Thursday, 28 December 2017

A Recommendation to The Curious.

"The sun was down behind the mill, and the light was off the fields, and when the clock bell in the church tower struck seven, I thought no longer off kind mellow evening hours of rest, and scents of flowers and words on evening air, but instead images came to me of dusty beams and creeping spiders and savage owls up in the tower and forgotten graves and their ugly contents below, and off flying time and all it had taken out of my life. And just then into my left ear-close as if lips had been put within an inch of my head, the frightful scream came thrilling again."
             The above was a brief extract from an M R James short story A Neighbour's Landmark. It is not a story I am overly familiar with but I would single out this short piece of writing as a lovely example of just what a fine writer James was. A beautiful set up  of rustic charm which pivots and slides into unfathomable terrors. A roofs edge nicely balanced paragraph that is equally descriptive as it is mood setting. There is as much Turner as there is Poe in this piece of writing,the work bleeding from the edges of the canvas of the reader's imagination, in ochre and gray hues.
              M R James body of work can be found in many editions. He inspires as many formats as artists who seek to illuminate the tales. The two editions I took to read over the Christmas holidays are two nicely put together paperback editions from Penguin. Easy to carry, hard to put down. Went for a walk today down a frosty country lane that runs between an old Protestant graveyard and an equally old Catholic one. Leafless trees hung weighed down with frosty moisture in protective groupings around the resting places of the long deceased. Reading M R James is the perfect prelude to such a winter dander although it renders the darker corners somehow seemingly unquiet.

Tardis Full Of Doctors.

And if you did not feel three Doctors on Christmas Day were enough here is a couple more. What a great photo. Imagine it photo bombed by Tom Baker himself, laughing like a loon. Oh yes, if you are reading this then you probably already are. Well why not, tis the season to be jolly Fa-la-la-la-laaaa...

She Had Me At "Brilliant."....

Look at that smile. Brilliant. Love the accent. Like Christopher Eccelson's bonkers wee sister.It was like she was birthed in an exploding incubator that she was immediately tipped out off. All that good advice seconds before from her previous incarnation too, but words are not to speak.

Thursday, 21 December 2017

Seasons Greetings From Faceache.

I was hoping to come up with a cheery Christmas message for any of you guys who might be reading this but this panel from a Faceache strip says it much better than the boobie-babble I might come up with. God Bless us everyone,ho, ho,ho .Basically, Have a good one you lovely people.

Tuesday, 19 December 2017

We Love you Ricky Wilson.

Ricky Wilson was the guitar player and one of the founding members of The B52s way back in 1976. Literally another time, a different century. Ricky was only 32 in October 1985 when he died, from complications related to AIDS.  He had just completed recording on the fourth studio album by the band "Bouncing Off The Satellites." The B52s seemed , and continue to seem, so close to each other. Like a family of friends. I cannot imagine what it must have been like for them to suffer such a tragic blow. They must have considered calling it a day as a band without him, the loose must have been so huge.
            Ricky Wilson was a hugely talented guitar player and song writer. The sound he produced from his guitar was literally all his own work as he tuned it in his own special way, creating a Ricky Wilson/ B52 sound. Just listen to his playing on stuff like Private Idaho, Give Me Back My Man or the seemingly effortlessly cool Lava. If there were such a thing as a rock god he would be tapping his feet in approval "Yes, like me, that Ricky is a creator.". These among others are inspired and brilliantly timeless. Yet I do not know if he has ever received the admiration and respect he deserved, which his musical gifts surely warranted. I might be wrong. I do not read any musical papers or am familiar with related musical journalism. I do not know if there is even such a thing anymore. Reading an article in Record collector or the NME would be like me reading about trout fishing in in-land waterways in Trout Fishing Monthly. I feel so distanced from the current music scene yet still take great joy in listening to so much of the music I grew up listening to. I still have a load of vinyl from them Golden Years but as far as I am aware there were no great gay guitarists in the bands I listened to and I think it would have been something great to know there was a great gay rock and roll guitarist belting out great tracks that made you want to dance and sing a long to.
               I also do not if Ricky Wilson would have been comfortable being described in the music press or any press for that matter as "Gay guitarist Ricky Wilson" he might just have preferred "guitarist Ricky Wilson", perhaps not wishing to have his sexuality become a defining characteristic of his persona as a performer. He sounds by what little I know to have been something of a private individual. Flamboyant front men, and women, are in no short supply in the history of Rock n' Roll. The colorful captains leading their fellows across the vast sea of entertainment. Yet we so often never get to see the men, or women, who stoke the engines keeping the vessels moving forward, straining before the open furnace shovelling fuel. None of the other band members were even aware he was sick with AIDS as he did not want to burden them with worries for his sake, which indicates a reserved but caring nature.
                Mind you,way back in the mid eighties there were so many misconceptions and societal mysteries regarding AIDS and the many people who suffered with the condition, some of which, unbelievably, persist to this day. So many sources of support and treatment were not readily available and many sufferers found themselves demonised and ostracized and even mistreated.
                What a terrible thing it was that Ricky Wilson was only thirty two when he died, a hugely talented and much loved person with so much potential. He had already achieved so much and it would have been something to see how he would have matured as a writer and performer. Just look at the video made for Song For A Future Generation and see him having a laugh, swinging on a flower bedecked tree swing, taping away joyfully with feet of flame to that anthem to the power of song to transcend time. What a honey.The B52s went on to record again and to achieve great world wide success but their finest period for me will always be when Ricky Wilson was effortlessly belting out great guitar riffs and tunes that will always be around as long as people love to dance around a mess.

Wednesday, 13 December 2017

Tomb Of Ligiea.

Was a bit cut off the last few days with the damn wintery weather. The surface of thepavements around my house being turned to slippery wet glass by the layers of ice. Felt quite melancholy so I turned to my Roger Corman Poe cycle of movies in order to learn just what melancholy really means.
Watched his adaption of Edgar Allen Poe's short story "Ligiea". With Vincen Price bedecked in a suitably funereal fashion as a widower, Vernon Fell, who is haunted by the spirit of his dead wife who has returned from the dead in a vengeful angry mood in the form of a black cat.
              Tomb Of Ligiea is a lovely film to look at with the exterior filming being particularly striking as it was done in a ruined ancient abbey somewhere in a lost middle England. While the interior sets include every left over prop from every other Roger Corman Poe adaption made up to that point. I thoroughly enjoyed this piece and thought that Vincent Price was ubber-cool with his specially made wrap around glasses created for his character who was sensitive to direct sun light.
               At one point though I had to pause the movie as the dialogue totally threw me. I had never heard such an a weird marriage of goobly-gook and bizarre skewed sentiment delivered with such heart felt sincerity, as an actor of Vincent Price's abilities was capable off.delivering. The dialogue went as follows; "Christopher,not ten minutes ago I tried to kill a stray cat with a cabbage and all but made love to the Lady Rowena. I succeeded in squashing the cabbage and badly frightening the lady. If only I could lay open my own brain as easily as I did that vegetable. What rot would be freed from its grey leaves. I need a stroll."
               It was so unintentionally funny, so loaded with wonkily poetic melancholy I could not stop laughing. Honestly, for about ten minutes. I love Vincent Price and he delivered this clanger of a statement with one hundred per cent commitment to the dialogue and character. But boy did I think it was so funny. The screen play was written by a writer called Robert Towne who later went on to win an Oscar for his Screen play for Chinatown. I do not remember any dialogue from that movie but I will never forget his dialogue for this one.


Tuesday, 12 December 2017

Wilde In Action.

Now this is what I call an action figure. For the boy, or girl, who wants to remain thoroughly modern. Garth Ennis picked it up for me from a store in New York. Who would have thought, a store in New York that sells odd little things. Its a lovely thing all the same. I suspect Oscar would approve. Him being a full on celeb and media figure before the world even understood what that was. Celebrity being the ultimate disposable today. Oscar blazed like a meteor in his time. A heavenly spectacle that crashed and burned when it fell to earth.
            The flame that burned twice as bright burned only half as long.

Thursday, 7 December 2017

A Mid Winter Mid Summer Nights Dream.

If you find yourself struggling or indifferent to an enchanted frame of mind and possibly wish to open an envelope mailed from the land of Faerie then you could do worse than to give this old BBC adaption of the Shakespeare play a view. Or a couple. Or a thrice. Sometimes it takes a while for these things to percolate past our reserves of modernity to the forgotten pagan inside. The one who believes in magic and all the possible others. it is such a strikingly beautiful adaption that looks and sounds ethereal. one to light a fire in the heart of ones imagination, the seat of dreams. I found a copy that some one had donated to an Oxfam book store near me and it has charmed me no end. I have been glamoured by Shakespeare.
           This version has the most amazing cast. Almost every part played by a familiar old face that are so good at what they do they make it seem so natural and easy.  There is Helen Merren as a beautiful but equally other worldly and imperious Titania. See Phil Daniels as a punk street urchin Puck who seems filled with a boundless energy yet also slyly natural. And what a joy to see Brian Glover as Bottom. That Dead-pan delivery in the dourest of northern tones whose transformation generates a magical smile despite the fact you know its a coming. The whole production has an wonderful dark wintery night production feel to it. As though it ticks every box that made the BBC a creative force to be reckoned with the world over. It is a joy and it is a keeper.
             "Lord, what fools these mortals be!"

Wednesday, 6 December 2017

Whats On Your Mind, Worzel?

Was browsing through an old Worzel Gummidge annual (from 1981 published by Grandreams.) and I came across this rather poignant photograph of himself having a right old rumination in his turnipy old head. Found it strangely moving. Could not help but wonder what could be going through the mind of the brilliant and magical Jon Pertwee. Something tells me it was probably something other than " A nice cup of tea and a slice of cake..."

Tuesday, 5 December 2017

What Rodger Knows.

Say hello to another genius creation by Ken Reid. Rodger The Dodger. Another comic book creation who's name entered the shared cultural zeitgeist of generations of readers of British comics as a description for someone who would never do anything they could get someone to do for them instead. Playful and ingenious and wise as an old owl who likes to trick and deceive people. He has been sitting gathering dust in my old home for years now but Roger was never a fellow to let dust settle. Not when he could quite easily and craftily trick someone into dusting on his behalf.
             Oh that Rodger. He was incorrigible.

Radio Times Bitter Sweet Festive Treat.

Its beginning to look a lot like Christmas. Its a cliche I know. Just imagine Dean Martin is saying it and you could almost believe it. What a cover. Peter Capaldi really shows us the soul of The Doctor when he looks directly at us. I am going to miss him so much. When David Tennant emotionally breathed " I don't want to go" I remember thinking " I don't want you to go either but you decided to go..". it was a haunting and truthful performance and I always believed the weight and implications of his decision to go really hit him in that moment. I could be wrong. David Tennant is such a great actor he could make me believe anything. But not since the glory days of Tom Baker has an actor in the role said so much when saying so little as the lovely Peter Capaldi.
            Twice Upon A Time airs on Christmas Day.
            How is it possible to look forward so much to something you know is going wring a tear? Its possible ,I suppose, thanks to the man who put the Who back into Doctor Who.

Sunday, 3 December 2017


Comic of the week of the week for me was this amazing new release of the Faceache collection by the truly genius Ken Reid. Faceache was a boy, named Ricky Rubberneck (Faceache is almost an improvement,)who could contort, twist and scrunge his face into all manner of shapes and sizes. Actually that barely does credit to the sheer elasticity of contortion his strange ability lent him. Although to begin with it was mostly his face he would contort he quite quickly advanced into total body alchemy and could evolve in a heart beat into the weirdest of beings or creatures and the brilliant Ken Reid had the unrestrained imagination and pencil to deliver such extraordinary flights of fancy. Faceache was and remains very funny and inventive and wholly original. He was so loved and enjoyed by people of all ages that the name of the strip became a by word for impossibly grungy faces and down beat scowling expressions. As with so many great British comic strips there are huge amounts of class based humorous situations that resonate across the years in the tradition of many television comedians such as Les Dawson or Spike Milligan. There is a superb Northern bleakness hovering over proceeding like the smoke of some Dark Satanic Mill.
           Ken Reid was also responsible for other great comic book favourites of mine; Rodger the dodger and Jonah. What a great thing it would be to see similar collections using these these two great and much missed heroes of yester-year. I suppose it will depend on the success of this volume but hopefully it will happen. This world needs its funny characters more than ever.