Sunday, December 31, 2006

Robert Crumb

I got this really pleasant Robert Crumb cigarette lighter so I thought I'd revisit this mad artist, that seems almost synonimous with the 60s through his album art and alternative viewpoints. He first became known to me through these Blues Trading Cards where the individual style of Crumb's pen comes over even when copying old photos.
The documentary on Crumb is a strange experience - a better depiction of this man who enjoyed getting Piggy Back rides is in the movie American Splendour.

Battle of Quebec 1775

An attempt during the American Revolution to conquer Canada is repulsed by British and Canadians this day 1775 - another battle fought in snow. I am sure Canadians are glad their ancestors stuck by the British Crown. Can't really find any suitable pics to go with this but I found a great site for the Fifth Foot - Redcoats of the American Revolution - check out their site and watch their videos. This photo looks like Lexington but it's a lovely image so why not?

Saturday, December 30, 2006

Eddie Taylor 'Bad Boy'

Some more Blues for you. Eddie Taylor is most famous for his rhythm guitar work with the great Jimmy Reed but he had a few solo hits on Vee Jay in his own right. If you have a hankering for some fine guitar in the Chicago style then give this clip an airing. Features Luther Tucker on 2nd guitar - another great session player from the 50s and 60s.

Friday, December 29, 2006

Bill Brandt

There was an interesting picture of a miner's wife washing his back in the Sunday Times' best photographs of the last century so this got me looking for more images and found this one of a Northumbrian Miner having his meal in 1937. Brilliant. If you are interested in history and photography why not look at East Durham Miner just home from the pit. Never heard of him before but I am impressed. Read more about him here.

Russian cartoon

Interesting animation from Russia.

Call of Duty 3

Christmas has become a time for pwning Nazis in our house with the release of Call of Duty 3 this December and 2 last year...does anyone else have this phenomenon? Probably - anyway I've yet to venture online to kill real people yet...so far it is an enjoyable FPS - with some improvements including smoke grenades. Apologies to our neighbours for spoiling the festive season by having an audible background of small arms fire going on again but look on the bright side - in some places in the world it's real.

Wounded Knee Massacre

Today is the day in 1890 that the famous massacre of Sioux took place by the 7th cavalry while the natives were disarming. Most casualties were women and children. Depicted recently in the Into the West series.

Marvel Legends

These are highly articulated action figures of about 8 inches - I got a really nice Captain America vs Red Skull pair to add to my toys that lie around the house. I have got quite a collection of these including a Silver Surfer - but not as many as this guy - check out his collection and marvel at the diversity of the subject matter. All of us family members spend a lot of money on toys - mostly action figures - I can't tell you how many are at the moment covering all the flat surfaces of the front room. I suppose we appreciate them in a way that old people covet ornaments - anyway if you fancy having some action figures to prop up in odd corners of the house start you can do pretty well with starting at this Marvel Legend site

Thursday, December 28, 2006

CSS 'Alala' video

Saw these CSS or 'Cansei de Ser Sexy' on E4's tips for 2007 and thought they were pretty good - mentioned them to daughter Bea and she said she'd been into them for ages and offered to make me a cd. Sue and I really enjoyed their sound - apparently they are from Brazil - the sound is new but also a compendium of 80s noises - give yourself a treat and give them a listen. Noticed they are playing the Bristol Academy on February 14 - shall we make it a date?

Wednesday, December 27, 2006

Barbarella

My kids got me this film by Roger Vadim for a gift on dvd...in case you don't know it it's based on a French comic strip and is a very kitsch 60s sci fi affair with lots of cameos and camp costumes. It's either your cup of tea or not - I said after the first couple of seconds 'it's already better than 2001'. Possibly the only sci-fi film I like. Yep, can't say I like any others. Dino De Laurentiis also produced 'Flash' which has some similarities in style. Lot's of groovy music in their too - one song remains stuck in your head
Barbarella psychedella,
There's a kind of cockleshell about you.

Sad to see that it is being redone with Drew Barrymore. Yuk. Try watching it with the sound down - another great sound down movie of the 60s is 'Girl on a Motorcycle' but I suppose that's another post. If you are interested in tracking down the original comics then try this BD page - BD is Bande dessinee I think. Imdb credits. Noteworthy is that the costumes were designed by Paco Rabanne

Tuesday, December 26, 2006

Battle of Trenton

This picturesque battle in the American Revolution saw the Hessians surprised in the aftermath of Christmas or so the myth goes. Of course this was fought in snow - that thing that we used to have in the old days before we killed winter.

James Brown

Sad to see the news of the death of James Brown. I hope they use this as an excuse to show loads of old clips of the man in action on tv.

Sunday, December 24, 2006

Anniversary bash

This party that we had last night - went really well - thanks to all who came and brought cards and stuff. Particular thanks to Geoff - and thanks to the Bad Detectives for the loan of the PA.

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Action Man

I remember well the Christmas of 1966 - when I got an Action Man - how exciting was that for a six-year old?
I think it was a bit of a shot in the dark for British parents with such an American toy - and a doll to boot - would we all want to go and fight in Vietnam or became homosexuals? American toys disturbed our generation of parents and ones that were overtly militaristic didn't help. I for my part was confused. I spent long hours looking at the catalogue wondering who he was supposed to fight as they only did US stuff initially - maybe they were supposed to fight the cheaper copies that were coming out? When I collected the stars and got a free one was this naked clone an ally or enemy?
Anyway if this image brings back any nostalgia check out the site and chart how old you were when you lost interest. I lasted about one more Christmas and then I think it was all Captain Scarlet. Fickle kids.

Dixie Cups Chapel of Love

Did anyone else watch the BBC 4 programmes on New Orleans? There was the Les Blank Cajun and Zydeco doc and a programme about Alan Toussaint - all I can say is thank you BBC4 - the Spike Lee documentary When the Levees Broke was moving too - I hope they repeat them - worth watching if a little sad - but at least the music documentaries cheered us up. So good to see Lee Dorsey doing Ride Your Pony and miming to Working In The Coal Mine - I've been looking for that clip for ages - for the simple reason that I want to learn the dance. So when I am on my own and I play Lee Dorsey I can do the dance as well as sing along to it. Possibly the greatest 45 ever Working in A Coal Mine will be played at our party on Saturday - you might even see me doing the dance (basically involving doing imaginary digging) - what else could you play at a party in a coal mining town like Radstock? Anyway - watch the Dixie Cups doing Chapel of Love with the great Alan Toussaint on piano. Or listen to Lee Dorsey but whatever let's think about the people of New Orleans and what they have given the world and hope they get the flood prevention they deserve and get their lives back. We need them.

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Dracula and Frankenstein Vs Sherlock Holmes

This idea started when my son remarked that I would make a good Frankenstein's monster - I of course took it as a compliment and remarked 'I'm available, and Frankenstein's out of copyright'.... this started a line of thought that has got a plot line developing with Moriarty travelling to Transylvania to enlist Dracula to help him revive Frankenstein's monster - why I am not sure at this stage but maybe so he could exume mass graves on the battlefields of Europe with an aim to reanimate the dead and finish up ruling the world. The only person that can stop him would be Sherlock Holmes himself, possibly teamed up with someone American - how about the whole Buffalo Bill Wild West show fighting a desperate battle against Frankenstein's monster army at Stonehenge? I've seen worse films.

French 18thc reenactors

This very flashy website is dedicated to a French group that recreates the regiment Bearn in the French and Indian war as well as Napoleonic period soldiery. The animation is lovely - and explains the notion of French troops in North America very well. There's also some little movies of their events - worth having a look.

Some American steam

This railroad - as they call em in the US - was worked on by family of one of this blog's readers - this is the great thing about the web - it connects people across the barriers of geography so you can have people who have things in common - anyway American railroads have inspired much music with their romanticism - maybe this clip might inspire you to compose a train blues...

Monday, December 18, 2006

Monmouth Rebel

So here's a picture of me as a Monmouth Rebel - namely Nathaniel Wade who led the Red Regiment and wrote an account of the battle. I was playing him for a TV programme when I was exactly the right age for the 85 Rebellion - 40 years old. Wade was friends with the Bristol Quakers who colonised Pennsylvania. He also became Town Clerk in later life.
The site is the Cobb at Lyme Regis - the Dorset seaside place where Monmouth landed. Also the setting for the movie The French Lieutenant's Woman.

Waterloo Road opening credits

There's nowhere near enough opening credit sequences of old movies on Youtube. They are great - I wish I had time to collect them - with the music, the scene setting shots of old transport (trains feature in this sequence) they are like pop videos, or mini documentaries. Anyway there's a story to do with this movie - my Grandfather - who was a Great War hero and father of ten always resisted his children's insistence that he went to the cinema by saying 'I'll go when they make a film about Waterloo Road' - this being the nearby street - finally to their glee out came this movie about a street in London so they insisted the bugger went to see it - finally getting him to be a cinemagoer. 'Did he enjoy it?' I asked my Dad - 'I think he fell asleep'.

Sunday, December 17, 2006

Fred McDowell

I always associate this time of year with blues music - I think it's because I used to always ask for blues albums for Christmas even pinpointing its position in the racks to my poor folks and then spend the entire post festive period playing the things to death. Fred McDowell I can never tire of - I think it's because his style is simple enough to be almost within reach of a rudimentary guitar player like me that I can be 'with him' on the frets...I think he plays in dropped D which is DADF#AD - dropping the notes to get a low-down chiming ringing sound. BUt I may be wrong - anyway enjoy this interesting clip of a delta blues player - it might help get you through Christmas.

Saturday, December 16, 2006

American Revolution battle scene

The Patriot was a pretty lousy film but it did have its good points - one of which was this battle scene which for my money is one of the best recreations of combat in the Age of Reason Hollywood has done so far. A lot of digital manipulation is used of course but I think the essence of linear warfare is captured very well in this sequence. Watch it and see if you agree. Finishes up with a fellow being decapitated by a round shot. This was pretty common and experienced soldiers could step aside if discipline permitted it. In some outfits ducking was considered bad form - in the French Horse Grenadiers one officer called out 'Heads up, they're bullets not turds'. Anyway solid shot hasn't been depicted much in movies as it's not as spectacular or as easy to do as explosions - but it was by far the most common ammunition bowling over men and horses like skittles.

Yo la Tengo extend tour

Includes dates in the US Japan and Australia.

Frome in the news again







This time about a ban of santa hats in the Wheatsheaf pub. Nice to see Freda, 84 years old and landlady of the Lamb and Fountain (see pic) since 1968 getting some publicity. This is one of the truly great little pubs... anywhere. More excellent photos of Frome's historic buildings here at the Civic Society.

Riotous Frome
Frome in Somerset is an old wool manufacturing town with many artisan's dwellings dating from the early 18th century - worth a day out if you fancy exploring a town over the Christmas break. The rebellious clothworkers of Frome declared for the Duke of Monmouth in 1685, after Sedgemoor most of the rebels were hung or transported. The town itself was punished by it being occupied by Royal troops - a British equivalent to the Dragonnades. Many of the buildings of this era still stand and the house where Monmouth stayed is now a coffee shop. Frome reccovered enough for Defoe to describe it in the 1720s "so prodigiously increased within these last 20-30 years, that they have built a new church, and so many new streets of houses, and those houses are so full of inhabitants, that Frome is now reckoned to have more people in it than the city of Bath, and some say, than even Salisbury itself, and if their trade continues to increase for a few years more ... it is likely to be one of the greatest and wealthiest towns in England". He estimated a population of 10,000 - a phenomenal number for the time.
Frome is also famous for its riots - the last one was a race riot which took place during World War Two when the Black GIs refused to stay in the area locally known as Chinatown, and entered the town centre fighting with the white soldiers there. Riots and rebellions behind it Frome now has a reputation for being an arts town with quite a lively music scene. As I was on the theme of pubs in Frome I thought I'd throw in a picture of the Pack Horse above which we used to practice back in the early 80s. I can still remember playing the Space invader in the lounge bar while Dave wrestled upstairs with a bass riff. When he got it right we would go back up and join him. The result is here

Friday, December 15, 2006

Taking your children reenacting

'Give them an adventure they'll never forget' is usually the tag line to some DVD or video game but what about trying something more real...
Yesterday we had one of those conversations about whether our children enjoyed going off and doing reenactment and I think all of them would say on the whole it was a useful experience, especially when young. Camping and having open fires to cook on, meeting all sorts of eccentric individuals all make for a pretty happy diversion especially if there are others of their age group around to share it with. I found the English Civil War Society pretty child-friendly, but most societies are - but find out if they allow camp fires. This is the heart of period camping and without it it's not much fun. Probably the thing my son enjoyed most was chopping wood, keeping the fire going and this is after all essential growing-up stuff for kids of both genders. It can be rough and ready but you do finish up appreciating the modern comforts when you get back. In short, it is a useful thing to get some good basic hard campaigning - facing powder and shot - alright not that but facing the British weather into them in their formative years. You don't need a Dangerous Book for Boys or anything wussy like that - if you want to bring your kids up tough enough to enjoy themselves when it's raining or be able to cook on an open fire - or unselfconscious in funny outfits - take 'em reenacting - but don't leave it too late or they will sulk.

Deja Vu

A film directed by Tony Scott and set in New Orleans this is an above average addition to the time travelling detective genre. I am sure you can think of others, but this one involves Denzel Washington being a sort of retrotective preventing a terrorist outrage. Pretty good fun, and an intelligent film but one that had me running the Beyonce track of the same name around in my head while watching it but I suppose that's my problem and nothing to do with the film.

Chinese river dolphin declared extinct

Thursday, December 14, 2006

Napster



I was perusing the Christmas edition of the Radio Times looking to see what films were on and as usual feeling let down - but this is another thing from the b.v. days - before video - when the only place you could see a film was on tv or the cinema.

'Anything good on' asked Susan. 'Ring of Bright Water' said I 'We've seen that fairly recently haven't we?'

'Yes but Napoleon hasn't'.

50,000 pounds to improve Sedgemoor trail

Article about the improvements coming to Sedgemoor, the last battle on English soil. Opened by Lady Gass and Lady Sandwich (!)
Already a nice brochure has been produced with artwork by Chris Hull. The good thing about it is there's not a pitchfork in sight. Thankfully....

Tales from the Green Valley DVD

This was an excellent tv series where 17thc experts Ruth Goodman and Stuart Peachey recreated 17th century farming techniques in a settlement in South Wales. There's a lot reenactors of all periods could learn from this series and it would be useful for projects like this to start all over the world. With the Jamestown tercentenary coming next year in the US it would be nice if some of the 17thc specialists from this country were to be invited to it...anyway buy the DVD and learn more from the above website.
I cringed a bit when I read my review - in my defence that was written when nobody read my blog and I was being a smart arse. How times change he said sarcastically.

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Ill Mitch

As he's named Mitchard Muppetowski I have to mention this Russian-American rapper who has been an internet phenomenon for some time. Ill Mitch Myspace

Billy Boy Arnold 'She fooled me'

'Now once upon a time - down on 47th street in Chicago - I met a fine chick'
This is Chicago blues at its very best - a clip from the British-made Devil's Music tv series from 1976 has Billy Boy, who learned harp from John Lee 'Sonny Boy' Williamson and played on Maxwell street with Bo Diddley, in fine rockin' form. This clip has him backed up by the Aces - the Myers and Fred Below - some of the best backing musicians of the genre. This stop-time song is a reworking of his 50s single for Vee Jay and is a great tale of being outclassed by a clever woman. 'I thought she was just a dumb little girl and I could give her almost any old line'.
In the days before video I remember watching this programme with a cassette player pressed up against the tv - daring anyone to speak and spoil it. Well I was 16.
Interview here where he talks about his early career, playing with Bo and I Wish You Would. Bio and recent history here

Flags of our Fathers

This is a new film directed by Clint Eastwood telling the tale of the iconic photo of the raising of the American flag at Iwo Jima during WW2. It is apparently an anti-war film, and interestingly there is a follow-up movie in post-production from the Japanese perspective.

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Bela Lugosi's dead Bauhaus

My son said he liked this - 'I didn't skip the intro' - I should hope not - it's all intro really isn't it? I didn't mind Bauhaus though the longer they carried on the more they came over as Bowie fans. My favourite 45 was probably Dark Entries. This clip is from the Tony Scott movie The Hunger which is a classic 80s vampire flick starring Bowie and Catherine Deneuve. Can you imagine Bauhaus singer Pete Murphy's reaction when his manager told him he would be in a Bowie vampire flick performing his great hit. I imagine him doing a little pixie dance or something equally un-gothy. Bauhaus official site

Massacre at Ma'arrat al-Numan


This incident in the First Crusade happened this day in 1098 in modern day Syria and resulted in the killing of 20,000 - some of which were eaten as the Crusaders were starving - or was it another reason? "In Ma'arra our troops boiled pagan adults alive in cooking-pots; they impaled children on spits and devoured them grilled."
If you want figures for the First Crusade then look no further than the Perry Miniatures range (see photo) - they are not only very well researched but they are full of character. Have a look at the pictures and see if you can resist the desire to build an army.

Monday, December 11, 2006

Fete de l'escalade


Celebrating a victory in 1602, this festival in Geneva looks interesting, based around an attack by Savoyards during the night that was repelled. Info here

Sunday, December 10, 2006

Great War tank

This is something that I am excited about - a tank for the large plastic soldier scale from Steve Weston. Available soon. Ideal for garden warfare. Very useful to go with Armies in Plastic and Emhar WW1 stuff. How about a Renault FT-17 next in 1/32? I can't understand why noone is producing Poilu's in capots for this period either. If anyone hears of any French WW1 items in this scale let me know. Someone does a 75mm field gun kit but I am not sure of the scale.

Pan's Labyrinth


Set in Spain in the aftermath of the Spanish Civil War this film by Hellboy director Del Toro comes well recommended by my kids... I might get round to watching it myself sometime.

Replica WW1 tank for sale


Saw this ad... This is something you don't see for sale much - it was built for film 'The League Of Extraordinary Gentlemen'. 'Runs and drives well, centurion mechanics, £25,000'.

Saracen APC

An occasional series of links to do with post-war vehicles - this one is based on the same chassis as the Saladin armoured car - designed in 52 and served til the 90s. I think I like these vehicles as when I was a kid I would get pretty excited when these drove by which was quite common living near to Salisbury Plain. Actually the army did shoot a training film in Frome with the Naish's street area before redevelopment posing as Northern Ireland and local youths were employed to throw rubber bricks. I'd like to see that film if it exists anywhere.
Anyway I would definitely buy one of these if I could afford one if only to piss off all the 4 by 4 drivers and urban land rover drivers. I imagine though it would be a bugger to reverse.

Saturday, December 09, 2006

Steamboy Trailer

My last posting on the steam theme - and with this goes a request. Please watch this trailer. I know you think you don't like Japanese animation but you are missing out on some visual feasts - and this is one of the best. It's a fantasy around the age of steam and includes steam-powered robots, crystal palace, Robert Stephenson and Queen Victoria. It makes steam cool. They should show it in schools. You should buy a dubbed version for your nephew for Christmas. Steampunk

Steampunk fansite

Trip to Midsomer Norton station




Today we paid a visit to Midsomer Norton's restoration of its Somerset and Dorset past in the form of its S&D station and an ever-increasing amount of railway stock. Not much of a Railway buff so I don't know the terminology but it looked impressive - every time you go past it there's been some improvement - apparently they should be up and running by 2008 so well done to them. They have a bookshop and a dining car where you can eat out in style. They also have a WW2 pillbox on site - I would have thought an ideal venue for small WW2 living history events. The whole site could be nicely backdated. My mum's father was an engine driver on this line so it was a treat to see the green and cream colours bright and new. Reminded me of Buggleskelly - the station in Will Hay's 'Oh Mr Porter' - now that is a Railway film...wasn't Arthur Askey's The Ghost Train filmed at Midsomer Norton? No apparently Devon. Certainly its writer Arnold Ridley was from Bath.
Anyway if you are into trains and you're in the area pop along and see how they are getting along. S&D BLog

Friday, December 08, 2006

Brotherhood (taegukgi) trailer

My son who doesn't really like war films recommended this one - it's a Korean war film set in 1950 about a family divided. It has the sort of action scenes that saw it being compared to Saving Private Ryan. Watch the trailer to see what it's like.

New Fortean Times out

That excellent magazine of strange phenomena is out - the cover piece has the amusing title 'How the Nazis stole Christmas'.

Thursday, December 07, 2006

Trevithick

I couldn't proceed with the steam theme without mentioning the great Trevithick - the neglected cornish engineer. Won't bore you with the details if you aren't interested but instead check out these images and savour the engineering geniuses of those early days - it was these people not the Wellington's and the Marlborough's that made this country so dominant in that era - in my opinion. Celebrate the man at Camborne's Trevithick Day

Execution of Michel Ney

“Soldiers, when I give the command to fire, fire straight at my heart. Wait for the order. It will be my last to you. I protest against my condemnation. I have fought a hundred battles for France, and not one against her... Soldiers Fire!”
Today is the anniversary of the execution of Ney - one of Napoleon's greatest soldiers. From a humble background as a son of Jacobite rebel this was a man who did not desert the troops on the way back from Moscow. OK - he was probably nuts by the time of Waterloo but who wouldn't be with that service record.

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Black Robe (1991) trailer

Don't you love trailers? I do - they're sort of movies in a nutshell - the best bits in an exciting way. Watch this trailer for this film set in 17thc Canada. It tells the tale of a Jesuit priest out to convert the Hurons - great music and performances. Wrongly tagged at the time as a Canadian Dances With Wolves - think of it as a prequel to Into the West if you like! If you enjoyed New World then you'll enjoy this, I should think. IMDB

Subway Sect Ambition/Staying Out of View clip


'Do you wanna learn - or am I being wasteful now'. I don't know how many times I've checked to see if any Subway Sect has been uploaded and now it's there - watch it now in case it disappears.Wiki here Discography
This lot of glum Londoners were to me one of the best punk bands ever - although they didn't really have an album out during their early classic phase they made one of the best 45s of the era - namely Nobody's Scared/Don't Splitit. Listen to it and the flip here. Their style was deadpan, flat vocals over trebly guitar and thunderous drums, a format that was discarded too early, as Vic Godard pursued a more rockier approach. I will never forget the disappointment seeing them supporting the Buzzcocks on the Love Bites tour when they had jumped on a power pop bandwagon. I still shudder at the thought of it. Never mind there are some early tracks knocking around - anyone know of a definitive compilation of that early stuff

The Bristol Connection? I think the Sect were a big influence on the Bristol scene - something just clicked I reckon - there were dozens of Subway Sect sound and lookalike bands and probably had it not been for the fact that we had Susan as a singer we would have been another. I think the Pop Group were influenced by them - of course this might not be the case but that's just a thought - their appearance on the White Riot tour and playing Barton Hill gave them a load of fans in this neck of the woods. Of course Johnny Britten - mentioned in an earlier posting joined them and apparently and this is something I didn't know - was in Joboxers. I remember him being a bit of a 'face' on the Clifton scene and also recall him joining the Media. I was in a documentary about Bristol's punk scene - I was interviewed in the Dug Out Club when I was at printing college there. ANyway enough nostalgia - buy the Punk in London DVD to see 'em do Ambition the way it should have been done as a single and Staying Out of View. Other not so good bands are featured like the Lurkers, Killjoys, JaM, Adverts and the Clash in a German documentary from 77 - also one from X-Ray Spex. Worth buying honestly. Pics and story
Interview with Vic Godard who is now a postman. His Myspace

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

300 trailer

Official site This looks good... very good... the only thing is we're going to have to wait until 2007 to see it.
300 is a movie by Zack Snyder based on Frank Miller's graphic novel. The story is of course the battle of Thermopylae - once visited in the sword and sandal era as The 300 Spartans. This time it's shot entirely in front of a blue screen and the effect is - to look at the trailer - stunning. Already toys are going on sale.
Watch the trailer here
Wiki here
Imdb here

Info and posters here

Apocalypto


I don't know - this actually looks pretty interesting from the trailer - a film by Mel Gibson is not usually something I would admit to having an interest in but a film in a Mayan language about the destruction of this civilization looks worth investigating. Terrible title though - apparently there is a subtext to the film about Iraq and about our our own western civilization in decline - nice of him to point it out - Wiki on the film

Monday, December 04, 2006

Civil War game review

Germinal trailer


This is a great movie from 1993 starring Gerard Depardieu and is set during a miners strike. Based on the book by Emile Zola this epic from Claude Berri didn't really get the praise it should have in this country but now you can watch the trailer and decide whether you want to get the DVD.
Much of Berri's film was shot on location in the Lens and Valenciennes regions of northern France, and the extensive unemployment and poverty the cast and crew still witnessed there led to the formation of a society, "Germinal l'association", headed by Depardieu, to alleviate the suffering caused by crippling unemployment in the d├ępartements comprising the region of Nord-Pas-de-Calais.

Wolverine clips

Last night I missed some footage of a Wolverine on the telly - so to console myself I looked at some of these clips that show things like them playing, running and eating. If anyone reading this has one that they don't want anymore get in touch. I want a Wolverine and I want one now!

Titfield Thunderbolt


Well I have been following a locomotive theme for a bit so I can't proceed without mentioning this Ealing comedy shot 'round here, back in 1952. Susan's uncle, Jim was in one shot where cricketers are featured. The plot involves locals running a railway themselves using a museum piece loco - the 'Lion' an actual antique which was damaged during filming. If you've never seen this film then put it on your list of films to see - it's a lovely comedy - not exactly funny - but one of the British greats.

Battle of Lund 1676


Battle of the Scanian War fought this day between Sweden and Denmark. I like this period...it's bloody obscure and maybe that's why I like it. The painting of the battle here sort of captures why I like the 1670s though looking at it I can't really put my finger on it. Be really nice to wargame this period though I am not sure of any decent figures that are available for it. A 1670s range could also cover Louis XIV's wars of the period, the Battle of Fehrbellin, and maybe even back to the Carignan Salieres regiment and the Restoration. Danish uniforms and more information on the Scanian wars here

Night at the Museum

This is my holiday movie tip for the season - a cgi heavy comedy with Ben Stiller and a host of other actors - basically the plot involves all the exhibits in a museum coming to life - watch the trailer to see what happens - Steve Coogan plays a tiny Roman officer. Looks great and you never know it might popularise museums... also features Robin Williams as Teddy Roosevelt and our own Ricky Gervais.

Sunday, December 03, 2006

First Eagles

Well here's a benefit of allowing anonymous comments - someone recommended this - a game of aerial combat in the Great War - just the thing if you have developed a taste for shooting bombers and things from watching the movie 'Flyboys'. Funnily enough I thought some of the dialogue in Flyboys was a bit like the cut-scenes from a pc game - 'today's mission will involve you hunting a Zeppellin - you'll need to use explosive ammunition and hit it hundreds of times'. That sort of thing. This looks ace though.

Saturday, December 02, 2006

Frome to Radstock Railway

As non car drivers we have to be into this idea - completing the Frome to Radstock rail link - it only needs 5 miles of track to hook it up. Let's hope it gets going before its too late.

Austerlitz

As today is December 2nd then it must be the day to celebrate Napoleon's great victory at Austerlitz in the battle of the 3 Emperors. Here's a photo by Keith Redfern of last year's bicentennial battle. There's a video here too, quite short and of the same scene.

Any comments?

I thought to celebrate the (sort of) success of this blog I would try and set up to allow anonymous comments.... so here we go - say what you like - I will try and leave it there unless it really upsets me.

David Fisher - Somerset artist

Today was the Christmas fayre for the local museum so we popped down for a look and this print was on sale from Somerset artist David Fisher. Called 'Let Battle Commence' it depicts Radstock in 1960 - the year I was born incidentally - and full size it is really eye-catching. Read about the picture and see a large version on his site. There are a number of local transport themed pictures on his site and if you have an interest in this area or the Somerset and Dorset Railway then I highly recommend you invest some time in checking the other pieces in his portfolio.
The museum is housed in the Market building depicted in the painting, and a fine museum it is, with lots of enthusiasm for the region's past.

Friday, December 01, 2006

1816 - the Year without a summer

Of course incidents like the Somerset coalminers' strike of 1817 (see Bread or Blood below) was all part of a global catastrophe that started back in april 1815 with the eruption of Mount Tambora in Indonesia. This caused a summer that was wet and without sun the next year and was responsible for Mary Shelley writing Frankenstein, but mainly failures of crops throughout Europe, potatoes rotting in the ground, this all eventually trickling down to the coalfields of Somerset. Strange really how something like that can effect everything. Of course the massive amounts of discharged servicemen after the Napoleonic wars had ended was another factor. I don't know maybe this might an interesting tv programme or something. Oh it was in 2005. Maybe we should look at this as a cautionary tale about the environment.

French tanks of World War Two video

Been a while since I posted something about French tanks of the Second World War. Check out this collection of archive and modern clips of these elegant beasts, including the Char B.

Bread or Blood

This image of a miner in Yorkshire from 1814 is an intro to a piece about the Somerset coalfield strike of 1817 - this was a time of agricultural failure and high unemployment and faced with a reduction of wages the miners of Radstock, Camerton, Paulton etc struck. Gangs of hundreds of them roamed the countryside armed with cudgels and the mines were occupied. Troops were called in to restore order including the new Lancers from Bristol. Four were arrested for riotous assembly and order was restored. The steam engine in the background is interesting. It's Blenkinsop's Salamanca, on the Leeds and Middleton Railway, 11 years before the better known Stockton to Darlington Railway opened.
Around here one William Ashman built a steam loco-motive to run on the coal tramway tracks around Radstock in the 1820s but it was too heavy. Shame. Picture from here

Thursday, November 30, 2006

Movie Doppelganger

You know the phenomenon - you wait all year for a movie about something and then two come along. This is a list of movies on the same subject that came out at roughly the same time - whether for commercial, coincidental or commemorative purposes like the Columbus movies. If you are of a certain age this could be called the Antz/Bugs Life effect. Confusing.

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Don't Misbehave in the New Age mp3

I am sure you're all getting excited about coming to our do on the 23rd, so play this to get you in the mood. If you haven't got an invite email me and you can have one. I was reading a thing in the Sunday Times (which we don't buy I hasten to add) and it is the guide to throwing a very 2006 party and one thing to do is get some trashy bands. Well we got that right. Susan and I met in 78, for the record, outside the Granary in Bristol. Kev Saunders introduced us and though we both lived in Frome didn't know each other. The Ants were supporting Wire but the gig was cancelled. So, after chatting to Bristol's then rising rock star Johnny Britten who talked about dating one of Paul Maccartney's daughters, we went for a drink over the road to the Old Duke pub. The rest, as they say, is history. Or, to quote Girls Aloud, Biology.

Cock and Bull Story


Have you ever seen yourself parodied on screen? Well according to my kids I have, in this comedy about the making of an 18thc history picture based on Tristram Shandy (a few Barry Lyndon references in there) starring Steve Coogan and Rob Bryden. The character in question is played Mark Williams of the Fast Show and is a nerdy historical reenactor-cum-expert who is present when they are shooting the battle scenes of Namur 1695. 'They're cheap' someone says, 'We would have done this for free we love this period so much' he says - my lot said I winced. There's a fantastic model of Namur citadel in his garden too. You'll have to see the movie. I think he's nothing like me, but I take on board I used to be a bit like that. The film itself is very funny. KInd of like 'Extras' but a movie version with lots of the usual backstage bitchiness you can expect for a film about the making of a film.
I recommend you rent this very witty movie or buy it if only to see the second film to lampoon 18thc reenactors - the first being Alan Alda's 'Sweet Liberty'.

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Napoleon the ferret

Did you know that if you do a Blog search for Napoleon the ferret you get some other ferret - an American one - so I think it's time to give him a bit more exposure. As you can see he's a little on the chubby side but he does get plenty of exercise - he just has a healthy appetite.
I've managed to prevent him getting the nickname Nappy but he is occasionally known as Mr Chuckles because of the happy noises he makes while he scurries about. Maybe I ought to record it and put out a cd - bet the other Napoleon hasn't had that.

Monday, November 27, 2006

The Cramps 'Primitive'


Live version of the Groupies classic from this summer's visit. You get a view from the moving audience. We do a version of this song - it's a classic from 66... 'Because I love...and I live...Primitive'. The Groupies were all extremely young and when they were signed to Atlantic -got on a wrong plane finished up on the wrong coast and got dumped by the label. The 1960s NY Garage band scene

Germany preserves bunker with history running back to World War One

Sunday, November 26, 2006

Worker's Songs from the Somerset coalfield

This is a musical posting really. I think. Issue 3 of the Radstock Museum Journal has some wonderful songs that were sung during strikes and so on during the late 19th century. They are stirring stuff and as some are written by G. Mitchard, Somerset Miner's Association official, so I am bound to be interested. Anyway I'd like to see some of these songs redone - - in a new way. There's about 7 in the article by Tom Randall - if you think it might be fun get in touch. To give you a taster of what is a typical song this is the last verse of 'Who Will Help Them'
The kind-hearted colliers of the North of Old England
Have offered to help them and set them free,
From their tyrant oppressors who have long been supreme,
And those Radstock colliers will never give in,
There's no end of danger they're in down below,
Doing their best to bring us good coal,
Yet still in this danger, they're sorely oppressed,
By those who employ them for wages so low

Strong stuff...

Somerset mining memories

If you are local or looking for a gift for a relative this might fit the bill. It's a high quality documentary by Tim Bateman on the Somerset coalfields told through archive photos but most notably by interviews with old miners. The stories are both sad and funny and much ground is covered - from the miners brought into the coalfields from the Northeast, from Italy and Poland as well as dealing with subjects like accidents, early history, comradeship and so on. A visual treat for anyone interested in the area. Available from Radstock Museum, which is having a Christmas fair on the 2nd December.

Badly Drawn Boy video

I'm not normally a BDB fan - I don't really like pianos and I like my music exhuberant but this has grown on me - it has a melancholy charm and seems very English and for that reason you might - if you are dropping by from somewhere else -learn something from this video. Not sure what though...the chorus is worth waiting the long wait for but you might be ready to give up before then but hang on...it's worth waiting for.

Saturday, November 25, 2006

Conan the Historian

This history blog is excellent - check it out for some really stimulating stories from around the world.

Thursday, November 23, 2006

Flyboys trailer

This has been getting mixed reviews - here's a favourable one. I quite enjoyed it - it was a superior Hollywood treatment all in all - I was pleasantly surprised in a way - obviously aimed at a young audience I would be happy to recommend it to someone who wasn't a World War One nut. Not that I know anyone...

The Black Mountains quartet

Of course with all these books coming out about Radstock and the Great War you might think that this would be a good area and era for a novel - well luckily there have been four - starting with the Black Mountains (a reference to the spoil heaps of coal which dominate the landscape). Local authoress Janet begins the saga of 'Hillsbridge' a mining town in Somerset and follows the family's fortunes through the generations until 1955.
Janet Tanner has also a fiction work 'Tucker's Inn' loosely based on the pub Tucker's Grave. Interestingly this must-visit cider house was also the subject of a song on the last Stranglers album. Funnily enough Hugh Cornwell was out there once when I was there. Small world.

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Bow wow wow 'Do you Wanna Hold Me'

It's been weeks since I put a Bow Wow Wow video up and what with the Marie-Antoinette film out I think it's time they had a revival. All we need is 'Sun Sea And Piracy' to be on a commercial and away we go.

Frome's Fallen Heroes of the Great War

I just received this book by David L Adams and can recommend it wholeheartedly. It tells the tale of the 450 or so men killed from this small industrial market town in North Somerset during the First World War. I found it particularly interesting as many of the surnames were familiar having grown up in Frome and the addresses also give a picture of the town as it was, and their occupations show the area and its neighbouring little different from the days of my youth. A cross section of a national tragedy. Available from local museums and an ideal, though sombre Festive gift for someone who lives in the town as it reinforces how short life can be for the brave.

Death of Blackbeard


Today is the day when Bristol's own legendary pirate met his grisly death. Now he has his own festival
and tv series, which I didn't get to see.

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Ben Affleck hits with Superman tale

Return to form for Affleck as he plays George Reeves the man who was Superman.

King Biscuit Time

Pass the Biscuits! As the tag went. This was broadcast or the first time today in 1941, and made a legend of Sonny Boy Williamson. This was an influential programme introducing a new blues sound across the south. Watch Sonny Boy playing Keep it To Yourself here

Monday, November 20, 2006

The realm of the hungry ghosts

Sue went with a neighbour to a buddhist meditation evening - when they talked of the realm of the hungry ghosts she thought of Pacman!

Marco interview

Talks about music, punk, and of course A Ant. Damaged goods
Wolfmen single out today

Battle of Narva

Epic battle fought in blizzards this day in 1700 in present day Estonia. The Russians lost. It's also the day when Plastic Soldier review posts their comments on Zvezda Swedish infantry. They reckon they're more 1706-21. I still rate them as the best plastic 18thc figures so far.
See Great Northern Wars reenactors here
Figures here

Radstock in the Great War

Went in to my local stationers-cum-printers and imagine my joy - another book published about Radstock and the surrounding villages in the Great War - called 'In the Company of Heroes' by William Blanning. It is a very thick paperback and looks full of useful information, photos, and biographies. £15 from Fosseway Press Frome Road Radstock. Doesn't look like my grandad is in this one either.

Cheers My Bab!


Last night 'Lydia' a subject of a documentary on teenage binge drinking propelled our little town of Radstock into prime time tv on Panorama. What a scream. 'Can you get me some cider? I'll give you a fag...cheers my bab!' - we all cheered when she said 'I started going down Radstock to drink' - wonderful - she looked like she was thoroughly enjoying herself and even singing a Britney Spears type song in the show as some sort of happy ending. A star is born.

Sunday, November 19, 2006

Toussaint L'Ouverture


Just in case you are wondering who this man is and why they should be making a film of him - read his life story above. A son of a slave who raised an army to beat the French helping to create a new Republic. For military information check out the Osprey Napoleon's Overseas Army by Rene Chartrand (see image).
Fight to Control the West Indies
The period of the French Revolution and Napoleonic wars in the West Indies hasn't really had the coverage it deserves - it was essentially about who controlled these sugar-rich fever islands and was part of the maritime struggle between Britain and France in the 18th century. For wargaming it maybe the best bet is to convert Hat's Spanish Guerrilas, British Marines and sailors and French Line Infantry
Campaigns in the West Indies

Mark E Smith on Adam and Joe

Adam and Joe visit the record collections of the music world. Note the Royal Armouries carrier bag.

Animals and Men get good review shock

Someone gave our band a good review on the excellent Rate Your Music site - 'a frickin' masterpiece' - what can we say...thank you Gore Girl - You've Got GOOD taste. ... and you travel by bus...consider yourself invited to our 25th anniversary party in Radstock UK 23rd December.

Saturday, November 18, 2006

Bad Detectives 'Howlin' For My Baby'

Frome's rockabilly and surf superstars playing live. Also see http://www.baddetectives.co.uk/

Makhnovist reenactors from Russia

I don't know this group but they look suitably anarchistic for a lot portraying Makhnovism

Friday, November 17, 2006

S.R.D. Jar


It's funny the things you can find right under your nose - whilst looking for a lost ferret (which we thankfully found) I happened upon one of these in my next door neighbour's garden being used as a doorstop for a potting shed - it's a World War One rum ration jar. The SRD logo has been said to mean many things - Seldom rarely delivered is one - service rum diluted is another - check out the above reenactors page for details. If it looks familiar then you might have seen one in the movie The Trench featuring the current Bond Daniel Craig where one gets broken before the lads were about to go over the top. It is a bit insulting really that scene - implies that all the people going over the top were drunk. Plot of the film

Surname profiler

This is good fun - try your surname out for 1881 and see where the main concentration was - no prizes for guessing what small NE Somerset town we were gathered at.

Thursday, November 16, 2006

The War Illustrated

This is an original way to present photos - Russian Great War reenactment photos are presented using captions and images from the contemporary magazine, The War Illustrated. Also The Kaiser's Huns in Various Moods and Places, and With Our Allies on Western and Eastern fronts. Looking forward to more.

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Charley's War




My son is always telling me that all he knows about the Great War is gathered from the comic strip Charley's War from the British mag 2000AD and others. Well it so happens that this strip is a good place to start for anyone's money as it is not only very accurate historically it also is very well drawn into the bargain. Check out the site if you don't believe me.
So if you want a good graphic book about this period get one of the compendium stories or put it on your wish list for the festive season. Many historical themes are covered including the Etaples Mutiny.

Battle of Winwaed 655



An interesting Dark Age battle has its anniversary today, fought between Northumbrians and Mercians. Website above will tell you all there is to know. The helmet known as the Sutton Hoo helmet is from roughly the same era. Buy your repro version here

Axis and Allies




If you're into tanks but are not bothered by modelling and more into game play you might want to try Avalon Hill's game Axis and Allies. Centred around collectable miniatures and figures and various scenarios it looks like it might be a worthwhile investment if you are wanting something three dimensional to get you away from the screen. I notice they have the Italian M13/40 (see below) as highly inflammable - nice...

Airfix bought by Hornby

Good news for model makers... apparently sales at Hornby dipped this year. They put the fall down to the World Cup and the hot summer, which it said was "not conducive to indoor hobby activities". That's quite refreshing in a way to know that people have enough sense to enjoy the sun when it's shining. What to make now that long winter evenings are here? If you're not into World War One why not make the new Italeri M13/40? A reissue of an Esci kit that was quite sought after as far as I know - this Italian tank was a death trap for the poor crews that had to go into battle in them. M13/40 details

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Barry Lyndon battle scene

I know we have had this clip before but it's great and I want to promote my google group dedicated to 18thc warfare reenactment http://groups.google.co.uk/group/grand-alliance - thanks!

Swoppets



Ah nostalgia - even more poignant when relating to toys - well that's what I think. You can tell a true toy fan when they fantasise about what models they'd get when time machines are invented - mine would have to be Britain swoppets. They were amazing and this site does them justice with all manner of interesting pictures and stories about the creation of these superior toy soldiers. I had some of course, never enough and I always changed what I was interested in so I would only have about three of each range. My son was asking me about this tendency to change the period of history I was into frequently the other day - I blame movies for this - you can happily go along being quite happily into say, the Napoleonic wars and then you watch a movie about say the American Revolution and then off you go. Anyway enjoy this site and if you have any of these figures feel free to send them to me, I will give them a good home, and won't trash them like I did 40 years ago. Link to another interesting Herald and Britain's site

Monday, November 13, 2006

Kazakh horsemen in London

Unfortunately they weren't allowed to bring their horses in and do their stunts due to Health and safety reasons and rode polo ponies but other than that these must have made quite a sight in the Lord Mayor's parade in London.

Star Wars Miniatures

I'm not one for fantasy or sci-fi much but this set of pre painted miniatures based on the Star Wars saga are pretty appealing. About an inch tall the figures cost a couple of quid each and are with a card which relates to a grid based game - a bit like Hero Clix if you know that system. So if you can't be bothered to paint and you like Star Wars maybe these should be on your list of things to buy. I'll stick to history but anything NOT Games Workshop gets my vote.

Civil War - the Game - for PS2, Xbox360 and PC

A civil war first person shooter? Clouds of blackpowder smoke obscuring your vision while you fire indiscriminantly at some unseen foe while artillery destroys nearly all your comrades - your idea of fun? Well maybe this could be a game worth getting. From what I can find out this is based on the Call of Duty 2 engine and I should imagine it therefore being pretty good. From the list of weapons in the bumph below I note there is no mention of the basic firearm for the period - the muzzleloader as that would be kind of frustrating having to load one of those all the time. The end effect with gatling guns and revolvers will probably more resemble a Great War battlefield than Civil War but you have to be reasonably impressed someone bothered to do this. I hope there's an online possibility as that would be interesting. To me anyway. Screenshots
Out on November 14 Civil War will be a first-person action game and will take place during 12 of the war's most notorious battles, including Gettysburg, Bull Run, and Antietam. The game will feature authentic guns, like repeating rifles, revolvers, and Gatling guns, but it will also feature plenty of gritty hand-to-hand combat with bayonets, sabres, and good old-fashioned fists. Gamers can play as either the Confederate or Union soldiers.