An amusement park located in Lake George, NY. Recently upgraded to a six flags theme park, but with exception to the water park, is only really about a three and a half flags park (IMHO).

Rides of interest include the Superman ride, The Comet, the Raging River and the entire water park.

There are a number of classic movies about World War Two - must see movies. Recently there have been Saving Private Ryan and Schindler's List, and from further back Von Ryan's Express, Kelly's Heroes, Ice Cold in Alex, The Dambusters, Battle of Britain, This Happy Breed, Casablanca, A Matter of Life and Death and Bridge over the River Kwai. And, as much as any of these, The Great Escape is a classic.

Made in 1963, and based on a true story of a mass breakout from a notoriously harsh Nazi prisoner of war camp, The Great Escape follows the escape plans and subsequent bid for freedom of a mixed bunch of Allied Prisoners of War. The troops, transferred to the supposedly escape proof camp because of their history of escape attempts, are all committed to causing the greatest possible disruption to the Nazi war effort, and to this end Squadron Leader "Big X" Bartlett (Richard Attenborough) plans an ambitious escape bid designed to keep as many Nazis as possible tied up in searching for escapees, rather than fighting on the front line.

The first half of the film has a comedic feel as it deals with the preparations for the escape, in which master tunneller Danny Velinski (Charles Bronson) co-ordinates the building of three separate tunnels as routes out of the camp, while various prisoners cart the moved earth away in their trousers, dispersing it around the camp gardens. Other prisoners work on the logistics of getting the POWs across Europe, to England and other neutral countries - Donald Pleasance "The Forger" manufacturing papers, and another sewing clothes for them to wear to blend into their surroundings. In the meantime, American Virgil Hilts (Steve McQueen) makes attempt after attempt to break free, antagonising - and distracting - the German guards, and ending up in solitary confinement, bouncing a ball off of the wall, earning himself the name "The Cooler King" (Oh, for anyone who hasn't realised, Chicken Run is a homage to this movie.)

The second half of the film is darker, following the escapees' attempts to evade recapture, and the German Gestapo's massive efforts to hunt them down. Not all make it, and a mass execution of some of the heroes brings home the actualities of the risk they took in making the attempt, rather than being content to wait out the war as prisoners. The final climactic scene shows Hilts, closely pursued , attempting to leap the barbed wire at the Swiss border on a motorcycle. He fails, and the last time we see him he is being taken back, once again, to the Cooler.

The pace never flags, the direction is superb, the cast is stellar, and the performances all but flawless (if you make allowances for James Coburn's less than perfect Australian accent). However, in the end, what you will remember about The Great Escape is Steve McQueen. He is the focal point, the epitome of cool defiance. I guarantee, no matter how often you watch the movie, you will be on the edge of your seat at the end, rooting for him to make that jump.

Cast from IMDB

Blur
The Great Escape


Label: Food/EMI
Released: September 1995
Cat No.: FOODCD14

Info in this writeup refers to the UK CD release of the album

Blur's The Great Escape is the last of three albums that make up a distinctive trilogy, the band's 'Life' albums (it is rumoured that The Great Escape was going to be called 'Sex Life'). Different in songwriting style from the band's debut and later albums, all three contain songs about characters of Albarn's creation, sometimes adopting a sneering tone that annoys some. If Modern Life Is Rubbish was the precursor to the enormous success Blur finally enjoyed with Parklife, then The Great Escape was a winding down from their Britpop era, this time with a darker, more angst ridden tone. After this their music went in a slightly different direction, abandoning the characteristically Britpop concept album for a rockier American influenced sound - Coxon's rock over James' quirky art school pop.

With The Great Escape, Albarn was attempting perhaps to repeat the formula of the last album, but unlike Parklife the characters are not chirpy cockneys but bland and troubled yuppies who escape their lives with prozac, alcohol, and sexual perversions. The best known song on the album must be Country House, a catchy anthem which beat Oasis to the number one spot amid great media hyped rivalry between the bands. Other highlight tracks include The Universal, which includes some tacky but nonetheless rather nice strings while Albarn tells of some kind of Huxleyesque drug of the future upon which in his imagined reality we are all dependant. Charmless Man, another highlight, is the story of a dull suit who corners the songwriter in a bar and bores him with boasts of influence and money, despite the fact it hasn't bought him any friends - a near identical character to those in Globe Alone, Topman and Mr Robinson's Quango. Dan Abnormal, meanwhile, is about a degenerate teenager who spends too much of his time playing computer games - another favourite theme of Blur's. The surprise this time, is that the eponymous delinquent is none other than Damon Albarn himself, as we discover at the end (or sooner if you try rearranging the letters of the song name). Also check out the track Ernold Same, for the novelty of hearing Ken Livingstone perform the vocals.

For a long time this was my all-time favourite album by any artist, but if you aren't a moody and too-clever-by-half teenager I can see its tone becoming irritating, and it never quite gained the popularity of Parklife, losing out to the Oasis classic Morning Glory. Nonetheless, The Great Escape is an essential for anyone boasting a respectable collection of 90s British indie pop.


Track Listing

1. Stereotypes
2. Country House
3. Best Days
4. Charmless Man
5. Fade Away
6. Topman
7. The Universal
8. Mr Robinson's Quango
9. He Thought of Cars
10. It Could Be You
11. Ernold Same
12. Globe Alone
13. Dan Abnormal
14. Entertain Me
15. Yuko and Hiro


Singles taken from the album
in order of release

Country House - CDFOOD(S) 63. The one that everyone likes. CD1 featured the live version, plus live versions of Girls & Boys, Parklife and For Tomorrow. CD2 featured the regular version, as well as a song called One Born Every Minute and a new version of To The End. There was also a cassette version.

The Universal - CDFOOD(S) 69. Again on two CDs and cassette, the first cd included Entertain Me (The Live It! Remix) and two previously unheard tracks - Ultranol (a chirpy song about yet another fictitious drug-of-the-future) and No Monsters In Me. CD2 was all live versions - Mr Robinson's Quango, It Could Be You and Stereotypes as well as the title track.

Stereotypes - CDFOOD 73. The CD single is worth having for the very nice mellow B-sides - The Man Who Left Himself, Tame, and Ludwig. Also check out the humorous sleeve.

Charmless Man - CDFOOD 77. The final single taken from the album, this included three so-so B-sides - The Horrors, A Song and St. Louis.

It Could Be You was also released as a single, but only in Japan, where more singles are demanded. I have seen it several times available in the UK as an import.

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