Posted in books, films & DVD

The Hobbit: Battle of the Five Armies

hobbitThe final part of Peter Jackson’s epic three part treatment of J.R.R Tolkien’s Novel “the Hobbit”, entitled “The Battle of Five Armies” is out on DVD on Monday 20 April 2015, so I am toying with the idea of having a marathon session and watching all three during the course of one day.

The Hobbit is Set 60 years before the events in Lord of the Rings, in a time “Between the Dawn of Færie and the Dominion of Man, and tells of the dangerous, but exciting quest of home-loving hobbit Bilbo Baggins (Martin Freeman) who is approached by the Wizard Gandalf (Sir Ian McKellen) and a company of thirteen dwarves named Thorin Okenshield (Richard Armitage) Nori, Ori, Dori, Dwalin (Graham MCTavish) Balin (Ken Stott), Oin, Gloin, BIfur (William KIrcher), Bofur (JAMES Nesbitt) and Bombur (Stephen Hunter) and asked to accompany them on a dangerous journey to the Lonely Mountain, to reclaim the lost Dwarf kingdom of Erabor, which has been taken over by a fearsome dragon named Smaug.

Along the way Bilbo and The Dwarves encounter many hazards including a trio of hungry Cave Trolls named Bert, Tom and William, a cave full of Goblins led bythe evil goblin king (Barry Humphries) and Bilbo nearly gets eaten thanks to the evil machinations of a certain scheming ring-bearer named Gollum(Andy Serkis). The company also encounters Hordes of Orcs led by Azog the Defiler (Manu Bennett) who have overrun the the other Dwarf realm of Moria and discover that Thror (Thorin’s Grandfather) Was tragically kiled by Azog defending the kingdom of Erabor and his son Thrain has mysteriously vanished, overcome with grief. They also meet up with a mysterious Shape Changer named Beorn Who helps them towards the EIven forest Realm of Mirkwood where they are nearly eaten by Some very large spiders and they meet Elf Lord Thrunduil (Lee Pace) his son Legolas ( Orlando Bloom) and Tauriel (Evangeline Lilly) Who instead of helping them, take them all prisoner and lock them up. (However Bilbo Being a resourceful fellow helps them complete their journey to Lake town on the shores of Lake Esgaroth ) Where they Meet Bard the Bowman(Luke Evans) and the decidedly dodgy Master of Lake town (Stephen Fry) Who all live In fear Of the dragon Smaug, despite the Fact that he has not been Seen lately. So Bilbo approaches the lonely mountain with extreme trepidation and discovers that, much to his alarm, Smaug (voiced by Benedict Cumberbatch) is still very much alive and well and is every bit as terrifying as people say. Sadly though this doesn’t stop Bilbo from antagonising him, which has tragic consequences for the population of Lake Town.

Meanwhile the Elves of Mirkwood become alarmed by the activities of a villainous and Shadowy character known as theNecromancer (Benedict Cumberbatch) living in the supposedly abandoned fortress of Dol Guldur in Mirkwood. So Gandalf (sir Ian Mckellen) Sauruman (Sir Christopher Lee) Radagast (Sylvester McCoy) Galadriel (Cate Blanchett) and Lord Elrond (Hugo Weaving) decide to Investigate and get a bit of a nasty shock When they find out the true Identity of the Mysterious Necromancer. However they also discover Thrain (Thorin’s MIssing father) Languishing in the jails of the sinister fortress of Dol Guldur.

Back in Laketown the population are in grave danger from the terrifying dragon Smaug, so the ghastly Master of Laketown (Stephen Fry) flees the carnage Wrought by the enraged Smaug. However thanks to some inside information Bard the Bowman is able to deal with Smaug and rescue Lake-town. However word of Bard and Thorin’s exploits soon gets round and it is not long before The Elves of Mirkwood led by Thranduil, The Men of Dale and the Dwarfs, led by Thorin’s cousin Dain Ironfoot (Billy Connolly) all turn up at the Lonely Mountain hoping to retrieve the vast wealth which the dragon stole. Bilbo meanwhile, has to make a difficult decision when Thorin puts his desire to find the Arkenstone before his loyalty to his friends. Then They soon find themselves in even greater peril when a horde of villainous Orcs, attack the Lonely Mountain and Bilbo and his friends must fight for their survival as the five armies meet in battle.

The cast includes Martin Freeman, Sir Ian McKellen, Richard Armitage, James Nesbitt, Billy Connolly, Graham MCTavish, Ken Stott, William KIrcher), JAMES Nesbitt, Stephen Hunter, Stephen Fry, Benedict Cumberbatch, Luke Evans, Cate Blanchett, Orlando Bloom, Evangeline Lilly, Manu Chao, Sir Christopher Lee and Andy Serkis.

Posted in music

Bez (Happy Mondays)

Bez a.k.a Mark Berry, the percussionist, dancer with The Indie/alternative/dance band Happy Mondays was born 18 April 1962. Formed in 1980 in Salford, Greater Manchester, the Happy Monday’s original line-up consisted of Shaun Ryder on lead vocals, his brother Paul Ryder on bass, lead guitarist Mark Day, keyboardist Paul Davis, and drummer Gary Whelan. Mark “Bez” Berry joined the band onstage later during a live performance after befriending Shaun Ryder and served as a dancer/percussionist. Rowetta Satchell also joined the band to provide backing vocals in the early 1990s.


Some of the Happy Mondays best known songs include Step On, Wrote For Luck, Hallelujah, 24 Hour Party People and Kinky Afro. Along with The Stone Roses, The Happy Mondays found fame and success during the “Madchester” music scene of the late 1980′ and early 1990′s, which developed in Manchester, England. The music that emerged from the scene mixed alternative rock, psychedelic rock and dance music. Other Artists associated with the scene also included New Order, Inspiral Carpets, Northside, 808 State, James, The Charlatans, The Fall, A Guy Called Gerald, and other bands. At that time, the Haçienda nightclub was a major catalyst for the distinctive musical ethos in the city that was called the Second Summer of Love. After the Happy Monday’s split Berry also joined the band Black Grape again with Ryder. In 2012 the Happy Mondays enjoyed something of a Comeback too, after having played various Music Festivals during the summer including V Festival at Weston Park, Weston-under-Lizard and Hylands Park, Chelmsford.