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!

Skate Art: Liane Plant/Death Skateboards

Rather than just write a post about my latest set up – as I have done in the past – I decided it was time to shake things up a bit. You see, I’ve inadvertently become a collector of skate art. I don’t have a lot, but I have a few pieces. Though I’m destroying this art on a regular basis, so who knows how my collection will develop – if at all.

Regular readers will already know that I’ve been partial to equipment from Death Skateboards for a long time. UK based company, great ethos, cool and durable products. You may have also seen my previous blog about my Richie Jackson pro-model. That was where the addiction started.

The art for the Richie Jackson deck was drawn by an artist called Liane Plant. I loved it’s detailed, clear and defined lines – a realistic portrait of Richie the master, done in an art nouveau* style. Very clever and quite beautiful. At least it was, till I skated it and shined the graphics off.

Liane has also produced other graphics for Death (along with other skate companies, bands etc). Last year when I needed a new deck, I picked up the Patrick Melcher model, which has a fantastic mermaid graphic. I was all set to stick the trucks and wheels on, then shred it – when I decided not to. This amazing creation will go on the wall instead.

I’m not a deck collector – they’re too expensive – and to be frank, in a house already cluttered with vinyl, toys and other collections, I just don’t have room. The only deck I have on the wall is a reissue of the classic Santa Cruz Rob Roskopp face, drawn by Jim Phillips. If I had the space and the cash, I’d have loads of skateboards on my walls. But for now the Melcher mermaid remains something of an anomaly.

Then this year, I bought another Liane Plant graphic – Eddie Belvedere‘s iron maiden model. Again, another intricately detailed work. It’s bold and grim, a very heavy metal deck graphic melding hot chicks and medieval torture. Totally in your face. But like the other graphics, I love it because of the realism that Liane has created in the characters.

I set up the Eddie Belvedere deck with my Indy trucks and Death wheels, and I’ve been skating it for a while. Great deck, lots of pop, now with a messed up graphic. Never mind, that’s what skateboards are for.

I am slightly regretting shining the graphics on this one though. Let’s see what my next deck will be. I’ll need something to skate, but will I be vulgar and unrefined enough to defile another work of art like this??!

You can see more of Liane Plants work here and on Instagram.

The Death Skateboards website is here.

I bought these decks from Native Skate Store, who are pretty bloody good.

Bonus! Here’s a link to a little article from Sidewalk about Eddie Belvedere’s set up (old but gold).

Now go and Google some footage of Death and the above mentioned skaters. Thank you.

*I think it’s art nouveau, not sure if I’m honest. Should probably educate myself.

New deck – Death Skateboards Richie Jackson

Time for another new deck.  I got this Death Skateboards Richie Jackson deck a while ago, thought I’d share some pics of it for posterity.

I bought the deck from Native Skate Store, who provided a really good online service.  I requested that it was gripped (as I’m crap at gripping decks) and it arrived all done and looking pristine.  It was very affordable and delivered quickly, no pain at all.

Regular readers will already know that I’m a big fan of Death Skateboards.  I’ve had several Death decks and I’ve loved ’em all.  A very cool company with a rad, individual approach to skating and a great aesthetic – their products are tough and reliable, always up to the job.

This time around I opted for the Richie Jackson pro model.  Richie is an inspirational skater who constantly evolves and develops new ideas.  His innovative style is just ridiculously creative and constantly forging new ground.  Google him now!

The extraordinarily detailed Art Nouveau graphic is breath-takingly detailed, I probably should’ve just kept the deck to put on the wall.  I’ve skated it and the graphics are shined from rock’n’rolls on curbs.  Should’ve bought two, I guess.  Such is the transient nature of skateboard graphics…

This phenomenal art is by Liane Plant, and I think her work is incredible.  Some of the best art I’ve seen on a skateboard since the eighties classics.  I apologise whole heartedly to Liane for destroying the graphic.  It may well be a crime for a skater as bad as me to defile something so beautiful.

So anyway, the deck is 8.25″ wide and I set it up with my trusted Independent trucks and Death wheels.  So far, it’s been a blast.

Thanks to all the above, long may you roll!

The Death Skateboards website is here.  Go take a look.

Richie Jackson is all over social media, just search – you won’t regret it.  There’s some stuff on the above Death website, too.

The amazing art of Liane Plant can be seen here.  I need some T-shirts and stickers.

You can visit Native Skate Store for all your needs by clicking here.

And finally, here’s a picture of me being a total dork, trying to ape Richie Jackson’s style, rocking an old paisley shirt.  Just thought some of his psychedelic magic might rub off.  I bought that shirt back in 1990, knew it was worth keeping hold of…  And no, I didn’t really wear the shirt to skate in, I chickened out.  As great as Richie is, even I am a little old for hero worship on that level…!

Ale Satan!

It’s time for a Halloween themed tipple at the Virtual Hot Tub, and what could be better than this fine craft beer?

ALE SATAN is from Legion 13, an alternative brand created by Hannibal Helmuerto and Anastasia the IV of Circus of Horrors fame.  You may remember my feature on the last time Mrs Platinum Al and myself visited the circus… P_20141108_150949

The beer is brewed at 6.66%, and is guaranteed to “make you feel devilish”!  It’s a tasty pale ale, which despite it’s strength is actually very enjoyable.  Straight from the bottle, it was quite a lively brew.  It’s described as “stronger than Anastasias’s hair”, and “subtly hopped”.

We ordered a few bottle for last years Halloween shenanigans.  Unfortunately the delivery turned up late, but I forgave them as there were some very cool stickers in the box.  I love stickers!  Especially as the artwork (for the label and stickers etc) were designed by the great Vince Ray, one of my favourite artists.  His style is a perfect match for this brand!

Ale Satan is a mischievous beer with lots of character.  Ideal for any Halloween party, your guests will love it!

The Legion 13 website is here.

Happy Easter from Platinum Al’s Virtual Hot Tub!

Hope you’re all having a great Easter break.  With plenty of chocolate and not much DIY.

To celebrate, here’s a picture of an Easter Egg I “helped” my three year old daughter make for a competition in school.  As you can see, it’s one of the Minions from Despicable Me (which she’s a big fan of).

It was great fun getting creative and making this egg.  It’s a ceramic egg that can be bought from a supermarket, along with suitable paints.  I sketched the design first, then painted it, and finally used a Sharpie to give the detail.  The hard part was coming up with the idea in the first place!

We think he looks pretty cool – hope you like him. IMG_3076