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Archive for May, 2008

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Superman II

Posted by Big Boo on May 5th, 2008

Superman 2Superman II was released in 1980, so just manages to fly its way into the films of our favourite decade. The first Superman film (full title Superman: The Movie) was a blockbuster success, making the now late Christopher Reeve a household name, and still the actor most people with associate the role with. So much so in fact that it seems the makers of the recent Superman Returns film chose actor Brandon Routh because of his similarities to Christopher Reeve.

In this film Superman has to face not only his usual foe Lex Luthor, but also three villains from his home planet, who of course also have the same super abilities that Superman has, being orginally residents of Superman’s home planet Krypton. These bad guys are General Zod (played by Terence Stamp), Ursa and Non, who were foiled in their plot to take over Krypton. As punishment they were imprisoned in the Phantom Zone, which was represented as a flat spinning rectangle in space in which they were somehow trapped – I guess it must have been some kind of weird dimension changing thingy!

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Which 8-bit Home Computer Did You Have?

Posted by Big Boo on May 3rd, 2008

Firstly, thank you to everyone who voted in our first Saturday Survey.  We had 19 votes in all, and the winning answer to the question “Who was your favourite Scooby Doo character?“ was…

 …Scooby Doo!

Scooby scooped nearly 39% of the votes (7 in total), with Shaggy not far behind on 5 votes.  Poor old Fred was the only one not to get a single vote, and shame on you the 2 people who voted for Scrappy Doo.

Anyway, to this weeks survey.  We want to know which 8-bit computer your family had.  Note we’re after 8-bit home computers, so the Amiga and Atari ST don’t count, and nor do game consoles like the NES or Master System – we’ll do those another time.  Vote away!

Which 8-bit home computer did your family have?
Total Votes: 95 Started: May 2, 2008 Back to Vote Screen
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GCSE Examinations

Posted by Big Boo on May 2nd, 2008

Kids taking examsThe late 1980’s saw a major rethink in the way secondary school exams (those taken by 15-16 year olds) were organised with the introduction of the General Certificate for Secondary Education exams, or GCSEs for short. Teaching for these new exams began in 1986, with the first tests taken in 1988.

The GCSE exams unified the two systems that were in place before this, these being O Levels (or Ordinary Level) and CSE examinations. Ordinary level exams were the top level of examination available to secondary school pupils, whilst the CSE exams catered for those less academically gifted children.

The GCSE system combined the two to provide a single system, which it did by introducing a wider range of possible grades. O Levels used to featured grades from A to E and U, with A to C being classed as a pass, D and E a fail and U meaning ungraded. CSE exams used to feature grades from 1 to 5, all of which were considered a pass, and U for ungraded. Under GCSEs, grades A to C were broadly equivalent to O Level grades A to C. Grade C was also equivalent to CSE grade 1. Grades D to G covered O Level D and E grades (with F and G both being the same as a O Level U grade), and CSE grades 2 to 5. Finally the U category (now meaning unclassified) was right at the bottom of the scale.

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Posted by Big Boo on May 1st, 2008

MadonnaMadonna is still one of todays biggest and well known music stars, but her singing career began back in the 1980’s. I must admit that I always thought that Madonna was just a stage name, but it is in fact her real name. She was born Madonna Louise Ciccone on August 16th, 1958 in Michigan and raised in a strict Catholic family, which probably accounts for her backlash against Catholicism that was evident in some of her work.

Madonna initially trained to be a dancer, first learning ballet and then receiving a dance scholarship at the University of Michigan, which she left before completing her course after her ballet teacher persuaded her to pursue a career in dance. She travelled to New York to start her new life, where she worked as a dancer before forming a band called Breakfast Club with her boyfriend at the time, Dan Gilroy. This started her on the road to music, and ultimately led to her releasing her first single, Everybody, in 1982. Her first album followed the next year, entitled simply Madonna. This album was originally produced by Reggie Lucas, a successful producer of R&B songs. Madonna was not happy with the music tracks put to her songs, so turned to her then boyfriend John “Jellybean” Benitez, who reworked the songs and added one, Holiday, which is probably one of Madonna’s best known early hits.

The album Like A Virgin appeared in 1984, which of course contained Like A Virgin, but also Material Girl and Into The Groove, which was part of the soundtrack to the film Desperately Seeking Susan, her first well known acting role. Her love for film was evident in the fact that her music videos became much bigger and grander. In 1986 she released her next album, True Blue, which contained the titular True Blue but also Papa Don’t Preach, Open Your Heart and La Isla Bonita. Most of these songs had beautifully filmed videos to accompany them, but this is also where Madonna really began her attack on Catholicism.

Her final album of the 1980’s was Like A Prayer, which also featured the hits Cherish and Express Yourself. After this Madonna started to enter a sequence of reinventing herself. Her work became more experimental and more sexy, swapping her old wardrobe of lacy edged skirts and knee length leggings for unfeasibly pointy bras, corsets and stockings. As the years have gone by she has courted controversy by kissing other female artists (most notably Britney Spears and Christina Agueleira), married movie director Guy Ritchie, joined the Kabbalah (an offshoot religion based in Jewish mysticism) and been involved in the scandal over her “adoption” of David Banda, a child from Malawi.

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