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By fonzleclay, Feb 1 2015 09:22PM

The other day I received my copy of Fairport Convention's new album Myths and Heroes.


The one thing you can certainly say about this album is that it is widely anticipated. It's strange to think that it was way back in August 2013 that Bass player Dave Pegg wrote this in the Cropredy programme:


"We hope to start work on a new Fairport album early next year which might be ready for our May tour and if not certainly by Cropredy time."


That, of course, turned out to not be true because early last year Pegg injured his finger in an accident involving a dishwasher, which as you can imagine delayed the process somewhat. But even then, it didn't stop them trying. Dave's son Matt (of Procol Harum) filled in for him during the band's Wintour, which meant learning four brand new songs that were destined for the album. The band took those four songs to the studio in March soon after finishing the tour, and Matt's contributions were included in the final album and rightly so.


Basically, it's been a year and a half of teasing. Cropredy 2014 saw the introduction of another brand new song in the set and finally we got a title for the album. So the question is did the album live up to the hype? I would say so.


I'll start by saying that the band's last album of new material Festival Bell is one of my absolute favourite albums, and certainly the best that the current line-up has produced, in my opinion. If I remember rightly, the anticipation for that album was less so. It was there, certainly, but I don't remember anyone being particularly won over by any of the material we'd heard up to the point of release. Which made the album all the more strong for me, because it surprised me. Myths and Heroes was different, purely because all the new songs in the live set were so good that I knew the album was going to be good. I wasn't disappointed at all, just maybe not as surprised as I was with Festival Bell.


Right, enough of that, let's look at what's good. There are no tracks on this album that I don't like. There are some that I like more than others, but that doesn't mean there isn't something I like about all of them. Pacing is obviously important when it comes to putting an album together as you don't want all the best tracks grouped together. Thankfully in this case there isn't a dull moment! Personal favourites for me include the title track Myths and Heroes, Chris Leslie's nautical epic Grace and Favour, Anna Ryder's Bring Me Back My Feathers, Ralph McTell's beautifully metaphorical song Clear Water, the surprisingly rocky arrangement of The Fylde Mountain Time / Roger Bucknall's Polka and the real standout track in my opinion is James Wood's Weightless based on the Alfonso Cuaron film Gravity (I like the song a lot more than the film but that's just me).


The album was produced by John Gale, who has been working with Fairport for the last few years, having mixed their live sound and produced three of their albums, and I have to say he's outdone himself this time. The album has a really big and beautiful sound, particularly on the vocals, some of the harmonies on the album sound absolutely stunning. I give John a lot of credit, and while we're on the subject of credit I want to point out how much Chris Leslie has improved as a songwriter. I've always like his songs, but lately he seems to be getting a lot more inventive, I know I've mentioned it already but Grace and Favour has me gripped every time I hear it. And Simon Nicol deserves an awful lot of credit too, he plays a lot more Electric Guitar on this album than we are used to, a sign that he is gaining more confidence in his abilities, maybe?


It is safe to say that I really like this album. Not quite as much as I like Festival Bell, but it's not far behind. It's not an album for the sake of an album. It's more than just a collection of half-arsed songs thrown together for the sake of putting out something new. It's proof that the greatest Folk-Rock band in history are still the greatest Folk-Rock band going and are showing absolutely no signs of slowing down. I'm very much looking forward to hearing the new songs performed live.


PS. If you're interested, I'm uploading a cover of Ralph McTell's Clear Water from the album on Thursday. Head over to my channel if you want to check it out.


By fonzleclay, Apr 5 2014 12:55PM

As most of you probably know, I am a huge fan of the cult TV show Buffy the Vampire Slayer, created by Joss Whedon. But I want you to focus on that word for just a minue; fan. When you see that word, you probably think of someone who is obsessive over the things that they love, and I guess in some respects that is true of me. But I think it's important, as a fan, to be honest with yourself. I believe that to be a true fan of something , you have to admit that not everything about it is perfect, otherwise you will become that obsessive fan who defends that thing blindly.


So to prove my point, I have decided to start a series of blogs, counting down the top 5 things I don't like about my favourite TV Shows/Movies/Bands or whatever, starting with 5 Things I don't like about Buffy the Vampire Slayer.


5. Willow's Redemption Arc


I'm gonna go ahead and say SPOILER ALERT (seriously, if you don't want the show to be spoiled for you, don't read this blog).


If you don't know, Willow has a huge Character arc in the sixth season involving magic addiction. She manages to over-come her addiction by going cold turkey, and she's doing really well. That is until Tara gets shot dead (unintentionally) by Warren. Willow delves into the black arts, in an attempt to take revenge on Warren. She's successful in her attempts, she manages to track him down and murder him by flaying him. As Willow gets more and more hungry for power, she keeps obtaining it, and it ultimately becomes too much. She begins to feel the pain of everyone in the world, and decides the only way to make it stop is to end the world. Xander gets to her just in time and manages to stop her by getting through to the one piece if Willow that was still there.


So go forward a few months, into the seventh season. Willow has spent the summer in a convent, rehabilitating herself. And...she's just Willow. She shows very little remorse or guilt for what she did, and when she comes back to Sunnydale, everyone is so willing to except her back. To be fair, there is a bit of tension, and Wilow is constantly in fear of going back to her dark place. But I still think there's so much more they could have done with it. I don't think for a second that anyone could come out of something like that, and still be the same person.



4. The end of Buffy and Riley's relationship


You should know first of all that I love Riley and the relationship he had with Buffy. I thought it was really sweet when he realised he had feelings for Buffy so he asks Willow to help him get to know her better. It was really great, and it was such a great way to start their relationship. I really enjoyed their time on screen together, and I thought they were perfect. Until, of course, the end.


I can't really say anything that Buffy herself didn't say, but what more did Riley want from her? Riley was the first person Buffy was really able to be open with, and the only time she really started to shut him out was when she had too much on her plate to even really worry about him. She thought her mother was dying for christ sake. And Riley was the one with the problems? So he goes out to get bitten because that's so much better then what he gets from Buffy?


I'm sorry, as much as I like Riley's character, he's bit of a dick here.


3. Dawn


Just Dawn. Well, specifically Dawn during season six. In season five, she was annoying sure, but in many ways I can understand. She just found out her whole life had been a lie and then she lost her Mum (or, at least the woman she'd always thought of as Mum). It was a pretty rough time, and considering her age as well, I can understand. And in season seven I actually quite like her. She becomes caring and compassionate and is actually quite a useful member of the group.


But Dawn Summers, during the sixth season, is a total bitch. There, I said it. Everyone seems to have their own set of problems during this season, Buffy's totally depressed, Willow's going through a break-up and an addiction, Xander and Anya are plannng a wedding that they never go through with. And what's Dawn's complaint in all of this? "No one ever spends time with me!" Boo-hoo.


There are so many moments in this season where Dawn just bugs the hell out of me. In Normal Again when Buffy's having visions of being in the mental ward, and Dawn realises that she's not in Buffy's vision. "It's your ideal reality, and I'm not part of it." Well what the hell do you expect? This is the reality where nothing supernatural exists. No demons, no magic, no slayer, no nothing. And you think that by some miracle, you would still be there? You had a mystical birth. You technically shouldn't exist. You know this, because you've been moping about it for the past year. Also, it's not like Buffy chose not to include you in her vision. It's not her ideal reality as you put it. She's not sitting there going "Wow, this is great. No Dawn" (Although I sure as hell would be).


Why the hell does everything always have to be about her? Buffy has to go and get a job so that she can keep a roof above their heads, and Dawn complains because Buffy's never around. When they're all trapped inside the house (because of a wish that Dawn made, I will add), Dawn complains because everyone wants to find a way out. She doesn't care that they all have jobs to go to, she just wants them to spend time with her.


God, I just can't stand her. It kinda makes me wish that they'd just let Glory take her in the fifth season. Hell on earth would have been more desirable than a world with Dawn in it.


2. Hypocrisy


One thing that's always bugged me about this show is that it's full of Hypocrites. The biggest culprit of this, I'm sorry to say, is Xander. Which is shame because he's actually one of my favourite characters in the show.


Take this for example, in the second season when Angel loses his soul and Angelus returns, Xander does nothing but tell Buffy that she has to put her feelings for him aside and kill him. Except years later, when the tables are turned and Anya returns to her vengence duties, Xander tries to convince Buffy not to kill her because he's still in love with her. I would be able to understand the latter, had he not done the former.


He knew exactly what Anya was when he first met her, yet he seems so willing to forget that she spent over a thousand years bringing vengence to people who were basically innocent. And to her credit, when she's stripped of her powers she does make an effort to be a good person, and I can see why Xander fell for her. Except when he finds out that Buffy has been sleeping with Spike, what does he say? "I've done a lot of bad things, but last time I checked, slaughtering half of Eurpoe wasn't one of them." What the hell? Have you totally forgotten that Anya used to kill people for fun?


There are lots more examples, like the fact that Willow quite clearly cheated on Oz, but when he so much as looks at Veruca she gets all petty and jealous. But Xander happens to be the one who frustrates me the most in that respect.


and the number one thing that I dislike the most, the thing that makes me angry every single time I see it:


1. Buffy getting thrown out in Empty Places


So the decision to go to the Vineyard was a bad one, it cost some of the potentials their lives and Xander lost an eye. Buffy knows it was a bad decision. It was reckless, and they should have been more prepared. So I can see why they would be a little dubious about her decision for them to go back. But the way they totally dismissed it as if it was the worst plan in the world really gets under my skin.


Do they seriously think that Buffy was just suggesting they go back and do it all exactly the same again? Do they think she's stupid? She wanted them to have a second chance, to go in more prepared, to have a proper stategy and to learn from their mistakes. They don't even give her a chance. Yeah, she hasn't always been the best leader, she has been reckless at times and yeah, a few people have paid the price. But no one more so than Buffy. She has died for the cause not once, but twice. She's always steered them right in the end, and she's always had to make the tough decisions.


Yet somehow, they act as if they can't trust her. Like everything she's ever done means nothing. Even Xander, Willow and Giles gang up on her. The three people who should understand better than anyone.


And of course, the final verdict is that they throw her out of the house. WHAT? WHY? SHE'S JUST COME UP WITH THE ONLY PLAN OF ACTION YOU HAVE RIGHT NOW, AND YOU TELL HER SHE'S WRONG AND THROW HER OUT OF HER OWN HOUSE?


And what totally annoys me, is that in the next episode they're totally lost without her. Buffy actually does go to the Vineyard, faces Caleb alone and finds the Scythe there. Proving that everything she said in Empty Places was right, making the rest of them look totally stupid.


So anyway, that's what I think. Let me know what you thought of this Blog, and I hope to do another one like this very soon.


Dan.




By fonzleclay, Mar 26 2014 01:37PM

If you've read the book Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows (or seen the film) then you'll know that the last chapter is an epilogue, set 19 years after the battle of Hogwarts. As most of the main characters of the Harry Potter series are children, the epilogue gives us a chance to see our heroes as adults and it's something which I, personally, really love. I get a great sense of closure knowing that my favourite characters grow up to lead happy lives, and I can't think of a better way to end the series.


One of my favourite TV shows is South Park, another series where most of the main characters are children. That kinda gets me thinking that maybe, when South Park ends (which it inevitably will), Trey and Matt should do something similar. Just think how cool it would be if the very last episode of South Park was set 19 years in the future. And seeing as though satire is what Parker and Stone do best, the last scene could be a parody of the Harry Potter epilogue, which would just be so perfect!


Now, being someone who is very into fanfiction (yeah, really), when I first thought of this my brain immediatley started forumalting a theory as to what this epilogue would look like. Which is exactly what I am about to share with you.


Please bare in mind that this is only speculation. Feel free to tell me if you disagree with any of this. The theory focusses primarily on the key characters; Stan, Kyle, Cartman, Kenny and Butters. So to start, please see the attached image at the bottom of this post, which is a picture that I did (which is actually pretty good considering I'm shite at drawing) showing what I think the boys will look like in 19 years (just fyi, the reason Cartman's head is smaller than the others' is because I had to use a different template because Cartman's fat and therefore he has a different shaped head).


The first character I'm going to talk about is Stan Marsh:


Stan's dad Randy is a fan favourite, and as the years have gone by the writers have started making Stan more and more like his Dad. So I think it would be safe to say that Stan's adult life is very much like Randy's. Stan and Wendy are married, but they are not exactly happy. They definitely love each other, but Wendy has to learn to tolerate Stan's outragious behaviour. This is very much like Randy and Sharon's marriage, there was definite love there, but it did come with its problems.


Stan and Wendy have got two sons, Anthony and Raymond, although at times it can feel like they have five kids, as Stan has to babysit his nieces and nephew almost every weekend. Stan's sister Shelly has a set of twin girls named Shaniqua and Tequila and a younger son named Turd (as we all know, Shelly doesn't have a particularly high opinion of boys and often called her brother and his friends 'turds', and because this is South Park after all, it's just ridiculous enough to work). Shelly likes to party a lot, which is why Stan so often ends up with the kids, much to Wendy's dislike.


While Shelly doesn't care much for boys, she has no problem whatsoever sleeping with them, but she's not interested in a commited relationship, so she is a single mother. At some point she was in a sexual relationship with Eric Cartman (who we'll get to later), and Turd is actually his child.


Randy Marsh was known for being very passionate about the things he cared about (Cooking, Tween Pop, The Internet etc.), and Stan has inherited that trait from his father, but he uses it to his advantage. Stan works in social media as a professional blogger. People find his blogs hilarious, but he is completely oblivious as to why. He believes in his heart that people take him seriously, however this is not the case. But regardless, the blogs are a success and he is able to make a living from it.


Now onto Eric Cartman:


For the longest time, Cartman's life sucked. He had a really hard time finding and keeping a job, he mostly never got past the interview phase and the couple of jobs he did get he got fired from. Why? Well, because he's Cartman and he's obnoxious and big-headed. And because he had no job, he had to rely on his mum sending him a cheque every month to cover his rent, child support and fund his alcoholism. Unfortunately his mum died of a Heroin over-dose when he was twenty-four, leaving Cartman with what little money she had. After that money dried up, Cartman had no one. No one was willing to help him, so the only option he had was to help himself. Not by becoming a better man, of course, but by doing what Cartman does best; manipulating.


And who does he manipulate? The person he hates more than anyone else, Kyle Broflovski:


Kyle's life was pretty great to begin with. He decided to follow in his father's footsteps and become a lawyer. During his first year of College (he studied at Colorado State) he became involved with his roommate Abby. She was from North Carolina, which made their relationship difficult after they graduated, but they made it work for a couple of years. They would visit each other three or four times a year, but ultimately the distance became too much and they had to call it off.


After years of academic study, Kyle found that he actually hated being a lawyer. His clients were so stupid that he very quickly grew tired of representing them. He decided to give up his position as an Attorney, but continued to work for the firm as an Admin Assistant. Kyle actually really liked this job, and being a law firm Kyle had to be very careful, because anything he did that might damage the reputation of the firm would cost him his career. That's where Cartman comes in.


The previous summer, the gang decided to have a get together and go camping down at stark's pond like they used to when they were kids. They spent the whole weekend getting incredibly drunk and smoking marijuana, which for Kyle was a new experience. Since then, Kyle had not thought anything of it, however Cartman managed to get video evidence of Kyle smoking and drinking. And as you probably guessed, Cartman used this footage as blackmail.


If that footage got out, Kyle's life would be ruined, giving Cartman incredible power over him. Kyle is forced to comply with Cartman's wishes if he wants to continue working for the firm, which means paying his rent for him.


But it gets worse. See, Kyle couldn't afford to pay Cartman's rent as well as his own, it would have crippled him financially. Giving him no choice but to move in with Cartman. This is good news for Cartman of course, because it means he now has someone to do all the cooking, cleaning and shopping as well.


Stan visits Kyle and Cartman regularly, and he greatly disapproves of Cartman making Kyle a slave. Kyle has to remind him of a certain sister of his that threatens to beat him up if he doesn't look after her kids.


Ok, just two left, and I promise to keep them brief. Next up Kenny McCormick:


Kenny was a tricky one, because his main character trait is that he continuously dies and comes back to life. What kind of life can you really have if that's all that happens? His other defining characteristic is that he's poor, so I decided to use that as a starting point. I figured that Kenny probably deserves a bit of a break seeing as though he's died so many times. So what if Kenny got a chance? What if his family found the answer to all their problems?


If you've seen any of the Coon or Mysterion episodes, then you'll know that Kenny has a superhero alter-ego named Mysterion. When Kenny was still a kid, he recieved a huge reward for rescuing Barack Obama's Dog from being sacrificed by the Goth Kids. It enabled Kenny to turn his life around, and he evenatually goes on to be state congressman.


And finally Leopold "Butters" Stotch:


Butters never changes. Butters is such a lovable character because he's quirkey, he's caring, he's naive and he's oh so innocent. I like to think that he stays that way. But I also like to think that as he gets older, eveyone starts to appreciate Butters a lot more. People become more tolerant and understanding of his ways, so much so that Butters finally gets his very own show.


And that's it, that's my theory. Please let me know what you think, and if you wish to expand on the theory, that would be great too. I'll catch ya next time.


Dan.




By fonzleclay, Mar 25 2014 05:36PM

It's been a really long time since I kept a Blog, to be honest I was never very good at it. But since I've stopped making videos I've had so many ideas, and nowhere to go with them, which is frustrating. It has recently occured to me, however, that a lot of them would work just as well as blog posts, and since I've given this website a bit of a change-around I thought here was as good a place as any to try and start again.


I also think it gives the website a bit more of a purpose. I love this website, but it never really had much to offer other than information and links to things which you can find elsewhere. Having a blog gives people a reason to keep coming back, which I hope includes you!


So keep watching this space and I promise to keep you al updated :)


Dan.