Tuesday 31 December 2019

Tenth Anniversary/ 2019 New Years blog post, thingy

Continuing on with the tenth anniversary theme, on Thursday, 17 December 2009 I uploaded a post entitled The 2009 end of year full circle review to this blog, a way to reflect on the past year. It became a ‘sorta’ ‘kinda’ annual tradition for me for the first few years before becoming a staple of the end of the year from 2014 onwards, it would seem I wrestled with a title each year before settling on New Years blog post, thingy in 2015 so here is my tenth anniversary, 2019 New Years blog post, thingy... 
2019, I celebrated 10 years of being a Blogger but also 17 years of being a father, 6 years of being a husband, 7 months of being a Grandfather and generally just being around and surviving for 40 years!  Turning  40 was a strange notion as  it reminded me of the first time I watched the first episode of The Good Life ( one of my all time favorite sitcoms) about the life of Tom Good (played by Richard Briers) a plastics designer who takes up self sufficiency following a midlife crisis when he turns 40- when I first watched it, the very notion of myself someday turning 40 someday never crossed my mind, but here we are and so with that it seemed rather apt that this year we visited...  55 Kewferry Rd Northwood, Middlesex.  
55 Kewferry Rd Northwood, Middlesex 
Otherwise known as the Good’s house!  It was at this house that Tom Good, questioning his place in the world, follows his desire to escape modern commercial living along with his faithful wife Barbara (played by Felicity Kendal) as they both embark on a new life of self-sufficiency in their home in Surbiton. Although set in Surbiton when it came to filming, they opted to film at this house in Northwood. Written by Bob Larbey and John Esmonde  the show ran on the BBC from 1975 to 1978 and it had been and gone by the time I had come into the world but I soon discovered it during one of its many repeat showings and as I said it has remained one of my favorites ever since. It looks a little different but there was no mistaking it, and it was a delight seeing the garden as a lawn and not a vegetable patch and looking over the fence and seeing the house next door in which their friends/neighbors Jerry and Margot Leadbetter played by Paul Eddington and Penelope Keith) supposedly lived and standing on the same curb that Geraldine the goat chased off the vegetable thief back in 1974! 

I didn’t have a midlife crisis at 40, but I did attempt to cross a fair few things off my bucket list, I finally had the opportunity to try classic American breakfast cereals Count Chocula, Franken Berry, and Boo Berry! Only available seasonally in the US my very good friend Brian sent them over to me in time for Halloween and if you follow this link you can see me trying them out for the first time! Another thing that was was long overdue was meeting writer, director, producer founder and face of Troma Entertainment, Lloyd Kaufman whom I had wanted to meet for many years and remained an inspiration to me since my art college days and I finally did that at this year’s Starburst Film Festival at MediaCityUK- and as mentioned in a previous post, he did not disappoint and I know that my 16 year old self would have been overjoyed! Interestingly two other bucket list things I wanted to do had a recurring theme... Robocop- One of my all time favorite movies.  After years of being told I should be a contestant on a game show I finally took the plunge and crossed it off my bucket list entering as a contestant on a new Welsh language game show, Rhannu shown on channel S4C (although the show was recorded in December 2018 it actually aired in 2019) and it was an experience I rather enjoyed, despite not winning anything. During a round devoted to Superhero Movies I was asked, “Which city was Robocop set?” little did I know that having given the correct answer and winning the round I would be crossing off another item and meeting Robocop himself, Dr. Peter Weller a few months later! 
Meeting Peter Weller at For the Love of Sci-Fi
A return trip to Manchester for this year’s For the Love of Sci-Fi I relived all the memories accumulated since fist watching this movie aged 10, watching it countless times and quoting lined from the film more so! And I know that my ten year old self would have been delighted if he knew that his 40 year old self would be getting a fist bump from Alex J. Murphy while standing in front of a full scale replica of EDD 209!  Another item crossed off the list that might surprise some of you was being an Ice Cream Man! My love of retro is no secret but perhaps my fondness for vintage ice cream vans is not so widely known, particularly the ones I remember as a child. Living further out in the country, ice cream vans never visited us but we would often hear their chimes taunting us in the distance as they visited other streets in the village but occasionally I would be visiting my grandmother who lived further in the village and we would catch the ice cream van but it was a rare treat that never left me. So when Bourne Leisure put out the call for someone to provided an “outstanding Ice Cream experience, ensuring service, quality and Consistency, within a clean and safe environment catering for allin their vintage van, seemingly identical to the ones I remember  at their Haven holiday park in Pwllheli, North Wales I thought I would give it a go! 
"flake and sprinkles?"
So if you were at Haven, Pwllheli this year and came over to Bertie’s for an Ice Cream it was more than likely me that served you your ice cream cones and lollies! I was only there for a few months before the moved the van to another venue but it was great fun! Another bucket list item was visiting Chessington World of Adventures’ Vampire ride. Perhaps better suited for a Monster Memories post I mentioned a few years back how much I adore the Haunted House at AltonTowers, and how I visited it in its opening year of 1992. We all remember that infamously (long) queue line that snaked around Gloomy Wood and the humorous gravestones littered around the path but I also remember one particular sign that had a bat on it daring me to ride another horror themed ride called  ‘The Vampire’ at Chessington World of Adventures... I didn’t know that much about the ride, but I was curious to know more!  This ride designed by theme park legend and the man responsible for the Haunted House, John Wardley  first opened on the 11th of April, 1990 two years before the Haunted House and it was the UK’s first ever hanging roller coaster. The trains designed to look like bats hung from a track that stretched 800 meters and was capable of reaching speeds of 45 MPH offering riders the opportunity to swoop over the rooftops of Transylvania! But alas I had never got around to going on the Vampire (later shortened to just ‘Vampire’ in 2002) and although many changes had been made to the ride over the past 29 years I was so pleased to finally cross it off the list! In fact I rode it a fair few times to make up for lost time, and enjoyed it each time- so much so I’d say it’s now my favorite roller coaster!

27 years is the longest I've had to wait to go on a roller coaster...
Was ripped off in 2019 by T-Shirt company Crazytee.net
who stole this design from this very site. Asked nicely,
they removed it- then they put it back up again!
Please don't support them this is not an officially licensed item
and I certainly get nothing for it!

Entertainment, fully intended to go to the cinema much more than I did, not through trying and not because there wasn’t anything  I wanted to see. TV, we only stream now (a vast majority of what we watch is on YouTube I predict this to be one of the first topics to be discussed on this Blog in 2020) ‘modern’ telly is not something we partake in much these days, instead catching up on every episode produced of such shows as The Time Tunnel, Robocop: the Series, Unsolved MysteriesKnightrider, Baywatch and its spin off series Baywatch Nights but we did watch  and enjoy Stranger Things 3 and The Dark Crystal: Age of Resistance, hands down the best show I have seen for some time, so much so that I still feel compelled to sing its praises and urge you all to watch it if you haven't already. Creepshow on Shudder was very good, I had been eagerly awaiting its premiere on the channel and it didn’t disappoint- especially enjoyed “The House of the Head" "The Finger" "The Man in the Suitcase” "The Companion" and Tom Savini’s "By the Silver Water of Lake Champlain" Shudder did however drop the ball a few times when it came to my favorite show on their channel Joe Bob Brigg’s Last Drive In, the show who’s praises I sang last year and still regard to one of the most important shows about horror today was mostly inaccessible to Shudder viewers in the UK, HOWEVER they have started to release the Joe Bob segments minus the copyright infringing movies which is a start- let’s hope they sort it out in 2020!  

RIP Professor David J Bellamy OBE, Hon FLS

2019 claimed friends such as Lord Toby Jug, friends whom were also large chunks of my childhood such as Professor DavidBellamy. We also lost chunks of childhood that I felt I knew only for one factor I never had the pleasure of meeting them in person such as Dick Miller who had a habit of appearing in practically every movie I ever watched growing up Gremlins, Gremlins 2, The Howling, The 'Burbs, Piranha, The Terminator, Chopping Mall, Demon Night...  and then there was Big Bird, Carroll Spinney  the puppeteer who played both  Big Bird and Oscar the Grouch on Sesame Street until he left the show in his 80s.  Watching the documentary I Am Big Bird on the day his death was announced genuinely brought a tear to my eye.  Doctor Who lost a key figure this year Terrance Dicks who had been script editor on more than 150 episodes and was responsible for most of the show’s novelization novels for Target Books, I couldn’t help but recall that at a Doctor Who convention (Liverpool, circa 2003) not paying attention to my surroundings I abruptly turned around and smashed into a round chap whom I (thankfully) caught before he fell over. Embarrassed, we both made our apologies and moved on in opposite directions. As I walked away I thought, “Was that Terrance Dicks?” When I met him later on that day I said “I thought that was you”, “yes that was me” he said. And that was the time I literally bumped into Terrance Dicks.  So many names though, Luke Perry, Tardar Sauce (Grumpy Cat), Magenta Devine, Peter Mayhew, Bill Heine, Judith Kerr, Doris Day, John McCririck, Denise Nickerson, Leah Bracknell, Windsor Davies, Carol Channing, Andre Previn, Peter Tork, Clive Swift, Brian Walden, William Simons, Rutger Hauer, Albert Finney, Keith Flint, Freddie Starr, Peter Sissons, Gary Rhodes, Clive James, Freddie Jones, Rip Torn, Peter Fonda, Stephen Moore and Sid Haig whom I had seen, said hello to at Horror Con 2017.  Everyone was celebrating his portrayal of Captain Spaulding in House of 1000 Corpses and The Devil's Rejects but to be honest I hadn’t seen them, I knew him from Galaxy of Terror but more so from one of my all time favourite A-Team episodes ‘Black Day at Bad Rock’ in which he played Sonny Jenko a mean motorcyclist gang leader.  As I left the convention, I saw him clearing his table and very nearly leaned in to tell him how much I loved his other work but didn’t, something I regret. I made sure to watch House of 1000 Corpses shortly after and loved it, because of him and hoped for another opportunity to meet him and tell him that. It was not to be, once again serving a reminder that life is short and opportunities should be seized whenever possible!   

With The Unofficial Dr Who Annual 1987
Many, many projects! Having started 2019 with two paintings featuring  in the Liverpool Horror Club’s  Women in Horror Month Exhibition I then released the Glow in the Dark Monster Sticker Club (we will be launching a new series in 2020- a little different but I hope you will like it) on my Patreon page. I worked on private commissions and three projects for Hellbound Media (which will also be available in 2020) there was the Unofficial Dr Who Annual 1987 (look out for the Master Annual due in 2020!) but without a doubt the project that taken up most of my time has been my ongoing series on YouTube. Since taking the plunge and creating videos in August I have completed 8 paintings devoted to horror/sci-fi movies from the 1980’s and 90’s influenced by the glory days of VHS video rentals. The first video was originally conceived as a way to convey just how much work goes into a painting but ironically with setting up cameras and lights, teaching myself how to edit video and sound, teaching myself how to use Photoshop to create title cards, rendering videos and uploading them to YouTube and promoting them the workload has quadruped! And simply painting something seems easy and a lot time consuming BUT I am really enjoying the process and received positive feedback from many people (some of which involved with the movies that featured!) and it’s been a very gratifying process that I hope to continue on into the New Year, I hope you will join me and click “like” subscribe and ring that all important notification bell as it’s very important for ensuring any YouTube channel’s future.  I really want this to work, share my work with the horror community and thank everyone that has supported it thus far, hope you will stay for the ride!

Well, that took a lot longer than I thought it would- hope it was of interest (the memory isn’t as good as it once was- apologies if I missed something out!) my sincere thanks to all that have regularly/ occasionally contributed to this Blog, your comments are always gratefully received. I shan’t lie, I have high expectations for 2020 it has long been the coolest sounding year to me and really hope it delivers all the promise I expected!  
Happy New Year to you all!

© Arfon Jones 2019. All images are copyrighted throughout the world.

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