Browsing All Posts By adrian

The Rolling Stones : Top Album Facts

rolling stones group photo

After years of producing rock music that has spread around the globe, it’s no wonder The Rolling Stones is recognised as one of the worlds best rock ‘n’ roll bands. Their tracks were written in different places, studios and by various writers, and the same was for their albums being produced by various record companies yet their albums have consistently topped the record charts in both the US and UK. Their music has been inspirational to themselves and their fans and they have continued to produce great music from 1964 to 2005. Over the years, The Stones have captured the hearts and ears of their fans.

Starting their fame in 1964, the band’s album, “The Rolling Stones” was a total success. Released on April 16, their debut album became one of the biggest bestsellers in the UK, staying at number 1 for two weeks. The famous song writing duo, Mick Jagger and Keith Richards from the band contributed one song for the album. Nankher Phelge, Phil Spector, and Gene Pitney were also contributors to the record sessions of the band. The songs “Tell Me (You’re Coming Back)”, “Little by Little”, and “Carol” are some of the titles included in the 12 tracks of the album.

The Rolling Stones’ albums include 22 studio albums in the UK maintaining their fame and success in the music industry. “The Rolling Stones No.2” also has an R&B feel and followed the great success of the band’s first album. Jagger and Richards, contributed three compositions to the album. Another album from the list is the “Aftermath”, their fourth British studio album which was notable because of the band’s experimentation using different sounds and instruments such as the harmonica and African xylophone.

The Stones have released 24 studio albums in the US. They also released eight live albums in the UK that topped the charts, including “Love you life”, “Got LIVE if you want it” and “Still Life”. A further 14 compilation albums were also released including the 2002 hit album “Forty Licks”, “Through the Past Darkly” and “Big Hits (high tide and green grass)”. The bands members also released their own albums; Keith Richards – “Main Offender” and “Talk is Cheap”; Mick Jagger – “Primitive Cool”, “She’s the Boss” and “Wandering Spirit”; Charlie Watts’ “Long Ago and Far Away; and Bill Wyman’s “Monkey Grip” and “Groovin”. The Rolling Stones latest album is currently called “Shine a Light Single Disc Edition”.

Since the early 1960’s, the band has created countless albums that are treasured by fans. And they remain perched on the edge of their seats waiting for the next Stones album.

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The Transformers – Robots in Disguise

transformers autobots

Most people remember the Transformers from their classic 80s cartoon and the toys that everyone wanted. The Transformers started off as a comic book and evolved into cartoons and later film. The Transformers are giant robots that run on energon and were able to transform from a robot to another form such as a car or helicopter. The show was originally created around the Japanese robot toys that were made by the toy manufacturer Takura and later by the American toy manufacturer Hasbro.

Optimus Prime

The Transformers are split into two sides, the evil Decepticons and the heroic Autobots. They both came from a planet known as Cybertron where a battle had broken out between the two and ravaged the planet they lived on. The Autobots are led by Optimus Prime ( his alternate form is traditionally a lorry cab) and the Decepticons are led by Megatron (his alternate form is a Walther P38). During the Transformers civil war the energon began to run out. Both sides departed in spaceships, the Autobots departed in a spaceship known as the “Ark” with the Decepticons following behind in their ship known as “Nemesis.” They were both forced to land on Earth and lay dormant for millions of years. Both sides awoke in the present time finding the energon they needed to survive. Their battle continued but this time the Autobots joined forces with the earth’s forces to stop the Decepticons.

Over 500 episodes of The Transformers cartoons have been created over 20 years. They have used a variety of methods to make the cartoons, from 2-D animation and cel shading to progressing to CGI graphics and at times, combinations of all three. The original series began in 1984 and lasted for four seasons, leading to an animated film in 1986. The series evolved into Beast Wars in 1996 adjusting the battle between the Autobots and Decepticons into the battle between the Maximals and the Predicons. The cartoon was totally CGI and the characters took a more primal dinosaur appearance. The show got so popular that there were Transformer sheets and pillow cases, pants, socks, pyjamas, lunchboxes, pencil cases, curtains, shoes, and video games. The two phrases “Robots in disguise” and “More than meets the eye” were used in commercials for the products. The toy line even became the UK Toy of the Year for two years in 1985 and 1986.

Transformers - Decepticons and Autobots

Most recently the Transformers became a live-action movie in 2007. Steven Spielberg was the executive producer and Michael Bay was the director. The movie starred Megan Fox, Josh Duhamel, Tyrese Gibson, Jon Voight and John Turturro. The storyline didn’t exactly follow the past storylines, but it continued the idea of the Transformers interacting with humans and the battle between the Autobots and Decepticons. The movie was so popular that a sequel is in the works.

The Transformers have captured the imagination of a generation of children. The idea that robots can emerge from your car is mind-blowing, even for an adult. The Transformers have created a mythology concerning the battle spanning millions of years between the Autobots and Decepticons, which will continue for years to come.

 

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The Goonies Reunion

goonies truffle shuffle t-shirt

The Goonies movie was released around 25 years ago and decided to meet up for a reunion hosted and filmed by Empire Magazine. The meeting took place on the 17th March 2009 and looks like all the Goonies had a great time. Even director Steven Spielberg was there and a slim version of Chunk, so no truffle shuffle…..

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Metallica: So What’s Good?

metallica group

I would have to say that four Metallica songs are my true favourites.  Here they are (in no particular order).

1) – One – This song starts out with an extended build section.  First a flowing guitar lick, then a pulsating drum section, and then into the vocals.  Still soft, the song peaks for only seconds at a time during the chorus.  Eventually it reaches a hardcore guitar section, and a thrash vocal section shortly after. Then there is a sick Hammett solo moving towards the end of the song.  It has sound effects from an artillery barrage punctuating throughout.

Metallica One

Metallica One

Appearing in the album, “…And Justice For All,” the song won a Grammy and is one of Metallica’s best known songs.

2) – Master of Puppets – This is possibly Metallica’s greatest song.  The title track of its album, this song and the album it went in were what pushed the band into the world sunlight.  It has been ranked as the greatest heavy metal song by multiple entities, and acclaimed as one of the greatest guitar songs to be played.

Hetfield said in an interview that the song is basically about drugs and their controlling effects.  He said that once you use them, they control you, and your decisions are not your own.  Many of the lyrics refer to the use of drugs and their effects.  The middle of the song houses an awesome, haunting guitar solo, and soon after that a ripping guitar solo, accompanied by strings, blasts through.  The song is a true experience.

Metallica - Master of Puppets

Metallica – Master of Puppets

3) – Fade to Black – This song has to make the chart because of a few things.  One, and most trivial, it appeared on “Ride the Lightning,” an album which garnered them considerable attention.  Secondly, it is like the precursor to “One.”  It starts with a great metal ballad solo, and then builds to the main section with hard chords and head banging action.  Of course the song has another great guitar solo about three minutes in, and another later a little after five minutes.  The song deals with the subject of Death, and while it did not win any major awards, it is one of their best known songs.

As a side note, I hope you as readers are realizing that Metallica loves serious intros, guitar solos throughout, and builds.  Songs with these qualities have been their most popular.

 

Metallica - Ride the Lightning

Metallica – Ride the Lightning

4) – Creeping Death  – Even though the name is a little foreboding, this song is really awesome.  It starts out with a slam metal guitar section, and then hits in the vocal section with some hard hitting lyrics.

The song is written from the perspective of the Angel of Death, and the plague of the firstborn in the Biblical book of Exodus.  The lyrics directly reference some of the other plagues that God placed on the Egyptians before freeing the Israelites.  The band found the inspiration from the second half of the Ten Commandments.

“Creeping Death” has great guitar sections, and often gets roaring support from crowds at live concerts.  It’s a true hit.

 

Metallica - Creeping Death

Metallica – Creeping Death

Metallica fans; Agree with these or do you have your own favourites? We’d love to know what your choice(s) would be, leave your selection in the comments.

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Karate Kid: Daniel LaRusso, Mr Miyagi and Cobra Kai

karate kid daniel

Teenager Daniel LaRusso is not having the greatest of times; at the beginning of the beloved film ‘The Karate Kid’ (1984), he is overcoming the death of his father, and facing a new life with his mother in California. Daniel is what many of the kids in the eighties dreamt to be: the Karate Kid. At the start of the story is a young, rough talent in the art of karate. Unfortunately for him, he always has a bully who shows him just how meagre his karate skill really is. Daniel is the underdog, and his progress to become the better man is made all the more fun to watch with the kick-ass character moves and – most importantly – his incredibly odd teacher, Mr Miyagi.

Karate Kid - Daniel and Mr Miyagi

Karate Kid – Daniel and Mr Miyagi

Mr Miyagi is a war veteran from Okinawa, and working as a handyman for the apartments which Daniel and his mother have just moved in to. Fortunately for Daniel, is he also highly skilled in karate. After witnessing one of Daniel’s beatings at the hand of Johnny Lawrence of the Cobra Kai, he steps in to stop the bullying once and for all. His challenge to the Cobra Kai sensei drives the movie to its ultimate climax, where Daniel fights Johnny using all the things that Mr Miyagi has taught him. Admittedly, the way in which he taught these skills was a little…interesting, to say the least. Mr Miyagi believes that constant repetition of monotonous tasks will help Daniel to learn the most important moves of karate: “Wax on, wax off” comes from Daniel’s task to wax Mr Miyagi’s car, for example, but also teaches him a defensive blocking technique which is integral to karate. All in all, Mr Miyagi would be the sort of mentor you would wish for; his choice of words are a little frustrating and confusing, but maybe that’s all part of being a great tutor (another example would be the grammatically-odd Yoda from Star Wars). He is certainly indispensible when it comes to his pearls of wisdom for Daniel, and in the end becomes a father figure to him.

Karate Kid - Cobra Kai

Karate Kid – Cobra Kai

Of course, alongside the wise and honourable teacher, there must be an antagonist for the protagonist. In The Karate Kid world, this is the Cobra Kai. A karate dojo in which unethical karate moves are taught, the Cobra Kai group cut a formidable figure for Daniel to have to beat. They are trained by their sensei John Kreese; an ex-serviceman who obviously hadn’t gotten out of the habit of shouting orders at the top of his voice. The Cobra Kai are moulded in his image, a group of karate students who are both brutal and dishonourable. You may secretly wish deep down to be able fight with a Cobra Kai, but as always the bad guys get their comeuppance in the end. The Daniel LaRusso/Johnny Lawrence fight is a great moment in the film to watch, even if it’s just on its own; the final crane kick to the jaw ending the film depicting perfectly Daniel’s new found confidence and skill.

 

Miyagi - Daniel - John Kreese - Cobra Kai

Miyagi – Daniel – John Kreese – Cobra Kai

Daniel LaRusso, Mr Miyagi and the Cobra Kai are the three main elements to The Karate Kid, embodying the good, the bad and the ugly that the young protagonist meets along his journey. Because of course, not only does Daniel learn some impressive moves during the movie, but he also becomes a better person within himself. And after all, isn’t that one of the best ways to end a movie? Corny, yes, but it still makes you smile.

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Sesame Street – The Games

sesame street characters

Can you remember watching Sesame Street in your youth?  Perhaps you sat down with your children and watched it as a family.  Either way, if you’ve watched it, did you notice the fun games that they play to help kids learn and to teach them life skills?  One of my favourites that I can recall when thinking back to that time in my life were the matching games.  You know, “one of these kids is doing his own thing, one of these kids does not belong.”  When I was a child, that game was just plain fun, but as an adult, I can see the great benefit which it has to children’s observation skills.

 

Sesame Street games are interactive.  They are designed in a way that makes the young viewers feel like the characters on the show are speaking directly to them.  On the current Sesame Street shows, there is a segment that airs which my daughter loves.  I am not sure when this segment was added to Sesame Street, but it is called Journey to Ernie.  It is basically a hide and seek game played between Big Bird and Ernie.  This is another valuable game for childhood observation skills, Big Bird asks the kids to help him find Ernie and they go through different areas and listen or look for clues as to where Ernie may be.

 

Another segment of the show I recall from my childhood was the two headed monster putting words together.  The word would be broken into two syllables, and one head would pronounce one half, and move it a little closer to the other, then the other head would do the same with the other half.  They would do this quicker and quicker until the word was together and they pronounced it correctly.  This is a very helpful scene in that the kids can make the pronunciations along with the monster and can practice recognising words.

 

For the much younger viewers, the show has the letter of the day and the number of the day.  Each of these is remarkable in its own sense.  First of all, the letter of the day helps kids to recognise each letter.  They use the letter during the show and keep reminding the children what the letter is.  The number of the day not only helps kids to recognise numbers by sight, but it also does more than that.  It helps the kids learn to count, because The Count will count until he reaches the number of the day.  The number can be has high as 20, so it is good practice for children.

 

Sesame Street Count

Sesame Street Count

Whichever segment you like the most, or which one you think is most helpful to your child or was most helpful to yourself as a child, there is no denying that Sesame Street and the well thought out segments that they air are useful to children.  There is no doubt that they have in mind a sincere desire to help kids in all areas of life, but especially in making learning fun for them.  For any educational system to have any hope, the children have to buy in, they have to be getting something out of it, and in all honesty, knowledge isn’t always very enticing to kids.  So with limited options, to gain buy in from the kids, fun has to be at the top of the list.  Too many of the youth in today’s society don’t like school, not that any of us ever did, but it seems different today.  It is more than not liking school, it goes past that and into either not caring about or not finding any hope in their futures.  With that kind of an outcome, we should be doing all that we can do to get them excited about learning at an early age and Sesame Street has the corner on that market.  Make learning fun and hope that the long term outcome of that is beneficial to those kids and in turn, society.  If you haven’t seen it in a while, sit down on the couch today with your child and turn on Sesame Street, you probably still even remember the song.

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Dungeons and Dragons

dungeons and dragons t-shirt

Every person on this planet has different skills, abilities, characteristics, and varying degrees of each among them. Some people are excellent at sports and not very good with academics. Others are very good with academics but cannot figure out how to screw in a light bulb. There are an endless amount of skills we can acquire, adventures we can embark on, routine tasks to complete and things to learn. In a nutshell, that is what Dungeons and Dragons is all about.

Dungeons and Dragons Instructions

Dungeons and Dragons Instructions

The brilliance of Dungeons and Dragons is in how it allows you to create a character to your liking and assign it both the skills you want along with the levels of skill you want to provide for it. If you want your character to be the strongest man, woman or beast in the world you can create it that way; or, at the very least you can create a character with this intention and then earn the necessary experience points to get it there.

The other excellent feature about this game is that, similar to real life, you need to accomplish tasks in order to gain experience points to improve skill. In real life you do not necessarily “earn experience points” that says “Joe is a 65 out of 100 in lawn mowing” however the concept is there. In this game, skills are measured by experience points and the longer you play, the more battles you win, the better you get.

Dungeons and Dragons Master Guide

Dungeons and Dragons Master Guide

The game can be as wide open or closed as the Dungeon Master wishes; however there is a certain amount of structure to it. There are pre-defined challenges to conquer, battles to win, settings to play the game in and etceteras. While you can choose your own for each of these, it can sometimes be quicker and easier to play within the confines of an existing pattern.

Dungeons and Dragons Game

Dungeons and Dragons Game

The goal of the game is to defeat the challenges, win the battles and build up your character to be the best (with the highest experience points) so you can meet further challenges. This game has inspired another generation of video games that follow a similar pattern, namely the Final Fantasy games and World of Warcraft. Each of these games allows you to gain experience points which you will use to conquer battles. Among war games, there is perhaps no bigger or more influential game than Dungeons and Dragons.

Dungeons and Dragons Game

Dungeons and Dragons Game

The game has evolved from its manual, table top structure several decades ago to be on such gaming consoles as the PC, Playstation 2, Nintendo and Xbox. The titles for some of the games are: Dungeons & Dragons: Shadow over Mystara, Baldur’s Gate: Dark Alliance and Dungeons & Dragons: Heroes, among many others. Due to the open structure of the game, many spin-offs have been made and will continue to be made.

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Transformers – The Decepticons

transformers ravage

The Decepticons are seen as the ruthless enemies of the Autobots. They have no care for the human race and only want to see the Autobots destroyed. The Decepticons are led by the villainous Megatron. Part of the well known list of Decepticons are the Cassettes. They are Buzzsaw – a condor, Laserbeak – also a condor, Rumble – a robot, Frenzy – a robot, Ravage – a panther, Ratbat – a bat, Overkill – a two-legged dinosaur, Slugfest – a Stegosaurus, Squawktalk – a parrot, and Beastbox – an ape.

Transformers - Decepticon - Megatron

Transformers – Decepticon – Megatron

Megatron – Megatron is the leader of the Decepticons. He has destroyed many Autobots and leads the battle on Earth. Although he is considered the original leader there have been times that he was challenged for power, but has managed to survive and continue his lead.

Starscream – Starscream is known as the second-in-command for the Decepticons because of the combination of his intelligence, skill, agility and speed. Although he secretly wants to replace Megatron, he continues to fight with the Decepticons. He is probably best known to create the Combaticons.

Transformers - Decepticon - Starscream

Transformers – Decepticon – Starscream

Soundwave – Soundwave is a high ranking Decepticon who has the ability to hear faint sounds and the slight ability to read minds. He is known for his ability to carry the Decepticon cassette warriors. His alternate form is a Walkman.

Ravage – Ravage is stealthy and can become almost undetectable. Because of this he is used mainly as a spy. Ravage transforms into a panther as his alternate form. In the original cartoon he is portrayed almost as the Decepticon’s pet. He can be seen both in the original Transformers cartoon and in Beast Wars.

Transformers - Decepticon - Soundwave

Transformers – Decepticon – Soundwave

Frenzy – Another Decepticon Cassette, Frenzy is Rumble’s brother. This caused a little bit of confusion with the animated cartoon because their colours were occasionally switched around. Frenzy, like many of the cassettes, fights alongside Soundwave with pride.

Laserbeak – Although Laserbeak is loyal to Soundwave, that doesn’t mean that he’s the most confident of fighters. He traditionally fights in the distance or when he knows that he can win. Because of this, he usually is used as part of reconnaissance.

Transformers - Decepticon - Ravage

Transformers – Decepticon – Ravage

Bonecrusher – Bonecrusher is one of the many scouts for the Decepticons and is part of the sub-division of Constructicons. He is known for his demolition skills and transforms into the alternate form of a Bulldozer. He could form the giant Devastator when he merged with the other Constructicons (Scavenger, Scrapper, Hook, Long Haul, and Mixmaster).

Shockwave – Shockwave’s position in the Decepticons is the “military operations commander.” He was once the leader of the Decepticons after throwing over Megatron. He has the ability to fire electromagnetic beams.

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The Wall: A Thematic Conception

pink floyd group

“The Wall,” one of Pink Floyd’s acclaimed greatest albums, rocketed to the tops of US and European charts alike. It was a concept album, describing a sense of isolation from the rest of humanity. The album includes hits like “The Thin Ice,” “Another Brick in the Wall,” and “Empty Spaces.” The isolation described is supposed to be of a self-imposed nature. Waters wrote almost all the songs for the collection.

Pink Floyd - The Wall

Pink Floyd – The Wall

The collection also addresses the causes of such isolation, the isolation obviously referred to with the metaphorical reference to a wall. A film was also made, extending the metaphor into a full story about a boy named Pink. Pink loses his father as a boy, and is further injured psychologically by an overprotective mother and abusive school teachers. These traumas become “bricks in the wall.” Eventually he becomes a rock star, and also marries, but each of these falls apart, and the metaphorical wall is completed, and Pink isolates himself completely.

Pink Floyd - Berlin Wall

Pink Floyd – Berlin Wall

He deteriorates further behind his wall, and onstage hallucinates that he is a fascist dictator of the Neo-Nazi persuasion, where he removes audience members he deems unworthy. Then his conscience puts him on trial, and a judge tells him to tear down the wall, and then the film’s end runs into its start, with the last song, “Outside the Wall,” bearing some similarities to the first song, “In the Flesh.”

As both a musical compilation and a metaphorical film, “The Wall” is a powerful work.

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Star Wars – The Sith Lords

star wars sith lords image

The Sith Lord characters are the most popular and well-known of the Star Wars’ antagonists. Their history and standing within the Star Wars is complex, and difficult to navigate due to the myriad of stories that make up the Star Wars universe. But with regards to the movies, they are the central antagonists whose evil doings drive much of the plot. Their names follow the title ‘Darth’, a word which I think will always be synonymous with the ‘dark side’.

Star Wars - Darth Sidous

Star Wars – Darth Sidious

Darth Sidious (aka Palpatine) is one of the very first Sith Lords to affect the Star Wars stories as a whole. His first appearance is in ‘Star Wars Episode 1: The Phantom Menace’, as the Sith Lord who worms his way into the office of the Supreme Chancellor of the Galactic Republic; he also made the fateful decision to take an interest in the young Anakin Skywalker. In ‘Episode III: Revenge of the Sith’, he reveals himself to be Darth Sidious.

The first way in which this character plays such an immense role in the Star Wars universe, is to send his apprentice Darth Maul to capture Queen Padmé Amidala. In the process he kills Qui-Gon, Obi-Wan Kenboi’s Jedi Master. The young Padawan is eventually triumphant against Maul, killing him in fury for his master’s death. Maul, by killing Obi-Wan’s master, forces the Jedi to become the independent man we know from the original trilogy. Even in a relatively minor role, he helps to add another layer to these beloved Star Wars characters’ lives.

Star Wars - Darth Maul

Star Wars – Darth Maul

The character of Darth Sidious goes on to become an even more key element to the Star Wars story as a whole. And how? It’s all down to his next successful move: to bring Anakin over to the dark side. Working on Anakin’s fear for his wife’s safety amongst other weaknesses, Sidious pulls Anakin over to the dark side. He creates a Sith who will become one of the most feared evil characters of movie history – a black masked, heartless Sith Lord who will test Luke Skywalker to his very limits: Darth Vader.

Star Wars - Darth Vader

Star Wars – Darth Vader

Darth Vader has always been a fascinating character to me. The original trilogy which kicked off the franchise had quite a ‘black and white’ sense of morality: Luke Skywalker and the Rebel Alliance were good, and Darth Vader was bad. Apart from Vader’s one act of selflessness at the end of ‘Star Wars Episode VI: Return of the Jedi’, Vader was evil. Full stop. And although I may be stepping on dangerous ground by implying that the prequel trilogy (widely considered to not be as good as the first three) added something to the original films, I think that they certainly did with regards to Darth Vader. In Episodes I, II and III, we get to see the roots of Darth Vader as a young boy. Cute little Anakin Skywalker was young and naive, but with an inherent power not many knew what to do with. His fall to the dark side is anguishing; he was a young man who could have achieved so much. But the evil in the world affecting those that he loved pulled him and his power in the wrong direction. He goes from little slave-boy Anakin, to young Anakin Skywalker with a wife and two children on the way, to Darth Vader. Whatever evil he may achieve later on, this fact is always at the back of your mind when you watch the films.

Star Wars - Sith Lords

Star Wars – Sith Lords

Like most great stories, the antagonists are as essential as the good guys. Without them, there is no struggle of good vs. evil, no great battle to overcome. Star Wars takes it that bit further though; George Lucas gives the antagonists a story, and a depth and history that makes their darkness all the more frightening. To give a character like Darth Vader his very own tragic story, just demonstrates that some people don’t always turn out how you would expect…

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