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If I Ever Lose My Faith (Acoustic) – Sting

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I love this track. I really do. I love it so much it wasn’t enough to blog it the once six years ago, I had to go and blog it again five years ago.

I came across a few decent versions since then, but this acoustic version just shows what you can do a cool tune to make it just that bit more chilled and reflective.  Love it.  Hope you do too. Enjoy.

Shalom

C. L. J. Dryden

AF Is Sponsored By … Orange Lucozade

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Back in the day the Lucozade outlook was something like this. (Source: http://3.bp.blogspot.com/)
Back in the day the Lucozade outlook was something like this. (Source: http://3.bp.blogspot.com/)

Back in the day, Lucozade was something to be consumed if you didn’t feel well.  It was supposed to restore lost energy to you when you had the flu or something like that.

Well, that’s how it was consumed in my home growing up back in the day.  It was not a big part of my life then. If I had to drink it, it would be a rare thing and that was that.

Later on in life I actually came across the thing again, and noticed that it had started to branch out.  No longer was it just something to drink if you weren’t well.  Now it was a fully fledged energy drink. Sports people were using it.  It had kudos with those who kept fit.

So far this had nothing to do with me.

Then it happened.

Minding my own business when someone suggested I try it out.  Try what out? Try this new Lucozade! Try the new Lucozade? What new Lucozade? This new one, they got this new flavour. New flavour? What new flavour? Will you stop with the silly questions and just drink the thing!?

When the taste hit ... well, let's just say my taste buds have never recovered. (Source: http://groceries.iceland.co.uk/)
When the taste hit … well, let’s just say my taste buds have never recovered. (Source: http://groceries.iceland.co.uk/)

Well that was it, wasn’t it.  That was it.  just a little sip was all.  Just a little sip and then …

BOOOOOOOOOOOOOMMMMMMMMMMM!!!!!

My taste buds were having a party, my throat was all a tingle at the new sensation that was sweeping my entire being. Not only that but it passed the belch test.

Now, as you know a lot of carbonated drinks leaves the capacity for gaseous emission from the mouth. Some of these can be rather dull and a bit of a dud. Others can get so excited that it leads to elements of liquid emerging with the gas. When the noise accompanying the release can be stark and pronounced and distinct and clear as well as resonating in the acoustics of the area, this is a definition of a drink well concocted.

I have been a staunch advocate for this beverage ever since. Only ginger beer can compare for something to drink that is a truly exhilarating experience.  The glug as it makes its way down the throat is incredible.

What do you mean it tastes better from a can???  How can it be?
What do you mean it tastes better from a can??? How can it be?

Not only that, but there is the bottle taste which was brilliant but then for it to tast even better from a can? What was this?  My mind exploded at the sheer ecstatic thrill the fizz brought to my taste sense. What pleasure, what delight

Now I can live without it. I really can. It’s possible. It has been done, and can be done again if necessary. But why would I want it to be necessary?

Shalom

C. L. J. Dryden

The Dog’s Got It

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I do not watch a lot of television, but when I do I do enjoy a good commercial.  It takes much for it to be a good commercial.

This one has it in spades, just the whole hilarity of the set up and execution, just makes me laugh and laugh!

Enjoy.

Shalom

C. L. J. Dryden

Premier League Half-Way Review

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The Premier League has been very interesting this season. I would not say it was of great quality and there has been displays of mediocrity from all the teams. No one team has stood out for consistently very good or effective football.

As a result the gulf from the good to the bad is more distinct than ever before.

Title Contenders

The top of the table is the most intriguing it has been for years.  The top managers have intimated that five or six teams are potential winners.  A closer look however will see that only three teams have a realistic chance of winning the title.  The real surprise in this has been Arsenal who have overcome various setbacks to find themselves topping the table and justifiably so.

Arsenal’s success has come thanks to the Ozil impact, but their star player in the first half has been more Aaron Ramsey than anyone else.  In recent matches other players have stood up to be counted, which is very encouraging for the team with the thinnest squad in the title run-in.  The run of games, and their mental fortitude to this stage makes them likely title winners, which no one seriously considered at the start of the season.

What has been of interest, however, is how the two other teams have remained in touch at this critical stage of the season.  Chelsea have been all about Mourinho and his interesting team selections.  He’s done something different to the last time he was at the club.  He’s endeavoured to adjust to the attacking midfield options open to him, but to date his side has been misfiring especially up front.  Yet they have also played some canny football to escape Old Trafford and the Emirates with clean sheets and a point.  They have done this hinting that the best is yet to come from them, which is ominous.

Pellegrini has particularly adjusted to the Premier League very well.  He’s dealt with the expectation and the pace of the Premier League enough for his side to still be the team expected to pick up the trophy at the end of the season. City have had some dominating home wins against their key opponents, except Chelsea.  Their away form, however, cannot be overlooked, and their toughest away games are scheduled to take place in the second half of the season.

Middling Matters – Underachievers and Overachievers

If you are Southampton or Newcastle United, you can look back on the first half of the season with satisfaction.  Both clubs finished last season grateful to survive in the Premier League.  Though they’ve had their ups and downs, and in Southampton’s case, they are certainly suffering at present, their overall approach to the first half of the season has virtually seen them assure another season of Premier League football.

Hull City fans should be mildly pleased as well with where they are in the table.  Like most teams recently promoted the main aim is to stay there, and Steve Bruce has done well so far in achieving that goal.

If there are clubs who should be disappointed chief among them should be West Ham United.  Unlike other teams last season, they should have started this season confident of being among the better teams in the lower half of the table.  The manner in which their season has been a virtual wash out so far and has plunged them into the relegation battle is a tale of bungled management at all levels.  Where half a dozen other clubs in the Premier League have changed their managers, it’s baffling how the Allardyce Effect has seen the owners keeping the faith with the man whose self-opinion is substantial.

The plight of Manchester United could be predicted.  New manager and new chief executive, a side that was not the strongest United side ever getting used to the new guy.  Transition is inevitable.  They may not be contenders for the title, but they’re not going to have as bad a season as some have thought.  If they finish in the top 4 it will be a good first season for the new guy.  Their performances when there have been wins have not set the world alight, but their recent run of wins bode well and Moyes prefers second half of seasons to first half.

The Relegation Scrap

The bottom of the table is almost as interesting as the top.  Some have already written off Sunderland, yet bearing in mind they are 4 points away from the team in 15th and there’s enough time for teams to suffer severe dips, that decision to write Sunderland off might be misguided.  Crystal Palace appear to have made a savvy decision bringing in Tony Pulis to see if he can work the miracle.

Meanwhile sides like West Brom, Fulham and Cardiff are apt for being sucked into the mire with new management taking their time to adjust to the demands of the Premier League.  As for teams like Norwich and Aston Villa, their rather tepid style of football might only see them survive because there are even worse teams in the table.

Half-Time Predictions

I predicted Chelsea would win the league, and I’m happy to stick with that prediction because of the canny way in which Mourinho has negotiated the season so far.  The other teams in the top four should certainly include Man City and Arsenal.  That leaves the race for fourth place all the more interesting, especially with Everton, Liverpool, Spurs and United being the likely competitors for that one place.  Experience would tend to give the likelihood to United to just about nick it, but there’s enough football to play to make it up for grabs.

As for who will go down, I was expecting the teams who got promoted to go straight down, but the way certain other teams are imploding, that is far from likely now.  At least one of the promoted clubs will stay up, which is not really a credit to the quality of the Premier League football.  I actually believe Sunderland can mount enough of a run to just about escape the bottom three.  With that in mind I reckon the three clubs that will be relegated will be Cardiff, Fulham and Crystal Palace.

Shalom

C. L. J. Dryden

The Time of the Doctor – Dr. Who Review

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The Episode Overview

A message is being sent around the universe from a town called Christmas on the planet Trenzalore.  The message cannot be deciphered.  It attracts forces from across the universe, all in fear. The Doctor is on the scene as well, with no fear.  The planet, however, has a barrier preventing access by a force known as the Papal Mainframe as led by Tasha Lem.

Meanwhile Clara wants the Doctor to be her ‘boyfriend’ at the family Christmas dinner and there is humour to be had at his choice of clothing (or lack of) for the occasion.  The Doctor and Clara, however, need to appear naked before Tasha.  The Mainframe is the church responsible for the Silence as we see the familiar figures who are forgotten when not seen.

Tasha agrees to send the Doctor and Clara down to find the message’s meaning.  After a brief skirmish with some Weeping Angels they enter Christmas which has a Truth Field.  There the Doctor discovers that the message originates from the Crack in the Universe that has followed him since the start of his regeneration. The message is from his lost home planet of Gallifrey.

The message is the oldest question hidden in plain sight – Doctor Who?  If the Doctor answers the question it would bring the planet back from the known universe unleashing the Time War bring devastation in its wake.  The Papal Mainframe takes on the role of the Silence to ensure that the question is not answered, as the Doctor becomes protector of both Christmas and Gallifrey from the horde of forces who seek to invade.

Clara is sent back home, as the Doctor fears having to bury her.  The fear is well founded as the Siege of Trenzalore lasts hundreds of years.  When she finally meets him again, the Doctor is aged, feeling the effects in limited mobility.  As they catch up, Clara seeks to get the Doctor to leave the defence of the village to someone else.  The Doctor remains committed.  He also confirms that this incarnation is the last one, and he is happy to spend his time somewhere he is wanted.

Stakes are raised when it transpires that the Papal Mainframe has been infiltrated by the Daleks, taking over even Tasha Lem.  Yet an act of bravery helps Tasha overcome the Daleks briefly, and what the siege becomes war, this time the Silence being on the Doctor’s side.  Once again Clara is returned home, this time bringing greater sadness as there is no obvious way of return, which brings her into tension at the family meal.

The TARDIS however returns, although it is navigated now by Tasha who has come to bring Clara to be with the Doctor as his life reaches close to its end.  Now the wizened Doctor understands he is near his death – he has lived his lifespan, and is ready to make the final stand against the Daleks.

Clara pleads to his people through the crack on the wall to do something.  AS the Doctor appears at the top of the church tower to face his foe, a crack in the universe appears through which he receives a gift from Gallifrey – a new regeneration cycle.  The Doctor uses the burst of regeneration power to wipe out the Daleks.

In the aftermath, Clara searches for the Doctor and finds him in the TARDIS.  He looks young again, but it is apparent that this is momentary, and he uses the time to state how all things must change as he welcomes in the new guy.  Before he goes, he is bid a good night by the first face his face saw, Amy Pond.

As Clara seeks to stop the change, in a flash the new Doctor emerges.  The new guy with the older face glares at Clara and first comments on having new kidneys and how he doesn’t like the colour.  Then moving around the console he seeks to get himself to focus, before asking Clara if she has any idea how to fly the machine.

CD Comments:

This episode had the typical Smith ingredients such as the humour, making use of his wiry physicality. It also brought out his ability to convey his emotions even when older and less mobile.  Huge props to the prosthetics as the wizened old Smith was truly a masterpiece.  It was s superb performance in every element from Smith.  His closing scene was full of emotion without making it saccharine. It was the end, he realised, but it was also a new beginning which he accepted, unlike his predecessor.

Kudos likewise to Jenna Coleman as Clara, the chief conduit of the motion in the episode.  This was her best performance as Clara.  She played the role of the companion to a tee exuding confidence, bravery, genuine sadness and anxiety at just the right pitch.  An important ingredient in the programme’s success is the relationship between the companion and the Doctor and Smith and Coleman played their roles superbly.

Part of the build-up for the final story was how strands that had been going on since the start of the Smith era would be tied up.  That happened.  We know why the TARDIS exploded in Smith’s first series.  We know who the Silence are in more detail.  We know what the fall of the eleventh was all about.  We have some idea of how Gallifrey can be located.  We know how Smith was the 13th incarnation of the Doctor and how he could get over the rule of the 12 regenerations.

It is unfortunate, however, that the way these were tied up were fairly routine and almost glibly.  Something I tried with a few episodes of Doctor Who was actually close my eyes and see how much of it could be explained almost like an audio play.  This episode could have worked equally as effectively as an audio play such was the stress on dialogue. (That must have been a whole heap of words to have learnt.)

After four years of searching and pathos and excitement, for things to be explained in a sentence might have felt somewhat deflating.  That is the problem, however, with building things up for so long and to such an important degree.  Satisfying so many strands in a 60 minute episode was always going to be a big challenge.

This episode, however, was full of excitement, fun, drama and emotion.  Moffat’s writing makes for good television. There was effective use of colour to depict this as a darker story that is about the end of the Doctor’s journey.  If you wanted to get all philosophical and deep there were plenty of ‘messages’ you could get about loyalty, life, relationships, fear and hope among others.

Something that has improved over the time of the series is the brilliant use of incidental music.  This episode was no different.  It is a great example of assisting with the feel of the drama at key points from the revelation of Tasha Lem as a Dalek, to the regeneration scene itself.

Other than the Doctor and Clara the only other character of worth is Tasha Lem.  She plays her role well mixing the enigmatic with the caring very well.  It does, however, say something about others in the episode that she’s the only memorable one.  Clara’s family are there as decoration (geddit) on the whole, though there’s a precious little nugget from her Gran.

On the regeneration itself.  Eccleston’s change took place after he took the Vortex from Rose, and it didn’t take too long for the change to take place.  When it did, Rose could see it quite clearly and the aftermath.  With Tennant, his change gave him enough time to wander around the universe looking for his reward.  It was long and drawn out to say the least – and it was a good thing he didn’t have over a dozen companions.  The actual change, however was powerful and made an impact.

With this episode, it was brilliant seeing the wizened and decrepit Doctor receive the new cycle from Gallifrey and get a new bounce in his step before unleashing an enormous wave of regeneration energy to wipe out his long-hated adversary.  I must admit, when I saw the usual arms out, head back, regeneration energy burst, I expected to see the change there and then.

Clara’s steps into the TARDIS and look at the clothes on the ground, and steps on the opposite side of the console room got me thinking of seing the new Doctor there and then.  Yet Smith’s final monologue was superb and not a let-down at all.  The flash that just brought Capaldi’s face to the screen was a disappointment.

Still, the New Doctor is here.  His start was interesting and left enough for us to eagerly look forward to how he’ll flesh out in time to come.

I do not help comparing episodes to other episodes of a similar kind.  Hartnell had the Tenth Planet.  Troughton had the War Games.  Pertwee had the Planet of the Spiders.  Tom Baker had Logopolis. Davison had Caves of Androzani. Colin Baker never had a proper regeneration story. McCoy had the Movie. Even McGann got a send-off in The Night of the Doctor.  If you want to include Hurt in the canon then he had Day of the Doctor.  Eccleston had Parting of the Ways. Tennant had The End of Time.

The only full story I’ve not watched is Hartnell’s one.  The best regeneration story for all reasons remains Caves of Androzani, which is usually followed closely by Planet of the Spiders.  This episode is as good as Planet of the Spiders.  Where others have been too long (War Games is 10 episodes! End of Time should have been one episode not one and a half, with a protracted regeneration.) and some have been forgettable (Logopolis), this one had drama and emotion in fitting with the character of this Doctor.

After the episode I said to myself that they did it the right way.  It’s a strong end to Smith’s time on the show.  It’s a good episode.  I enjoyed watching it, and felt it hit the right notes emotionally without going over the top.

“I will always remember when the Doctor was me.”

Now, the Smith era is over and I will certainly remember when the Doctor was him.

“Raggedy-man. Goodnight.”

Shalom

C. L. J. Dryden

Why I Enjoyed Matt Smith as The Doctor

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From the beginning Matt Smith was sensational (Source: http://squeezegutalley.files.wordpress.com/)
From the beginning Matt Smith was sensational (Source: http://squeezegutalley.files.wordpress.com/)

On December 25th 2013, Matt Smith concludes his tenure as the Doctor.  Since he emerged after the regeneration in 2010, viewers have had the privilege of watching a very different performance from the hugely popular predecessor.

It was considered a gamble at the time.  There were concerns that the actor was too young.  That he was relatively untried in such demanding roles.  That the guy before him cast too big a shadow.

By the end of The Eleventh Hour I was firmly in favour of Smith’s Doctor.  We can talk about many different factors behind him doing so well.  We can talk about co-stars, directors, writers and other brilliant support that enabled him to do what he did from 2010-2013.  The bottom line remains, however, that the guy in the title role has to deliver.  It is he that determines the fate of the show, and so it is his performances that are critical to the show going from strength to strength or not.  Smith proved from the start that he could handle the job.

Matt had tremendous camaraderie with Karen and Arthur (Source: hqwide.com )
Matt had tremendous camaraderie with Karen and Arthur (Source: hqwide.com )

The brilliant set-up for Smith to emerge through the hologram images of the (then) ten actors that had played him before and say rather simply that he was the Doctor, was one of those occasions that left me cheering to the rafters.

His first season remains the best first season of any Doctor.  Even Tom Baker took a while to settle down.  Smith got the hang of it straightaway, whether it was the mystery of who Amy Pond was, what the Silence was all about, what was the crack through time and space.  These things defined Smith’s Doctor early on.

Even in the episodes that didn’t really work for me, like the very next one The Beast Below, Smith put in a confident performance.  I recall the anger he had raging at the choice between killing the people or killing the whale – this was very different to the last guy.  His idea of adventure was very different as well.

A writer needs a good lead actor.  An actor needs a good writer.  Moffat and Smith did well for each other. (Source: http://www.kasterborous.com/)
A writer needs a good lead actor. An actor needs a good writer. Moffat and Smith did well for each other. (Source: http://www.kasterborous.com/)

Moffat reckons Smith captures the fact that this man is an old time-traveller.  He certainly doesn’t act his age in the sense of being a young man.  He can shift from the vibrant, twirling adventurer to a very still portrayal of a man who has seen a lot.

His take on humour was outstanding too.  The Lodger was a brilliant platform for his abilities at physical as well as verbal humour.  He was  far more alien as well.  Any characterisation of the Doctor that highlights him being an alien is always a winner in my book.  I particularly enjoyed the habit he had of looking to explain things only to state that how he was explaining them was not to be accepted.

Acting as the Doctor and his ganger is among Smith's best performances (Source: http://robertsnow.files.wordpress.com/)
Acting as the Doctor and his ganger is among Smith’s best performances (Source: http://robertsnow.files.wordpress.com/)

The angst that Smith brought to the role, particularly in this last season – just those long looks that scream of what could have been have been excellent.  I’ve loved him being manic.  I insist that the Rebel Flesh/Almost People double is one of the best two-part stories of the new era, precisely because of the chance to Doctor enjoying himself with his Ganger.

What makes this Doctor stand out from his predecessors is his engagement with children.  Like never before this Doctor interacts with children and can really get on with them, whilst retaining the element of mystery.

The Silence arc from the start has been a compelling story to follow in the Smith tenure. (Source: http://images4.fanpop.com/)
The Silence arc from the start has been a compelling story to follow in the Smith tenure. (Source: http://images4.fanpop.com/)

I felt there was something about the trilogy regarding Smith’s tenure.  This allowed the first season to establish the mysteries with a bang and the second season to be look to unearth answers, only deepening the questions leading to a third season that has started new mysteries whilst resolving others.  It is fitting he should end at the same season of the year as he started.

Whether it was his speech in The Pandorica Opens, the fun he obviously has in the Impossible Astronaut/Day of the Moon double bill or his brilliant turn in Nightmare in Silver, he has been brilliant.  Not only that, he leaves whilst at the peak of his powers in the role.

Thank you Matt Smith for being an outstanding Doctor. (Source: http://www.radiotimes.com/)
Thank you Matt Smith for being an outstanding Doctor. (Source: http://www.radiotimes.com/)

It is not a pity that he won’t be as fondly regarded as his predecessor.  His brilliance will be recognised in the fullness of time.  He doesn’t need the pining after that Tennant received, because he’s a different Doctor.  He is the Doctor we certainly needed at this time, whether we truly appreciate it or not.  He leaves the role in good hands, and Capaldi has a great base on which to develop his own Doctor.

In the meantime, thank you Matt Smith for being a superb Doctor.  It is a body of work of which to be proud.

Shalom

C. L. J. Dryden

Grange Hill and Stevie Wonder – The Connection Is Clear

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It’s not that there isn’t anything funny anymore.  It’s just that there’s little I’ve come across to make me laugh out at the sheer genius of it. Nothing worth me blogging about.  Until this,


I saw it, I laughed at it.  Played it at least four times before someone told me to find the next funny thing.  I’m still looking.  In the meantime I am still laughing at this.

Shalom

C. L. J. Dryden