About Me: Five Favourite Albums

I’ve been writing this blog seriously for almost a year now, so maybe its time we got to know each other a little better. Here is a look into the twisted world of my musical tastes with a showing of five of the best albums that I have come across in my nearly three decades of existence.

Bruce Dickinson- Tyranny of Souls 

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Iron Maiden were one of the first real bands that I ever got into but for me the stand out was always the lead singer Bruce Dickinson. And the first I heard of Mr Dickinson’s solo career was the song Abduction, from the above album, which I actually at first mistook to be an Iron Maiden song. But when I listened to the Album, it is one of the few that I always have to listen to from start to finish.

The Rat Pack- Live and Dangerous 

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Frank Sinatra, Sammy Davis JR and to a lesser extent Dean Martin are all fantastic singers. But even more so they are all fantastic performers, and on the album Live and Dangerous, you are treated to two live shows, one from the Sands Hotel in 1963 and another Hosted by Johnny Carson from St Louis. And you really see, or rather hear, what The Rat Pack were really all about, a group of friends having a laugh and having a good time, and doing it in style.

Roger Waters- The Pro’s and Cons of Hitchhiking 

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Roger Waters will be remembered as the experimental one from Pink Floyd. And the Pros and Cons of Hitchhiking is just that, an experimental concept album with a lot of balls. It takes the moody introspectiveness of the Wall and then shoves a rocket up its arse, then lights the fucker before bringing it all to a close.

Nightwish- Once 

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I’d just finished school at the tender age of 16, and I’d never really strayed beyond what was on Kerrang (music TV channel in the early 21st century) although I did like classical music and even a bit of opera by this point as well. So you can imagine how my mind was blown by this melding of an operatic soprano and fast Finnish power metal. This was the last studio album to feature the vocalist Tarja Turunen before her departure and I do feel that the band has suffered massively since her dismissal.

Raoul Jobin- I Pagliacci 

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This is a live performance of my favourite opera and it is one that I still will listen to regularly from start to finish. Whilst the recording quality isn’t the best, you still get to hear the immortal Raoul Jobin playing the original sad clown.

Book Review: A Princess Of Mars

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A little while ago I came up with a list of books that I wanted to read before the time I become ancient (30) first on the list was A Princess of Mars by Edgar Rice Burroughs, a prolific American writer most well know as the creator of Tarzan. A princess of Mars is the first novel to feature his second most well known creation John Carter of Mars.

The novel itself is fairly short and is a prime example of the general pulp science fiction that was popularised in early twentieth century America and without giving away the plot does stick rather closely to the formula for pulp, of man from Earth winds up on alien planet, fights and then joins with the natives, rescues a princess and then saves the day. As an early example of the sort of pulp (originally serialised in 1912) that was floating about the market place in those days you can forgive it for seeming a little done to death over 100 years later, because you realise it was one of the first to do it.

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The writing style feels a little disjointed as it is written in the form of memoir, so Edgar Rice Burroughs has written it in the manner of memoir penned by Captain John Carter, who has a tendency to go off on tangents mid explanation, which does spoil the narrative, however I feel this may have been a conscious choice by Burroughs, as it lends a certain verisimilitude to the work, and it shows that only a really great writer would be able to write from the point of view of an amateur, that is to say terrible, writer.

My only main criticism is that whilst the world of Barsoom is a rich and vibrant world the secondary characters ring a little flat, and whilst the protagonist and his circle are explored the villains of the piece such as Tal Hajus and Sarkoja are lacking in any real depth and seem to be there mainly as plot accelerators more than as real characters.

Overall it was an enjoyable distraction I would give it a 3.5 out of 5 and pick up some the other books that make up the Barsoom series to find out the fates of Deja Thoris and John Carter of Mars.

Look out for more reviews coming soon. 

30 Before Thirty (Comics & Graphic Novels)

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I’m going to be thirty in just over 2 years and at this moment in time I’m OK with that (how I feel about it in 10 minuets is up for debate) but one of the things that I realised is that there are a fair few things I still want to accomplish whilst the career and social goals are somewhat out of my control things like films I want to see, albums I want to listen to and books I want to read are very much in my control, especially as I have 25 months to accomplish it. Here is a list of the Comics and Graphic Novels that I would like to have read by the time I’m thirty.

Grant Morrison’s 18 Days

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Camelot 3000

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Miracle Man: A Dream Of Flying

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All Star Superman 

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Preacher: Gone To Texas

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The Crow

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Sandman Preludes and Nocturnes

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Alan Moore’s: Saga of The Swamp Thing

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Marvel 1602

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Saga: Volume 1

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 The Order: Die Mensch Machine

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The Complete Scarlet Traces 

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Button Man

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Ronin 

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Superman: Whatever Happened To The Man Of Tomorrow 

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The Infinity Gauntlet 

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Amazing Spider-man: Kravens Last Hunt

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Promethea Book 1 

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Jack Kirby’s Fourth World Omnibus 

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Multiversity 

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Son Of Superman 

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Hellblazer: Original Sins 

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The Authority: Relentless 

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Hellboy: Seed Of Destruction 

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Doctor Who: Emperor Of The Daleks

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Death: The High Cost Of Living  

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JSA The Liberty Files 

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Alice In Sunderland 

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Daredevil Yellow

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The Tragical Comedy or Comical Tragedy of Mr. Punch

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How many of these do you think I’ll get done before July 21st 2019?

30 Before I’m Thirty (Films)

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I’m going to be thirty in just over 2 years and at this moment in time I’m OK with that (how I feel about it in 10 minuets is up for debate) but one of the things that I realised is that there are a fair few things I still want to accomplish whilst the career and social goals are somewhat out of my control things like films I want to see, albums I want to listen to and books I want to read are very much in my control, especially as I have 25 months to accomplish it. Here is a list of the films that I would like to have read by the time I’m thirty.

How Green Was My Valley 

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Gentleman’s Agreement

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From Here to Eternity

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Gone With The Wind

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Cat On A Hot Tin Roof

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West Side Story

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Lawrence of Arabia

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Who’s Afraid of Virginia Wolf

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Guess Who’s Coming To Dinner

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Funny Girl

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Fiddler On The Roof

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All The Presidents Men

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Milk

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Kramer Vs Kramer

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Terms of Endearment 

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The Cider House Rules

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An Education

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The Wolf Of Wall Street

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Guardians of the Galaxy 2

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Moonrise Kingdom

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Saving Private Ryan

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Going In Style 

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Wall Street

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King Ralph

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Planes Trains and Automobiles

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O Brother, Where Art Thou?

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The Monuments Men

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Good Will Hunting

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Good Morning Vietnam 

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This Is Spinal Tap

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How many of these do you think I’ll get done before July 21st 2019?

30 Before I’m Thirty (Books)

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I’m going to be thirty in just over 2 years and at this moment in time I’m OK with that (how I feel about it in 10 minuets is up for debate) but one of the things that I realised is that there are a fair few things I still want to accomplish whilst the career and social goals are somewhat out of my control things like films I want to see, albums I want to listen to and books I want to read are very much in my control, especially as I have 25 months to accomplish it. Here is a list of the books that I would like to have read by the time I’m thirty.

A Princess of Mars- Edgar Rice Burroughs 

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War and Peace- Leo Tolstoy 

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Ulysses- James Joyce 

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The Iliad- Homer

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Journey To The Centre of the Earth- Jules Verne 

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Frank Sinatra Has A Cold- Gay Talese 

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Three Men In A Boat (To Say Nothing Of The Dog)- Jerome K Jerome

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The Time Machine- H.G Wells

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Lolita- Vladimir Nabokov

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Animal Farm- George Orwell

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The Last Of The Mohicans – James Fenimore Cooper

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The Man Who Would Be King- Rudyard Kipling 

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Treasure Island- Robert Louis Stevenson 

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Stardust- Neil Gaiman

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A Connecticut Yankee In King Arthur’s Court- Mark Twain

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Adrian Mole: The Prostrate Years- Sue Townsend 

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The Fight-Norman Mailer 

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The Turn Of The Screw-Henry James

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The Stand- Stephen King

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Notes Of A Dirty Old Man- Charles Bukowski 

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Children Of Hurin- J.R.R Tolkein 

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Idylls Of The King- Alfred Tennyson

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Confessions of an English Opium Eater-Thomas de Quincey

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Little Women- Louisa May Alcott 

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A Little History Of The World- E.H Gombrich 

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The Mysterious Affair At Styles- Agatha Christie 

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Who Censored Roger Rabbit- Gary K Wolf

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Zen And The Art Of Motor Cycle Maintenance-  Robert M. Pirsig

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The Day Of The Triffids- John Wyndham 

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Winds of Winter- George R.R. Martin (Because surely this’ll be finished before the TV series)

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How many of these do you think I’ll get done before July 21st 2019?

 

 

 

 

Doctor Who? The Eighth Doctor

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After its long hiatus of 7 years Doctor Who fans finally got what they wanted, a new Doctor Who that was made by the BBC (this time with 20th Century Fox and Universal Studios as well). In May 1996 we finally saw the regeneration of Seventh Doctor Sylvester McCoy into a new younger Doctor portrayed by Paul McGann

The Eighth Doctor 

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The Eighth Doctor

Travelling alone this doctor comes into being on new years eve 1999 after being shot multiple times in a gangland shooting in San Francisco, here he meets surgeon Dr Grace Holloway and the two become entangled in a plot of he doctors old adversary the Master, who using the Tardis’ link to the eye of harmony on Gallifrey seeks to take all the Doctors remaining regeneration’s for himself.  At the end of his lives the master inhabits the body of an unsuspecting paramedic, in much the way he inhabited the body of the Trakenite Tremas.

After defeating the Master and trapping him in the eye of harmony, the Doctor begins travelling alone again, leaving Grace to remain on Earth.

This version of the Doctor was not seen again on television for 17 years (8 years after the shows second revival in 2005) however his adventures where chronicled in a series of books published by BBC books and several series of audio dramas produce by Big Finish Productions (to be explored in Doctor Who? The Wilderness Years Part Two), however this Doctor became embroiled in the events of the Last Great Time War between the Daleks and the Time Lords, attempting to save a young gun ship operator named Cass, whose ship was damaged as a result of skirmish between the two warring factions, the Doctor crash lands on the planet Karn. Upon being revived by The Sisterhood of Karn, the keepers of eternal life, they implore the Doctor to take up arms to save the universe from both sides of the war, The Doctor agrees and the sisterhood trigger his regeneration and he becomes the Doctor No More

Stand Out Stories

  1. The Movie: I first saw the movie in the cinema when it was released and being 7 I thought it was a good film, this was the first (official) Doctor Who to be released in my lifetime and even at 7 I was already enamoured of the TV show, and then this new film came along with even more action, motorcycle chases, gunfights and explosions, and it has a real nostalgia value for me, so even when watching it again as an adult I still love it, even though the script is not fantastic and some of the cast members acting was truly awful. Paul McGann makes the role his own and is sadly underrated, I think he was fantastic in the role and I would have loved to have seen more of him on screen (even if he was equally fantastic in the Big Finish Audios)
  2. The Night Of The Doctor: 17 years after the TV move the Eighth Doctor finally got a regeneration story and it was probably one of the most powerful performances ever seen in Doctor who, the fact that this all happened in a six minuet episode is just another astounding feat that I have come to expect from Paul McGann.

 

Dishonourable Mention 

  1. America/Americanisation: The main problem with the 1996 movie was that it was made for American’s and it lost something of its Doctor Whoiness, Doctor Who after all is a British institution, and whilst car chases and shoot outs appealed to the seven year old me, but it doesn’t really do much for me at this age.

Join again soon for more on the wonderful worlds of The BBC’s Doctor Who.

This is part of a series of posts relating to the BBC’s long running show Doctor Who.

TV Review A Series Of Unfortunate Events

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*BEFORE WE BEGIN, WARNING THERE MAY BE POSSIBLE SPOILERS AHEAD*

**SERIOUSLY, THIS IS A TV REVIEW THERE’S BOUND TO BE SPOILERS COMING**

***LAST CHANCE TO TURN BACK IF YOU DON’T WANT TO SEE SOME SERIOUS SPOILERS***

Now before we begin I’m going to hold my hands up and say that I have never actually read any of the thirteen books which comprise Lemony Snicket’s Series of Unfortunate Events, they were really more of the next generations thing, and in fact were some of my late brothers favourites.

The series itself follows the recently bereaved Baudelaire orphans, Violet, Klaus and Sunny, as they go to live with various estranged relatives, whilst trying to stay ahead of the villainous actor and their initial guardian, Count Olaf’s vile machinations towards the orphans and their family inheritance, all while trying to shed some light on the mysteries surrounding the death of their parents.

The series itself comprises of eight 45 minuet long episodes (a godsend when compared with the usual 24 episode series you get with a lot of american TV), which adapts the first four books of the series in a series of 4 two part episodes. A series of Unfortunate events has cast some real veterans of screen including Joan Cusack, Alfre Woodward, Catherine O’ Hara, Cobie Smoulders and Will Arnett all as supporting characters. Although the show itself is stolen by Neil Patrick Harris as Count Olaf, a true master of disguise and brilliant character actor, he manages to slip into the role of bad actor really well, invoking that old line, that it takes a really good actor to play a really bad actor. The way he goes into any costume and manages to play the convoluted and downright ludicrous is absolutely fantastic and he does make an excellent villain for the piece.

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Neil Patrick Harris as Count Olaf

Another stand out for the role is Patrick Warburton as Lemony Snicket, serving as narrator throughout the piece, his deadpan style and deep delivery really add to the tragicomical joie de vivre that embodies the show.

The children of the piece played by Malina Weissman, Louis Hynes and Presley Smith are a delight in themselves and really show a depth of character and to the show itself that, unlike most portrayed by child actors, may be safe for children to watch, but not necessarily aimed at children.

Overall the show is quick to begin, doesn’t overload you with details and offers unique and interesting set pieces and costumes, the theatricality can be over the top in parts, but I think its meant to be, and is a definite improvement of the soon forgotten, but never forgiven Jim Carey film version from 2004