12 December 2008

Big Moon

Tonight's full moon will look the biggest it has done for 15 years, if only you could see it through the thick cloud covering the country! With the elipical orit around the Earth the moon is at it's closest orbit for a decade and a half and will appear bigger and brighter than normal.

Here is a list of other notable moons:

  • Sun Myung Moon: The Korean founder and leader of the world-wide Unification Church and of the larger Unification Movement, otherwise known as "the Moonies".
  • The Moon of Gomrath: The follow up to the children's book The Weidstone of Brisingamen by Alan Garner. Set in the Manchester United footballer's favourite place to live, Alderley Edge. I wonder if Beckham had probelms with Svarts?
  • Keith Moon: crazy drummer with the legendary rock band The Who, considered by many to be the best drummer ever.
  • Moonstruck: Oscar winning 1987 film staring plastic warbler, Cher.
  • Ganymede: One of Jupiter's 62 moons and the largest moon in the solar system, with a diameter of 3,280 miles, even larger than either of the planets Mercury.
  • The Dark Side of the Moon: massive selling 1973 album by Pink Floyd, thought by some to fity almost exactly to the visuals of the film The Wizard of Oz, if started at the right time.

10 December 2008

The last classic feudal state.

The last bastion of feudalism in the Western world finally succumbed to voting for it's first Democratic government today. The Channel Island of Sark's government was, for half a millennium, a group of landowners. The smallest of the Channel Islands (actually a series of small islands occupying approximately two square miles), was split into 40 Tennants, original bestowed as a fiefdom by Elizabeth I in 1565. Helier De Carteret became it's first Seigneur.

Although The Queen is still sovereign, Sark has its own court, is not a member of the EU and has no income tax or national health service. As of today the people of Sark (population 600, electorate 474) go to the polls to fully elect its "Chief Pleas", or parliament, for the first time.
Year in which countries became democracies:
  • 2006 - Uganda
  • 2002 - Kenya
  • 1999 - Nigeria
  • 1998 - Indonesia
  • 1994 - South Africa, Malawi
  • 1990 - Yemen, Taiwan
  • 1985 - Brazil
  • 1983 - Argentina
  • 1978 - Spain
  • 1969 - UK (Great Britain and Northern Ireland) as may people in Northern Ireland were denied the vote before then
  • 1945 - Italy
  • 1944 - Iceland
  • 1921 - Sweden
  • 1949 - India
  • 1913 - USA (tricky one, but considered to be in 1913 with the passing of the 17th amendments)
  • 1901 - Denmark
  • 5th Century BC - Athenian Greece

09 December 2008

Tribute to Oliver Postgate

The genius that was Oliver Postgate died today.

Anyone my age or older will know the creator of some of the best loved children's television programmes ever made, Bagpuss and The Clangers being favourites of mine. In this Nintendo age Postgate's programmes were a very different affairs to the fast edit, flashy efforts of today. His career in television started in the 1950's, working for both the BBC and ITV. They mainly were made in a barn by Smallfilms, the company he set up with Peter Firmin.

His shows were a lot gentler and story based than that of modern programmes. Here's a list of his work, which he not only created but often directed, produced, voiced and even physically made the characters and sets:

  • Pinny's House (1986) (producer, director)
  • Tottie: The Story of a Dolls' House (1984) (director, voiceover)
  • Noggin the Nog colour version (1979) (writer, producer, director, voiceover)
  • Ivor the Engine colour version (1975) (writer, producer, director, voiceover)
  • Bagpuss (1974) (writer, producer, director, voiceover)
  • The Clangers (1969) (writer, producer, director, voiceover)
  • Little Laura (1968) (producer)
  • Pogles' Wood (1965) (writer, producer, director, voiceover)
  • The Seal of Neptune (1963) (creator)
  • The Pingwings (1961) (writer, director, voiceover)
  • Noggin the Nog (1959) (writer, producer, director, voiceover)
  • Ivor the Engine (1958) (writer, producer, director, voiceover)

08 December 2008

21 Popular Movie Characters and how many times they've been portrayed

Hitler: more popular than Elvis

There was a Robin Hood film on TV today. It got me wondering how many times he's been portrayed in film and which characters had been played more. So I checked it out and here's my list of enduringly iconic film characters and how many times they have appeared (according to the Internet Movie Database).

Interestingly by portaying God (the winner here) they are breaking one of the Ten Commandments!

  • 299 God
  • 241 Jesus Christ
  • 211 Sherlock Holmes
  • 230 Adolf Hitler
  • 195 Count Dracula
  • 157 Elvis Presley
  • 93 Winston Churchill
  • 88 Robin Hood
  • 81 Frankenstein's Monster
  • 78 Julius Caesar
  • 75 Tarzan
  • 71 Ebenezer Scrooge
  • 68 Zorro
  • 67 Queen Elizabeth II
  • 63 Cleopatra
  • 60 Queen Elizabeth I
  • 51 King Henry VIII
  • 43 James Bond
  • 43 William Shakespeare
  • 42 Dr. Fu Manchu
  • 23 Hercule Poirot

    These characters are ones I have thought of off the top of my head, can you think of any more popular ones?

07 December 2008

Which Beatles album cover did Stuart Sutcliffe appear on?

Now there's a pub quiz question if I ever saw one. Stuart Sutcliffe was an early member of The Beatles who left before they hit the big time. Yet he still appeared on the iconic cover of the band's 1967 album cover, Sgt Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band.

It's difficult to imagine how utterly different not only the music but also the cover of this album was at the time of release: it was the first gatefold sleeve ever and also the first to print the lyrics for the songs. In this age of cd's and downloads the role of the album cover has diminished to some extent but Sgt Pepper will always stand out as a classic, a work of art in itself packaging one of the most influential records ever.

But all the people depicted (as life sized cardboard cutouts or waxwork figures), who are they? My first list in a long time is a list of people shown on the collage created by influential Pop Artist Peter Blake (it even won a Grammy for the artwork).

  • Sri Yukestawar Giri (guru)
  • Aleister Crowley (occultist, writer, mountaineer, poet, drug experimenter and yogi)
  • Mae West (actress)
  • Karlheinz Stockhausen (composer)
  • W.C. Fields (actor/comedian)
  • Carl Gustav Jung (psychologist)
  • Edgar Allen Poe (writer)
  • Fred Astaire (actor)
  • Richard Merkin (artist)
  • Das Varga Girl (by Artist Alberto Vargas)
  • Leo Gorcey (actor) - painted out because he demanded a fee!
  • Huntz Hall (actor)
  • Simon Rodia (architect)
  • Bob Dylan (singer/songwriter)
  • Aubrey Beardsley (illustrator)
  • Sir Robert Peel (politician and creator of the police force)
  • Aldous Huxley (writer)
  • Dylan Thomas (poet)
  • Terry Southern (writer)
  • Dion (di Mucci) (singer)
  • Tony Curtis (actor)
  • Wallace Berman (actor)
  • Tommy Handley (comedian)
  • Marilyn Monroe (actress)
  • William Burroughs (ariter)
  • Sri Mahavatara Babaji (guru)
  • Stan Laurel (actor/comedian)
  • Richard Lindner (writer)
  • Oliver Hardy (actor/comedian)
  • Karl Marx (philosopher/Socialist)
  • H.G. Wells (writer)
  • Sri Paramahansa Yoganandu (guru)
  • Stuart Sutcliff (artist and former Beatle)
  • Max Miller (music hall comedian)
  • Marlon Brando (actor)
  • Tom Mix (actor)
  • Oscar Wilde (writer)
  • Tyrone Power (actor)
  • Larry Bell (artist)
  • Dr. David Livingstone (missionary/explorer)
  • Johnny Weismuller (swimmer and Tarzan!)
  • Stephen Crane (writer)
  • Issy Bonn (comedian)
  • Sir George Bernhard Shaw (writer)
  • H.C. Westermann (sculptor)
  • Albert Stubbins (footballer)
  • Sri Lahiri Mahasaya (guru)
  • Lewis Carroll (writer)
  • T.E. Lawrence (Lawrence of Arabia)
  • Sonny Listen (boxer)
  • Wax model of George Harrison
  • Wax model of John Lennon
  • Wax model of Ringo Starr
  • Wax model of Paul McCartney
  • Shirley Temple (actress)
  • Albert Einstein (physicist)
  • John Lennon (holding a french horn)
  • Ringo Starr (holding a trumpet)
  • Paul McCartney (holding a cor anglais)
  • George Harrison (holding a flute)
  • Bobby Breen (singer)
  • Marlene Dietrich (actress)
  • Mohandas Karamchand Ghandi (Indian political and spiritual leader) - painted out by request of EMI as they feared it would offend record buyers in India.
  • Diana Dors (actress)

As well as the known "famous" people the collage also includes:
a wax hairdressers' dummy, Legionnaire from the Order of the Buffalos, The Petty Girl (by Artist George Petty), a cloth Grandmother Figure of Jann Haworth, a cloth figure of Shirley Temple by Jann Haworth, a Mexican candlestick, a television set, a stone figure of a girl, a statue from John Lennon's house, a trophy, a four-armed Indian doll, a drumskin designed by Joe Ephgrave, a hookah water tobacco pipe, a velvet snake, a Japanese stone figurine, a stone figure of Disney's Snow White, a garden gnome and a tuba! A guitar and the word "Beatles" are made of flowers.

Have I missed anything/anyone out?

It's been a while!

It's been a long time since I posted. There have been lots of things going on in my personal life and then for some reason Blogger blocked me from posting (probably for not contributing for a while!). But I'm back and better start with the lists again!

So, if you read, please comment on any list that you like, inspires you or even if you have a list of your own you would like me to create.

Comments keep Bloggers blogging!

24 July 2008

Review: The Dark Knight - believe the hype ***No Spoilers***

I was lucky enough to go and see a preview of Christopher Nolan's latest Batman film last night, The Dark Knight (it opens in the UK tomorrow). There has been so much buzz about this film that, surely, it could live up to the high expectations: I think it exceeded them.

This is The Godfather of superhero films. The Hamlet. To even call it a superhero film seems to cheapen it - it is more a film about crime and corruption, like some of the great, gritty, dirty, intelligent movies of the seventies. Or the tussle between De Niro and Pacino in Heat. The twists and turns of The Usual Suspects. Yes, I'm naming a number of my favourite ever movies, It really is that good. I have to see it again to fully understand it's intelligent complexities. Thankfully there was very little CGI, which is another thing that makes it believable, though some are obviously far fetched, sequences are give a realism rarely seen in an action movie, let alone a superhero movie.

Yes, it's about a billionaire playboy with a tortured past who dons a rubber suit to act vigilante in a decaying city. Yes, it's main villain is the "Clown Prince of Crime", the psychotic war painted Joker. But it is the first film that lifts their motivations from that of the comic book characters. Bruce Wayne himself questions what the hell he is doing, wanting to pass the mantle of Gotham City's saviour over to idealistic District Attorney, Harvey Dent (a brilliant Aaron Eckhardt) It is as much Dent's film, who's character arc from incorruptible golden boy to the hideous Two Face, is not only believable, but totally understandable and tragic.

The way Nolan handles the film (he was also co-writer) is noting short of brilliant. I'm not going to give any spoilers other than what is already common knowledge, in this review but his introduction of the Joker is unforgettable. His reason for his madness and truly petrifying look is brilliant. He is no longer a camp, wise-cracking cartoon, he is one of the most frightening, convincing and dangerous movie villains of all time.

Much talk has been about Heath Ledger's performance, especially after his untimely death in January. Premature calls for an Oscar nomination have turned out to be justified, his crazy, twitching, (but honest and charasmatic, just like the character) almost lizard like performance as the personification if chaos is nothing short of immense. But it's not just Ledger's show. Christian Bale's Batman ying to the Joker's yang had to stand up to the performance and is brilliantly played, his anguish, conflicted loyalties and even jealousies as both Batman and Bruce Wayne flesh out a character that in the past just seemed like a moody teenager with a troubled past.

Roles that could have been consigned to bit parts in a lesser movie were integral and weighted perfectly. Gary Oldman's Captain (Commisioner) Gordon is the perfect foil to Batman's bending of the law for the greater good. A major part of the plot rather than the character who Batman saves the day for, Gordon is a fully fleshed out character.

The realism of the story is helped by two more supporting characters, Wayne's butler Alfred (Michael Caine) and tech specialist and Wayne's right hand businessman Lucious Fox (Morgan Freeman). A problem I always had was (despite being a billionaire) Bruce Wayne could create all his gadgetry without detection (even this is handled as a major plot twist). Batman couldn't be a one man team, Alfred and Fox make this possible. Taking over from lightweight Katie Holmes as Rachel Dawes, Maggie Gyllenhaal has a tough job as the only main female role but brings out subtleties in lover Dent and ex-flame Wayne (she knows he's Batman).

The film even takes Batman out of Gotham, expanding the notion that the web of greed and corruption extends far beyond the streets, jails and loonies in Arkham Asylum. With Dent's passion for the same outcome as Batman and Gordon - of cleaning up the streets -overshadowed by the Joker's reign of chaos, the outcome is almost inevitable. Can their plans really succeed when they have a conscience and what they are fighting has none?

It's very difficult to write a review without giving away any of the delights of this film. It has it's brilliant action scenes but what stayed with me was the personal battles, the crime thriller plotting. Forget everything you expect from a superhero film, The Dark Knight has rewritten the rule book. The comic book movies can now be taken seriously.
A posthumous Oscar for Ledger? Absolutely, but also for best film, best director and best screenplay.


This post was a slight deviation from the normal list formula of this blog but I couldn't let the event pass without mentioning it. So here's a quick Dark Knight related list:

:: Today the film smashed the box office record after reaching the $200m (£100m) mark worldwide in just five days (former record was held by three movies, Spider-Man 2, Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest and Star Wars Episode 3: Revenge of the Sith, which passed the mark in eight days).
:: Taken more than $203m around the globe.
:: In less than a week it has made number 84 on the all time 100 blockbusters list
:: Already taken more than the last Batman movie, Batman Begins
:: Biggest US box office opening day ever ($67m)
:: Biggest opening weekend ever ($158m).
:: Set a weekend box-office record for IMAX venues with $6.2 mil. Previous record Spider-Man 3.
:: Record midnight showings with $18.5 million. Former record Star Wars: Episode III - Revenge of the Sith.

22 July 2008

Mercury Music Prize nominations 2008

On the day I finally got round to buying last year's winner Klaxon's Myths of the Near Future (in the HMV sale) this year's nominations for the Mercury Music Prize have been announced. With Amy Winehouse overlooked last year maybe one of the five female solo artists will scoop the prize. For the first time Coldplay haven't had their album nominated and The Ting Tings - a very "Marmite" band (I happen to love both) - have also missed out. It'll also be interesting to see Radiohead win it with their unique (at the time) way they released it, by passing the record industry - see here.

Considered to to one of the top awards in the British music calendar, the Mercury's always prompt discussion. Not owning any of the albums (I've been so slack this year, it's all been about live music)I can't comment on the list's possible winners, but here it is:

:: Elbow - The Seldom Seen Kid
:: Radiohead - In Rainbows
:: British Sea Power - Do You Like Rock Music?
:: Robert Plant & Alison Krauss - Raising Sand
:: Burial - Untrue
:: Estelle - Shine
:: Adele - 19
:: Laura Marling - Alas, I Cannot Swim
:: Rachel Unthank and the Winterset - The Bairns
:: Neon Neon - Stainless Style
:: Portico Quartet - Knee-deep in the North Sea
:: The Last Shadow Puppets - The Age of the Understatement

18 July 2008

The Greatest Comic Book Movie Adaptions

With the release of the trailer to one of the best comic books (graphic novels) ever written, Alan Moore's Watchmen and the imminent UK release of the latest Batman movie, The Dark Knight - which is getting rave reviews in the States - (both of which I'm very excited about, I thought I would compile a list of the best films based on comics and graphic novels.

As a medium that almost apes the storyboard process of film making it's surprising that movies based on them didn't really take off until Christopher Reeve donned Superman's pants and, er, took off in 1978. With the advent of CGI and better technology, the superhero film has become become a lot more respected and quality has soared. As have comics themselves.

Of course, comics and graphic novels aren't just about lycra-clan vigilantes, as the following list shows. The list was compiled by taking the best scores of these movies from the excellent Internet Movie Database. All movies are voted for by members and an average (based on numbers of votes) is calculated.

The top comic book movies (according to IMDB):

  1. The Dark Knight average score 9.3
  2. Batman Begins 8.3
  3. The Snowman 8.2
  4. V for Vendetta 8.1
  5. Iron Man 8.1
  6. Hellboy II 8.0
  7. When the Wind Blows 7.9
  8. 300 7.9
  9. Spiderman 2 7.8
  10. X-Men 2 7.8
  11. Ghost in the Shell 7.8
  12. Akira 7.7
  13. Ghost World 7.7
  14. Road to Pedition 7.7
  15. A History of Violence 7.6
  16. Batman (1989) 7.6
  17. X-Men 7.4
  18. Spiderman 7.4
  19. Wanted 7.4
  20. Superman 7.3

  21. You can see the new trailer, released today, for Watchmen by clicking here

14 July 2008

Glastonbury: the DeeDubya Awards

This is my "greatest" list of this year's Glastonbury festival. What impressed me at this year, my awards if you like:

:: Best act:
The Swell Season
Runners up The Verve, The Raconteurs, Crowded House

:: Most disappointing act
Vampire Weekend

:: Best sing-a-long:
The Drugs Don't Work: The Verve
Runners up: She's So Lovely: Scouting for Girls, Weather With You: Crowded House

:: Best cover:
Newton Faulker: Massive Attack's Teardrop
Runners up: The Feeling: Aha's Take On Me

:: Best food:
Glastonbury Rugby Club Chili Wrap
Runners up: Welsh meat and gravy oggie, buffalo burger

:: Best fancy dress:
Officer's Tiger
Runners up: Bus and G's Smurfs

:: Best flag spotted:
A tiny pennant on a huge stick that read "flag"
Runners up: "I slept with Chris Moyles"

:: Loved:
The weather
Runners up: the company, the atmosphere

:: Hated:
Having to leave
Runners up: the bit of rain we had (meaning we missed The Levellers)

:: Best improvement to the site:
The bigger John Peel Stage with screens outside

:: Worst "improvement" to the site:
No speakers ouside the John Peel tent so you couldn't hear what was on screen

:: Glastonbury moment:
Arm in arm with friends singing Hallelujah with Leonard Cohen on stage, the sun going down over the Pyramid Stage, turning around and see tens of thousands of people in the field doing the same, smiles on faces. THAT'S why I go to Glastonbury.
Runner up: The Swell Season playing their Oscar winning song, Falling Slowly, The fingertip Mexican wave towards the stage, orchestrated by Neil Finn of Crowded House

06 July 2008

Glastonbury Festival - The Greatest

Well it's over for another year but the memories will last a long time. Glastonbury Festival of Contemporary Performing Arts 2008, the world's greatest festival, was a triumph, after the nay-sayers predicted doom. After a few years mud baths (especially 2005 mega-downpour and 2007 quagmire) and the controversial top billing of a rap artist for the first time (Jay-Z) the media were predicting that after the boom years of the 00's, Glastonbury was starting to show it's age, it's popularity waning (tickets didn't completely sell out until the Friday of the festival, when they usually sell in hours). Luckily, they pulled it out of the bag, the weather (more or less) smiled on Worthy farm and the atmosphere, bands and general all round organisation proved why it's the grandaddy.

After the last two washouts it was Sally's last chance and she said she wouldn't go again if it was wet. Apart from a bit of rain Thursday night/Friday morning the weather was glorious and she now knows what all the fuss is about. Any sludge soon dried up and it was easier to get round that before. I've been going since 1993 and she never believed what it was like dry but we managed to see more bands at more stages than ever: List number one, I saw bands on the Pyramind, Other, Jazz World, John Peel, Park, Avalon, Leftfield, Fire and Dance and Acoustic Stages).

Meeting up with loads of mates from our internet forum at the Cider Bus on Wednesday night and outside the Leftfield tent (fancy dress! photos here LINK) on Thursday prolongs the festival which the media would have you think starts with the main stages on Friday.

Ok, this is the Blog of Lists so on with the business at hand. Although Glastonbury is so much more than the music (it has comedy, cabaret, theatre etc) the music is the main draw for me. Nothing better than lying in a field in the sun, beer in hand listening to a wide variety of brilliant music. So, deep breath here's a list of bands that I saw/heard the whole or majority of their sets in order:

(from outside the Leftfield tent whilst having our fancy dress party! Married to the Sea, The Daisy Riots, he Seal Cub Clubbing Club, Elle S'Appelle, The Rascals, The Pie Tasters, The King Blues, The Slackers)
Hobo Jones and the Junkyard Dogs
Vampire Weekend
Alabama 3
The Ting Tings
Fun Lovin' Criminals
Franz Ferdinand (unbilled set)
Seasick Steve
Crowded House
The Wombats
The Raconteurs
The Swell Season
Carnival Collective
Dan Donnelly and Friends
Newton Faulkner
Jack Penate
Scouting for Girls
Leonard Cohen
The Verve

Also part sets of the following acts (either beginning after another act, the end, waiting for the next act or just wondering past on a journey elsewhere):

The Feeling. Jimmy Cliff, The Gossip, Martha Wainwright, Joan Armatrading, James Blunt, Will Young, Glenn Tilbrook and the Fluffers, Neil Diamond,plus random unknown acts on smaller stages like the bandstand, the fire show and a great Australian reggae duo in the Tiny Tea Tent!

See the next post for my "best of"s of the festival.

View my photo's here LINK

20 June 2008

Rubbish Design

The online product reviewing web sire Reevoo has published the results of a poll to show the most useless British products, and quite frankly, it makes you wonder if these companies have a quality control department or do any product testing. They be producing chocolate teapots and rubber ladders next. It proves it's always worth reading the reviews before any purchases too.

Possibly the worst piece of design Ive ever had was a bicycle with a type of welding on the front pillar that meant it kept shearing away, leaving a inicycle and a pair of handlebars in my hands (and usually a scab on my chin).

What's the worst designed thing you have ever owned? Let's name and shame them!

                  1. The Bosch KGU30605 fridge (above), which had an egg tray that could only hold five eggs, despite the fact that most eggs are sold in boxes of six. Despite this, the fridge was highly popular when it went on sale.

                  2. The Zanussi ZWF14581 washing machine - Which only had one temperature setting: 60 degrees Celsius, resulting in it washing synthetics 20 degrees above the correct temperature.

                  3. LG 37LF66 television - A television set which had no on/off button, meaning that you had to pull out the plug in order to turn the set off.

                  4. Easy Store large slide - A toy slide which was coloured a bright yellow colour, which attracted lots of insects towards it.

                  5. Kenwood DW12CFE dishwasher - A dishwasher which if used to wash full sized dinner plates meant the top rack couldn't be used becuase the spinner won't spin.

                  6. LM Tech battery powered heated gloves - These gloves did not get hot enough to warm your fingers.

                  7. Carlton CTD1W table top dishwasher - A type of dishwasher which could not wash standard mugs because they would not fit into it.

                  8. Elba C96DF 90 gas oven - An oven where the knobs also heated up when the grill was on.

                  9. Hotpoint RLA21 4.6 Cu.ft. larder fridge - A fridge that did not have a light in it which meant you needed a torch so you could what was in the back.

                  10. Uni Media 22/1 IDTVDVD 22" HD ready digital television - This TV had a picture adjustment box which appears in the middle of the screen. It was so big, you could not see the screen, therefore making it impossible to adjust the picture.

                  17 June 2008

                  The MOJO Honours List 2008

                  Now, MOJO is a music magazinr I don't think I've ever bought. It tends to celebrate the old classic rock music of times gone by and more "AOR" of today. They held their annual awards ceremony last night and the magazine's music policy is reflected in it's winners.

                  Five of the MOJO Honours List categories are contemporary, best-of-the-year type awards, voted for online by the readers. Even these acts (rather than all the inspiration type awards) are retro sounding; Duffy (sounds like Dusty Springfield), The Last Shadow Puppets (Scott Walker) and the rest of the awards went to acts that have been around for decades (and many are playing Glastonbury Festival next week)..

                  The MOJO Breakthrough Act -
                  The Last Shadow Puppets

                  The MOJO Song Of The Year -
                  Duffy (Mercy)

                  The MOJO Roots Award -
                  Toots Hibbert

                  The MOJO Les Paul Award -
                  John Martyn

                  The MOJO Vision Award -
                  Joe Strummer: The Future Is Unwritten (Julien Temple)

                  The MOJO Catalogue Release Of The Year -
                  Pillows And Prayers: Cherry Red Records 1981-1984

                  The MOJO Medal -
                  Dave Robinson

                  The MOJO Compilation Of The Year -
                  Juno OST

                  The MOJO Legend Award -
                  Irma Thomas

                  The MOJO Classic Album Award -
                  My Bloody Valentine (Loveless)

                  The MOJO Maverick -
                  The Fall

                  The MOJO Hall Of Fame -
                  The Specials

                  The MOJO Hero Award -

                  The MOJO Inspiration Award -
                  John Fogerty

                  The MOJO Best Live Act -
                  Led Zeppelin

                  The MOJO Outstanding Contribution To Music -
                  Paul Weller

                  The MOJO Lifetime Achievement Award -

                  The MOJO Classic Songwriter -
                  Neil Diamond

                  The MOJO Icon Award -
                  Sex Pistols

                  11 June 2008

                  Best beards

                  After the exitement of Bearded Theory festival (when I managed to grow a "brazilain", as someone described it) and the cricket season well under way with England winning the third test and series against New Zealand (I know very little about the game, I'm certainly not a fan!) I have noticed that AOL's front page is running a list of the top 20 greatest cricket beards, so I had to pinch it:

                  WG Grace (England

                  Muttiah Muralitharan (Sri Lanka)

                  Hashim Amla (South Africa)

                  Mike Brearley (England)
                  Ian Botham (England)

                  Inzamam ul Haq (Pakistan)

                  Wasim Raja (Pakistan)

                  Saeed Anwar (Pakistan)

                  Merv Hughes (Australia)

                  Andy Roberts (West Indies)

                  Bishen Bedi (India)

                  Monty Panesar (England)

                  Bill Frindall (BBC Test Match Special)

                  Viv Richards (West Indies)

                  Dennis Lillee

                  Daniel Vettori (New Zealand)

                  Malcolm Marshall (West Indies)

                  Mike Gatting (England)

                  Mohammad Yousef (Pakistan)

                  Sandip Patil (India)

                  09 June 2008

                  Keep music live!

                  It's been a great year of live music for me, including the biggest gig I've ever been to, the Foo Fighters at Wembley Stadium on Saturday (with encore support by Jimmy Page and John Paul Jones of Ledd Zepplin!). It was immense and they raaawked, man! Truely (as Dave Grohl would say) fuckin awesome. Thought I'd better mark the occasion with a list:

                  Great bands I've seen live this year (in no particular order):

                  Foo Fighters
                  The Police
                  The Who
                  Kaiser Cheifs
                  The Levellers
                  The Killers
                  The Futureheads
                  The Kooks
                  Manic Street Preachers
                  Arcade Fire
                  The Enemy
                  Beetroot Kings
                  The Runners

                  ...and with Glastonbury Festival just weeks away, Beetroot Kings single release gig next weekend, REM (supported by Editors and Guillemots) in August, Bearded Theory part II in October, Beautiful Days festival and even Boy George to come, it's not all over! Long live live music!

                  If you don't know some of the above bands then I recommend you check them out, cos these are the cream of the crop of bands I've seen in the past 12 months.

                  08 June 2008

                  50 and counting

                  This weekend was a good friend of mine's 50th birthday. So: to celebrate I've made a list: Now, a number of prominent people where born in 1958 and here is a list of 50 of them. See if you can work out who my mate is...

                  Grandmaster Flash - rapping pioneer
                  Matt Frewer - actor, Max Headroom
                  Vicki Peterson - Guitarist for The Bangles
                  Jools Holland - musician and broadcaster, Squeeze and Later With...
                  Ellen DeGeneres - Actress and famous lesbian
                  Michael Jackson - television executive
                  Tip Tipping - actor and stuntman (Aliens)
                  Nik Kershaw - pop star and music writer
                  Andy Gibb - pop star (the Bee Gees)
                  Gary Numan - pop star
                  Sharon Stone - actress (Basic Instinct) and China agitator
                  Albert II, Prince of Monaco
                  Holly Hunter - actress (Broadcast News)
                  Gary Oldman - actor (Batman Begins)
                  Alec Baldwin - actor (The Hunt for Red October)
                  Will Sergeant - guitarist, Echo and the Bunnymen
                  Fish - singer (Marillion)
                  Eric Singer - drummer (Kiss)
                  Neil Finn - musician/song writer (Crowded House)
                  Annette Bening actress (American Beauty)-
                  Prince - pop star
                  Zane Llewelyn - racing driver
                  Keenen Ivory Wayans - actor/director
                  Meredith Brooks - singer
                  Bill Watterson - cartoonist (Calvin and Hobbes)
                  Jennifer Saunders - comedian
                  Kevin Bacon - actor (Footloose)
                  Michael Flatley - dancer
                  Kate Bush - singer/songwriter
                  Bill Berry - former drummer of REM
                  Bruce Dickinson - rock star (Iron Maiden)
                  Madonna - pop star
                  Angela Bassett - actress (What's Love Got to Do With It?)
                  Belinda Carlisle - pop star (The GoGos)
                  Steve Guttenberg - actor (Police Academy)
                  Tim Burton - director (Edward Scissorhands)
                  Michael Jackson - pop star
                  Chris Columbus - director (Harry Potter)
                  Andrea Bocelli - opera singer
                  Thomas Dolby - pop star (Hyperactive)
                  Tim Robbins - actor (The Shawshank Redemption)
                  Viggo Mortensen - actor (Lord of the Rings)
                  Mark King - singer/bass guitarist (Level 42)
                  Simon Le Bon - singer (Duran Duran)
                  Mark Austin - newsreader
                  Jamie Lee Curtis - actress (Trading Places)
                  George Saunders - author
                  Nick Park -animator (Wallace and Grommit)
                  Niki Sixx - rock star (Motley Crue)
                  Alannah Myles - singer (Black Velvet)

                  Also celebrating her birthday this week (though not 50th) is my great friend, Dory. I couldn't let it go by without a mention cos she's took lovely and one of the kindest, friendliest people I have the pleasure know. So have a great birthday this week honey.

                  02 June 2008

                  MTV Movie Awards 2008

                  An awards list now that is just a little more what the kids think! The MTV Movie Awards don't tend to contain the Academy Awards-worrying films (but then the Oscars don't have a Best Kiss Oscar), these are more populist fare, keeping in with the audience that votes, the MTV generation. Amongst some intereting categories the best is the Best Summer Movie So Far. I wonder how Indy 4 and The Dark Knight would have done had they been released before voting ended. Terribly, I've only seen one of the winning films, the excellent Juno.

                  Best Summer Movie So Far

                  Best Fight
                  Sean Faris vs. Cam Gigandet Never Back Down

                  Best Kiss
                  Briana Evigan and Robert Hoffman Step Up 2 the Streets

                  Best Spoof
                  Juno: Teen Pregnancy Redux

                  Best Male Performance
                  Will Smith in I Am Legand

                  Best Female Performance
                  Ellen Page in Juno

                  Best Comedic Performance
                  Johnny Depp in Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End

                  Best Villian
                  Johnny Depp in Sweeney Todd

                  Best Movie

                  MTV Generation Award
                  Adam Sandler

                  01 June 2008

                  Race For Life

                  Sally did the Cancer Research flagship fundraiser yesterday, the Race for Life. A 5km sponsored run. She did brilliantly, running in 35 minutes. The cause is a great one, funding the UK's biggest charity raising money for the research into the cure for all forms of cancer. Please visit their web site here and maybe donate a little (or a lot). Well done to all the women who ran the Race for Life, you're all winners.
                  :: In 2007 665,000 women to walked, jogged or ran the 5k.
                  :: Last year £40 million pounds was for Cancer Research UK
                  :: The men's version of the event, Run for Moore, is raises money for research into bowel cancer, which England football captain Bobby Moore died from. Click the link to find out details where you can do the run.
                  :: Bowel cancer affects over 35,000 people in the UK every year.
                  :: The four most common cancers – breast, lung, colorectal and prostate – accounted for half of the 239,000 new cases of malignant cancer (excluding non-melanoma skin cancer) registered in England in 2005.
                  :: 119,600 of the total were in males and 119,400 in females. Breast cancer accounted for 32 per cent of cases among women and prostate cancer for 24 per cent among men.
                  :: Cancer is predominantly a disease of the elderly – only 0.5 per cent of cases registered in 2005 were in children (aged under 15) and 26 per cent were in people aged under 60.
                  :: Cancer Research has a team of over 4,250 scientists, doctors and nurses
                  :: They are also are the major supporter of breast cancer research in the UK. Cancer Research spends over £22 million a year on research into the disease that affects over 40,000 women in the UK each year.
                  :: They also fund research aimed at improving the quality of life for cancer patients and provide support for them and their families.

                  31 May 2008

                  Britain's got talent shows

                  The finals of both BBC's and ITV's big talent shows were held tonight, battling for the Saturday night tv ratings. I'll Do Anything whittled down hundreds of auditionees to find the role of Nancy in the latest Cameron MacIntosh/Andrew Lloyd-Webber West End stage production of Oliver. Meanwhile ITV scoured the "talent" of the country to 10 final acts, in the most part all worthy of a spot on the Royal Variety Performance in Britain's Got Talent.

                  Now both shows are old fashioned variety, unlike "modern reality tv like Big Brother which starts it's 9th series in the UK on Thursday, but both are entertaining in their own way. Both ramp up the drama, all face-off's between the contestants and dramatic pauses. They are both ultimately voted for by the public (after lengthy audition stages by Lloyd Webber, Simon Cowell and co. I still can't past the fact though, that like karaoke, it's more fun watching the people who think they have talent than the ones that ultimately triumph.

                  I'll Do Anything finalists:

                  Winner: Jodie Prenger

                  Jessie Buckley
                  Sam Barks

                  Britain's Got Talent finalists:

                  Winner: George Sampson - dancer

                  Runners up:
                  Signature - comedy asian dancers
                  Andrew Johnston - dancer in shower

                  other finalists:
                  Andrew Muir - annoying young singer
                  Cheeky Monkeys - nauseous talent kiddie dancers
                  Escala - babe sting quartet
                  Faryl Smith - 12 year old amazing opera singer
                  Kate and Gin - amazing dancing dog (and owner)
                  Nemesis - urban dance group
                  Strike - more dancers

                  30 May 2008

                  Happy Birthday Sally!

                  It was my beautiful wife, Sally's birthday yesterday so I thought I'd dedicate a list to her. I didn't do it yesterday as we went out for dinner last night after she'd spent the day shopping in London. Unfortunately I couldn't get the time off work, which was probably a good thing, to let her shop alone! When I came back from work tonight she was on one of her presents, the Wii Fit: highly recommended.

                  Anyway, here is a list of events that happened on the 29 May:

                  :: 1660 - Charles II (on his birthday is restored to the throne of Great Britain (the Restoration)

                  :: 1886 - The first advertisement for Coca-Cola appeared (in the Atlanta Journal).

                  :: 1913 - The premier of Igor Stravinsky's ballet score The Rite of Spring performed in Paris.

                  :: 1942 - Bing Crosby records Irving Berlin's "White Christmas", the best-selling Christmas album in ever.

                  1953 - Edmund Hilary conquers Mount Everest

                  :: 1954 - First of the mysterious annual Bilderberg conferences for the world's rich and powerful.
                  :: 1982 - Pope John Paul II becomes the first pontiff ever to visit Canterbury Cathedral.

                  :: 1985 - Heysel Stadium disaster: , 39 football fans die and hundreds are injured at the European Cup final in Brussels in the match between Liverpool and Juventus.

                  :: 1999 - Space Shuttle Discovery completes the first docking with the International Space Station.

                  :: Birthdays: 1630 - Charles II, 1903 - Bob Hope, 1914 - Stacy Keach, 1917 - John F Kennedy, 1949 - Francis Rossi, 1953 - Danny Elfman, 1959 - Rupert Everett, 1967 - Noel Gallagher, 1975 - Mel B, and of course, Sally.

                  28 May 2008

                  Most Mourned TV Shows

                  Communications company Tiscali has done a poll to find out the tv shows the country missed the most when they came to the end of their runs. The usual suspects are in there and it seems the point of them ending has been missed by those asked. Fawlty Towers and The Office finished when they were on top, Only Fools and Horses and Cheers had seen better days and do we really need any more Friends?

                  Most Mourned TV Shows:
                  1. Only Fools and Horses
                  2. Friends
                  3. Fawlty Towers
                  4. Cold Feet
                  5. Sex and the City
                  6. The Office
                  7. Cheers
                  8. The West Wing
                  9. The Sopranos
                  10. The OC

                  My top five would be:

                  1. Twin Peaks
                  2. Murder One
                  3. Dead Head
                  4. Black Adder
                  5. I'm Alan Partridge

                  What would you choose?

                  27 May 2008

                  Eurovision Song Contest 2008

                  The huge farce which is the Eurovision Song Contest was held in Belgrade this weekend and surprise surprise the eastern block countries voted for the neighbours resulting in a win for Russia. The United Kingdom entry, by Andy Abraham, came joint last (with Germany and Poland with just 14 points) as no one likes us, no matter how good the song was (not great but better than Spanish effort, some singing pirates and a 75 year old rapper).

                  I didn't actually watch it but the results are listed below. We were far too buy having a party for Sally's birthday (where I rewrote the words to the Kaiser Chief's Ruby, the horrendous results can be heard here, along with some photos - link. A lot more entertaining!

                  1. Russia - Artist: Dima Bilan - Song: Believe - Points: 272
                  2. Ukraine - Ani Lorak - Shady Lady - 230
                  3. Greece - Kalomira - Secret Combination - 218
                  4. Armenia - Sirusho - Qele, Qele - 199
                  5. Norway - Maria - Hold On Be Strong - 182
                  6. Serbia - Jelena Tomašević feat. Bora Dugic - Oro - 160
                  7. Turkey - Mor ve Ötesi - Deli - 138
                  8. Azerbaijan - Elnur & Samir - Day After Day -132
                  9. Israel - Boaz - The Fire In Your Eyes - 124
                  10. Bosnia & Herzegovina - Laka - Pokušaj - 110
                  11. Georgia - Diana Gurtskaya - Peace Will Come 83
                  12. Latvia - Pirates Of The Sea - Wolves Of The Sea 83
                  13. Portugal - Simon Mathew - Senhora Do Mar (Negras Águas0) - 60
                  14. Iceland - Euroband - This Is My Life - 64
                  15. Denmark - Vânia Fernandes - All Night Long - 60
                  16. Spain - Rodolfo Chikilicuatre - Baila El Chiki Chiki - 55
                  17. Albania - Olta Boka - Zemrën E Lamë Peng - 55
                  18. Sweden - Charlotte Perrelli - Hero - 47
                  19. France - Sébastien Tellier - Divine - 47
                  20. Romania - Nico & Vlad - Pe-o Margine De Lume - 45
                  21. Croatia - Kraljevi Ulice & 75 Cents - Romanca - 44
                  22. Finland - Teräsbetoni - Missä Miehet Ratsastaa - 35
                  23. Germany - No Angels - Disappear - 14
                  24. Poland - Isis Gee - For Life - 14
                  25. United Kingdom - Andy Abraham - Even If - 14

                  23 May 2008

                  Actors that sing

                  This is not an excuse just to have a picture of the luminous Scarlett Johansson, honestly. She has an album, Anywhere I Lay My Head, out in the past couple of weeks, cover versions of, of all people, Tom Waits (who I love) with backing support from people like David Bowie and the Yeah Yeah Yeahs. It's had mixed reviews, I haven't heard it myself but it sounds an odd combination. It makes me think it would never have been made had she not been the movie star she was.

                  It also made me wonder if the records in the following list would have been made if the singers weren't actors.

                  :: Nick Berry - Every Loser Wins - highest UK chart position: No 1
                  :: Clive Dunn - Grandad - No 1
                  :: Windsor Davies and Don Estelle - Whispering Grass - No 1
                  :: Bennie Hill - Ernie, the Fastest Milkman in the West - No 1
                  :: Lee Marvin - Wanderin' Star - No 1
                  :: Jimmy Nail - Ain't No Love - No 1
                  :: Telly Savala - If - No 1
                  :: David Soul - Don't Give Up On Me Baby - No 1
                  :: Bruce Willis - Under the Boardwalk - No 2
                  :: Dennis Waterman - I Could Be So Good For You - No 3
                  :: Anita Dobson - Anyone Can Fall In Love - No 4
                  :: Kate Winslet - What If? - No 6
                  :: Don Johnson - Till I Love You - No 16
                  :: Edward Woodward - The Way You Look Tonight - No 42

                  That's not to mention William Shatner, John Travolta, Judy Garland, Jennifer Lopez, Jim Dale, Richard Chamberlain, Danny Kaye the list is far too long, unfortunately. Can you think of any?

                  22 May 2008

                  Ivor Novello Awards 2008

                  The 53rd Ivor Novello awards for the best in British song writing (as opposed to performance) were held today and Amy Winehouse won the two awards for her song Love is a Losing Game, best song musically and lyrically. Phil Collins, who won the international acheivement know what for, perhaps for moving to and staying in Switzerland!) thanked the gorilla from the Cadbury's ad for taking In the Air Tonight to number one for the third time.

                  Winehouse turned up late to the ceremony, on the day she was announced as special guest to play the Pyramid stage at Glastonbury, behind headliner Jay_Z. That bodes well for a cracking, on-time performance from the troubled singer.

                  The Ivors are considered the top awards in songwriting. It's nice to see talent like the Squeeze frontmen, Difford and Tilbrook (who I'm seeing ater in the year as Squeeze having seen both solo) and Pink Floyd's Dave Gilmore being recognised, and Radiohead winning best album. Here is the list of winners:

                  :: Best song musically and lyrically:
                  Love Is A Losing Game - Amy Winehouse

                  :: Best contemporary song
                  People Help The People - Cherry Ghost

                  :: Best television soundtrack
                  Oliver Twist

                  :: Best original film score

                  :: PRS most performed work
                  Shine - Take That

                  :: Best-selling British song
                  Beautiful Liar - Beyonce and Shakira

                  : Album award
                  In Rainbows - Radiohead

                  :: International achievement
                  Phil Collins

                  :: Ivors Inspiration award
                  Jazzie B

                  :: Ivors classical music award
                  Jonathan Dove

                  :: Outstanding song collection

                  :: PRS outstanding contribution to British music
                  Chris Difford and Glenn Tilbrook

                  :: Songwriter of the year

                  :: Special international award
                  Diane Warren

                  :: Lifetime achievement
                  David Gilmour

                  Football, a vintage season

                  Well, I'll keep this short cos I never get any comments on football related threads, but it's been a great season for teams close to my heart. Topped off with Manchester United (the team I support) not only securing the Premier League title but also winning the Champions League in Moscow last night, beating Chelsea on penalties.

                  It was a fantastic match and the stmosphere at the pub was electric. United were well in control and 1-0 up until Chelsea equalised just before half time. Chelsea were unlucky and powered back into the second half but both teams failed to score again, even after extra time. The penalty shoot out was nail biting and went both ways after misses by both Ronaldo (who had scored United's goal) and Chelsea's John Terry and Nicholas Anelka. But only the winners name will be remembered and Sir Alex Ferguson's side won their 29th trophy under his reign. And Ryan Giggs got his Manchester United record breaking appearance, coming on for Paul Scholes (who missed out playing in United's last Champions League final win in '99).

                  The best man at my wedding, Nobby, was in Moscow (and is a Chelsea supporter). That result means he remains my best man.

                  This is a list of why my season has been great:

                  :: Manchester United won the Champions League
                  :: Manchester United won the Premier League
                  :: Portsmouth win the FA Cup (I used to live in Pompey)
                  :: Peterborough promoted to League One (I live in Peterborough)
                  :: Exeter promoted to League Two (I used to live in Exeter)

                  but i is counteracted by:

                  :: England failing to qualify for Euro 2008