Platinum Al’s Real Hot Tub

After all these years of Platinum Al’s Virtual Hot Tub, at last, I bring you… Platinum Al’s REAL hot tub!

It was my birthday recently, and we hired an actual, real life hot tub for a few days as part of the celebrations.

To commemorate the occasion, here’s a photo of me, sat in the luxurious tub waters, enjoying a cocktail. Just to prove it happened. No, I’m not naked – I have surf shorts on – but still, I apologies to you, faithful readers, for having to see me scantily dressed.

Sadly, the hot tub had to go back – but I couldn’t let this memorable event pass by without a mention. Back to the Virtual Hot Tub it is. Normal service has been resumed.

The Best of 2021

That title seems like a bit of misnomer, doesn’t it? “The Best of 2021“. Following the unprecedented nonsense of 2020, last year we were all anticipating returning to normal, or as close as possible. Small victories were made during that time, but here we are again: a pandemic that seems to loom ever worse; the threat of lockdown and restrictions still a possibility; working from home if you can; vaccination after vaccination; and the same bumbling charlatans in charge of it all.

Hopefully it will all get better. It can’t get much worse (at least in terms of the virus, the post apocalyptic hell of Brexit is still to be reckoned with).

During 2021, Platinum Al’s Virtual Hot Tub still aimed to entertain and inform. Sometimes we made it, sometimes we ballsed it up. But much of the blog content shone through regardless.

In the spirit of sharing success – and smiling in the face of adversity – here are the blog posts from 2021 that were most successful, in terms of views.

10. The Halloween Horror Fest Don’t Die

Halloween Horror Fest was another October highlight this year; this review featured The Dead Don’t Die and Hammer’s The Mummy.

9. Platinum Al’s Top 10 Rock & Metal Albums of 2020

My other gig is writing reviews for Ever Metal – many of my reviews cropped up on this 2020 album list of favourites.

8. The Plague of Halloween Horror Fest

The last mini horror mvie reviews of 2021 featured The Plague of the Zombies and The Crow.

7. Bucket of Halloween Horror Fest

Another Hammer classic, with this review of The Gorgon.

6. Ryuko Interview

Published back in January 2021, this interview with alt rock band Ryuko at last years Pentre Fest originally appeared on Ever Metal, before it graced the Virtual Hot Tub.

5. Sci-Fi Weekender – Back to the Future

SFW was sadly destroyed like Alderaan due to the pandemic – but I dug up a few unseen pics from previous years to ease the pain.

4. Liverpool Comic Con 2021

As the year progressed and we appeared to be making a tentative return to events, I filed this report from Comic Con in Liverpool.

3. How Do Fossils Form? by Eloise Jones

The third most popular blog of the year was written by my super talented daughter. I might just hand the whole thing over to her…

2. Hawarden Limerick

A silly limerick about a local village, it proved popular for some bizarre reason.

And the number one, most popular blog of the year was…

  1. Millennium Falcon – The Greatest Toy Ever

Photos and memories of my vintage Star Wars Millennium Falcon toy, I think this blog is a justified winner! A fantastic toy and something I’m very proud of.

With a lack of events again in 2021, it’s no surprise that other blog subjects rose to prominence. Maybe the escapism of movie and toy reviews appealed to our audience this troublesome year.

We don’t know what will happen in 2022. Fingers crossed, the future looks brighter. But rest assured, Platinum Al’s Virtual Hot Tub will be here for you. If you need a friend, or just some heavy metal reviews and photos of old toys, we’re never far away.

EMQs with… Platinum Al

Last year, in the depths of lockdown and with no live entertainment to review, the glorious website that is Ever Metal was kind enough to open up their Ever Metal Questions series to the reviewers. As an EM contributor I was finally able to fulfil a lifelong ambition – and satisfy my enormous ego – by being interviewed for the site.

The questions were pretty much what we ask musicians, only I had the privilege of answering them myself. And now, in a move that confirms that I really have no shame, I proudly re-present the same interview here, at the Virtual Hot Tub. Well, it is my birthday this month…

Enjoy!

What is your name, what do you do, and can you tell us a little bit about how you ended up doing it?

My name’s Alun, AKA Platinum Al.  I write some reviews for Ever Metal, which came about through meeting Rick and Beth at Pentre Fest a while back.  “I can write!” I lied, and they’ve been too kind to bin me off ever since.

What Country/Region are you from and what is the Metal/Rock scene like there?

North Wales in the UK.  We seem to be a bit out in the wilderness to the outsider, but thankfully there are a few venues that put good bands on in Chester and Wrexham (both nearby) and of course, the good old Tivoli in Buckley (just up the road).  Liverpool and Manchester are both accessible.  The big win for us though is Pentre Fest – and all the other events that North East Wales Metal Productions put on.  It’s introduced me to loads of new music and it’s right on my doorstep. 

What is your favourite latest release? (Album, EP, Single, Video)

Desert Storm’s “Omens” on APF Records is album of the year so far.  Beyond that, I’m still reeling from the wonder of Giant Dwarf’s self-titled master piece, my album of 2019.

Who have been your greatest influences, in music or in life?

George Lucas, for Star Wars – which influenced me more than anything since I was five years old.  Stan Lee and Marvel comics have also been a big inspiration.  Skateboarding in general has opened my eyes and ears to the wonder of the world since my teens. 

In music, there’s dozens: Johnny Cash, Motorhead, AC/DC, Ramones, the Damned, The Misfits, Black Sabbath, The Cult, Soundgarden, Led Zeppelin, Queen, Monster Magnet, COC, Melvins, Jimi Hendrix etc etc.

What first got you into music?

I listened to the Star Wars soundtrack first of all; it still has an amazing emotional response on me even now.  The next big development was seeing the film Highlander, which I loved.  A friend of mine recommended the Queen album A Kind of Magic as it featured several songs from the film, and it’s been downhill from there.  Thankfully, through skateboarding I was introduced to music that was a bit off the beaten track, shall we say.

Which current bands or musicians would you like to see collaborate on a record?

Good question!  How about Shakin’ Stevens – the Welsh Elvis – fronting the Misfits?  Danzig can write the songs.

If you could go to any festival in the world, which would you choose and why?

Pentre Fest!

What’s the weirdest music related thing you own?

I have some pretty weird vinyl in my collection, like Roland Rat, the Wurzels and an album called “How to Strip for Your Husband”.   Oh, and a Joan Collins work out record.

If you had one message for your Ever Metal readers, what would it be?

Never ever bloody anything ever.

If you could bring one rock star back from the dead, who would it be?

So many greats to choose from (sadly).  I’ll nominate my old mate Lemmy, as I probably embarrassed myself when I met him by talking bollocks.

If you could change one thing about the music industry, what would it be?

Stop developing new formats – you lied to us about CDs when vinyl was the ultimate.  There are some albums I own on vinyl, tape, CD and download – and I’ve had to buy every single one.  Can we all just agree to not buy whatever new garbage format they try and lumber us with in the future? 

Name one of your all-time favourite albums?

Never Mind the Bollocks, Here’s the Sex Pistols.

What’s best? Vinyl, Cassettes, CD’s or Downloads?

Vinyl, obviously!

What’s the best gig that you have been to, and why?

Black Sabbath at Birmingham Genting Arena on their “The End” tour is up there.

What do you get up to when you’re not writing/ taking photos?

Working the day job and being a dad mostly.  Then listening to music, skateboarding, riding my bike, watching old Hammer horror movies, collecting toys, drinking beer.

Which five people would you invite to a dinner party?

Sir Christopher Lee, Johnny Cash, Jimi Hendrix, Joey Ramone and Lemmy.

If they have to be alive, then James Hetfield, Glenn Danzig, Dave Vanian, Henry Rollins and pro skateboarder Mike Vallely.

Jaffa Cakes? Are they a cake or a biscuit?

I don’t know, but I had cherry ones in Greece and they were amazing!

Thank you for your time. Is there anything else that you would like to add?

Just thanks for giving me the opportunity to flaunt my massive ego by doing an interview, it’s something I’ve always wanted to do!  HAHA!

Oh, and to the readers of Ever Metal: thanks for reading, and never forget that we are fans just like you and we do this for the love of the music.  Never say die!

Read more Ever Metal staff EMQs here.

Hawarden Limerick

Several years ago, I wrote some poetry on a course I attended. Nothing serious, just having a bash. I’ve posted some of them before. This time, I thought I would share with you a limerick, which I hope will both amuse and entertain. And don’t worry, this composition is family friendly.

As a note of explanation, the village of Hawarden is situated near where I live, in North Wales. The name is pronounced “harden”, to rhyme with “garden”. It’s a nice place. Here is my poetic tribute:

 

Hawarden Limerick

There was an old man from Hawarden

Who had a monkey in his back garden

The monkey, so rude

Played with his food

And he never once said pardon.

 

I thank you.

 

How Do Fossils Form? by Eloise Jones

A rare guest contribution today, in the form of a piece of school work my daughter, Eloise (aged 10), wrote recently. Home schooling hasn’t been easy, but this piece really brightened my day. Great vocabulary and writing style, Eloise undoubtedly takes after me, haha!

I laughed out loud reading this explanation of how fossils are formed. Hope you enjoy Eloise’s masterpiece, and like meeting her two Tyrannosaurus Rex friends, Mick and Leon.

How Do Fossils Form? by Eloise Jones

So, everyone’s heard of dinosaurs, right? Wait, what did you just say?! You’ve heard of dinosaurs, but you have heard a thing called a fossil AND YOU DON’T KNOW WHAT IT IS?! Well, I might have to tell you because of my obsession with dinosaurs…

Well, it all starts with a dinosaur. Let’s say a herbivore was walking about, same day, no different, running away from dilophosaurus, and let’s go with a parasaurolophus, for a herbivore quite fast. At least 25 MILES PER HOUR! They were having a rest and woke up and said to themself; “YAWN!!! Man, I’m bored of sleeping all the time. OOoOooOo what’s that over there?????” 

He in fact saw the freshest, green, rich bush of leaves in weeks! He hadn’t had any for weeks, and finally a fresh bush would do him good. He ran over, excited. He started eating, and then when he was full, he lied down, full of fresh food. “Man”, he said, “I don’t feel too good”. He laid down, and died. What?! People have to die at some point, and he had been going for weeks without any good food.

THE NEXT DAY.

Two T – rexes were looking for food…

“And then, I pounced on him and did I have a stiff belly in bed that night. But that was the old days, hey, Mick? Eh?”

“Yep, I know about your cousin Rex who wanted to marry a Velocaraptor”.

“Yep, should have known you never listen. Next time I won’t listen to -”

“OH MY! LEON, LOOK!”

“What, you filthy two headed -”

“FOODDDD!!!!!!!!!!!”

“Mick you miracle! I knew you were good for something-”

“Leon, stop telling me about your boring cousin, eh?”

So the two greedy T – rexes saw the food and they ate it up in one go. Then they ran off, not full, looking for more food – (and arguing about Leon’s cousin). But, what happened next? 

Well, that’s a good question. Since the dead body of the parasaurolophus was near a little lake, his bones got washed over with water and later on got turned into mud, his body got turned into stone. Then I think you can guess what happened next. WHAT?! YOU HAVE NO CLUE?! Alright, I’ll tell you.

Millions of years later, archaeologists came into the game, wondering about a question they’ve always asked; Are the bones of a dinosaur still around, buried deep in the ground? Well some very clever archaeologists dug up some bones and named them fossils. Now you get it? Good!

Bye, thank you for reading my funny docs about how fossils have formed over millions of years. Buh – Bye, now! 

The Best of 2020

Well, that was a mad old year, wasn’t it? 2020 was more like a bizarre disaster movie than the regular fun ride that we’re used to. A pandemic made hermits of us all; working from home became the new normal for many and travel and events ceased to exist. A year from hell for most of us, though it’s far from over yet.

Here at Platinum Al’s Virtual Hot Tub, we’ve aimed to soldier on and bring you the very best in blogging entertainment. Be it music, skateboards, toys or tat, whatever nonsense I could investigate was delivered with all the expected wit and style.

As is customary at this time, let’s take a look back at the top ten most popular blog posts of last year. Calling it “The Best of 2020” seems somewhat incongruous, but let’s roll with it for traditions sake.

10. Haiku – Autumn

An encouraging response to my creative writing, I was very surprised to see that this poetry piece in the Japanese Haiku style was my tenth most-read post of the year. Encore?

9. Firebreather – Under a Blood Moon Album Review

There was a distinct lack of live music in 2020 (Obviously), but quite a few album reviews for my old pals at Ever Metal. This review of Swedish doom metal band Firebreather’s album was the most read at the Virtual Hot Tub.

8. Halloween Horror Fest 2020

The first of my annual horror movie reviews of 2020, this one featured the Hammer version of Dracula.

7. The Best of 2019

I’m not sure if last years top 10 blogs appearing here is a good thing or not? Either way, 2019’s round up of the most popular blogs was a winner.

6. STYLE: Safari Jacket

2020 saw the materialisation of the long-promised STYLE section at the Virtual Hot Tub. This first blog, concerning the wonderful Safari jacket, got us off to a great start.

5. Skate Art: Liane Plant/Death Skateboards

A feature about some of my favourite skate art, as created by the super talented Liane Plant for Death skateboards. Awesome stuff.

4. SK88: Old School Skateboard Playlist

More skateboard based action, with a playlist of songs from my skating youth in the late 80’s. Full of stone-cold classics, these songs still inspire my sessions today.

3. Death Star Playset

I love my vintage Death Star playset. Setting it up with original Star Wars figures for some blog photos was a lot of fun, it’s great to see it was popular!

2. 1980s Skateboard Style

More skateboarding, and another successful entry for the STYLE section! It’s me, dressed in old skate clothes from the late 80s that still fit (or did, before lockdown).

…And what will be the most popular, widely read blog of 2020? Drum roll, please:

  1. Kantouni Village Sausage and Tzatziki

Yes, the most popular was this food blog, which benefitted from a genuine traditional recipe, and an idea to recreate a Greek holiday vibe with ingredients from the local supermarket.

As travel wasn’t happening this year for most of us, perhaps it’s no surprise that the Greek recipe blog came out on top. It was written as an ode to holidays and Mediterranean sunshine, something that wasn’t a possibility for many last year. I hope you found some nostalgic comfort from this post.

Usually my annual Top 10 has featured a load of comic con events – or similar – at the top of the list. Those events didn’t happen this year, so the Top 10 has a very different flavour. Who knows what 2021 will bring us?

Whatever the strange pan-dimensional cross flux of crazy brings us next, I’d like to thank you all for reading my blog. Please remember to pop by Platinum Al’s Virtual Hot Tub as soon as you can!

Haiku – Autumn

It’s not all crazy fun and games here at the Virtual Hot Tub. No sir. Sometimes, I like to exercise my intellectual side, provide warm nourishment for my creativity. It’s a good balance to the exciting rock’n’roll existence I lead most days.

So here I present a Haiku I wrote a while back, on a course, which is appropriate for this time of year. Enjoy.

Autumn

Leaves fall from the trees

The children return to school

The nights grow darker

The Best of 2019

Happy New Year, readers!  And welcome back to Platinum Al’s Virtual Hot Tub – the web’s number one virtual location for soaking in warm, relaxing waters and enjoying my virtual adventures.

What a year 2019 has been.  I’ve been to Comic Cons; written album reviews for Ever Metal; indulged in another traditional Halloween Horror Fest – and finally managed to get to a few gigs.  Food and drinks reviews, as well as toy and tat blogs, have also made a comeback.

But what have been the most popular and widely read blogs in the last year?  Let’s rewind the clocks and take a look, with a good ol’ countdown from ten to the number one spot…

10. Little Shop of Halloween Horror Fests

At last!  Some Halloween Horror Fest love, with my final set of reviews breaking into the Top 10.  A first for my horror movie reviews, as far as I remember.  A triple bill of The Wolf Man, Little Shop of Horrors and Lust for a Vampire.

9. New Deck 2019 – Death Skateboards Richie Jackson

All about my latest skate set-up, including sexy pictures of a very fine skateboard.

8. Ewok Village Playset

My vintage Star Wars Ewok Village playset made a welcome appearance.  I must feature some more of my collection in the future.

7. That Beer Place

Very happy to see such a cool local beer emporium prove so popular.  Well done, That Beer Place!

6. Liverpool Comic Con 2019 – Part 1

A great day out, and the blog didn’t fare too badly at all.  No sign of Part 2 in the countdown, though…

5. Death by Tacos, Chester

The number one food place in Chester makes a justified appearance in the Top 5 most popular blogs.  Awesome food and service.

4. Tat Trek Update #8: Jo Guest Strip Pen

Miracle of miracles – an item from my Tat collection rockets into the most popular blogs for the first time ever!  Perhaps the saucy nature of the Jo Guest strip pen is to blame…

3. Wales Comic Con 2019

Always a great Comic Con, with fantastic guests and most importantly – as evidenced by this blog – amazing cosplay.

2. MCM Comic Con Birmingham 2019 – Part 1

The first part of my visit to the NEC for Comic Con made it to the number two spot.  Few words but plenty of brilliant cosplay.

And now – announcing the Most Read Blog of 2019 at Platinum Al’s Virtual Hot Tub.  What could it be?  Why it’s…

1. MCM Comic Con Birmingham 2019 – Part 2

Only a couple of views more than Part 1, but Part 2 takes the crown for the most popular blog this year!

It’s great to see a variety of different topics be successful this year.  Comic conventions, food and skateboards always fare well, but I’m very happy to see Star Wars toys and a bit of tat break through for the first time.I’ll endeavour to deliver more in 2020 – who knows what we’ll see?

My thanks to all my readers over the last year – I appreciate every single view, like and comment.  I wish you all a healthy and prosperous 2020.

The Best of 2018

Happy New Year, everybody!  I’d like to wish all the visitors to Platinum Al’s Virtual Hot Tub the very best of times in 2019.  And thank you for sticking with me, popping along to dip your toes in the warm water and supporting this valiant endeavour.

Last year saw tremendous ups and downs for us all.  But throughout it all, the rock’n’roll world of the Virtual Hot Tub persevered, thanks to you!

Join me now, as I take a look at the Top 10 most read blog posts from 2018:

10. Skateboard Museum: SMA Jim Thiebaud

A classic late 80’s skateboard created a warm nostalgic buzz, becoming one of the most successful posts of the year.

9. Hollywood Vampires – Gig Review

In June I went to see rock’n’roll supergroup Hollywood Vampires in Manchester – the live review proved very popular.

8. Pentre Fest 2018

Another live gig – this time for underground metal bands playing near to home – scored just slightly higher than Alice Cooper and Johnny Depp.  Go figure.

7. MCM Birmingham Comic Con – Part 2

Only published in early December 2018, the second part of my NEC Comic Con write up has performed very well.

6. Sci-Fi Weekender 2018 – Part 3

The sheer volume of pics from this years Sci Fi Weekender demanded a third post, which featured more cosplay antics to finish things off nicely.

5. The Crippens – Gig Review

Another live review, this time several bands headlined by The Crippens at the Tiv, has done really well for views – which is great to see.

4. MCM Birmingham Comic Con – Part 1

The first part of our trip to Birmingham was an unsurprising success, chock full of my mediocre photos as it was.

3. Wales Comic Con 2018

This post from early December’s Comic Con in Wrexham did really well thanks to a loyal WCC fanbase and some great cosplay.

2. Sci-Fi Weekender – Part 2

The second part of my SFW round up did very well, combining an over view of the event with loads of pics.  Of course, it was the cosplay pics people were interested in, though!

1. Sci-Fi Weekender – Part 1

However the first part of my SFW campaign review was the most read blog post at the Hot Tub for 2018 – performing amazingly.

A few surprises there – nice to see the gig reviews being well received.  However the triumph of the Comic Cons was pretty much a no-brainer!

Thanks once again to all of my readers – you make Platinum Al’s Virtual Hot Tub the success it is.  Here’s a toast to more fun and games in 2019!

The Best of 2017

The New Year is now well underway, and I hope it’s treating you well, dear reader.  There are many more joyous blogs to unleash upon the world in 2018, but for now let’s re-cap some of the most popular from last year.

I’ve done some research, and found the Top Ten most viewed blog posts at the Virtual Hot Tub.

Here they are, in reverse order:

10. 1968 – Gig Review

In May I went to Telford’s Warehouse in Chester to witness for myself the awesome riffage of the mighty 1968.  A fine band – they have a new album coming soon, so don’t delay, dive right in and discover them now!

9. New Set Up – Death Skateboards

Summer saw the arrival of my new Death skateboards deck.  I took some nice photos of the setup looking shiny and new, then thrashed it and shined the graphics.

8. MCM Comic Con 2017 – Part 2

The second part of my blog about visiting MCM Comic Con at the NEC.  Featuring loads of Cosplay photos, which are always popular.

7. Pandan Leaf, Prestatyn

Pandan Leaf is a superb Asian restaurant in Prestatyn, North Wales; I enjoyed a sensational meal there earlier in the year.  A highly recommended place to eat, I hope this little write up helped them out.  Go there if you can.

6. Sci-Fi Weekender 2016 – Bonus Scenes

Sadly I didn’t make it to Sci-Fi Weekender in 2017.  I did have some photos left over from 2016, however, so I could post a pre-Weekender warm up.  This blog includes the now traditional “No Photos!” section.

5. Pentre Fest 2017

Pentre Fest – a weekend of underground, largely unsigned metal – right on my door step.  I went and had a great time.  This blog got more views than the review I wrote of my trip to see the last ever Black Sabbath gig!

4. Sci-Fi Weekender 2016 – The Directors Cut

Wow – I took a lot of pics in 2016.  Several more shared here.  Platinum Al and the gang are back this year, so get ready for some Sci-Fi blog action soon.

3. MCM Comic Con – Part 1

The first part of my MCM Comic Con was far more popular than the second.

2. Ye Olde Kings Head – Mostly Haunted

Things that go bump in the night at an old, haunted pub in Chester was the second most popular blog of 2017.  A great pub and a fun evening, making an interesting blog.

So there have numbers ten down to two on the Virtual Hot Tub Most Popular of 2018 countdown.  But what, I hear you cry, was number 1?

Drum roll please…

1. Dogtown & Z-Boys Playlist

My playlist compiling the songs found on the soundtrack for the frankly awesome Dogtown & Z-Boys movie storms in at number 1. Thus confirming that old school skateboarding and classic rock make an excellent movie, and a not half bad blog.

An honourable mention to the following posts, which although not written in 2017, are still performing amazingly well:

  • Santa Cruz Snowskate (2014)
  • Hammer Glamour (2013)
  • Skateboard Museum: Variflex Joker (2013)

Thanks to YOU, venerable reader, for continuing to make this blog a success.  Stay tuned and visit again, don’t be a stranger.  There are many wondrous delights still to unfold at Platinum Al’s Virtual Hot Tub; come back for a relaxing dip soon.