Tuesday, 28 June 2011

Transformers 3D - Headbangingly Mindnumbingly Awful? Kermodian Rant Ahoy!

Looks like it will be a good review on Radio 5 this Friday...

Oh the anticipation!

Sunday, 26 June 2011

The Kennedys is a Triumph for Tom Wilkinson

I am thoroughly enjoying 'The Kennedys' on BBC2, which has been slated by various lobbying groups in America.

Joe Kennedy
Now don't get me started on the politics of it all. What a fascinating period: America's first Catholic president, yet deeply flawed in his personal life; the Bay of Pigs; the Cuban Missile Crisis; Joe Kennedy; the mob; the Vietnam build-up, and eventually Lee Harvey Oswald and all the 'grassy knoll' palaver.

Aside from all that the series is yet another triumph for Tom Wilkinson who plays the Kennedy patriarch, the man who established a powerful political family which tried to be all-powerful but, even in my day, knew more than its fair share of tragedy.

A few years ago on hols in Boston we saw Ted Kennedy stood on the steps of the Massachusetts governor's house. Now he was the bete noir of my (in-law!) Uncle Maynard who is, I'm sure he won't mind me saying, a New England red-meat Republican.

But love him or loathe him (and I think the Kennedys, like the Clintons after them, inspire such polarised feelings) it was strange seeing him in the flesh (fully clothed of course!). Despite him being a living, breathing person, it was like taking a fleeting glimpse into an oligarchy, an establishment, an edifice. Perhaps he felt the same way on seeing the Hurleys go past in a large yellow tourist boat on wheels? Who knows!

Tom Wilkinson in the role.
Anyhoo - back to Tom Wilkinson. He grabs the character of Joe Kennedy by the lapels and conveys all the power lust, control, conflicting religious background and the way his veins seem to run icy cold when it came to attaining positions of power for those in his family.

Like few other actors, Wilkinson can really make a role his own, and even in some ropey films, he will generally carry the character to the extent that you still enjoy watching his performance. He stood out as the jailed priest in The Exorcism of Emily Rose, a chilling film based on a true story.

With so much junk on TV, it's a joy to watch The Kennedys. If only so us 'limeys' get to know a little more about the American politics of the 60s.

Wednesday, 22 June 2011

Gruffydd James: New Member of the Hurley Extended Family

Delivery of one Gruffydd James
Congratulations to Huw and Caroline on the fantastic news that little Gruffydd James has been born into the world.

OK they didn't choose Gareth, despite my extensive and expensive lobbying campaign (I suppose I'll have to release Uncle Peter now, he made for an "interesting" hostage...) but hey, it starts with G and that's more than I usually get!

So a big congrats to the Vale of Glamorgan branch of the family --yes, they really are that posh AND they still talk to us! ;-) Perhaps we'll get another visit to St Joseph's RC Church, if we can make it. It really is a beautiful, beautiful building and had a famous parishioner in Dr John Saunders Lewis the founder-leader of Plaid Cymru who converted to Catholicism (hurrah!). I recently spoke to a retired cleric whom Saunders Lewis helped teach to speak Welsh and was, for many years, the parish priest of St Joseph's and had nothing but the nicest things to say and the fondest memories of his old Penarth parish.

So hooray and hurrah for Huw and Caroline, my favourite cousin -- I know I say that to each of them, but don't tell them that ;-) And of course little Gruffydd James who is either sleeping soundly, gurgling a smile or trying out his new lungs with gusto as I type. Let's hope that Saint James, Santiago so beloved of the Spanish over many centuries, looks after his little namesake.

Anyway I must rush, I have to start my next lobbying campaign for a baby Gareth. Perhaps I should consider a mild form of bribery?

Sunday, 19 June 2011

"You Lift Me Up!" - Hmmm. Weight and See

Are Lifts Getting a Sense of Humour?
Many comedians will use the phrase "a funny thing happened the other day..."

Well, in my case this is a truism. There we were, in the "big smoke" celebrating one of the little monkey's birthdays, even though it wasn't strictly his birthday.

You see, oh faithful reader and itinerant of the blogosphere, my children are quite intelligent and very wily. So the latest thing is to have their birthday on the day itself -- more often than not a week-day, with school etc. -- on which they will get cards, presents, the adulation of their peers and the teaching staff, a tea-party, cake with candles and suchlike.

They have twigged that one day, especially a school day, just isn't enough for them to squeeze in all the celebrations, treats, trips out, shopping expeditions and other things they can wangle, cajole and otherwise obtain on the back of a birthday. So in order to get the maximum fun and celebration out of their birthdays a new custom has sprung up: the "birthday weekend."

Oh the eldest one started it, being a cunning character and keen to eek out the full birthday potential, but the others quickly embraced this 'great' idea. Funnily enough we grown ups don't seem to get a birthday weekend, unless of course the children decide they want to go to the cinema, or out for a meal...

Besides how could we say no. It all seems so, well... Catholic! To celebrate a feast day and then continue the celebrations for some days afterwards (12 days of Christmas and all that). No dour presbyterianism for the Hurley family thank you very much!

And so we found ourselves in the big city, on the first "birthday weekend" of the year. Everyone was dropped off at the cinema and dad (yes the heroic figure of the hour, for 'twas I) went to park the car. I decided to park on an upper floor of the 'Outrageous City Centre Parking Charges PLC' car park, needing the exercise the stairs offered (ahead of the meal we would go for post-cinema).

After the cinema and a meal we all waddled our way back to the car park. Oh we didn't burp, belch or otherwise add to "climate change" (upwards or downwards or whichever fad the "experts" are promoting this week), but rest assured we were all most satisfied after our post-cinematic banquet. After filling the ticket machine with the national debt of a middling size African state, the little ones (ah! bless) voted to use the lift, despite the protestations of me and the boss. It being a "birthday weekend" how could we say no to the upturned pleading visages?

Yet the day was still to be mine. Carpe Diem (trans: every fish dies one day).

Off we tramped into the lift: a lift we have frequented (if one can frequent a lift without being some kind of wandering minstrel, vagabond, vagrant, ne'erdowell, or erm... tramp) many times before, marvelling at this feat of modern mechanics as it triumphantly hoists us upwards (or indeed downwards) to our preordained
destination, which we alight at with a "hoorah" as we toast the health of Messrs Faraday and Edison without whom, there can be no doubt, the marvel that is the modern lift (that's an 'elevator' for Americans, an 'uppy-downy thing' for Isle of Wighters), would not exist today.

Yet on this magnificent and glorious day, Providence was to lend a hand and deliver victory back to the Stairs Lobby ('mum' and I), yet in such an amusing way as not to leave the children feeling cheated of another ride on the mechanical marvel known as the lift (you may scoff, but it's cheaper than the London Eye).

You see, oh much maligned and put-upon reader of this illustrious and munificent blog, despite having used the lift before; even sharing it -- never let it be said that we are not charitable in extremis -- with strangers (how Biblical!) many times, on this particular joyous occasion on the closure of the doors (in that magical Star Trek way -- fill in your own sound effects), the lift refused to move.

There was no alarm, no movement, no nothing. Yes I know that is a double-negative and so means there had to be something. Back of the class Smarty Pants, because that is exactly what I mean. There was something, but the little lit symbol on the control panel (I know, very Captain Kirk again) wasn't immediately obvious to those of us present on this little lift adventure.

Yet there it was, when we checked to see if the little finger at the end of the little arm that belonged to the little person who had pleaded with such fervour to be allowed to press the button (as if her very life depended on the outcome of this particularly weighty parental decision, especially as this wasn't her 'birthday weekend') had indeed carried out her specified task and pressed the aforementioned very same button. There was a little yellow light shining for all the world to see (all the world within the lift anyway):


Cue sinister music. Jaws may be too "moody." Psycho would be apt, yet most unsuitable. I'm thinking something along the lines of John Carpenter's The Fog, but feel free to insert your own favourite, as long as it's not Magic Roundabout (Dougal et al) or Rainbow (a la Zippy), which are sinister for their own occult reasons, best not entered into here, but highly unsuitable if we are to maintain an air of subtle horror at this outcome.

Had it been the particularly fine tapas food we had enjoyed at a Spanish-themed hostelry? Or had the children over-done things with their choice of vittles in the world-of-cine foyer?

The doors of the lift opened (serwish!) and we spilled out into the lobby area of the car park (the payment machines looking at us with a cocky glare that said defiantly "we've had your money already - losers") with bursts of laughter.

Either the lift was playing up (damn you Edison and Faraday, what use to us is your genius now?) or we weighed considerably more than the last time we used the lift - even with an extra pair of 'far from svelte' people.

So we climbed the stairs. Hoorah! The grown-ups had exerted their authority. Not really, but let me have my moment of victory. And the children didn't even mind, so happy were they in the "knowledge" that we must be morbidly obese as a family for the lift to refuse to budge on account of our combined weight.

As Del Boy might well intone, "everyone's a winner."

Thursday, 16 June 2011

There's Species Mutation in Our Garden

Yes. Some of our tadpoles have already changed into wee frogs. We were very excited to see many of them clustered at the edge of our pond, and days later after a downpour they were pottering around the garden, meaning we had to tread carefully.

Despite being little frogs, they can move quite fast when the mood takes them, so I was chuffed to see this one sat on a water lily leaf. Scuttling off to get my camera (I know - the children mock me for not having a phone with all the bells and whistles like theirs), on my return he was still there and so here's a pic of our reptilian friend.

Having tadpoles in our man-made pond is great fun and seeing them swim around and change into frogs is very therapeutic. I highly recommend it!

Thursday, 9 June 2011

Happy Birthday Yatod!

We had an important occasion in the Hurley household last week.

A landmark Birthday.

One of the sprogs (Yatod) was celebrating a special birthday. Oh yes. The heady days of youth.

So Mrs H went out to get some goodies, including special balloons which we inflated with helium.

Ta Da! Happy 91st Yadot.