Wednesday, May 31, 2006

Spanish Civil War Uniforms

If you're wondering if you know enough about the history of the conflict to paint some Anglian miniatures then first up check out the Spanish Civil War living history group AY Carmella. You can see what the forces looked like - a symphony of browns and khakis. A lot of the uniforms are World War One surplus augmented by workers attire and local dress. These illustrations of the Garibaldi battalion are typical 'looks' for Republican troops.
Rules? Here are some for free.

Come and See

I noticed this 1985 movie about partisans and the Nazis in Belorus has had a general dvd release. I haven't seen it and it looks pretty grim viewing.
Some of the trivia at the Imdb are interesting;
Many of the uniforms seen throughout the film are originals.
Live ammunition was used in the film - in interviews, actor
Aleksei Kravchenko has described actual bullets passing some 10 centimeters above his head.
Filmed in chronological sequence.
The director planned to have
Aleksei Kravchenko hypnotized by a psychotherapist during the most dreadful and violent scenes so that they wouldn't affect his young mind. However Kravchenko turned out not to be susceptible to hypnosis and had to pretend all the way
IMDB facts here

Hurry Up England Sham 69

Sue liked this - and said that Jimmy Pursey had aged pretty well...I remember her shaking his hand in his heyday! Good luck with this exhuberant anthem

Tuesday, May 30, 2006

Colour film of the Spanish Civil War

Really interesting little film showing among other things a column of CV-33 tankettes driving along - which has been on my wish list of things to see strangely enough. Well worth watching - it's pro Franco I think - haven't listened to it but the footage is very atmospheric.

Spanish Civil War Miniatures!

Anglian Miniatures
This is a new company who are producing 28mm figures for the Spanish Civil War... vehicles to come soon. It looks like a really good start - it appears they're only doing the S.C.W. which is a bold move. They take Paypal which is also very good news. The sculpting looks good quality and the price £4.50 for four figures well within reason. I might buy some. Pictured left are their International Brigade figures.
They make a pictorial point on the site that they are compatible with Force of Arms SCW figs. Checking this out there seems to be a large range there with quite a few vehicles including a CV-33 for about 7 pounds. Have a look at their catalogue - again prices seem reasonable.
The only thoughts I had was that 28mm is not a scale that you can get kits in - so that means it's unlikely that there will be suitable plane models to use in wargames - not sure what 28mm is - about 1/60th? Shame not to have planes as they are pure eye candy - from the distance of time, of course.
Maybe use BUM's 1/72 aircraft.
Spanish civil war aircraft site
Well I just looked on the Anglian Miniatures Yahoo group which seeems to be going well and someone suggested using 1/72 planes on that. So what are we waiting for?
Disciplina Camarades!

The Wind That Shakes the Barley Trailer


Would you belive there is a company making a range of figures and vehicles for the Irish Civil War? Click on the link to see the Gallery.

Wind that Shakes the Barley and Jim Allen

When I first heard of the new Ken Loach film on the Irish Republican movement and the Irish Civil War I was immediately reminded of Days of Hope - a BBC series written by Jim Allen. This was a hard-hitting series from 75 that dealt with the early Labour Party with action focussing on the Black and Tans and the General Strike. It was incredibly moving and I would like to see it again - maybe its on DVD. Anyway Jim Allen was writing with Ken Loach and did Land and Freedom - Loach's movie on the Spanish Civil War but sadly died in 1999 or he would no doubt have been on the credits for this film. Article on him here. My parents were very taken with Days of Hope and wrote to Jim and got a nice letter in reply. Days of Hope book
Jim Allen archive
Incidentally The Wind was filmed in Bandon County Cork - here's a piece from Time Out on the filming.

Ghost Rider

This movie with Nicholas Cage playing the Marvel Comics character Johnny Blaze has been on the horizon for a while and now there is a trailer on the official site linked above. IMDB facts here which includes the fact that Cage had to have a Ghost Rider tatoo covered up to play Johnny Blaze. The worrying thing is the director Mark Steven Johnson also directed Daredevil and Elektra two Marvel based movies that bombed. I remember enjoying Daredevil but everyone else seemed to hate it.

Monday, May 29, 2006

The Wind that Shakes the Barley

Ken Loach has a hit on his hands with a film about the Irish Struggle for Independence centring on the fight against the 'Black and Tans'. This is a great period for films - it was visited in the big-budget Michael Collins.
Loach's historical film Land and Freedom was certainly very good so this bodes well.
Review here
IMDB here
Stills like the one on the left here
The title is an old Irish song.

The Fall 'Blindness' on Jools Holland

This is a tv performance that is worth watching with one of the best tracks off the Fall Heads Roll album. Such a shame John Peel was not around to see the Fall own that show. I felt that at last something good was on that terrible programme.The hairs on the back of my neck stood up when this was of many magic Mark E Smith moments on tv. Apparently they were the first band booked that had in their contract that no insufferable boogie-woogie piano or smug muso jam would be attempted within the Fall's set. Priceless. I've always hated anything that involved Jools Holland's pianotising. Also the band shouted expletives at Plonker Plant. Anyone got the time MES was on the Adam and Joe show? How about on Top of the Pops with Inspiral Carpets doing I want You - that was pure magic.

Primal Scream Country Girl on Jonathan Ross

I missed the band on top of the pops last night so here's a few versions to console me..Channel 4's album chart showon Popworld

Sunday, May 28, 2006

Polysics Electric Surfin Go GO

Great video that has an animated version of the band - it had to come sooner or later

The Pretty Things

Could this band be the world's first bona fide Punk rock band? Watch some tv appearances - this one doing one of my favourite 'things' song 'Come and See Me'. Or this version of Honey I Need
The official band site is hereThe Pretty Things played Frome in the 60s and someone got on stage and hit the singer. Too much monkey business for Frome in those days. On the band's website they are advertising a book that deals with their tour of New Zealand in 1965 which looks like more of the same kind of hostility. 'It was like being behind enemy lines' one said.

Saturday, May 27, 2006

Carey Bell 'Mellow Down Easy'

This Little Walter song we covered when we were the Terraplanes. It's a great song - not sure what we were doing covering it but it seemed like a good idea at the time.

Barry Lyndon skirmish scene

I've been waiting for a clip from this Kubrick classic and finally it comes and not only that but it's the best bit - the Seven Years War skirmish. This whole scene is superb, the music in particular - the sound of the rope tensioned field drums and of course fifes - these drums were made by Potters the famous drum makers and turn up in the Stand and Deliver video.
In reality the British troops of the time would probably not attack with levelled bayonets as this though - if an attack was to be carried at the point of bayonet then the muskets would be held upright and ranks and files would be closer together. There are technical things wrong with it that I could go on all day about but it's still about the best version of an eighteenth century scrap you'll see.
This was the movie that got me interested in 18thc military history. It probably won't have the same impact on you but nevertheless it is an excellent clip. If you haven't seen the movie then you should - it's a very beautiful film though it has a steady pace. The soundtrack is excellent with traditional Irish music from the Chieftains and period music from the likes of Handel and Schubert (ok Schuberts a little out of period but fits in well)- also worth tracking down.

Friday, May 26, 2006

Pere Ubu live

Something interesting for you. Pere Ubu who must be one of the Cleveland Ohio greats perform in the movie Urgh it's a Music war

Shirley Ellis Nitty Gritty

No video clip of Shirley Ellis' 'Get Right Down to the Real Nitty Gritty, as lifted by 'early 70s tribute band Primal Scream' but one of her doing the Name Game. Of course her big hit was 'The Clapping Song' which everyone must know from the GAP adverts a year or so ago. Nitty Gritty lyrics here. We saw on this very blog how the expression Nitty Gritty is not considered an acceptable phrase by the BBC as it has its origins in the layer of foul matter and bodies at the bottom of slave ships.

The Wrong Guy - Guy Goma

Well the guy who got interviewed wrongly by the BBC is now a celebrity. Apart from already having a page on Wikipedia that tells of his recent adventures I have been informed he has a column in the Daily Mail. Not bad going.

Thursday, May 25, 2006

Bren Gun Carrier

I watched the wartime movie The Way Ahead which is the story of a group of conscripts through basic training and then into combat. It may have been one of the first of such films - there's certainly been a lot since - Full Metal Jacket et al. There's some interesting trivia on the ImDB link. It was an early film for acclaimed director Carol Reed.
Anyway, like a few other British films of the war it featured the Universal Carrier a bit - usually known as the Bren Gun Carrier - so here's a few links to learn about this solid looking vehicle.
Wikipedia article Universal carrier page
Ford Universal Carrier
The Disappearing Bren Gun Carrier

Wednesday, May 24, 2006

Clerks II trailer

Alzo Zero WW2 wargames

There used to be a time when figure manufacturers just made figures and rules were a thing left to the personal choice of the wargamer, but since the success of Games Workshop with its magazines, books, paints and god knows what else, manufacturers have been trying to coral their market in a similar way. Latest up is Italian kit makers Italeri who have set up this system Alzo Zero to compliment their range of vehicles and figures.
It looks pretty good - and let's face it - anything in 1/72 scale for World War Two is likely to be a winner due to the plethora of products available. Usually these things are a bit half-hearted but this seems to be well set up with buildings, accessories and all manner of old kits being reissued to coincide with this project. Vehicles are being produced with wargaming friendly wheels and so on and box art is now being graced with 'Alzo Zero approved' on it. The system seems to be a points based one that allows for competitive play to the level of tournament so that might appeal to some.
The only thing is the price - I think it's 50 pounds for the introductory box, which is almost as steep as the stuff Games Workshop flogs. That's a silly price. The problem with these fancy rule sets is they are usually short run and full of colour and so therefore cost a lot of money. Why don't they just publish them on the net and let the models make the money?
Get them here or alternatively get some free rules here.

Slacker Slacking

Thought this article might be interesting to read - explaining the philosophy of slacking. This song is held to be the slackers anthem.

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

It's Gonna Work Out Fine Ike and Tina Turner

A theme of husband and wife musical acts;
Ike Turner was one of the greats of the 50s and 60s, making some of the most influential records of the era, from one of the earliest rock and roll records like Rocket 88 to the Soul pop with wife Tina. The word genius comes to mind. It's such a shame that he will be mainly known for his role as a bad guy in the Tina Turner story, or the lamentable Spector hit 'River Deep Mountain High'. Enjoy this clip of the husband and wife duo at their peak. Ike had confidence problems when this single was recorded and got session man Mickey Guitar Baker (of another male/female duo Mickey and Sylvia) to do the 'Ikey' vocal parts. Ike Turner wiki

Boss Hog 'Get it While you Wait' video

This husband and wife band were a spin-off from the Jon Spencer Blues Explosion. Wiki here

Monday, May 22, 2006

British Museum to be site of Game Show

This looks pretty interesting apart from the obnoxious Tony Robinson being involved.

Samurai Commando Mission 1549

Can't really find much on the web about this but it's one of those movies that involve a modern army going back in time to fight a Samurai army. Possibly a remake of Sonny Chiba's Samurai GI it's done by the Toho studios (Godzilla, Lone Wolf and Cub series) and is distributed by Momentum Asia
IMDB facts

Sunday, May 21, 2006

Bad Detectives at Myspace

Frome rock and rollers the Bad Detectives have a myspace account
Theyre playing the Griffin Inn on 7th July
Apparently the song Ralph The Diving Pig is not about me

Eurovision song contest - Lordi

Yes I actually watched this example of good old-fashioned light entertainment. I suppose I was talked into it with the promise of Arctic lapland masked rockers Lordi being on it. They were hilarious with lyrics like 'the Day of Rockening'. Of course they won, which was fun - but there were other acts of note. There was some amazing spazz attack dancing from the Lithuanian entry 'We are the winners'. Watch it at least until the violin solo - funny...
There was a bit of a vote campaign for Lordi - see - shame it turns out they might be christians - and I am told by experts in the field a ripoff of GWAR. Watch GWAR on youtube
Wiki on Lordi

Primal Scream Country Girl lyrics

Here's the lyrics to the Scream's big hit single and album tracks. Some discrepancy over the lyrics on the official site though. On that site you can see and hear various versions of their single and album.

Saturday, May 20, 2006

Primal Scream 'Riot City Blues'? Ripoff City Blues

'We're a punk rock band' Bobby Gillespie shouted quite a few times at Glastonbury last year - well sorry Bobby - you are not punks - there's one word from the punk era that describes your band ....'dinosaurs'. This new so-called rock and roll album is another PS celebration of the year 1969 with the band taking in the Stones and the Thirteenth Floor Elevators in this dumbed-down homage to the hippy era.
It starts out fine enough with the stomp 'Country Girl' but then it kind of goes flat. Presumably this album is aimed at the American market as nothing is that difficult to digest and no evidence of any of their unmarketable politics. The lyrics are basically song titles cut up and pasted into so-called new songs - 'Shake some Action! Get right down to the real nitty-gritty' - umm boys..? Those of us not born in the last ten years call that plagiarising. One song 'When the Bomb Drops' (the Bomb drops?) sounds like a sloppy jam around the Elevators' Rollercoaster and about 4 other 12-bars adorn this album with such hackneyed phrases as 'Boogie' and 'Allright' thrown in for good measure. Of course the Scream have been here before - with better poppier results - this time round they're saddled with super-bassman Mani which means a touch of psychedelic noodling is in order. The result is a bit like 'Satanic Majesties' or 'Exile on Main Street' played by sixth-form weeds whose parents have bought them musical instruments. Good job Primal Scream weren't around in the 60s and 70s as they basically don't have an original musical bone in their bodies and would have been ignored - they'd have made an ideal pub rock band with their fake American accents and their badly played harmonica.
However in this age of music being so afraid of originality this will no doubt be praised to high heaven for its wonderful qualities. Certainly there is some hedonistic joy to be found here and there and it's a fun game spotting the musical references - or thefts if you are old-fashioned like me.
Listen to a couple of tracks here
PS I got the comment 'a bit harsh' from the family - OK I admit to liking it a bit, but the problem for me is Mani constantly saying the Scream are this country's best rock and roll band - that's the Fall in my book - Mark E Smith and co have more ideas in one song than Primal Scream have in their entire back catalogue. Primal Scream are just a bunch of hippies - you can tell they are by their constant and obsessive recycling! Why are BG's lyrics always going on about junkies? The Jesus and Mary Chain school of writing it is - glamorising drugs, ripping off 60s Bob Dylan - you know the style - everybody did that years ago - that was what 70s British songwriting was all about. You might sound like Ziggy era Bowie or Bolan but surely that's the realm of the tribute band?
So... An allegedly anti-semitic Dylan rip-off 70s tribute band then is our country's best rock and roll act? I think not.

Friday, May 19, 2006

Italian WW2 wargames figures in 1/72 or 20mm

So you have checked out the reasonable selection in plastic and found some holes. Well luckily Mirliton, an italian company do a good range of infantry, vehicles artillery etc. British customers buy them here. Gallery here.

The Monks 'Oh How to do Now'

If you haven't heard the Monks - 60s mavericks active in West Germany - then watch this clip.
And then Boys are Boys and Girls are Choice or maybe Complication their most famous song. They sort of operated in a parallel world to anyone else in the 60s by being unselfconscious and totally original.
In order to persuade you to become Monk devotees I copied and pasted this description of their music from the Wiki on them - it's a pretty good read. I had never heard the Monks until a couple of years ago and I was quite shocked that they'd been so ignored.
The group's sound
The band abandoned many accepted musical norms of sixties rock n roll:
They have very little emphasis on
melody, their songs are rhythmic, rather than melodic. The rhythms are heavy and repetitive, with the drums supplying a sound often described as 'tribal'. The drum kit was played without cymbals, leaving the beat as unembellished as possible.
Song structures are minimal and repetitive, but do not tend to follow the standard verse-chorus-bridge patterns of a
pop song.
The band's lyrics are
dadaist and playful, yet paranoid. They combine nursery rhyme style lyrics ("higgle-dy piggle-dy") with angry war commentary ("Why do you kill all those kids over there in Vietnam? Mad Vietcong! My brother died in Vietnam"; "People kill, people will for you. People run, aint it fun for you. People go, to their deaths for you"), incomprehensibly surreal interjections ("James Bond, who was he?") and paranoia about girls and love ("I hate you with a passion baby! And you know why I hate you? It's because you make me hate you baby!").
The vocal delivery is strangled, wailing and frantic, contrasted to deep chanting backing vocals which recall
Gregorian chant.
Gary Burger utilises a great deal of guitar feedback and dissonance (According to Eddie Shaw's Black Monk Time, the group invented the use of
audio feedback for musical purposes).
Dave Day replaced his guitar with a
banjo upon which he played guitar chords. This sounds much more metallic, scratchy and wiry than a standard electric guitar.
Many of these musical elements are also found in sixties
New York acts like The Fugs and The Godz in particular, but also The Velvet Underground. When the Monks developed their sound, the only one of these bands who had put out any records was the Fugs; it is unclear if the Monks had actually heard the Fugs or developed their sound independently.
Because of these features, they are often referenced as forerunner of the later punk movement.

'Bill is Dead' The Fall

A love song from the Fall. Nice to see videos being shot in public facilities.

Da Vinci Code

The movie of this popular though totally unoriginal book has been getting bad reviews. Hooray. IMDB facts here. My advice stear clear of this moronic unoriginal pap. Two people were reading the book on the bus the other day. Why? Because of the hype no doubt.
This era is going to be remembered for its dumbing down of everything and the recycling of ideas - the Da Vinci Code and Harry Potter will be its flagship novels.

Thursday, May 18, 2006

Tanks in the Spanish Civil War

Spanish language site with lots of pictures on the vehicles of that war.

Responding to a request - I'll bore you with some of my reenactment photos

My Adventures in the 18th century
These photos are of me recreating a woodland indian of the French and Indian war and a French colonial Marine officer for the same period. This was for the society New France and Old England which I formed in the mid 90s. For the American Revolution I was involved with the 2nd Rhode Island Regiment - there are some photos of the Ulster American folkpark on that site - a great place with recreated dwellings for the Old and New World. I was lucky enough in 1999 to go to the US and take part in the Lake George tactical and meet reenacting friends in the flesh.
I'll put some pictures up of my adventures in the late 17th century soon.

Battle of El Alamein (1969)

An epic Italian movie telling the tale of the battle from the perspective of a Bersiglieri unit. Review here Wiki on the battle

Clip of wrong person being interviewed by the BBC

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

Lost weekend festival

rumours here

Camionetta 42 Sahariana

Well it seems Italeri are producing a kit of this interesting desert jeep used by Italian forces in World war two - photos of the model at the above link - it comes out May so should be available soon.
Article from Flames of War site on their use

Monochrome set Reach for your Gun

I wasn't able to buy this single the other day so I'm glad to see this up on Youtube. Sources of the live DVD seem elusive so far but I'll continue looking.

Crielmodel - Italian vehicles in 1/35

This is a company specialising in Italian 1/35 ww2 vehicles and figures in resin. This one is an L3/35 but you'll find every obscure make of tank and armoured car there on the site.
The Italians had some great trucks - this original came up on ebay recently. The Camionetta 42 Sahariana was their desert patrol truck - looks quite futuristic.
Check out Italian ww2 military history at

Monday, May 15, 2006

Swords of a thousand men on top of the pops

This is a great record by Ten Pole Tudor from the 80s. This ought to be the 2006 Football song for the England team. I know it's nothing to do with football but that's the point. This song refers to the era when you had to practice your longbow skills instead of playing football.
Lyrics to sing along with.
Deep in the castle and back from the war
Back with milady and the fires burnt tall
Hurrah went the men down below
All outside was the rain and snow
Hear their shouts, hear their roars
They've probably had a barrel, and much, much more
Hurrah, Hurrah, Hurrah, Yea
Over the hills came the swords of a thousand men

We had to meet the enemy a mile away
Thunder in the air and the sky turned grey
Assembling the knights and their swords were sharp
There was hope in our English hearts
Hear our roar, hear our sound
We're gonna fight until we have won this town
Hurrah, Hurrah, Hurrah, Yea
Over the hills came the swords of a thousand men

When the knights come along at the end of the day
Some are half-alive and some have run away
Hear our triumph, hear our roar
We're gonna drink a barrel, and much, much more
Hurrah, Hurrah, Hurrah, Yea
Over the hills came the swords of a thousand men

Hurrah, Hurrah, Hurrah, Yea
Hurrah, Hurrah, Hurrah, Yea - yea

Hurrah, Hurrah, Hurrah, Yea
Hurrah, Hurrah, Hurrah, Yea - yea

Hurrah, Hurrah, Hurrah, Yea
Over the hills came the swords of a thousand men

Lion of the Desert review

This epic movie from 1980 stars Anthony Quinn as Omar Mukhtar - a bedouin who led a rebellion against the Italian colonial forces in the 1920s. Oliver Reed plays Graziani the Italian general sent by Mussolini to sort the situation out. Lasting 3 1/2 hours this is a movie that isn't going to be the family's favourite but if you are the sort of person who enjoyed 'Lawrence of Arabia' you should watch this and watch it a.s.a.p! I think its a crime that this film isn't better known - I vaguely remember a feature on the director/producer Moustapha Akkad but it went largely ignored in 1980.
Production values are high - the vehicles and uniforms of the Italian are stupendous - seeing the columns of fiat tanks and armoured cars will make your jaw drop - makes Hollywood epics set in the desert look a bit stingy by comparison. Of course it's not Hollywood so you get a take on the whole subject of colonialism that you won't see by watching anything similar - this film makes no question of the fact that colonialism is bad and resistance to it is noble.
So invest in this movie and give your eyes a treat. Such a shame that there will be no more Akkad movies - this one is a classic.
IMDB facts

BA-3 Soviet armoured car

Zvezda have just released this Broneavtomobil 3 kit in 1/35 - it was a pretty good design for the time - small numbers were used in the Spanish Civil War - and it saw service in the Finnish winter war. It had a T-26 turret on it. Photos of Russian armoured cars here.
More photos here Wiki here

Haysi Fantayzee 'Shiny Shiny'

Don't think the above link works but if not HF were a duo from the early 80s that had a kind of interesting sound and look - well I liked them anyway and if I remember correctly got some some stick for it too. I bought the album but I think that was a step too far - three singles were good though - John Wayne, Shiny Shiny with its better bontemps b-side, and the admirable Holy Joe which came out when the Pope came over I think. I had a picture disc of the awful 'Sister Friction' which contained the terrible chorus 'Sister friction love addiction'.
You can listen to them and see pictures here at the wonderful Kate Garner's site. Wiki here

Sunday, May 14, 2006

Football German Helmet

Here's a hat that's apparently going to be very popular for Dutch fans at this year's world cup in Germany. Called a Helmpje and based on the stahlhelm worn by German forces in two world wars it has been criticised by the Dutch football authorities as being in bad taste. This variant means 'Let's Go', there's others including a flower-power one. Buy one from ebay here
The stahlhelm was introduced in 1916 replacing the picklehaube and was intended to lessen the effects of shrapnel. More at The first helmet to be introduced was by the French in 1915.
The stahlhelm is a symbol of German militarism and has been popular with Hell's Angels and moped riders in Indonesia apparently... Leroy Gorman of Bow wow wow wore one covered in Native American symbols.

Saturday, May 13, 2006

The Great War in a different light

I highly recommend this site. 'Accounts and Galleries from Great War Books and Magazines
with more than 7500 Authentic Period Photos, Illustrations and Newsarticles.'

It takes a look at books written at the time or shortly after, things like children's books, magazines etc on the Great War. The result is fascinating - some really excellent artwork and a look at the way our ancestors were encouraged to look at the war. A lot of it in colour. This picture left of German Uhlans comes from a French children's book Joffre-Foch which depicts action in a picturesque and comic-book style. Uhlans were featured a lot in the books of the time - they were to the popular press THE German cavalry.
Anyway visit this site - check out the Uniforms section or the section on Minerva armoured cars, tanks in action to give you a flavour of what's on offer.
I started this search wanting to see some colour pics of the 1914 Belgian army.

Soixante-quinze - 75mm gun of 1914-18

This page of colour photos also links to an article and some interesting photos of this famous field gun of the French forces in 1914-18. Check out this reenactment photo page for a modern photo of the 151eme de ligne - in the US of course.

Italian WW2 reenacting in the UK

IFG who make the 'Italian front' uniforms and equipment are sponsoring a WW2 Italian army UK section - see above link. Maybe I'm mad but this is about as tempting as it gets - not because I'm a Mussolini sympathiser (not that that would be appropriate) but because the Italians have got a bad press, and their kit is pretty stylish.

Primal Scream When the Bomb Drops

Primal Scream showcased two songs from the forthcoming Riot City Blues lp on the album chart show - the second song after Country Girl was When the Bomb Drops. Sounds like they ripped the backing music off 'Rollercoaster' by the Thirteenth Floor Elevators. I was horrified and disgusted. Why is it that bands these days think it ok to be unoriginal and plagiarise things so readily. Post modernism? It stinks.


Sunday night sees a docudrama Hannibal - filmed in Bulgaria apparently using extras and kit for two previous roman epics Spartacus and Caesar for those of you who like that sort of information. The elephants - 3 in number were digitally reproduced - website here. The Balkans are becoming the place to film these days - anyway this what the Radio Times website says

This feature-length dramatisation of Hannibal's audacious military campaign to beat the Romans by marching his army 1,500 miles over the Alps is definitely one for viewers who like their history bloody. Every five minutes someone gets stabbed or decapitated, while the battle scenes are bathed in so much gore, they must have had a Hollywood movie-sized budget for fake blood. So beware: it may be educational but some younger viewers may find it too violent. Alexander Siddig plays the young Carthaginian warrior with the necessary zeal, while Kenneth Cranham gives the voiceover suitable gravitas. Overall, it's a well-executed if lengthy drama that reveals a bit more about the man behind the myth and gives us some impressive set pieces. However, there are a few clunking moments. notably when the dialogue spells out the obvious. I wouldn't want to be in those mountains when the snows come," a soldier tells Hannibal. And guess what happens next? While the snow and wind machines are used extensively, Hannibal's elephants, sadly, don't get much of a look-in. RT reviewer: Jane Rackham

The Impressionists - BBC at its best

This docudrama about the lives of Manet, Monet, Renoir and Degas has been a visual feast. Recreating some of the scenes in the actual locations has meant some great and stunning camera work, particuarly pleasing to the eye when the dappled sunlight and so on favoured by the impressionists is filmed. Performances are keen and good and a sense of the time is reasonably well-captured. If you missed this - its coming to a close this sunday - and you have an interest in this pivotal movement, then invest in the inevitable dvd. Some interesting Franco-Prussian war scenes too in there too.

Friday, May 12, 2006

Gene Vincent Blue Jean Bop

Gene Vincent had a second career in Britain and France where his style of rockabilly was still the rage for some - notably bikers. This clip is from 1960 and shows GV from that era's beginning.

Before the Fall

This is a German film on release in the US at the moment. It's about the schools 'Napolas' that trained youths to become the Nazi elite. Reviews are favourable.

1848 for free!

This is a game set in Hungary in the pivotal year of 1848. The game was partly sponsored by the Hungarian government and will be downloadable for free in the next few weeks

Saving Private Ivan

Article in the St Petersburg times about the Russian soldier in the Great Patriotic War

Thursday, May 11, 2006

Lord Haw-Haw's last broadcast

Just finished reading the The Meaning of Treason by Rebecca West about some of the British traitors of WW2 - in particular Lord Haw-Haw - someone who terrified my mother as a child with his, to her, terrifying voice. A sad character. There is a moment described in the book when Joyce is captured and shot in the leg. As he is lifted out the ambulance at the British base all the squaddies have fun shouting imitative 'Jairmany Calling' - it was his first realisation that he was a figure of fun back home - such a let-down for him! Listen to his last radio show linked above.

Ferret babies

We've just had our first litter of ferret babies this morning - 8 - quite a shock as weren't expecting them for another week - maybe it was the thunderstorm we had last night. More to come for another pregnant female. Hope someone will want them...

Wednesday, May 10, 2006

Big Walter 'Shakey' Horton

Great clip of this maestro of blues harp.

Tamiya 1/35 French Char B1 Bis

A totally new tank kit by Tamiya is interesting - when it's a French tank even more so. Get it soon from Hannants in the UK
Wiki on the B1 Bis
Specs has an excellent film clip in their movie section - seee these monsters move...

Tuesday, May 09, 2006

Lion of the Desert (1980)

A film that cost 35 million dollars about the Italian invasion of Libya partially funded by the Libyan government has to be worth seeing - check out the above article (also stills). Review soon! More links and so on here Wiki here. The film bombed though it is now highly rated.
Biography of producer Moustapha Akkad who was tragically killed in 2005. He was working on a big budget movie on Saladin with Sean Connery which was going to be filmed in Jordan.

All Blood Runs Red Print

Eugene Jacques Bullard - America's first black fighter pilot

While reading 'Retreat Hell! We Just got here' - the story of the AEF in the Great War I read about this man who might make a suitable subject for a biopic. The above link gives a good version of his story - my idea for a title 'All Blood Runs Red'. Roughly his story begins; Grandson of a slave, making a living as a boxer in Paris when war breaks out - joins, like many Americans, the Foreign Legion eventually serving as a pilot. When America enters the war the experienced 300 or so American pilots were needed to create an American air corps - Bullard's call never came - because he was black. Later trumped up charges of insubordination mean that he is transferred back to the infantry. Eventually Bullard is honoured as a hero. Short piece here.

Rare records and things Monochrome Set

I don't presume to go into details about all the records we buy and sell but I thought I'd let you know that we got 103 pounds for our Mental ep - so the moral is there if someone tries to sell you something like a record, book or something - buy it and store it - it might be worth something. Flushed with our success we have put our Ideal for Living Ep by Joy Division up on ebay - hardest part is convincing buyers it's not a fake it's so rare. But we're not just selling the family jewels we're buying a few things - holes in our Monochrome set collection. We found someone with copies of the live dvd - see elsewhere on this blog - should be for UK format. Also bought the live lp Fin and we hope to get the Bid solo single 'Reach for your Gun' (by bidding).
A propos the Monochrome Set - did you know Morrissey was a fan - maybe an Mset plagiarist? We sussed it out thanks to our son who is a fan of both. The songs are from a similar perspective - poetic outsider writing about taboo subjects in a world weary louche way - over twangy guitars. Anyway I think the fact that he doesn't often mention he is a fan is a good indication of the fact that he might feel some guilt over this - the only mention I've found of it is a quote from Mozzer on the wikipedia entry "How can anyone go through life without the dear, cuddly Monochrome Set?" So come on Morrissey - time to come out of the closet - stop going on about the New York Dolls - it's a red herring - you owe a creative debt to the Set!

Monday, May 08, 2006

Brothers in Arms Road to Hill 30

Yes - another WW2 f.p.s game - another outing for the Garand and the Thompson - this time exclusively in Normandy 1944. Well I was glad there wasn't another long D-Day cut scene to endure but other than that I'm not too sure about this game. It features a unique squad tactical element which means you don't just run around with a bunch of homies like Call of Duty 2 but instead you command them to give suppressing fire and so on. There is an icon showing how pinned the krauts are. I found it all a bit difficult to control. The online multiplayer set-up was bothersome and tedious, and not very encouraging - there were only two people playing when we dropped in - which is not good for a game that came out in 2005. The only advantage this game has over their rivals is the 2 player split-screen mode enabling you to practice pwning people before going online. So my verdict - Call of Duty 2 is still the best. Maybe I ought to try harder with this one but first impression is it's too complex. The online aspects of these games have the potential to be more fun than any mission so game designers should work on this more. A favourable review here

Sonny Boy Williamson on video

A couple of really great clips of this maestro of blues harp. An innovative bluesman SBW is pretty much overlooked these days though out of all the Chess artists he is undoubtedly the most original. His radio show King Biscuit Time introduced electrified blues for the first time and his trips to the UK in the 60s brought real blues to Europe. As a songwriter he is head and shoulders above Willie Dixon creating some of the best blues poetry. Most of the time his lyrics were improvised on the spot with only a few notes to guide him. As a matter of policy he played every day of his life and was permanently on the ball to make music. Watch Nine Below Zero and Bye Bye Bird and enjoy one of the most underrated artists of the 20th century.

Sunday, May 07, 2006

40mm scale heaven - Drabant Miniatures

These figures look fantastic. The designers have taken what could be a drab period and by the quality of their sculpting elevated it to an exquisite degree. These figures are well worth a look at - there's not a large amount of cavalry yet, but there's some pretty impressive infantry. I hope this company do well as its definitely raising the standards in what can be a difficult market.
From what I know of this period the French figures are more for the later Marlborough period having the belly-box and side bayonet carriage rather than 1701 as marked in the catalogue, but that's a minor thing.
I am so impressed by these if anyone wants one and he sends it to me I will paint it for free.
The website has some idiosyncratic English and it would be nice to see some bulk deals.
Also available from Old Glory in the UK

Wargaming in 40mm

This is a very useful article on all the different manufacturers who make figures in this new scale. Collecting seems to be a large part of this hobby - there's a discussion group here for 40mm collector's and wargamers. This scale seems to be appealing to two different types of collector - they either appeal on aesthetic grounds - better figures more fun to paint - led by people like the Perrys - (their Napoleonic range in particular) or to the toy soldier traditional style based on moulds or stylised traditional figures by people like Irregular miniatures. This falls into the category of Old School wargaming. To see an example of self- moulded figures en masse check out this Swedish club.
Other companies mentioned elsewhere are Sash and Saber and HLBS - who have just released a modern horror range.

Saturday, May 06, 2006

Great War items of interest

The BBC history section has an interesting selection of films on the Great War broken into subjects matter.
Channel 4 have a page reviewing most of cinema's Great War movies.
The site has some interesting items. One piece on Hitler's experience of the Great War is illuminating - in particular an episode with a British soldier.

American tanks in the Great War

While on the subject of the AEF I thought it would be useful to see what vehicles also were used - site here
Modelling - RPM of Poland does a good selection of early vehicles, and HAT do the FT-17. The Reenactment group Pershing's Doughboys has a great website - their section Motors is well worth a look at.

The Lost Battalion

I watched this 2001 tv movie yesterday. I'd seen it before but I like movies about the Great War and so wanted to see this one again. Set and filmed in the picturesque Argonne forest this story of a surrounded battalion of inexperienced but tough New Yorkers fighting it out has a distinct advantage over stories set in the trenches - it wasn't quite so grim. So it didn't have all the usual trench cliches in fact it looked more like some of the recent American Civil war movies for all its forest fighting. Well worth seeing and a useful addition to the genre. Director Mulcahy cut his teeth on pop videos!

Link to historical site with all manner of background information.
A reasonable book on the Doughboys is 'Retreat Hell We Just got Here'
This year saw American WW1 1/72 figures released by two manufacturers - check them out here and here. Free wargames rules for the period here. (I know we're supposed to spend a fortune on printed rules but I can't see the point since the invention of the internet. )

Call of Duty Finest Hour

After enjoying Call of Duty 2 The Big Red One with its online play I thought I'd give its precursor a go. This was a good deal cruder - it came out in 2004 so it shows you what a year or two can mean in terms of game improvements. The good thing is there are some more maps to play with online and you can get to be Russian! Of course it's cheaper as its an old game and graphically its a bit challenged - a bit like Medal of Honor, but it doesn't really bother you too much though it does make you wonder what the next generation will be like. I haven't really bothered with the story part of the game yet - just got on with the online play. You'll be glad to know that I got to be the number 1 player in the first game I played online so it can't be that difficult. Review here
Teaser trailer for Call of Duty 3 - out this autumn

Urban legends quiz

Here's a fun thing - guess which photos are real and which ones are faked... go to this site for more pics

Thursday, May 04, 2006

Conquest Miniatures

Conquest are offering their 28mm figures post-free in the US for May so now's a good time to invest in their well-sculpted models of such as these personality figures of Tecumseh and the Prophet from their 500 Nations range.

Italian kits

New Kit reviews

Some of the new releases are interesting reviewed at - a reissued 1/72 Matilda, an M20 Armoured car, a 1/35 Char B1 Bis 1/48 Tamiya GIs

Hot Chip new single/video

New single Back From School - on tour at the moment - see official site for details

Ramones 'Spider-man'

This was one of the first videos we downloaded when we got the internet - the combination of the Ramones and Marvel comics is a potent cocktail that is so good you'll wonder why they didn't do this more often.


I don't normally like horror movies - I don't like being scared as a sensation and if they're not scary then what's the point? But I do like ones where there is humour and this one has some pretty good lines in it, so I watched it. It is a simple plot - thing come from Space and takes a local as a host before trying to taking over the world in a form that resembles a leech or slug but larger and of course there's millions of them. It is well done - similar in style to Tremors - sort of tongue-in-cheek but also quite shocking. So pretend it's the late 70s (I do that anyway) and go along and watch this one. IMDB facts here

Wednesday, May 03, 2006

Scarlet's Well

New live album w/ Monochrome Set songs

Siesta Records have just released "Unreal" by Bid's band Scarlet's Well. There are 3 (previously unreleased) live versions of Monochrome Set songs included on this album.

You can listen to song samples or purchase the album here:

Bid (ex-Monochrome Set) started Scarlet's Well as a studio project in 1998, and has since released four albums with Siesta Records (Spain): "Strange Letters" (1999), "The Isle Of The Blue Flowers" (2000), "Alice In The Underworld" (2002), and "The Dream Spider Of The Laughing Horse" (2004).
In January 2004, Bid conceived of a bizarre concept- the raising of two Live bands, Scarlet's Well and The Unreal Scarlet's Well. The former would consists of UK musicians, to play concerts and record together in the long term, and the latter would consist of any foreign group of musicians who were willing to learn the music and play one or more concerts with Bid. The way this worked was that, after first contact was made, Bid sent the music sheets to the various musicians for them to rehearse without him, a gig was booked, and Bid flew in to rehearse twice beforehand- indeed, this was the first time he met any of them.
From Spring 2004 to Spring 2005, there had been four different US, one Swedish, and one Irish Unreal Scarlet's Wells.
Most of these Unreal performances were recorded, and have been compiled into a live album, Unreal, which includes versions of both Scarlet's Well and Monochrome Set songs.
It is a unique and fascinating collection of performances, some live on stage, some live-in-the-studio, and one, a not-so-straightforward string quartet cover version (the only song not featuring Bid). Many of the musicians involved are themselves heroes/heroines in their own countries, though the performance with the legendary Belfast band, St. Vitus Dance, is sadly not included on this album, as the recording was corrupted.
During this time, the "real" Scarlet's Well also played around Europe and are presently recording their 5th album.
You can download booklet artwork here:

how the cypress made apollo
eine symphonie des grauens
the return of the hesperus
street of a thousand fools
jacob's ladder
the isle of the blue flowers
walking with the beast
willy whispers
miss twinkle's been on holiday again
how the cypress made apollo (suite)

And two live Monochrome Set songs (Sugar Plum & Straits of Malacca) which didn't make this album can be heard here:

Monochrome set 'He's Frank'

This was shot in 1990 when the M Set had a comeback to record a few albums and to play a few gigs. The sound was the same though they looked quite different - at least Bid did. This track was the Set's first single on Rough Trade. This live set is still available on dvd - US and UK - though they seem to be getting scarce so buy now if you want it.
I remember when this was screened on tv - about 2.30 am - I was working nights at the time and rang Sue up for a detailed description. 'Bid has shoulder-length hair and leather trousers' 'What??!' 'Andy isn't using the rickenbacker anymore...'
If you are wondering what Andy Warren, bass player supreme is up to - he's in the Would-Be Goods who look pretty stylish by their website and of course the Monochrome Set's official site is here
What I'd next like to see on Youtube is the Set on the Old Grey Whistle Test. We used to have it but stupidly taped over it - tapes used to be really expensive! - they did 405 lines, B-I-D spells Bid and The Lighter Side of Dating

Tuesday, May 02, 2006

Italian armoured units of ww2

The above book looks a good place to start in a study of the not very good Italian tanks of the Second World War. Italian tank kits are pretty thin on the ground in 1/72 scale - see here but the Esci M13/40 os being released by Italeri soon so not so long to wait for this. BUM of Spain do the CV-33 in a set that includes a cd of Italian marching songs. The kit is a copy of one by Doc

Some Velvet Morning

We were chatting about the version by Primal Scream featuring Kate Moss and then it came on the telly! How often does that happen? Quite a lot to us. We do have as a default setting pop music stations though. It wasn't a hit which was a shame. Is it any good? Judge for yourself by comparing it to the original by Nancy Sinatra and Lee Hazelwood. It's an odd song with references to Phaedra, whoever that is. The Primal Scream version claims to have been influenced by the excellent Roland S Howard and Lydia Lunch version on 4AD which I must admit is where I first heard the song. Lyrics here
It seemed to have made to No 1 in the Telegraph's great duets here it says
1 Lee Hazlewood and Nancy Sinatra
Some Velvet Morning, 1968
Most pop music is quickly forgotten. All too rare are the songs that endure, whose sheer otherness takes your breath away, even 30-odd years after they were conceived. Some Velvet Morning belongs in that company. Around the time that Frank Sinatra sang Somethin' Stupid with his daughter Nancy, she was making other duets which brought a hipper, bolder edge to the format, and which would influence countless subsequent pairings. Nancy conducted these with Lee Hazlewood, a laconic Oklahoman who had masterminded her kitsch anthem of women's liberation, These Boots Are Made for Walkin'.
In 1967, he recorded songs with her for possible inclusion in her first TV Special, Movin' With Nancy. One, incredibly, was Some Velvet Morning – one of the strangest, druggiest, most darkly sexual songs ever written. Somehow, perhaps as a sop to the new demographic opening up during the Summer of Love, it made it on to the show. There are "flowers" and "daffodils", but it's hardly Sonny and Cher. Hazlewood's sonorous, old-manly tones tell of "Phaedra, and how she gave me life, and how she made it end", the reverberating bass sounds surrounding his echoey voice like storm clouds.
The music changes to a skipping, childish rhythm, and Nancy chimes in as Phaedra, innocent but ever more menacing as the verses are intercut more regularly. It's a song whose mysteries have occasioned numerous covers, most recently by Primal Scream, with Kate Moss "doing" Nancy. None, though, can rival the macabre atmosphere of the original – ambitious, beautiful and unforgettable.

Worst duets

Toy Soldier online gallery

This is an amazing site dedicated to one man's toy soldier collection. It's a good way of seeing what's around and what they look like as it seems a pretty exhaustive project. You can spend ages here admiring the work - I did anyway.

Monday, May 01, 2006

Sash and Saber 40mm figs

This is an American company that seem to be producing some interesting figures in 40mm - French and Indian, American Revolution and the ever popular Napoleonics. Prices don't seem unreasonable.

First world war computer games

After watching the tail-end of the Blue Max I thought it would be interesting to see what games are available for this period. I found 1914 the Great War - an r.t.s. for the pc which looks good. There is WW1 the Red Baron for the PS2 (see pic) specs here which looks good enough to risk though may be easily confused with Snoopy vs the Red Baron game.
If you enjoyed the movie Blue Max you might enjoy Aces High a 1976 film taken from a British perspective, starring Malcolm Mcdowell. Try the Aerodrome for information on aces and aircraft of the Great War

John Peel

We listened to a cd last night of a John peel punk special he broadcasted in 1976 featuring a session from the Damned and various bands that had records out at the time. The Saints, Tuff Darts, Pere Ubu, the Ramones - it was fascinating listening. One of the things that came over was how much hostility there was about for anyone that actually liked that sort of music, and Peel was feeling like he had to justify himself in some way. He also mentioned that at 37 he wouldn't be changing his appearance - but 37! That amazed us! He seemed to put over an old man's perspective at that time and he was only 37. Anyway it was good to hear his voice again and maybe I'll have to see what shows I have on tape. Festive 50s year by year - check out the 76 one and you can see what his audience was like then. Watch him talk about the Fall here Peel quotes here