Tuesday, 22 December 2015

Book review: The Basic Eight

Daniel Handler is better known as children's author Lemony Snicket, but has also published a few books under his own name. Before the Series of Unfortunate Events came his 1995 debut novel The Basic Eight, whose story is a bit of a high school transposition of The Secret History and Fight Club. It takes the form of a journal by San Francisco high school senior Flannery Culp, who's gone back to re-edit it for publication from the prison cell or mental hospital room she's ended up in a year or so later. So it's made clear from the start that she and the other members of the Basic Eight, a pretentious clique, will end the story with murder, and she even lets us know in advance who the victim will be. The unlikeable, delusional narrator device extends to Flannery pointing out to the reader when she's using literary devices like foreshadowing, dramatic irony and pathetic fallacy, and ending each chapter with a list of discussion topics and useful vocabulary. I found it generally enjoyable, although the plot feels well-trodden and Handler's use of barely-disguised real names for public figures (post-notoriety, Flannery's nemesis is talk show host Winnie Moprah, and she'll be played by actress Rinona Wider in the TV movie) was a bit twee for me.

Wednesday, 9 December 2015

Book review: Career of Evil

Writing under a pseudonym must do wonders for J.K. Rowling's writer's block, because unlike the big gaps we used to get between Harry Potter books, the Cormoran Strike crime novels she writes as Robert Galbraith have been coming out pretty regularly. The series is in part Rowling's way of talking about the weirdness of fame, and where the first two books saw the private detective solve cases involving famous people, in Career of Evil it's his own fame thanks to those cases that kicks everything off: A serial killer with a Blue Öyster Cult fixation has made it very clear he or she has a particular beef with Strike, who thinks his recent appearances in the papers have stirred up someone from his past with a grudge. And since his past was in the military police, he can come up with a decent shortlist of suspects just off the top off his head.

The book opens with Strike's assistant Robin receiving a severed leg as a special delivery, but despite early word being that this was the goriest of the novels so far, I'm not sure it quite overtakes The Silkworm's ritual eviscerations. The creepiest element is probably Robin delving into the world of acrotomophilia, investigating people either attracted to amputees or, particularly in this case, people who want to have their own limbs amputated. Having lost a leg in the Middle East, Strike is unsurprisingly unsympathetic, particularly to a very odd couple they meet during their investigation. Despite a fairly small pool of suspects this is another good mystery with a few red herrings and perilous moments - this being someone happy to kill off dozens of characters in a children's series, you can certainly imagine Rowling wouldn't hesitate to get rid of one of her popular leads in a grisly adult series.

Monday, 7 December 2015

Raven? See, moan.

So after Doctor Who Series 9's only single-part story we go into a concluding three-parter, but a stealth one, a bit like "Utopia" was a stealth way to reintroduce the Master. In this case it's the Time Lords who are reintroduced, and they're grumpy about... something, because the Time Lords are always grumpy about something.

"Face the Raven" / "Heaven Sent" / "Hell Bent" by Sarah Dollard and Steven Moffat, directed by Justin Molotnikov and Rachel Talalay. Spoilers after the cut.

Tuesday, 17 November 2015

Evil dust or something

I've got so used to this series of Doctor Who being made up of two-parters I wasn't really prepared for this week's to be a standalone. I'm still not convinced next week's apparently unrelated episode won't turn out to be some sort of sequel after all.

"Sleep No More" by Mark Gatiss, directed by Justin Molotnikov. Spoilers after the cut.

Monday, 16 November 2015

Book review: Lamentation

C.J. Sansom's Lamentation is the latest Shardlake novel, and as becomes quickly apparent the last one to take place during the reign of Henry VIII - it's obvious to everyone that the king has months left to live at best, but nobody can mention this because to do so is treason. Of course most things seem to be treason, or heresy, in the last year of Henry's life: These books have always really backed up the idea that England has never come closer to Stalinist Russia than during Tudor times, and it's a particularly heavy atmosphere in the sixth book. Having changed the official religion for his own ends, with his death approaching Henry seems to be trying to hone in on what his actual beliefs are. To have any religious beliefs other than the king's is treason, but with no clue what the king's beliefs will be from one day to the next anyone toeing the party line one day could find themselves burned at the stake the next day for espousing the exact same tenets - Shardlake himself is regularly being threatened with a heresy accusation by anyone with the slightest grudge against him.

There's a number of story threads going on but the main one is based around a real-life book written by Queen Catherine Parr, The Lamentation of a Sinner, a proclamation of faith the like of which a lot of people wrote at the time. In reality it was published after Henry's death, in the novel the manuscript has been stolen at a time when its contents could have been used against her. The storyline is interesting but as usual what I most enjoy about the novels is the atmosphere of the time, which at this point has become even more threatening than before.

Monday, 9 November 2015

Zygon and done it again

It's all gone a bit dark again chez Doctor Who, although fortunately nowhere near as dark as the David Tennant Specials a few years back.

"The Zygon Invasion" / "The Zygon Inversion" by Peter Harness and Steven Moffat, directed by Daniel Nettheim. Spoilers after the cut.

Tuesday, 27 October 2015

Arya gonna go my way?

I'm pretty sceptical about this rumour of Maisie Williams as the next Doctor Who companion. Apart from the minor detail that she's got other filming commitments for the foreseeable, most of the time all this speculation gets drummed up and then the new companion is a completely new character. (Jenna Coleman had already been announced as Amy's replacement when Clara made her surprise early appearance.)

"The Girl Who Died" / "The Woman Who Lived" by Jamie Mathieson, Steven Moffat and Catherine Tregenna, directed by Ed Bazalgette. Spoilers after the cut.

Friday, 16 October 2015

Book review: Foxglove Summer

In Ben Aaronovitch's last novel, police constable and apprentice wizard Peter Grant considered himself well out of his comfort zone in having to cross the river and work in South London, but Foxglove Summer sees him leave London completely and investigate the case of two missing schoolgirls in the countryside. He also ends up somewhere even further away for the big finale, and in the process figures out the true nature of The Folly's vampiric housekeeper (it's not what he thinks.) Most of the usual characters stay behind in London so Aaronovitch gets to play around with a new dynamic, with Beverley Brook, the river goddess and Peter's on-off girlfriend, getting a more active role in the story; there's a new gay character whose sexuality is entirely incidental as well, so that's good.

It's one of the more enjoyable stories in the Rivers of London series, although some of the conceits of Aaronovitch's prose are starting to grate on me a bit: I know people are likely to say "me and Beverley" in normal conversation when "Beverley and I" is correct, but using it so much in writing really annoys me, especially when it's such an easy rule to learn. And I do like the way the writer points out, via his mixed-race narrator, how western literature tends to assume a character is white unless told otherwise, and in contrast Peter always describes a new character's race regardless of what it is; but at times he's so obviously making a point it defeats the object, like when Peter walks into a room and it's made clear everyone in it is white, and he then goes on to individually tell us each of the characters is white as well.

But while I'd like the books to have a slightly stricter editor sometimes, I'm still enjoying them for the most part, and the change of location brings a fresh touch to this instalment, while keeping the series' ongoing story on hold, presumably for a big finale in a book or two's time.

Tuesday, 13 October 2015

Fisher Priceless

So it looks like this whole series of Doctor Who is made up of two-parters with matching titles? I approve - a nice throwback to the original series without actually going back to four- and six-part stories that spent the middle bit running around corridors because they ran out of story. And the tenth anniversary of the new series is a good time to go for it. But I can't have read the series preview in the Radio Times that carefully because I totally missed that this was what they were doing.

"Under the Lake" / "Before the Flood" by Toby Whithouse, directed by Daniel O'Hara. Spoilers after the cut.

Tuesday, 29 September 2015

Book review: The Long Mars

Terry Pratchett's final novel has been published, but I'm still a couple of books behind, including the series he co-wrote with Stephen Baxter. To be honest I've never felt that Pratchett had a huge amount of input into the actual writing of the Long Earth novels - I know the idea of parallel worlds that could easily be visited was his, so that could be the only reason his name remains on the books. It makes sense that with Pratchett's failing health while the series was being written, Baxter would do most of the heavy lifting, and there's never been much hint of Pratchett's style in them - either in terms of humour or of story. Instead the books seem primarily concerned with creating a universe based on the initial conceit, rather than having particularly involved stories take place in it. So as the name suggests, the third book The Long Mars expands that further to include a trip across the various versions of Mars. But these don't run parallel to the Long Earth, instead stretching out into yet another different series of alternate universes. As usual there's also various storylines going on across the Earths as well, including the rise of a possible new evolution of humans. With the series nearly over I might as well continue to the end (although I guess Baxter could keep going on his own, in which case I'll bail out) but this sweeping look across the whole of a new universe doesn't really leave much room for the kind of story development I was hoping for.

Monday, 28 September 2015

Your face looks Familiar

Everyone got - rightly - excited about Michelle Gomez returning so quickly to Doctor Who, Missy's "death" hand-waved away as promised, but there was another returning name I was excited about: Beautiful Thing director Hettie Macdonald also came back for the opening two-parter. Given her only previous episode was "Blink," you'd think it would have been commented on more.

"The Magician's Apprentice"/" The Witch's Familiar" by Steven Moffat, directed by Hettie Macdonald. Spoilers after the cut.

Wednesday, 9 September 2015

Book review: Revival

As with the murder mysteries that dominated my early teens, my reading nowadays rarely revisits the horror novels that I loved in my late teens. So it's many years since I last read one by the biggest name in the genre, Stephen King. I only even downloaded Revival - one of three new books King published in 2014, so I guess he's as prolific as ever  - when there was a cheap kindle deal for it, and I figured I'd get a good week or two's worth of commuting reading matter for a couple of quid. And that's true enough; King's not exactly known for being concise and Revival is a rambling story that only really starts to build to its point about 80% through. The narrator is a rock guitarist who's spent a lifetime playing in small bands. Every few years he also bumps into Pastor Jacobs, a figure from his childhood. When he lost his family in a car crash Jacobs also lost his faith, but later in life he cynically starts a moneymaking career as a healing preacher with a revival ministry. The cures he carries out are real, but they're part of a mysterious lifelong experiment, and for some there's frightening side effects. After such a long buildup the revelation at the end of the story is something of an inevitable anti-climax; I might have felt differently if I had been reading other King books all these years and was tired of his rambling style, but as it is even if the destination was on the disappointing side, I enjoyed the journey.

Tuesday, 25 August 2015

Book review: Who is Tom Ditto?

Danny Wallace is best known for non-fiction books in which he takes on high-concept challenges; this venture into fiction also has a bit of a high-concept edge, as the lead character of Who is Tom Ditto discovers a subculture of people who literally follow and mimic strangers to try out their lives for size. Tom is a radio newsreader whose girlfriend disappears, leaving a cryptic note, and in the middle of trying to figure out what's happened to her he also has a number of high-profile mishaps at work. In the process he discovers that his girlfriend was part of this subculture of stalking and copying, and that he never really knew that much about who she really was. Enjoyable enough with a couple of good comic setpieces but it's not one that's likely to stick in my mind for long.

Sunday, 9 August 2015

Book review: King of Hell

The seventh book in Christopher Golden's "Shadow Saga" series is also the final one; of course the third book was meant to be the last one as well and Peter Octavian still came back so you never know. After a sixth volume that didn't do much for me this conclusion is a lot better, as Peter travels across dimensions to free the friends who got trapped in Hell in previous installments, and in the process finds out who the titular King of Hell is.

Golden's been writing fantasy and horror novels for decades, and the twist here is that he uses the conceit of multiple universes to mix together every other novel or series he's ever created, each having taken place in a different dimension that Octavian and his newest companions go through. A couple of them become quite central to the plot, like characters from Soulless, his zombie uprising novel from a few years ago, and there's major players from one of his series that I haven't read, the "Menagerie" books; while others are more fleeting, like a tongue-in-cheek reference to his early novel Strangewood. It probably doesn't matter if you don't know any of the other series, although this being the last in the Shadow Saga it'd be a bit silly to read it without having read the previous six. I enjoyed this one more than the last couple but I think it's probably the right time to leave this particular universe be.

Thursday, 30 July 2015

Book review: The Bones Beneath

First order of business after clearing the pile of Song of Ice and Fire books was to catch up with Mark Billingham, and a look on Amazon shows that the 12th Thorne novel hasn't been popular with everybody. I guess people's complaints that there's not much action are technically accurate, but that's not how it felt to me reading it. The Bones Beneath goes back to Stuart Nicklin, the killer from one of the earliest Tom Thorne novels, a psychopath with a particular talent for getting others to do his dirty work for him. He reveals that one of his first-ever murders took place on a remote Welsh island when he was a teenager, and he's willing to take the police to the body. He obviously has an ulterior motive but Thorne knows Nicklin will be able to attract bad publicity to the police if they refuse to find the bones for the sake of the victim's family, so they're stuck with taking the prisoner on an extended trip.

Cutaway chapters reveal early on that Nicklin's accomplices have a captive somewhere, and it's true that I did figure out early on who that would turn out to be, but I still thought this was an effective thriller: The fact that so little happens until near the very end means there's a horrible tension as we wait to find out what the real plan is. Definitely something of a format-breaker which obviously hasn't been a hit with everyone, but for me The Bones Beneath worked.

Monday, 20 July 2015

Book review: A Dance with Dragons II: After the Feast

It's taken me nine months - admittedly including taking breaks to read things that aren't A Song of Ice and Fire - but I've finally got to the end of the 5 volumes published so far. I did kind of expect George R.R. Martin to announce that The Winds of Winter would suddenly be available today and I'd be behind again, but I'm all caught up now with the second half of A Dance with Dragons. I can certainly see why people complain about the action stalling quite a lot, and by this stage there's too many characters to keep track of some of the time, but there are some significant developments going on. Although there's still two novels to go, finally the Epilogue of After the Feast has a bit of a twist with the return of a major character who's been gone for a long time, and which suggests that the story is getting ready to start wrapping itself up - although in a typically messy way, I'm sure.

I've still been enjoying the ride, or I wouldn't have read all the books more or less continuously, but I'm looking forward to getting back to reading something different as well.

Saturday, 18 July 2015

Alumni day

I kept waking up in the night so remembering bits of dreams; I dreamt that I'd gone back to Exeter to visit my old university drama department. The current students included a middle-aged Italian woman who was accompanied everywhere by several elderly nuns; she also spoke no English so took a male interpreter with her everywhere, including to the toilet. There were also two Quidditch teams, one of which all had dyed purple hair and carried broomsticks, the other were all blind. I turned to whoever I was there with* and said "the current students aren't as good as our year, our eccentricities were nowhere near as contrived."

*I always seem to have someone to talk to in dreams but no idea who it is, so it might just be me doing a Miranda turn to camera.

Thursday, 2 July 2015

Potter Spotter

It's been far too hot lately to try and do anything sensible, so I'm doing this instead: I last made a list of all the Harry Potter actors I'd seen on stage two years ago, and now seems a good time to update it, what with the news of Harry Potter and the Cursed Child coming to London next year. That'll properly bring the worlds of Potter and theatre together, but in the meantime this is my version. Weez, revstan and trpw all have their own lists.

We're using the Wikipedia cast list, which also includes actors whose entire performance ended up on the cutting room floor, which means Jamie Campbell Bower's young Grindewald has now joined Toby Regbo's young Dumbledore; sadly the similarly-deleted Peeves will not be joining them as Rik Mayall has died.

I've added 12 more names to the list since 2013, and I've highlighted them in blue. There's bound to be performances I've missed but from the ones I've found or remembered, Harry Melling seems to be the Potter actor I've seen in the most different shows. Given that some of the actors on this list I first saw more than twenty years ago, it shows you just how much stage work Melling, whom I only first "collected" in 2009, has done. Kathryn Hunter is close behind him, and although her stage career has been a lot longer I've only been following it for a similar period of time, and have Potter to thank for introducing me to one of my all-time favourite actors.

I've linked to my reviews of the shows where possible; any title that isn't a link means it's from before I started reviewing online.

Tuesday, 30 June 2015

Book review: A Dance with Dragons I: Dreams and Dust

Well I've been reading them on and off since last October but I'm now almost up to date with George R.R. Martin's A Song of Fire and Ice books, at least those published so far. But not quite, as A Dance with Dragons is another one of those so long it had to be split into two parts. Reading them more or less continuously has meant individual installments haven't always stood out, and I do sometimes wish the story would move on a bit quicker. But Dreams and Dust does have one interesting development in that Melisandre has become a POV character; there's only been one chapter from her perspective so far but it's a bit of a twist to have one of the most mysterious and scary characters become the nearest thing to a narrator the books have. Already we see a bit more insecurity from her once we're in her head, but there'll need to be a lot more twists in the rest of the story if I'm going to sympathise with her. After all, she's still a religious loony whose default response to any problem is "let's burn someone alive!"

Sunday, 31 May 2015

Book review: Mrs Danby and Company

Like Paul Magrs' other novel series featuring Brenda and Effie or Iris Wildthyme, Mrs Danby and Company - which also has the feel of the first in a series - takes its characters or situations from classic stories by other writers then gives them a different twist. This time three characters who seem rather familiar from Victorian adventure stories are thrown together a few years after their biggest triumphs, on a journey to New York in the early years of the 20th century: It's not hard to see who Mrs Danby, former housekeeper to a great detective, or vampire killer Abraham van Halfling could be based on, while Professor Zarathustra is every Jules Verne character in one. After an adventure on a sinking ocean liner and a voyage to an underwater city (including battle with the inevitable giant squid) the trio arrive to both unexpected celebrity, and more vampires in New York. In the usual crossover with his other series we get a brief insight into what all the fuss about Sheila Manchu's husband Mumu was, as he sends the characters into even more peril through a series of magical doors. It doesn't quite have the campness of Magrs' other series but the fun touch in Mrs Danby and Company is that the narration switches between the three lead characters, giving us a view into how differently they all view their situations, and especially each other - the unstoppably arrogant Zarathustra unable to take a honking great hint about what the other two really think of his self-proclaimed greatness. It's a fun and funny bit of steampunk but it does seem as if Magrs keeps kicking similar off new series about adventurous old ladies rather than focusing on one.

Tuesday, 26 May 2015

Ad break for sociopaths

Been a while since I blogged a dream but I nodded off a little while ago and ended up with a two-parter, both parts set in a dark conference centre with maze-like corridors. To start with I was there for a job interview, but after six hours of waiting it was announced that the interviewers had seen the minimum amount of people they had to so would be packing up now - there followed a frenzy of people in suits, the interviewers, trying to get out, clearing all their things and locking up behind them. I realised I'd left my bag behind, and needed to shoulder my way into the doors to get them to unlock them and let me back in.

I managed to find my bag but on the way out, although the location was the same, now I was starring in a TV advert for a hit-man service, playing the victim. A doorbell rang and I walked through a number of corridors to answer it, while a calm American woman's voice narrated "Problems with your staff? Osama & Papa Enterprises can help. This worker made jokes at work and reduced productivity." As I went through one corridor, I saw a waitress with a trolley of tinned food, all with cheap-looking labels that said "Osama & Papa Enterpises," she said to me "New supplier!" I kept going to the door where another waitress was waiting, but woke up before I found out whether she was the one who was going to kill me, or if the tins of food were poisoned or a bomb.

Monday, 11 May 2015

Book review: Trigger Warning

The third of Neil Gaiman's short story collections, Trigger Warning includes a couple of novellas set in existing fantasy universes - there's a Doctor Who story, "Nothing O'Clock," set during Eleven's first season, which comes up with some new monsters whose entire existence is based on screwing with time, so it's a satisfying little addition to the Doctor Who canon; and the finale is an enjoyable American Gods sequel, "Black Dog," with some creepy moments. Of the rest of the stories as usual I wasn't a fan of most of the poetry, and a number of the short stories did very little for me, but there's a few very strong ones in there as well: A Sherlock Holmes story, "The Case of Death and Honey," wonders why a character so easily bored chose beekeeping as his retirement pastime, and comes up with a bit of a wild answer; a pair of stories, "Observing the Formalities" and "The Sleeper and the Spindle," give different twists to the Sleeping Beauty fairytale; "The Return of the Thin White Duke" is an origin story for how David Bowie came to Earth; "The Thing About Cassandra" would make you a bit concerned if you ever had an imaginary friend. The most old-fashioned spooky tale is "Click-Clack the Rattlebag," but the one I found creepiest, and probably the one most worthy of an actual trigger warning, was "Feminine Endings." What's maybe even creepier is that in his introduction he says this is the story he wrote for his wife when he first met her.

Thursday, 7 May 2015

Book review: The Silkworm

After The Cuckoo's Calling, the second "Robert Galbraith" novel is The Silkworm. J.K. Rowling has said that one of her ideas behind writing this series of crime novels was to do stories about fame - hence a detective whose father was a famous rock star, which brings him a lot of celebrity clients but also unwanted attention. This time she really goes for her specialist subject as Cormoran Strike is hired to find a missing author, so the pool of suspects and witnesses is drawn from the publishing world. Strike's assistant Robin gets increasingly caught up in the action, and the book gets a running subplot of her enthusiasm for her new job getting in the way of her relationship with her fiancé. I enjoyed the first novel but thought this was better - there were a couple of gasp-out-loud moments, and a major clue nicely disguised as a character note.

Tuesday, 7 April 2015

Book review: A Feast for Crows

Now this is just a wild stab in the dark here, but I think George R.R. Martin might have a thing for women with big dark nipples.

I wonder if the "generic landscape" covers for A Song of Ice and Fire have gone down like a cup of cold sick because I was browsing in Waterstones the other day and they all seemed to have vanished, with the old covers back. At least using the Giant's Causeway for A Feast for Crows is on-theme for the book, as a lot of it starts to concentrate on what's going at the Iron Islands.

As well as this shift of focus this is a particularly female-led instalment, with only two main male point-of-view characters (Jaime and Samwell) and the women really starting to take power for themselves - Cersei doing so increasingly dementedly, which is always fun. And there's a lot of Brienne of Tarth, so I was always going to like this one.

As I understand it the next season of the TV show will mix this book and the following one, but as that's another two-volume mammoth (as well as being the last of the books so far published) I'm going to take another break for something a bit different before tackling A Dance With Dragons.

Wednesday, 18 March 2015

Twitaceous Era 53: 21st century urchin

This week on my Twitter feed, that accent is apparently called "Multicultural London."

You know the accent Harry Melling does in peddling? What do you reckon actors call that on their Spotlight page?
10:46 AM - 11 Mar 2015
@Weez I'm basically asking what the Charmian Hoare-approved, non-offensive term for "chavvy accent" is.
11:03 AM - 11 Mar 2015
@Weez "21st century urchin."
11:06 AM - 11 Mar 2015

Wednesday, 11 March 2015

Twitaceous Era 52: Like in Tom & Jerry

This week on my Twitter feed: Some kind of mouse caper.

Pffft, he's not even wearing his pants over his trousers #intervaltweets #RalphAndSuperRalph
8:42 PM - 4 Mar 2015

Turns out what my life was missing was a Japanese cover of Shake It Off #intervaltweets
8:32 PM - 6 Mar 2015

"Sorry Ben, but I don't date men whose eyebrows are more tweezed than mine" #reveeeeenge
8:39 PM - 7 Mar 2015

Wednesday, 4 March 2015

Twitaceous Era 51: Am I in the queue now?

This week on my Twitter feed there were some particularly starry sleb spots, while Coveney's articles featured a particularly heavy dose of insanity.

Weirdly specific typecasting #2759056: Oliver Coopersmith, gay Jewish schoolboys #straightthroughnointervaltweets
9:34 PM - 25 Feb 2015

BREAKING: Madonna to star in remake of A Cream Cracker Under The Settee.
11:02 PM - 25 Feb 2015

I don't even know where to start on Coveney's "the lost art of disability acting" comment, so I'll just assume he's trolling.
12:25 PM - 26 Feb 2015

Sunday, 1 March 2015

Book review: A Storm of Swords II: Blood and Gold

As I suspected when I read the first volume, A Storm of Swords volume II, Blood and Gold, does indeed contain a lot more action, including both the red and purple weddings. As someone who started with the Game of Thrones TV series first and then went back to the books, what's most exciting here for me is getting to parts that haven't turned up on TV yet. I'm ploughing straight on with the next one now, the only worrying thing being that I've been getting through these books a lot quicker than I expected, and there's only two more published novels (albeit another one of those is so long as to have been split into two volumes) left. Then I have to join everyone else who's grumbling to George R. R. Martin to get books 6 and 7 finished.

Wednesday, 25 February 2015

Twitaceous Era 50: Ooh, haze effects!

This week I was ill so my Twitter feed is likely to make even less sense than usual.

Pearce Brosnan thinks Idris Elba should be James Bond. Or Colin Salmon. Or Daniel Craig. He doesn't care, stop asking him about James Bond.
8:19 AM - 18 Feb 2015

The people who can answer any question except the one they've been asked are out in force today.
3:46 PM - 18 Feb 2015

Last night's fever was so bad my legs stopped working. Scary. But slightly like a fairground ride.
12:12 PM - 19 Feb 2015

Wednesday, 18 February 2015

Twitaceous Era 49: The wrong sort of terrible

This week on my Twitter feed I end up at some bad theatre I should have been able to avoid.

Things my followers might care about slightly: Simon Darwen's in The Armour at the Langham Hotel. (Also Finty Williams and Hannah Spearmint)
Retweet 1
2:48 PM - 11 Feb 2015

Appalled at man on train in lipstick, rouge and blue eye shadow. I mean, blue eye shadow? In 2015?
Favorites 2
6:46 PM - 11 Feb 2015

If this show's the wrong sort of terrible I'm blaming @OughtToBeClowns for saying I shouldn't skip it.
Retweet 1 Favorite 1
7:24 PM - 11 Feb 2015

Wednesday, 11 February 2015

Twitaceous Era 48: Most sharks jumped

This week let's call my Twitter feed "minimalist" or something, rather than admit I have nothing to say.

I've just noticed that Gemma Whelan's wearing a shirt with butterflies on it in the Radiant Vermin poster #RidleyMemes
Favorite 1
1:58 PM - 4 Feb 2015

Slept for 15 hours. I might be turning into a cat. Which would make me allergic to myself.
11:29 AM - 7 Feb 2015

Is Supernatural trying for some kind of "most sharks jumped" record? Why yes, I have just watched the one with the talking dog.
6:44 PM - 8 Feb 2015

Monday, 9 February 2015

Book review: A Storm of Swords I: Steel and Snow

After a break I'm back to George R.R. Martin's A Song of Ice and Fire series, hoping to get ahead of the Game of Thrones TV series. I've still got a way to go though, and the third novel A Storm of Swords is the first that was so long it got split into two volumes. The first half, Steel and Snow, comes in the wake of all the big battles at the end of A Clash of Kings, so rather than a huge amount of action there's a lot of politics and scheming. So I can see why the TV series didn't follow the same order but personally I enjoy reading about intrigues more than I do descriptions of action sequences, so I really liked this installment. I'm going straight on to the second half for the consequences of everything set up in this one.

Wednesday, 4 February 2015

Twitaceous Era 47: Paging Dr Morissette

This week on my Twitter feed, I'm feeling a bit sleepy.

Today I found out that the Council workers call the head office the Death Star. Which is fair enough.
6:45 PM - 28 Jan 2015

Theatres! Best avoid giving a character the line "it's so boring!" unless you're DAMN SURE the audience don't feel the same way.
Retweet 1 Favorite 1
11:06 PM - 28 Jan 2015
It's especially awkward when you say it just as @OughtToBeClowns is leaning over to look at my watch.
Favorite 1
11:08 PM - 28 Jan 2015

Wednesday, 28 January 2015

Twitaceous Era 46: "I take it to be music."

This week on my Twitter feed I am outraged at Hollywood stars being divas.

@webcowgirl Theatre peeps seem to be terribly touchy at the moment about being told they're anything less than perfect.
10:49 AM - 21 Jan 2015

Nice to see Indhu Rubasingham in Rufus' first season.
11:32 AM - 21 Jan 2015

I knew the Old Vic couldn't stay dark that long - Kev Stands In A Circle And Talks A Bit is coming back.
12:46 PM - 21 Jan 2015

Wednesday, 21 January 2015

Book review: The Boys from Brazil

The last of the classic Ira Levin books I got on a cheap kindle deal some while ago, The Boys from Brazil is another enjoyable thriller, that also serves as a sort of wish-fulfilment as it sees an elderly Nazi-hunter go after the Nazis' sadistic doctor, Josef Mengele (who in real life died before he could be captured.) It sees a mysterious plot hatched in Brazil to send assassins around the world to kill seemingly insignificant men, which will in ways not initially apparent ensure the rise of a Fourth Reich. Only a handful of people even believe in the plot's existence, but as the men do indeed start dying in "accidents" on the exact dates predicted, plans are uncovered that must make it one of the first thrillers to use cloning as a plot point. Though playing on one of the biggest fears of the 20th century it does it through an entertaining story.

Twitaceous Era 45: #friendsofNick

This week on my Twitter feed, a fan's turned on, and some shit hits it.

By all means, kiss your teeth at me when I say you've come to the wrong department, that will magically make it the right one.
10:58 AM - 15 Jan 2015

Imagine being barred from a theatre because they didn't like your reviews though.
Favorites 3
2:36 PM - 15 Jan 2015
@Weez Well they've just screamed down the phone at me WE KNOW WHAT YOU LOOK LIKE! WE KNOW WHAT YOUR FRIENDS LOOK LIKE!
Favorite 1
2:40 PM - 15 Jan 2015

Wednesday, 14 January 2015

Twitaceous Era 44: A failed experiment

This week on my Twitter feed, one of my tweets ends up in Metro. But nobody notices. Because it's Metro.

This summer's Swansemble:
11:17 AM - 7 Jan 2015

I look forward to seeing them try to pull off "complex Machiavellian protagonist" rather than "jaw-droppingly offensive Jewish stereotype."
11:19 AM - 7 Jan 2015

"Pop stars are awful," says awful pop star.
1:13 PM - 7 Jan 2015

Wednesday, 7 January 2015

Twitaceous Era 43: Queenie And Duckface Sass Each Other

This week on my Twitter feed, I watch TV and talk about it, because it's the tail end of the Christmas holidays, what else is there to do? Also, any negative thoughts in the direction of James Corden seem to go down quite well.

"Oh come on, 2014 wasn't as bad as everyone's sayi... What? James Corden OBE? Damn you 2014!"
10:44 AM - 31 Dec 2014

I hope we get another series of Queenie And Duckface Sass Each Other #mappandlucia
9:59 PM - 31 Dec 2014

I've had this cold for a week, this morning I woke up around 5am unable to breathe. Happy New Year! 🎆
12:00 PM - 1 Jan 2015

Sunday, 4 January 2015

Book review: Thorne at Christmas

I didn't get much reading done over Christmas, not having got round to picking a ghost story like I usually do. Instead I read a Mark Billingham ebook of two short stories, Thorne at Christmas. Actually of the pair, only "Underneath the Mistletoe Last Night" really lives up to the collection's title, Thorne investigating a murder under a Christmas tree. The slightly longer second story, "Stepping Up," is a first-person narration by an ageing ex-boxer who finds that old instincts die hard. It's just a very short collection but made for a nicely sour antidote to Christmas cheer.

Thursday, 1 January 2015

Santa Clawed

I know I've grumbled a lot about the last few series of Doctor Who, but even I think some people must be automatically programmed to complain about it, given the stream of insults I saw hurled at "Last Christmas" on Twitter the minute it ended - I actually thought it was one of the best Christmas specials in ages. Of course, one of my friends turns out to have some kind of notoriety among Whovians, as the person who more or less invented complaining about Doctor Who in the 1970s, so perhaps it was inevitable I'd hear grumbling.

"Last Christmas" by Steven Moffat, directed by Paul Wilmshurst. Spoilers after the cut.