Monthly Archives: November 2004

The Crow Road

Seven years ago, student Prentice McHoan’s uncle Rory mysteriously disappeared. Prentice (engagingly played by Joseph McFadden) narrates the story of the strange events in his eccentric extended family and what he discovers. It all begins on the day his grandmother explodes[1] and things develop from there. We meet various people along the way as Prentice learns more, and we see a series of flashbacks based largely on the book the missing Rory was working on. We see Rory (Peter Capaldi) both in flashbacks and in Prentice’s (presumably) imagined conversations with him.

The Crow Road is based on the Iain Banks[2] novel, which I’m going to have to read again now. Banks had no direct involvement with the adaptation, but was apparently very happy with the result – he’s quoted on the cover as saying

Annoyingly better than the book in far too many places

I’d previously bought The Crow Road when the BBC put it out on VHS. Unfortunately, at that time some genius at the BBC had decided that the thing to do with TV series was to edit them into “movies” for video release.[4] So this is the first time the series has been available in its uncut form, and a Good Thing too. There’s an interview with Banks on one of the two discs, and the whole thing is well worth watching. Four hours of quality drama with quite delicious black humour running through it. One of Banks’ finest books, adapted into one of the best TV dramas of the last ten years or so, and finally available on DVD. Me like :grin:

[1] Crematorium. Pacemaker. Enough said.
[2] Not to be confused with hard sf writer Iain M Banks[3]
[3] Even though they’re the same person :tongue:
[4] Some Doctor Who releases suffered this fate[5]
[5] Fortunately the DVDs are better :grin:

Quatermass and the Pit

Strange discoveries are made during excavations in a London Underground station. First, small humanoid skeletons with large heads are found and dates to an incredible five million years ago. Then, a strange missile is found with some more of the skeletons inside it. Is it really a space vehicle that came to Earth in the distant past, or is it a previously unknown weapon from World War II? Why were the houses near the station abandoned decades before, and just what is the cause of the strange events in and around the station? Professor Bernard Quatermass (played by Andrew Kier) is determined to find out, despite the objections of the military…..

This is a Hammer Horror classic from 1967, based on a BBC TV serial of 1958, which was the sequel to two earlier Quatermass stories. This one has more horror and less sf (though there is an attempt at a scientific rationale for the apparently supernatural events), and is great fun. I’ve always loved it, and it’s now available on a suitably cheap DVD. There are, sad to say, no extras at all on this disc (unlike the reissues of the other two Quatermass movies), but I’m not complaining. The visual effects are very much of their time, but it’s not too creaky. Well worth watching, either on DVD (buy or borrow) or on TV (it gets revived every now and then).

Update: There’s a far superior DVD/Blu-ray release now available, which does have extras, and a superb transfer to high definition.  See here for details.

And down again

Still oscillating, it seems. This morning’s weight was 205.8 pounds (14 stone 9.8 pounds, 93.4kg).

Off to London again tomorrow, which usually sends it up again :???:

A bit better…

..but not by much. This morning’s bloat figure is 206.4 pounds (14 stone 10.4 pounds, 93.6kg). Had a couple of evenings off the bike, but I’ll try to do some later tonight….

Live Aid

I’m sure this is all part of a conspiracy to make me feel old. It’s hard to believe that it’s really twenty years since the original Band Aid single, Do They Know It’s Christmas came out and nearly as long since the Live Aid concert staged in London and Philadephia. What we have here is a four-disk DVD set that nearly didn’t happen, which would have been a shame. Not only is it a record of a huge event, but it’s raising more money for the Band Aid Trust’s work in Africa. The reason for its almost non-appearance is that when all the artists were signed up, everything had to be done very quickly, and so no video rights were negotiated. (Or some such legal silliness). Anyway, Bob Geldof insisted that the concert should not be recorded. Fortuantely, the BBC (handling the UK end of the concert) ignored this instruction. Unfortuately, it seems the US TV network handling the other part of the show did exactly what they were told :shock: . However, MTV had kept a load of tapes, so it was possible to create this set.

So, what do we have here? Basically, a snapshot of popular music in the mid 1980s, with performances from a range of acts including The Style Council (Paul Weller in one of his earlier guises), U2 when they were still very much a cult band[1], Sting and many more acts who are still with us today.

There are also some acts that have dropped from sight – Howard Jones, Nik Kershaw, Simple Minds and so on, and indeed, so forth.

So far I’ve only watched the first of four DVDs, which apart from Bryan Adams, was all from the UK end. The sound has been remixed into 5.1 surround, using the high quality radio recordings, and it’s delightfully loud. In fact, the DVD notes taught me a new word: microphany. This is what they call the effect of occasional horizontal lines appearing on the screen caused by the lens being affected by seriously high sound levels.

There’s also the hisitorcial interest of seeing the old Wembley Stadium, currently a very large building site as a new, bigger stadium is being created…

If you’ve any interest at all in popular music of the 80s, or if you remember seeing Live Aid on TV at the time, you really should check this out.

[1] Their Live Aid appearance made a huge difference to their public profile[2]. It was one of those occasions where Edge, Larry and Adam just had to keep playing while Bono did one of his mildly crazy routines (jumping off the stage to dance with a girl picked out of the crowd, and generally overacting :smile:
[2] Not to mention record sales. A lot of bands sold a lot more records after being on Live Aid…


I somehow managed to forget to weigh myself yesterday. Not sure how that happened, really…

However, I did manage 10km on the bike in the evening, and the same today.

This morning’s weight was somewhat higher at 206.8 pounds (14 stone 10.8 pounds, 93.8kg). Not good :sad:

More of the same

Still hovering around the same general level. This morning’s weight was 205.8 pounds (14 stone 9.8 pounds, 93.4kg).

Still managing 10km on the bike each night. Need to start adding some more work to that soon. I think I’ll start with the abominable abdominal exerciser first.

Holding on

Just a teeny weeny drop today – 205.6 pounds (14 stone 9.6 pounds, 93.3kg). Missed out on exercise last night (got roped[1] into a quiz night), but managed the usual 10km on the bike this evening.

[1] Metaphorically speaking, that is

More exercise needed

Well, no change this morning – today’s weight is still 205.8 pounds (14 stone 9.8 pounds, 93.4kg).

Must keep up the exercise bike work, and slowly add in more stuff……