Monday, January 24, 2022

"Time Travels In Diverse Paces With Diverse Persons"

Dudes, Lady-Dudes, all dear blog readers of indeterminate, self-idenitified or bi-curious orientation, welcome you all are to the latest From The North bloggerisationism update. Those dear blog readers who read - and actually survived - yer actual Keith Telly Topping's ceaseless whinging about the manifest crappiness of his life and health situation in the last bloggerisationism update will, no doubt, be delighted to know that this blogger is still feeling more than a bit poorly. And, that the situation at the Stately Telly Topping Manor Plague House is little different (this blogger's forthcoming chest x-ray at the RVI notwithstanding).
Except for but one thing; on Friday last, this blogger did, indeed - as threatened last time out - haul his sorry and ill ass into Toon to meet up with his good pal Young Malcolm. And, together, they went and had a pure-dead-lush Chinese meal at The Little Asia on Stowell Street (a restaurant that used to be The Mandarin back in the last decade before, seemingly, a change of management). And, very decent it was, too. The Mandarin was always one of this blogger's favourites - amongst several - in Chinatown but he hadn't been there for several years so it was heartening to see that the quality has, seemingly, been maintained. If you're taking notes, it was the usual three-courses-for-twelve quid lunchtime jobbie of, in this blogger's case, chicken and sweetcorn soup, Cantonese spare ribs and King Prawn in honey and chilli sauce with egg fried rice plus, because it was absolutely bloody taters outside, a nice hot cup of Chinese tea. Tasty. In several senses.
This blogger and Young Malcolm immediately made tentative arrangements to do that all over again at the earliest opportunity - although that's likely to be after we next get our shit together to attend the local kinema (probably to see Munich: The Edge of War) sometime in the next fortnight. In the course of a two hours-plus conversation about, well let's be brutally honest here, mostly the usual 'what movies have you been watching on Talking Pictures, the Horror Channel and BBC4 of late?' Young Malcolm also directed this blogger in the direction of the splendid British Entertainment History Project website and, in particular, a multi-part interview with Val Guest. And, to a Sherlock Holmes TV production this blogger hadn't previously come across, the Anglo-Polish production Sherlock Holmes & Doctor Watson (1979-1980), starring Geoffrey Whitehead, Donald Pickering and Patrick Newell. It was, apparently, mired in some knotty legal issues at the time which caused the series' release to be delayed, but it had now turned up on You Tube. According to Roy Ward Baker (one of several directors involved in the production with links to Hammer and ITC), as production wrapped the head of Polish television who had spearheaded the deal was arrested for corruption. The episodes were subsequently confiscated by authorities leading to inconsistent distribution; the show was never released in the UK and was only shown on a single American station in 1982. Eventually, however, the series premiered on Polish TV and was, reportedly, very popular with viewers, leading to regular re-runs. Check it out, dear blog reader, on the strength of the handful of episodes this blogger had seen so far, it's a lot of fun.
Elsewhere, dear blog reader, this blogger has been doing little or nothing remotely productive whilst sitting on his sofa wrapped in a dressing gown, several thick blankets and a couple of hot water bottles; watching telly, listening to podcasts and reading books to stop his brain from atrophying. He's still currently still stuck knee-deep in the previously-mentioned re-read of Mark Lewisohn's astonishing The Beatles: All These Years - Tune-In. It's now July 1960 and John, Paul, George, Stuart and Norman have got themselves a nice little residency at The Institute, Neston and there's big talk coming from Allan Williams' office that he might be able to get them to take their heathen rock and/or roll rhythms to Ze Chermans in Hamburg for, allegedly, mucho wonga and as much Preludin®™ as they can chew. They're interested, but problems with obtaining passports - and, the usual one, a lack of regular drums - may lie ahead. Time will tell, it usually does.
Otherwise, it's been the usual stuff which has occupied this blogger's time; the latest episode of From The North favourite Kermode & Mayo's Film Review, including coverage of the splendid-sounding Belfast and Mass and an interview with the Godlike star of the latter, yer actual Jason Isaacs his very self. There's also been From The North favourite Young Caroline's latest 'Listening To The Be-Atles (A Popular Beat Combo Of The 1960s, You Might've Heard Of Them) For The First Time' video in which she reaches Yellow Submarine (available on You Tube). And, another semi-regular From The North You Tube favourite, Parlogram Auctions latest upload, this one on the history of The Be-Atles (A Popular Beat Combo Of The 1960s, You Might've Heard Of Them) releases - or lack of them - behind The Iron Curtain.
And, of course, there's been ...
From The North favourite and location-spotting treasure, Vera.
(How nice it was, incidentally, to see in the latest episode - As The Crow Flies - not only From The North favourite Craig Parkinson in a guest role but, also, another From The North favourite, Wire In The Blood's Simone Lahbib.)
From The North favourite Would I Lie To You? Because, any time Bob Mortimer appears on the show, you're guaranteed a piece of comedy gold. Or several.
From The North favourite Randall & Hopkirk (Deceased) (always worth a periodic re-watch).
The Curse Of The Crimson Alter (in which director Vernon Sewell manages to waste the movie's main asset, the extraordinary cast that had been assembled. And, of course, it's also got The Single Worst Self-Aware Moment In Horror Movie History, the 'Boris Karloff is going to pop-up any moment' line which is teeth-grindingly annoying! Still, for all that, the film's still watchably daft).
Enron: The Smartest Guys In The Room (which, quite apart from being a superb Alex Gibney documentary - one of several - also has the best use of Tom Waits' 'God's Away On Business' imaginable).
The Inventor: Out For Blood In Silicon Valley (Gibney's similar tale from a decade later about further corporate fraudulence in the Theranos scandal. Which of course is, suddenly, highly topical given the shitload of jail-time Elizabeth Holmes is currently facing for her naughty fraudulent ways).
The Manchurian Candidate (let us, please, simply pretend that the Christ-awful, unwanted Jonathan Demme/Denzel Washington/Meryl Streep remake never happened. If we ignore it, maybe it'll just go away).
Performance (well-tasty Moog, Mick!)
Black Books (because, how can anyone not adore the 'Manny discovers his jazz hands' sequence?)
The Earth Dies Screaming
From The North favourite Qi XL (this blogger could've done without twisty-faced Bridget Christie and punchably unfunny Mark Watson on the latest episode, admittedly. But Johnny Vegas was, as usual, on terrific form).
The Rutles: All You Need Is Cash (yes, I think we can now all agree, it was definitely the trousers ...)
The Outer Limits (a current repeat run on Talking Pictures kicking-off with one of the most heart-stoppingly memorable episodes, The Architects Of Fear).
Aeriel America
The Big Short (and not just for the Margot Robbie in a bubble-bath sequence. Although, admittedly, that was an unexpectedly bonus).
Shatter (shown at some ridiculous hour of the morning by Talking Pictures. See, dear blog reader, this is what using your recording devices wisely is for. And, the discovery that there was, indeed, a reason why it was one of only a handful of post early-1950s Hammer movies that this blogger had never bothered with; because it's an indescribably cheap chock-socky movie trying to be both Shaft and Emter The Dragon simultaneously whilst featuring Peter Cushing in his least Peter Cushing-like role).
The Young Ones ('once in every life time, comes a love like this').
Foyle's War
Close Encounters Of The Third Kind
And Soon The Darkness
Moving on, swiftly, to those stories which this blogger has been fascinated by, repulsed by or bewildered by since the last From The North bloggerisationism update. There was Joss Whedon using an interview with New York magazine to deny a series of misconduct claims made against him (and, to paraphrase Mandy Rice Davies, 'well, he would, wouldn't he?'); the From The North Headline Of The Week award going to, UK's Bird Flu 'Patient Zero' Banned From Keeping Ducks For Another Year; two fans - Americans, obviously - of the actress Ana de Armas have, reportedly, sued Universal Pictures, claiming they were 'duped' into renting a film because she was in the trailer. Conor Woulfe and Peter Rosza whinged that they each paid $3.99 for the comedy Yesterday, only to discover the actress had been removed from the final cut. They are said to be seeking five million bucks compensation 'on behalf of all affected viewers.' But, mainly, on behalf of themselves.
An architect has, reportedly, applied at the High Court to change his name by deed poll to 'Kill The Police, Crime, Sentencing And Courts Bill' in protest at punitive new anti-protest legislation being debated in the House of Lords. Mind you, this is according to some Middle Class hippy Communist at the Gruniad Morning Star so it may be worthy approaching the veracity of the story with caution. Lego®™ has, allegedly, been sued by a designer over a leather jacket worn by the toy Antoni Porowski in Lego's®™ Queer Eye set. And, another headline that had to be seen to be believed, It Took Four Men & A Fire Extinguisher To Get The Tiger Off Him: The Tragedy Of Vegas Magicians Siegfried & Roy.
A villa in Rome housing the only a mural by Michelangelo Caravaggio has failed to sell at auction (mind you, the asking price was over four hundred and seventy million Euros). A theatre show inspired by Peaky Blinders is set to premiere in Birmingham. Durham University fibre-optics have, reportedly, helped the largest 3D map of the Universe. A man is claimed to have 'hijacked an online vigil' held for the murdered Ashling Murphy 'by exposing himself and appearing to masturbate live on-camera'. And, Skywatchers have been treated to a spectacular first full Moon of 2022.
England boss Gareth Southgate is, reportedly, looking into the possibility of taking legal action after his name was used to promote a cryptocurrency scam. Authorities in Hong Kong have 'swooped' on a pet shop, seizing a number of hamsters to be euthanised following a Covid outbreak. Ghislaine Maxwell has requested a retrial, weeks after she was extremely convicted on sexual abuse charges (presumably because she doesn't particularly fancy spending the next sixty five years banged up in The Slammer). People owed an estimated two million smackers by English Defence League founder Stephen Yaxley-Lennon - who has prior convictions for violence, financial and immigration frauds, drug possession, and public order offences - have appointed an independent insolvency expert to try to recover their money. Desert Island Discs celebrates eighty years on the radio. And, a Dairylea cheese advert has been banned for showing girl eating upside down. Which isn't a good thing, apparently. Who knew?
There's also the sad news of the death of Hardy Krüger. And Meat Loaf. Trains (or, more accurately, those who run and operate them) have, reportedly, been 'told to get rid of torrent of Tannoy spam' (and not before time, either). The Gardaí have launched an investigation after two men carried a dead body into an Irish post office in an apparent attempt to claim his pension. And, the rather bizarre story of the chief executive of the UK's largest cat protection charity stepping down after a blazing public row over the welfare of eighteen cats being kept in his colleague's three-bedroom house.
Kiribati has gone into its first lockdown after over thirty passengers on the first international flight in ten months tested positive for Covid (hopefully From The North's lone occasional dear blog reader from the paradise Pacific island is unaffected by this). A search is reportedly underway for a number of monkeys missing after a freeway crash in Pennsylvania. Glasgow has been transformed into a dark, wintry Gotham City as filming takes place for the upcoming Batgirl movie. Extremely former president Mister Rump's legal troubles haven't simply gone away. The government has - to the satisfaction of millions - suffered a series of embarrassing defeats in The House Of Lords over its plans to clamp down on noisy protesters (and, anyone else they don't like). And, a Conservative backbencher who has accused Downing Street of trying to 'blackmail' MPs seeking to oust Bashing Boris Johnson is to meet The Fuzz to discuss his allegations. Because, seemingly, they're far too cowardly and arse-licking to investigate claims of criminality by those in power unless poked with a stick. Hard.
And, then there's sports. It's been a bit of a miserable time for this blogger of late, dear blog reader, what with his beloved, now thankfully sellable but, seemingly, relegation-bound Magpies playing like a bunch of soft-Southern planks (Saturday's wholly unexpectedly victory at Elland Road notwithstanding) and the England cricket team's embarrassingly wretched 'surrender before the toss' in The Ashes out in Australia. However, it wasn't all bad news - just mostly. Following on from their thrilling on-the-road victories at The Rams and The Cowboys in recent weeks, this blogger's beloved San Francisco Forty Niners continues their impressive end-of-season run with a last-gasp thirteen-ten win in a snowbound Green Bay over the Packers, via Robbie Gould's field goal. Them Niners, who only gained a wild-card place in the play-offs with a victory on the final day of the regular season, will now play in the NFC Championship game for the second time in three years, at either The Rams (whom they've already beaten twice this season) or the Tampa Bay Buccaneers next Sunday.
Finally, Keith Telly Topping continues to hope that all dear blog readers are keeping themselves safe and healthy during these dark and troubling times. It's been a bad few weeks for this blogger, frankly, not helped by the weather which has been pure-dead cruel. However, spring will come, dear blog reader. Probably.

Saturday, January 15, 2022

"In The End, It Is Impossible Not To Become What Others Believe You Are"

The second From The North bloggerisationisms update of 2022 begins, dear blog reader; with, for those who are interested in such things (hello, David), an update on yer actual Keith Telly Topping's health situation at the Stately Telly Topping Manor Plague House. Hands up all those who are now expecting a lengthy - and intimate - list of ailments, sickness, misery and woe. 
Okay, dear blog readers, you can all put your hands down now. Yes, sad to report, this blogger has been feeling effing appalling over the last three or four weeks (since, in fact, just before Christmas). Firstly, a persistent and lingering chest complaint was finally diagnosed as pneumonia (something this blogger always thought was a pretty damned serious thing to have but, at least where he was concerned, it didn't seem to overly concern his team of medical professionals). This blogger is pretty much over it now although he does still have to go for a chest x-ray in a couple of weeks just to make sure there's been no permanent damage to his lungs. No sooner had that malarkey been sort-of whupped than Keith Telly Topping was back at the local Medical Centre to be diagnosed with not one but two fungal infections (one in a somewhat delicate area, the other less, considerably so). These may be - and indeed, probably are - related to each other although Doctor Chris did not rule out the possibility that all of the fungals in the hemisphere had decided, independent of each other, to have attack yer actual Keith Telly Topping when his general immune system was at a jolly low ebb. Add in some of the back pain which this blogger has been a martyr to from, of-and-on, since his twenties (but, particularly around this time of year when the weather gets a bit parky) and you have a full picture of the sorry state in which this blogger finds his very self. This blogger has said it before, dear blog reader, but it's worth repeating - it's not easy being yer actual Keith Telly Topping. Even on a good day. And he doesn't have many good days. 
Still, dear blog reader, whilst it is an ill-wind which blows no one much good, they reckon, lengthy periods with this blogger being either curled up on the couch packing a hot water bottle or two (mostly two) and a quilt or, indeed, giving up on the day completely and taking himself off to his nice warm bed has had one or two beneficial side effects. Such as the opportunity for this blogger to read - for the second time - Mark Lewisohn's groundbreaking (and muscle enhancing, when you try to pick the damn thing up) extended biography of The Be-Atles (a popular beat combo of the 1960s, you might've heard of them), Tune-In.
Over five hundred pages in and it's 1959 - John, Paul, George and Ken ('the rhythms in the guitars, man') have just gotten themselves a residency at Ma Best's Casbah Club in West Derby. But, they 'have no drums.' Will they grow some, dear blog reader? Only time (and, obviously, the author) will tell. Over the next twelve hundred pages and he'll still only get up to the end of 1962. Come on, Mark, I know you're working hard on volume two and we all appreciate that (some of us, admittedly, more than others) but a potential released date for 1963-1966 (even if it's just 'this decade') would be nice!
Of course, this blogger has had plenty more to do whilst suffering from his ill-health and general nastiness than merely read a book. Like, catching up with the last few episodes of his two favourite podcasts, both from the BBC, Kermode & Mayo's Film Review ('hello to Jason and long-live the Blue-Haired Feminists', obviously) and Americast. Both of which, if you've never checked them out, are thoroughly available from Baby Sea Clowns. He's also been rediscovering a - long-abandoned - admiration for Heinz Beef Ravioli in tomato sauce. Because, nothing (but, nothing dear blog reader), helps to temporarily improve the mental well-being of a person who is feeling more than a bit poorly than Heinz Beef Ravioli in tomato sauce. Nothing. Take it from one who knows. And remember, it's one of your five-a-day. Apparently.
Of course, any and all examples of physical exertion for this blogger have been right out of the question. Even those couple of trips down to the Medical Centre to get his shit diagnosed have felt like running a marathon as the cold air hit this blogger's weakened lungs and fair sucked all of the enthusiasm he'd once had for, you know, life right out of his body and scattered it, in tiny fragments aal ower The Estate.
Of course, there has been one other thing which has occupied this blogger's time since New Year's Day which is probably worth reporting. The bit you've all been waiting for (allegedly).
A gosh-darn good question, dear blog reader. One which, in fact, deserves (and, is going to get) a gosh-darn good answer.
Thus, in no particular order other than the purely chronological ... The Be-Atles (a popular beat combo of the 1960s, you might've heard of them): Get Back.
Digging For Britain From The North favourite Doctor Alive, what's not to love?
Knives Out
Ski Sunday - even if it has gone downhill of late. Come on! Plus, you know, any excuse to play the theme tune.
Waking The Dead
The Torture Garden (good God, something half-way decent on The Horror Channel. That'll never catch on!)
I, Monster
Paddington 2 (possibly the first franchise since The Godfather where the second movie is actually better than the first. And the first was pretty good)
Rules Of The Game
Toast Of Tinseltown ('yes, we can hear you, Clem Fandango!')
Jonathan Creek (except for the crap last series with Sarah Alexander which this blogger boycotted on general principle)
Only Connect
Mark Kermode's Secrets Of Cinema
The Planets (BBC, 1999)
The Man Who Stole Cricket (a fascinating, disturbing and multi-faceted story of greed and criminality almost fatally ruined by the inclusion of the punchable Jonathan Agnew and his sneering 'wise after the event' views. For a man who only played three test matches in his career - and he wouldn't have got those if England had an even slightly decent bowling attack at the time - he doesn't half talk as if he believes he's the wise and sagacious bastard-love-child of Don Bradman and Gary Sobers)
Around The World In Eighty Days
The Hunt For Bible John
The World At War
The Cleaner
Arena: The Orson Welles Story
Watergate (BBC, 1994)
Hot Fuzz
Porridge (let's just pretend that the Twenty First Century remake didn't happen)
Almost Famous (Untitled)
Star Trek
Moving swiftly onwards, this blogger had hoped to have seen at least one new movie at the cinema by this stage in 2022, having tentatively arranged with his good chum Young Malcolm to go and see Operation Mincemeat (a subject which both Young Malcolm and this blogger are fascinated by) in early January. Sadly, Warners made a late decision to postpone the UK release of the movie until April due, they claimed, to Covid-related malarkey. A great shame, that, although those previously mentioned health considerations would probably have caused a delay in this blogger getting to see it anyway.
In the meantime, the next cinema visit this blogger makes is likely to be Christian Schwochow's recently-released Munich: The Edge Of War, this blogger having been a great admirer of the Robert Harris novel which it is based upon. Hopefully, another week of antibiotics, rest (and hot water bottle) and this blogger will be in a position to leave the comforting safety of the Stately Telly Topping Manor Plague House (and, be able to use the well-known Hungarian phrase 'I am no longer infected' with impunity as a bonus) and get his ass into town to either watch the film, go for a nice Chinese meal or, indeed, both. We can dream, dear blog reader. Dreaming, as Blondie once said, is free.
And now, dear blog reader, here are some of the news stories which have occupied this blogger's attention, amused yer actual Keith Telly Topping, infuriated him or just made him plain perplexed over the last couple of weeks: From The North favourite Elvis Costello giving, as usual, great interview with the Gruniad Morning Star; another Gruniad piece about Neil Cole's Museum of Classic Sci-Fi, hosted in cellar of his Allendale townhouse; the death of Hollywood trailblazer and From The North favourite Sidney Poitier; the death of another From The North favourite, Peter Bogdanovich; the death of another From The North favourite, Ronnie Spector; a spectacular display of The Northern Lights pictured over Scotland (and some parts of North Northumberland). Ooo, pretty.
Also, of course, there's been the fall, the fall and the continuing fall of Britain's least-favourite Royal arms dealer and (whisper it) alleged sex offender (allegations which he, it is important to note, strongly denies); the fall, the fall, the fall, the fall and, the potentially ultimate, fall of Britain's least favourite Prime Minister (at least, since the last one); Michael Gove missing a Radio 4 interview slot after getting stuck in a BBC lift (if Simon Mayo is to be believed - and he should know - it was the Radio 1 lift that Gove got stuck in, thus meaning at least he'd've spent half-an-hour being exposed to some bangin' tunes that are Very Popular With Young People); the leader of The Oath Keepers militia group facing sedition charge over last year's Capitol attack (and, it only took them three hundred and seventy one days to press the charges); Alec Baldwin turning his phone over to investigators in the shooting of Halyna Hutchins; Terry Christian back on Radio Derby; the man who was pictured as a baby on the cover of Nirvana's Nevermind issuing a revived lawsuit against the band after his initial complaint of child pornography was thrown out of court by a judge; Kanye West being named as a suspect in an LA 'battery offence' (one presumes that's battery as in 'assault and' rather than 'what you put in your domestic appliances to make them go'); former child prodigy Ruth Slenczynska releasing a new CD at the age of ninety seven; should the BBC play The National Anthem - including, presumably, the racist verse about 'crushing rebellious Scots' - at closedown as, reportedly, some arsewipe smear of a Tory MP wants them to?; a man damaging a BBC headquarters statue with a hammer (a man must have a hobby) and Laura Trevelyan getting surprised by a flurry of snow while filming in Washington DC. In the middle of January. Yeah. I think a fair few people could've told her that was more than a possibility.
Well, dear blog reader, that's your whack for another, shortish, From The North bloggerisationism update from the sickness-infected Stately Telly Topping Manor Plague House (where the coughing is regular and the oozing is frequent). Hopefully, by the next time this blogger has enough material to post a further update for you all, the first half of it won't be full of distressing details of medical shenanigans.
Finally, dear blog reader, the first in a new, semi-regular, From The North series, 'Alternative Happy Endings For Films With Decidedly Unhappy Endings'. Number one: Butch Cassidy & The Sundance Kid.
And, on that bombshell, dear blog reader ...