Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Take a clean blog...

My music blog has had a sideline in comic reviews since its inception (some reviews also appearing here) but i thought it was high time that comics had their own blog so i have created a new blog called Take A Clean Sheet Of Paper for just that. Comics (or graphic novels if you are posh) will be reviewed here, i also intend to review comic related movies i see and maybe some other relevant items too. So take a look, i'll probably still cross post some reviews here.

Saturday, November 26, 2011

TOTP (27/10/1976)

Tony Blackburn is here with the hottest pop sounds...

Alan Price - kissed away the night
We start off with a rather generic piece of mid-1970s pop-rock, it has piano and some sha-la-las and isn't much better than passable.

Tony Blackburn is wearing a t-shirt that states he hates David Hamilton, no doubt there will be a hilarious joke later on.

Chicago - if you leave me now
Tony says its the #3 sound and a lovely sound too. Its a syrupy piece of white pop-soul recorded in a studio somewhere but no doubt thousands of miles from the BBC.

OK here comes the joke, David Hamilton is wearing a t-shirt that says he hates Tony Blackburn. LOLZ

Leo Sayer - you make me feel like dancing
OK this edition of TOTP is turning into my Dad's record collection. Leo does high-pitched disco singing in a hi-tec SFX laden studio set piece with a budget of tens. I grew up on songs like this, but somehow ended up loving pop music.

Joan Armatrading - love and affection
Raising the class a bit Joan with one of her folk-rock hits, but because just seeing someone standing there with a guitar is a bit boring we get some SFX fun too. At one stage we get about 20 Joans on the screen at the same time, which quite frankly is enough for anyone.

The as-yet unnamed new dancers are here to frolic about to Lalo Schifrin's "theme from Jaws", this has to be a new low. It is unimaginably bad but does include wet suits and shark fins but maybe not in a good way. Tony pimps the contest again but don't enter now as the competition to name the dancers is over, no matter how good your entry they arn't going to rename Legs & Co. at this stage in 2011.

Simon May - the Summer of my life
Boring man at the old joanna, got to say this isn't a vintage edition of TOTP.

Wild Cherry - play that funky music
Play that funky music white boy. Is it funky though? Interesting question.

Pussycat - Mississippi
For their third week at number 1 Pussycat are live in the studio, having bored of their floating gambling den.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

An owl at Christmas

For some reason my wife wanted to put the Christmas decorations up yesterday, i did think it was a tad early even for me but so be it. We bought some new decorations and i got this lovely creepy owl. I suspect it will be inhabiting my nightmares any night now.

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Stratford (again)

We went to Stratford-upon-Avon today, for me the 4th time this year i believe. In fact i have been to Stratford more times this year than the rest of my life put together (that i can remember anyway). And why not as i love it! I wanted to go to Stratford before the end of the year to see what it as like there in Winter as i've only ever been in the Summer before, and also i wanted to stock up on fudge at the sweet shop on Henley Street!

We had a nice day out including seeing some Morris dancers, some old cars and were followed by a lonely goose. Here are the photos i took.
Stratford DSC_0012

Friday, November 18, 2011

Worcester (again)

I went to Worcester for the first time in early September though didn't have time to see the canal (the Worcester & Birmingham Canal terminates here and joins the River Severn), so i returned today and rectified that. Here are the photos i took including many at the huge marina!
Worcester DSC_0061

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Jewellery Quarter

Yesterday i visited the university's School of Jewellery which is one of our campuses i have not visited before (and thus was able to cross it off in my Ian Allan ABC of Birmingham City University Campuses). The SOJ is located in the city's Jewellery Quarter, home of many jewellers and workshops, which is a nice part of the city i haven't visited that much even though i worked on the edge of the Quarter for the first 3 years of my working life! I must come again one day, though preferably in the Summer.
Jewellery Quarter

Monday, November 14, 2011

Comics : Cinebook Recounts 2 : The Falklands War

To someone like myself who remembers the Falklands War of 1982 very vividly (maybe the most abiding TV memory of my childhood) a graphic novel telling the story of that war at first appears very strange. But then again graphic novels of WW2 seem fine and for some people they were vivid memories too so why not?

And indeed this is a very beautiful piece of work with excellent artwork. To fit the whole conflict into the confines of one volume was difficult i bet and at times the story races along at breakneck speed and also puts somewhat odd speech into the "characters'" mouths in order to advance the narrative sufficiently. I did notice a couple of inaccuracies with the events portrayed here but something only a military or history geek would really pick up on.

This is a very good piece of work, it should be required reading for British children to see how a British colony was regained nearly 30 years ago despite great difficulties and great cost.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

2011 building over

The outhouse where i build my model planes is unheated and thus is too cold really from November to about March. Therefore like last year i have decided to call a halt to building kits and wait until it warms up a bit! As a final act after a lot of hard gluing and painting i collected all the projects built in 2011 together for this photo. 2011 building campaign over, here are some i made earlier

Thursday, November 10, 2011

TOTP (21/10/1976)

Ed Stewart is here to run us through the hottest pop sounds...

Steve Harley & Cockney Rebel - love is a prima donna
Steve is in a rather fetching red suit, the song itself grooves along fairly inoffensively but then moves into a rather higher gear and some lovely guitar work Ed appreciates.

There is a competition tonight, get a pen and paper ready.

Demis Roussos - when forever has gone
The warbling big man is dressed as Moses and still has a fantastic big beard. A song that probably works at the end of a long night in a Mediterranean bar but maybe not so much here...

Ed has a couple of sailor girls with him, daughters of a couple of Beverley Sisters apparently. I’d rather look at them than...

Paul Nicholas - dancing with the captain
Paul has gone for a bowler hat and white jacket look which is not very nautical. It doesn’t change my enjoyment of this song though. SFX alert! Overlay of some water moving about while Paul tries to get people to clap. Ah good its ended.

Rod Stewart - sailing
Rod walks around a boat looking moody. We get to see some film of Britain’s sea power too. Little did people know watching this that the Tories were soon to get back in power and gut the Royal Navy, of course that couldn’t happen these days.

Ed is a thorn along six roses... the new TOTP dancers infact and the audience are invited to give them a name. I suggest... er... Legs & Co. Do i win?

John Miles - remember yesterday
At the old joanna for a rather generic but not unpleasant late 70s pop-rock song.

The as-yet unnamed new dancers are here to dance seductively to the Average White Band’s “queen of my soul”. Well parade around in flowing dresses anyway on a star shaped stage, very age of Aquarius. One of the dancers looks like my art teacher at secondary school (in the 80s), couldn’t have been? Could it? I hope it was.

Climax Blues Band - couldn’t get it right
SFX overload takes us into a mass of flares and long hair. Nice understated cool feel to this.

Whats this, Joe Bugner (no really) is here to introduce the number 1...

Pussycat - Mississippi
Same western themed MV on a boat, great stuff by the way.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Bristol F.2B

The latest Airfix project has nearly been completed, my Bristol F.2, which can be seen here post-varnish. Unfortunately i had a bit of a mishap later on which broke the top wing off!!! Hopefully its nothing that can't be fixed with a bit of glue. Bristol F.2B

Saturday, November 5, 2011

MA Day school

Today i attended the first day school of my current Open University course (which is an MA in History of course), the day school was at the OU's HQ in Milton Keynes. This was the first time i had been there, indeed the first time i had been to MK! An interesting if slightly strange place to be sure, both the campus and MK! I of course got lost on my day to the day school (well its traditional for me, i just wonder how it is possible for someone to have such a lack of a sense of direction!)

The day school was good, though tiring, and i had a nice chat with my tutor. Unfortunately at the train was delayed coming back home due to some overhead line problems nearly Wembley (though in the end my train was only delayed 30 minutes). That meant i had time to have a surreal chat with a dopehead on the train platform, he was on the run from the police for breaking his bail conditions because he couldn't go back home because his girlfriend (who seemed also pretty drugged up) had burnt all his clothes and stabbed him. He was looking to go to Wales to hide, though got on a train for Glasgow. I think he was too high to really care one way or the other! Milton Keynes

Friday, November 4, 2011

Firefox woes and redemption

Firefox is my favourite web browser and seems to work best with how i surf the web, so when Firefox started to develop terminal crash-itus on my work PC i was most annoyed. It remained rock solid at home on my Mac but quickly became unusable at work, crashing after 1 page load. I tried the latest version and even downgraded to version 3 after trying my best to scrub away the previous version from the hard drive but no joy, at most i gained a few hours respite.

I began to use Chrome as my main work browser which is fine though i don't really like how it works (and also does not work perfectly with the university's content management system). Then the IT department came and fixed my Firefox for me while i was away on holiday. It fixed things... well for a few days until the crashes returned. Then i disabled Flash...

Since then Firefox has worked for me nearly perfectly! I did have a couple of crashes this morning but these were the first since Monday. So it seems like it may have been the Flash plugin all along, now surfing sans Flash is a slight inconvenience (and ironic because i completed FLI Flash Introduction in the Spring!) but to be honest it is not a total loss and Chrome is always available for Flash enabled pages. HTML5 works fine of course and that is where we are going as a university in any case (and at home too, thanks to the wonderful Hype program).

Blog refresh

I thought it was time to shake things up a bit on my 2 main blogs, which is this one of course and my music blog. I've decided to give Blogger's Popular Posts feature a try in the sidebar but also in general try to present more options to the visitor in the sidebar, more destinations to go to.

It will be interesting to see how the "Popular Posts" section changes, it is set to show the top 5 posts from the last 30 days.

Comics : Blake & Mortimer 7 : The Affair of the Necklace

The Affair Of The Necklace, the 7th translated and released into English by Cinebook, is one of the books written and drawn by the creator of Blake & Mortimer Edgar P. Jacobs (the series being continues by other authors and artists after his death). This book stands out from much of the rest of the series by virtue of the fact the plot is rather mundane (by Blake & Mortimer standards).

There are no evil masterminds, no exotic death rays or retro-futurist science this time, instead the plot revolves around basic theft (of a necklace natch).

Much of the story does take on a fairly mysterious and fantastical air though in the catacombs below Paris but at its heart this is a basic crime and chase story and enjoyable it is too if a bit pedestrian compared to some of the other stories.

Its not the best Blake & Mortimer story in the series but still well worth a read.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Back to vinyl

Years ago (and we are talking mid-90s so literally ice ages ago) i was a vinyl fiend. I bought scores of obscure indie pop 7" singles and a good number of LPs too (though preferred CDs for long play) and all was good. However life changes in the end of the 90s (i.e. getting married) meant i needed space so somethings had to go, in an act of what can only be described as cultural vandalism that included my vinyl collection as i was out of love with indie pop at the time. All my singles and LPs went in the skip, now when i think back at what was lost including much of the Sarah records back discography i regret this so much.

Of course i have continued buying scores of records a year, but now just CDs. However recently there have been a few singles out there released on 7" vinyl only and although its possible to get downloadable versions of these songs i thought it would be nice to actually listen to them properly (and space is no longer a problem these days). So i bought a cheap self-contained record player which arrived yesterday. Two singles i ordered elsewhere also arrived at the same time luckily so i had something to play on it! I'll continue to mainly buy CDs but now i will from time to time enjoy the ultimate pop thrill of seven inches of plastic.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011


Earlier i cleaned up the mesmerising painting that is at the top of my stairs, a print by J.H. Lynch called Tanya apparently according to this website on the artist. J.H. Lynch was a British artist who sold thousands of prints of exotic looking ladies in the 1960s and beyond. These paintings might be considered kitsch these days (usually by hipster idiots) but i think they have a real feeling and soul about them.

My Tanya was passed down to me from my Grandmother who had the painting in the hall of her house ever since the print had been bought sometime in the late 60s and i always loved this painting. After my Nan passed away i just had to have Tanya (no one else wanted her anyway) and she has been in my house for the last 10 years. I can see her as i open my bedroom door so she is usually the first person i see every day, and what a lovely sight she truly is!

Comics : The Golden Age Of DC Comics - 365 Days

If you are not familiar with these kinds of books, 365 Days volumes, they have an entry for every day of the year (natch) on a specific subject, the daily subject often having a tie in with what the relevant date is. The Golden Age of DC Comics: 365 Days is on DC comics, home of the iconic Superman, Batman and a galaxy of other heroes, this book covers DC from its pre-costumed hero days (when it literally was Detective Comics) to the post-war when westerns and sci-fi periodically knocked the men (and women) in tights off their perches.

Most people will have heard of the main characters like Superman of course and they feature heavily here, though what is particularly enjoyable is some of the lesser-known and maybe forgotten heroes like Air Wave who apparently combated villains by roller-skating along telegraph wires and Fatman who wore a lampshade as his mask. To be honest i think some of these guys would make for better films than some of the recent subjects like the Green Lantern (but considering the rate of which Hollywood is plundering the comics universe i suspect films about Air Wave and the like are probably only a few years off).

Each entry has a subject reproduction from an old DC comic and a brief accompanying paragraph of text. Some of the images are quite surreal, especially some of the pre-war ones with elements of Art Deco. I also really love the start of this horror story, i'd love to read the rest of this!
In fact that is the only criticism of this excellent volume, i wish there was an easy way to read the rest of some of the stories featured in here! Its a huge thick volume you will be dipping into all the time, superb piece of work!

TOTP (14/10/1976)

David Hamilton presents the hottest sounds including Pussycat our new number one! We start off with a bit of soul-disco though...

Tavares - don’t take away the music
Amid a cloud of dry ice come the Tavares, in co-ordinated spangly suits, with this enjoyable if a bit basic pop tune. I can’t remember the show starting with a performance not in the TOTP studio before.

Sherbet - howzat
At #4 now is the T20 wicket taking theme. It looks like a reprise of a previous show’s performance unless the singer only owns the one horrible blue suit. Not only is the singer shirtless under his suit but the drummer is too under his dungarees, must be hot in the studio.

Simon May - the summer of my life
Simon is at the old joanna though this tune is very much wine bar not a kneesup. We do get a lady in a blue dress dancing though.

Ruby Flipper are here to dance Wild Cherry’s “play that funky music”, they do more or less gyrate in time to the music for a change.

Liverpool Express - hold tight
Its mid-70s pop rock and we love it, bit of singing, guitar solo then some more singing and a singalong chorus.

David Hamilton has a David Essex fan with him, well no one is perfect.

David Essex - coming home
I like this, the backing band are bathed in blue light so they look like Andorians. Good rollicking stomp of a song.

JALN Band - disco music
A British take on disco and gave the JALN Band their biggest hit. A pretty good song to be honest with plenty of energy.

Pussycat - Mississippi
Dutch country and western conquers the British pop chart! I’m starting to really love this song and we get the pop video which is set on a Mississippi river boat (natch).