Tuesday, 31 July 2007

Top 5 Comedy Quiz Shows

OK this is a bit of an odd subject I know. With two young boys generally dominating what we watch on TV and the fact that I'm usually too tired to stay up and watch anything I'd actually want to see, I tend to find most TV I watch these days is just what happens to be on when I'm in the room. To this end I have found a fondness for a number of TV shows that I wouldn't usually have passed the time of day for.

1. Q.I.

2. Would I Lie To You

3. Never Mind The Buzzcocks

4. Have I Got News For You

5. Annually Retentive

Q.I. - Can you see what they've done there? Quite Interesting is chaired by the eminently watchable Stephen Fry and is both extremely funny and ... quite interesting. I love trivia and this program is full of it. Fry displays a passion for the subject and a depth of knowledge that I am sure does not just come from having decent researchers. Alan Davis is the only regular panellist but his anti-intelligent approach to the show complements Fry's gentle quips perfectly.

Would I Lie To You - Possibly much higher than it deserves to be but the main reason for this is the involvement of David Mitchell. There are not many programs that I will actually laugh out loud while watching but this is one. Mitchell really makes me laugh. A lot. Lee Mack is also a suitable foil for Mitchell and Angus Deaton has found himself a role in which he can exactly replicate his performance as HIGNFY host without making the BBC look bad for taking him off the show in the first place.

Never Mind The Buzzcocks - Well it's about music so it's bound to work for me anyway. I'm also a big fan of Mark Lamarr so when it first aired it was essential viewing. It definitely started to flag towards the end of Lamarr's spell though so I was very surprised when Simon Amstell took over and actually made it better. He's probably over stepped the mark a few times but there's not much funnier than seeing a big headed rock star fail to see the funny side of a particularly cutting remark.

Have I Got News For You - This seems like its been on telly almost as long as the Simpsons. I kind of take it for granted these days and don't watch that regularly, but whenever I do I am amazed that it is still hitting the mark. The introduction of guest hosts each week has probably helped keep it fresh and put's Merton and Hislop firmly in control of the humour.

Annually Retentive - A comedy quiz show about the filming of a comedy quiz show. Brilliant. Rob Brydon is perfect as the self obsessed host and the cutting between the "real show" and behind the scenes really works. There's added value from the inclusion of, my current favourite comedian, Dave Gorman as a regular panelist.

Monday, 30 July 2007

Top 5 Albums

Time to go for a really big topic then. My Top five favourite albums of all time. This is the sort of subject I could probably publish a slightly different list for every month, but for now here's my current Top five.

1. "Surfer Rosa" - Pixies

2. "Ramones" - Ramones

3. "Nevermind" - Nirvana

4. "Out of Time" - R.E.M.

5. "The Undertones" - The Undertones

The problem with a topic as big as this is overcoming your desire to show how ecclectic and broad ranging your tastes are whilst actually still picking five albums you actually do really like. I'm pretty happy with this list. The Pixies could easily claim all five positions I like them that much. Surfer Rosa is their debut full length album and is pretty much the perfect example of everything that was great about the band. Its also produced by Steve Albini which is always a good indication that an album is going to be good (Hmm future topic - Top 5 record producers).

I have been a relatively recent convert to the Ramones, but this album (again their debut) has rocketed to the top of my favourites list. It's a perfect album, fourteen tracks every single one as good as the last. Their sound obviously didn't change a great deal from then on but if you only own one Ramones album then this is the one to have, they never got it as perfect again.

I agonised a little over the inclusion of Nevermind, "is it a little too obvious?" I thought, I really like In Utero (also produced by Albini by the way) and their debut Bleach, maybe one of those were more deserving? Then I played Nevermind again just to check. Well, there's no competition it is a genuinely great LP. I think I suffer a bit from over familiarality with music and generally choose to play music that's newer over music I used to love. This one's still got it though an amazing piece of rock.

Talking of over familiarality "Out of Time" is another. I almost feel guilty for still liking this as much as I do. It was the big breakthrough album for R.E.M. (and the first one I heard). Subsequently they realised "Automatic for the People" a widely regarded career highlight, and previously they had stayed truer to their indie roots with "Murmur" and "Document" being particularly good. However, in the summer of 1991 I played this constantly. I love the variety of musical styles and the expanse of ideas, and more importantly I know it inside out. From the KRS-1 rap in "Radio Song", through Kate Pierson's gorgeous backing vocals in "Shiny Happy People", to the Americana of "Country Feedback" it's still an album with surprises and delights enclosed within.

The Undertones is the third debut album in the list and much like Ramones is packed full of fantastic tunes. I went to see the band play a few years back in a small club in Islington. Fergal Sharkey had long since detached himself from the band and showed no interest it getting involved again when asked so his place had been filled by a new guy. Despite Sharkey's obvious importance to their sound, his voice still has a unique quality about it, I really didn't notice his absence. It was a great night in which they played so many of these songs and what stood out was that the songwriting shines through and they still sound as good now as they did in 1979.

Sunday, 29 July 2007

Top 5 Bonds

It is an exceedingly quiet Sunday so might as well get another Top 5 up and running with another easy topic. My top five James Bond's.

1. Sean Connery

2. George Lazenby

3. Pierce Brosnan

4. Roger Moore

5. Daniel Craig

Sean Connery - Well he is Bond. Whilst Moore was the big screen Bond for most of the time I was growing up, Connery had already staked his rightful claim to the role by being on the telly every Christmas. The Connery movies seem to be closest to the Ian Fleming books, a classic sixties British spy thriller. For me Connery is the perfect Bond and everyone else are just reaching for second place.

George Lazenby - Yes he only made one film, but it was a good one. It had Diana Rigg in it and that gorgeous end theme by Louis Armstrong. I suspect if Lazenby had gone on to make more films his stock with me might have slipped but from my point of view George was the closest Bond to Connery's version and therefore deserves this lofty position.

Pierce Brosnan - I remember when he was playing Remington Steel I was appalled at the suggestion that he might play Bond. In his place I think Timothy Dalton stepped in and in doing so became the worst Bond of all time. When Brosnan finally did get his chance it heralded and fresh start for Bond and I was excited about the prospect of going to watch a Bond film in the cinema once more. He has one blot on his copy book which is the appalling "Die Another Day" but I'm prepared to let him off that for now.

Roger Moore - My best friend and I used to argue over who was the best Bond. I, obviously, thought Sean Connery whilst he argued the case for Roger Moore. My best put down to this was that in my view Roger Moore was only the 3rd best Bond. With the passage of time he's now slipped to 4th - sorry DB. Actually Roger made some of the best Bond movies so I am probably being too harsh on him but the feeling that with his later films the whole Bond experience took a nose dive is something I still not yet prepared to forgive.

Daniel Craig - I really wanted to like this. The tougher, meaner Bond was something I should have liked. I've only seen "Casino Royale" once so maybe I'll enjoy more with future viewings but initially I felt they were trying too hard to be gritty and real. I'm also a little disappointed they didn't let Quentin Tarantino direct it, not that it would have made it a better Bond, but it would certainly have been an interesting one. Craig's got time to make up the ground though so never say never!

Top 5 Biscuits

A nice easy topic to get things started. There's nothing quite like a sit down in the afternoon with a cup of tea and a nice biscuit. Here's my current top 5 tea drinking accompaniments.

1. Custard Cream

2. Digestive

3. Jammy Dodger (Fox's Jam Cream to be precise)

4. Hob Knob

5. Ginger Nut

The custard cream has long held on to the number 1 slot in this list, there is never not a good time to have a custard cream, the only problem is that one is inevitably followed by "just one more", then "a couple just to fill me up", then "one last one then". The traditional digestive is a marvellous biscuit to eat with tea as long as you can avoid the dangers of it collapsing into the bottom of your mug if you're dunking. The Jammy Dodger is the glamour boy of the list. Note I am very specifically referring to the Jam Cream here not the "johnny-come-lately" brand named jammy dodger which only has jam in it and misses the point completely. The Hob Knob faces similar dunking issues as the digestive. Finally the Ginger Nut is a more recent addition to the Top 5, a sign I think that I am getting older, it is probably the premier dunking biscuit as it suffers no "potential collapse" issues and is so dry it's almost not worth considering consuming unless you are going to dunk it. Got than spicy aftertaste as well which is good, and also, and this is a good thing for my waist line, I can probably only eat about three in one sitting.


As if writing one Blog wasn't enough I've decided to write another one. As its title implies this is just a collection of my Top 5 favourite's. I'm a bit of a list-aholic and have always kept lists to remind me what I need to do, what records or books I want to buy, what films I want to see and this naturally (being a bloke) led to me developing lists of my favourites. A while back, through mutual friends, I also got involved in something called The Focus Group which was a weekly music related Top 5 topic based largely out of the PRS. This took my list making to new levels and for a long time dominated my weekly thoughts (more often than not when I should have been doing something far more important - "Honey, can you fix that leaking tap in the bathroom?", "In a minute, I'm just trying to work out what my Top 5 favourite Cuban instrumentals are!"). Anyway having been writing about Fulham F.C. (The Hammy End Chronicle) for over a year now, I have an overwhelming desire to start talking about music and books and films and ... biscuits! So this it it. My outlet for nonsense. In trying to name this Blog I realised there are loads of similar ones out there already. If you're searching through them as well then look no further, the others aren't very good this one is. It might not get updated every day but when it does it will be worth a look. Oh, and if you want to add your own Top 5's for each topic then please do so, use the comments link at the bottom of each post.