Friday, June 30, 2006

Rammstein Links 2-3-4

The great Rammstein to celebrate the great German victory! Well done Lehmann - hard cheese Argentina - bad losers! (ps it's a great video that's worth watching anyway - it features footballing ants!)

Come on Germany

I am hoping Karl Marx Stadt's legendary son Micheal Ballack gets a hat trick today. Sue is drinking Argentinian wine so I suspect she is rooting for them. I will post a Rammstein video if they win!

Rochambeau and Washington's March to Yorktown

225th anniversary of the Duc de Lauzun coming to Monroe
In general Americans seem pretty Francophobic - I know that's a sweeping statement but that is what it seems to me. This is somewhat strange when if it hadn't been for the French intervention in the American Revolution they would still, theoretically be British subjects. Maybe that's why.

America's Historic March To Yorktown
Be sure to check out the March to Yorktown website with all the news of this historic event. Blog here
We - the 2nd Rhode island regiment(UK) were invited by our counterpart over there to take part in the event at Yorktown.

The Somme march BBC Coverage

All this week the BBC has been following the Great War reenactors as they follow the line of the British positions on the Somme. The pieces have all been serious informative articles that worked well. The group was about 50 strong with a cavalry comliment - I would like to have seen them all in their steel helmets as that would have been the order of the day at the front in 1916 but they otherwise put on a good show. We learnt about the British army staple the Curry, in use back in the 14-18, and that officers had batmen to service their needs. One unintentional funny moment was when the tv journalist, Robert Hall, asked two German reenactors if they liked marching! Luckily they had the correct response - 'I ought to - I was in the German army for four years!' Phew!

The Troggs 'Night of the Long Grass'

The Troggs are playing the Frome festival. 15th July at the Cheese and Grain. The Troggs are the West's own punk rock originators coming from Andover but spreading their influence all over the region. For example I was talking to someone last night who saw them in a pub in Gillingham Dorset when they were called Ten Feet Five and were asking in all the various bars if there was a drummer in the house. Reg Presley's lusty lyrics conjured up images of rural licentiousness, though they often fell foul of misinterpration - this song 'Night of the Long Grass' was banned because the word 'grass' was mistakenly thought to mean cannibas rather than er, grass! Reg and the band spurned drugs but to keep up to date wrote songs where they imagined the effects of drugs. The results heard in 'Purple shades' include such lines as 'Giant butterflies almost twice my size' and 'giant teddy bears, climbing up the stairs' - brilliant!
wiki on the Troggs

Thursday, June 29, 2006

Bad Detectives website

It looks like the Frome rock and roll band the Bad Detectives have had a web overhaul. Lots more stuff to look at - lyrics, photos and other goodies.
I have a few photos from the old days such as these taken at the Youth Wing in Frome where we used to practice. Note Dr Feelgood mural in the background.

Wednesday, June 28, 2006

Russian Napoleonic Gallery

Preobrazhensky Life Guard regiment
There's some impressive photos showing Napoleonic Russian reenactors. These images will for me be always associated with War and Peace. I suppose as a young teen War and Peace was my Lord of the Rings which I never had any inclination to read, by the way.
If you like epic cinema I recommend the 1968 Bondarchuk movie.

Online searchable version of the book here
Wiki on War and Peace

The town that stood up to Tesco's

This is a story of someone who resisted Tesco's - this is not the beginning - or the end of the beginning... it would be great to think that this whole system of out-of-town supermarkets will end soon.

Brazil v Ghana

I could only watch the first half of this. I am pretty sceptical about this tournament, the refereeing seems to be very suspicious. I will give Brazil their due though - they are the only team I've seen who don't foul their way through games. I suppose it is pretty normal these days but usually it seems that whenever someone is going for a good run they get fouled, as a matter of tactics. This means that most of the time watching you're watching histrionics - people rolling about holding their shins in mock pain rather than being dazzled by deft footwork. Pretty dull compared to what should be wizard dribbling or whatever. Bring back sporting values into sport? Fat chance I suppose.
Still the World Cup is an event that unites the world in a drama without dialogue -my daughter is watching the game thousands of miles away in Connecticut and that idea that all over the globe people are biting their nails and postponing going to the toilet for another ten minutes is something to cherish.

Pirate album

'STING, BONO, BRYAN FERRY and NICK CAVE are among artists who have recorded vocals for a compilation of seafaring songs 'Rogue's Gallery - Pirate Ballads, Sea Songs & Chanteys' which s due out on August 22nd. The project was born from an idea from actor Johnny Depp who was working on the 'Pirates of the Caribbean - Dead Man's Chest' at the time... '

Here is the track list for "Rogue's Gallery":

Disc one:
"Cape Cod Girls," Baby Gramps
"Mingulay Boat Song," Richard Thompson
"My Son John," John C. Reilly
"Fire Down Below," Nick Cave
"Turkish Revelry," Loudon Wainwright III
"Bully In The Alley," Three Pruned Men
"The Cruel Ship's Captain," Bryan Ferry
"Dead Horse," Robin Holcomb
"Spanish Ladies," Bill Frisell
"High Barbary," Joseph Arthur
"Haul Away Joe," Mark Anthony Thompson
"Dan Dan," David Thomas
"Blood Red Roses," Sting
"Sally Brown," Teddy Thompson
"Lowlands Away," Rufus Wainwright & Kate McGarrigle
"Baltimore Whores," Gavin Friday
"Rolling Sea," Eliza Carthy
"The Mermaid," Martin Carthy & the UK Group
"Haul On The Bowline," Bob Neuwirth
"Dying Sailor to His Shipmates," Bono
"Bonnie Portmore," Lucinda Williams
"Shenandoah," Richard Greene & Jack Sh*t
"The Cry Of Man," Mary Margaret O'Hara

Disc two:
"Boney," Jack Sh*t
"Good Ship Venus," Loudon Wainwright III
"Long Time Ago," White Magic
"Pinery Boy," Nick Cave
"Lowlands Low," Bryan Ferry with Antony
"One Spring Morning," Akron/Family
"Hog Eye Man," Martin Carthy & family
"The Fiddler/A Drop of Nelson's Blood," Ricky Jay & Richard Greene
"Caroline and Her Young Sailor Bold," Andrea Corr
"Fathom The Bowl," John C. Reilly
"Drunken Sailor," David Thomas
"Farewell Nancy," Ed Harcourt
"Hanging Johnny," Stan Ridgway
"Old Man of The Sea," Baby Gramps
"Greenland Whale Fisheries," Van Dyke Parks
"Shallow Brown," Sting
"The Grey Funnel Line," Jolie Holland
"A Drop of Nelson's Blood," Jarvis Cocker
"Leave Her Johnny," Lou Reed
"Little Boy Billy," Ralph Steadman

Tuesday, June 27, 2006

The Somme

The Great War in North Somerset

Here's a photo by David Wilton of me in the uniform of the Somerset Light Infantry. David organised one of the first of these commemorative marches and it is his kit I'm wearing.
My grandfather was in the Coldstream Guards (they had a recruiting office in Bath I believe) - he was later involved in mining operations as an ex collier and fought hand-to-hand battles under ground. Another Grandfather while in France as an ex-farmer was required to pitchfork bodies onto carts.
Many local men after the war could not reenter ordinary life and spent their lives as tramps sleeping rough in the woods and batches. Read more about the impact of the Great War on Somerset villages like Radstock in'No Thankful Village'
Review here 'There have been many great novels, poems and stories inspired by the Great War. No Thankful Village, a small masterpiece, reminds us that the facts on which they are based are probably stranger and more affecting than anything we can imagine'.
· No Thankful Village by Christopher Howell is published by Fickle Hill, Chapel Cottage, Chilcompton, Bath BA3 4HD, £20

Veterans Day and the Somme

Today, if you didn't know is the first veterans day. This year it marks the 90th anniversary of the Somme battle and the 150th anniversary of the Victoria Cross. In contrast to Remembrance Sunday this is not apparently about the dead but veterans in general.
I'm all for respecting the sacrifices made by our ancestors but this has a distinctly American feel to it. Still who can not be moved by what happened on the Somme?
Oldest veteran remembers the Somme
Imperial War Museum website on the Somme
Read an article on the authentication of footage long thought to be staged
Irish stamp first to honour the Somme
German perspective
Coincidentally I'd just done the above post and switched on the BBC news and there was a feature on the Somme Commemoration march - organised by the National Army Museum it involves about 50 Great War reenactors 'not about playing soldiers, more a personal tribute' was one of the opening comments. BBC News will be following the march throughout the week.
'Neil and his fellow re-enactors are being encouraged to experience as much as they can of life as a "Tommy". They will dress in period uniform and eat standard rations. They will even wash their clothes in buckets and hang them out using period clothes pegs.
Members of the public can join the march or send Great War style letters or appropriate presents to the troops from home. These will be distributed and those that receive a message from "home" will write back.
There will be some concessions to modern living - portable toilets and showers, for one, and tents and other heavy equipment will be moved by 21st century vans. Neil will be allowed a mobile phone so he can let us know how he's coping with life as a Great War soldier.
The march ends on Friday 30 June and the following day there will be a memorial service at Thiepval attended by Prince Charles. '

BBC NEWS feature
Walking in my grandfather's footsteps Also on this page watch video footage of ww1 reenactors

Monday, June 26, 2006

Morrissey 'The Youngest was the most loved' video

'There is no such thing as normal' is the refrain. Good point. We don't have a consensus in the family about Morrissey - we're split down the middle on this issue. I like them once they have burned onto my brain but I tend to skip tracks that I can't sing along to.
Lyrics here

AK-47 inventor backs gun control

Talk about shutting the stable door after the horse has bolted. Of course the AK-47 is the source of that famous quote from Jackie Brown 'AK-47- when you absolutely, positively gotta kill EVERY m*********r in the room. Accept no substitutes'.
A favourite weapon in FPS games the AK was based on the German MP44 - my favourite when playing Call of Duty 2 Big Red One.
website on the AK-47
photo from Military Factory

Napoleonic galleries

The Douanes Imperiales have some great photos of Napoleonic reenactment from a French perspective. Later this year it is the bicentennial of Jena and Auerstadt - two great victories for Napoleon.

Seven Years War Association

This is a new webpage for the U.S. - the subject of which is reenacting the Seven Years War but in its European theatre rather than the French and Indian war which is already well covered. At the moment there is some British drill manuals but more content is coming soon.

Barry Lyndon mistakes

I watched this film - probably the best film about the 18th century for the umpteenth time last night and this time I couldn't help notice a couple of mistakes. Mostly the film is very historically accurate and the mistakes are kind of trivial. First one I noticed was the highwayman Captain Feeney's spectacles - they were of a modern shape - your basic granny frames - not 18th century frames at all. The other was when the narrator said that Lord Bullingdon died in the Kingdom of Belgium - this did not exist until the mid 19th century. Apparently one of the paintings on the wall in one scene has a train in it but I didn't notice that.
There are a lot of military mistakes but I won't go into that too much as compromises have to made in terms of budget and to make things thrilling - most annoying though is the sound of the muskets being fired from the burning building - sounds like a modern rifle.
Don't let this stop you buying this on dvd - it's one of my all-time favourite movies that gets better every time you watch it.
IMDB here
Image Gallery

Sunday, June 25, 2006

Adam Ant Room At the Top video

A pleasant video to an ok song - the guitar riff is as I've mentioned before is a steal from Laibach's One After 909.

Jay and Silent Bob

I was talking to someone the other day who hadn't heard of Jay and Silent Bob - the comedy duo who appear in the films of Kevin Smith and various comics, as Bluntman and Chronic, so the above link fills in the back story nicely. Soon to be seen is the long-awaited Clerks II which got a standing ovation at Cannes I am told. Jason Mewes who plays Jay has had a hard ride - he wasn't allowed on the Clerks poster as he looked too weird and the studio bosses didn't want him in the big budget follow up to Clerks, Mallrats.
View Askew site
watch the exclusive trailer for Clerks II

Comiserations to Mexico

I haven't really commented on the World Cup so far as it's not really my area of expertise as I dislike the 'bread and circuses' aspects but I needed the distraction as a neighbour's dog savaged one of our chickens and the owner was unrepentant, so my mood was black.
So I watched the footie, the Argentina v Mexico match. First of all it was the most entertaining match I've seen so far and I suppose I have watched the coverage of about half the games. A real nail biter. Most have been half-hearted affairs. Not this one. Secondly I think Mexico were harshly treated by the referee as the Argentinans seemed to have been on a foulling mission and only a percentage of these seemed to have resulted in penalisation. The Mexicans still showed enough pluck though to keep hammering away until the final minute. I suspect corruption - maybe I'm paranoid but surely we'd be naive to think that huge sums of money aren't changing hands at some level in this - there's corruption everywhere else why not football? Maybe that's why England fair so badly - they aren't greasing the right palms.
I now hope Argentina don't win the tournament.
There is something distinctly 1984 about the World Cup - you must obsess - you must drink copious amounts of beer - you must be a Nationalist - you must not however commit violence. That's like giving a party of 6 year olds unlimited trifle and saying you must not throw up. Islamists denounce opiate of the World Cup

Saturday, June 24, 2006

The Red and the White trailer

Here's a clip from this movie, Csillagosok, katonák (1967) imdb facts here, that is set in the bloody aftermath of the Russian Revolution, known as the Russian Civil War though the period brought war to great swathes of Eastern Europe beyond the borders of Russia.

Skirmishing in the woods

Here's a picture from a woodland weekend organised this June by the Preobrazhensky Life Guards Regiment - Russian and Estonian reenactors of the era of Peter the Great. Weekends like this are a complete contrast to public shows where everything is geared to the public's education and safety - this is an opportunity to get rid of the 21st century entirely and do it for real, minus the lead shot of course.
I hope other groups that reenact the Great Northern War or similar periods take up the challenge and get involved as it can be a lot of fun and an excellent learning opportunity for the participants.
Check out the gallery as there's some great photos and the lads all show real enthusiasm for the subject - makes me wish I lived in Russia.
If you don't know the Great Northern War was mainly fought between the Swedes, who had a crazed military monarch Charles XII (at the time wanting to turn the Baltic sea into a Swedish lake) and the Russians under the tyrannical but forward-thinking Peter the Great. Many other Baltic states were involved - Denmark, Prussia, Saxony to name a few.
The GNW is famous for being the last use of the pike in battle - pikes are long spears about 16 foot long mainly used for keeping cavalry at bay but the aggressive Swedes and the Russians used them in infantry charges. The bayonet was to make it obsolete.
Dan Schorr's Great Northern War site

Cor Gawr

Middle daughter Celia got invited to the Cor Gawr at Stonehenge this morning so I thought I'd share a photo or two. It's a small gathering of the Druid network where a circle is created and various incantations and so on are performed. The official view is
The Gorsedd of Bards of Cor Gawr was first inaugurated at Stonehenge in the late 1990s. Since then the Gorsedd has regularly gathered at the temple at the festivals of Midsummer and Midwinter. Because the Access Committee has now allowed for the temple to be completely open overnight and for the dawn of the Summer Solstice, the Gorsedd of Cor Gawr, meeting closer to the traditional date of Midsummer (usually 24 June), offers members of the Druid and Pagan community an opportunity for focused ritual, meditation and celebration with a smaller group. As it works on a Special Access pass, the Cor Gawr rituals are ticketed events, with a number limit of 100 people.
A horn of meade was passed around and she had a great time. Her reenactment background made her notice modern shoes under the robes but I suppose that's just a side issue. The weather was typically cloudy.
Link to learn more about the Druid network.

Friday, June 23, 2006

Tamiya French B1 Bis review

French 18th century reenactment revival

Some wishes come true in some form or other.
There seems to be a bit of a revival in 18th century reenactment for the French forces. Both the Troupes de Marin and possibly the Regiment de la Reine are regrouping to make a showing at the American Museum Bath 29th-30th July.

Left is a drawing by me of a French regular for the French and Indian war.

Canadian Military Heritage site for more information on the troops of France in North America

The happiest day of the year

It's official. Psychologists are telling us this. January 23rd is the most depressing.

The Cramps tour dates 2006 and Garbageman video

A vintage video by the world's greatest rock and roll band. We were lucky enough to see the Cramps on their last visit to the Astoria and they still knock every other band into a cocked hat. An amazing live show that has to be seen to be believed - pure rock and roll with a back-catalogue of hits that will leave you jibbering like an idiot. This video features the late Bryan Gregory and was probably how most people were introduced to the Cramps. Excellent Cramps fan site has these dates - if you can make it go along - highly recommended.
Sun Aug 27 Sunset Junction Street Fair Los Angeles USA
Thu Aug 17 Paredes De Coura Festival Paredes De Coura Portugal
Mon Aug 15 Carling Astoria London England
Sun Aug 13 Berns Stockholm Sweden
Sat Aug 12 Kulturbolaget Malmö Sweden
Fri Aug 11 The Öya Festival, Stage: Enga Oslo Norway
Wed Aug 9 Lokerse Festival with Bauhaus Lokeren Belgium

Thursday, June 22, 2006

Tercentenary events

Looks like the tercentenary reenactments are still going along full steam ahead. Narva 2006 looks good. Apparently Oudenarde, Almanza and Malplaquet are on the horizon for the redcoats of the Duke of Marlborough. At times like this I wish I had my own French regiment though I suppose I ought to be careful what I wish for...

Bad Detectives vintage pic

To celebrate the longevity of this band and to mention their gig at the Griffin Inn Frome on the 7th July here's a vintage pic of Henry and Ivan recording at Elm studios Paulton I believe. Check out their myspace thing to hear 'em now.

Angelina Jolie gets pumped to the Clash

Who are Matchbox 20?

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

The Patriot trailer

Just to prove that the movie The Patriot is a great 'sound turned down' film this clip has been dubbed with the Prodigy for the soundtrack. Great moving wallpaper.


As its the longest day check out the above site - a Stonehenge site - has video clips and so on. Druidism is not historically linked to the monument - it precedes the Druids by an era or two. Cromwell's preacher Hugh Peters wanted it torn down in the 17th century as a pagan temple - most of the standing stones around here were destroyed about that time. Lots of theories surround this monument - how about the Dr Perks Vulva Theory?
BBC Pictures of the sunrise
Wiki on Stonehenge

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

Star Wars a ripoff of Dune?

Did you know that? I didn't. My son is a Dune fan and he reckons you have to read all the Dune novels to see how much Star Wars owes to the Frank Herbert saga. Oh well I expect you knew all this - the above link takes you through it. Star Wars IS Dune piece
Wiki on works inspired by Dune

Beau Brummel BBC drama

I knew from the opening seconds that this was going to be rubbish - he puts his shirt on and guess what? It buttons up the front like a modern shirt! Good lord you'd expect a programme about fashion to not cheat and have a pullover type shirt - opened at the neck - that was the only way a shirt was made for practically another 75 years. This was a signature scene and it showed that they weren't interested in getting it right. Music was nice though.
Wiki on BB

Saxondale very funny

Steve Coogan's new character comedy about an ex-roadie who runs a pest control firm certainly hit the mark with us. The depth to the folks who pepper this peep into suburbia make them so real you feel after only episode one that you know these people and what they do. From quoting the movie 'Zulu' to his endless name-dropping this was a person who seemed familiar in a weird sort of way. Full of cultural references and witticisms you had to stifle your laughter to hear the next line. The thick idiots who like Little Britain aren't going to like it as it is not repetitive enough but if you have a brain, you'll love Saxondale. (I admit to liking LB on its first series but got bored very quickly). Guardian review link

Monday, June 19, 2006

Nacho Libre getting mixed reviews

Official site
The follow up to the cult success Napoleon Dynamite is getting mixed reviews - mostly saying the film is no Napoleon. The story is about a character played by Jack Black who is part time cook part time wrestler.IMDB facts here

Sunday, June 18, 2006

Waterloo pics

As its the 18th June why not check out Phil Thomason's gallery of photos from previous years reenactments of the Battle of Waterloo - fought this day in 1815. I used to do Napoleonic reenactment but all the photos I have of me make me look stupid but if I find any that make me look cool I'll post them. I used to be on the French side. Napoleonic reenactment has come along a long way since when I did it in the late 80s but it was a fascinating time when I did it as the Berlin wall was still in place and meeting up with Eastern Bloc reenactors was a real achievement and we gained a unique insight into that world that was about to change forever. We were in Czechoslovakia reenacting the battle of Austerlitz at the time of the run up to the Velvet Revolution so that was pretty hairy I can tell you.

Revolution period flags fetch over 17 million

Four Standards captured by the notorious Loyalist Banastre Tarleton fetched a tidy sum for the descendant. One of the flags was from Sheldon's Horse, the 2nd Continental Light Dragoons. (Image from the website)
Tarleton was fictionalised as 'Tavington' in the movie The Patriot. The war crimes depicted in that film did not happen being based on a Nazi atrocity in France, though Tarleton was no angel boasting that he had ravaged more women than any man in the army.
Historical inaccuracies abound in the film most notably about the Americans offering freedom to slaves who fought for them.
Apparently Harrison Ford turned down the lead role as he thought it made the Revolution into a one-man's revenge story. Watch it with the sound down and its a great movie with some of the best recreations of 18th c linear warfare on screen.
Gibson was coached in musketry by Mark Baker who also coached D Day-Lewis in Mohicans.

A socialist's guide to the World Cup

Article on the political dimensions of the football tournament.

Saturday, June 17, 2006

Bunker Hill - the singer not the battle

If you haven't heard Hide and Go Seek Part 1, or the Girl Can't Dance with Link Wray then you haven't lived. A voice that could stop traffic he shreds his way through the vocals like he's on fire.
Biography above. Myspace here - is it just me? Every time I go on myspace my pc crashes, or stops responding. No biggie though, as I'm not really over-enamoured by the myspace thing. I think it's this 'friends' thing - 'so and so has 15 friends'. I am a person who prides himself on having as few friends as possible - as the Fall song Frendz goes 'my friends you can count on one hand'. Someone offered to do us a myspace page...'every one has one' - that's a good reason NOT to have one in my book.

Friday, June 16, 2006

Land and Freedom

This is a 1995 Ken Loach film set in the Spanish Civil War that got a special dvd release in 2005. Imdb facts here
Starring the great Ian Hart famous for playing Lennon in Backbeat, it tells the tale of an International Brigadist both in the present and then through flashback.
I recommend this film as its style, which is naturalistic, is perfect for the subject and the result is fascinating - unlike any other war film. In fact it could be described as one of the great anti-war films of all time. Buy it...
A critical review here

baby ferret photo

here's a pic of one of the 26-odd baby ferrets we have at the moment. Quite a handful, the first litter are just about opening their eyes and they're already munching away on solid food.
Anyone in the UK wanting one of these adorable creatures get in touch. First batch will be ready to go in a few weeks.

New Steve Coogan tv series

You either love him or hate him - that's been my experience of someone who might be described as the new Peter Sellers. This new comedy sees him as an ex-roadie who now runs a pest control business and is taking anger management classes. No doubt there will be lots of cringe-worthy gags based around this fellow. Wiki on Steve Coogan

Thursday, June 15, 2006

French army of 1815

As it's nearly June 18th - anniversary of the Battle of Waterloo - what better time to tell you about a new range of Napoleonic French by star sculptors the Perry twins.
When Napoleon escaped from Elba to begin his comeback known as the 100 days campaign he was accompanied only by a small escort and he had to win his army back from Louis XVIII, his successor. Of course to a man like Napoleon this was an easy task but equipping and fielding an army large enough to defeat the array of powers ranged against him was an extremely difficult task and one that the war-weary French were surprisingly keen to assist him in doing. Anyway these figures are specifically designed to represent that short but bloody campaign - not in the finery often depicted but more likely in greatcoat and civilian clothing as demobbed soldiers returned to the colours. The Perrys look like they have done a fine job interpreting the uniforms of 1815 and capturing the period flavour by their usual meticulous research.
Wiki on Waterloo

The War of the World

This is a book and a tv series - Channel 4, 8 pm Mondays - that is based on theories by Niall Ferguson that the 20th century was basically one long war - a century of conflict that started with the Russo-Japanese war of 1904 and didn't stop until the fall of the Milosevich regime in 2000. Subtitled History's age of hatred, it focuses on the wars in the so-called years of peace and shows that the Third World War did happen but in the Third World (that's a nifty line - I didn't write it - it's from the Radio Times interview). I've long had this theory that in the future historians would see both world wars as 2 acts of the same play but this takes the idea further than that. Of course this idea of a century of conflict is nothing new - the age from the 1680s through to 1815 could be best described as an era of non-stop Anglo-French conflict in various guises and theatres, but history these days starts with the invention of the moving image.
Channel 4's blurb writes
Niall Ferguson, described by The Times as the ‘most brilliant British historian of his generation’, presents a major series proposing an explosive challenge to common assumptions about the 20th Century.
Professor Ferguson argues that in the last century there were not in fact two World Wars and a Cold War – but a single Hundred Years’ War.
It was not nationalism that powered the conflicts of the century, but empires. It was not ideologies of class or the advent of socialism that was the big idea of the century, but race. It was ultimately ethnic conflict that underpinned 20th-century violence.
And finally, it was not the West that triumphed as the century progressed; in fact power slowly and steadily migrated towards the new empires of the East.

Guardian book review

Who invented punk rock?

A couple of weeks ago when seeing the Stiffs the singer said that the Ramones invented punk rock. Well I did take issue with that at the time but said nothing but I thought I'd pass on my view on this occurrence. It was Television - when they had Richard Hell on bass before he was in the Heartbreakers and the Voidoids. Maclaren was manging the Dolls at the time when Television supported them and was immediately impressed by their ripped t-shirts, spikey short hair and nihilistic style. He asked Hell to come back to the UK to front a band he was going to put together. Hell wasn't interested, but the style was adopted by Mclaren when he formed the Sex Pistols - so you can see how the whole transatlantic thing was spawned by TV. Television were hugely influential musically too but there are few recordings that testify to their glory days apart from some live bootlegs of varying quality. One track appears on the recent Hell compilation 'Spurts' which is a must-have album, worth buying for the blistering guitarwork of the lately departed Robert Quine. Hell bio from own website
Enjoy this classic clip...

Quit the nazi thing article

Piece from the Guardian about the football fans and the Nazi thing.

Wednesday, June 14, 2006

Airfix Multipose

These are 1/32 ww2 figures produced originally to much acclaim by Airfix back in the 80s, I think. They now have been rereleased, and come in all the usual ww2 variants - US Marines, Japs, Germans, British, 8th Army, Afrika Korps and US infantry in Europe - and you get 6 figures per box. They come with separate arms, trunks, lower sections, heads, equipment, weapons, helmets and hats. This obviously leads to an endless variety of poses. You even get decals for shoulder badges and so on. Proportions are correct and the equipment accurately enough sculpted. When assembled with the equipment stuck on they look very lifelike and are essentially unique enabling character and personal items to be added making them ideal for skirmish wargaming.
For wargames the downsides are that once assembled they are very top heavy on the bases making them prone to knocking over and damaged. Also you don't really get enough of anything to really vary them - in the Afrika Korps set for example you get one pith helmet - fine but why not provide 6? You cannot for example have all your Japanese in helmets as they provide only three so you're forced to have the set-up given of three in hats three in helmets. Because of the technical problems of making soft headgear out of hard plastic the hats tend to look like they sit too high on the head and some trimming is necessary.
Another disadvantage is the scale; there is not a lot of stuff out there in 1/32 scale or 54mm. Airfix was pretty big on 1/32 but other manufacturers went a different way. Most of the bigger vehicle kits are in the smaller 1/35th so you can't tap into the array of great kits in that scale. What there is in that scale are largely diecast prepainted tanks which though robust are pretty expensive and limited in terms of paint schemes. 21st Century Toys are an example - Forces of Valor are another. CTS have reissued all the Airfix soft plastic figures and vehicles. These are available as are the 21st Century Toys vehicles from Steve Weston's Toy Soldiers

Bath and North east somerset council

Not only did this council spend millions on a spa that never opened that has cost an estimated 200 pounds for every man woman and child in the area but they have spent 3,500 pounds on a three-note jingle which they say represented the core values of their council. How can three notes say corrupt, inept and beyond contempt?

Download festival riot footage

Messthetics Greatest Hits

The Sounds of D-I-Y 1977-80
This is an interesting compilation of British bands in the musical explosion that were the years 1977-80. Each track is its own genre with all manner of unusual sounds and weird ideas. My favourite tracks has to be 'Shark Fucks' by the Tronics - it's easily the most immediately appealing track among this list of idiosyncratic bands and titles. This is music without glamour - the complete opposite of today's diet of recycled ideas tarted up with gyrating naked ladies to exploit the hormonally challenged youths.

The Wind that Shakes the Barley

The UK premiere of this new movie set in Ireland is at the Little Theatre in Bath! Tonight! Also includes Q&A session with director Ken Loach. The socialist director lived in Bath for 30 years and the proceeds are going to Bath City FC.
I hope I can go but it's probably unlikely I'll be able to get tickets. We'll see... Cannes Press Conference
trailer here
The Wind That Shakes The Barley + Q&A with Ken Loach (15)
Duration: 127m Tense and moving, Loach's THE WIND THAT SHAKES THE BARLEY examines the personal cost of social and political conflict with characteristic insight and intelligence and ranks amongst his most poignant and compassionate works. Ireland, 1920. Workers unite to form volunteer guerrilla armies to fight in Ireland's bid for independence. Driven by a deep sense of duty and a love for his country, Damien (Murphy, BREAKFAST ON PLUTO) and his brother, Teddy (Delaney), join the violent conflict. When the two countries finally agree to a treaty, civil war erupts and families who fought side by side find themselves pitted against one another, putting their loyalties to the ultimate test. The period detail is superb, as are the lead performances, headed by a never better Murphy. Vital cinema.
To book tickets, call 08707 55 12 41 or book online

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

Cry-Baby (1990)

Back in the 80s after having seen Hairspray by John Waters which I reckoned to be one of the greatest musical comedies ever, I was really looking forward to the follow up Cry-Baby. It starred the then unknown Johnny Depp as the son of the alphabet bomber or something like that - it slightly disappointed me but it grew on me over time and now it's out on budget dvd I recommend that you buy a copy. It's the usual story of a good girl falling for a bad boy with some great musical numbers thrown in - if you like cheesey 50s teen flicks then you'll probably enjoy this with its cliche ridden story. There are some great subsidiary characters, like Hatchet Face and a cameo from Iggy Pop. Reviews here
Gallery of stills
If you haven't seen Hairspray then that is one hell of a movie - if only for the soundtrack it would be a classic - don't get the stage version as it has 'songs' on it. Hearing Bunker Hill on the movie doing Hide and Go Seek is worth the price of the dvd alone - but seeing the song Madison Time being danced with all the correct actions is movie magic and we made sure our kids watched it when they were still impressionable. I hear they are making a movie of the stage version - rather than like the Producers - ignore that like the pox.

KKK attends Antietam reenactment

Why didn't they just make the organisation illegal and ban them? 30 people causing that much disruption? I used to have really bad dreams about the KKK when I was very young - despite being in the UK - I was too young to know what they were about but old enough to have seen them in books and on tv - in fact the dreams were quite like the video below except I wasn't in a bikini or female.
Watch the video for the Ramones' 'The KKK took my baby away'

Frome is becoming trendy

Don't worry though - Radstock is still as far from trendy as you can get, and you can guarantee that if you see Madonna or Chris Martin in town they will be definitely lost. Babington House this place where they hang out - didn't it used to be an old people's home?

The Saints 'Know Your Product'

This song I don't remember from when it came out - I bought all the early Saints singles like This Perfect Day - the 1-2-3 ep - Erotic Neurotic and then I lost interest. I think I heard the new material was rubbish so I didn't bother. Anyway it was my loss as this is a cracking piece of punk rock and I first heard it on a compilation by the Hives.
If you want to see the Saints miming to This Perfect Day on Top of the Pops here's your chance. TPD is a brilliant song - The Fall did a cover of this - when I read about it I thought it would be the perfect vehicle for the Fall and I could easily imagine them doing it, but when I heard it it was crazy - sang in a bizarre falsetto with crap backing. So full marks for unpredictability although I would have preferred to hear the version that was in my head!
Official site
Lyrics to TPD here
Wiki on The Saints

Anglian Miniatures

My Anglian Miniatures Spanish Civil War figures arrived and they look great! Well detailed and well proportioned these 28mm figures made quite an impression.... 'better than Wargames Foundry' was what my son declared.
My I.B. figures are kitted out in the correct historical dress, from what I know of the period and the weapons were faithfully represented.
You get a sheet with information on how to paint them and some ideas for further reading - including an Osprey Elite on the International Brigade which I didn't know about, so it's a great place for a novice to start.
A feature that was nice was the bases were nicely sculpted - a real base rather than an ugly clump of lead which makes a nice option if you don't like sticking models on what usually looks to me like an overgrown shredded wheat.
So to conclude, 5 stars all round!

Sunday, June 11, 2006

Sandie Shaw Puppet on a String

Susan's birthday today and for that here's a song that song that I think from memory is probably the first song she sang - in private and so on of course, this clip is from the Eurovision song contest of 1967. wiki Puppet on a String

Ferrets and biting

Yesterday Susan got bitten by Barbarella, one of the mothers of the 28 or so baby ferrets we're now looking after. I've never been bitten though I know it really hurts - she went for the bit between the thumb and the first finger and clenched on with gusto. Techniques for stopping it - squeezing between the ears didn't work, but she did eventually give up. The other mothers are fine and don't bite at all but there you go. We were cleaning her cage out and I suppose she thought we might be after her babies.
Someone told me their dad used to have a cigarette going when hadling them and if the ferret bit stubbed it out on their nose - what cruelty! Biting might hurt but that seems barbaric - but I suppose these were country ways and not borne out of any intelligence. My Grandmother, for example, made my uncle when he was a toddler grab a red-hot poker to try and cure his left-handedness!
Wiki on Ferrets is worth a read. Get in touch if you want one....

Saturday, June 10, 2006

Howlin' Wolf 'How Many More Years'

This is a clip from Shindig introduced by Mick Jagger and Cheltenham's 'Mr Shampoo' Brian Jones which I've posted today as it's Howlin' Wolf's birthday. It's also mine - that's how I know. It's also the date in 1940 when Mussolini declared war on France and Britain, which was so late in the campaign that the French were already seeking an armistice before the Italians invaded - basically Il Duce waited until it was all over bar the fat lady singing before choosing sides.
Although not a major football fan I probably will watch the game...

Friday, June 09, 2006

Tav Falco Born too Late

Featuring the music of Panther Burns Memphis Legend Tav Falco in one of his short movies.

Wiki on Tav Falco

Goin' To New York

New Yorkers... daughter Bea gets a day shopping in NYC today so if you hear someone talking like a Pirate that may be her. Our nearest city Bath must be the least modern city in the western world; in fact it is getting older - since the 60s all the modern buildings have been gradually replaced by mock Georgian 'shoppes' that look like they are from the Muppet Christmas carol. Pretty soon they'll make us all put knee-breeches on at the bus station.
Incidentally - and no pun intended - why are the Americans so obsessed with teeth? I know they have this thing about English people having poor dentistry but have they considered it may be the other way around? If you notice the teeth of the well-to-do Yank they look like they have bought their teeth at Wallmart - there is no character - they are unnaturally flawless. Can someone fashionable make bad teeth cool? Paint on some brown on your teeth.... you are freaking us out!
Anyway in the New York groove watch Nico and the Velvets play Sunday Morning.

Bristol Bomb

The city of Bristol was in chaos yesterday as a wartime bomb was uncovered in Broadmead. Much of the area was paralysed - even outside the city buses weren't running - can't help thinking if we'd made as much fuss over each bomb in ww2 we'd have lost the war.

Jackie Wilson Lonely Teardrops

It's Jackie Wilson's birthday today, so let's watch my favourite - Lonely Teardrops. Replacing Clyde McPhatter in Billy Ward and the Dominoes he had his first solo hit in 57 with Reet Petite written by Berry Gordy Jr. He collapsed in 1975 while singing Lonely Teardrops, falling head first to the stage, and was in a coma until he died 1984.
His music has gone on to reach many fans worldwide, not least of them Van Morrison who wrote a song Jackie Wilson said I'm in Heaven When You Smile, later covered by Dexy's.
Celebrate the man today - buy or download Lonely Teardrops and sing it to your lover...

Thursday, June 08, 2006

wartime bomb causes chaos in Bristol

Cool coil experiment

If mentos and diet coke is a bit low tech for you, try this one .....

Bye Bea

Well, eldest daughter is off to the US strange without one to show us whacky clips and educate us in the finer aspects of trash culture. I must admit to blubbering like a child. But time to cheer up... let's watch Polly Harvey with her hit Good Fortune and wish her the best. PJ Harvey must be one of the coolest of the southwests musical exports, though the team-up album with the 'Wurzels must be now long overdue.

Wednesday, June 07, 2006

Polysics coming to Bristol!!!

Very few decent bands play Bristol - it counts as being off the beaten track but the good news is the Polysics are playing the Fleece on 3 July! Bad for Bea though as she'll be in Connecticutt but she insists we go to get her a t-shirt.
They are great - if you search this blog you can watch some of their brilliant videos

Wiki on Polysics
Polysics are a Japanese new wave/synth-pop/J-Rock band, hailing from Tokyo. The band started in 1997, but got their big break in 1998 at a concert in Tokyo. They create high energy music, fusing conventional guitar music, with synthesized and computer generated sound to create a unique mixture of punk and pop, heavily inspired by the American band Devo. Their song lyrics often consist of Japanese, broken English, or just plain gibberish ("Space Language"). The band has been noted for their extremely energetic live performances and their wild gimmicky outfits.

Tuesday, June 06, 2006

Coke and mentos experiment

Youtube has hundreds of 'experiments' with diet coke and mentos to watch (basically if you put a mentos in a coke bottle it creates a huge fountain) - this one has to be the ultimate - a veritable fireworks display of fun. Mentos - sweets - are available in the UK now - so you can do your own summer rocket show with a bottle of diet coke.

Monday, June 05, 2006

X-Ray Spex Identity

Of all the Roxy album bands X-ray Spex are probably my favourites - the songs were fun and serious at the same time - they also managed to be arty without being pretentious. If I were the Stiffs - I'd cover one of their songs - it would be an interesting challenge for a male vocalist to sing - and the songs are kind of unisex anyway. Perhaps there could be an exchange programme where a female singer in a band somewhere does 'Where Have All the Boot Boys Gone' by Slaughter and the Dogs. Lyrics here.

The Stiffs

Saw old school punk rockers the Stiffs again on saturday night. They are still full of energy and vigour ploughing through the iconic punk hits of yesterday - looking forward to seeing them play again at the Midsomer Norton Mardi Gras July 8th 3.00pm

Sunday, June 04, 2006

Touch Sensitive The Fall

This is a Fall song that everyone knows even if they don't know it due to it being used in the Vauxhall Corsa tv advert - everafter known as Corse-Uh. Probably the first real money the Fall ever made...

Saturday, June 03, 2006

Sword and Sandal

This is a genre of movies from the 50s and 60s depicting ancient themes. More specifically films made in Italy. I thought films like 300 Spartans and Helen of Troy counted as Sword and Sandal movies but they're not listed in the Wikipedia article linked above. It seemed to me as a kid growing up in the 60s that every other movie at the local cinema, the Gaumont was set in ancient Greece.
I suppose it could be said the genre was revived by Conan the Barbarian in the 80s and Gladiator in the 90s.


This is a comedy about a family holiday in an 'RV' - what people call in the UK 'winnebagos' - humongous campers with their own plumbing. Starring Robin Williams in the typical Dad role - he can't connect with the kids as he's too busy, you know the drill... mom is the woman from Curb Your Enthusiasm. They meet up with a cheesey family led by Jeff Daniels and do their best to ditch them. Nothing new but pretty funny. Not hilarious but pretty funny. If you are in the mood for a family comedy with a cornucopia of scatological humour this will be your movie. Predictable but enjoyable.

Samurai reenactment

I was looking for things to amaze you with on Youtube - don't worry - I know nooone looks at them - but I still put them up - anyway I found this intriguing clip of a Samurai battle reenactment in Japanso naturally I tried to find out more and found this group Rising Sunbased in Devon. So now you can go out there and do it, if you want to. It seems role-play oriented - let's hope they get lots of members.

Friday, June 02, 2006

Siouxsie and the Banshees Make Up to Break Up

This is an early clip of the Banshees before they got pretentious and boring.

Malcolm McLaren Something's Jumpin' in Your Shirt

This is a summery track to listen to - off Malcy's 'Waltz Darling' album which I really enjoyed - mixing Strauss waltzes with Rap was something only he could pull off. If you are in a steamy mood watch the video for Madam Butterflyoff the album Fans which brought opera and rap together - I remember seeing a South Bank documentary on it at the time. McLaren may not be much of an artist but he was a great blender of things - a catalyst who brought strands of things together.
Sad to see on tv recently he has been claiming to have managed Adam and the Ants though - yeah right - if taking a 1000 pounds off him in exchange for a cassette of songs s and then sacking him counts as managing...

Thursday, June 01, 2006


Military dress is often a way of showing your cultural affiliations - and in this light I was thinking about berets the other day. When did these hats normally associated with Frenchness become the default headgear of all the world's armed forces for one thing? Apparently according to the wiki on the subject linked above they first came on the military scene with the Chasseur Alpins in the French army of the 1880s and were still largely unknown by the early 20th century. But also it was popular with tank crews as it could be worn with earphones and black was the colour that didn't show oilstains. I wonder how much the experience of the Spanish Civil War was to blame for the popularisation of the beret? The popularity of the beret can be said to be from the middle of ww2 - maybe it was symbolic of anti-fascism. Is it really a form of hatlessness that is represented in the beret as it can be shaped like human hair? Does it represent an affiliation with Frenchness in military matters? At least in a sort of casualness as a contrast to German militarism? Interesting to note the American armed forces haved resisted mostly the beret?

Adam and the Ants Plastic Surgery

Still sad that the dvd digital tenderness was deferred? Well console yourself with this clip from the late great Derek Jarman's film Jubilee. Featuring Johnny Bivouac and the Monochrome Set's Andy Warren this is old school Adam at his best. The live set used to start with this song that starts full of menace and then gradually works itself into a frenzy. Jubilee Revisited - piece here.

Pacifying Joint/I Can Hear the Grass Grow The Fall

Another segment from Later with Jools Holland.