Monday, 28 October 2013

Musical Monday #32

Welcome to The Hallowe’en Edition of Musical Monday.

I’ve never really celebrated the ‘holiday’ particularly since the idea of extortion, sorry, I mean trick-or-treat has been a scary concept from either side of the door.  Plus, I can’t eat most generic sweets so The Appeal of the holiday was quickly lost on me as a kid when even if I did get any loot I’d just have to give it away immediately.  

But I do like fancy dress.  I was trying to remember Hallowe’en costumes of The Past, but I struggled quite a lot to remember any.  Which brings me back round to I guess I’ve just never really bothered with it.

I have a vague notion then when I was very small I dressed up as a ghost, and by dressed up I mean I put a blanket over The Head.

This was quite an important costume though because I’m fairly sure The Blanky sacrificed its life for it.

As a teenager during The GCSE Years I went with the terribly original costume of a black cat to possibly the first Hallowe’en party I’d ever been invited to

(and since it was actually the birthday of the host, it doesn’t count).

During college I went to possibly the only other Hallowe’en party of The Life in pale clothes, went into the bathroom and transformed The Costume into that of a blood-soaked maniac.

I did get fake blood on the host’s bathmat, but skillfully, uh, didn’t mention this.  Sure they never worked out who did it.

In Year 1 of uni, I went to a club for probably the last time in The Life with The Flatmates, all dressed as ‘robbers’.

But for some reason we actually went a week before Hallowe’en so nobody understood why we were dressed up.  To the L-A-Z-Y extent that we were.

And talking about L-A-Z-Y, in Year 3 of uni I wore a top hat.

Yup, that was The Costume.  A hat.
(and even then I was asked to remove it by the bouncer before I was allowed in the pub)

And that is an exhaustive history of a Hillesque Hallowe’en.

So on with The Hallowe’en Musical Monday.  Something scary maybe?  How about going to a dinner party and getting possessed into a dance number:

Day-O from Beetlejuice
Song performed by Harry Belafonte

Monday, 21 October 2013

Musical Monday #31

I had this dream The Other Day… 

I don’t know when that is exactly.  I don’t have a very good understanding of time. 

But I had this dream I met Jason Bateman but then really annoyed him because I couldn’t remember his name.

I think The Meaning behind this dream was ‘I wish I was watching Arrested Development right now instead of being asleep.’

So, tenuous link to Musical Monday... the word ‘dream’.

I’ve Got A Dream from Tangled
Performed by Brad Garrett, Jeffrey Tambor, Mandy Moore and Zachary Levi
Written by Alan Menken and Glenn Slater

Monday, 14 October 2013

Musical Monday #30

Welcome to Musical Monday #30.  There have now officially been more Musical Mondays than years I have been alive.  Hooray!

And now a word from one of The Favourite Childhood Eviltons… or maybe the one I was most scared of.  Maybe both.  I don’t remember.

Magic Dance from Labyrinth
Written and performed by David Bowie

Monday, 7 October 2013

Musical Monday #29

Look what arrived today:

More Birthday Presents!

The Church Mice Spread Their Wings
written and illustrated by Graham Oakley (1975)

It’s always difficult to pull quotes out of these books because the pictures are usually the punchline to the text and that dimension is lost here.  So go, seek these books out for yourselves.

‘“When Mother Nature has finished soothing our fevered brows perhaps she could give us a good rubdown as well,” said Sampson bitterly as they stood dripping by the water’s edge.

This made Humphrey very angry.  “Here we are, cast up on a foreign and exotic shore and all you can do is make silly jokes,” he snapped, studying the map which had got a little damp.

“According to my calculations, we’re in China,” he said, “probably on the Pong Yang Peninsula.”

“We’re in Wortlethorpe Park,” mumbled Sampson.’

In ‘Spread Their Wings’ the mice force Sampson to give up all his weekends to escort them on country breaks, and of course everything that can goes wrong, until the mice are convinced they’ve been washed ashore in foreign lands and Arthur and Humphrey suffer a terrible fate.


The Diary Of A Church Mouse
written and illustrated by Graham Oakley (1986)

‘My New Year’s Resolution this year was to start work right away on the Story of My Life, but I’d hardly finished one sentence before up breezes Arthur and says that really it’s best to wait until you’re very old before you write your life story because by then you’ll know what happens in the last chapter.  I said that it was more likely that by then you’d have forgotten what happened in the first.  But he says no you wouldn’t, not if you kept a diary.  Well, I must say, that sounded a pretty good idea which is quite surprising because Arthur doesn’t have many of those.  For once I’m going to take his advice.  So here goes.
1st January Absolutely nothing happened.
2nd January Ditto.
3rd-8th January Very uneventful.
8th-10th January As above only more so.’

Humphrey keeps a diary of the year’s events, including an encounter with an abominable snowman, a very special Valentine’s card, some expert kite design, May Day celebrations, some very unsportsmanlike sports, Sampson’s new mouse-eating girlfriend, a disastrous attempt at homemade fireworks and a Christmas with fifty-seven Father Christmases.

This brings The Church Mice Collection to 10/12.  I only have the two ‘new’ (as in, written after I was no longer a child) books to get and I’ll have The Complete Collection.  VERY EXCITING.

I’m either excited or eating a banana sideways.

The Church Mice Spread Their Wings is the fourth book in the Church Mice series and The Diary Of A Church Mouse is the ninth.  Rather coincidentally, both books have a similar theme of Sampson wanting revenge on the mice, especially Humphrey, since Humphrey has always had a spiteful relationship with Sampson.  But then Sampson is pushed the brink of his ‘not-killing-mice’ vow in every book, which is always a lot of fun.

There’s a rather dark joke (SPOILER) at the end of ‘Spread Their Wings’ where Arthur and Humphrey crash their own funeral and the mice are annoyed with them for not being dead.  The callousness and shallowness of these (very British) characters is delightful to find in children’s books (no patronising wackiness, just genuine humour), and is convincing for the personality of mice.  Small and fickle go well together.

The Diary Of A Church Mouse is the most different of the series, being written from the perspective of Humphrey, rather than a 3rd person narrator.  The books always rely on juxtaposition to create humour, with the narration often being contradicted by the illustrations, but this one takes it even further.  Humphrey is an utterly unreliable narrator.  We all know he’s a verbose, pompous idiot who thinks he’s smarter than everyone else because he’s read a lot of books (having started out as the school mouse) so having him narrate means that every single picture shows the real story behind his blustering.  It’s very funny and a nice change, but I wouldn’t want to be stuck in Humphrey’s mind for more than one book.

The layout is noticeably different in The Diary Of A Church Mouse.  The pictures appear to be slightly cropped, not fading out at the edges but with clear corners that look to me as if part of the picture has been lost.  This may be because it is a 1996 reprint.  It is clearly from the same series of editions as The Church Mice In Action I have, which come with a thick green panel on the left of the cover, which isn’t very attractive.  I much prefer the editions that have a full picture on the front cover that then wraps around on to the back cover (as I have with The Church Mouse, The Church Cat Abroad, The Church Mice Adrift, The Church Mice At Bay and The Church Mice At Christmas).  But when collecting out of print books, you take what you can get.  Besides, I don’t even know if that style of cover is available for the later books in the series. 

Anyway, back to the layout.  In this book most double pages have one large picture on the left which depicts only one of the entries on the right page, and it’s a little confusing because the right page still has smaller illustrations for some of the entries, so basically the pictures are out of order.  In all the other books, the correct pictures and text are placed together and there’s no confusion about which one to look at first.

Despite this, both books are funny, clever and full of wonderful illustrations (I wouldn’t expect less from the extremely talented Graham Oakley), and this completes the main part of The Collection, so I am looking forward to sitting down and reading them all from The Church Mouse (1972) to The Church Mice And The Ring (1992) with no gaps.

Thank you everyone who has helped me get hold of these books. 

Only two more to go!

See Here, Here and Here for more on this series of books.

2nd June Being democratic we had a meeting today to decide which team sports we all want to play.  The most votes were for kiss in the ring, next came marbles and then I spy with my little eye.  Obviously they’re not yet ready for democracy so me and Arthur told them what they wanted to play and that is football and cricket.  As their leaders, me and Arthur will play tennis because it’s posher.
3rd-10th June Busy making bats and balls, etc.
11th-28th June Everybody practising hard.  Team Spirit not particularly noticeable yet but under pressure, in the matches tomorrow, it will blossom like a beautiful flower.
29th June It didn’t.’
 ~ The Diary Of A Church Mouse by Graham Oakley, 1986

For the rest of you, who don’t now own the ten greatest illustrated children’s books ever published to whisk away those Monday blues, you’ll just have to make do with a Musical Monday.
Beauty School Drop Out from Grease
Performed by Frankie Avalon
Written by Jim Jacobs and Warren Casey

Wednesday, 2 October 2013

Back To The Future: The Game

I'm really having to limit The Posts until I get a new, non-spiteful, mouse, which I plan to do this week.

But I do HAVE to post today just to say

I had a slightly bad day today, nothing very bad, just a little bit poopy,

so when I got home I decided to crack out the Back To The Future game I received for The Birthday, which seemed like a good idea since I was wearing a Back To The Future T-shirt.

I'm sure I have mentioned before that I like Back To The Future quite a bit.

Such as here.

It is the greatest film ever made.  No debate.

There are good films and bad films and it's all a matter of opinion.  But then there's Back To The Future.  It is The Perfect Film.  It's funny, exciting, thrilling, romantic, emotional etc etc.  Something for everyone.  It has the full emotional range and a mix of pretty much every main genre, and the fact that it's all hiked up to the extreme makes it EXPLODE.  This is the only film that makes The Heart race in every exciting scene and I've seen it dozens of times.

In 2010 I had reached a stage where I didn't feel it could do anything new for me, and then I saw it on the big screen for the first time and the whole experience was refreshed. Click here to see the post about that.

And today I had a similar experience.  I was not keen to play the Back To The Future game when it came out last year (or whenever) because it didn't have Michael J Fox as Marty.  I love Back To The Future, I love Marty, I love Michael J Fox and he's a brilliant voice-over actor, so I was really put off.  But I got the game for The Birthday so today I popped it on and I am sorry, Game, I should never have judged you.

Until today I had no idea I wanted a Back To The Future Part 4, but that's what this is and it is like that refresh experience again.  Just when you think you've had all the Back To The Future magic there is, somebody goes and makes more.  Right from the start it got to me, emotionally, and I thought

(I promptly accepted the new Marty voice - it might not be Michael J Fox, but it's still Marty McFly)

and with the references and the music it's just exciting being in the same room as it, and it's genuinely funny too, and so far the plot really feels like YES, this IS what Part 4 would be.  It feels... I dunno, earned.

I'm not saying it's the greatest game ever made; it's a point and click narrative game, which isn't going to be for everyone, particularly on the console, but I'm not a game connoisseur: I'm a Back To The Future connoisseur, and this, I tells ya, is Back To The Future.

I don't know how the entire game will hold up, because I'm only 1/5 of the way through,

but today...

It made The Day.

It made The Day in the way only Back To The Future can.

I can't even recall the poopiness of this morning.  I will remember this day as BACKTOTHEFUTUREAWESOMEMAGICFEELING Day.

Thank you, Back To The Future, you're my hero.