Tuesday, 31 December 2013

Year-End Wrap-Up 2 -- Film

Quotation Of The Day: Mark Twain ~ New Year's is a harmless annual institution, of no particular use to anybody save as a scapegoat for promiscuous drunks, and friendly calls and humbug resolutions.

Here, in case you're interested, is the list of every film i watched in 2013. (Yes, i keep track of schtuff like this, i'm a list-freak, what can i tell you...) They're not, i hasten to add, all current releases. Many of them are older than you are, and most of them i was watching for at least the second time. Ready?

The Girl Who Played With Fire (three times)
Analyze This
Mighty Aphrodite
The Girl Who Kicked The Hornet's Nest (three times)
The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo (2011 version) (twice)
The Eagle Has Landed
Django Unchained (twice)
Source Code (twice)
The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo (2009 version)
The Bourne Legacy (twice)
Sherlock Holmes And The Scarlet Claw
Zero Dark Thirty (twice)
Skyfall (twice)
25th Hour
Sherlock Holmes: A Game Of Shadows
The Adjustment Bureau
Daisy Diamond
In The Cut
Magical Mystery Tour
The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey (twice)
The New Adventures Of Pippi Longstocking
From Dusk Till Dawn
Living In The Material World
Run, Lola, Run
Women On The Verge Of A Nervous Breakdown
A Good Day To Die Hard (twice)
Body Of Lies
Dressed To Kill

Standing In The Shadows Of Motown
Green Zone
Dead Man Down (twice)
Casualties Of War
The Road
Die Hard 2: Die Harder
Indiana Jones And The Raiders Of The Lost Ark
Indiana Jones And The Last Crusade
Indiana Jones And The Temple Of Doom
Indiana Jones And The Kingdom Of The Crystal Skull (bit of an Indiana Jones binge there)
From Hell
A Clockwork Orange
The Bourne Supremacy
Live Free Or Die Hard
A Serious Man
I Am
Gorky Park
Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home
Love Actually
The Sweeney
As Good As It Gets
Broken Arrow .

And what were my favourites of the newer releases (i hear you ask)? Loved The Bourne Legacy, loved Django Unchained, but i think that The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey gets the nod from me this year. And of the older ones? Wall-E -- i love this film to pieces.

But i also have to mumble a few syllables about "A Good Day To Die Hard," which has made almost everyone's top five worst films of 2013.

I liked it! I like the franchise and i bought the DVD and, on first viewing i didn't see much in it beyond the excitement of bloodshed and vehicular carnage -- which is what you want from a Bruce Willis film, after all. The second time, i started to begin to detect the appearance of a plot. (No, really....) I'm actually kinda sorta looking forward to seeing it again -- maybe the plot i detected will start to make sense. And maybe it won't. Who cares when there's that much broken glass flying around?

Otherwise, just my latest playlist:

The Beatles - Sgt Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band
Amy Grant - A Christmas Album
John Kirkpatrick, Rosie Cross et al - Wassail!
The Albion Band - A Christmas Present From The Albion Band
The Albion Band - Another Christmas Present From The Albion Band
Joan Osborne - Righteous Love
Sky - Mozart
Pink Floyd - Meddle
Jeff Berlin - Crossroads
Iceberg - Sentiments

Happy Hogmanay, one and all!

Monday, 23 December 2013

It's Beginning To Look A Lot Like ... OUCH!

Quotation of the day ~ Bill Watterson: Oh look, yet another Christmas TV special! How touching to have the meaning of Christmas brought to us by cola, fast food, and beer... Who'd have ever guessed that product consumption, popular entertainment, and spirituality would mix so harmoniously?

Now before i go any further, i would like to state that i love Christmas. December 24th and December 25th are my two favourite days of the year. I hate hearing Christmas music in October, though, and in fact i hate most "popular" Christmas music -- hell, i wouldn't listen to Perry Como or Alvin & The Chipmunks at any other time of the year, why do malls / radio stations / piped-in muzak systems in pubs imagine that i'd be interested in listening to them now? (In fact, several years ago, a radio station to which i had been a devoted listener, started playing Alvin & The Chipmunks with distressing frequency in October and i damn near threw the radio out the window.) (And i set off on a quest for a new radio station to listen to, but that's a story told elsewhere on this blog.) (Search "radio" if you care.)

Anyway, where was i? Right, yes. Two weeks ago, i was at work, gearing up for what are generally our two busiest weeks of the year, all of those grumpy Christmas shoppers working up an appetite buying gifts no one wants with money they don't have. I was humping around a crate of chicken, maybe 18 / 20 kilos -- something i do all day long -- when owowowowOOOOOOW!!!! A pain soared through my back and all of a sudden i couldn't really stand up all that well. The boss drove me home, as obviously i couldn't really contribute much beyond the occasioanl pathetic moan to the rest of my shift.

That was Monday. Tuesday is my regular day off anyway, and, hard as this may be to believe, i did even less than usual that day. The boss told me to also take Wednesday off (with pay) which was nice, and return on thursday. On Wednesday i was feeling okay, so, cool, all on the road to recovery, yay. On Thursday morning, i awoke to a feeling like red-hot knives slicing through my back, i could barely stand up, and at 6 a.m. i went to the hospital (which i maybe should have done in the first place). The doctor diagnosed muscle spasms, gave me some Advil, told me to stay off work until Saturday and sent me home.

So, i went back to work, assigned "light duties," in other words tedious crap that no one else wants to do <sigh>.

Okay, okay, long story short. It was a terribly boring week for me although the restaurant was crazybusy, and i have been back at normal duty since Saturday and having no further problems.

But, the thing is, Christmas has been even more disorganised than usual for me this year. I wasn't straying too far from home, didn't go into the pub (or even have a drink) for well over a week, couldn't get to the post office (so if you receive your Christmas card late this year, that's the reason).

Hasten to add: i'm 100% fine now, no probs at all, and great effort has meant that i'm almost all set for Christmas. Just have to get the beer in, and i can do that tomorrow morning.

Here's the latest from the CD collection (including one recent acquisition, out of sequence):

And the playlist?

Jethro Tull - The Jethro Tull Christmas Album
The Albion Christmas Band - Winter Songs
Yes - Talk
Waterson : Carthy - Holy Heathens And The Old Green Man
The Albion Band - Rise Up Like The Sun
Siouxsie & The Banshees - A KIss In The Dreamhouse
Steeley Span - Bedlam Born
Van der Graaf Generator - Trisector
John Kirkpatrick - Every Mortal Place
The Trans-Siberian Orchestra - The Lost Christmas Eve
Vatious Artists - Morris On The Road
The Trans-Siberian Orchestra - The Christmas Attic
Keith Emerson - The Christmas Album
The Trans-Siberian Orchestra - Beethoven's Last Night
The Albion Christmas Band - Snow On Snow
Donnie Munro - Donnie Munro
Joan Osborne - Christmas Means Love
Various Artists - All Through The Year
The Beatles - Beatles For Sale
Runrig - Live At Celtic Connections 2000
Marillion - Merry Xmas To Our Flock
Ronny Heimdal - Timequake
James Taylor - Covers
Home - BBC Sessions
The Kinks - The Road
Jon Anderson - 3 Ships


Tuesday, 10 December 2013

Year-End Wrap Up Part 1 -- Music

Quotation of the day ~ Unknown: I wanted to send you something amazing for Christmas, but the mailman told me to get out of the mailbox... 

Right, well, it may be a little early, but as there's nothing new in music on the horizon, i've decided to begin my year-end wrap up with albums, beginning with a list of every CD i bought this year, because i know how interested you are, so in no particular order:

Black Country Communion – Afterglow           
Rival Sons – Head Down               
Rival Sons – Pressure And Time           
O.S.T. - The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo           
Paul Simon – Live In New York City           
Big Wreck –In Loving Memory Of...           
Colin James – Twenty Five Live                       
Paula Cole – Raven                       
Big Wreck – The Pleasure And The Greed                       
Mick Abrahams – Cat Squirrel Blues           
Sheryl Crow – Feels Like Home           
Fish – Feast Of Consequences           
The Lovin' Spoonful –Greatest Hits                       
Sammy Hagar – Sammy Hagar & Friends           
Rory Gallagher – Kickback City           
Rod Stewart – Rarities           
The Beatles – On Air -- Live At The BBC Volume  2
Martin Carthy & Dave Swarbrick – Walnut Creek           
Richard Thompson – Cabaret Of Souls           
Kate Rusby – 20           
Richard Thompson -- Electric           
John Kirkpatrick – Every Mortal Place           
Maddy Prior with Hannah James & Giles Lewin – 3 For Joy           
June Tabor / Iain Ballamy / Huw Warren – Quercus           
Bert Jansch – Avocet

The Albion Band -- Rise Up Like The Sun

Yes, twenty seven albums, long gone are the days when i would buy 100 CDs a year. Internet downloads are partly responsible for this (legal or illegal -- i'm not telling). There's also the fact that so many of the artists i love are either dead or inactive now, most current "pop" music holds no interest for me, and there's also the minor fact that i already have a vast collection and so little music-listening time, and so i'm maybe a bit more careful about what i buy.

That said, here are this year's best ofs. Note: many of these were released prior to 2013, but i include them because i only bought them this year, so there!

Song of the year: "The Immigrant Song" by Trent Reznor (vocal by Karen O.) (from "The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo" soundtrack).    Fabulous techno-grunge version of the Led Zeppelin song http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=L0bD4ts8eWY

Album of the year: "A Feast Of Consequences" by Fish. The former Marillion lead singer's solo albums have been either great or, shall i say, less than interesting, but this is without a doubt  the finest album of his solo career.

Runners-up: "Head Down" by Rival Sons -- a new rock band that actually rocks, rather than pounds. 

And "Sammy Hagar & Friends" by Sammy -- well, apart from my dear sister, who doesn't love Sammy?

Re-issue of the year: "Kickback City" by Rory Gallagher. As i have said ad nauseam, Rory was my fave guitarist ever. He was a fan of hard-boiled detective novels and this set is a collection of his songs that were inspired by Dashiel Hammett, etc. It's actually a 3-CD set -- disc one is all previously released schtuff, disc two is live performances that were only previously available on the "Live From Cork" DVD (which -- here's a surprise! -- i happen to have). Disc 3 is actor Aidan Quinn (big Rory fan) reading a specially-written novella by Ian Rankin (one of my fave writers and also a big Rory fan) called "The Lie Factory." All re-issues should be this sumptuous.

Runner-up: "Rarities" by Rod Stewart. No, really. Younger readers may find it difficult to believe but before he became an utterly irrelevant and boring old fart, Rod was a true rocker and a folk/blues dynamo -- and "Rarities" collects rare and unreleased schtuff from 1969-1974. His heyday and i love it. 

And that's the state of music chez nous, 2013, except to add my most recent playlist:

The Kinks - Soap Opera
Pink Floyd - A Momentary Lapse Of Reason
Robin Trower - Roots And Branches
Sammy Hagar - Sammy Hagar & Friends
The Beatles - 1
Vinegar Joe - Live At Golder's Green
George Harrison - 33 and 1/3
The Beatles - On Air
Dagmar Krause - Angebot & Nachfrage
Jethro Tull - Repeat
Yes - Close To The Edge
Sparks - Kimono My House
Steve Hackett - Watcher Of The Skies
Ashley Hutchings - The Compleat Dancing Master
J.S. Bach - Violin Concertos BWV 1041-1042-1043-1064