what an exciting, visceral and ultimately moving film District 9 really is.
Refugee aliens ( known only as "prawns" by an uncaring world ) find themselves living in squalor in Johannesburg townships, dreaming of home, abused and exploited by humans, their seemingly dead mother ship floating uselessly above them. After 20 years of tension the authorities decide to clear the slums and deport the prawns to concentration camps further away from the human population. As part of this operation, company stooge Wikus ( played by first-time actor Sharlto Copley ) is sent into the prawn slums to organise the ethnic cleansing, only to be caught up in the prawns' struggle and to realise the extent of human cruelty...
District 9 is a startlingly good film, full of intensity, suspense and jittery energy. And the same goes for Sharlto Copley in an amazingly real performance as a man who changes both emotionally and physically throughout the movie, until he is unrecognisable as the corporate drone introduced in the early scenes. The special effects are incredible in their realism: the aliens and their ship are treated as a part of the landscape, as much as the rubbish-strewn slums around them, and not as some cheesy spectacle. And when the action scenes kick in about half way through the movie they're astonishing, having an impact that directors like Michael Bay could only dream of, and all from a novice film-maker! Let's hope the inevitable call from Hollywood doesn't spoil the promise of Neill Blomkamp, writer and director of this exhilarating movie.

Monday 14 September 2009

Monday morning blues

Monday morning? Forget it! You can go to work, we're happy where we are. Wake us at teatime.

Friday 11 September 2009

Favourite Gig Fridays: Gloucester Guildhall

Something different this week: this post is all about a venue not a band.
My home town of Gloucester is not exactly filled with an abundance of buzzin' rock venues. Apart from a few pubs and the very occasional gig at the local leisure centre, there's really only one venue that counts, the Guildhall Arts Centre, purveyors of fine live music since 1988. The city council's loss was the gig-goer's gain as the grey old men moved out and the Victorian ballroom became a "performance space." With a capacity of 300 or so, the Guildhall is an intimate venue where bands tend to fall into three categories: new bands on the way up, old bands on the way down, hot bands doing warm-ups for tours or "secret" gigs. It boasts some well-preserved architecture, a decent bar/cafe, and a chance to check out the latest art exhibition if the band is too boring.
Here's a short list of some of the bands I've seen there over the years: Primal Scream, Catatonia, EMF ( Gloucester boys! ), The Supernaturals, Symposium, Lambchop, Carter USM, SMASH, Carbon/Silicon, Stiff Little Fingers, UK Subs, The Damned, Antiproduct, and many more.....

I also once "crept the boards" of the Guildhall with the semi-legendary Death Planet Commandos, but that's a story for another day.
My next Guildhall gig: Northern Ireland's finest, Ash, on their A-Z Tour. Can't wait!

Thursday 10 September 2009

Tippi Hedren and feathered friend

Tippi Hedren from one of my favourite Hitchcock movies, The Birds ( 1963 ), looking ice-cool as ever. You might say unruffled.....

A good film for spotters of genre actors, The Birds also stars Rod Taylor ( The Time Machine ), Veronica Cartwright ( Invasion Of The Body Snatchers, Alien, Flight Of The Navigator, The Witches of Eastwick ) and Jessica Tandy ( ...er, Cocoon ).

Monday 7 September 2009

Who Follows The Followers?

Welcome to new Follower, The Groovy Agent ( Ol' Groove, the Groovester, Groovemeister General ) of Diversions Of The Groovy Kind fame. ( That's a lotta "Groovies"! )
I'm especially pleased to have Ol' Groove as a Follower of this humble blog: Diversions... is one of the first, and still the best, blogs I've followed. An almost supernatural effort must go into his detailed and entertaining posts. Check 'em out, and.....
Stay Groovy, baby!!

Sunday 6 September 2009

Movies With Matthew

Hi to new Follower, Matthew K, from the excellent blog Capes On Film.
Check out Matthew's blog for tons of good stuff about superheroes in the media.
Fly over there now :-)

Marvel Annual 1972

A bit of an oddity, this one: a Marvel annual produced by former UK magazine and comic publishers Fleetway. There is a "Copyright IPC Magazines Ltd., 1972" notice on the inside front cover, so it seems likely to me that the annual was published after the demise of Odham's Power Comics but before Marvel UK debuted with Mighty World Of Marvel no. 1.
I've had this book since I was very young and have always loved the cover painting of a happy-looking Hulk having a little disagreement with some soldiers and their big gun. No idea who the artist is but the realistic figure-work is very much in the tradition of UK war comics of the time. Superheroes were minorities in Brit comics back then so, I suppose, it made commercial sense to give the impression of a war comic which just happened to feature a green-skinned monster.
Hulk smash genres!!

Friday 4 September 2009

Favourite Gig Fridays: Crass

The early 1980s: Punk as a "movement" is over, the Pistols have split, the fashion victims have moved on to the New Romantic scene, subgenres like Oi! and Goth have appeared, creating tribalism which only fractures the scene further. Probably the most significant development in Punk is the rise of the Anarchist bands, anti-capitalistic, anti-vivisection, pro-direct action, a nihilistic and confrontational underground scene boasting the likes of The Subhumans, Conflict, Dirt, The Mob, A Flux Of Pink Indians, The Poison Girls and ( as they say ) many more. But the prime movers, the inspiration, the most loved and reviled are the band / collective / record label known as Crass.....
It's September, 1981. I'm 14 years old and at probably only my second or third ever gig. And I'm bricking it! The venue is The Marshall Rooms in grotty, recession-hit Stroud. A dingy, fag-smoke blanketed hole, packed with Stroud punks on one side of the venue and Gloucester skin'eads on the other side, glaring at each other and waiting for the first signs of provocation. Crass member Annie Anxiety stands up to read some feminist, anarchist poetry, which doesn't go down too well with some of the neanderthals in the crowd, scuffles break out, I keep my head down.
Black curtains shroud the stage while TV monitors spew out white noise and images of car-crashes, abattoirs, 1950s commercials, nuclear explosions, and other fun stuff. The curtains part to reveal Crass the band, standing motionless, intense, ignoring the crowd. This carries on for some time as the crowd gets louder and angrier until, at some pre-arranged moment, the band suddenly scream into their first song, a wall of discordant noise smashes over the crowd, a mass fight instantly breaks out.....
To be honest, I wasn't a great fan of Crass. The only album of theirs I owned was Stations Of The Crass, a virtually unlistenable howl of anger against society, the government, the armed forces, Garry Bushell (!) and other obvious targets. I preferred bands like The Subhumans or Conflict who sounded a bit more like proper rock bands: you know, with actual tunes and things.
Crass as a live band was a different prospect. It may be because I was so young and inexperienced back in '81 ( a lifetime ago! ) but they seemed an almost physical force as I was pushed and pummelled in that audience. A black wave of energy, intensity and ferocity. They meant it, maaaan! It was a Hell of a gig: the charged atmosphere, the violence, the peacemakers in the crowd trying to calm the situation, the exhilaration of being part of something, the police waiting outside, the sheer noise assaulting your eardrums.

You don't get that at Travis gigs, I can tell you!

Thursday 3 September 2009

Steve Jones

Happy Birthday to old Punk Steve Jones, 54 today. That's Steve, looking young and (relatively) thin, to the right of John Lydon.
A bloke I used to work with went to school with Steve Jones and Pistols' drummer Paul Cook, back in Shepherd's Bush, or "The Bush" as it's apparently called. But, as he's a total blues-obsessive and doesn't listen to anything else, he never saw them play live. D'oh!!

Tuesday 1 September 2009

Tom on T'internet

Famously barking-mad ex-Time Lord and National Treasure Tom Baker has a new website at http://www.tom-baker.co.uk
Well worth a look for photos of the great man, a history of the Fourth Doctor and loads more besides.
Thanks for the heads-up from Kasterborous.com, one of the best Who-sites on t'internet.


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