Monday, 23 December 2013
That is to say that one of our presents this year was a box of goodies that we cleared out to make space on the floor - only for Giles to decide that the box was a fantastic new place to sit.
And so it is that several days later the empty, decorated box is still in the centre of our floor - only now it is slightly more of an obstacle because of the semi-resident cat.
So whilst Giles prepares himself for Christmas how are the rest of the Pixie Clan getting ourselves in the mood for some Chrimbo Cheer whilst working ever-so-hard (honest) in our jobs in the run up to some much needed time off?
Well, as the long suffering readers of this blog will know I am rather fond of creating List-o-Fives (none of which ever add up to only five) and so here's a list of things that we often share to get us in the mood:
Christmas Televisual Feasts (available on "terrestrial" TV - ie non-subscription channels):
#1: Doctor Who (Christmas Day)
Back in the 1960s a single episode of Dr Who aired on Christmas Day. It was, for the officianadoes out there, a middle episode of The Dalek Masterplan (13 episodes long) called "The Feast Of Stephen" - it was the last time the show would air on Christmas Day for 40 years. However, ever since the re-boot of the show about 7-8 years ago it has been an annual thing. This year sees the final story of current incumbent in the title role Matt Smith running around yelling a lot and waving a sonic screwdriver at anything and everything - threatening to assemble ad-hoc furniture at every turn (presumably). The last few have been a bit disappointing so I am hoping for a return to form this year as we see the arrival of Peter Capaldi as the new Doctor...
#2: The Sound Of Music
Some time in the 1980s they passed the Von Trapp Law meaning that it was illegal for The Sound Of Music to be left out of the Christmas schedule from thereon - or so it feels as every yuletide the screens fill with what feels like six hours of tap-dancing nazis. After all: what could be more festive? The way that most people watch this film is in bits -the first hour one year, the last hour another year and the twelve hours in between in odd bits whilst avoiding the Queen's Speech. Very few people watch it in a single sitting unless they are really, really bored.
Don't ask me why this is part of the festive programming but as with Sound Of Music it is now on every year. A fascinating fact is that Ronald Regan was, at one point, in line for the role of Rick so we must be eternally greatful that they elected him President instead...err.....
#4: Father Ted Christmas Special
The hapless residents of Craggy Island get lost in Habit-hat (a specialist shop for Priests...) and narrowly avert a scandal thanks to the quick thinking of Ted: who is awarded a Golden Cleric award as a result. Father Ted was a fantastically daft and funny sit-com, cut short too soon by the death of it's star.
#5: Blackadder's Christmas Carol
Ebeneezer Blackadder, the white sheep of the dastardly family, is visited by the spirit of Christmas who inadvertently shows him how much better off he'd be if he were evil. Blackadder is still one of my favourite all time sit-coms and this subversive version of Charles Dickens is amongst the best on offer.
#6: It's A Wonderful Life
So it turns out that my mother has never seen It's A Wonderful Life and, when i described it to her, she said "well that doesn't sound much fun" (or words to that effect). She is, of course, wrong - the film is rather odd because it's mostly slightly depressing until the uplifting bit where if you don't cry then, quite frankly, you have no soul. James Stewart is, as always, a joy to watch - but be warned: if I find out that if you watched the colourized version instead of the original black and white i shall be severely disappointed with you to say the least.
#7: The Box Of Delights
A children's TV series that first ran in the early 1980s about a magic box, an incredibly posh young boy and a ripping adventure yarn that could only ever be written in England. True some of the special effects were naff even then but it still has a certain sense of magic. The best way to watch this is episodically so that the final episode falls on Christmas Eve (which is when it is based to happen)
Some other films for your consideration:
The Wizard Of Oz (Herself insists its on at Christmas - not aware of it myself but it wouldn't surprise me in the least)
Scrooged/The Muppett Christmas Carol - one or the other of these is always on and both are worth your time
Merry Christmas to all bloggers
Saturday, 23 November 2013
Monday, 11 November 2013
Wednesday, 18 September 2013
Thursday, 22 August 2013
To his place above the chip shop
You can hear the trucks go by
You can smell potatoes frying
And you know that he’s half crazy
And you’d really like to leave now
But he feeds you bread and marmite
That came all the way from Tesco’s
And he shows you his apartment
And it really is quite grotty
And just when you mean to tell him
That you’ve got to catch the late bus
He offers you some biscuits
That have chocolate on one side
That just seem so very tempting
And you want to call a taxi
When he tells you all the time
He’s been wearing womens’ undies
Now you’ll never wipe that image from your mind
Barry used to be a sailor
At the local water centre
And he used to own a speedboat
That he won on some old game show
But when he knew for certain
He was moving to the chip shop
He swapped it for a Rover
Which came all the way from Luton
And he gets out some more biscuits
With some jam in and rice paper
And he’s got a stamp collection
That could clearly last for hours
And there’s no sign of that taxi
And you’ve lost track of the time
And you’re thinking of those knickers
Yes you know you’ll never get them off your mind
Now Barry takes your hand
And he leads you to the chip shop
But the food is far too greasy
And your ulcer is complaining
And he really is depressing
As he talks of stamp collections
But he gets out some more biscuits
And this time they’re digestives
And you start to feel quite guilty
That you find him oh so dreary
He is leaning out for love
And will be that way forever
So you eat another biscuit
And you finally hear that taxi
And he chases you outside
Still wearing women’s knickers
And that image never fades within your mind
By the way - my blog is only allowing me to create posts in HTML - does anyone have any ideas what i can do about this?
Thursday, 1 August 2013
Thursday, 18 July 2013
Cast your minds back a while to my most recent film review will remember that I promised to bring you my thoughts on Man Of Steel which I had every intention of getting to see whilst it was on the big screen
Sadly time and tide have defeated me and I just haven't had the time to get to the flicks and now it seems to have finished.
So instead of the aforementioned review of MoS I will attempt to bring you some other reviews. There might be five of them but then again probably not.
#1: Bruce Springsteen Live (Concert)
A couple of years ago I made the decision not to go and see Brucie when he toured with his Seeger Sessions band firstly because I hadn't heard the album and knew that he was mostly doing songs from that period and secondly because I wanted to see him with the full E Street Band. This, having heard the live album of the tour, was a mistake as the tour was definately unmissable - only I did.
So when The Boss announced a gig in my hometown with the full E Street ensembe I knew that I had to go regardless of the extremely steep charge of the ticket
It was a day where the weather was busy ominizing: dark clouds scudding across the sky and threatening to let loose their heavy load - indeed as we walked down towards the open air arena it was already trying to rain. Fortunately it held off and even threatened to clear entirely.
On this particular tour, The Wrecking Ball tour, the evening is divided almost equally into three: the first hour is a combination of a set list and a requests section, with Bruce picking signs requesting specific songs from the audience and showing them to the band - which they then proceeded to play. The second hour was an album from start to finish (we got Born To Run) and then finally a third hour of mainly greatest hits
Having just looked up Mr Springsteen on wikipedia I find that he is only a few years younger than my dad and should probably be requesting his free bus pass - and yet where many older rockers seem to be going through the motions of a pre-ordained "this is the bit where i pick someone out of the audience" ritual (U2 and The Rolling Stones I'm looking at you) Brucie managed to make all the improvised bits look, well...improvised.
I'm a big Bruce Springsteen fan and consider the man to be a poet so am naturally biased, but Argent (who went with me as more of a Springsteen virgin) was suitably impressed and remarked both on the tightness of the band, the energy and the accessibility of the music.
True - with it being a stadium gig the sound quality wasn't great, but if you get a chance to see the man in action then you really should take it whilst you can.
#2: Bruce Springsteen: Tunnel Of Love (album)
Whilst on the subject of Brucie I've been enjoying something of a Springsteen-a-thon on my way home recently, listening to each studio album in chronological order until I have reached this mid 80s effort which was the first Springsteen album I ever heard, but equally had not heard again since.
I was lent it by a friend just shortly after it came out and can remember not being that impressed and I have to say that time and a revisit have done little to change that opinion. The problem is that for some reason at this point in his career he decided to ditch his trademark sound of guitars, gutsy saxophones and working man lyrics and go for an almost entirely keyboard led album that reeks of the sort of over production that makes the 80s infamous. The best song of the album is Brilliant Disguise, but the work as a whole lacks soul and depth and is a million miles behind any of his high water marks.
Still, and possibly inevitably, whenever i think of Springsteen it is always the cover of this album, with him leaning on the bonnet of a white cadillac resplendent in suit and bootlace tie, that comes to mind.
#3: Much Ado About Nothing (film)
What do you do when you've just finished the biggest blockbuster special effects movie of your career and have two weeks off before you start making the TV series? Well, if you're creative genius Joss Whedon then the answer is that you call up all your friends and say "Hey, come round to my house and we'll make Shakespeare with the iambic pentameters and everything"
The result is a black and white, slightly out of time rendition of one of The Bard's better known comedies in which any fan of Whedon's work won't be able to resist pointing at the screen and saying "Eh, isn't that whats-his-name from Buffy/Firefly"
As with all my reviews I shall try not to give any spoilers away other than to say that after 5 minutes or so you get used to the dialogue and find yourself immersed in an entirely believable and slightly claustrophobic world. Top plaudits should go to Nathan Fillion who steals every scene he appears in as well as to the two main leads of Amy Acker and Alexis Denisof who hold the piece together extremely well.
The only negative i can find is the two perplexing flashback sequences, which at least on first viewing leave you wondering exactly when they are happening and what they are supposed to signify.
#4: The 100 Most Pointless Things In The World (book)
I feel sad for those of you in other countries that have never had the joy of watching the TV game show "Pointless"
The formula is this: comedian Alexander Armstrong (and why is it, btw, that game show hosts are always comedians here?) and all round clever person Richard Osman invite four teams of two to answer questions on a number of topics - with the twist that they must find the answer that the least people thought of, thus showing that they know something more than the average Joe Public whilst aiming to score the lowest of the contestants or achieve finding something that no one else knew - ie a "pointless" answer
It is arguably the Blockbusters of the 2010s - IE a game show at approx 5pm that has gathered a cult following and deservedly so
So when I saw the book on sale during a low moment at the train station I picked up a copy expecting good things - however, it was not what I had hoped for.
What I had hoped was that I would find some of the topics that people had known the least about listed inside accompanied by an interesting, but ultimately useless, fact about said thing. Instead it was a list of 100 things that Alexander and Richard found irritating or pointless that, whilst amusing in its own right, was ever so slightly pointless (to coin a phrase)
#5: The 3G Apple I-phone
One of the things that came with my new job, along with endless commuting, was a works i-phone.
I've never owned anything by Apple before unless you count a couple of cans of Strongbow (cider) and a few Beatles albums...(yeah, ok, you got me - both different kinds of apple) - largely because I don't use my phone anywhere near enough to justify the exorbitent monthly charge of having any i-gadgets
The main reason I have it is to call/receive calls from people who I am working with and to receive emails on the move thus making me a "modern and dynamic employee" and as far as it goes the i-phone is perfectly fine. It has a much longer battery life than most phones i've used, possibly due to the 1-D graphics and seems to be of comparable quality to other phones and has even led to me listening to podcasts for the first time
But the one area where it annoys the hell out of me is the amount of things that need to be done in co-ordination with other i-gadgets.
Take, for instance, putting a favourite song as a ringtone. Now this is something that i expect to be able to do as a standard thing on my phone - with my personal phone I can go onto any tune-purchasing website, download the song to my phone, stick it in a certain folder and then set it as a ringtone - done in two seconds without any fuss. With the i-phone i can still download, albiet grudgingly, from any site i want - but i then need to get a ring-tone converter from i-tunes, chose which 30 seconds of the song i want to set, go home to my PC and log into i-tunes, connect my phone to my PC and somehow (i still haven't figured this bit out yet) co-ordinate the i-tunes on my computer with my phone and ONLY THEN somehow magically get a small fragment of said song set as my ringtone. Call that technology on the move? I don't.
#6: The Chap Who Delivers The Metro Newspaper To The Train Station (usually about 2 minutes after I've crossed to the other side)
Aah The Metro - a kind of smorgasbord of news that no one else could be bothered to print, available in train stations and busses across the land for free and then, shortly afterwards, abandoned on seats and floors for people to trip over. Full of worryingly adult content for something that is readily available to be picked up by any given five-year-old travelling on public transport and an endless source of unintentional humour
About twice a week the aforementioned Chap manages to deliver the magazine before I cross over, meaning that I can flick through the pages just quick enough to a) catch my train and b) avoid losing too many IQ points and his method of delivery is to screech to a halt at the station, climb out with two big bundles in hand and throw them with abandon at the locked door of the station master not even pausing to remove the two strips that keep them bundled together.
This has been causing me endless frustration as it meant that I had to prize out my copy from underneath the straps, often ruffling or even tearing it (both of which stress me for reasons I can't quite explain) until this morning when - late as ever - I watched from the other side of the tracks as another passenger inadvertantly showed me how to remove the straps without a pocket knife or the necessessity of losing fingertips.
Still, come on mate - would it really hurt you to put them down carefully and remove the strap? Probably yes...