Singles Night at the Virtual Hot Tub

Regular readers will be aware of my love for vinyl records: beautiful, spinning discs revealing a world of aural pleasure.  Most of my attention is devoted to albums, though I’ve also amassed a fair collection of 7 inch singles over time.

Back in my younger days, I would pick up singles to embellish my album collection with b-side tracks excluded from the main release.  I’d also pick up some interesting, groovy records that were within my budget and offered something different to my music library.

Over the last couple of years, I originally ignored the 45 rpm singles, but gradually I’ve started picking a few up.  One of the main influences for this was my friend Greeny’s jukebox, installed in his home, which I though was really cool.  It inspired me to pick up a few classics, in order to compile a wider range of musical genres on 7″.

You never, know, I may just get my own jukebox one day.

And so I’ve bought singles from record fairs, charity shops and car boot sales to complete gaps in my collection.  This has left me with a stack of 45s that I haven’t got round to playing yet.

So I had the idea for Singles Night:  I would play the records, both sides (A then B) from the top of the pile down, oldest to newest.  Regardless of genre, or what ever mood I was in.  Almost like the random playlists I’ve posted here before, but analogue.

The reader will notice that there are some cheesy, if not disgusting, purchases included amongst the gems in this list.  Everyone has some guilty pleasures; in the land of the 7″ single, my love of the truly awful can be fully exposed.

Here’s the list of what I played.  May the gods of music forgive me…

  1. Dave Edmunds – “Queen of Hearts” / “Creature from the Black Lagoon”
  2. Lipps, Inc – “Funkytown” / “All Night Dancing”
  3. Depeche Mode – “New Life” / “Shout”
  4. Carrie – “The Birds” / “Sugar Fan (Demo Version)”
  5. Deborah Harry – “I Want That Man” / “Bike Boy”
  6. Lovebug Starski – “Amityville (The House on the Hill)” / “Amityville (The House on the Hill) (Dub Mix)”
  7. Sinitta – “So Macho!” / “Cruising”
  8. Sinitta – “GTO (Radiomix)” / “GTO (Instrumental)”
  9. The Firm – “Star Trekkin'” / “Dub Trek”
  10. Herb Alpert & The Tijuana Brass – “Mame” / “Our Day Will Come”
  11. Dannii Minogue – “Show You the Way to Go” / “Show You the Way to Go (Dub)”
  12. Partners in Kryme – “Turtle Power” / “Splinter’s Tale 1” + “Splinter’s Tale 2”
  13. MC Hammer – “U Can’t Touch This (LP Version)” / “U Can’t Touch This (Instrumental)”
  14. Selena – “Shotgun” / “Shotgun (Instrumental Version)”
  15. Roxy Music – “Jealous Guy” / “To Turn You On”
  16. Senseless Things – “Hold It Down” / “Crucial Juvenalia”
  17. The Silent Underdog – “Papa’s Got a Brand New Pig Bag” / Pigbag – “Papa’s Got a Brand New Pig Bag”
  18. The Beach Boys – “Breakaway” / “Celebrate the News”
  19. Black Box – “Ride On Time Massive Mix (Remix)” / “Ride On Time Epsom Mix (Remix)”
  20. Genesis – “Invisible Touch” / “The Last Domino”
  21. Quincy Jones – “Razzamatazz (Edit)” / “Velas”
  22. Hawkwind – “Silver Machine” / “Silver Machine (Full Version)” + “Psychedelic Warlords”
  23. David Bowie – “Sorrow” / “Amsterdam”

I could write notes about pretty much every one of those songs to elaborate on why they’re in my collection.  Some are classics – Bowie, Hawkwind, Beach Boys etc. and need no introduction.

But as a means of explanation for some of the really ripe songs, let me say this: Sinitta and Dannii are in my collection ‘cos they’re well fit.

Oh, and “Turtle Power” is an awesome song and needs to be heard again!

I hope you enjoyed that playlist, reader.  I certainly did, and there will be more of this in the future.

Chester Comic Con – The Director’s Cut

Chester Comic Con

Sunday 24th September 2017

OK – so remember when I wrote my blog post about Chester Comic Con a while ago?  I ran out of memory space on my WordPress site and couldn’t post all of the photos I had taken.  Almost all made it, but not quite.

Then came Halloween Horror Fest, and although the space issue was solved I didn’t get chance to complete the images taken from Chester.

Until now.

Here, in true George Lucas style, I have re-visited the event and present for your enjoyment, the missing shots taken on that day.

Most of the these bonus pics simply weren’t used due to lack of space; some here are alternative versions of shots used.

Either way, I hope you enjoy.

As well as fantastic Cosplay costumes and various stalls selling all manner of wonders, there were also a few vehicles on display…

As I mentioned in the previous Chester Comic Con blog, I saw a great Q&A session with Martine Beswicke, Caroline Munro and Madeline Smith.  Best thing of the day!

Well done everyone at Chester Comic Con – it was a fab day!  Looking forward to next year.

Chester Comic Con

Chester Comic Con

Sunday 24th September 2017

My buddy Dan acquired some tickets and I was off to my first Chester Comic Con.  Amazingly, it was held at that den of drunken depravity, Chester Racecourse.  So for once, that almighty dignity vacuum would feature some actual culture.

To be fair, the racecourse was a pretty good venue.  There was plenty of space, with the indoor stalls surrounding a courtyard where numerous cosplayers, fans and geeks of all types could gather.  As it was decent weather, this outdoor section was a handy addition as it got fairly crowded indoors.

The stalls were many and varied; it was good to see a large number of merchandise stalls selling all manner of collectable paraphernalia.  There was plenty to drool over and spend hard earned cash on.

I picked up some comic books and Lego figures for presents, incredibly managing to resist adding more Funko Pops to my collection (there were lots).  As always with these events, however, there was tons I regretted not picking up later!

The cosplayers at the Con were superb.  There was all manner of fabulous creations on show, as seen here.  You’ve go to admire the dedication, hard work and creativity that goes into making these costumes.  I also think they’re also very brave, it takes some guts to proudly display your geek pride.

Well done to all the cosplayers – costumed heroes, every single one!  And thanks for letting me take your photo for this blog.

A highlight of the day were the Q&A sessions.  I caught a very interesting talk with Christopher Fairbank, who discussed his roles in film and TV from Auf Wiedersehen, Pet to Guardians of the Galaxy – and tons of other stuff.  His recollections provided loads of fascinating insights behind some of the many projects he’s been a part of.

Later on, there was another Q&A with Martine Beswick, Caroline Munro and Madeline Smith.  I’ve met these wonderful ladies before, but it was great to hear them talk about their experiences with Bond, Hammer and beyond.  The session was light hearted and lots of fun, with some genuinely interesting stories. All three came across very well; they were warm and friendly and really happy to be part of the event.  Superb, my favourite bit of the whole day.

All in all, Chester Comic Con was a total success.  It was a great day out and I’ll definitely be repeating the experience next year.  Let’s hope that 2018’s Con is expanded to two days!

The Chester Comic Con website is here.

Well folks, there you have it – for now.  I have a few more photos from the event to share, however I appear to have reached my limit for images with WordPress.  So for now, this is it.

In fact, this may be the end of Platinum Al’s Virtual Hot Tub.

We shall see…

Sci-fi Weekender 2016 – The Director’s Cut

Sci Fi Weekender 17th – 20th March 2016

Hafan Y Mor Holiday Park, Pwllheli

It’s nearly that time again – the time for Sci-Fi Weekender at Hafan Y Mor, North Wales.  So as per previous years, here are a few bonus photos from last years festivities.  For some reason or other, these shots never made the original two part blog write up last year.  My apologies for that, but here are the best of what’s left.

For those with memories wiped or destroyed by pan galactic gargle blasters, Sci-Fi Weekender is a gathering every March for all things science fiction and fantasy related.  There are special celebrity guests, discussion panels, interviews, workshops, gaming and more.  Not to mention plenty of entertainment and partying.

If this is your kind of thing, there’s no better place to be than Pwllheli, where the Hafan Y Mor caravan park hosts this superb event.

The main highlight of the festivities are the people who attend.  Travelling from all over known galaxy, there are some wonderful people to meet and a welcoming atmosphere for all.

Of course the cosplay on display is inspiring, eccentric and hugely creative.  Whether it’s a costume that’s taken hours (or days) to make or just a fun nod to a random, unsung background character, the inventiveness and level of in depth knowledge to be seen is spectacular.

So here are a few more photos of the brave, intrepid souls who let their creative prowess and geek pride shine.  Every one of them a star.

Enjoy the photos – though be warned: they’re of varying quality…

Girls just wanna have fun

Sci Fi Weekender 2016 – part 2

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Phoenix

Sci Fi Weekender 17th – 20th March 2016

Hafan Y Mor Holiday Park, Pwllheli

Day 2 at SFW, and again it’s all a blur.  I recall it was a lazy start to the day for me, breakfast and chilling in the caravan.  Kurt was feeling better, but Greeny was starting to suffer with the illness.  It would be mostly be another day of watching Star Trek, Big Bang Theory and Top Gear for those two.

Adam had got up early and made it to see a showing of a new independent film called Pandorica.  Classed as an action-horror, reports about the film were very enthusiastic.  The Q&A with Director and cast was my first event of the day – it was interesting although I’d not seen the film!  Definitely one to keep and eye out for: word of mouth was very positive.

The highlight of the afternoon was, undoubtedly, an appearance by the incomparable Brian Blessed.  Larger than life and twice as loud, Blessed’s sci-fi credentials are suitably top notch.  A life long fan of science fiction, as well in starring in numerous genre pieces – you may have heard of Flash Gordon – his enthusiasm was both apparent and infectious.

Professor Elemental hosted the Q&A with Brian Blessed, who wisely let the great man get on and tell his tales!  A solid job from the Professor – a daunting task well executed.

Blessed’s talk ranged from his acting work to his many explorations and mountaineering adventures.  His recollections of the Flash Gordon movie, and it’s well deserved appreciation by audiences the world over, were affectionately told.  An unmissable audience with a real living legend.

In the afternoon I took some photos and looked around the stalls again.  Unfortunately, this years SFW again clashed with MCM Memorabilia in Birmingham, so genre based merchandise was thin on the ground.  I picked up some cool Elvira cocktail glasses though!

A good feature this year was the retro gaming section, where numerous old consoles could be played for free.  This was very popular, and although I don’t play video games it meant I always knew where to find my crew if we split up.  They were always playing games…

Every year at SFW, the Cosplay final is something to behold.  There’s always a sense of excitement in the air, as the costumed competitors take the stage.  And every year, the audience and competitors are enthusiastic and good natured.  Everyone cheers for each other, and there’s a real sense of community.  It’s nice to witness all the attendees rooting for each other; even though there will always be favourites, there is no bitterness.

The costumes were exceptional, as you can see (hopefully) from the photos here.  Not everyone entered the competition, but there were so many great costumes whether they were entering or just dressing up for fun.  Massive respect to everyone.

I find it great fun spotting and naming the characters.  The variety and imagination on show is consistently astounding, not to mention the talent that goes into making the costumes.  So again, thanks to all the Cosplayers for letting me take your photos.  Too many of my pics didn’t work out.  I also missed far too may opportunities.  But I hope that the photos here capture some of the creativity I witnessed.

And I sincerely apologise for not dressing up!  I lost count of the number of people who chastised me (with good humour, of course) for not dressing as Tony Stark…

Anyway, there can only be one winner of the Cosplay final, and that was the Robot Overlord fellow.  I can’t remember the character’s name, but I swear it was truly incredible!

Later on in the evening, I zoomed over to the Prog Rock area to catch some music.  I was very happy to catch the Focus set; the song “Hocus Pocus” was an obvious highlight.  I only saw a couple of songs by Ian Anderson (of Jethro Tull fame) – though they were impressive – before heading back to the spaceport.

For the rest of the evening, my compadre, Ste and myself had a few beers and hung around with various SFW attendees.  We saw some old pals and met a few new ones.  I took more photos – including the now traditional “no photos” social media-proof shades pics.  And we managed to stay up partying till after 2 in the morning!

Not such a good thing going home Sunday…

Still, another great time at Sci Fi Weekender.  And yes, Greeny and Kurt got better, thanks for asking.

If you were there, it was good to see you.  Hopefully we’ll see you next year.

And big thanks to Adam, who organised the whole thing for us!

The Sci Fi Weekender site is here.

The HRH Prog site is here.

PS: There are photos left unpublished, so there will be Bonus Scenes in a few weeks.  Be warned!

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Cosplay winner!

Sci Fi Weekender 2016 – part 1

IMG_20160318_114228066Sci Fi Weekender 17th – 20th March 2016

Hafan Y Mor Holiday Park, Pwllheli

Wow.  This year’s Sci Fi Weekender was a blur – it went faster than light speed.  All the usual geekery was in full swing, though I’ll be gosh darned if I can remember everything and what order it happened in.  Too much blue milk?

Never mind, I have numerous photos of the weekend to share; to help report on this cosmic adventure.  Except that didn’t go to plan this year.   My trusty Canon was on the blink, so I resorted to a little digital snapper and my phone.

Not ideal, but sometimes you have to compromise.

So what is Sci Fi Weekender?  For the unititiated, it’s a weekend of events and special guests, all held on site at the Hafan Y Mor holiday park in Pwllheli, North Wales.  Think Comic Con but at a holiday camp and with a party atmosphere.  All manner of interview panels, Q&As, games, and musical entertainment are part of the festivities.

Plus a prog rock festival – HRH Prog – was also being held on the same weekend.  Not a massive tie in with science fiction you may think (at least not without Hawkwind playing).  However it gave additional entertainment for those with musical interests.

Our weekend began with four of us – Adam, Greeny, Kurt and myself – driving from our corner of north east Wales to the north west.  On the way we popped into Cob records in Porthmadog to feed our vinyl addition.  Then we settled into our caravan home from home – complete with haul of supplies from the local ASDA – and planned our DVD watching schedule for the night.

Unfortunately the DVD player wasn’t working, and without tickets for the Thursday evening SFW party, we were stuck.  Rather than watch TV, we went for a pint in the onsite pub.  We then popped in to see what the prog rock was all about.  We didn’t think we would get in, but it was no problem.  As a result we were able to see Third Quadrant (quite good) and the excellent Crazy World of Arthur Brown.  Arthur is over seventy years old and jumps around on stage like a nutter.  Highly entertaining and some great tunes.

Friday began with the bad news that Kurt was ill.  He’s only 16 so booze wasn’t the issue.  As a result, Kurt and his dad Greeny were pretty much out of the running for the day.  They watched TV and chilled.  Plus Ste, our remaining member, had burst the inflatable camp bed by leaving it too close to the fire.  He suffered a bad night’s sleep on the sofa as a result.

The rest of us headed over to the arena and started checking things out.  I took a few photos and looked round the stalls.  We caught a Cosplay panel with Tabitha from Artyfakes that was very interesting, with extremely impressive Space Marine costumes and hints and tips about the hobby.  I bottled asking my question though, which was “How do you go for a wee?”.

I also watched an interview panel of comic book artists.  The panel consisted of 2000AD greats such as Glenn Fabry, William Simpson, Clint Langley and Simon Davis.  Hosted by Dez Skinn, the panel was informative and also amusing; it seems some of the assembled masters had been on the pop?  Either way, these guys were like rock stars to me when I was a young 2000AD fan, so it was pretty cool.

The vibe around the arena was good natured as always.  I took some cool photos (thanks everyone) and despite our numbers being depleted, we had a good afternoon.

After a delightful pizza from the onsite Papa John’s (it was great!); we were ready for the evening’s entertainment.  I’m afraid to say that the Imaginarium and magicians weren’t really my thing this year.  It’s difficult to dig the magic when you can’t see it up close.

The highlight was the one and only Professor Elemental, steam punk hip hop pioneer.  His smooth raps mixed with groovy beats like a well tuned gin and tonic.   A pleasure to witness, as always.

At the end of the night, I teleported across the site to see the end of the set by Caravan.  Not only a very apt band to be playing, they were actually pretty good.  The Soft Machine were on last with a more jazz orientated approach.  All very impressive and I’m glad I got to see something different.

I’m ashamed to say that we all ended up crashing out early on Friday night.  Illness and lack of sleep took it’s toll.  I was last man standing, going to bed at 11.30pm.  Pathetic, I know.

In Part 2: Brian Blessed, the Cosplay final, more Prog Rock…

PLUS: will we be able to stay up late?

Stay tuned to this frequency…

The Sci Fi Weekender site is here.

You really should check out Professor Elemental.  His website is here, plus he’s on that Twitter and stuff too.

Sci-Fi Weekender 2015 – The Director’s Cut

Sci-Fi Weekender 19th-22nd March 2015

Hafan Y Mor Holiday Park, Pwllheli

It’s nearly March – and you know what that means!  Yes, it’s almost time again for Sci-Fi Weekender!  This year’s event is at the same venue, Hafan y Mor holiday park, near Pwllheli in North Wales.  Running from 17th-20th March, the 2016 event promises even more out of this world fun.

Whilst doing a little reminiscing, I found a few photos from last year’s SFW that, for one reason or another, hadn’t been used.

So I decided to share a few more on this page, just as a warm up for SFW7.  Hope you enjoy.

And here are a few more shots from the weekend.  Hope none of these are repeats that I’ve missed…!

I may not have indulged in any Cosplay last year, but I did take along my Social Media Proof glasses.  These were invaluable in getting a few unusual character shots.  I might take them again this year!  Hopefully the concept is explained by the photos.  If not, let me explain…  The SMP glasses are worn on the face as sunglasses, giving the effect of those censorship bars across celebrities faces when they don’t want to be pictured.  That’s the idea, anyway…

Instead of “cheese”, it’s “No photos!”.  Here’s a few pics of us “doing a Kanye”:

Great memories.  I’m looking forward to this years Sci-Fi Weekender in just a few weeks.  Hope to see some of these amazing characters again!

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Wales Comic Con 2015

Wales Comic Con – 26th April 2015

Glyndwr University, Wrexham

It was an amazing sunny day Wales Comic Con.  The sun was shining and the atmosphere was a winner.  I took my family along to Glyndwr University in Wrexham for an afternoon of Sci-Fi, fantasy and comic books and we had a fantastic time.

As per other conventions I’ve covered at the Virtual Hot Tub, the event was a mix of guests signing and doing Q&As, merchandise for sale, displays and gaming.  A varied menu of entertainments brought out fans galore, and the area was filled with enthusiasts from all over.

No doubt the great weather helped, but there was a tremendously friendly and enthusiastic atmosphere at this event.  My little girl, Eloise, dressed as Anna from Frozen and had a wonderful experience meeting lots of other Disney Princesses.  It was the first time she’s been to an event like this, and I think Eloise is a convert for life.

The Cosplayers were numerous, and their costuming skills very talented.  There were superheroes, Star Wars characters, time travelling doctors – everything you can think of.  I took plenty of photos, as you can see here.  All were happy to have their photographs taken, for which I am very grateful.  So many missed opportunities though!

A real highlight of the day, fo me, was meeting Dath Vader himself – Dave Prowse.  A very amiable chap, I’ve never met Mr Prowse before though I have met several of his Star Wars co-stars.  I got a signed photo  and shook the man’s hand.  A real gent.

My only criticism of the event was that there was little merchandise that appealed to me.  But that’s a very subjective viewpoint and wouldn’t put me off Wales Comic Con in future.

The event appeared to be run very well.  The last time I went, the queues were so long that my buddies and me gave up and went home without getting in.  No problems this year, the convention was busy but with no apparent issues.

Wales Comic Con was awesome fun.  We all had a great day out and will definitely go again.  It’s handy it’s so close to home.  The real success here was that the event kept all of us enthralled, whether it was a four year old Princess or an old Jedi like me.  Top marks.

Wales Comic Con website is here.

Meeting Dave Prowse

Meeting Dave Prowse

DVD Lucky Dip

So Ben the Swede was having a party at his house.  He’s returned from the Big Smoke and had actually found a house to live in, as opposed to a cardboard box.

Mike had been selling loads of “quality items” on Ebay and was now selling batches of DVDs.  Bundles of discs, twenty five or so, that he didn’t want anymore.  Some good titles too.

As a bit of a jape, the idea was proposed for Mike to bring a load of his DVDs to Ben’s to sell.  He brought a large bag containing fifty five films.  The proposal was: each of the party goers would pay one pound a go to try their luck in the Luck Dip bag.  No peaking; just reach your hand in and pick your prize at random.  Just like at the school fair when you were a kid.

Here’s what we won:

  • Ben – Resident Evil, Deliverance
  • Jamie – Role Models
  • Janet – Deja Vu, War of the Worlds
  • Rob – Star Trek: First Contact, Body of Lies
  • Terry – Romeo and Juliet
  • Natalie – Lock, Stock & Two Smoking Barrels, Withnail & I
  • Me – Requiem for a Dream, Rambo: First Blood

All good fun, if you’re a nerd like me who likes films and buying junk.  Mike made quite a chunk of cash and still had plenty of discs to sell on Ebay.  There were a few great films picked up for next to nothing, and it added a fun little game to the house party.

There was a certain amount of tension when you paid your pound and were hoping to get a good film.  Sometimes we were lucky, sometimes not.

If you’re ever selling your DVD collection – or CDs, books whatever – why not try a Lucky Dip?  And don’t forget to invite me.

Sci-Fi Weekender 2015: Bonus Photos

Flogging a dead horse?  Me?  Never.  As per last year’s Sci-Fi Weekender features, there’s still loads of photos that for some reason, I didn’t share in the previous articles.  So here are a few more pics from the weekend, featuring some amazing Cosplay outfits not shown here previously.

Now some of my pics didn’t turn out very well, and in some cases there were great costumes that I missed taking a photo of.  Hope fully these additional shots will give a bit of additional flavour of the event.

I have no idea why Green Screen Jar Jar didn’t make the cut last time.  Whatever your opinions on the Gungan Menace, you’ve got to admit that it’s a fantastic idea for a costume!

Above you will see documented evidence of Greeny meeting the Dark Lord himself, Darth Elvis.  And below is a photo of Kurt, as Shaun from Shaun of the Dead – the only one of our troop who dressed up.

The Lego characters below were simply amazing costumes.  Likewise, the Mad Max gang – so disappointed that this is the only photo I got of them.

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So, there we have it for another year.  My apologies to anyone who allowed me to take their photograph, for the image not to appear.  That’s more than likely due to my camera skills, or lack thereof.  Lens cap!

Thanks everybody, hope to see you next year.

 

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Captain Adamerica

Adam, Greeny, Kurt and Ste – we had a great time. Thanks Adam for organising everything, and thanks guys for all the fun.  Awesome.

Here’s to next year…

 

Click here for the Sci-Fi Weekender website.

You can find Sci-Fi Weekender on Facebook or follow on Twitter: @scifiweekender