Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Songs of My Life #63 - John Williamson - Diggers of the Anzac (This is Gallipoli) - 1981

Songs of My Life #63 - John Williamson - Diggers of the Anzac (This is Gallipoli) - 1981

I post this song every year on Anzac Day, and it makes sense that it should be a part of this collection because it really is a song of my life. John Williamson has always been there for Australians. His collection of witty songs, humorous songs and thought-provoking songs all have Australia and its folklore as a base point within them. And many of them when you listen to them cause your chest to fill and heart to pump with national pride.

The references to Port Lincoln and the movie made here are to do with the film 'Gallipoli', where the beach scenes were filmed for it. The rest is for your own consumption. It is still as poignant today, 102 years after the initial landing on the fatal shores. ANZAC Day today has greater meaning for all Australians, a day that we remember the sacrifices of all men and women who fought in all conflicts. We mourn their loss, and celebrate their bravery.

This isn't just a song for today, it is a song for every day. But on Anzac Day, I will always play it. It just feels right.

Lest We Forget. You are the Diggers of the Anzac.

Monday, April 24, 2017

Revisiting The Twilight Zone: S05E04: A Kind of Stopwatch

Revisiting The Twilight Zone: S05E04: A Kind of Stopwatch

This really should have been so much better than it turned out, because the idea itself is a good one. To be honest, I think it tries too hard for laughs (which it doesn't succeed in) than to make a good story from a good idea.

The first half of the episode is bogged down too much in introducing us to our protagonist, who as it turns out is an antagonist to everyone around him. It sets up his character too long, and essentially too hard. OK, we get the idea that he talks a lot, is a know-it-all in a harmless kind of way. The problem being that once we get to the actual idea of the story - about a stopwatch that can stop time for anyone who holds the watch - two-thirds of the episode has gone! Which leaves almost no time to allow our protagonist to discover what the watch can do, and what he can do with it. Instead of being able to watch him walk through the episode discovering this, all we are left with is an instant realisation, which he begins to put into effect, before the inevitable conclusion comes, and the episode is over.

What are we left with? A great story idea, a main character that is overplayed, and a story that leans to heavily in showing us the characters foibles rather than letting us enjoy what could be achieved with such a remarkable watch. This was remade and re-written for the 1985 revivl series, and that episode did it a lot better than this.

Rating:  Time stands still.  3.5/5

Sunday, April 23, 2017

Songs of My Life #62 - Tenacious D - Tribute - 2001

Songs of My Life #62 - Tenacious D - Tribute - 2001

I knew nothing of Tenacious D when I first saw their album cover, which was what first drew me in. Then I saw they had a song titled "Dio", and when I first heard it I realised it was indeed about my hero Ronnie James Dio (yes, I know there is a very similar thread in most of my Songs of My Life including Dio...). And so I bought the album, and the rest is history.

This was the song released from the album, upgraded from how they performed it on their TV show. Utilising the talents of Dave Grohl on instruments and as the Devil in the film clip, this song went ballistic and made Tenacious D stars in their own right. It's not their only great song, but it is the one most people know. Not only are they humorous, they can both sing, and Kyle Gass is a terrific guitar player. And how do you come up with this idea - a song sung as a Tribute to a song you sang to defeat the Devil, because you can't remember how the actual song went. Brilliant. And when Jack proclaims "we are but men!", tears open his shirt, and they both rock with the light behind them... how can you not laugh and join in at the same time?

We saw the D live at the Sydney Opera House a few years ago in all of their acoustic glory, and they were as fantastic as I ever imagined they would be. And when they played this song, and everyone in the whole house was singing it back at them, literally drowning out their own vocals, it gave me goosebumps and shivers down my spine.

My kids loved this from an early age. Then again, they didn't have much choice. Keep an eye out for Ben Stiller towards the end of the clip too. \m/

Saturday, April 15, 2017

Songs of My Life #61 - Ronnie James Dio - Love Is All - 1974

Songs of My Life #61 - Ronnie James Dio - Love Is All - 1974

In some down time from Deep Purple, bassist Roger Glover took a shot at writing a story set to music which was going to be animated. The album was released with lots of contemporaries being a part of it, but the animated show never came to pass. Except for this film clip.

Ronnie James Dio was a relative unknown at this stage, still fronting his band called Elf and before becoming a part of Rainbow. And the man can sing (though I am unashamedly biased about anything to do with RJD). All my kids grew up watching and listening to this song, and though they may deny it now, at the time they loved it.

It a world where there is so much evil and killing going on, sometimes you need to reflect on the message of this song, and realise that there is a better way to do this. I still love this song.

Revisiting The Twilight Zone: S05E03: Nightmare at 20,000 Feet

Revisiting The Twilight Zone: S05E03: Nightmare at 20,000 Feet

This would be one of the best known and most parodied episode of The Twilight Zone, not only for the episode itself but for the dialogue by guest star William Shatner in the main role of the show. It has transcended the generations.

The amusing part is that it all seems a little convenient. Robert Wilson has spent six months in an institution recovering from a breakdown that came on an aircraft in a storm. And guess what? On his way home with his wife, he’s going on an aircraft, and yep it’s smack bang in the middle of a storm! Amazing! And what is even more amazing is that Wilson happens to see a thing on the wing (“…some…THING… on the wing!) of the plane while they are flying, and not only does it appear to be tinkering with the engine, he is the only person who can see it! Because every single time he calls someone over to have a look, this gremlin seems to know, and flies off out of sight! Remarkable!

It might appear convenient, but that is the tie in of the story. Wilson understands that people will think he is crazy and that it is a recycling of his previous condition, but he is also adamant that he is right. His desperation to save the day, by opening the escape door and firing a gun at the gremlin, leaves everyone in no doubt of his mental state, but as Serling himself adds at the conclusion of the episode, the physical damage to the plane, once discovered, will confuse everyone even more.

Rating: One of the classics. 5/5

Star Wars: The Last Jedi Official Teaser

Finally! The trailer we've been waiting for. And it is as ambiguous as we expected.

Friday, April 14, 2017

Revisiting The Twilight Zone: S05E02: Steel

Revisiting The Twilight Zone: S05E02: Steel

Man vs Robot. The theme has cropped up a number of times through science fiction stories over the years, but this tale by Richard Matheson took it a step further in that the conflict was one where one of the sides had a significant advantage.

The idea of the story had merit throughout. Having the fact that boxing as a sport had been banned in the near future due to its brutality – or at least, the combat of man vs man was banned. In its place, robots had been introduced to fight against each other, and now instead of manager and trainer each robot had an owner and a mechanic. Of course, if you can’t afford a newer model robot, and yours seems to keep breaking down and replacement parts are too expensive, then what are you going to do? Such is the conundrum when former boxer Steel Kelly decides he cannot afford to forego the $500 money on offer, and decides to step into the ring himself disguised as his robot boxer and take on the metal monster opposite him.

Lee Marvin and Joe Mantell give good performances here that make the episode more watchable than it may have been without them, and their sympathetic portrayals are the best part of the story.

Rating: Bash his metal face in. 3/5

Songs of My Life #60 - Eric Idle - Always Look on the Bright Side of Life - 1979

Songs of My Life #60 - Eric Idle - Always Look on the Bright Side of Life - 1979

Good Friday as a kid tended for me to be the day where not a lot happened, except that you could always watch 'King of Kings' on TV every year without exception, and have religious programming on most of the other channels. And in the true spirit of Easter, there is only one song that I could possibly post here to honour the occasion.

From the most honestly religious movie of all time comes the song that since its inception has become the centrepiece of funerals and memorials everywhere. The only song that tells it as it is, that strips away all of the malarky and helps you to realise that we are here for such a short period of time that you have to make the most of it, and that when your time does come, to face it with a smile.

So as you come from church today, whatever hymns you may have sung in the bleachers, don't forget to purse your lips and whistle in the car on the way home. (I'll just sit here on the Deck instead of going to church and do the same thing, shall I?).

Thursday, April 13, 2017

Revisiting The Twilight Zone: S05E01: In Praise of Pip

Revisiting The Twilight Zone: S05E01: In Praise of Pip

Far be it for me to talk down an episode of any show that draws on memories and melancholy to propel its case, and for the most part this is an enjoyable episode with Rod Serling’s fingerprints all over it.

The set out of the episode is fairly predictable as it moves along, but I especially like the way Jack Klugman plays his role. You can see his character is worn out, but his lop sided smile through the early tribulations of the episode gives him an air of serenity. Of course he then breaks that mould once he gets the phone call that his son is dying in a hospital in Vietnam, and having disposed of his employers despite taking a gunshot for his troubles, he stumbles down the road to the fairground that he had been reminiscing over taking his son to. The reuniting with his young-again son follows the course you would expect, and a dying man’s wish then appears to be answered as only the Twilight Zone can.

Perhaps this is a bit too much of a religious tome than a Twilight Zone episode. Klugman is wonderful in his role, but it doesn’t quite make up for the feeling that you are being duped.

Rating: God to the rescue. 3/5

Wednesday, April 12, 2017

Songs of My Life #59 - Twisted Sister - Stay Hungry - 1984

Songs of My Life #59 - Twisted Sister - Stay Hungry - 1984

It would have been so easy to put up "We're Not Gonna Take It" as my song here, because it is extremely well known, is a terrific song in its own right, and the video is superb. And this along with other Twisted Sister songs will crop up down the track if I continue this for some time.

But it is the title track to the wonderful 'Stay Hungry' album that is the song that has been my favourite. It is one of those excellent 'build-up' songs that I used to listen to before big cricket matches or before batting in such times, to go out with the best attitude and completely focused. This version has the lyrics for you to read along with. They might seem cheesy in this context, but they always worked a treat for me.

This always got the adrenaline pumping. It needs to be played loud with the bass turned up, and sung at the top of your vocal range. Awesome.

"Stay hungry, you're alone!"

Monday, April 10, 2017

Sergio Garcia Fulfills His Destiny With Masters Victory

In what must rank as one of the finest Masters finishes ever, Sergio Garcia finally broke through for his elusive first Major championship victory in a final round that had almost everything.

Garcia was paired with Justin Rose in the final group, and together they led throughout the whole final round, leaving their opponents to fight for the minor placings. Even a hole-in-one at the 16th by Matt Kuchar to get him to -5 barely caused a ripple on the group at the rear as they fought each other back and forth for the entire final day.

Starting the day together at -6, Sergio got away early to -8 and it looked as though he was away. But Justin hung in, and as Sergio faltered he stuck solid, On the 14th Tee, Justin lead by two strokes after a disappointing par at 13, while Sergio had somehow scrambled for his par. Sergio then birdied 14 to move within one, and hit the stick to almost hole out for an albatross at 15. His eagle and Justin's birdie meant they were square going to 16, when Rose again birdied to go one ahead. The tide turned again at 17 where Rose bogeyed, and with two birdie putts missed at 18 it was off to a play-off.

The tension just never dropped. Justin was caught in the pine needles with his drive, and then fluffed his second before finding the green with his third. Sergio went up the right side before nailing his second to the middle of the green. Justine missed his par putt, which left Sergio two putts for his first major.

No man currently on the PGA Tour more deserved to win a major tournament than Sergio Garcia. There is no one in the world who would want to take it away from him. His victory probably leaves Lee Westwood as the 'most deserving' current player still yet to hold a major trophy aloft.
The camaraderie between Sergio and Justin today was just magnificent. Rose again fought hard to become a multiple major winner, and you would suspect that his second won't be far away.

Another brilliant Masters tournament comes to an end. As the catchphrase goes on Fox Sports these days, "How good is golf!"

Vale: John Clarke

When I was in my early teenage years, my father sat me down in the lounge room, put on a cassette, and said "Sit here and listen to this". It was a tape with the character of Fred Dagg, whose droll observations and wit were not only funny but clever. I eventually discovered that Fred Dagg was in fact a man by the name of John Clarke, who continued through the years to come to prominence at just the right moments.

No one who watched the brilliant The Games in the lead up to the Sydney 2000 Olympics will ever forget those magnificently scripted episodes, and the way the three leads in particular of Bryan Dawe, Gine Riley and John Clarke just nailed everything in regards to the pits and falls of event.

Even more brilliant was the weekly three-to-five minute expose of Clarke and Dawe on ABC on Thursday evenings. Never has political satire been so sharp, so cutting or so accurate. The brilliance of not trying to do a character copy of their interviewee every week, but simply allow John Clarke to be himself playing that person, never ever got tired, and never failed to accurately portray their subject for the week.

He was active in so many other projects on stage, screen and radio it is impossible to list them. His starring role in Mick Molloy's "Crackerjack" is one instance where he stole the screen every time he appeared on it. Suffice to say that Australia has lost a legend of the comedy world.

Vale John Clarke. Our world is a better place for having had you shine a mirror on it for so many years, and is a lesser place today for your passing.

Saturday, April 8, 2017

Winx Wins 17 in a Row - The Queen Elizabeth Stakes

I think the video says it all.

Friday, April 7, 2017

Songs of My Life #58 – Whitesnake – Bad Boys – 1987

Songs of My Life #58 – Whitesnake – Bad Boys – 1987

Of the number of songs that epitomised the summer of 1987/88 for me, Whitesnake’s ‘Bad Boys’ is perhaps the strongest. It came from the “1987” album that had been released that year, and it was one of the albums I had on constant rotation throughout that time along with Dio’s “Dream Evil” and Def Leppard’s “Hysteria”.
For me, it was the Summer of Bill, having completed the end of Year 12 and the HSC, with three months of nothing but cricket, music and going out with friends. And a lot of what ‘Bad Boys’ is about was so relatable to me at the time that it became somewhat of an anthem.

So yes, this was a REAL song of my life, as it still reminds me of those heady days. On New Year’s Eve 1987 we congregated at a friend’s house that was our central location for the night between pub and club visits, and it was ‘Bad Boys’ that not only dominated the stereo there, but on the trips between venues. There must have been down sides in those few months, but I only remember great times, and this song always makes me smile because of them.

Thursday, April 6, 2017

Songs of My Life #57 – Quiet Riot – Cum On Feel the Noize – 1983

Songs of My Life #57 – Quiet Riot – Cum On Feel the Noize – 1983

I’m often asked when did I start listening to heavier music, or at least when did I begin to become interested in it. I can probably trace it back to this song, which received a fair amount of airplay both on radio and TV when it was released. I remember the colours, the hair, the band members looking as though they were having a great time, and the loud music being something that wasn’t always heard in the usual circles. It was… illuminating.

The song is a cover version of the original Slade track from 1973, and it did well for both bands. There’s no doubt that the music video for this song did a lot in dragging in new disciples like my 13 year old self to the band and the hard rock genre as well. I didn’t naturally mature overnight into a hard rock fan, but the seed had been sown by this song, and for that reason I can always still jump around singing this at the top of my lungs whenever it comes on.

Great film clip too \m/

Wednesday, April 5, 2017

Songs of My Life #56 – Van Halen – Panama – 1984

Songs of My Life #56 – Van Halen – Panama – 1984.

The big hit from Van Halen’s 1984 album was the single release ‘Jump’, which apart from the increase in the use of synth and keyboards was a popular crossover between the pop and harder rock fans that proliferated my year in high school. And while I did love and still love that particular song, it was always ‘Panama’ that grabbed me more once I got my hands on the album.

Why? Well, listen to the way the song is structured and played and you’ll get a better idea. The start of the song kicks you in the chest immediately, it has that energetic start that pulls you straight in without reservations. The thumping rhythm of Alex’s kit and Michael’s bass combined with the brilliance of Ed’s guitar are there from the start, allowing no respite. DLR’s vocals chime in and power away as well, and the simple bridge and chorus are made for singing along to. Even the laid back section in the middle of the song is just perfect Van Halen.

While I had heard little bits of Van Halen before this, it was “1984” that made me a fan, and both ‘Jump’ and ‘Panama’ were huge pieces of that. The devastation I felt when they announced Dave was leaving the band is still as real today as it was back then.

Monday, April 3, 2017

Stephen King Book #7: The Long Walk (published as Richard Bachman)

Stephen King Book #7: The Long Walk (published as Richard Bachman)

From the first time I ever read this book, I just loved it. It was the perfect mix of a dark totalitarian future, finding a way to distract people from the harsh reality they face, and coming-of-age fantasicsm mixed with the inevitable horror of the rules of the event that the main characters have signed up for. What’s not to like?

The slow build into the reality of The Long Walk works perfectly, and one you are in to the story, it is compelling. I pretty much read it all in one sitting the first time I had it, as I was unable to put it down until I reached the conclusion. I had to know what happened to everyone involved, and to try and understand their motivation – not in the race of course, that becomes obvious, but what their motivation for joining up in the first place was.

I’m looking forward to reacquainting myself with everyone here in the race, and seeing if I can discover any new information this time around.

Songs of My Life #55 – Faith No More – Zombie Eaters – 1989.

Songs of My Life #55 – Faith No More – Zombie Eaters – 1989.

By the time that the world had gone crazy with a song called ‘Epic’ and it had been played to death over the radio and the music video TV programmes, our little group of music aficionados had already had Faith No More’s “The Real Thing” album for some time and had dissected it thoroughly. In fact, the band I was in during these days had had a crack at covering songs off the album like ‘Epic’ (averagely), ‘From Out of Nowhere’ (awfully) and ‘Surprise! You’re Dead!’ (successfully).

The song that always struck me as the perfect example of their work on this album was ‘Zombie Eaters’, which covered just how brilliant each aspect of the band was. The slow, serene acoustic opening to the song, with Mike Patton’s beautiful soaring vocals chiming in, would always lull unsuspecting people in to a false sense of security, before the crashing in of Mike Bordin’s drums, Roddy Bottom’s guttural bass and Jim Martin’s amazing guitar riff halfway through the song just lightens up the dark side in a mayhemic collision of the two halves of the band. I have a lot of favourite songs from the band, but this one to me was the perfect example of what Faith No More was at this stage of their development.

Sunday, April 2, 2017

Iron Maiden - The Book of Souls Tour - Wacken 2016 - Full Show HD

It's almost a year ago that Josh and I went to see Maiden on their Australian tour. This pro-shot from Wacken is the same set list and same quality. Awesome stuff.