Friday 26 December 2008

Top 5 Christmas Movies

Happy Christmas everyone, I hope Santa brought you everything you asked for. My final Top 5 of the year was a request in one of my Christmas cards (hello Libby!) that I thought was going to be easier than it turned out. It seems I've not watched as many Christmas films as I thought. Maybe I've only seen the bad ones. Either way I had to do a bit of cramming this week and took a few "personnel recommendations" but I reckon this is still a pretty decent top 5.

1. "It's A Wonderful Life" (1946) - So I don't think I've actually watched this all the way through but reputation and recommendations suggest it's worthy of it's place as the best Christmas movie ever.

2. "How The Grinch Stole Christmas" (1966) - Chuck Jones' near perfect animation of Dr Seuss' brilliant retelling of Charles Dickens' classic "A Christmas Carol".

3. "Bad Santa" (2003) - Billy Bob Thornton excels as the drunk safe-cracking store Santa in a film that is the evil twin brother of "Miracle on 34th Street". Strewn with profanity and vulgarity this is not family entertainment but it is very very funny and still gets across it's little message of the magic of Christmas at the end.

4. "Miracle on 34th Street" (1947) - A tale to warm the heart of even the most cynical of viewers.

5. "The Nightmare Before Christmas" (1993) - Tim Burton does stop motion.

Enjoy the rest of the holiday period, best wishes for the New Year. I'll be back with more top fives later in January.

Friday 19 December 2008

Top 5 Danny Wallace projects

A slightly delayed Top 5 this weeks thanks to the perils of Alcohol. Tomorrow sees the release of "Yes Man" the Hollywood adaption of Danny Wallace's book of the same name. It stars Jim Carrey so I suspect it will be crap, but that's not the point. Danny Wallace has been making me laugh ever since I caught "The Dave Gorman Collection" on BBC2.

1. "Join Me" (Book) - In which Danny sets up and becomes the head of his own cult (well collective), The Karma Army and the principle of random acts of kindness and Good Fridays swung into life. I'm yet to receive an unexpected pint from a Joinee but have increasingly spent longer down the pub on a Friday to give them the opportunity.

2. "Are You Dave Gorman?" (Book of the TV Series of the Comedy Performance) - Whilst it was the TV show that first caught my eye, Danny's contribution, other than suggesting the whole thing during a drunken bet, is more obvious in the book. In many ways I guess this has set the template for pretty much everything Danny and Dave have done since, but it still makes me laugh.

3. "Yes Man" (Book) - Danny decides to say yes more often. In fact he decides to say Yes to everything.

4. "How To Start Your Own Country" (TV Series) - In which Danny attempts to turn his one-bedroom flat in the East End of London into an independent state. He gets his own flag, invades Britain, draws up a constitution, and forms a government out of his friends and neighbours.

5. "The Danny Wallace Radio Show" (XFM) - A four hour Saturday afternoon show that was the aural equivalent of a quiet afternoon spent in the village pub. It's dropped off the schedule at the moment and I'm not sure if it'll be back (Danny's probably too busy hob-knobbing with Hollywood big wigs) but it was fun while it lasted.

Might be back with a Christmas themed top 5 next Friday, if all goes to plan. If not Happy Crimbo and a very Merry New Year.

Friday 12 December 2008

Top 5 Oliver Postgate shows

I don't want this to turn into a tribute site for the recently deceased but I couldn't let the passing of Oliver Postgate go without mention. Postgate was responsible for some of my earliest memories of television and made programmes that have remained close to my heart ever since. These are marvellous shows that fired my imagine as a child and still give me a sense of well being when I see them now. Thanks Oliver.

1. The Clangers (1969-1974)

2. Bagpuss (1974)

3. Ivor The Engine (1959, 1975-1977)

4. Noggin The Nog (1959-1965, 1979-80)

5. Pogles' Wood (1966-1968)


Friday 5 December 2008

Top 5 Drummers I have seen live

A moment of happenstance last week led me from a post on Drowned In Sound about the best drummers you've actually seen to the news from Planet Rock that one of my choices, Micheal Lee, had died at the shockingly young age of 39.

My first recollection of Michael Lee was when he left a promising thrash metal band Holosade to join Little Angels. I was already a Little Angels fan at that point and was instantly impressed with his "if it moves hit it" style. He demonstrated an ambition for bigger things when he left Little Angels (actually I think he got chucked out after they found out he'd gone for an audition) in 1991 to join the Cult, playing with them on their Ceremony tour and featuring on the 1993 Live Cult album. Lee was a fabulous drummer, very much in the mould of John Bonham, and I got to saw him play with Robert Plant & Jimmy Page on the No Quarter tour. That was the last time I saw him live though he went on to drum with a succession of re-formed bands including Thin Lizzy, The Quireboys and Echo & The Bunnymen.

In tribute to Michael here's my top 5.

1. John Convertino (Calexico)

2. Todd Trainer (Shellac)

3. Michael Lee (Little Angels, Plant & Page)

4. George Hurley (The Minutemen)

5. Ian Mosley (Marillion)