Monday, 18 September 2017

Rogue One: A Star Wars Story

Disney now own the Star Wars franchise (and that term is properly applied here) and there have been mutterings that this cannot be a good thing. Well, after the dross of Episodes One, Two and Three, methinks the anoraks do protest too much. Episode Seven was very good and, having finally got around to watching it, I must say that the spin-off Rogue One, is very far from being the opportunistic money-grubber it could so easily have been. Actually I'll rephrase that - of course it's opportunistic and will doubtless have grubbed up plenty of dosh but, and here's the rub, it's rather bloody good. It even has a little to say about the blurred areas between good and bad in any conflict. I like a bit of nuance. Not too much mind. 7.5/10.

You can overlook the good things on your doorstep. So with Aston Hall, stately in the park and a couple of healthy stone throws from my alma mater. I hadn't been there since my teens. If you're at a loss for something to do and you're in the vicinity go and check it out. The Groupie and I were there courtesy of the Birmingham Independent Food Festival - food outlets dotted around the grounds of the Hall with booze and music also on offer. The weather was kind (to us at least - it rained only as we went home) and we Brummies were out in force. Luigi's Pizza was excellent and so was the curry (I know, we're pigs - at least I am) and the two bottles of Italian fizz. Don't worry I wasn't driving.
Welcome to sunny Aston
More good news - I'm still running and the calf muscles are still behaving. Mind you it took me an age to reach and overtake the pensioner walking his dog ahead of me this morning. I began to wonder if he was taking the piss.

Friday, 15 September 2017

Plus Ca Change

I have three pieces of recreational reading on the go at most times: early evening non-fiction; daytime fiction; nighttime fiction. From the first of these the following caught my eye:
"The Schuman Declaration of 9 May 1950, called for a 'supranational community' to be established in Europe. The first stage was to pool coal and steel resources in order to improve the efficiency of the European economy. From this would eventually emerge a project with the professed aim of establishing 'ever closer' political union in Europe." Citizen Clem, John Bew
Prime Minister Attlee's government is described as 'squirming' at Schuman's proposal - Schuman, by the way, was the Foreign Minister of the West German government. At least Attlee understood what this all meant - later governments practised wilful ignorance or plain deceit. Take your pick. And we are now squirming all over again, which probably serves us right.

My musical tastes puzzle me - today I have been listening to John Denver, a voice as clear as those mountian streams he sang about. 

Sunday, 10 September 2017

Played With An Oval Ball

We are ... Penn State. 109,898 - I'll put it in words as well so that you can see I mean it - one hundred and nine thousand, eight hundred and ninety eight. That was the announced attendance as Penn State downed Pittsburgh yesterday afternoon at Beaver Stadium. Raucous and joyous.

Perhaps twenty people (I didn't count them) watched the lower team game at Sunnybank Avenue earlier in the day. Dad and I were amongst them. We repaired to the bar in the second half and the throng greeted dad like the hero he is - one of Aston Old Edwardians' Honorary Life Vice Presidents, an honour we don't just fritter away. Where else would you rather be?

I was fulsome in praise of the start to the Aviva Premiership last weekend. Weather and human weakness intervened this weekend although there were exceptions - not all was as dire as Friday's Sale v Newcastle. Still the best sport in the world mind. No matter what all those people at Penn State might think.  

Tuesday, 5 September 2017

To Hell In A Handcart

That's the way the world is going but there's no spiritual profit in saying it anymore. Everyone can tell we're absolutely buggered and there's no novel spin I can bring to bear. It is all souring my mood so I'm going to change the subject.

I'm listening to Seventh Sojourn, the 1972 Moody Blues album. This is making me feel all nostalgic for that other dire political decade and it reminds me that I had a bloody great time in the 70s despite all the degaradations that life chucked at us. So I'm trying to be positive and I'm going to walk on the sunny side of the street. In that spirit I have been running again and I was like one of those boxers toiling to make the weight - I had put on my rainproof jacket (didn't need it as things turned out) so ended up sweating like a Big Fat Tonky Pig. I'll tell you what, water tastes bleeding lovely when you've been for a run. Water as soon as I finish the run, then a shower and a cup of damned fine coffee after that. Next on the menu could be some red wine but it's s a bit early yet.

What else can I tell you? Rugby - an exuberant start to the Aviva Premiership with high skills and high ambition on display. This bodes well. Also exuberant are the Currie Cup in South Africa and the NPC in New Zealand, but where oh where are the crowds? So far as one can judge there's no bugger turning up to watch, which, in rugby's bible belts, does not bode well.

I'm going to forswear the red wine just for the next couple of hours but might have a slug with the pork steaks I'm cooking for tea - plain grilled with steamed vegetables. Less is more.

Rest in peace Walter Becker who passed recently. Half of the brilliance that was Steely Dan - another reason to view the 70s with affection.