Thursday, 30 April 2015

A-Z Final Day 26

Copyright ©2015 Mark Kelly.
Z is for Zenyatta Mondatta.

Released in 1980, Zenyatta Mondatta was the third studio album produced by The Police. The reason I mention this particular album is threefold:

1) Its title begins with the letter Z - how amazing!

2) They are possibly my all-time favourite band.

3) I bought it during one of my happiest summers - the summer of 1981.

So why is the summer of 1981 significant? Well, first off I was in love for the very first time in a big way, and second, it was the summer of the wedding of Prince Charles and Lady Diana Spencer. The date in question was 29th July 1981.

Wednesday, 29 April 2015

A-Z Day 25

Copyright ©2015 Mark Kelly.
Y is for Youth.

Odd topic, I know. But why choose this? For the second time I am reading Band of Brothers by Stephen E. Ambrose, and I cannot help but be moved by the incredible courage, sacrifice and determination that these young men displayed during a time when the whole world was lost in an ocean of chaos, suffering and uncertainty.

Asides from the controversy that dogged Ambrose, even after his death, regarding plagiarism and innacuracies, his book regarding the forming, training and deployments of Easy Company of the 506th Regiment, 101st Airborne from Normandy, to the ill-fated Operation Market Garden debacle, and eventually to Hitler's Eagle's Nest, leave you feeling awed, humbled, sometimes saddened, but for me, overall, is greatful. And make no mistake, these men were not alone in such things, as on all sides, amongst all nations, such groups of men existed, but have had little said about them and what they did.

Tuesday, 28 April 2015

A-Z Day 24

Copyright ©2015 Mark Kelly.
X is for XX (The).

A band formed in Wandsworth, London in 2005, their debut album ' XX ' released in August 2009 ranked highly in many 'best of 2009' lists, placing number one in The Guardians list, and number two in the NME listings in 2010. The band won the Mercury Music Prize for their debut album.

The XX were introduced to me by a former WoW guildie and friend (thank you, H :o) ). Their music has since remained on my iPad play list, especially in my training mix. So, pin back your lug holes and bless your ear drums with one of their offerings from the second album, Coexist, released September 2012. Enjoy the sublime tones of The XX :)

Monday, 27 April 2015

A-Z Day 23

Copyright ©2015 Mark Kelly.
W is for Wilt.

I discovered Tom Sharpe's ' Wilt ' series at the tender age of 19, and could not stop reading. From there I progressed on to other of Tom Sharpe's works and now eleven of his books sit proudly in my book collection. In particular I found 'The Wilt Alternative' exceptionally funny, and is still one of my favourite of the Wilt series.

Something else that I loved about Sharpe's books were the covers. Drawn by cartoonist Paul Sample. Colourful and artful, these covers whetted your appetite even before the first page was turned and really helped to set the mood for the book.

The double cover for my good friend, Jeremy - the book price gives away its age.
Wilt is a middle-aged college lecturer, much disgruntled with his lot in life, with a wife who is larger than life, both physically and
verbally. Then there are his quadruplet daughters who enjoy nothing more than to make their father's life a living hell. Wilt has a knack for courting trouble and getting himself into debacles of comedy that you cannot help but laugh and sympathise with him all at once, with the odd wince thrown in for good measure.

I particularly recall the rose bush episode in 'The Wilt Alternative' to be especially eye-wateringly funny. But be warned, Wilt has a foul mouth, so if offended easily by bad language, maybe Tom Sharpe's books are not for you. But if you enjoy irreverent humour and have yet to read any of these works by the above author, then read one. Really.

Saturday, 25 April 2015

A-Z Day 22

Copyright ©2015 Mark Kelly.
V is for Villain.

No story is complete without a villain of some way, shape or form. From the most innocent of Disney films to the most terrifying of horrors, the villain carries things forward.

For today, I shall present to you some of my past and present all-time favourite villains, and hopefully, explain why.
Sadly, I can't include the taxman or my current boss. Too scary.
*Note: not listed in any particular order of importance.*

Friday, 24 April 2015

A-Z Day 21

Copyright ©2015 Mark Kelly.
U is for Undressing.

As a follow-on from my ' Kissing ' post some letters back, today I present to you the next installment which is 'strangers undressing each other for the first time'.

Once again, a fascinating study of human interaction and behaviour, but also a very bizarre scientific study. It would seem Tatia Pilieva has a deep fascination for the human condition and scrutinising it through the lens of a camera. And it works. As an observer you cannot help but be drawn into the scene of two strangers interacting in one of the most awkward scenarios we've all experienced in our lives - the only difference being, we've had the luxury of being attracted to that person and had time to get to know them to a greater (or in some instances, lesser - yeah, you know who I'm talking about, you one-night-standers! *smiling here*) degree.

I think some of them are quite obviously attracted to each other, whilst others are just polite and sweet together.

So watch, try not to feel too uncomfortable, and hopefully enjoy... but not like that. Seriously? C'mon!

Thursday, 23 April 2015

A-Z Day 20

Copyright ©2015 Mark Kelly.
T is for Trees.

Beautiful. Essential. Intrinsic. Precious. Guardians of this planet.

Watch, look and listen. This makes so much sense, I dare ANYONE to argue otherwise.

Wednesday, 22 April 2015

A-Z Day 19

Copyright ©2015 Mark Kelly.
S is for Swimming Pool.

As a kid growing up a big part of my childhood was spent playing on the street with my best friend; this involved kick about with a football (soccer ball to those in the US), climbing into a local orchard to swipe freshly fallen apples, made all the more exciting because of the wild stories told about the owner and his vicious 'guard dog', and just generally doing what kids do (or used to) best: enjoy life.

At the age of twelve my uncle decided he didn't want me playing on street corners and promptly enrolled me in the City of Cardiff Swimming Club. My first lessons were held at a council run baths - a Victorian building that housed three individual pools: Mens, Womens and Mixed. All were 25 yards in length and after each session my vision was blurred by brilliant rainbows around lights due to the chlorine affecting my now bloodshot eyes.

Tuesday, 21 April 2015

A-Z Day 18

Copyright ©2015 Mark Kelly.
R is for Rescuer.

This really needs no explanation, but it will possibly (if you have a heart and love dogs) move you tears as it did me. But for all those wonderful organisations and workers and volunteers who do a fantastic thing in saving, not only dogs, but ANY animal that requires rescuing - you are AMAZING PEOPLE. Thank God for them and all the truly wonderful work they do. Please support your local rescue centres (centers for the US).

Monday, 20 April 2015

A-Z Day 17

Copyright ©2015 Mark Kelly.
Q is for Queen.

I'm dealing with two subjects here for today's post, both both are linked and directly related, so I think I'm in the clear :)

First off is my music selection of Queen's ' Who Wants to Live Forever ', as used in the film "Highlander". This is amongst my top 20 favourite films, 'but why only the top 20?' you might be asking yourself. When the film was first released it would have sat in my top 10, but as the years have rolled by and I now view films with different eyes I see things in it that, well, just let it down.

There is, for starters, Sean Connery - a Scot who is supposed to be playing a Spaniard, but that eternal bloody voice - no matter what film he's been in, no matter what nationality he's played, he always has the same damned voice. His role in Highlander was no different. Then there is Christopher Lambert's accent: A French actor trying to play a Scotsman. Then, and this was the biggest spoiler for me, was the finalé, where Connor becomes 'the one', and is lifted by mystical, energy into the air, with lightning flashes and explosions all around, but alas this only aids in illuminating the wires lifting Mr Lambert upwards. Scene ruined.

The film's saving grace though, for me, was the main villain: the Kurgan, as played by Clancey Brown, who to my mind brought the right amount of menace to the role, in both character and physical appearance, not to mention it was this role that launched his career. Nicely done.

*additional* - I've found this video combining scenes from the film and the song together. Very touching. Ihope you enjoy and it sparks within you the desire to watchthe film once more.

As for the song, this is an amazingly poignant piece by Queen, which I think shows them (and Freddy) at their peak, and firmly entrenched in the minds of people both film and band. Such a tragic loss when Freddy Mercury passed away on November 24th 1991 at the age of 45. The music world has been a sadder place for his leaving, something I feel the rest of the band never ever recovered from, and in a way, was the passing of the band Queen itself. Now enjoy the song as performed by the legends themselves.

Saturday, 18 April 2015

A-Z Day 16

Copyright ©2015 Mark Kelly.
P is for Poem.

I used to post poems on my blog, along with a variety of stories, long, short and in between. But I was made aware that suchthings could be used by thirds parties for their own ends so I removed them all.

So, as a wee nod to those days of poetry I am sharing with you a rather beautiful track of music from an album entitled Poem by a group called Delerium.

The track itself is called "Nature's Kingdom", with the hauntingly beautiful tones of singer Kirsty Hawkshaw. Enjoy.

Friday, 17 April 2015

A-Z Day 15

Copyright ©2015 Mark Kelly.
O is for Outlandos D'Amour.

When it comes to music and my personal tastes I like to consider myself to be somewhat of an eclectic connoisseur - no, only joking. I'm never that knowledgable. But I do like to think I have a broad and varied taste when it comes to music.

Growing up I've always shied away from follow trends, be they fashion, music, literature, sport, etc. Granted, it made me seem like a loner, maybe even an outsider at times, but I'm just not really a 'follower of popular opinion' when it comes to such things. That said, I did however adopt one band as my own: The Police. If you are a fan, then there is an official website for news, photos and interviews with and about 'The Police', which you can access by clicking HERE.

Outlandos D'Amour was the second album by The Police I ever owned and bought for myself - the first album of theirs I owned was bought for me by my older brother - their second album release: Regatta De Blanc. Blown away by what I heard I was hooked. Not because any of my peers liked them, or they were the trendy thing to like, but purely because their music thrummed through my inner being, maybe even my young, teenage soul. Whatever it did I was a 'fan'. I think the reality of it was, the music they produced was indicative of the late 70s going into the 80s: a time of fresh, new sights and sounds. It was one of many voices that spoke for my generation. For that, I'll always be forever grateful. If truth be told, as a young teen, I wanted to be like Sting. Who wouldn't?

The Police are a band I've followed through my life and when Sting went solo I followed his musical career up to a point. They will always be one of the main bands to have been responsible for a plethora of signature tunes through my life as a teenager, especially some of the tracks produced on their Ghost in the Machine album, bought as a surprise present by my first fiancée, back in 1981/82. Thank you, S.

Thursday, 16 April 2015

A-Z Day 14

Copyright ©2015 Mark Kelly.
N is for Netflix.

I know I've mentioned this streaming media site previously, but this time I had to mention a series on Netflix that has both my wife and I hooked (again). It's the spin-off story of  Saul, the lawyer from the original 'Breaking Bad' series (also addictive and wonderfully done). This show is entitled, 'Better Call Saul', and to be honest I wasn't expecting much after the original BB series, in which I found Saul to be a 'pain-in-the-butt' kind of character. Upon reflection, that was purely down to the excellent acting skills of Bob Odenkirk for breathing life into the character he played/plays.

It's a great introduction as to how Saul came into being and how he elevated himself into the seedy status of a back-room lawyer that we were introduced to when Walt Whitman teamed up with him. As usual, the stories flow smoothly and almost effortlessly, making you wince at times, and at others feel empathy for struggling Saul. It has humour and tension and entertains throughout.

So if you were/are a fan of the 'Breaking Bad' series and have yet to watch 'Better Call Saul', do it - you won't be sorry.  As a taster, watch the official trailer below - enjoy :)

Wednesday, 15 April 2015

A-Z Day 13

Copyright ©2015 Mark Kelly.
M is for Mark.

My given name. Funny isn't it how names can, or used to be, indicators of a period when a person was born, reflecting what was most popular around their time of birth?

When I attended high school, Mark as a name popped up in almost every class of my year. A bit disheartening, when as a kid you think you're pretty unique only to be confronted by the first kid to have the same name, then another, and another and another.

The name Mark has its origins from old Latin "Mart-kos", meaning "consecrated to the god, Mars", and possibly also mean "God of War" or "to be warlike" - who? me? Never!

Tuesday, 14 April 2015

A-Z Day 12

Copyright ©2015 Mark Kelly.
L is for Laughter.

Everyone enjoys a good laugh. I can recount on one hand moments when I've been reduced to tears from laughing, and one count where I laughed so hard my stomach hurt - but it really does make you feel great afterwards.

Today, the word 'hilarious' is thrown about willy-nilly and, to mymind, has lost its true meaning. How often do we now hear about the latest 'hilarious film of the year', only to discover it raises a chuckle at best? All too often.

It is true what is said about laughter; it is the best medicine. In terms of the brain, laughter can stimulate the release of endorphins, which in term can relief some physical pain. Then there is the the boost in the production of anti-body producing cells and the enhancing of T-cells which helps to boost the immune system of the body. So laughing can, in effect, make you better, or at least help you on the way to recovery.

Monday, 13 April 2015

A-Z Day 11

Copyright ©2015 Mark Kelly.
K is for Kiss.

What is in a kiss? A kiss can be as symbolic as it is intimate. It can signify friendship, respect, greeting, familiarity, sensuality, intimacy, romance, passion, sexual desire, sexual arousal, desire, and I'm sure there are more we could add.

In the bible Judas betrayed Jesus with a kiss. As Nelson lay dying on H.M.S. Victory, he is supposedly have uttered those famous words, 'Kiss me, Hardy.'

Kissing has been used by fighters as a physcological tool at the start of a fight or weigh-in, and a sign of respect at the end of a particularly arduous and evenly matched fight. Below is a small compilation video of such examples.

Saturday, 11 April 2015

A-Z Day 10

Copyright ©2015 Mark Kelly.
J is for Joy.

What gives me joy in my life, I ask myself on this, the tenth day of A-Z? Well, in my life there are less rather than more things that give me joy as in the sense of happiness, delight, pleasure, enjoyment - all of which fall under the heading of nouns for 'joy' in the Collins Thesaurus, to list but a few.

Obviously there are the general things in life: my family (when not being a pain in the butt), my wife, Darcy our dog, the cats: Eve & Tilly, when they aren't scratching the hell out of the stair carpet or complaining about a door being shut.

Friday, 10 April 2015

A-Z Day 9

Copyright ©2015 Mark Kelly.
I is for Irreverant.

I'm such a fan of anything irreverantly funny, so long as it doesn't cause harm to anyone or anything and is not done out of malice or malicious intent, therefore it is my pleasure to present to you a couple of videos that take a tongue-in-cheek swipe at some of our favourite (or not-so-favourite) films.

The first trailer is 'The Matrix', the second, 'Lord of the Rings' and the last is from the 'Twilight' franchise. The voice-over guy is spot-on in his summation of these films, and so funny. I hope you enjoy :)

Thursday, 9 April 2015

A-Z Day 8

Copyright ©2015 Mark Kelly.
H is for Hyper.

For today's posting I'd like to share some images I've recently discovered, and the clarity I find intensely detailed and rather amazing.

These are the works of a man by the name of Patrick Kramer, an artist whose website you can visit if you click on his name above.

Below, you will find some of his work that I love best, for colour, composition and detail of focus. I hope you will agree. Enjoy.

Wednesday, 8 April 2015

A-Z Day 7

Copyright ©2015 Mark Kelly.
G is for Grammostola rosea.

Otherwise know as the Chilean Rose tarantula - so, warning for those who are arachnaphobic:


Tuesday, 7 April 2015

A-Z Day 6

Copyright ©2015 Mark Kelly.
F is for Films.

Cinema for me, as a pleasurable experience, no longer factors into my thoughts as an entertainment format. Why?

1.) Cost is the main reason. Depending on where you are in the UK, it's not uncommon for a cinema ticket to cost anything from £10 upwards, depending on what seat you wish to have. Then there is the extortionate prices on all food, drink and sweets.

2.) Some films are 3D only, which again bumps up the price and in all honesty, 3D isn't always the experience it's cracked up to be - depending if the film was filmed with true 3D technology, or bits added into it post-production. Plus, as a person who (now) has to wear glasses in order to get a crisp, fuzzy-free image, wearing those blasted 3D specs over my glasses is an uncomfortable irritation in itself.

Monday, 6 April 2015

A-Z Day 5

Copyright ©2015 Mark Kelly.
E is for Entertainment.

Thought I'd share one or two of the things I do for entertainment and see how they compare with your choice of relaxing pasttime/s.

I am, without question, an iPad convert. Bought initially 2 years ago as a surprise Christmas present I wasn't too fussed - strangely I have the slight distrust/dislike of Mac products. Strange merely for the fact I use three of them (life can be strange indeed).

So now I use my iPad for music when training, web browsing in snatches, but most of all, watching Netflix. This is my media drug of choice for the present.

Saturday, 4 April 2015

A-Z Day 4

Copyright ©2015 Mark Kelly.
D is for  Dog

Apparently 'man's best friend' was one of the first domesticated animals kept by man for hunting, working and as a pet companion. Staggering to believe there are an estimated 700 million and one billion domesticated dogs in the world today, rocketing them into the most abundant member of the order of Carnivora 

During my life, to date, I have only owned two dogs - and by two, strictly speaking, Darcy is my first proper dog, as Libby was a family dog we had when I was 12 years old. But you know what kids are like, everything is theirs: my car, my house, my dog, my garden, blah, blah, blah.

Friday, 3 April 2015

A-Z Day 3

Copyright ©2015 Mark Kelly.
C is for Closure.

I think at some point or other in our lives we've all experienced the need for closure. For those yet to encounter this, or have been blessed never to have felt the need for closure in one form or other, consider yourself the most of fortunate people indeed.

Closure seems (to my way of thinking) based purely in the emotional part of the human psyche. That part within us that grips on to a thing with a python-like death-grip, not wanting to let go until truly satisfied. But even then, for some of us, that still is just not enough and we go on through our lives clutching that 'thing' inside us, though hidden away like some hidden treasure we have stolen, every now and then guiltily drawing it out from the dark place and basking in the negative.

Thursday, 2 April 2015

A-Z Day 2

Copyright ©2015 Mark Kelly.
B is for ' Being '.

Why this particular word? For it's broadness of concept and application and the concepts of objective and subjective features of reality and existence it encompasses. It has philosophical roots in trying to define the human entity, as in 'the human being'. Although limiting into such entities and subjectivity, yet so broad a notion, as to be both elusive and controversial within the history of philosophy. No better an example of this as with its beginnings in western philosophy with attempts amongst the pre-Socratics in deploying it intelligently. A thankless task at best.

For my part I shall break it down as I think of it in terms of usage in daily life and how I interpret it. Possibly arrogant, possibly naive and most likely inaccurate, but this is an exercise in sharing a smidgeon of my inner thinking. Nothing more, nothing less.

Wednesday, 1 April 2015

A-Z Day 1

Copyright ©2015 Mark Kelly.
A is for absolutely Anything!

No, that's cheating. So today, day 1 of the 2015 A-Z Blogfest Challenge is upon us, one and all. I fell within the first few days the last time I entered, much to my shame - but, as most of us only know too well, life sometimes has other plans for your 'free time', as was the case with me.

So what can I chat about today under the magnificent banner of that great vowel, the letter ' A '?