Happy Birthday Phil Collins

Best known as a drummer and vocalist for British progressive rock groups Genesis and Brand X, as well as being a  popular solo artist, the English singer-songwriter, drummer, pianist producer and actor Phil Collins LVO celebrates his birthday on 30th January. Collins’s professional music career began as a drummer, first with Flaming Youth and then more famously with Genesis, after he answered a Melody Maker classified ad for “…a drummer sensitive to acoustic music, and acoustic twelve-string guitarist”.

The first album Nursery Cryme was released a year later. Although his role remained primarily that of drummer and backing vocalist for the next five years, he twice sang lead vocals: once on “For Absent Friends” (from Nursery Cryme) and once on “More Fool Me” (from Selling England by the Pound). In Genesis, Collins originally supplied backing vocals for front man Peter Gabriel, singing lead on only two songs: “For Absent Friends” from 1971′s Nursery Cryme album and “More Fool Me” from Selling England by the Pound, which was released in 1973.

Following Gabriel’s departure in 1975, Collins became the group’s lead singer, and sang lead vocals on several chart hits in the United Kingdom and the United States between 1975 and 2010, either as a solo artist or with Genesis. He has released many great albums, either as part of Genesis or as a Solo Artist including INVISIBLE TOUCH, FOXTROT & GENESIS, His singles, sometimes dealing with lost love, ranged from the drum-heavy “In the Air Tonight”, dance pop of “Sussudio”, piano-driven “Against All Odds”, to the political statements of “Another Day in Paradise”.

Collins has won numerous music awards throughout his career, including seven Grammy Awards, five Brit Awards—winning Best British Male three times, an Academy Award, and two Golden Globes for his solo work. He was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame as a member of Genesis in 2010, and is one of only three recording artists (along with Paul McCartney and Michael Jackson) who have sold over 100 million albums worldwide both as solo artists and (separately) as principal members of a band. In 2008, Collins was ranked the 22nd most successful artist on the “The Billboard Hot 100 Top All-Time Artists.

The Dark Knight Rises

I’ve recently watched The Dark Knight Rise agains, which is the fnal part in director Christopher Nolan’s trilogy and stars Christian Bale as Batman, Gary Oldman as Commissioner Gordon, Tom Hardy as a masked terrorist named Bane, Anne Hathaway as Catwoman and Joseph Gordon-Levitt as police officer, John Blake. The film starts eight years after the events of The Dark Knight, when Batman (Christian Bale) vanished into the night, after assuming the blame for the death of District Attorney Harvey Dent (who went insane after an unfortunate accident and became the villainous Two-Face). The Dark Knight  turning, from cult hero to fugitive. and sacrificing everything for what he and Commissioner Gordon both hoped was the greater good.

For a time this worked, as criminal activity in Gotham City was crushed under the weight of the anti-crime Dent Act. But everything changed with the arrival of a cunning cat burglar named Selina Kyle, who has a mysterious agenda and tries to steal a valuable necklace from Bruce Wayne, which belonged to his late Mother.

Things are further complicated when a really dangerous masked terrorist named Bane (Tom Hardy) escapes from a hellish South American prison, and decides to set free all the prisoners from Gotham’s Black Gate Prison before promising the oppressed minorities and hard-up belleagured residents of Gotham City to help them and free them from the tyranny of the rich and remove the shackles of oppression before running amok, however Bane’s motives turn out not be as well intentioned and altruistic as they seem.

It is not long Before long The Caped Crusader, find himself thrust back into action, aided by faithful butler Alfred (Michael Caine) Technology Whizz Lucius Fox (Morgan Freeman) and a concientious cop John Blake(Joseph Gordon Levitt) whose integrity impresses Commissioner Gordon but Batman finds that even he might not be a match for Bane and his weaponised masses as he struggles to stop his villainous schemes and restore order in Gotham City. Along the way he learns some uncomfortable truths and discovers that some of the people he thought he could trust aren’t all that they seem either..

Avengers Assemble

aVaSDirected by Joss Whedon (Buffy the Vampire Slayer), I’ve recently watched Avengers Assemble again, which features Robert Downey Jnr as Iron Man, Chris Evans as Captain America, Chris Hemsworth as Thor, Mark Ruffalo as the Hulk, Scarlett Johansson as Black Widow, Jeremy Renner as Hawkeye and Samuel L Jackson as Nick Fury.

It starts with villainous Norse god Loki (Tom Hiddleston) stealing a device called the Tesseract from S.H.I.E.L.D Headquarters which is intended as an infinite energy source to provide for the entire human race, but could, if it fell into the wrong hands, also be turned into a devastating weapon which could destroy Earth and any other planet. So security boss Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson) assembles an impressive array of superheroes to defeat him, comprising of Iron Man (Downey jnr) Thor (Hemsworth) Hawkeye (Jeremy Renner) Bruce Banner aka The Hulk (Ruffalo) and Natasha Romanoff aka Black Widow (Johansson). The film also stars Stellan Skarsgard as Professor Erik Selvig, who helped design the device

At first things do not go well for the team, Hawkeye is coerced into working for the bad guys, Stark describes Hulk as having ‘breathtaking anger management issues’. Tony Stark, himself is described as a volatile, self-obsessed loose cannon, who doesn’t play well with others, which becomes evident when Thor attempts to deal with Loki on his own. Hulk then tries to clobber Black Widow. All the squabbling leads a rueful Ruffalo to remark ‘We’re not a team We’re a timebomb. It is only When Loki and his cronies (The Chitauri) trash S.H.i.E.L.D Headquarters and threaten Manhatten that the superheroes finally see sense and decide to combine their talents in order to stop Loki and his rampaging hordes threatening Earth with destruction, and the movie gets exciting and builds into an exciting action-packed climax.

Hugo

hugo-movieRecently I lost My Internet connection, so I decided to watch loads of movies, read loads and listen to loads of music instead. Another movie I watched again was Hugo. Based on the Pulitzer prize winning novel “The Invention of Hugo Cabret” by Brian Selznick, This heartwarming tale is directed by Martin Scorsese and stars Asa Butterfield, Chloe Grace Moretz, Ben Kingsley, Christopher Lee, Jude Law, Ray Winstone, Sacha Baron Cohen, Richard Griffiths, Frances de la Tour and Emily Mortimer

Butterfield stars as an orphan named Hugo who is dragged to live at the Gare Montparnasse in Paris by his wicked uncle (Ray Winstone) after his father (Jude Law) sadly dies in A tragic Accident and he is put in cHarge of keeping all the clocks going at the Train Station. His most treasured possession is a broken Automaton which his father bought in a jumble sale and was trying to fix before his unfortunate demise. Among the other colourful characters who inhabit the station are a kindly book seller (Christopher Lee) The Station Master (Sacha Baron Cohen) who is trying to work up the courage to talk to flower seller (Emily Mortimer) and a toy-shop owner named Georges(Ben Kingsley)

It is not long before Hugo’s uncle soon leaves him to fend for himself, which he does by living by his wits, stealing food and anything else he needs. This soon brings him into conflict with the Station Master (Sacha Baron Cohen) who is determined to catch him and send him to the orphanage, and he also gets into trouble with Toy shop owner Georges (Ben Kingsley) after he tries to steal clockwork parts from the Toy Shop in order to fix the Automaton. However Hugo befriends Georges Grand-daughter (CHloe Grace Moretz) who agrees to help him, and during the course of their time together the two of them learn about the history of cinema and discover something really amazing about Georges, concerning the Automaton, and try to set things right.

A long time ago in a Ga…well here last week actually

Recently I lost my Internet Connection so I decided to read loads of books, listen to loads of Music and watch lots of DVD’s instead (Some would argue that’s a much more productive use of time anyway) on the subject of DVD’s I decided to watch Star Wars Ep III – Revenge of the Sith. (I’d like to watch the original trilogy on DVD too, although some would say it’s not the original trilogy because it has been tidied up and scenes have been added, but let’s not get started on that.)

As the Clone War Rages on above the skies of Coruscant, Anakin Skywalker (Hayden Christenson) and Obi-Wan Kenobi (Ewan McGregor) are dispatched by the Jedi to rescue Chancellor Palpatine (Ian McDiarmid) who has been kidnapped and is being held by the villainous Gerneral Grievous and Count Dooku (Christopher Lee). However This does not go smoothly and Greivous and his cohorts manage to escapes to nearby planet of Utapau.

Senator Amidala (Natalie Portman) then reveals that she is pregnant and Anakin starts to have disturbing nightmares concerning the birth during which Amidala Dies. Chancellor Palpatine then asks Skywalker to be his representative on the Jedi Council, who in turn mistrust Anakin and refuse to make him a Jedi Master instead asking him to spy on Palpatine, who then manipulates and corrupts Anakin and tells him that the Jedi are trying to overthrow the Galactic Republic and also reveals secrets concerning the Dark Side of the force including a powerful Sith Lord called Darth Plagueis who discovered how to stop people from dying, all of which confuses Anakin no end

Meanwhile the Separist Droid Army attack the planet of Kashyyyk and Obi Wan is dispatched to the planet of Utapau where he discovers that the locals including leader Tion Meddon (Bruce Campbell) are being held hostage by General Grievous and his villainous cohorts so he decides to deal with them. Anakin then makes a worrying discovery about Chancellor Palpatine and informs the Jedi Council who decide to arrest him, which is easier said than done, and Anakin, who remains very confused makes a drastic decision in the heat of the moment which changes the course of everything and he is forced to flee along with Chancellor Palpatine, who reveals a plot to bring about the downfall of the Jedi and despatches him to Wipe out the remaining members in the Jedi Temple and also clobber the Separatist Leaders who are in hiding on the fiery planet of Mustafar.  Padme and Obi Wan embark on a desperate mission to Mustafar to try and reason with and save Anakin from the Dark Side before it is too late. Things come to a head resulting in an epic confrontation through the fiery chasms of the planet during which both Anakin and Padme pay a heavy price for Chancellor Palpatine’s devious evil plot for Galactic Domination.

John Carter

Recently I lost My Internet connection, so I decided to watch loads of movies, read loads and listen to loads of music instead. First up was this Sweeping epic Based on Edgar Rice Burroughs classic Barsoom Novels, This exciting action-packed film features a war weary Confederate Captain from Virginia named John Carter (Taylor Kitch) who finds himself inexplicably transported to the planet Mars after he hides out in a mysterious cave. Far from being the dead planet he imagined, he finds it has brutal war-like inhabitants called Tharks, however he manages to impress one of them named Tars Tarkas (Willem Dafoe), by clobbering a few of them with his superior strength, abilities with a weapon and unusual jumping abilities, which he has gained due to the differences in gravity.

He learns that the planet of Mars (Barsoom in the local language) is being torn apart by civil war between the Scientific and altruistically minded people of the city of Helium and the people of Zodanga who are ruthlessly draining the planets dwindling resources and seek to enslave and control all the other inhabitants on the planet. During one such skirmish between Helium and Zodanga Carter rescues Dejah Thoris (Lynn Collins) and learns that she is a princess from the city of Helium and has been betrothed to Sab Than, the leader of Zodanga, in an effort to bring about peace. He also meets Tars Tarkas’ Daughter Sola (Samantha Morton)and her faithful pet Woola. At first Carter doesn’t want to get involved and wants nothing more than to get back to Earth. So he, Deja, Sola and Woola embark on a dangerous journey up the River Iss in order to find out how to get him back , however along the way they are attacked by the vicious Warhoons and he gradually finds himself drawn into the conflict when he is captured and taken prisoner and discovers that the God-Like Thern Mattai Shan (Mark Strong) is manipulating the situation from the shadows for his own villainous purposes, so Carter decides to try and unite the inhabitants of Barsoom and put an end to Mattai Shan’s villainous schemes.

DeLorean – Great Scot!

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On January 21st 1981 Production of the iconic DeLorean DMC-12 sports car began in Dunmurry, Northern Ireland. The DeLorean DMC-12 was manufactured by the DeLorean Motor Company for the American market in 1981-82. Featuring gull-wing doors with a fiberglass “underbody”, to which non-structural brushed stainless steel panels are affixed, the car became iconic for the appearance of a modified version as a time machine in the Back to the Future film trilogy. The first prototype appeared in October 1976, and production officially began in 1981 in Dunmurry, a suburb of south west Belfast, Northern Ireland. During its production, several features of the car were changed, such as the hood style, wheels and interior.

dmc12In October 1976, the first prototype DeLorean DMC-12 was completed by William T. Collins, chief engineer and designer (formerly chief engineer at Pontiac). The body design of the DMC-12 was a product of Giorgetto Giugiaro of Ital Design and the car was Originally, intended to have a centrally-mounted Citroën/NSU Comotor Wankel rotary engine. The engine selection was reconsidered when Comotor production ended, and the favored engine became Ford’s “Clogne V6.” Eventually the French/Swedish PRV (Peugeot-Renault-Volvo) fuel injected V6, was selected. Also the engine location moved from the mid-engined location in the prototype to a rear-engined installation in the production car. The chassis was initially planned to be produced from a new and untested manufacturing technology known as Elastic Reservoir Moulding (ERM), which would lighten the car while presumably lowering its production costs. This new technology, for which DeLorean had purchased patent rights, was eventually found to be unsuitable. So Engineering was turned over to engineer Colin Chapman, founder and owner of Lotus. Chapman replaced most of the unproven material and manufacturing techniques with those then employed by Lotus. The backbone chassis is very similar to that of the Lotus Esprit. The original Giorgetto Giugiaro body design was left mostly intact, as were the distinctive stainless steel outer skin panels and gull-wing doors. DeLorean required $175 million to develop and build the motor company. DeLorean eventually built the DMC-12 in a factory in Dunmurry, Northern Ireland, a neighborhood a few miles from Belfast city center. Construction on the factory began in October 1978, and although production of the DMC-12 was scheduled to start in 1979, engineering problems and budget overruns delayed production until early 1981.

Hollywood celebrities such as Johnny Carson and Sammy Davis Jr also invested in the firm and The DMC-12 also appears in the Back to the Future film trilogy. The PRV engines of the cars were dubbed over with recorded V8 sounds. Six DeLorean chassis were used during the production, along with one manufactured out of fiberglass for scenes where a full-size DeLorean was needed to “fly” on-screen; only three of the cars still exist, with one having been destroyed at the end of Back to the Future Part III. Universal Studios owns two of the remaining cars, and the last resides in a private collection after having been extensively restored. Sadly though all this endorsement was not enough to save the company and The DeLorean Motor Company went bankrupt in late 1982 following John DeLorean’s arrest in October of that year on drug trafficking charges. He was later found not guilty, but it was too late for the DMC-12 to remain in production. and the company went into liquidation

Approximately 9,000 DMC-12s were made before production halted in late 1982 and about 100 partially assembled DMCs on the production line were completed by Consolidated International (now known as Big Lots). The remaining parts from the factory stock, the parts from the US Warranty Parts Center, as well as parts from the original suppliers that had not yet been delivered to the factory were all shipped to Columbus, Ohio in 1983–1984. A company called KAPAC sold these parts to retail and wholesale customers via mail order. In 1997, DeLorean Motor Company of Texas acquired this inventory. Overall just 9,200 DMC-12s were produced between January 1981 and December 1982 Almost a fifth of these were produced in October 1981. About one thousand 1982 models were produced between February and May 1982, As of 2007, about 6,500 DeLorean Motor cars were believed to still exist. In 1995 Texas entrepreneur Stephen Wynne started a separate company using the “DeLorean Motor Company” name and shortly thereafter acquired the trademark on the stylized “DMC” logo as well as the remaining parts inventory of the original DeLorean Motor Company. The company, at its suburban Humble, Texas location, completes newly assembled cars from new old stock (NOS) parts, original equipment manufacturer (OEM) and reproduction parts on a “made to order” basis using existing Vehicle Identification Number (VIN)