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Archive for May, 2011

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Posted by Big Boo on May 11th, 2011

SweatbandsThe Eighties was great for many reasons, but it also had its fair share of less than admirable moments, and many of those are related to what we might now call questionable fashion ideas.

One such fashion statement was the craze for wearing Terry Towelling sports socks (in either standard white or a range of neon colours) as every day socks, which is something I’ve covered here before.

Another piece of Terry Towelling apparel that became popular was the sweatband. Sportsmen and women wore them (particularly tennis players as I recall) as they served a useful purpose, but for some reason they suddenly became the in-thing to wear normally.

Whilst some went the whole hog and wore a head sweatband, most toned it down a bit and went for one of the wrist ones, which quite often had the name of a football team too.

I’m not quite sure why these became so popular, but my best guess is because of Dire Straits’ Mark Knopfler, who famously wore a rather illuminated neon one in the video for Money for Nothing (in fact that was all you could see, as his face was blacked out in the video).

I wonder how long it will take for this particular fashion to resurge? I’m guessing it might be a while, but who knows?

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French Knitting

Posted by Big Boo on May 9th, 2011

French KnittingI’ve never managed to get the hang of knitting. I remember my Mum trying to teach me as a kid and the result was always the same. I’d be able to do it for an hour or so before I got bored, then when I went back to it ages later I had forgotten how to do it again. French Knitting therefore was perfect for me.

I’m not sure quite what made it French, but it certainly was knitting of a sort. You were never going to be able to knit a jumper with French Knitting, but you could make an endless supply of bracelets, coasters and um, worms? The technique also goes by the names of Spool Knitting and Corking.

French Knitting involves using a (usually wooden) cylinder with four nails hammered into one end. It is often referred to as a French Knitting Doll, since the cylinder is quite often shaped and painted to look like a doll. You thread wool through the cylinder and then proceed to loop it in a special way (which I admit I’ve forgotten) around the nails. As you proceed you knit the wool together to form a long thin chain of circular knitting.

I first tried my hand at French Knitting after seeing instructions on how to make a French Knitting Doll in a Ladybird book full of arts and crafts. You could make one out of an old wooden cotton reel and four short nails. Of course, this option is not really practical now given that cotton reels are generally made of flimsy, mostly hollow plastic, but you can buy ready made ones from places such as Stocking Fillers.

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Bobby McFerrin – Don’t Worry Be Happy

Posted by Big Boo on May 6th, 2011

Bobby McFerrin - Don't Worry Be HappyIf you’re looking for a song to cheer you up then a good one to try is the classic Bobby McFerrin song Don’t Worry Be Happy. So popular was it that it has been used in so many films, TV programmes and adverts over the years you can’t fail to have heard it.

It was also used as one of the tracks on that rather dubious fad from the late Nineties, the Big Mouth Billy Bass. But let’s move swiftly on from that shall we…

The song was written and performed solely by McFerrin, and by perform I don’t just mean singing the vocals, but the entire music track. The music is an a cappella track, which if you don’t know means that no musical instruments were used to create it. Instead the entire tune is made up of different layers of Bobby McFerrin making musical sounds with his own voice (you know, dooooo-do-do-do-do, that sort of thing).

The song has a very laid back reggae style to it, with lyrics that illustrate several different problems that might (perhaps) crop up in your normal life, problems which you are then told to get over by just not worrying, and being happy.

Read more…

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Meg and Mog

Posted by Big Boo on May 4th, 2011

Meg and MogI remember my sister getting a copy of Meg and Mog when she was quite young (probably four or five) and it became one of her favourite books for her big brother to read to her, before she could read it herself.

Meg is a witch who dresses in typical witch fashion, with a big black cloak and tall pointy hat, and travels in typical witch fashion on a broomstick. She has the typical witch pet too, a rather scraggy looking black cat called Mog, who accompanies Meg on all her adventures. There’s also an owl, named Owl, who also lives with Meg and Mog, but being the wise bird he is doesn’t always get involved with Meg and Mog’s outings.

In the first book we see Meg and Mog arise from bed on Halloween (in the night of course, she is a witch after all), have their “breakfast” and then set out to meet the rest of Meg’s coven to cast a midnight spell, which sadly ends badly for the other witches, as they all get turned into frogs!

The Meg and Mog series began in the Seventies, but several titles were published in the Eighties and Nineties too. The books were written by Helen Nicoll and illustrated by the hard to pronounce Jan PieÅ„kowski. Meg and Mog are drawn in a very simple cartoon style, with a lot of block colour in the surroundings to make up for the fact that Meg and Mog are drawn in bold black and white throughout, with a splash of yellow for Mog and Owl’s eyes.

There have now been almost twenty Meg and Mog stories released, with a host of other activity books and such like too. In the Eighties Meg and Mog was even turned into a stage play featuring Maureen Lipman as Meg, and later a cartoon series too.

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