Sunday, December 31, 2006

Robert Crumb

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

Battle of Quebec 1775

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

Saturday, December 30, 2006

Eddie Taylor 'Bad Boy'

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

Friday, December 29, 2006

Bill Brandt

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

Russian cartoon

Interesting animation from Russia.

Call of Duty 3

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

Wounded Knee Massacre

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

Marvel Legends

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

Thursday, December 28, 2006

CSS 'Alala' video

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

Wednesday, December 27, 2006

Barbarella

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

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

Tuesday, December 26, 2006

Battle of Trenton

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

James Brown

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

Sunday, December 24, 2006

Anniversary bash

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

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Action Man

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

Dixie Cups Chapel of Love

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

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Dracula and Frankenstein Vs Sherlock Holmes

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

French 18thc reenactors

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

Some American steam

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

Monday, December 18, 2006

Monmouth Rebel

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

Waterloo Road opening credits

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

Sunday, December 17, 2006

Fred McDowell

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

Saturday, December 16, 2006

American Revolution battle scene

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

Yo la Tengo extend tour

Includes dates in the US Japan and Australia.

Frome in the news again







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

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

Friday, December 15, 2006

Taking your children reenacting

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

Deja Vu

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

Chinese river dolphin declared extinct

Thursday, December 14, 2006

Napster



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

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

'Yes but Napoleon hasn't'.

50,000 pounds to improve Sedgemoor trail

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

Tales from the Green Valley DVD

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

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Ill Mitch

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

Billy Boy Arnold 'She fooled me'

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

Flags of our Fathers

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

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Bela Lugosi's dead Bauhaus

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

Massacre at Ma'arrat al-Numan


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

Monday, December 11, 2006

Fete de l'escalade


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

Sunday, December 10, 2006

Great War tank

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

Pan's Labyrinth


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

Replica WW1 tank for sale


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

Saracen APC

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

Saturday, December 09, 2006

Steamboy Trailer

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

Steampunk fansite

Trip to Midsomer Norton station




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

Friday, December 08, 2006

Brotherhood (taegukgi) trailer

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

New Fortean Times out

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

Thursday, December 07, 2006

Trevithick

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

Execution of Michel Ney

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

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Black Robe (1991) trailer

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

Subway Sect Ambition/Staying Out of View clip


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

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

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

300 trailer

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

Info and posters here

Apocalypto


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

Monday, December 04, 2006

Civil War game review

Germinal trailer


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

Wolverine clips

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

Titfield Thunderbolt


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

Battle of Lund 1676


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

Night at the Museum

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

Sunday, December 03, 2006

First Eagles

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

Saturday, December 02, 2006

Frome to Radstock Railway

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

Austerlitz

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

Any comments?

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

David Fisher - Somerset artist

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

Friday, December 01, 2006

1816 - the Year without a summer

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

French tanks of World War Two video

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

Bread or Blood

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