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31 December 2011

Graphic Novel - "King for a Day"

I've been busy over the Christmas break creating snippets of Sin City-style comic art. I had been adding them to the bottom of a post I put up a couple of weeks ago but I think that there are enough of them now to warrant their own post. If I do more, I'll add them in - so check back!

Here we have what looks like the start of a graphic novel called "King for a Day". Don't ask me where it's going...

(Remember that this all started when I spotted a group on Google+ called Sin City Photogs, who use the #SinCityPhotogs tag.)

30 December 2011


Just a quick post to let you know that I've joined the Electric Ukulele Land collective. The agenda is Electric Ukulele, but who knows, we might just topple the odd Government in the process...

If someone can show me how to do Blog Syndication then I might be cleverer about this in the future, but at the moment I will simply be double-posting my uke-related ramblings on both blogs.

So for readers of the Ukulele Blog it should be business as usual. And of course... as you know... I don't just write about banjos...

King Uke ponders ukuleles and electricity

Here are the Electric Ukulele links:

29 December 2011

How to Fit a Ukulele Pickup

Today's project was to fit a pickup in my £11 Stagg US-10 Ukulele.

My inspiration was a series of posts stuck up by Electric Ukulele Land on the Electric Ukulele Land website. After some words of encouragement and a few pointers from Julian Davies I got onto ebay and ordered the pickup: a UK-2000... from Hong Kong.

It arrived this morning!

28 December 2011

Ukulele Chords

I got into an interesting discussion earlier this week with Julian Davies of Electric Ukulele Land. The subject was ukuleles and it wasn't long until we were chewing the fat over the various uke models, tunings and chords. I learnt some great stuff! Here are some highlights... with illustrations...

King Uke - Aloha!

24 December 2011

Spaced - Series 1 (1999)

Momma Uke: You do know that you're 10 years behind everyone else?
King Uke: 12 years!
It's a well documented fact that I'm late to most parties. It's a knack I have... my special super power. Hold this thought...

Spaced, Channel 4 1999

I'm pleased to announce that I have just finished watching the first series of 'Spaced', the British comedy that aired in 1999.

That's only 12 years behind the curve! One of my better attempts!

22 December 2011

Sin City Photogs

You may remember my review of "Sin City" earlier this year. I was quite hard on it feeling that it was let down by a poor script. I can be such a toe-rag sometimes! My review wasn't all doom and gloom though; I really liked the visual style of the film with its high contrast and stark minimalist use of colour.

Earlier this week I witnessed the birth of a group on Google+ called Sin City Photogs. It's an area for like-minded individuals to pay homage to the art-style that Frank Miller made famous with Sin City. Visit the page or search on the #SinCityPhotogs tag to see some of the efforts. It's very early days, but already there are some great photos cropping up.

20 December 2011

Pen Cap Chew - Secret Santa (2011)

Last year the Pen Cap Chew boys set themselves the crazy challenge of writing a Christmas song... on Christmas Eve. That produced the classic "Message of Christmas". This year, they gave themselves a week and the result is "Secret Santa", the fifth single off the as yet unreleased Dream Theatre album. It's rough and ready and just a little bit different. Be sure to check out the B-Side for a re-recording of "The Message of Christmas".

A Side: Secret Santa

"It was a late-run thing, but Pen Cap Chew have written another Christmas song and they're releasing it as their 5th single off the Dream Theatre album. This time round it's an up-tempo number guaranteed to get the snowmen shakin'. Will it do better in the charts than last year's effort. Only time will tell. Merry Christmas!!!"

King Uke on 2011

2011 has been a busy year for the Ukulele Blog. After a slow start, I gave the site a make-over and acted on my New Year's resolution to try and put together some quality material for you. I gave you bigger and better posts on a kind of regular schedule. Readership is up so I'm guessing that you like what you see! I'll try and keep it up for another year.

Here’s a quick reminder of the highlights…

15 December 2011

Sheet Music - "Christmas"

It's getting all Christmassy in chez Uke.  We had our first sprinkling of snow last night. The decorations are up and the kids are counting down the hours to presents. I keep checking under the tree for ukulele-shaped packages. Nothing yet! :-)

Time for my monthly dip into 'the crate'. This time the sheet music covers have a seasonal theme. See how many of these you know the words to...

Silent Night

13 December 2011

The Evil Dead 3: Army of Darkness (1992)

Ever been trapped in time, surrounded by evil?

Yeah, me too!

"I could even have been king!"
Evil Dead 3, Renaissance Pictures 1992

If there was ever a final film in the Evil Dead Trilogy, I think that I might just have watched it! Army of Darkness picks up where Evil Dead 2 leaves off with Ash Williams transported back into the past to battle against the Deadites.

What a stupid film...

9 December 2011

Evilution (2007)

"Once it's unleashed it can never be stopped!"
It's been a while since I watched anything zombie-related and I figured I'd go with something scary to dust off the cobwebs. I chose Evilution on the basis of the cover. Unfortunately I've caught myself out again! What a fool!

Oh dear, oh dear...

This is as good as it gets
Evilution, Brink 2007

6 December 2011

The Story of Vernon and Irene Castle (1939)

I'll admit that I didn't know a great deal about Vernon and Irene Castle before sitting down to watch 'The Story of Vernon and Irene Castle.' (Surely they could have come up with a better name.)

Fred and Ginger mid-flight
The Story of Vernon and Irene Castle, RKO 1939

I may be being unkind, but the Castles seem like the worst kind of Showbiz entrepeneurs, making money out of pretty much anything they could. That reminds me... I really do need to get my Ukulele Blog T-Shirts printed. Get your orders in quick to beat the Christmas rush! :-)

4 December 2011

Pen Cap Chew - Sunshine and Rain (2011)

"Sunshine and Rain" was Pen Can Chew's fourth single off the as yet unreleased Dream Theatre album. It's a little bit different to what we have come to expect. Here is a sort of scrapbook to commemorate the release:

A Side: Sunshine and Rain

"Sunshine and Rain is the A-Side of Pen Cap Chew's 4th single. It's an ambitious original song stolen from the yet to be released Dream Theatre album. Being equal parts silence and noise, happiness and sadness, sunshine and rain, this song may not be to all tastes. But if you like your guitar to blow like a hurricane...."

21 November 2011

The Thing (1982)

I was wondering just now what you might call the male equivalent of a chick flick. How about Blokebuster? Personally, I'd call it 'The Thing'. This film has got everything that any self-respecting bloke might need. There's snow, booze and spider-like aliens. There are also funny hats and fantastic beards. And get this... it's even got helicopters! Woot!

If only John Carpenter could have woven in some roller-skating... What? He did! It just gets better and better...

"Hey! Sweden!" – "They’re Norwegian, Mac."
The Thing, 1982 Universal Pictures

20 November 2011

Lego Tokyo Zombie

Today, with the help of my kids, I recreated some of the magic of Tokyo Zombie using the medium of Lego.

Afro and Hage

19 November 2011

Everything’s Dead (2010)

About a year ago I took part in a Flash Fiction competition that was being run by a Podcast I was following. It was a Zombie podcast and the challenge was to write a short story in no more than 500 words. Can you guess what I chose to write about?

I happened across my entry today and thought I'd dust it off for you. This was the first time that I'd ever tried my hand at writing Flash Fiction. It may be my last! Reading it now, I'm not sure that I did a very good job, but at the time I thought it was great!

And no, I didn't win, or even get an honourable mention. I can think of 413 good reasons for this. Feel free to comment with your own Triple-B rating...

10,000th Reader

Earlier this week the Ukulele Blog proudly reached out and touched its 10,000th reader.

At a low-key ceremony in Tupelo Mississippi, a replica "Ukulele Blog" Ukulele was awarded to an ecstatic and at times tearful John Burrows.

The photo below was taken just before he left the building...

King Uke celebrates with  John Burrows
Tupelo Mississippi 2011

12 November 2011

The Last Man on Earth (1964) - In Colour

When I watched The Last Man on Earth a couple of weeks back I felt the whole experience had been ruined by a terrible transfer to DVD. I just had to get myself a better DVD.... and fast!

Starring Vincent Price
The Last Man on Earth, 1964 MGM

Well, the DVD I bought was better on two counts: First of all, it's proper widescreen; and second, it's been coloured. The end result is a far better experience all round.

Here are a few stills to give you a feel for how it all turned out.

11 November 2011

Sheet Music - "Armistice Day"

Today's sheet music covers are in support of Armistice Day which commemorates those who died in the two world wars and subsequent conflicts.
"They went with songs to the battle, they were young.
Straight of limb, true of eyes, steady and aglow.
They were staunch to the end against odds uncounted,
They fell with their faces to the foe.
They shall grow not old, as we that are left grow old:
Age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn.
At the going down of the sun and in the morning,
We will remember them. "

When The Poppies Bloom
Leo Towers, Morton Morrow & Don Pelosi

8 November 2011

Undead (2002)

Working on the basis that every country in the world is capable of producing at least one top zombie film, I felt certain that I might have found the Australian entry when I spotted "Undead".

Rene has a devilishly cunning idea
Undead, 2002 Lion Gate Films

The cover art alone promises so much with its picture of a bearded cowboy-cum-tramp sporting a tri-shotgun. Yep, you heard me right... tri-shotgun! That's three shotguns in one! Wow! What on Earth can this film be all about?

6 November 2011

Sheet Music - "Rita Hayworth"

Hot on the heels of my last post, I've been inspired to hunt through 'the Crate' for any sheet music that features Rita Hayworth on the cover. It's slim pickings I'm afraid... only 2 pieces.


Rita Hayworth

You'll Never Get Rich (1941)

"You'll never get rich by diggin' a ditch.
You're in the Army now..."
Having dabbled with madness a couple of months back when I reviewed "Band Wagon", I'm pleased to say that I've finally pulled through. Today I've been watching more Fred Astaire.

This time, the fun comes in the form of the 1941 Columbia film: "You'll Never Get Rich."

Fred whispers sweet nothings
You'll Never Get Rich, Columbia 1941

31 October 2011

The Last Man on Earth (1964)

Being a shameless fan of Richard Matheson's "I am Legend", it was only a matter of time before I hunted down the DVD of The Last Man on Earth.

Vincent Price sports a 'Vincent Price' for Movember
The Last Man on Earth, 1964 American International Pictures

But before I talk about the film, I want to remind you that as well as being All-Hallows-Eve, it is also the eve of Movember. Now is the time for men everywhere to do a little something for men everywhere. You too can grow a mo and raise some cash for The Prostrate Cancer Charity. In honour of The Last Man on Earth, I will be attempting a 'Vincent Price'. To find out more about Movember and to donate some much needed money, please visit the official site.

30 October 2011

Pen Cap Chew - The Waltz of the Beermats (2011)

"The Waltz of the Beermats" was Pen Cap Chew's third single off the as yet unreleased Dream Theatre album. Here is a sort of scrapbook to commemorate the release:

A Side: The Waltz of the Beermats

"Here we have Pen Cap Chew's long-awaited third single from the Dream Theatre album. It's a lovely love song in a folk style by the name of The Waltz of the Beermats. If you listen real hard, you might even spot a tiny bit of banjo hidden away in there. Enjoy..."

25 October 2011

Once Were Warriors (1994)

I never knew this film even existed until I moved to New Zealand. And then I felt obliged to watch it... like a right of passage. For the record: I drew the line at listening to Crowded House. I know I'll be shot and my passport confiscated for that last comment :-)

Nig and his new mates
Once Were Warriors, 1994 Fine Line Features

21 October 2011

World War II - Benito Mussolini

I thought long and hard before publishing this post.

It's a bit of a departure from what regular readers of the Ukulele Blog will have come to expect.

Today I'm sharing a few more photos from World War II. These ones are pretty grisly, so please be warned.

20 October 2011

World War II - The British Navy

Today I'm sharing a few photos taken during World War II.

Below are a series of snaps taken at sea with the British Navy. They are of particular interest to me as my Grandad served in the Navy during the War. These are not his photos, but those of a family friend.

19 October 2011

Pen Cap Chew - That's Entertainment (2011)

"That's Entertainment" is a bootleg single leaked by Pen Cap Chew during the recording of the as yet unreleased Dream Theatre album. Here is a sort of scrapbook to commemorate the release:

A Side: That's Entertainment

"Here's a little gem to tide you over whilst we wait for the creation of the third single. This time it's a cover of the Jam's That's Entertainment... on ukulele! Oh happy days!"

The Omega Man (1971)

It's the end of the world. Civilization has been laid waste by the plague to end all plagues. Scientists have unwittingly created a biological weapon so powerful that it's wiped out most of the world's population.

Most, but not all...

The Omega Man: Colonel Robert Neville has survived!

Charlton Heston as Colonel Robert Neville
The Omega Man, Warner Brothers 1971

13 October 2011

Scum (1979)

The rules:
No punching to the face
No kicking in the goolies
And no biting

Wot me sir?
Scum, Blue Underground 1979

The Plague (2006)

I'm not sure where to start with the Plague.

I know... I'll start with the beginning...

This one's mine!
The Plague, Plague Productions 2006

The film intro is one of the slowest most boring intros I can remember watching in a long time. For some reason it starts with a load of credits... just words on a black background. The words don't even fade in and out in an interesting way. All the while there is this depressing clanking piano accompaniment... music to slit your wrists to!

Thankfully, things do get better!

But not much better...

5 October 2011

Evil Dead 2 (1987)

Ash: We'll all go in together
Jake: Hell no! You're the curious one.
I promised you some more Evil Dead action and tonight I deliver with a review of the sequel: Evil Dead 2 - Dead by Dawn.

The Ukulele Blog wants you!
Evil Dead 2, Renaissance Pictures 1987

4 October 2011

Doomed (2006)

I think that I may have been a little short-sighted.

"You can't judge an island by its palm trees!"
Doomed, Zombie Apocalypse 2006

Last month I reviewed two terrible films: The first was Romero's shoddy Land of the Dead; The second was the confused and annoying Zombie Honeymoon. If you remember, I awarded both disasters 1 point on the dark and deeply distressing Triple-B.

And now I'm kind of stuck, because I just watched a film that is worse than both of these films put together.

What am I going to do?

30 September 2011

28 September 2011

Zombie Honeymoon (2004)

"Contains strong fantasy violence and language."

What on Earth is that meant to mean?

I can't believe that I sat through this film. I can't believe that I wasted 98 minutes ("approx") of my life.

But I did!  :-)

Here comes trouble! Hooligan Pictures 2004

25 September 2011

The Warriors (1979) - Black & White

Okay, okay... we determined a long time ago that I'm an obsessive compulsive. Here are a few photos from the extras footage on the DVD. Enjoy.

24 September 2011

Yarn Bomb Attack - Devonport, NZ (Sep 2011)

Today I've been introduced to the phenomenon that is Yarn Bombing. It's a craze that's sweeping the world! And as usual,  I'm the last person to find out...
Yarn Bomb - Squid
"Yarn bombing, yarnbombing, yarnstorming, guerrilla knitting, or graffiti knitting is a type of graffiti or street art that employs colourful displays of knitted or crocheted cloth rather than paint or chalk."

Below are some photos from a recent attack at the Devonport Ferry Terminal in Auckland. The photos were kindly supplied by Tinkerbell, my NZ reporter.

23 September 2011

Sheet Music - "Shellac Sisters"

Here we go... some more sheet music covers for your viewing pleasure.

The inspiration for tonight's selection are my new favourite girl group: The Shellac Sisters. I say girl group, but maybe it should be turntablists? Whatever.

According to the official website, the Shellac Sisters are "four glamorous retrochics spinning vintage 78s on wind-up gramophones."

I've been known to spin a little shellac myself you know... but only in private...


The Three in Harmony

The Necropolis Railway (2002)

It was the title that first drew me to "The Necropolis Railway". It looked like it might have some horror-comedy potential. The fact that author Andrew Martin was from Yorkshire was a plus. The clincher, however,  was that the book looked like a light read; I've waded through some monster tomes recently. I needed something more bite-sized.

London Necropolis & National Mausoleum Company

Actually, this book isn't what I'd typically go for.

21 September 2011

Land of the Dead (2005)

Last night I watched George Romero's Land of the Dead. I'm going to come clean and say that pretty much from the off, my heart wasn't in it. Granted I was super-tired, but fundamentally I just wasn't enjoying the film. So forgive me if I'm a little vague on the details.

What's not to love about a Zombie Cheerleader?
Land of the Dead, Universal Pictures 2005

18 September 2011

Spirits Having Flown (1979)

This week I have mostly been listening to...

The Bee Gees

Some might say that this is yet more evidence of me losing my grip on reality... of my inevitable descent into madness and spilling food all down myself. And they may well be right.

The Bee Gees - fine figures of manhood

It all started innocuously enough...

8 September 2011

The Evil Dead (1981)

Those of you old enough to remember the battle between Betamax and VHS will probably be able to remember the British phenomenon of the early 80s that was the 'Video Nasty'.

My sister's so ugly, we keep her locked in the cellar!
The Evil Dead, Renaissance Films 1981

I just watched one of the original video nasties - the Evil Dead.

5 September 2011

The Warriors (1979) - Reprise

It seems that there a lot of people out there in Internet-land who like the Warriors as much as I do. So, in honour of you all and the film itself, I'm posting a few more stills.

If you haven't already done so, be sure to check out my review of the Warriors and my rundown of the gangs in the Warriors.

Here we go!

Cleon - The Warriors War Chief

3 September 2011

The Band Wagon (1953)

If I didn't know better, I would have sworn that Vincente Minnelli was on acid when he directed MGM's Band Wagon. It's fast, it's busy, confused, colourful, complicated, and completely neurotic. Some might say that these are all the ingredients of Genius. I'm erring on the side of Madness.

Fred Astaire, Cyd Charisse and Count Buchanan in Band Wagon, MGM 1953

1421 (2002)

On my recent trip to New Zealand I half-remember reading somewhere that the first Westerners to arrive in Asian countries were a traveling circus shipwrecked on the shore. Unable to converse with their rescuers, they expressed their gratitude by performing... and so the story goes... this is why Asians thought that all Westerners were clowns. What a load of tosh! But also... what a great story!

Build your own Chinese Junk

It's been a while, but I've got a book review for you...

A Taste of The Forest of Dean

You might have noticed that I've been a bit quiet of late. Yep... I've been away for a bit of rest and recreation. This time it has been a hop down to the Forest of Dean and environs. The good news is that I've got a few posts up my sleeve which I'll publish soon. Until then, here are a few of my more abstract and random holiday snaps...

This picture was snapped at 
the Dean Heritage Centre 
where I learnt that civil unrest 
is nothing new

22 August 2011

Barnes & Mullins 'The Bowley' Ukulele

About 5 months back I decided to invest in an up-market ukulele. You can have a lot of fun with the cheap ones, but as with any musical instrument, you very much get what you pay for. I did a lot of research and finally settled on a Barnes and Mullins model called 'The Bowley'.

The Bowley Ukulele

20 August 2011

Colour-blind Unite!

Q: If roses are red and violets are blue. What colour are farts?
A: Burple!

The Ishihara Test is designed to smoke out mutants.
What number do you see in the image above?

It may come as no surprise to discover that I am colour-blind. And to be honest although I've tried over the years to explain what that means, I've never managed to come up with an explanation that I'm happy with.

Does my condition make be a mutant?

Am I a god-damned freak of nature?

Let's find out...

17 August 2011

Sheet Music - "Rat Pack"

Join me now as I delve once more into 'the Crate' and dig out some Sheet Music of yester-year.

Tonight's theme is the Rat Pack.

Time after Time
by Sammy Cahn & Jule Styne (c) 1947

9 August 2011

[•REC] (2007)

If Terry Wogan ever decides to start a EuroZombie Film Contest, then I'm thinking that I might just have stumbled across a hot favourite to win it.

La bienvenida España!

Claudia Silva in REC, Castelao Productions 2007

When I think of Spain, I don't tend to think of zombies. Tonight's film caught me well and truly off-guard.

REC is a wobbly camcorder first person thriller. Yeah, I know what you're thinking... I was thinking it too... but bear with me... it might just be worth your while...

27 July 2011

Pontypool (2008)

Q: What do London Lite, Empire, Sky Movies and the late News of the World all have in common?

A: They all awarded Pontypool 4 stars.

Should they open the door? Pontypool, Shadow Shows Entertainment 2008

And there's more...

24 July 2011

Sin City (2005)

Oh dear, I'm struggling to put my thoughts together about the film I just watched. It took a long time to get through it, and even now I'm not too sure what I just experienced or how I feel about it.

Jessica Alba in Sin City, Miramax 2005

I didn't specifically choose to buy this DVD. It came in a Quentin Tarantino bundle I bought a couple of years ago. Yeah, the same pack that lead to my recent Kill Bill reviews. Quentin's credited as being a guest director, but I really don't know how involved he was. Would I have watched this film if his name hadn't appeared on the cover? Not sure...

22 July 2011

The Living Dead (2008)

You may have noticed that I haven't posted any book reviews for a while. Well it's all down to the current book that I've not been reading.

I'm sorry. I don't usually do this, but I'm giving up on The Living Dead.