Sunday, June 26, 2016

Glastonbury 2016

I've watched a few bands on TV who were performing at the Glastonbury festival this year. I enjoy watching the festival, it reminds me of the festivals I've attended in the past. Generally I'm very happy that I'm not there myself, what with the queues and the rain and the mud. I imagine it is rather an other-wordly bubble that feels weird and wonderful while you are there and one that you miss when you can't attend. It is certainly more of a commercial venture now than it has been in the past and security has tightened a lot. My favourite TV clips have been from Band of Skulls and Wolf Alice. I watched some of Muse's set and most of Adele's. Adele was on fine form.

Night of the Demons

I watched this film hoping it would improve all the way through and as the end credits appeared on my screen I turned it off disappointed. There isn't really anything to say about this film that really redeems it. It is just about some stupid drunks who are having a house party that get shut down by the police. All the guests leave except for the small group of 7 who become the targets of some demons in the house to possess them. I really can't be bothered to explain any more because the film is lazy and gore infested without any good reason. The costumes reveal quite a lot of cleavage for the ladies involved but it's still a crap film.

The Children

This wasn't on the horror channel but is supposed to be a horror film. It involves children so won't be for everyone. The children are supposed to be the scary ones in it. It is set in contemporary England and two families are renting a large house in the country for what I think us a Christmas getaway. It wouldn't be too bad a horror film for Christmas time. But at the present time, I can hardly think of Christmas.
The children turn out to be possessed or something. Again the plot of this film leaves a lot to be desired. It isn't as incoherent as the Cradle of Fear film but it doesn't do very much to explain what is happening and the children in the film are very young. The character called Casey is played by Hannah Tointon who played Simon's girlfriend Tara in season 3 of The Inbetweeners, one of my favourite series. Hannah is the best thing about the film in my opinion, she plays her part well.

Cradle Of Fear

I have been recording a few films on the DVD Recorder recently, since clearing a lot of room on the hard drive. The films have been mostly B movie quality. One of them was a film called Cradle Of Fear that had a starring role for Dani Filth from the black metal band Cradle Of Filth. He didn't say very much throughout the film, he just had a role in looking downright filthy and scary.
The film supposedly follows a number of short stories all connected by the last story. This is a similar format to some 1970s films from hammer and Amicus, I believe the style is called Portmanteau but I might be wrong about that!
The film is not one I would recommend. It is barely coherent and the acting is generally terrible. It relies far too heavily on gore and it is gory throughout so there is no sense of climax at the end. In short, it's a crap film with no likeable qualities.

Friday, June 24, 2016

EU Referendum

Well our votes were cast yesterday and the decision has been made. The UK is going to leave the European Union but the timetable is not absolutely clear. David Cameron has decided to leave his job as Prime Minister by the Conservative conference in October.
I am sorry that this was the decision. It was very close, 52% v 48%. And Scotland and Northern Ireland voted to remain in the UK, so the ramifications are important. Remarkably the turnout was 72%, which is high for an election however that's still a significant number of people who didn't vote, sadly.
I disliked the way that both the Leave and Remain campaigns were run. There was scare mongering and incitement of hatred against immigrants. I also think that there is a feeling that the difference between the young and older voters was significant in that younger voters were in favour of remaining in the UK and older voters were against BUT I'm not sure that this was really the case.
It's possible that Scotland will have another independence referendum, they certainly seem to be seeking one. The UKIP leadership were jubilant this morning, while it was noticeable that Boris Johnson and Michael Gove were sombre and paid tribute to David Cameron. Looks like there is a question mark over Jeremy Corbyn as leader as well.
I hate politics!
I am sad about the decision, I was very proud that the UK was part of Europe and I think the economic arguments for remaining in the EU were convincing.

Saturday, June 04, 2016

Muhammad Ali RIP

He was more than a fighter, he stood up for what he believed in. There is evidence for this in his refusal to fight against the Vietnamese in the war with Vietnam in the 1960s and early 70s. A great champion who took too much punishment and fought too many fights. He should have been prevented from carrying on his career as a fighter but was probably allowed because too many people would have lost out if he stopped. A great shame we have all been deprived of his spirit and intelligence.

Dave Swarbrick RIP

I was saddened to learn yesterday that another musical genius had died. It was the turn of ex Fairport Convention fiddle player Dave Swarbrick. The Fairport Convention album Liege and Leaf is one of my favourite folk-rock records and his playing on it is second to none.

Bluebird Tea Company

I drink a lot of tea and coffee. Several cups a day, every day. So I like to try different teas occasionally. Last time I bought some loose leaf tea was when I was in Brighton and visited the Bluebird Tea Company shop, they have a very wide selection of blends they produce and are very innovative. I have blogged about the teas I bought the first time. This week, when my wife visited Brighton again she bought me a tin of one of their best selling teas, the Great British Cuppa. Here is my new tin...

Into the DSLR zone

This week while I was working away from home I saw a second hand camera that looked like it was in good condition. It was a DSLR, a type of camera that I have not owned before. I have been considering getting a DSLR for a few months now. We have been framing pictures around the house, including a few in our bedroom that are colour photocopies. So I have been wanting to take photos that I can print out in a large size for the walls. My travel compact camera (a Lumix TZ40) is still a brilliant camera but if you dial up the ISO in low light the amount of noise is very noticeable.
So I had been thinking about getting a Nikon DSLR because it is the best make of camera in my opinion. Canon are also a good brand, so too Sony, but in DSLR photography they are not quite as good as Nikon in my opinion. My last Canon camera was an EOS SLR and I really liked taking photos with it. I hope I enjoy my new camera as much. After saying that though, it is about the time you spend and care and attention you take with each shot that counts, the camera is an extention of the photographer's imagination.

So, I saw the camera in the window of CEX in Manchester's Arndale Centre on Tuesday evening and left it a day while I did a bit of research. The price was about right, it was just down to the condition. When I took a look at the camera the next day, it was in great condition for a camera that is not only second hand but 6 years old. I get the feeling that the camera was in some person's cupboard for a long time and had not been used very much. So I decided that I would buy it.
However, while I was being served I couldn't help but overhear what I thought was an altercation with a shop assistant and another customer. Now, I have noticed that sometimes CEX attracts a few unsavoury characters and they have to be sure that the goods they take in are in good enough condition to sell and guarantee for a couple of years. I thought at first it was someone who was angry that their phone wasn't being accepted but it turned out to be a guy who was on the phone to what must have been a woman. They way he was shouting aggressively at her though was very abusive. He was really going for it and it was very intense for everyone else to have to hear him effing and blinding down his phone as he walked out the shop. Even the assistant apologised to me even though it was nothing to do with the shop.
The Nikon D5000 was the first Nikon DSLR to feature an articulated screen that has the hinge at the bottom so that the camera can be used low to the ground and high in the air in combination with Live View. When it was released it was the next step up from the D60 and cost between £450-550. It cost me less than half that 6 years down the line.

Monday, May 30, 2016

Afternoon creativity

Rather than play videogames, which I have nothing against, I decided to try something a little more artistic this afternoon. Afterall, I love purchasing drawing books and drawing equipment. I thought I would put some of my gifts to good use. My wife bought me these Letraset pro-marker pens and I have used them a few times but not to any great purpose. This time I thought I would put things to use. I bought a codex book a while back now on the Warhammer Space Marines and I haven't really used it, so I thought I would select one of the  images from it that I thought I could draw. There are lots of great images in the book.

Here is the progression of my drawing to the finished piece. After drawing the image and inking it in, I made a black and white scan of it and coloured that in.

About to start, getting my music ready

Main character outline done

Main inking done

These are the main colours I will use

Starting to add colour

Main character colouring complete now

Added some background colour

Cat play

The latest addition to the house is another gadget supposedly good for stimulating the cats. In our case, it is another piece of equipment that will remain dormant on the floor, like the play tunnel and the archway grooming brush. They are just not interested. I don't know why we bother. Yet when we try to make the bed, they are all over it.

London MCM Comic Con

On Saturday of this fine Bank Holiday weekend I took my son and one of his friends (a girl, indeed) to the MCM London Comic-Con. I had bought us general entry tickets this time, rather than the Priority Tickets and to be perfectly honest, I was fine with it all because we didn't have to queue to get in. Admittedly, it was really busy by the time we got in at around 12 but in fairness the priority entry doesn't afford that much luxury as the halls soon fill up anyway. This time though, I only shot one photograph, which still amazes me.
Here is the shot I took, I took it only because my son likes pixel art and I thought he might like to see the art made from these little plastic beads, which reminded me of pixel art.

Tuesday, May 10, 2016

Eurovision 2016

This weekend it is another year on for the Eurovision Song Contest. This year's host is Sweden. I usually instantly forget what the winning song was from the previous year and this is no exception. I haven't heard what the entry is from Great Britain but I bet it will be utter crap as usual.
That won't stop me from supporting it though. I do expect nil points and anything better than that will be regarded as a bonus!

BHS (British Home Stores)

I was sad to hear that the high street store chain BHS were in administration. As a chain it hasn't done as well as others and I have wondered how come they have lasted so long when other long standing chains have collapsed. The truth is that they not done so well really, which is why they are now looking for buyers. With the pension problems as well, it is the staff who I feel sorry for.
I have bought clothes from the store, the clothes seem reasonably priced and pretty good quality, they do seem a little out of step with modern trends though. I think the chain needs a brand overhaul. Similar to what M&S went through.

Sunday, May 08, 2016

EU Referendum

The important date is Thursday 23rd June 2016. This is the date that the people of the UK get to decide their fate in Europe. We get to choose whether we want to stay in the European Union or to leave it and go our way as a country.
Everyone seems to want a say in this, including president Barack Obama. I respect Barack Obama. He made a stir in the UK by suggesting that if the UK did leave the EU, it would mean a step backwards in terms of trade affairs - he made use of the unfortunate phrase "back of the queue", which seems to have stirred up some feelings.
Personally, I don't side with David Cameron on many things but on the subject of Europe, I think the arguments for staying within the EU are sound. I'm not arguing we can't do everything we do now, in many ways we will continue to be able to do them and it might help in some areas if we did leave the EU. But I believe we have to look at the long game. We also have to consider our security and how we protect our country by the sharing of intelligence information across borders with other national security agencies.
There is still time to read more and consider the arguments from all sides. I shall be doing this and urge everyone whether undecided or not to do this.

Nelly the elephant. Trump trump trump

Well, it looks like Donald Trump is going to be the Republican candidate in the running for the White House and presidency of the US of A. Although if he does, win I doubt he will bring much unity to America. He seems to divide opinion wherever he goes and whenever he opens his mouth.
I have to say, after reading various articles about the man that he seems to be thoroughly unlikeable human being. In that context and in as much as it matters to me personally, I hope he does not beat Hilary Clinton to become the next president. The thought of someone apparently so vindictive and small minded with that amount of power worries me greatly.

Fine weather with Hay Faver

The last couple of weeks have seen temperatures rise where I live. This weekend, it has actually been dry enough and warm enough to sit outside. I have actually been able to get out my bistro table and chairs. I am sitting outside and working on this blog post even now, just wearing my shorts and T shirt. The temperature is into the twenties, I think however that next weekend will be a different matter.
As the weather has been getting better I have unfortunately been suffering. I thought at first it was a cold but my eyes have been so irritated that I know now it is Hay Fever. I haven't suffered a lot from Hay Fever in my life but some years have been worse than others. This year, for whatever reason, it seems quite bad. So I started taking daily allergy tablets yesterday.

Captain America: Civil War

Last weekend was a Bank Holiday weekend in the UK, officially known as the May Day Bank Holiday even though the 1st of the month was last Sunday. So all public sector workers and a good many private sector ones got a free holiday day on Monday. It was so good to get an extra weekend day. So good infact, that I didn't even spend my time blogging about it!
On Sunday last week I took my son over to sunny Milton Keynes Cineworld cinema to go and see Marvel's latest picture called Captain America: Civil War. A tale about Captain America's obsession to help his friend and wartime buddy Bucky Barnes but also about internal divisions within the team of Avengers about oversight and who is best positioned to protect the human population of Earth from the Avengers themselves. During the film, we are introduced to a new Marvel character called the Black Panther and to the baddie Baron Zemo (although I'm not sure he's a baron within the film universe. There is more to say about the film, a lot goes on which is really good. The film is well-paced and has a lot of action and some drama as well as comedy moments. It's very well made all-in-all.

Friday, April 22, 2016

A wet end to the week

Friday evening is here and the weekend begins. I am extremely tired though. So I probably won't be enjoying my evening very much. Also, it is raining so I can't even go out in the garden to enjoy that. Makes me wish we had a conservatory.
In other news, the death of the pop/rock artist Prince has upset my wife who is a big fan of his. She has seen him in concert twice. I like a few of his songs but have never been a big fan really. 1999 was probably the song I enjoyed the most of his. It takes me back to my school years that song.
I see that the Star Wars film The Force Awakens is out on DVD, I'd like to buy that.