Friday, 27 July 2012

Top 5 Animal Hybrids

I'm a big fan of the BBC teatime quiz show Pointless, not least because it is co-hosted by a Fulham fan Richard Osman. Recently they had a fine round in which contestants had to identify what two animals had combined to produce hybird offspring based on the name of that offspring. Frankly I had no idea there were so many animal hybrids in existence. Seems rude not to do a top five then.

1. Liger - Possibly the most obvious hybrid but for good reason. A Liger is a cross between a male lion and a tigress and, despite any reservations over why they may be bred, looks absolutely fabulous. The largest feline in existence, a male Liger has the shaggy mane of a Lion with the body stripes of a Tiger. You can surely not get a better big cat than that!

2. Zedonk - The offspring of a Zebra and a Donkey which, like the Liger, produces what appears to be a Donkey with funky stripes. Clearly I'm a fan of stripes on animals.

3. Grolar Bear - The result of a Polar Bear and a Grizzly Bear getting jiggy with it. They're very rare and usually come from captive animals but there have been reports of wild Grolars being identified in the Canadian Arctic.

4. Beefalo - Not, as may first appear, the offsping of a Bee and a Buffalo (Hat-tip to Mr Osman) but slightly less excitingly the fertile hybrid of domestic cattle and American bison. Actually it's a bit dull but I couldn't resist the Bee joke.

5. Killer Bee - The explanation straight out of Wikipedia is as follows;
"Africanized honey bees, known colloquially as "killer bees," are hybrid varieties of the Western honey bee species, produced originally by cross-breeding the African honey bee with various European honey bees. The hybrid bees are far more aggressive than any of the various European subspecies. Small swarms of Africanized bees are capable of taking over European honey bee hives by invading the hive and establishing their own queen after killing the European queen."
Yeah, whatever - KILLER BEES!!!!!!!


Friday, 20 July 2012

Guest Top 5 Science Fiction Films by Mark Gibson

I've been bugging my friend Mark to do a top five for ages and he finally caved in to the pressure and provided me this gem. It's a topic I've considered doing myself and may still come back to at some point, though I suspect my own version would not be massively different from Mark's own choices. Mark is lead singer with Feltham's premiere covers band The Phantoms and has been a long suffering Fulham season ticket holder with me for the best part of 15 years.

I have been meaning to write David some Top 5s for months now and have finally gotten round to it! My first Top 5 is Science Fiction Films. These are not necessarily the most stylish or ground breaking Sci-Fi movies of all time but they have a certain affection with me and have been included in this Top 5 because of that.

1. Star Wars – A New Hope (1977) Dir: George Lucas
It had to be, this film had a massive impact on me when I was 7 years old , I still remember how amazed I was. Unfortunately I have fallen out of love with the film over the years as it has been re-mastered and CGI versions have been released which have ruined the initial feel of the film , but I’m sure George Lucas knows what he is doing! Note: I have not included any of the other two classic movies in my list, and certainly not I-III!

2. Flash Gordon (1980) Dir: Mike Hodges
This is in at number 2 mainly for the sound track, which I love, I owned the 7inch theme tune (The B-side was Football Fight which is an amazing song especially in context with the film) . This film is also great because it’s a bit of a who’s who of British Actors. And I remember my Mum taking me to this one and she actually enjoyed it for the music too.

3. Battlestar Galatica (1978) Dir: Richard A. Colla
Now been remade into another popular TV series, but this was the Original movie made by Glen A Larson. I think this film was botched together from the TV series and released. Not much more to say about this except I think it was the fist time I went to the cinema on my own, with friends. We ended up hiding behind the seats and watching the film again, of all the films here I doubt I would take the trouble to watch it again.

4. E.T. (1982) Dir: Steven Spielberg
Went to see this with my mates from school, must have been about 15 or 16 and I had to hold back from crying at the end when E.T. got home, it was the plant pot bit that did it, still have a little tear in my eye even now, and I know it's only a lump of rubber!

5. Logan's Run (1976) Dir: Michael Anderson
This just beat Mad Max 2 (I saw Mad Max for the first time on Pirate video back in the 80’s) into 5th place. The reason Jenny Agutter.


Friday, 13 July 2012

Top 5 Ernest Borgnine Films

Ah crap. Just as I thought I'd sorted out the next few weeks top fives someone I really liked goes and dies and I feel I need to mark this appropriately. Ernest Borgnine was 95 and had a long and productive live but I still feel sad at his passing. He was a staple component of all the best films I saw growing up and seemed indestructible. Born in Connecticut to Italian parents he joined the Navy at 18 and served for ten years. Leaving the service and the end of World War II and keen to avoid factory employment, he landed his first stage role in 1947 and got his break in films, playing the sadistic Sergeant "Fatso" Judson, in the 1953 version of From Here To Eternity.

In 1955 he won the Best Actor Oscar for Marty. He seemed to pretty much always play himself, he was a likeable regular bloke, even when it turned out he was the bad guy. His film and TV career spanned six decades and researching this topic made me realise how many of his films I've not seen, so apologies for any glaring omissions. Andrew Collins has written a far better tribute than I could ever manage which you can read here.

1. The Poseidon Adventure (1972) Dir: Ronald Neame - Hell upside down! The ultimate 70s disaster movie in which Borgnine plays Detective Lieutenant Mike Rogo who ultimately leads the few survivors to safety.

2. The Dirty Dozen (1967) Dir: Robert Aldrich - Playing commanding officer Major General Worden who eventually gives permission for the "Dirty Dozen" to go into combat. A role he reprised for two less successful sequels.

3. Ice Station Zebra (1968) Dir: John Sturges - A film that led me into an obsession with Alistair MacClean novels and Scottish nuclear submarine bases (on a family holiday to Inverness we made a detour to see Loch Long which is mentioned in the book and attempted to get a tour round the Naval Base at Faslane entirely due to my infatuation with the film). Borgnine plays the seemingly amiable Russian defector Boris Vaslov.

4. Escape from New York (1981) Dir: John Carpenter - A cult classic in which the island of Manhattan has been converted into a maximum security prison. Kurt Russell as "Snake" Plissken is given 24 hours to rescue the President who has been taken hostage after his plane crashes onto the island. Borgnine plays Cabbie one of the inmates who becomes Snake's ally and dies in the final dramatic escape over 69th Street Bridge.

5. The Wild Bunch (1969) Dir: Sam Peckinpah - "If they move, kill 'em!" Borgnine is Dutch Engstrom one of an aging gang of outlaws in the dying embers of the American wild west.

I was determined to try and shoehorn in a mention of Disney's post Star Wars turkey "The Black Hole" (Dir: Gary Nelson - 1979) a film I loved mainly due to the little flying robots who prove to be the heroes. Ernest played journalist Harry Booth who, if memory serves, eventually realises what's going on but dies an unfortunate death. It's a film I'll always love cannot honestly claim it's better than any of the five that made the list.

Friday, 6 July 2012

Guest Top 5 70s Choppers (Chop Will Eat Itself) by Dan Whaley

It's been a while since I last published a guest top five so what better way to kick of a run of new ones that with the return of my very first guest contributer Dan Whaley. Dan is a multi-instrumentalist who has played in a myriad of bands, including The Charles Napiers, The McDeath Trio and most recently The DC3. He previously provided this gem about his top five dutch artists and responded to my persistent badgering with a topic that could not be more appropriate and which I'm at a loss to explain why I'd never considered doing myself.

1) The Raleigh Chopper

For anyone who was a kiddy growing up in the 70s, this was the bike to aspire to. This despite the fact that it was a hog to ride – heavy as you like, with a very real risk of impaling your knackers on the low down gear lever, especially if you were giving a mate a “backie”. About 10 years ago Raleigh launched a new “safer” version, which like pretty much all remakes (e.g. BMW’s Mini, Stallone’s Get Carter, etc) was a bag of shite compared to the original.

2) Ron “Chopper” Harris

The reason why anyone with the surname Harris is called Chopper. Back when I gave a monkey’s about football, Chelsea was the team I supported. For me, he summons up a time when football was about genuine blokes playing proper sport, not the dog and pony show it has descended into today. But maybe I’m just an old git.

3) Bell Jet Ranger Helicopter

It seems that this make and model of chopper featured in just about every film and TV programme in the 70s. If I think of a helicopter, this is exactly the model that comes to mind. Not that I spend much time thinking about helicopters, mind...

4) Ron Jeremy

As 70s grumbleflick actors go, he’s perhaps not as well known as John Holmes, but Ron always seemed to approach his work with more humour, gusto and enthusiasm than JH. Plus he’s still alive and still going strong. And why is he in a list of 70s choppers? Because a) he wields a not unimpressive 9¾ inch long hog’s leg and b), his party trick involves rolling himself up into a ball and giving himself a 34-and-a-halfer. Chop will indeed eat itself...

5) The Guillotine

Last used in France as late as the 1977, unbelievably. The final victim of the guillotine was a chap by the name of Hamida Djandoubi. Actually, he sounded like an absolute bounder, so probably deserved it.