swordznsorcery: (ratpack)
( Mar. 20th, 2017 20:56)
Boy Dominic came to its inevitable end, in a sweet and joyful reunion. I felt bad for them, knowing that most of the cast were soon going to be murdered off-screen, in order to trigger an unexpected sequel. Still, even with that shadow hanging over it, it remained a fun little series. Julian Glover cropped up in a handful of episodes (he was evil, of course). One episode had Brian Wilde in it as a dastardly murderer, which amused me. Nice bit of unexpected casting. All in all, I recommend it, at least to fans of seventies telly. The usual caveats apply, obviously. In one episode the windows are very obviously made of plastic sheeting, which amused me. Partly because of how obvious it was, and partly because it hadn't been invented yet. Good gender balance though, and a fine cast.

Following the one-sided struggle against The Brothers Karamazov, I decided to stick to short books for a while! I read an interesting 1935 novella called It Can't Happen Here, by Sinclair Lewis, which a lot of people have been recommending recently. Although it was written in 1935, it's quite clearly the story of Donald Trump's election, so possibly Sinclair Lewis had a time machine. An interesting one. Also read Douglas Adams's Last Chance To See, about his voyages around the world for the BBC in the late eighties, to track down endangered species. Two of them are gone now (and so, obviously, is he). The statistics quoted are terrifying, especially for the collapse of the northern white rhino population. Humanity, you suck.

What else? I watched Saving Mr Banks, the story of Walt Disney's struggle with PL Travers to get the rights to Mary Poppins. It was good, but a bit frustating. Every time somebody blinked, the narrative switched from the 1960s to the 1910s, or back again. Could have done with spending more than ten seconds in each one at a time. Also Colin Farrell was in it. Despite that, it was nicely done, and an interesting story. And Bradley Whitford was in it too, which helped to counteract Colin Farrell to some extent. I've been singing Mary Poppins songs ever since though, so it may have been a mistake.

Top five artists for the last seven days, according to last.fm:

01. Chuck Berry
02. Madness
03. Huey Lewis & The News
04. Duran Duran
05. Oasis

I know. I'm so modern and up to date.
I'm sure that I should probably have been doing useful things today, but instead I have been making clockwork dinosaurs. They don't quite work, at least without some disassembling, and careful sanding down of bits and pieces, but they sort of waddle a bit. My sister found them in Poundland. They're a brilliant design, if very small and fiddly, and putting them together was something of a comedy of rescuing bits from the cats, rescuing bits from the floor, and being incapable of telling one bit from another in the instructions. Clockwork dinosaurs under here )

So that's the only interesting thing that's happened lately. I don't seem to have posted in ages. (No change there then.) I keep meaning to, but I only ever get as far as thinking about what I want to say. I've been intending to mention a book that I read last month, as I know that it may well interest one or two of you. It's called Life With Kenneth Connor, by Jeremy Connor (he of the fisticuffs cameo in Carry On Nurse). It's not a particularly well-written book, and at less than two hundred pages it's not a particularly in-depth book, but it does provide a nice bit of insight into a fascinating life. It also gives a good account of the making of the Carry Ons, and also quite a bit of period theatre, briefly in wartime, and then mostly in the 1950s to the 1980s. Then there's He-de-Hi and 'Allo 'Allo later of course. Some interesting stuff for anybody into vintage BBC TV and radio, or Pinewood Studios. Jon Pertwee pops up, as you might expect given that he was an occasional Carry On-er, and Patrick Troughton also makes an appearance (on a motorbike!), as apparently he and KC were at drama school together. Yep, everybody on TV back then really did know each other.

Anyways, if you don't expect literary brilliance, it's a good little read. Some nice stuff about Kenneth Williams, proof that everybody in the world really does love Joan Sims, and some genuinely pleasant little LGBT moments as an added bonus. Recommended.

Also had some interesting viewing lately. I found this Screen One production on YouTube, called The Police. It's from 1990, and tells the story of a group of primary school children who set up their own police force to combat bullying. Everything goes wrong of course. An odd subject for a Screen One, since they were usually about adults, but then for all that the cast are young kids, it's not a childish story. Not cheerful or happy, but worth a watch!

Other than that, this month I have mostly been staring in mounting horror and befuddlement at the daily news, and getting caught in the rain. Meanwhile it's apparently February already. Whoever put the year into fast-forward, kindly put it back to normal speed. There's snowdrops out and daffodils coming up, and I've barely got the hang of January.

PS: Festivids happened! And there was much good stuff. Here, have some links (beneath the cut):... )

And now I have to go and do something more useful than clockwork dinosaurs. Bye.
How are we already in week #2? It's going to be 2018 before we've drawn breath at this rate. So far I'm not achieving a great deal. I started the new year by beginning to read The Brothers Karamazov, but that's ground to a resounding halt. Yeesh. There is a not a character I don't want to strangle (and I'd quite like to throttle Dostoevsky while I'm at it). I think I'll give it up for a bit, and try again later. My tenth anniversary rewatch of Torchwood was rather more successful, happily. I was pleased to find that I loved it just as much now as then, including the ones that I hadn't seen since their first showing. It looks quite hilariously cheap at times though. You can certainly tell that it was made in a hurry. Strictly speaking I should wait until this time next year for the tenth anniversary rewatch of season two, but I want to watch the James Marsters episode, so that ain't gonna happen.

In other still-old-but-newer-than-is-usual-for-me telly, I haven't watched any more Heroes since I last posted about it, because stuff always seems to get in the way. I must get back to it (preferably before Trump gets bored, and blows us all up come the summer). I think I've forgotten which episode I watched last though. Damn.

In non-fandom related stuffs... nope, sorry, that's all very boring. I ate a very nice banana this morning, if anybody's interested. Spent the weekend mainlining 1983 episodes of Top Of The Pops on the iPlayer. Peter Powell! Stupid clothes! Peter Powell in stupid clothes! Also Wham! and Spandau Ballet (more stupid clothes). Took the kitten to be spayed last week. She's now sporting a bald patch, although major surgery doesn't seem to have slowed her down any. (Technically she's not a kitten anymore, as she'll be two in May, but she has stunted growth due to a bad start in life, and also she's quite convinced she's still a kitten).

Figure A: Cats (this being the internet, you're probably familiar with the species).

The 2016 Fandom Meme, plus cats... )
swordznsorcery: (Default)
( Dec. 31st, 2016 20:48)
Obligatory end-of-year post. I was going to do the meme that everybody's posting today, but it's got too many questions! I get bored after answering about ten. So instead I'll point you at this rather wonderful 2016 song, which nicely sums up everything we've all been thinking. Not safe for work; but then it probably couldn't have been. It's tempting to hope for better for 2017, but bearing in mind that Trump hasn't even come to power yet, my natural tendency towards optimism is currently feeling a tad wobbly.

2016, then. The good bits. Best telly (other than the mothballed old stuff that I usually watch) has probably been Lucifer. I heartily recommend that one to most of you. Season one was fun last year, but season two has been terrific, and Tom Ellis is a revelation. Here he is (in character) belting out a jazzed up version of All Along The Watchtower.

Best book... I wish I could say the final Temeraire, but it seemed a bit of a damp squib, somehow. Mind you, my expectations were probably set a bit high. Instead I think I'll go with The Tyrannosaur Chronicles by Dave Hone, because tyrannosaurs. Basically he wrote the book I've been wanting since I was about four. Now all I need is for somebody to write similar ones for all the other types of dinosaur! And Dimetrodon while they're at it. And listen! The first fireworks of the evening.

Best music is an awkward one, as I don't listen to much modern stuff. Lee Mead put out a new album earlier this year, called Some Enchanted Evening, which I like a lot. Nice to see him doing some old standards, as he always was good at them. And Holly Johnson had a new single out this year called Ascension, which was good. Even if did come from the Eddie the Eagle film. (Sorry, I grew up in Cheltenham. I have an Eddie the Eagle allergy.)

Best film is another awkward one. Pretty sure I've only seen one 2016 film this year, which was the live action (well, mostly CGI, actually) remake of The Jungle Book. Fortunately I absolutely loved it, which is just as well, as I guess it wins by default. Trailer here.

Looking back at my list, I see that the first book I read in 2016 was Immortal In Death by JD Robb. Sounds frighteningly prescient for the year that was to follow, so if all of that was in any way my fault, I apologise! Last book of the year was Is There Life Outside The Box? by Peter Davison. Less murder, more jokes. Also, a special pair of sentences for you, [personal profile] lost_spook! On page 196: "I was keen to make The Last Detective; it reminded me of a show I'd watched as a teenager called Public Eye that starred Alfred Burke. With its easy pace and gentle humour and world-weary central character, it had been a success for many years." (Yeah, he's not in love with punctuation. Sorry about that. ;) The index, however, is a thing of beauty.) But see! All you need to do is abduct Peter Davison, and extract the missing episodes from his brain! This is a faultless plan for 2017.

Um. And I shall leave it there. Happy 2017, everybody. Let's try to keep the NHS; try to stop Trump inadvertently starting a nuclear war with China via Twitter; and, I don't know. Hope that Trump takes his head off, and reveals that he was Hillary Clinton all along? Well, it's a thought.

See you in January.
I'm basically being trolled by cats now. I just cleaned out my keyboard, and there was at least one full cats worth of fur stuffed under the keys. They must get together to poke it down there when I'm not around. None of which is what I came here to post. What did I come here to post? Nothing. Something. I ought to post something, as I never do, and the rest of you lead interesting lives, or at least manage to make yourselves sound interesting, and I'm just here being me.

I read a book! It was a very nice book. It's called The Tyrannosaur Chronicles, by Dave Hone (except he's called David Hone on the cover, to make himself sound more serious and sciencey). It's all about the biology of tyrannosaurs, and what we know, and how we know what we know, and it's full of nice diagrams of skeletons. Also it's purple. 99.9% of you aren't remotely interested, but I'm recommending it anyway, as I promised I would. (I read some other books too, but this one was best).

I've also been watching films, on and off. I've been trying to watch one a week, as I haven't really watched films in years, and to start with I decided it was high time I got around to seeing the Back To The Future trilogy. It's supposedly one of those iconic 80s things, but despite seeing the first one at the cinema about two million years ago, I'd never seen the others. I shan't be bothering again! Although the third one wasn't entirely bad. Then I rewatched the Indiana Jones trilogy to make me feel better about 80s films (and indeed 80s film trilogies, I suppose). That was much, much better. Also 100% more Tip Tipping. The Last Crusade also featured surprise Julian Glover, which was nice. And then after that, I watched the proper Star Wars trilogy, because they actually put out the proper, non-fiddled-with version on DVD, and Amazon was nice enough to be selling it second hand for 12p. Han clearly fires first, sorry George. It was lots of fun, but sadly Return Of The Jedi left me with the Ewok theme song stuck in my head for three days. Here: click at your peril. Dear me, the eighties were a strange place at times.

Some pictures and things )
swordznsorcery: (methos)
( Mar. 17th, 2016 20:12)
Memed from [personal profile] liadtbunny. I actually did this several days ago, and then forgot to make the post public, and now obviously several of the answers have changed! So I'll add the new ones in brackets.

... )
I have been YouTubing. Don't you just love rich people, who had video recorders long before the rest of us had even heard of them?! Back in 1982, Children's BBC screened a fifty minute long adaptation of a book called Ghost In The Water, by Edward Chitham. This then disappeared into the bottomless vault of tapes in the BBC basement. I recall finding it brilliantly spooky, and the two and a half other people I've since met who also remember it agreed. I long ago gave up any hope of seeing it again though. And now it's turned up on YouTube! You can watch it here, if you are so inclined. Since it's a one-off film rather than a serial, it keeps the pace up throughout, making it seem almost modern (save for the almost universally brown colour scheme, obviously!), and the cast are terrific. Fourteen year old Tess is assigned a local history project by her teacher, and finds herself haunted by the restless ghost of a young woman who died more than a century before. I didn't find it scary this time, but it is very nicely done, and very atmospheric. So pleased to have seen it again!

Seriously though, check out this school interior:



Who even makes a paint that colour, let alone buys it or uses it?! It may have been 1982, but clearly they were not free of the seventies yet.

And then, also on YouTube, I found East Of Ipswich, which I hadn't seen since the Beeb broadcast it in the late eighties. It's a short film (seventy-odd minutes) written by Michael Palin, and very loosely based on an incident in his early life. Richard is seventeen, and hauled along by his parents on a deathly dull seaside holiday at the tail end of the fifties. It's brilliantly evocative of a particular time and place - rock & roll might have got the big cities hopping, but out in the provinces, a church social was still seen as the height of entertainment; and a seventeen year old boy staying out until ten o'clock at night - in a coffee bar! (gasp!) - was in for a stern telling off.

Though it's roughly based in reality, it's not really autobiographical. In real life he met his future wife, but I'm guessing that two youngsters becoming pen pals, and eventually getting married, was far less likely to be commissioned as a film! Instead, Richard gets tangled up with a naughty Dutch exchange student and some bad boy rockers on motorbikes. And! Guess who turns up as one of the rockers! Yep, looking startlingly young (and not terribly dangerous, it must be said), whilst sporting a quite fabulous DA:



Tip Tipping - one of the many reasons why old telly is better. The other rocker there is fellow stuntman Wayne Michaels, known to fans of Robin Of Sherwood as Michael Praed's regular stand-in. And, telly being what it is, frequently the stand-in for the bloke that Michael Praed was fighting as well. He's also the man behind the infamous bungee jump at the start of GoldenEye.

I'm a well of useful information, aren't I. Who needs sensible facts and figures, when you can end up with a head full of stuntman resumés?
swordznsorcery: (whitecollar)
( Dec. 29th, 2015 21:36)
I moved house in 2012. Theoretically a simple enough procedure, but it turned into a comedy of errors so far as my internet connection was concerned. I can't blame my ISP, which seemed to be doing its best, but BT were a nightmare. I don't think it can actually have been sixteen years before I was reconnected, but it certainly felt like it. I spent the offline time intending to accomplish something useful, but in reality doing some extensive moping, and quite possibly squeaking every time I looked at my computer. Oh, and I rewatched Blake's 7, which seemed like a worthwhile use of my time. And wrote a Torchwood/Rentaghost crossover, which isn't really a worthwhile use of anybody's time, but whatever.

Beyond that, pass. When I started this, I thought that these would be the easy years, but they're not. I know a few things, obviously - Arab Spring, ISIS, David Cameron and Ian Duncan Smith being dicks, etc, but for the most part recent history is a mystery to me. I'm sure something must have happened somewhere in 2012. There was Hurricane Sandy of course, which caused some nasty damage along the Jersey Shore, but I have to confess to mostly knowing about that because of E Street fandom. Staying up until stupid o'clock to watch the benefit concert, because the E Street Band and the Who were playing, along with quite a lot of modern acts that I couldn't pick out of a line up, and frankly wouldn't want to. Otherwise, apparently I was looking the other way.

The Avengers! That happened this year. We had to call it Avengers Assemble here, in case Britain saw Robert Downey Jr in a bright red metal suit, and thought that he was Patrick Macnee. Which presumably makes Mark Ruffalo Diana Rigg? Anyway, it was fab, and everything blew up. On the smaller screen there was Ringer, briefly. On paper it looked wonderful - Richard Alpert, Mr Fantastic and Buffy the Vampire Slayer teaming up. With evil doubles! But it was another of those twenty-two episode shows that didn't get good until halfway in, when everybody else had stopped watching. So it went away again.

Musicwise the year was better. Springsteen brought out Wrecking Ball, and embarked on a two year long world tour with the E Street Band. Two years! Of obsessively stalking them on YouTube, and cheerfully filling my hard drive with music. That was a great tour, and a nice tribute to Clarence and Danny. It's horrible when your fandoms start losing people. Familiar, for those of us who aren't so into the new stuff, but still horrible. Which brings me to the Monkees, I suppose - and also to marine biology. Specifically to Mike deGruy, a hero of mine since I was a teenager. A whirlwind of enthusiasm for sharks and cephalopods, who died this year. No fair, universe. He was on your side.

... )
swordznsorcery: (whitecollar)
( Dec. 27th, 2015 19:32)
Oh, 2010. That was a year and a half. I always knew, when my grandfather and I started living together, that it was only going to end one way. Obviously. I always assumed I'd take him his cup of tea one afternoon, and find that he'd slipped away in his armchair though. That or that he'd just not come down to breakfast one morning. I didn't expect him to have to take to his bed and slip away by degrees. I imagine that neither did he! The cruel irony of old age is that, if you're strong enough to still enjoy life, you're too strong for your body to give in easily - and just a few weeks before he fell ill, he was still getting up the stairs faster than all three of his sons. I suppose it was stupid of me to expect him to go quickly. The NHS were amazing, though. District nurses are a wonderful thing. (Even if it is always a slight disappointment that they don't ride bicycles nowadays).

As to the rest of it, I think it was a quiet sort of a year. I wasn't paying attention for the first few months, admittedly, but I'm sure I'd have noticed if pirates had raided the Houses of Parliament, or Prince Charles and Prince Andrew had duelled over the succession. Or even something major that didn't involve swords. It was the year when Nip/Tuck ended, my beloved show that was now a shadow of its former self thanks to bad management. It was the year when Lost ended, and 99% of the fandom boggled at the screen in bewilderment, and wondered why we'd bothered. It was also the year when several million childhoods heaved a collective sigh, when both Corey Haim and Gary Coleman died - and Stephen J Cannell, come to that.

On the international stage, there was some brief hilarity when the Eyjafjallajökull volcano became the bane of every newsreader's existence, by spitting out lots of smoke and debris, and buggering up the airlines for a good few weeks. It was also the year when America raided the BBC's store cupboard, and nicked the superb TV miniseries Edge Of Darkness for a Hollywood remake. It seems to have vanished without trace, so clearly sometimes the the gods of the screen are just and true. Not often, I'll grant you, but sometimes. The BBC also raided their own store cupboard, and came up with a sequel to Upstairs Downstairs, annoying pretty much all the fans of the original. I enjoyed it, but admittedly I never got around to bothering with the second series, whenever that was.

And of course this was the year when a-ha called it a day, the year after their final album, Foot Of The Mountain. They released a final single, and then went their separate ways. Until this year, of course! Sometimes you do get a happy ending - albeit a temporary one. Naturally.

... )
swordznsorcery: (Default)
( Dec. 26th, 2015 19:39)
2009 was the year that bit back. It seemed as though just about everybody in my family got diagnosed with something horrible this year. Happily, for the most part it went okay, but blimey, 2009. What did we ever to do you?!

Elsewhere, it was the year of Children Of Earth, the Torchwood mini series that broke the fandom. Some loved it, some hated it, some were baffled at how completely it reimagined everything. I think it's great, but it's so far removed from the first two series that I have trouble seeing it as the same show. It was also the year when White Collar started, hurrah! I do love that show. I probably didn't see it until early 2010 though. I know I had several episodes to catch up on anyway.

FlashForward also happened this year. And then stopped abruptly. It was one of those shows with a lot of promise, but a production staff who clearly didn't know what to do with a twenty-two episode season. Nothing happened for weeks, half the audience stopped watching, it picked up, but too late. A shame, as I should dearly have loved to see where it was all going! Another one to add to the list of sci-fi shows that got bashed over the head by the networks. It wasn't alone. This was also the year when the BBC aired Paradox, a wonderful show starring Emun Elliott and Tamzin Outhwaite as a scientist and a detective investigating weirdness from outer space. Outer Space!! I rewatched it only recently, and it turned out to be even better than I remembered, annoyingly. Why can't they let me choose which shows to axe and which to save?!

Talking of ending, this year also saw the final episode of Late Night With Conan O'Brien, the chat show/Pythonesque comedy series that had been a hit for NBC since 1993. I only watched it for Max Weinberg, but it was a lot of fun over the years. I still rather miss it. Still, sixteen years is a good run for any show.

Some good films at the cinema this year. None of which I saw this year, or in the cinema, but whatever. The Hangover, which I love (and didn't see until around 2012), Sherlock Holmes (the RDJ/Jude Law version), which I think I also saw in around 2012, and The Brothers Bloom, which nobody saw in 2009. Which is a shame as it's extremely good, and I recommend it highly. So yes. Not so much "cinema in 2009", as "on DVD just the other day", but never mind.

Oh, and politics, world events, things that make me look brainy, etc, etc. Yeah.

... )
swordznsorcery: (paradox)
( Dec. 24th, 2015 19:26)
Having reached 2007, I can now look back on LJ as an aid to memory. Needless to say, this is spectacularly little help. On this day in history, as it were, I helpfully aided the would-be historical researcher with an exhaustively in-depth review of Richard Hammond's interview with Evel Knievel, and some warbling about the BBC's Christmas concert, in which that year's prospective Josephs sang some songs (though not enough, apparently) with the previous year's prospective Marias. Which, if taken as any sort of aid to memory, would make my year appear to be all about insane crashing and wannabe West Enders. Although, in all fairness, that's not a bad summary of my year. 2007 did not go well. It started out deceptively normal, then took a wild swerve in May, and attacked with all guns blazing. And I apologise to all of you who got caught up in that summer's appalling floods. They fitted my mood so well, I've always half-considered myself responsible.

As I said, the year didn't start off badly at all - in fact quite the opposite. ITV debuted Primeval, and I fell in love with the whole ruddy thing. Although I enjoyed most of New Who that year, Primeval was more fun than almost anything had been in years. Some great characters, a great set up, and giant prehistoric beasties at every turn. Joy and merriment, although sadly only for half a dozen weeks. Over on the BBC, Outnumbered aired for the first time this year as well. That was good, at least for the first few years. The little girl in that, Ramona Marquez, is the daughter of Martin Marquez, my stalker Hotel Babylon guy (see last year), so that was nice. Less nice of course was the fact that this was the year that Verity Lambert died. She gave us some terrific television over the years. A remarkable woman.

And then of course there was Any Dream Will Do. Who could have thought that I, with my reality TV allergy, would have become so ridiculously attached to a little group of guys trying to be chosen as the lead in a production of Joseph?! But I did. Enough so that I've tried to keep up with the careers of a handful of them, particularly the winner, Lee Mead. Although I'm not watching Casualty, Lee. Sorry. Not for you, not for anybody.

Musically, not a bad year. I said that with complete confidence, didn't I, but I was no longer really listening to the radio by this point, and have no idea of the pop scene. There was a new album from Springsteen this year; a proper one with the E Street Band. None of his dire solo nonsense. Sorry, Bruce. I never have liked your solo albums. So far as the cinema is concerned, there was the superb Pan's Labyrinth; although technically I think that was released in 2006, but who's counting. Also this was the year when they tried to remake The Hitcher. Why?! I don't think anybody saw it though.

Did anything important happen in 2007? No? Oh good. On to the music then.

... )
swordznsorcery: (tardis)
( Dec. 22nd, 2015 20:19)
Let's be honest, 2005 is going to be the Who entry, isn't it. I can't really remember anything else anyway! This was the year when the BBC finally gave us our ball back, with Christopher Eccleston in the TARDIS this time. I have to be honest - I've never really been happy with New Who. I liked Matt Smith in the role, and I think Capaldi is great, but by and large the plots leave me cold these days. It's been so great though, these last ten years, watching kids playing at Daleks, and waving forks at each other and claiming they're sonic screwdrivers. The forks. Not the children. Doctor Who is popular! For those of us who don't really remember the alleged golden age of Tom Baker, let alone the sixties, when the show was really a phenomenon, it's quite remarkable. Our little show, with Christmas Day specials, and international interest, and toys on supermarket shelves.

This was also the year that Russell T Davies hit gold with another production - namely Casanova, which if memory serves came along at the same time as a major Hollywood version of the story, and blasted it good and proper. With a sonic blaster, probably. David Tennant and Peter O'Toole were terrific sharing the lead, all youthful exuberance from the former, and wistful but still sparkling old age from the latter. Episode one is a true highlight, and if anybody hasn't seen it yet - do so! Go on, hurry along. What's keeping you.

Filmwise, Zorro came back for a sequel, but I don't remember a thing about it. They had a kid I think? But if there was anything major in the cinemas this year, it clearly passed me by. Was Corpse Bride big? That was this year, but I didn't see it for centuries afterwards. It was very good though.

It was the year that Michael Sheard died - I read that on Wiki when I was looking for hints, and was very surprised. So long ago! He appeared on Doctor Who and Blake's 7 of course, upping his cult status (he may well have appeared on Doctor Who more than anybody else who wasn't a regular) - but he also did Star Wars, Indiana Jones, and a shedload of other culty things. His forte appears to have been playing Hitler, which he did at least three times! In Indiana Jones & The Last Crusade, The Tomorrow People and The Dirty Dozen, without checking with the IMDb. There may well have been other times.

John Spencer died too of course this year, turning the end of The West Wing into something unbearably poignant. Poor Leo! That episode wouldn't have aired until 2006, I guess. Doesn't seem nearly that long ago.

... )
swordznsorcery: (littlejoe)
( Dec. 21st, 2015 20:03)
I moved house in 2004. This is probably my main memory of the year. Up a hill in the middle of nowhere. Windswept, desolate, silent - if it weren't for the fact that the whole of Gloucestershire seemed to use the local roads as a race track, it would have been damned near perfect. Well - that and if the local landowners hadn't had some kind of psychotic hatred of wildlife. I used to go for long walks with my sister's dog, and spend them disassembling snares and counting illegally shot badgers. It was a nice place to live though. Illegal fox hunts notwithstanding. Got stranded up there every winter, and the power used to go off at the slightest excuse, but the middle of nowhere is definitely the best place to live. Internet speed sucked, mind.

Other than that, 2004 was a quiet sort of year. Sad one too though. It was the year that Christopher Reeve died. Richard Biggs from Babylon 5 too - and he was young and healthy, and had just said good morning to his wife, when he dropped dead. Just goes to show! It was also the year when I rediscovered pop music, by unexpectedly becoming a McFly fan. They brought out their debut album this year, and I've followed them ever since.

Angel came to an end this year, a year after Buffy the Vampire Slayer. It should have lasted longer. Frasier ended too, although that one at least had had a chance to run its course. Auf Wiedersehen, Pet aired its final episode in this year as well. It had come and gone since... 1984? Always worth watching. The Magnificent Seven were two men down by that final episode, and they found a lovely way to end that really did the show and cast proud. And it was the year that Lost began. Hmm. Now there's one that went on much longer than it should have! I think it's the year that The OC and Nip/Tuck both started in the UK too, though they'd probably started earlier than that in the US. The OC was a teen drama that hooked me completely, despite me being a good fifteen years above the target age group! It lost me after a bit, but that first season was bloody good. And I fell hard for Nip/Tuck. That tailed off too when the showrunner bailed, and went off to do Glee instead, but for several years I thought it was the best thing on television. Properly clever stuff.

Cinema! This was the year of Sky Captain & The World Of Tomorrow. I love that film so much. It was a flop, which was a hell of a shame, as they'd intended it to be a new franchise. I could have had lots and lots of Sky Captains, but clearly nobody else wanted them. No fair. It's a glorious film, full of giant robots, and vintage touches that hark back to the weekly cinema serials from the pre-war days. And I wanted a sequel. I shall go away now and sulk.

... )
swordznsorcery: (johnblack)
( Dec. 17th, 2015 19:32)
Drawing a blank on most of 2000. It was the year I turned vegetarian, I know that much. I started working at an old people's home - those two things aren't related. As far as I know you don't have to vow never to eat a resident before you're allowed in the door - which on the face of it seemed a perfect job. Basically I was supposed to pick people up if they fell out of bed. This meant sitting in a room on my own all night, never having to speak to anybody. Unless they fell out of bed, obviously. Or wandered the corridors stark naked, which happened far more often that you might imagine. Life in a residential home is dull, and you have to make your own entertainment. Poor sods.

As I say, on the face of it an ideal job. It was deadly dull though, and the pay was rubbish. I was also running the office during the day (sleep?! Who needs sleep?!) Old peoples' homes have to operate on the lowest possible budget, because there's no money in old folk. If they can fill two jobs with one person therefore, they will. It used to make me smile sometimes though. Every so often they'd get some local musician in, to play old songs, and make the residents go misty-eyed with recollection. What are they going to do when that's us?! I have visions of young musicians coming in to play Bring Your Daughter To The Slaughter to a row of gently nodding oldies.

Elsewhere, this was the year that Almost Famous came out at the cinema, which I know that I loved, but I haven't seen it since, and I don't remember a great deal about it. Kid writes about band for music magazine. There was nearly a plane crash. And lots of rather good music. Also it was the year of The Road To El Dorado, although I didn't see that until some time afterwards. Terrific film. If you haven't seen it, do so. (That's an order). Music-wise I'm totally drawing a blank though. I used to have the radio on in my little night watch room, but clearly not a lot registered! About the only thing I can say for sure is that this was the year Channel 5 showed the last few episodes of Sunset Beach, a mad-as-a-squirrel soap that had won a cult audience amongst those of us with nothing better to do at ten o'clock in the morning. It was replaced by Days Of Our Lives, which proved to be even more mad. America does soap operas so much better than Britain does. In British soaps, people just yell at each other about who they're having affairs with. In American soaps there's evil identical twins, microchips in brains, and demonic possessions.

... )
swordznsorcery: (e street)
( Dec. 16th, 2015 20:02)
1999 was a bit uppy and downy, I suppose. Some stuff undoubtedly happened on the world stage. Insert a meaningful bit of commentary here about world politics, etc. Or don't. I haven't bothered. For me it's mostly the year when, after dithering about not quite knowing what to do with themselves, following their reformation in 1995, the E Street Band set out on a world tour. There was, sadly, no YouTube at this point, but lots of footage has obligingly found its way there since, and the DVD of the concluding show in July 2000 is barnstorming. Here, have the opening two songs from the North American tour debut in New Jersey, on July 15th. Aren't I kind. :)

Elsewhere, 1999 was the year when, for the first time, somebody I knew, and who was the same age as me, died. His name was Chris, and it was an accident. One of those things that's absolutely nobody's fault, and that could happen to anybody at any time. Makes you think. Didn't know him well (me and people generally find it in our best interests to avoid each other as much as possible). But he was a nice guy. One hell of a pianist too.

Good year for the movies! The World Is Not Enough made three great Bonds in a row for Brosnan, and he also had The Thomas Crown Affair out this year, one of the few cases when I prefer a remake to the original. Also out this year was The Mummy, which I love to pieces. Didn't like the sequel, and didn't make it beyond the halfway point of the threequel, but that first one is wonderful. If you haven't seen it, do so this very minute.

Tellybox wise, this was the year of more new Doctor Who, in the shape of a Comic Relief special that saw the Doctor played by just about everybody with a British passport, and culminating with Joanna Lumley running off with the Master. It was very silly, lots of fun, and helped to make us all forget about the Children in Need EastEnders thing of a few years earlier. Channel 5 started a new telefantasy series that they'd co-made with New Zealand, a show called The Tribe that, unbeknownst to me at the time, was going to completely eat my brain, and lead to a Niagara Falls of fanfic over the next few years. It tailed off eventually (it lost its teeth when it became a global cult hit, and they started to water it down for American audiences - and then they changed the show's premise in season four, and I gave up on it). That original storyline, and the little group of characters at its core, though, still holds a part of my brain hostage. I really must get around to a rewatch sometime.

But elsewhere in Tellyland, rather than mentioning a few famous people who died this year, it might be quicker to list the ones who didn't. Helen Rollason! Poor Helen. With the greatest respect to John Craven, Helen and Roger were my Newsround team (here they are battling the Blue Peter lot on Double Dare back in 1989). Ernie Wise, Bob Peck, Oliver Reed, Dirk Bogarde, Dusty Springfield... Jill Dando (what the bloody hell was that all about?!). Poor old Desmond Llewelyn, dear old Q from the Bond movies, killed in a car accident. And, in "I'm the only one around here who has heard of him" news - Guy Mitchell, one time American singing sensation. My father, who pre-dates rock & roll, has always liked early 50s music, and I had Guy Mitchell tattooed into my brain at an early age. Ridiculously catchy stuff. There may conceivably be an example under the cut.

... )
swordznsorcery: (ratpack)
( Dec. 15th, 2015 20:17)
1998 was one of those years that we should just have skipped, and pretended never happened. Sorry if it was a good year for you. If you got married then, or born then or something. But we should just quietly forget about it, and scurry on by to 1999. Or possibly 2015.

1998 began with my sister being diagnosed with acute leukaemia. And not just acute leukaemia; that would have been far too simple. She had to contract a fabulously rare combination of syndromes that had doctors all over the world conferring on her treatment. Which was actually good, in one sense. If you're going to get really sick, you might as well go for something special, and get all the best minds in medicine thinking about you. She was down and out for the whole of the year though, and is still dealing with the consequences now - and whilst it could have been a lot worse (especially for her), it was still pretty rubbish. It was a really weird time though. When a member of your family is ill, people start asking after them in hushed tones. They don't just ask how she is, they sidle up to you, and ask like they're delivering a top secret message from the head of MI6.

The younger of my two grandfathers died this year too. I didn't know him very well, so it wasn't a personal loss, but it was a strange sort of time nonetheless. Mind you, the funeral turned out to be unexpectedly entertaining. Are funerals generally hilarious? I've not been to many, but it does seem that they wind up being a whole lot funnier than they probably ought to be. For this one I somehow got sandwiched between my two more irreverent sisters, with the one inclined to get emotional just up ahead. Every so often she'd sob, and they'd giggle. I didn't dare look at anybody!

Honestly didn't pay much attention to the wider world this year. Government being rubbish, Blair being a smarmy git, etc and so forth. I do remember that General Pinochet visited the UK, and was put under arrest on an international arrest warrant. He was supposed to stand trial for crimes against humanity, but the government twiddled its thumbs for ages, and then Margaret Thatcher said that he was a personal friend, and could they please let him go. So they did. So we very nearly did a good thing, and then didn't. Not that anybody really dared hope that he'd stand trial anyway, but it was a nice idea for a little while.

Babylon 5 ended this year. I was sorry to see it go, although obviously it couldn't have gone on any longer. It was my first proper experience of fandom, with all the obsessive discussions that used to take place on the Channel 4 internet forum. I'd never had fellow fans before! And it was such an amazing series. Cold Feet started. I did quite like that, although it was hardly a suitable replacement. Oh, and The Mask Of Zorro hit cinemas! Now there's a good film. The sword work is excellent, and it's such good fun. Dark City too, although I didn't see that until some time later. Again, though, a terrific film.

Music is a different story. I just looked up the Top #100 for the year, and that's a nightmare! Billie Piper, Aqua, Boyzone, Steps, B*Witched, Cleopatra... blimey. Must have been the International Year Of The Power Ballad too, as the top fifteen includes My Heart Will Go On by Celine Dion, I Don't Want To Miss A Thing by Aerosmith, and Angels by Robbie Williams. Bloody hell! What happened between 1997 and 1998?! Did somebody outlaw rock music?

And, of course, 1998 was the year when Frank Sinatra went off to join Dino and Sammy. Robert Young and Roddy McDowall also died this year, and Cozy Powell, British rock drummer extraordinaire. Admittedly that was rather his own fault, but it was still a shame. Scuppered Brian May's touring plans for the year ahead, too!

... )
swordznsorcery: (queen)
( Dec. 14th, 2015 20:08)
1997. I left college in 1997. Leaving college is decidedly rubbish. One minute you're nice and comfortable, with a well-stocked library and no responsibilities, and the next you're expected to go out into the world, get a job, and be an actual person. This is probably terrifying enough even if you're not me. I wound up working in a factory with a health and safety record that veered between hilarious and non-existent. While I was there, they redesigned the shop floor in such a way as to make it even more obviously life-threatening than it had been previously, which was quite an achievement. It closed down about a year later. I've always felt partly responsible for that. They were going for some sort of European special status, that would have helped them get more contracts abroad, and a top drawer Eurocrat type came and talked to a few of us about our experiences with the company. She asked what it was like to work for them, and we all burst out laughing. They didn't get their special status.

Otherwise, it was the year of my first General Election! I was a bit excited. We were going to drive the ruddy Tories out, at last. Things had got so laughably bad with them, we even had a BBC newsreader randomly standing as an MP in one constituency, just in an effort to get rid of the useless prat who had the job. I soon learned how pointless it all feels though. How your vote doesn't actually count for anything in our stupid system. How the other side soon wind up looking just as bad as the people they've replaced. Especially when the country winds up saddling itself with Tony Blair for the foreseeable future.

Princess Diana died. The country went bleeding insane for a fortnight. Buffy The Vampire Slayer debuted, and the entire internet was chatting about it in an instant. And I couldn't watch it! It was most frustrating. I caught the season one finale courtesy of Sky One when I was at my sister's place one night early the next year, but it didn't come to the BBC until centuries later - at least. Frustration! We did get Dark Skies and Poltergeist: The Legacy that year though. The former was a lovely piece of sci-fi that only lasted one season. Woe. The latter was a great fun paranormal series, that replaced The X-Files in my affections - Mulder and Scully having gone all conspiracy theory in a big way by then. Sadly, P:TL had a massive shake up for season two, and it was painfully obvious that they were now spending less money per season than they once had per episode (literally). And all the good writers ran away. And the grown up, clever elements were abandoned. Still, it was good for a bit.

The first Harry Potter book came out this year. I bought it for my niece's eleventh birthday. Or possibly her twelfth birthday. However old she was this year, that's the birthday I bought it for. Tomorrow Never Dies came out as well. My favourite Bond movie! I love everything about that one. Jonathan Pryce, Michelle Yeoh, the song, the fights, the general willingness of everything to go "boom!" with alacrity. Happy happy happy. And Titanic came out too, but I still haven't seen that.

And some other stuff, probably. And rest assured, that Elton John song is not lurking beneath the cut. I wouldn't do that to myself, let alone you!

... )

PS: An early Christmas present from the bods on the Queen YouTube page! Nice. :) Even if it has all been cropped from 4:3 to 16:9...
swordznsorcery: (ratpack)
( Dec. 12th, 2015 17:58)
A weird sort of coincidence comes with today's post. Today in real time (12th December 2015) is Frank Sinatra's 100th birthday. Happy birthday, Frankie! But today in 40 Years Of Nonsense time is 1995, which is the year that Dean Martin left the stage. On Christmas Day, no less - well, he always did hate parties! Naturally this requires marking in suitable fashion, but I shall leave that until later.

Otherwise, 1995 was basically fun. This was the year that I moved into cyberspace more or less full time. The Net was very much still growing, but there was already a lot going on, certainly in the world of fandom. Lovely early (very simple, largely text based) sites on cult movies and TV shows, many of the kind that the "real" (sadly non-geek-based) world had largely forgotten. Blake's 7 fandom! Actual, real fans, with little pictures lovingly kept from old editions of Radio Times. Fans of Jon-Erik Hexum. As much dinosaur information as I could want, kept up to date, and not written for six year olds, the way that so many of the available books are. And, in modern (for 1995!) Tellyland, lots of people to obsessively discuss Babylon 5 with, on the newly started Channel 4 internet forum. That place was my first internet home, and I loved it. It closed down in 2006, and I've never quite found another place to match it.

It was also the year of Made In Heaven of course: the final Queen studio album to feature Freddie. It made use of the last few songs that he had recorded, as well as some earlier ones that were 'Queenified' - some solo stuff, a song he'd recorded with Roger in the 80s, etc. I was a bit dubious as to how it would all turn out, but in the event it was excellent, and one of the songs on the album wound up being one of my all time favourite Queen tracks. That was a single in 1996 though, so will have to wait until tomorrow!

Lots else in the music world this year. Best of all, the E Street Band got back together! Oasis followed up last year's debut with a mega smash hit second album. The Human League came back after a hiatus of some years. Edwyn Collins was another vintage star with a major league hit this year, so maybe there was something in the water. Pulp had their biggest hit yet with the Different Class album, that really made their name. Supergrass were everywhere, if briefly. Ash made a huge debut with 1977, and Coolio was #1 forever with Gangsta's Paradise, the theme from the Michelle Pfeiffer film Dangerous Minds.

And James Bond came back! With the head I'd been wanting him to have for years. No disrespect meant to Timothy Dalton, who was great, but for me, James Bond is Pierce Brosnan. And GoldenEye was amazing. Fab theme song sung by Tina Turner as well, with some of the most brilliantly appropriate lyrics ever. "You'll never know how I've watched you from the shadows as a child/You'll never know how it feels to get so close and be denied." Still, as it turned out it was for the best that Brosnan did "get so close and be denied" back in 1987.

On the small screen meanwhile, the BBC premiered Due South, and that version of Pride & Prejudice. Darcy-fever, everywhere. A bad year for comedy though. We lost Peter Cook and Paul Eddington this year. Kenny Everett as well, more's the pity. And it was the year when Christopher Reeve had his fall whilst horse-riding. The news came in on the day of my final exam, iirc. A sad start to the summer.

... )
swordznsorcery: (e street)
( Dec. 11th, 2015 19:26)
1994 was a big year for me. I went to university, and also got online for the first time. Access was a bit limited to begin with; they were still installing the equipment to properly get the place Netted up. But it was there. Instant communication with the entire world! Okay, okay - a little bit of it, mostly in other colleges. The internet was a lot smaller in those days! But communication, without that troublesome face-to-face nonsense. It was quite the revelation.

Lots happened before I got there though. My local area got turned on its head at the start of that year, when the Fred West saga was uncovered (literally). He'd been murdering young women for years, and burying them in his back garden. One of a number of jobs that I had that year was delivering newspapers, and I had strings of little old ladies sitting by their front doors every day, desperate for the latest bit of news! One of the victims, who had disappeared in 1973, was local, and they all remembered the search that went on for her at the time, in fields round about. That turned into quite the major story - and Gloucestershire was collectively most put out when Harold Shipman turned up a few years later, and Yorkshire stole the "home of the country's most prolific serial killer" title. Granted, it's generally held that West killed more people than was proven, but he's highly unlikely to have hit Shipman's total. Although, do we win on points for having a violent one, when Shipman did it all with a quiet voice and a syringe? A vital point of order, I think...

Happier news in South Africa! Nelson Mandela was elected President in this year, which was good to see. A long, long time coming. Good for two reasons. One, he was the best man for the job - and two, his amazing shirts instantly brightened up any gathering of international leaders. I loved those shirts.

Elsewhere though, it was one of those years. Pretty much anybody I'd ever watched on telly seemed to die in '94. George Peppard! Farewell, Hannibal Smith. Telly Savalas (so long Kojak). And whilst I'm on the subject of policemen - how'd I forget to mention Raymond Burr yesterday?! Cameron Mitchell, who had had a long film career, but who I remember best as good old Buck Cannon in The High Chaparral. And of course Roy Castle lost his cancer battle this year. Nick Cravat and Burt Lancaster both went in '94 as well - together until the end. And Kurt Cobain of course.

John Smith, the admittedly dull leader of the Labour Party, also died this year, very suddenly. I don't know if he would have stood much chance making Prime Minister come the next election (he really didn't seem to have a personality at all), but his death saddled us with Tony Blair. Heaven only knows what might have happened had he lived. Iraq? Afghanistan? It's hard to believe that he'd have gone down that route. But, inevitably, there's no way of knowing that now.

Good year for music. Britpop was well underway. Blur's third album and Oasis's first one both went stratospheric. Pulp's ninety-ninth (or whatever it was) finally made them stars. M People were gigantic for five minutes, and the Manics came out with the critically acclaimed The Holy Bible. Don't know that it was a big commercial success at that point, but it made their name as a band to watch out for.

Lots of big stuff from America as well. REM released Monster, with songs What's The Frequency, Kenneth? and Bang & Blame; Jeff Buckley released Grace, which featured the ubiquitous Hallelujah. Was there a TV show in the 90s that didn't feature that somewhere?! Arguably the big song of the year was Springsteen's Streets Of Philadelphia, from the previous year's film Philadelphia. It won just about everything going in '94 and '95 - and (far more importantly!) when he played it live at the Grammys, he did so with Max and Roy. The E Street Band was on its way back!

... )
swordznsorcery: (johnblack)
( Dec. 10th, 2015 19:45)
1993! I didn't like 1993. I seem to be saying that sort of thing a lot, I know, but we have at least turned a corner now. I left school in 1993. That was a good bit of the year! No more green socks. No more hideous tie. No more enforced company of homicidal teenagers. I screwed up my A-levels, mind, which wasn't such a good bit of the year; but that will happen, apparently, if you haven't slept since 1989. I can't say as I particularly recommend that as a life choice, incidentally. The (very) late night telly had its upside, but there's a good chance it only seemed good because I was effectively a zombie. So I can't really recommend that either.

1993 was a weird year. A girl I'd sat next to at school for years found out she had cancer that March. She was a few weeks younger than me, so neither of us was eighteen yet. You're still supposed to feel immortal at that age! She got through it, fortunately, but I was still sending her ridiculous cards when I went to university a year later, so it must have been a long slog. Wakes you up, that sort of thing.

Elsewhere, Czechoslovakia ceased to be, which saddened me greatly. I was given an atlas when I was five, and fell in love with that word! I had to learn how to spell it immediately. Kenneth Connor died, which was a shame. I always did like him. Bill Bixby died as well, and so did River Phoenix and Audrey Hepburn. And so did Blockbusters come to that! No more "Can I have a 'P' please, Bob?" (Although I never did hear anybody actually ask that one).

Film-wise, I remember going to see Splitting Heirs with my sister and her fiancé. It starred Eric Idle and John Cleese, which was why I was interested (anything Python-flavoured, still!). I recall almost nothing about it though, barring a gag involving a 2CV. If my quick search around the Net is anything to go by, that's about all that anybody remembers. The former Brat Pack did The Three Musketeers, although rather badly. Seriously, who cast Kiefer Sutherland as Athos?! He clearly should have been Aramis. And Charlie Sheen should have been Athos instead. Still, Paul McGann was good, if only briefly. Oh, and Jack Lemmon and Walter Matthau teamed up again for Grumpy Old Men, although I didn't see it for several years. Highly recommended, anyway.

Do I have to mention Dimensions In Time?! Still, it did have a fab cast. Pertwee, Davison, McCoy and both Bakers, plus more companions than you could shake a stick at. Just a shame about the script...

... )
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