Avatar Nostalgia – Young Me (and him)

Look at you. How old are you? You’re very old. You have done lots of things in your life and more often than not someone will have been there to make a note of it or possibly take a photo.

Nostalgia is what sells lots of old crap in that you remember how it was “back in the day” and then you want to get that feeling back by, I don’t know, buying your first car again, playing that Atari you had up in your uncle’s loft or investing in Microsoft shares. When I was looking for a photo for my brother I found a few photo albums, most of which were filled with sentimental (i.e. pointless) photos of my bedroom when I was 9 and other guff. I did, however, stumble upon several re-discovered gems of what used to happen when Kev and I, and sometimes Tom, would get whammed.

Now don’t get your hopes up, dear people. If you’re looking for sordid, filthy accounts of unscrupulous behaviour then you’re really on the wrong website (you took a wrong turn at boobpedia.com). What I’m talking are polaroids (easy now) of us all looking young surrounded by drinks bottles and cans. If you ever wanted to know what Kevin looked like with a bog roll on his head, holding one of those plastic separators you get with cans of lager, then you’ve come to the right place. If you were “desperate” to see a photo of me fake passed out on the floor then go no further.

I don’t remember ever looking that young but I know it happened. Here’s the proof:

Avatar James Earl Jones is Amazing

Do you know who’s amazing? I’ll give you a hint, it’s not you or I. Nor I. No, neither of us is amazing. You can show me all your achievements, medals, awards and dissertations but you will never be as amazing as James Earl Jones.

This will be difficult for some of us to understand (i.e. Chris) due to the fact that some of us cannot watch films for fear of exploding. That said, James Earl Jones, or JEJ as he is known to his closest friends and family, has also has a stuperbulous career on both television and on stage, so you’ve got no excuses some people. He is a huge talent and has played everyone from a man covered in black plastic to a huge lion and even read all 27 books of the New Testament in ‘James Earl Jones Reads the Bible’. I know now what everyone is getting for Christmas…

I have a ton of respect for James because he’s always been there in lots of things, lots of things I have enjoyed which is a rarity these days. I almost fell off the sofa though when I paused a film he was in and this came up:

Immature, juvenile, yes yet also immensely satisfying and hugely enjoyable. I think James Earl Jones looks even cooler with walrus tusks. Walrus tusks or sticks of chalk coming out of his nose. He can pull off any look, he’s that good an actor.

Avatar Film Reviews – Mr. Majestyk

Imagine Jason Statham, buff almost A but still a little B-Movie action hero, working in the 1970’s. Imagine he is given the script of film where he still gets to be a buff action hero movie star but it’s in such a bizarre setting that everything about the film makes your eyes pop out in astonishment.

Such is the case for ‘Mr. Majestyk’, an utterly bewildering idea for entertainment, that when Big Dave started chuntering on about it, as some kind of brief aside at a family gathering, we all thought he had finally lost his marbles. “Do you remember that film about Charles Bronson who looks after the mangoes?” he said.

Blank looks on everyone’s, and I do mean everyone’s, faces.

“You mean you’ve never seen it? It was amazing. He was a mango farmer and these guys come after him.”

Cue an outbreak of laughing and worried looks until my brother Googles it and finds that it’s a real thing.

That is, a real thing where my dad has got some of the details wrong. Charles Bronson plays a melon farmer, a farmer who also straddles the typical types of war veteran and ex-con. All he cares about is successfully getting his melon crop to the supplier so he can get paid and think about next year. Interwoven throughout the narrative is various references to how much Bronson needs to get back to his crop of melons, how much he has to get back to harvest his melons. In fact a reference to this crops up about every twenty minutes and each time it made me laugh out loud. Here’s a precis of the story:

‘Bronson hires a bus of people to help bring his crop in. Some punk tries to muscle in on the action with his own bus. Bronson steals his rifle, strikes the punk in the balls and sends him on his way. The punk gets the cops involved and Bronson is arrested. In the clink he meets this other-worldly grim reaper of a man called Frank, who’s a mafia hitman. As they are being transported somewhere his mafia friends try to break him free, only for Bronson and Frank to go on the run but not for very long. Why? Because Bronson has to get back to his melons. Frank offers him $25,000.00 to not hand him back to the cops, Bronson refuses and almost dies when the mafia’s girlfriend turns up, narrowly escaping by jumping through the rear window of a car. Frank becomes obsessed, refusing to leave until he gets his revenge over this simple melon farmer. He chases away the hired help and then, hilariously, orders his middle-aged henchmen to fire multiple rounds in his melon harvest. If you’ve ever wanted to see several minutes of people shooting at fruit then this is definitely the film for you.

Now at the end of his tether, Bronson goes on the offence, killing all the henchmen (including another laugh out loud moment when his truck gently nudges a car full of henchies off the edge of a hill and it explodes as though it’s packed full of dynamite). The final confrontation is such a letdown too: the girlfriend gives up and leaves, the punk decides that Frank is a nutter and runs away, leaving only Frank in his hideout. Bronson jumps through the window, shoots Frank and that’s it. It’s the biggest anti-climax I have witnessed in a long while. Bronson goes home, despite the fact that almost all of his melons are messed up and his best-friend had both his legs broken in the ensuing chaos.’

I mean, where to start? Charles Bronson does a good job of playing the part only at the time the film was released he was 53 years old. The love interest, not tacked on in the slightest, who is one of the migrant workers helping to harvest the melons, is about 20 years younger than him (this is a full decade before Roger Moore starred in ‘A View To A Kill’ romancing a then 30 year old Tanya Roberts at the ripe age of 58). She is inexplicably drawn to him because he does the gruff man thing of ‘sending her away so she doesn’t get hurt’ despite the fact she tells him, in no uncertain terms, that where she grew up she was repeatedly subjected to violence or albeit the threat thereof. The henchmen were the least threatening cronies I have ever seen. One looked as though he was in his sixties, definitely older than Bronson, yet still seemed to swagger around with the same menace as Genghis Khan.

The back of the DVD box is also a riot. It reads as follows:

“Bronson stars as Majestyk, an ex-con and Vietnam vet whose efforts to run a farm are thwarted by narrow-minded locals and corrupt cop.s But hwne a Mafia hitman destroys Majestyk’s crop, the farmer’s fuse is finally blown. With his rifle in hand and his girlfriend (a bit of an overstatement, because they’re refusing to the love interest; they throw some words at each other, go for a beer and that makes them a couple?) at the wheel, he goes after the syndicate assassin. And from high-speed back-road chases (I must have missed those) to an explosive backwoods confrontation (the aforementioned anti-climax), mobster and maverick stalk each other: two of a kind, antagonists to the death.”

Whoever wrote that either deserves an award for the biggest stack of lies since Boris Johnson opened his mouth or was looking at the wrong film. It wasn’t bad in the sense that it’s an awful film only that there is very little to recommend about it bar Bronson’s and Frank, the mafia guy, Al Lettieri’s. performances. FYI, Lettieri looks as though he would knock you out for checking your back pocket for change and remains one of the few convincing things in the entire production.

I’d give it a “Lesley Pipes” – watchable but average.

Avatar Beans Flashback

There have been no posts to the Beans since the start of April, and it’s the 20th now. What does that tell us? Well, clearly, it indicates that there is nothing of any interest happening this month.

Instead, let us take this opportunity to look back at early 2007 and ask ourselves what was happening on this day in Beans History.

It was in April 2007 that Chris Industries International Ltd. was sold to Richard Branson and became Virgin Petcare. There was controversy over the choice of kestrel as word of the week. And the Saint King thrust himself upon a world that did not yet know his taste for underhanded deceit.

But April 2007 was rather a quiet month on the Beans, and that was because we were all still reeling from the release of a video that I thought I’d lost completely. It turns out I do still have one shoddy, over-compressed version that I am going to post here. Ladies and gentlemen, celebrating its tenth anniversary, I present Seeing Not Doing.

Avatar Making Christmas

Christmas is a time for miracles. It is also the time for blatant commercialism and funny hats. That said, which it just was, it is also the time for ingenuity and improvisation.

This year Audrey asked for a copy of ‘The Lady in the Van’ on DVD for Christmas, the film based upon the book by Alan Bennett. It was a bit of poor choice really because the film is being shown on terrestrial television for free on Christmas Eve. Nevertheless, prior to being in receipt of this important piece of information, I still went ahead and purchased a copy. Neither I nor Reuben have ever read or seen ‘The Lady in the Van’ and so we decided, based upon the front cover of the DVD, that we would guess what the story was and write and illustrate our own version as an additional present.

It is called ‘T’Lady in T’Van’.

The end result was, quite simply, amazing. I cannot for obvious reasons include a copy here for fear of spoilers for the intended victim, I mean recipient.

What I can include though is a piece of concept art that Reuben came up with during the development process. He decided that the story should involve 80’s martial arts hero and general good egg Chuck Norris and thus drew a picture of him. This was then improved by adding three dimensional eyes.

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Special doesn’t even come close.

Avatar BBC New Sitcom of the Year 2016 Awards

Good Evening and welcome to the very exciting but very poorly worded ‘BBC New Sitcom of the Year 2016 Awards’. We are judging the suggestions for sitcoms provided by you, the general public, and we are down to the last three.

There will, of course, be a very extensive and elaborate voting process which will commence once the three entries have been revealed. All you need to do is press one of the conveniently-placed buttons on your remote control to vote for your favourite.

Here are the final three entries for your consideration:

BookChop

Deirdre Hanginglass has a dream. Her dream is to own her very own bookshop in the centre of Ipswich. After gaining a wealth of knowledge following her stint in other shops, and with a hefty loan from the bank, she thinks she has found the ideal place. The only problem is that she can only afford half the rent.

Enter Leanne Pandonberry. Leanne is an aspiring butcher who has worked her way through butcher college to gain the qualifications needed. After her Auntie Maeve passed away, leaving a handsome gift, Leanne too seeks shelter within the confines of Ipswich city centre only to find prices just a little too much. Deirdre and Leanne decide to join forces and open the UK’s very first joint butcher book shop.

How can they possibly hope to cope working in opposite ends of the work spectrum? Can uptight Leanne ever hope to mesh with the laid-back antics of Deirdre? And who owns the mysterious milk crate in the back alley?

Dracu-later

Dracula is dead; killed by Jonathan Harker, crumbled to dust. Only he’s not. It was all an act to make everyone go away and leave him alone.

The outside world just wasn’t made for the Count and his crazy hoardes. All he wanted was to suck a couple of necks and nothing more. And with this in mind, he disappears into the shadowy forests surrounding his castle.

That is until he returns. The year is 1987 and life has moved on. The relatives of Van Helsing live on, unaware of Dracula’s continued life. The Count has met a most fortunate woman, Mabel, and following a successful romance moved in with her in a comfy semi-detached hovel in Middlesbrough. The house next door is up for sale and following a successful bid at a local auction the property is sold to… Milo and Janice Van Helsing!

Dracula now not only has to struggle with living in suburbia, and keep his job at Rumbelows, but also keep his true identity hidden from his new neighbours. Can he maintain his begonias and stop himself from sucking the local cats dry?

It would appear as though our final entry, ‘Apple Jews’, about a group of sexy young Jewish men and women working in an Apple store, has had to be disqualified for blatant product placement.

That therefore leaves only two entries in the running.

If you would like to vote for ‘BookChop’ please press the ‘slow’ button on your remote. If you would prefer to opt for ‘Dracu-later’ then please caress the button that looks like a meteor crashing into the sea.

Avatar What did you just say about beavers?

Reuben approached me last weekend because he had recently had a dream that had perplexed him and needed to know what it meant.

This is mostly his dream with details but with a smudge of embellishment on my part:

“Reuben is walking around school with his new fictional best friend, Daniel. They had decided to walk back home through the woods once the school day was over. The woods, though dark, were still light enough to be unthreatening. They had gone halfway through when they heard a strange noise and a bright blue flash, and stood at the base of a tree was a beaver.

They tried to get near but each time the beaver disappeared and reappeared in a different part of the woods. Sometimes the beaver would appear in different attire, and in particular as a Mexican. Reuben and Daniel split up and in doing so, one of them managed to grab the beaver. As the other approached, the bright blue light flashed and they had magically been transported to ancient Egypt.

It was at this point they realised it was a magical, time-travelling beaver.

The animal was tired; time-travelling is a very tiring experience. The only way to re-charge the beaver was to feed him a particular type of wood. Once this was done, Reuben and Daniel had to try to convince the beaver that they needed to go home, which was difficult because the beaver was worshipped as a God in this period of history.

After a fair amount of tussling, the beaver accidentally transports them to the post apocalyptic world of 2704. Then, through a series of mishaps, they also take in the sights of the Jurassic era, the Romans, pirates, Aztecs, Victorian era Britain, World War II and the 1980’s.

Eventually though they get home and decide to keep the beaver as a pet. It turns out he is called Harold. His full name is Harold “Carrot” Bevoid. In his time he drives a Beaver Delorean. His time is not specifically mentioned so they do not know what year he has time-travelled from.”

Something to do with puberty perhaps?

Avatar My Morning Snap-It

I love blurry photos. For some reason they really resonate with me and even though you may have spent ages keeping your hand steady to get that perfect shot only for it to look as though my eyes have photographed it for you (my sight is really bad…) it still makes me titter like a dormouse.

Yesterday Siobhan and I drove 175 odd miles to Manchester to watch My Morning Jacket. I took a handful of snaps of the gig but this in particular is my absolute favourite:

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It made getting back at 2:40am all the better for knowing I had this photo saved in my phone and in my heart.

It’ll never be on the front of a Hallmark card, which is for the best really… you’d feel fairly unappreciated if you received a birthday card with this on the front.