Archive for the 'Thursday Thirteen' Category

22
Apr
08

Thursday Thirteen #3

After the unfortunate passing on of Heath Ledger two weeks ago, I realised that a number of people had passed away during my lifetime, and so, today’s Thursday Thirteen is a rather sombre one, as I recall those that have passed away in my 20 years here.

Disclaimer: As a couple of people mentioned on this list are notorious figures, I must stress this isn’t a list of persons I ‘like’ who have passed on, simply those that I have memories of.

1.) Heath Ledger
I’ll start with the most prominent in most people’s memories, an Australian actor who made it big in Hollywood, in a number of films. I admit to not having seen any of his films so far, but I’ll be going to see The Dark Knight in the Summer, and I’m sure it’ll be an especially poignant experience.

2.) John Peel
A highly influential and respected Radio 1 DJ, who even up until when he died, provided musical enjoyment to the masses, never shying away from what he thought was good music, even if it didn’t fit in with Radio 1’s ‘style’ at the time.

3.) Christopher Reeve
The man who made us believe a man could fly, and flew he did, up until he passed away from complications from his disability from a riding accident. I’m not a big Superman fan, but Mr Reeve brought the character to life in a way that still hasn’t been quite matched since.

4.) Myra Hindley
One of the two notorious Moors Murderers, and one of only a few women convicted to a full-life sentence. Constant press coverage ensured she was never out of the public eye over the years, and I feel there was a sigh of relief when she finally passed away.

5.) Mike Reid
Probably most famous as Frank Butcher from the British soap ‘Eastenders’, but aside from that he was a ‘risque’ stand-up comedian, and appeared in a number of TV shows across his career, including Doctor Who.

6.) Freddie Mercury
I was only around four years old when he passed away, and so it took another few years for the fact to sink in that I’d never hear a new use of his tremendous voice again. The man lived his life as an entertainer until the very end, attempting to record down as much vocal work as he could before he died so that the remaining members of Queen could carry on for one more album.

7.) Jeremy Beadle
This spot was originally going to somebody else, but I found out just before I started writing this that he had passed away during the past 24 hours. A prominent face on ITV during the 80’s and 90’s, he always brought a smile to my face when I was young, and he had an astounding knowledge of trivia that was hard to beat.

8.) Saddam Hussein
The ruler of Iraq for many years, and a symbol for the troops of both Iraqi wars to fight against. A man who went from the very top of society, with regal palaces and the like, to eventually being found alone and hiding in squalor, there’s not many downfalls that are on par for the amount of drama surrounding them.

9.) Benazir Bhutto
A prominent Pakistani politican, aiming to move the country towards a more democratic style of rule, despite constant barriers being erected by those who wanted to keep her down. She was rallying for an upcoming election, where she was a leading opposition candidate, when she was assassinated. A sady day for the world during the Christmas period, and the reaction from her supporters on the announcement of her death showed just how much she was admired.

10.) Ronnie Barker
Famous as one of the Two Ronnies, as well as his roles in Porridge and Open All Hours, he was a man who could always make you laugh, and the comedy world took a serious blow when he passed away.

11.) Robin Cook
One of the well-known faces of the ‘New Labour’ from 1997 onwards, Mr Cook was Foreign Secretary for four years, and Leader of The House of Commons afterwards up until his resignation in 2003 in protest over the Iraq War.

12.) George Harrison
Perhaps the least ‘public’ of The Beatles, he still managed to become the first to reach #1 in the charts after they split up. Well-known for incorporating Eastern influences into his music, and also releasing the first ever triple-album by a solo artist.

13.) My Great-Grandparents
Due to my family having a history of having children at a relatively young age, I’ve been blessed with being able to know more of my family than others have. Unfortunately, as time goes on, family members still have to pass away, and my great-grandparents were the first, both within a few weeks of each other. My great-grandfather was a bomb-disposal expert in London during the Second World War, whilst my great-grandmother worked in the hospitals there, treating the soldiers who had come back from the front.

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22
Apr
08

Thursday Thirteen #2

Writing this one a little before Thursday as I’ve been ill the past couple of days, and this is one of the rare moments where I can look at a PC screen without getting a headache. So, for this week’s entry;

The Thirteen Albums Released This Year, That I Purchased, In Order of Preference.

13. Air – Pocket Symphony

Whilst I love Air normally, even their ‘10,000Hz Legend’ album, this particular album unfortunately comes as the worst I have bought this year. Air went from relaxing, interesting music, to the sort of music you find in elevators or on fancy screensavers. A big disappointment, which hopefully they can improve upon next time round.

12. John Barrowman – Another Side

I’ll admit I bought this on the impetus of the John Barrowman ‘brand’ when I had a spare tenner. However, the man definitely can sing, and the album’s good to sit back and relax to. However, being a covers album, I can’t justify placing it any higher when there’s a wealth of original material in the rest of the list.

11. Kaiser Chiefs – Yours Truly, Angry Mob

Whilst not succumbing to ‘dreaded second album’ syndrome, the debut album ‘Employment’ still has more catchy tunes than the latest offering. That doesn’t mean it’s a bad album however, and definitely shows the band maturing nicely. The third album should be a killer.

10. The Killers – Sawdust

Yes, it’s a B-sides album, but it’s a darn good one. With only three remixes out of 18 tracks, the rest of the album delivers the same suave electro-rock present on their normal albums, with only the cover of Joy Division’s ‘Shaowplay’ being the only real let down.

9. Nine Inch Nails – Year Zero

Whilst it’s not the best album Trent Reznor has created, the album certainly grows on you, with NIN still being one of only a few bands, in my opinion, to play to the ‘disenfranchised generation’ whilst still retaining a high dgree of musical credibility. A few of the tracks are a bit lifeless, but the rest of the album makes up for it.

8. The Bravery – The Sun and The Moon

Whilst The Bravery may get a lot of negative press, I’m still a fan that’s lasted beyond their breakthrough from ‘An Honest Mistake’. The second album follows The Killers in moving away from electronic influences to a more rock sound, creating a solid album, which whilst not likely to fill dancefloors, is well worth a listen to hear a band learning from a few mistakes on the debut album.

7. Travis – The Boy With No Name

Another band that dropped out of the mainstream view after an initial buzz, Travis have produced their fifth album of indie perfection. ‘Selfish Jean’ is one of the best singles released this year, and the rest of the album follows suit. Travis have found their niche, and play it to near-perfection.

6. Calvin Harris – I Created Disco

Whilst everyone will remember ‘Acceptable In The 80s’ for a long time to come, the real highlights come from the non-singles on the album, with the title track almost being worth the asking price alone. As a debut, the album works well, though it seems to suffer in a few slight regards from being too pop to be electro, and too electro to be pop, and it’ll be interesting to see which direction Harris decides to take on the second album.

5. Interpol – Our Love To Admire

Whilst originally seen as the ‘new Joy Division’ in some corners, Interpol have fine-tuned their sound to create the darkest album you’ll hear this year, whilst still being accessible enough to be listened to casually. It’s not quite as good as ‘Antics’ was, but it’s a fine album all the same.

4. Justice – Cross

After the letdown of Daft Punk’s third album, it seemed that French dance music had hit a rather large brick wall. Enter Justice, to deliver a stonkingly good selection of tunes, that cover both mainstream and underground influences. There’s not a single track on this album that could be considered sub-par, with the only niggle being the ommission of ‘We Are Your Friends’, the single from last summer from the tracklisting.

3. Klaxons – Myths of The Near Future

Thoroughly deserving the Mercury Prize they were awarded earlier this year, the Klaxons released an album of genius, combining rock, dance and electronica, with the end effect being like the after-effect of a Pan-Galactic Gargle-Blaster. If they can keep this up, then they’re going to reach the top, and possibly never come back down.

2. Arcade Fire – Neon Bible

What can be said about Arcade Fire that hasn’t been said already? They’ve created some of the best songs of the decade so far, and there’s still time to get a third album out by the end of it. The second album follows the same formula as their debut ‘Funeral’, with tracks such as ‘Intervention’ and ‘My Body Is a Cage’ providing the powerful impact that they’ve become famous for. I can’t recommend this album enough, and every home should have a copy of both.

1. Radiohead – In Rainbows

I was originally rather scathing when I did a review of the album when it first came out, as there are a few filler tracks that are just a bit boring. However, the arrival of the second CD in the rather beautiful discbox changes all that, weighing the scales heavily in favour of the good songs. ‘Videotape’, ‘Last Flowers’, ‘All I Need’ and ‘Up On The Ladder’ are the four stand-out tracks across the two discs, showing Radiohead combining new and old to create an album on par with their best.

22
Apr
08

Thursday Thirteens

For an explanation, I divert you to Stu’s wonderous blog here:

http://fullbodytransplant.wordpress.com/2007/11/29/thursday-thirteen-first-edition/#comments

Thirteen Things I Love About My Life.

1.) Being able to wake up in the morning, and appreciate all the items I’ve amassed. It may sound shallow, but though I’m materialistic, I’m always grateful for having the things I do. I’ve worked hard to earn enough to buy most of them, and not a single penny ever feels like it’s been wasted.

2.) My education. I know a lot about a little, and a little about a lot, which is more than some people can say. There’s those who are unfortunate enough to not be able to receive a proper education, and then there’s those who waste the opportunity they’ve had, and I’m grateful I’m not in either of the other two camps.

3.) My musical ability. I may not be Beethoven when composing or playing, but I’m reasonably good, despite being self-taught on Piano, and nothing quite compares to being able to play a song you love, in private, or to others.

4.) Good friends. Though some have disappeared over the years, others have been there since birth, and even if I eventually drift apart from even more, I’ll always be thankful for the good times we had.

5.) Commodore 64. Without this home computer, I’d never have gotten into video games, and thus quite a large part of my personality would be rather radically different. It may be ancient, but it’ll still get plugged into the big HDTV we have in the living room for some retro fun.

6.) Science. We wouldn’t be where we are today without it, and the announcement every week of a new breakthrough pushes humanity that little bit closer to the future. The idea that things such as time-travel, or teleportation could one day actually happen fills me with the same excitement as if I was still four years old and thought about it.

7.) Some members of my family. Whilst there’s certain members of my more-distant family I’d be happy to never see again, others, such as my mother and sister, and my grandparents on my mother’s side, have always been there for me, especially my grandfather being like a father-figure to me whilst I was growing up.

8.) The Internet. Without this, I’d never have met such a diverse and entertaining roster of people, some of which have become my closest friends. I’d also never have met the most beautiful girl in the world, which would lead me on to:

9.) Ellen. I met her through roleplaying on an MMO, and finally met her face-to-face a few months later at a player convention. Since then, I’ve always eagerly anticipated the next time I get to see her, and though our first attempt at a relationship had to be halted due to things going on in her life, I still know there’s hope for the future once things are cleared up. I’ve never felt this strong a connection to someone before, and I won’t lose it without a fight.

10.) My passionate personality. I’m not talking romantic passion, as I’ll admit I’m not much of a Romeo, but rather the fact that once my mind is set on something, I will work until I achieve it. I’ll always stand my ground in an argument, (unless I’m wrong, then I’ll concede) and I’ll always defend my friends.

11.) Roleplaying. It’s fantastic. Being able to act out a completely different person, in fantastical situations, is better than watching a movie, or reading a book, as you’re helping to shape and decide what’s coming next.

12.) That feeling you get from helping someone. It’s truly great. I can’t see why anyone would want to do any different, and be anti-social towards others.

13.) Living in the UK. It’s not perfect, but I dread to think of all the things I would have missed if I’d been born in a third-world country, and I’m grateful for being in a developed, democratic country.