Saturday, April 29, 2006

May Day History

This is an interesting story of attempts to co-opt this day and politicise it. April 30 is also Walpurgis Night so light your bonfires... or watch a May Day parade in 1945 in Moscow here

Friday, April 28, 2006

Tristan and Isolde review

Set in Dark Age Ireland and Cornwall this story of love, betrayal and duty is a surprisingly good film. First of all its very pleasant to look at with some great buildings and beautiful settings. The costumes are a little fanciful but they don't detract too much - the director did Robin Hood Prince of Thieves and the costumes have a similar look - kind of knitted. The cast do a fine job - in particular Rufus Sewell who smoulders as the cuckolded Marke. Apparently Ridley Scott was going to do this before he got the call for Alien but he and his brother are still involved as executive producers and it can be seen what they saw in it - lots of woodland settings filmed in a style that reminded me of John Boorman's Excalibur. Of course the story is as old as the hills but that really only makes it all the more believable - I watched it alone and found it quite gripping and of course there's plenty of fighting to keep you amused. The music's pretty good apart from an out of place segment by the Afro Celt Sound System. The same song used in Gangs of New York I reckon.
Basically it's a good old-fashioned film at heart and might actually do pretty well in time - so if you want to rent a love story and you have a passion for the Irish coast or the Dark Ages then this will be your movie. At the cinema in the UK
IMDB facts here Lots of reviews here
Historical background to the saga and its various versions through the ages here.

Thursday, April 27, 2006

Ghosts of the Battlefield

The June issue of Fortean Times is out and its one which I can heartily recommend; its a Battlefield special with particular emphasis on the Great War. Articles about good luck charms and myths are there as well as interesting side pieces on spectral battles and dead comrades coming to help. Worth a trip to the newsagents.
The Great War for obvious reasons was the centre of a revival in spiritualism and it is fertile ground for some great stories - mostly from the British side. Was there a similar interest in these matters in France and Germany?
If you want a flavour of this, a very influential book 'Raymond; or life after death' is available to read online. It deals with the existence of a lost relative, Raymond and automatic writing to contact him.
I've spent quite a bit of time on battlefields at odd times and I've never seen or experienced anything - though I heard some impressive first-hand stories surrounding Basing House - the site of a Civil war siege and one of that war's worst atrocities.
Some battlefield ghost stories are here

Going to school in Frome was tough...

This is a picture of me in the 60s - proving that I actually invented English Civil war reenactment. The Civil war was one of the first periods I got interested in - reading the Ladybird Oliver Cromwell book and historical novels.
The photo was taken outside Milk street school by Derek Gill, Frome historian and schoolteacher at the time.
I was pretty taken by the Richard Harris/Alec Guinness movie Cromwell at the time - recently I rewatched it and thought it still was a good film. Review here . One Civil war movie you never see these days is the Carboard Cavalier a comedy with Sid Fields. All of them surpass the luckless To Kill A King with Tim Roth that is the most recent addition to the genre of British civil war pics.
So the part of me that is still like this photo is pleased to see Call to Arms' Cromwell's Ironsides (see below) and will be nagging the current me to buy some.

Record Collector magazine

This month's issue is a punk special - so many records there that we have that we nearly ran around shouting 'we're rich!' but then that might be a good way of getting burgled. Suffice to say my copy of the Mental ep is going on sale pretty soon. We bought that record off one of the band - we were in the Centre cafe in Bath trying to get our record put on the jukebox and someone approached us and made us an offer we couldn't easily refuse ('no thanks - it looks like the sort of record we'll never play' didn't seem in the spirit). Anyway they went onto become the Subhumanz and were/are pretty big so what did we know?

English Civil War toy soldiers (1/32 and 54mm)

A good few years ago plastic soldier manufacturer Call To Arms produced 1/32 ECW musketeers, pikemen and command figures. Then artillery. Very nice but would they ever make the necessary cavalry? Well they finally have made the cavalry in the form of Cromwell's Ironsides and they look very good indeed. The picture of the painted cavalry is from the Steve Weston toy soldier site - they're too new for the Call to Arms website. Coincidentally Airfix have issued an English Civil War collection - kits of two mounted figures - cavalier, roundhead and a pikeman and musketeer. So there's now now excuse - you can create an 1640s force in this satisfyingly large scale. Replicants have produced dismounted harquebusiers and musketeers for some while - buy them from

Wednesday, April 26, 2006

Grassyrun event

This looks an interesting historical event commemorating Ohio's history at Williamsburg OH. News item here Historical account here Simon Kenton website Tecumseh biography Ohio Indian Wars proboard

John Malkovich

I first really noticed JM in Dangerous Liaisons and Empire of the Sun. Since then he has made a successful career playing cold-blooded intellectual baddies in films like In the Line of Fire, Conair and so on. Having a bald head and a brain is part of the Hollywood arsenal of evil. He has his own website which features his own range of clothing including things like t-shirts and berets. There is a Libertine shirt! He also has his own design company - so quite the renaissance man. He co-produced the Libertine so I should think he needs to shift a few t-shirts to counter that venture.

Tuesday, April 25, 2006

Drop Dead Magazine

In this day and age with the web it's always a pleasant surprise to see something new that actually is physically printed. This mag looks interesting indeed - I hope it becomes available here...

Animals and Men 'Revel in the Static'

I couldn't think of anything to put in today's issue so I thought I'd plug our compilation of late 70s early 80s post punk, that came out last autumn. Above link is a biography that's reasonably accurate. The final project mentioned 'Red Hot & the Sans Culottes' from about 84 did get as far as a demo - hopefully we can put it out in some form one day (how about it Gavin?). Check out the Hyped-to-death website for more releases including many more d-i-y bands of the era
Review on Agony Shorthand Buscate un novio
Part-time Punk Review
Thanks to all the radio shows that have been playing it - check them out for more obscure gems; WBAR WFMU
We thought some of the songs were lost forever but luckily Mick Mercer - writer/photographer of the punk and Goth genres had kept a copy of a tape we sent him in about 79. His journal and free downloadable mag the Mick are always worth a look - updated regularly.
Watch the Terraplanes do 'Evil Going On'

Monday, April 24, 2006

'Chatterbox' New York Dolls

Johnny Thunders was a great stylist - this outing with the Dolls shows him at his best performing this song which he played throughout his career, but this captures him at his peak. Heroin was the great downfall of JT but that shouldn't spoil our enjoyment of his legacy. The solo stuff post Dolls is patchy but there are some gems in there - particularly with the Heartbreakers. Sue and I wrote a song about him called 'Little Johnny Guitar' which we'll try and make available soon.

May Day historical events

This weekend - May Day Bank Holiday sees the English Civil War Society recreating the final siege of Newark. It looks like a worthwhile event and by the look of it it's free. Check the above link for details. Sue and I used to be members of the ECWS - it's a great society with lots of talented people who can really bring the period to life. Well worth a trip out.
The Sealed Knot - the 'other' Civil war group are in the South-West at Berkeley Castle.
In the south-east the Hop Farm hosts a Wild West event that promises to be fun - with all manner of Cowboys and Indians and American Civil war action.


This is an amusing book that tells us how to make your home more individual. No mention of cobwebs though - our trademark all year round decoration.


This is an article on miniature wargaming by the reliable Wikipedia. However there is no mention of the Perry twins - the sculptors who have set the standards for the 28mm lead figure with their work at Games Workshop, Wargames Foundry and now their own company Perry miniatures. They have some great ranges that include 40mm Peninsular war figures that are really exceptional - minor works of art. I don't wargame any more due to lack of space and funds but I do enjoy browsing the manufacturers sites and seeing what they're up to.

Sunday, April 23, 2006

Adam and the Ants Videos

If you have got so excited by the approaching date of Adam's autobiography then watch a few videos from the golden age of his pop career.
Dog Eat Dog - this was probably my favourite of the chart hits - Prince Charming possibly the worst - there was some controversy at the time that the tune originated from Rolf Harris' War canoe - apparently Ant/Marco settled out of court. Hear a remix of the two songs here. The look here is based on the Incroyables, name-checked in Ant Rap - reactionary dandies of the French Revolution.
Goody Two Shoes was the first solo hit - Friend or Foe was the follow-up. The jacket and cravat worn on these videos looks inspired by Naval costume of the late 18th and 19th century - a touch of Billy Budd perhaps (see pic left).
The dolman - or Hussar jacket that Adam wears in the early videos was rented from Berman's and Nathans (now Angel's) the costumiers - it was the same coat hired by Jimi Hendrix back in the 60s. The coat was made for the film Charge of the Light Brigade and was worn by the late David Hemmings as Captain Nolan.

Adam Ant autobiography news

Stand And Deliver, the Adam Ant Autobiography is now available to pre-order as FOUR audio CD's narrated by Adam himself (5 hours in length). MacMillan Audio Books will be publishing the audio CD on 15th September 2006. The book itself will be released on the same date.
Hardback copies of the book have been announced as £18.99
Publication Date - 15/09/2006
More details on the autobiography here
The book's page on this site here.

Saturday, April 22, 2006

Association Vauban

A French association involved in the research of the master of fortifications. French language only.

Friday, April 21, 2006

Mylene Farmer ."Pourvu qu'elles soient douces" 1988

Babelfish translation? 'Provided that they are soft'. Umm. This is an interesting video by the 'French-Canadian Madonna' - well when I say video it's more like a short movie - set in the Seven Years War would you believe - it's a bit risque - there is some nudity - but not crude - it's a rare incident where 18thc warfare and popular music combine so watch it for research purposes. . . it ends in a battle that's pretty atmospheric so soldier on through the plot which seems partly based on a scene in the film Revolution where the British officer has a strange relationship with his drummer boys and the finale is quite worth seeing. Of course drummer boys were a Victorian concept and have nothing to do with the 18th century. This video could be said to offer and insight into what French people think of the British, though.

I would think on the whole the video was inspired by Barry Lyndon - it has the 'look' but the costumes let it down (Barry Lyndon was much more of a hit in Continental Europe than the UK or US I was told by none other than David Chandler who worked on the project).

This video I heard about from someone involved in the 18thc military side; after a reenactment I organised there was a full house chez nous of American and French reenactors. The French produced this video which they'd done - it seemed a far cry from the sort of culture the Americans were used to. There is a prequel to it - Libertine - if that takes your fancy. Stills and write-up of the videos of Mylene Farmer here

Draughtsman's Contract trailer

If you enjoyed The Libertine you might enjoy this - the debut feature by Peter Greenaway who, when coupled with the music of Michael Nyman was quite fashionable in the 80s. I love this film not only for the fact that they mention Radstock in the dialogue, something to do with the gardens - which this movie is preoccupied with - but the whole ambience is one which though being very much of the period is also fresh. In fact it is one of the few films on this subject - gardens - there was another A Serpents Kiss that was a bit of a flop set in 1699 about the creation of a garden, but that's it for gardens as I can remember.

Billy Childish & the Buff Medways Medway Wheelers

The Medway Wheelers was apparently the name of the cycle club of Chatham-based Childish's mum. Also the title track on their latest album.
This is a great video from an interesting band. They have managed to combine a love of raw garage with some unusual themes that have included a First world war concept album '1914'.
Considered a worthy artist by the media Childish has starred in his own Arts documentary for the South Bank Show.

The Adverts Looking through Gary Gilmore's Eyes

Sue loves the Adverts - here's their finest moment on Top of the Pops. Gary Gilmore was executed and according to the song lyrics donated his eyes to science. TV Smith apparently came from Torquay. TV Smith homepage
Interview with Tim Smith

Commando picture library

I picked up an annual of one of these titles yesterday. Don't worry it was only 10p. Some words of German are useful - achtung, Gott in Himmel and of course Teufel will help you with these tales that read like mini b-movies. These type of comic books are still produced apparently - they seem a distinctly old fashioned post-war take on things - they did seem archaic in a fun way even back in the 70s when we used to read them. A list of some of the comics in the same genre are here

Thursday, April 20, 2006

British battles

This is a well put together site focussing on the battles involving British troops from the mid 18thc to the end of the 19thc - so the colourful years. Full of interesting illustrations like the one on the left from the Seven Years War, it is a mine of information for those campaigns.
Buy books on the Seven years war.

The Libertine

This is a movie I have been looking forward to seeing for a while. The Restoration is a great period for movies and the life of the Earl of Rochester played by Johnny Depp with John Malkovich as Charles II seemed like a bit of a winner but sadly this while movie is worth seeing it is ultimately dull.
The dialogue is funny - ranging from mock Shakespearian to modern outbursts, and the look is superb - one of the best recreations of 1660s London I've seen - but there's something unengaging about the whole thing as if it was created by a committee who had no idea what the general theme was to be - so the whole is a bit of a mess. It covers the key points of his life fine and well but it just wasn't quite interesting enough and if it didn't interest me and I love this kind of movie it isn't going to sit well with many. The female characters (in particular Samantha Morton) were better and more believable than the male - Malkovich for example has a funny stick-on nose with a funny stick-on accent too. The lighting is superb in this movie - apparently entirely shot with natural light - almost as good as Barry Lyndon for its soft candlelit interiors.
The soundtrack is by Michael Nyman - his style of composing and his background fits the period perfectly though there is a sense of deja vu over a couple of songs. Sue noticed the one that appears at the end is already on his Movie songs compilation as 'If' and if the Amazon message board is to be believed isn't on the soundtrack (presumably for copyright reasons).
Watch this film - it's definitely a film that is a worthy project and will no doubt impress you - but don't be surprised to find yourself falling asleep.
John Malkovich on the Libertine IMDB facts Review Lots of reviews!

Howlin' Wolf 'Shake For Me'

This is a great clip which shows the Wolf ripping through this classic - listen out for the godlike Hubert Sumlin on lead guitar. Adopted son of Wolf Sumlin played some of the meanest accompanying guitar ever recorded although never really taking the limelight. Johnny Thunders rated Sumlin as well as Hendrix and Clapton (whoever they are...) check out the gallery on his webpage for photos of him with the luminaries of music.

Wednesday, April 19, 2006

Barry Lyndon

This image of an unnamed skirmish in the Seven Years War gives a good impression of warfare in the 18th century. Kubrick made the definitive movie for a lot of different genres and Barry Lyndon is one of the great historical pictures. This shot shows how the use of extras is maximised by having a mere half dozen in the foreground and then the proportions are reversed and the French are shot as a host.
Barry Lyndon reconsidered. Kubrick talks about the film

Oblivians The Leather

Memphis trio the Obilivians wrote great songs with brilliant titles that scratched the veneer of good taste. Swapping around instruments kept the sound primitive and raw. The songwriting was always inspired. Also check out this one and this live one.

Tuesday, April 18, 2006

Friese-Greene's 1920s colour footage

This is worth checking out - this time it's not a punk video or film trailer - its footage shot in 1920s Britain from an old vauxhall car by pioneer film-maker Freise-Greene in strange colour. Originally titled The Open Road the film is a record of life between the wars. The programme that accompanied it on BBC2 was charming to the extreme with Dan Cruikshank tracking down descendants and reconstructing the shots. Fascinating to see goldfish in the Roman Baths!

Extreme makeover wish list

This is an amazing story on an interesting site Smoking Gun. Basically it is a list of people the producers of Extreme makeover would think might make an interesting subject for one of their shows where they remake their house. Sick.

Waterloo movie

Above is a respectable review of the Dino De Laurentiis/Mosfilms Waterloo. If you enjoyed Waterloo you must next put on your list of films the Russian epic War and Peace by the director Bondarchuk. Now available in a special dvd package to enable it to be seen in its original glory.

Video clips of Russian tanks

Some interesting footage showing the Bt-5 fast tank which influenced a great number of tanks, including the Cruiser types.

Gun amnesty relic

An interesting story from Canada. I wonder how many historical firearms have been destroyed because they were guns? More here

Bath's Purr Club back in action

This was a great club night playing hosting some excellent bands like the 5,6,7,8s and the Dirtbombs as well as having a great selection of records, and now it's back. 1st and 3rd Fridays at a new venue.

Monday, April 17, 2006

Snakes on a plane

This is quite an interesting phenomenon based around the internet and so on - read the above prepublicity info, and if that intrigues you read this blog and this. It seems like this movie is being created by consensus what with lines being written on blogs and then the film gets reshot to accomodate the line and then the songwriting competition - this looks like the most eagerly awaited film about transport and dangerous creatures yet. There's plenty of Snakes on a plane related items on the net, so google away

Remembering Eddie Cochran

April 17th was the date in 1960 when a fatal collision on the A4 between Bath and Chippenham took the life of Eddie Cochran. A pioneer in multitracking and songwriting he recorded some of the best white rock and roll records.

Matchpoint with Jonathan Rhys-Meyers - Richard Hell lookalike!

This is a BBC film by Woody Allen set in London, with a mainly British cast but also starring Scarlett Johansson. Imdb here
Sue is a big fan of Jonathan Rhys-Meyers - an actor from Cork who first came to our notice in Velvet Goldmine and the tv Gormenghast but has suffered a patchy career up to now mostly playing low-lifes, drug-dealers and so on. We think he would make a great Richard Hell if they ever do a biopic of the inventor of the punk style - his real name is Meyers too... My favourite J R-M character up til now was the evil Rebel bushwacker Pitt Mackeson in Ang Lee's Ride With the Devil. But I digress - the film Matchpoint is the film in question.
Without giving the game away the film is about Chris Wilton - an ambitious Tennis player who manages to ingratitate himself with a wealthy family befriending Tom before bedding his sister, Emily Mortimer. However Tom's fiancee, Johansson playing an American actress, draws Wilton into a chaotic triangle that threatens his carefully managed existence.
This is a brilliant movie with some great understated performances from Brian Cox and a host of comedy types playing it 'straight' in what could be described as a romantic thriller. J R-M is on top form as the caddish climber and the world of upper-crust Britain seems well rendered - from what I've seen of it anyway. Rent this DVD and give yourself a treat - a mature well crafted film. Fansite

Sunday, April 16, 2006

The Stiffs - old school punk rock from Frome

Last night we saw the Stiffs - a brand new band of veterans hitting the pub circuit in and around Frome. To me this was no ordinary thrash along - they captured something special, and are worthy of investigation and praise. They evoked what you might call the 'Punk Rock age of innocence' in their choice of covers - a time when punks wore black suits and ties and liked it all as long as it was fast and only 3 minutes long. They covered the Clash, The Jam, Buzzcocks, SLF, Rezillos, Pistols and the Ramones in an r&b tinged way that seemed very much in keeping with ox-blood martens and suits they all uniformly wore.
Fronting the whole show is Grant who baited the crowd and roared himself hoarse, leaping with a tamborine into the throng like a whirling dervish. A perfect frontman. In fact, Grant is one of those rare instances where someone who always seemed to be a natural showman but a musician as such actually managing to really do it; I remember many times in the 70s saying to Grant that he ought to front a band as he occasionally leapt up on stage to sing when I was singing with the Bad Detectives - somewhere like 30 years later he took up my advice! It's a different kettle of fish doing a whole set of songs with cohesion but this was achieved with deadly efficiency. Although long in the tooth this band were as energetic as puppies belting out 'River Deep Mountain High' a la the Saints for example in frantic mode that reminded me of the Hives. Paul Tozer, the guitarist, also in the Bad Detectives played tight to his bass player brother playing sparcely in the no solos tradition.
So if you want a shot of 70s punk delivered in an old school style, why not seek out the Stiffs.
Catch them at the Frome festival at the Griffin Inn on July 15th

Saturday, April 15, 2006

Primal Scream Country Girl

Quite strange - I've been having a bit of a Primal Scream revival and so there I was, listening to 'Kill All Hippies' with the tv on with the sound down - like you do when you're me - and Bea shouted 'Dad!' as if I was about to be hit by a lorry - and lo! on the box was the new Primals video for Country Girl - their new single.
Hear it on the link above - video here... article here
It's a pleasant song - sounding like they went back again to listening to the Stones Let it Bleed LP for this country stomp. The album apparently ditches all the electronic sounds of the past so we should prepare for more of this sort of stuff. They previously mined this territory before Mani joined and instituted a more bass-driven sound - whether this will be the case - we shall see. The video is a kind of countryfied 'Smack my bitch up' so be content...I can see the video might cause speculation that it's about Kate Moss...was that intentional?
Anyway it seems the band are touring at the moment - maybe I picked upon that somehow hence my revival - there's a review and set list of their recent show on at and here
Apparently they are playing the Isle of Wight this June.
Their forthcoming album Riot City Blues has this tracklisting - 01 Country Girl 02 Nitty Gritty 03 Suicide Sally & Johnny Guitar 04 When The Bomb Drops 05 Little Death 06 The 99th Floor 07 Boogie Disease 08 Dolls 09 Hell's Comin' Down 10 Sometimes I Feel So Lonely
I don't suppose the track Boogie Disease will be the Doctor Ross track from Sun records back in the 50s but you never know - the band has got good taste when it comes to oldies, covering 'Slip Inside this House' by Rocky Erickson. Nitty Gritty? Is this anything to do with the Shirley Ellis track? I was reliably informed the Nitty-gritty was the name given to the foul matter that was at the bottom of slave ships.
So text away to your video station (The pop TV request channels have added the video: The Box (Channel 349: 09056 52 52 52) Selection #123, The Hits (Channel 358/Freeview 18: 09056 525 777) Selection #106 Those calls cost money and we would prefer if you chose the Hits since this is one channel we watch all the time... Apart from E4 music.) and then I can watch the whole thing with the sound up.

Gone With the Wind

We have a poster of this in our kitchen and I was pondering the characters and casting and a thought occurred to me that maybe on some subconscious level this movie was about the world situation of the time with Rhett Butler representing American isolationism and the Leslie Howerd Ashley Wilkes character being England and her old world values. This might not stand up to much scrutiny though - I still stick with the notion that The Lord of the Rings is about the Great War. Having just done a search on Gone with the Wind I ask you to consider this - would someone from say Blitzed London watching Gable's cynical gun-running profiteer think 'typical American'? It's interesting to note that Margaret Mitchell favoured Basil Rathbone for the main lead.
While searching the web I came across this movie that from the write-up looks interesting -Les Uns et les autres - a Claude Lelouche movie based on the lives of a series of musicians Josephine Baker, Glenn Miller and so on caught up in World War Two. More here. I'll have to track it down. They ought to have had Wilson Keppel and Betty for an English sequence. Seems like it was retitled Bolero - that is why I havent seen it I expect.

Friday, April 14, 2006

Simon Girty Graphic novel

I thought it might be interesting to look at this graphic novel about one of America's most famous renegades. It looks a fine work that updates the genre of comics dealing with native subjects that goes back to DC Comics Tomahawk and many others.
Interview with Tim Truman.
Conquest miniatures have just released a 28mm figure of Girty
Link to essay "A Monster So Brutal:"Simon Girty and the Degenerative Myth of the American Frontier'',

'Howl's Moving Castle' Trailer

The latest from Studio Ghibli out on dvd. It is a fantasy set in a Victorian world where witches cast spells and all manner of strangeness occurs. The main protagonist is turned into an old lady. A lot of the usual Ghibli characteristics with this time folks like Christian Bale and Billy Crystal do the vocal honours. Official website Wikipedia entry

Thursday, April 13, 2006

Russian propaganda animation

This is an entertaining compilation of soviet animation and newsreel.

The Saints I'm Stranded video

This band seemed like an Australian Ramones when they first emerged in the UK back in about 76 - they had a string of powerful singles that failed to find an audience being neither punk nor rock. Read about them here

Officer jailed for refusal compares US to 3rd Reich

George Macdonald Fraser interview

Flashman creator gets hot under the collar about Iraq and thinks Daniel Day-Lewis would make a good Flashman.

Munchausen 1943

If there is one film made during the Hitler regime worth seeing it is this one. Miles better than the Gilliam version and hardly a trace of any political interference, at least as I could see, it is a visual feast for the 18th century and classic escapism almost on a par with anything Hollywood could knock up. IMDB facts here
Gun magazine review(!)
It has the Information of the legacy of the Baron here. Website on Munchausology here Wikipedia entry Text here

The Cardigans 'Don't Blame Your Daughter' video

I didn't really notice the Cardigans much until their last single 'I need some fine wine' which really impressed me - this is not so good but it is worth checking out. Video is intriguing enough to warrant a second look. They seem to be able to play light rock music that isn't annoying which is saying something in these days when there seems to be a middle of the road revival - and all of it very bad. Looking at the website it looks pretty interesting with links to interviews and so on, and space for input from fans.

Wednesday, April 12, 2006

Battle of Leuthen 1757

I have been contacted by a school in Poland wanting some help with their project of celebrating this battle so here's a few things that might be of interest, as I start to find things of use. The battle begins at daybreak with the King joining the Garde du Corps, one cavalryman remarking on the freezing weather - 'things will be getting hotter soon' or something to that effect the King replied. The battle ends with the singing of the hymn »Nun danket alle Gott« by the victorious Prussians. A complete victory had been achieved by the Prussians over the multinational force led by Charles of Lorraine.
Wikipedia entry German language version
Frederick the Great's address to his troops. 'Der Dreispitz' SYW reenactors
Prussian Reenactors
The battle has been the subject of a number of dioramas - the most famous of zinnfiguren at Ingolstadt Bavaria.
1/72 Seven Years War figures
an excellent Leuthen diorama
Modelling the Seven Years War Fastplay rules diorama showing Bavarian troops Boardgame Leuthen model
Prince August hobby moulds make a range of 40mm and 54mm Syw Prussians.
The Duchy of Alzheim is worth a look - it's a blog dedicated to recreating the SYW in miniature

On film
The Nazis made a series of movies on Frederick II for propaganda purposes - the Hymn of Leuthen is the most famous. Barry Lyndon shows aspects of the Seven Years War in a more useful way

Tuesday, April 11, 2006

World war two research is an impressive site for research into the American aspect of the European theatre. Lots of reprinted texts from training manuals and info on the enemy vehicles etc.

Smoking and Ghostbusters

I watched Ghostbusters last night - I knew it pretty well as the kids when they were young watched it in endless rotation but obviously things have changed since then and one of the things that seemed out of place was all the gratuitous cigarette smoking - in the car - after the battle - all the characters were puffing away like they were sponsored. I am not anti smoking - I smoke myself but I sensed something strange - so searched the above title on Google - and lo and behold - Jason Reitman - son of Ghostbusters director Ivan has done a movie about smoking - Thank You for Not Smoking
Here's an article on director growing up on film sets - smokey ones perhaps?

Red Dead Revolver for PS2

Very similar to Gun this game set in the wild west is quite fun to play. There are some tricks like a deadeye mode and a duel mode. It seems quite spaghetti western oriented in style and music so if you are a fan of that genre this might suit you. These western games are a pleasant change and worth a try.

Flag of confusion

Item detailing the history of the British flag and its uses. It really is a strange country...

Monday, April 10, 2006

Bobby Gillespie at Glastonbury 05

Above is what daughter Bea rates as one of the best rock and roll moments of tv from last year's Glastonbury coverage as Bobby Gillespie lets rip in an interview. Most of the bile goes towards Basement Jaxx who were headlining and were probably more the sort of thing a Glastonbury audience would go for.
It was a strange performance by the Scream later as Gillespie baited the crowd for being Hippies, spat on a camera and derided their inability to dance and taunted them with 'we came here in a helicopter'. Beautiful. 'The war on terror is a pretext for the setting up of an international police state' BG chanted. Gillespie was escorted off the stage by security after overrunning.
The set they played was a blinder including of course 'Kill All Hippies'. I must admit when it was going out live I was loving it - I felt Bobby was telling it like it is - Glastonbury is an awful, hypocritical event and the punters are naive and obnoxious.
Miss Lucifer Video Swastika Eyes Accelerator live
Wikipedia on Primal Scream with lyrics and official band links

The Fall Lay of the Land OGWT

This is one of the Fall with the Michael Clark dancers taking centre stage. Great song. Lyrics here
If that doesn't float your boat try this Pere Ubu clip

Nautilus site

I always love it when movie items become part of history itself - this website is a case in point - its totally dedicated to the Disney sub in 20,000 Leagues under the Sea. Some amazing articles and so on - worth a look.

Birth of America game

Review to come soon, this pc wargame covers the period of the French and Indian war and the American Revolution. Left is some of the artwork from the website. Looks pretty good.

Sunday, April 09, 2006

Messthetics in the Guardian

Chuck Warner's steady progress of reissuing the obscure corners of the post punk D-I-Y phenomenon took a useful boost with a review in the Guardian no less.
Our band Animals and men got a great review here - in Part Time Punk.
Watch Terraplanes on youtube
Wikipedia on the D-I-Y ethic

Hyped to Death

Saturday, April 08, 2006

Detroit Cobras at Myspace

To say the Detroit Cobras are a covers band is like saying Michelango painted ceilings; they have elavated the art of the classic cover to a new level. They usually pick old soul 45s and then give them a punk rock overhaul and then add a near flawless vocal from Rachel Nagy who must be one of the best singers around. She has a harsh voice that is free from rockchick histrionics but instead shreds and bends in a way that reminds me of John Lennon singing Twist and Shout or something similar. Do you get the picture? They are a timeless project that by covering early 60s soul in a rocknroll way makes them sound if anything like a superior Merseybeat band - or at least to me.
Anyway hear for yourself as there are 4 tracks to listen to - Bad Girl is a cover of Memphis trio the Oblivians Bad Boy with a sex change that makes it an even better song. Breakaway is the Irma Thomas hit murdered in the UK by Tracey Ullman.

Friday, April 07, 2006

Stand and Deliver

An excellent site about the real-life highwaymen of the 18th century.

Giant rabbit on the loose

"This is no ordinary rabbit. We are dealing with a monster.
"It is absolutely massive. The first time I saw it I thought to myself 'What the hell is that?'
"I have seen its prints and they are huge - bigger than a deer. It is a brute of a thing." More here

Casanova with Heath Ledger

I was expecting this to be rubbish. It was quite the opposite. Sure, it's a chick flick but it is one that tries to do something decent and I think it comes off. The music is good - mostly period - and the costumes are not bad at all with little of the modernisation of dress that usually goes with popular history films. It's not erotic or funny but the director does a decent job entertaining us in not too taxing way. I recommend it as light viewing - suitable for a family audience - not too demanding and a bit dull but pleasing on the eyes and ears. Of course its nothing to do with the real Casanove but its heaps better than the dumbed-down lamentable BBC version that basically ripped off Plunkett and Maclaine - another useless attempt at the 18th century. There is an hilarious moment when the Jeremy Irons appears for the first time to be met by a servant with an astounded face - it looked like she was going to say 'blimey! It's Jeremy Irons'.
A more in-depth review here. A better review here. 'Casanova sucks' review here. Sienna Miller on the film here
IMDB facts here

Research the real-life Casanova and read his works.

Thursday, April 06, 2006

Kasabian The Reason Is Treason Video

Kasabian - the band who seemed to be running a one-band Madchester revival have turned into Primal Scream for this single - the video is excellent - one of those videos where they cut riot scenes and old cheesey adverts to create a subversive message. The lyrics are here - don't seem very subversive but in the context of the video I suppose it works

54mm wargaming

This is basically toy soldier scale. So pretty big battlefields are required - sometimes the floor - a nostalgic experience that revels in the Playset. See Joe's Soldiers for some amazing dioramas. Check out Barzso for some of the best - the French and Indian war figures are excellent - see the Fort Ticonderoga model. Woodland indians are superb.
World war two is pretty popular where it is usually referred to as 1:32 scale. Obviously Airfix multipose figures are useful as are the Forces of Valor painted diecast armour(see pic). Forces of Valor have some rules to download.
Forum Skirmish Wargames looks useful.
Get your big figures at Steve Weston or Harfields

paleo planet

This is an interesting message board devoted to prehistoric skills such as natural archery and the use of atalatls.

Wednesday, April 05, 2006

Yo la tengo at my space

The myspace phenomena is one that is growing - most contemporary bands now have a spot - check out the mighty YLTs spot - the video is funny too.

18th century military texts online - for April only...

This came from the Blenhem discussion list (thanks to Boris) but it is so useful I thought in case anyone didnt know about this - basically a whole load of useful military texts are online only in April. I found some useful things indeed... Kane, Blands -

It is an overwhelmingly rich collection of nearly everything published in Britain throughout whole 18th Century.
To us there are numerous military instructions, manuals, essays, memoirs etc.
The free access is open only in April.

Go to Web site:

Hit: “Access Now”
Hit: “Others”
Hit: ‘History Biography and Literature”
Hit: “Eighteenth Century Collections Online”
Input your search type, etc.

The Wolfmen

Marco Pirroni's new project - also tracks on youtube. Official site here - also on Myspace
Hear for yourself with the downloads at the official site - includes Eno cover.
Articles and artwork like this grace the band's site and a teasing 'Another collaboration, this time between The Wolfmen and "THE New York legend" appears next month... [04/04/2006]

Tuesday, April 04, 2006

French and Indian raid of 1704

The Indian raid on Deerfield in 1704 is not well known in the UK - in the U.S. I think it is regarded as a key event of the period and subject of much interest. Have a look at this website - the graphics and the presentation are superb - really bringing the events to life. The site contains the work of Francis Back - one of the best Canadian illustrators (left)

Morrissey 'You have killed me'

Where do you stand on the great Morrissey divide? I think I've found a nice piece of fence to sit on. I like the singles he puts out - always enjoy singing along in the great bathroom operetta style that he sings in - but I find the albums a bit dull and grind on a bit. The current album Ringleader of the tormentors - I like the first song - Far off Places - and the current single - but find the rest a bit so-so. I think musically it is pretty middle of the road and an album's worth too dreary. What is the best album? Wait a few years and it will be the Greatest Hits. Watch oldie Suedehead here.

American Conquest Divided Nation

This is the next instalment of the Real Time Strategy series by CDV - this time taking in the wars of the 19thc including the Civil War, Mexico etc. I enjoyed Cossacks and the first instalment of this series which dealt with 18thc America so this looks like a good bet. Check the system requirements first to make sure your pc is up to it though.

Monday, April 03, 2006

Monochrome set Wallflower

The Monochrome set were one of the cleverest and most witty of all the post punk bands but it didn't win them many admirers in the press who seemed to take exception to the fact that they weren't cockneys or something. But thankfully we still have their records to listen to and they seem to have slowly acquired a cult following - certainly my son loves them to bits. Official site here
I always thought of the singer Bid as a bit of a 21st century Noel Cowerd - certainly his lyrics hinted at a very debauched lifestyle that made them seem a little scary. I remember when we met them we were very timid. I must say that they were extremely pleasant and of course very civilized. Lester Square got a little narked with me wanting to talk about Adam and the Ants with Andy Warren who had just left, but they were a joy to meet. Musically they were very sophisticated - even the instrumentals are exciting things usually, hinting at the 60s but always in a modern way.

French and indian war novel

This looks interesting - a blog novel set in the French and Indian war! Good luck with that...

Raconteurs 'Steady as she goes'

The new project from Jack White. We - daughter Celia and I - were talking about Jack Black's role in King Kong - out now on dvd of course - and somehow Sue thought we were talking about Jack White. How can that happen unless she has her celebrities colour coded?
Anyway I think the video is directed by Jim Jarmusch. The song sounds familiar, like a cover of a Nuggets-type band wanting to sound like a UK beat band like the Zombies... did they write it? Presumably.
Anyway the song is also on Youtube. Official site here

Sunday, April 02, 2006

songs with question marks at the end

We, in our family, have a tradition of when there is a song on the tv, radio etc that has a question in the title to vocalise the answer. I think this goes back to my obsession with answer records that came out in the rnb genre in the 50s as follow-ups to hits. Anyway todays made me laugh a bit - the song/question was Culture Clubs 'Do you really want to hurt me?' and the answer 'after seeing the video... definitely'.

Tankfest 2006 Bovington Tank Museum

25th June
This looks like a fun day out if you're into tanks - I might even go myself. The sound, sight, and even smell of old tanks working is a pleasure to behold and the Tank Museum is a great place to visit.

Yeah Yeah Yeahs 'Maps'

With the YYYs riding high now with what looks like a breakthrough single it might be time to enjoy some of their past highs - this one is in my opinion one of the best of their back-catalogue.

Marshal Vauban website

I really like Vauban style forts. The gateways are usually understated things almost hidden away surmounted by sculptures of weapons and trophies. Not so popular in the British Isles as on the continent. One of the best examples in England is at Tilbury - in Scotland Fort George and Ireland Charles Fort at Kinsale.
I was reading an account of the Americans in WW2 trying to blow open a gate of one of these fortress gates and nothing, including howitzers, tanks firing point blank range made a dent - in the end they satchel charged the surrounding masonry.

Victorian Gunboat - free to good home?

This is an amazing opportunity for someone with resources - it looks like a worthwhile project though.

HMS Handy (1883)
This exceptionally historic Victorian era Royal Navy gunboat was built by Armstrong Whitworth & Co., Newcastle upon Tyne in 1883 and commissioned into the Royal Navy as a gunboat the following year as HMS Handy. In 1891 she was renamed HMS Excellent and won a battle honour (Belgium Coast 1914-1916) during the First World War. Later she served in the Royal Navy as HMS Calcutta and then HMS Snapper. Eventually she was retired and sold to the Dover Harbour Board and converted into the crane vessel Demon. Today she is laid up at the Harry Pounds shipyard in Portsmouth awaiting her fate. The yard is offering her free to any organisation who wishes to save her for preservation and will include her steam engine. But time is running out for this historic survivor, and she needs your help now.
News item here
And here is a link to a photo of her today
Wikipedia entry for Gunboat diplomacy