Monday, November 20, 2006

Movie Review - Casino Royale

Victoria and I watched 'Casino Royale' this weekend. Neither of us were expecting much of this film as we had heard before that they were 'Restarting the Bond series' and that this time it would be 'a harder, more human bond'. They said it with 'Die Another Day' and apart from a great opening it was poo!!

The new film starts in black and white and has Bond hiding in a room while his victim arrives home. The pre-credits sequence is a conversation between our hero and his intended victim which cleverly tells us where we are in Bond's history. He is an assasin working for MI-6. He is not yet a '00' and he has not killed many people. This conversation is cleverly cut with a grainy black and white fight scene where we see Bond make his first kill. All in all an excellent opener.

After the credits and us having to listen the the terrible theme song, Bond has been given '00' status and 'M' does not seem to think he will last long.

His first mission is to go to the Casino Royale and beat the baddie at a 100 million dollar poker game. This will stop the bad guy from using the money to fund terrorism and force him to come to MI-6 for help.

Much of the film is set during this poker game but as it lasts for several days there is lots for Bond to do when not sat at the table.

The whole film is so much better than the rubbish we have been watching for the last few movies. There are very few gadgets, lots of far more realistic fights, Bond gets beaten up and actually has cuts and bruises on his face, and the story is much more plot driven. I think that for the first time we have seen something resembling Flemming's character on screen.

Daniel Craig is excellent. Anyone who was moaning about the choice of actor will surely have changed their minds by the end of this film. He actually looks like he would be good in a fight, and he looks like he would kick your ass!!

'Casino Royale' gets a big thumbs up from the Briddon household.

The Good :
The chase scene over the tops of buildings.
Daniel Craig
The fight scenes
The plot
Eva Green

The Bad :
The terrible theme song

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Bruce Springsteen - Sheffield Arena

Victoria and I went to see Bruce Springsteen at the Sheffield Arena last night. He is touring behind his 'Seeger Sessions' album 'We Shall Overcome'.

As I have said in my review of the album, the music he is playing at the moment is cover versions of American Folk songs. He's trying to pay homage to the people who created the type of music he plays.

Victoria and I love the album and were looking forward to hearing it live.

Our tickets were in the standing area of the arena so we got nice and close. Victoria being quite little had a few issues seeing the stage but this was rectified by the tall woman standing in front of her fainting.

Bruce and his band came on at about 20:15 and the first this I thought was 'my god, there are loads of them'. I think there were about 16 band members plus Bruce himself. It made the stage look rather small and gave this rather large venue a kind of intimate feel.

The first song he sang was 'Blinded By The Light'. This was track one from his first album in 1972 so I was pleased he was singing some of his older songs. He actually did quite a few of his own songs including 'The River', 'Adam Raised A Cain', 'Atlantic City' and others. These were all done in a Seeger Sessions way to fit in with the rest of the music. This meant that I only recognised many of the songs by the lyrics. The new versions were amazing though. The rest of the songs were mainly from the 'Seeger Sessions' album.

The amazing thing about this show was the band. They were all so bloody talented. They were all obviously enjoying themselves and they could all play like they had sold their souls to the devil.

The music was totally acoustic. The instruments being used were trombones, trumpets, tubas, violins, penny whistle, acoustic guitars, banjo's, piano , harmonica and accordion. There was also a tin can on a piece of string and a washboard. I think that the accordion player was very happy that his years of practice had finally payed off as he was looking very cool.

The sound they all made together was fantastic. The horn section and the violins were especially good, as was the banjo. Actually they were all amazing.

Bruce played for nearly 3 hours and the crowd were all tired at the end. At least Victoria and I were. We got home at about midnight and just collapsed.

This was probably the best concert I have ever been to. There are many people who say they don't like Bruce Springsteen but I challenge anyone who loves music not to have enjoyed this show. It may be me getting older but I feel you just can't beat well played acoustic music, and I think that all bands should have a horns section!!

I know I can't tell you all to go and catch the show as there are only 4 nights left on the tour, they are all in Ireland and they have been sold out for months. I can however suggest you get a copy of the album. Even if you don't like his music, give it a go.

For those interested, here is the entire set list :

Setlist: Blinded By the Light/John Henry/Old Dan Tucker/Adam Raised a Cain/The River/Jesse James/O Mary Don't You Weep/Youngstown/Erie Canal/My Oklahoma Home/Atlantic City/Devils & Dust/Mrs. McGrath/How Can a Poor Man Stand Such Times and Live?/Jacob's Ladder/Growin' Up/Open All Night/Pay Me My Money Down
Encore: Bring 'Em Home/You Can Look (But You Better Not Touch)/When the Saints Go Marching In/This Little Light of Mine/American Land/Froggie Went A Courtin'

Next : Jooles Holland on the 18th December at the City Hall!!!

Sunday, November 12, 2006

It's My Birthday

Today is my birthday.

I am 37 years old.

I went round to my mum's for lunch and my step-father David kindly supplied me with a generous amount of red wine.

I am more than a little drunk.

I love you all. :-)

Friday, November 10, 2006

Alice la Exploradora

Alice is learning to speak at an alarming rate. She seems to pick up words every day and is stringing them together in sentences more and more.

Counting though is more of an issue.

She knows all the numbers and can recognise them in books but she seems to have a blind spot after three and before eight. She goes 1,2,3,8,9,10, 11, 12, 13, 14.

You can imagine our surprise then when we heard her counting to 5 in spanish!! Victoria also heard her saying 'ay├║deme' as well during the day. We thought it was a new word that she could not yet pronounce but no, it was later discovered that it means 'Help Me' in spanish. She was also jumping up and down saying 'salto' which we later realised was spanish for 'jump' and she has also been heard to say 'subia' which is 'climb' in spanish.

Where was she getting these phrases we wondered? Neither Victoria or I know any spanish beyond hello, thankyou, beer and a few looked up in a dictionary swear words.

The answer is that she has been watching 'Dora The Explorer'. For those who don't know, this is a hateful kids program from America about a massive headed latin american girl who goes on pointless adventures with her friend Boots the monkey. It's mostly in english but they meet spanish speaking characters along the way and Alice has obviously been picking up both languages.

This can't be a bad thing and it is amazing to see how quickly and naturally she picks up two languages at the same time and is able to differentiate between the two. It does however make Victoria and I look a bit thick!! :-)

Friday, November 03, 2006

Alice's 2nd Birthday

Wednesday was Alice's second birthday. Two years since she was born. How time flies!!

Victoria and I tried to start her day with a rousing chorus of 'Happy Birthday' but she looked scared and about to cry so we stopped. Oh well, she has obviously not developed a taste for good singing yet. :-)

Victoria had put up balloons and banners the evening before and Alice was very excited to see them. Unlike her first birthday she now loves balloons.

We opened her presents first. We bought Alice lots of Peppa Pig toys, including a remote controlled Peppa Pig car. OK, so it's a bit childish but at least it's a remote controlled car. :-)

She also got lots of other pressies from lots of other people. Thanks to you all.

For her birthday trip we decided to take her to the newly re-opend Western Park Museum. It's been almost totally rebuilt but still has many of the same exhibits that I remember as a child, the balding lion for instance!

There was plenty for Alice to enjoy and I'd recommend it to anyone, either with or without kids, and I can recommend the cafe which is where we had lunch afterwards.

Alice is having an actual birthday party today (Friday the 3rd) which will be starting about the time I am typing this (13:50) and Victoria has made an amazing cake for her. You will notice that it is a chocolate cake.

As an amazing coincidence we had our new settee's delivered yesterday. I'm very worried about there being lots of 2 year olds with chocolate covered hands in my house. Time to start praying I think!!

Happy birthday Alice. :-)

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