swordznsorcery: (whitecollar)
( Apr. 10th, 2017 20:56)
I keep forgetting to do this, although admittedly it doesn't change much from week to week. Since last time, I've watched a fascinating mini-series that, like Boy Dominic, I picked up in a Network sale a couple of years ago, and have only just got around to. It's called Wolcott, and was apparently Britain's first police drama with a black lead. I wish I could say that it distinguishes itself! First the good points: it has a great cast. George Harris is a charismatic lead, and heads the cast well as the titular Wolcott. He's supported by a shedload of British character actors, many of them familiar from other police dramas, including Christopher Ellison (Burnside from The Bill as - surprise! - a crooked detective). Rik Mayall also features as a loathsome, racist PC. It also has very funky music. That's where the good stuff ends. Apparently the cast hated the show, and I can see why. It's trying very hard to be Shaft, but what worked for New York City in the seventies, is not going to work for London, and certainly not in 1981, the year of the Brixton Riot. The characters are dreadful stereotypes. Wolcott himself is impossibly good; everybody else is either a racist, or a two-dimensional Jamaican gangster. Jeepers. I've since taken refuge in a rewatch of the final season of White Collar, which I loved so much at the time. It's still good. If you've never seen White Collar, I wholeheartedly recommend it.

Oh, and also in the world of telly - Sleepy Hollow finished. No decision yet on whether there will be a fifth season. I ended up really loving season four, against all the odds. It was nearly as much fun as season one, and the new cast were all great. Jenny got to be properly awesome throughout, and the last scene of the final episode was proper silly grin stuff. A nice place to leave the show, if it turns out that that was it.

In reading, I've just finished A Symphony Of Echoes by Jodi Taylor, the second in her time-travelling historian series. It's all about an institute called St Mary's, which houses a band of historians, who travel through time to witness famous events. Think time-travelling history nerds, fuelled by tea and explosions, and you're pretty much there. The books are fast-moving; a bit shallow, admittedly, but fun. Sentences like "We're St Mary's - there's something wrong if something isn't on fire", will give you some indication as to why it appeals to me. I've heard that the series gets better as it progresses, so I shall certainly hunt out some more. Otherwise still scrambling through a complete Sherlock Holmes readthrough, and am currently on The Valley Of Fear, which is an interesting one. Don't think I've read it before. Holmes books are always oddities. Nothing happens in them - absolutely nothing at all. They break all of the "show, don't tell" rules. We're told about everything after it happens, and never witness anything exciting. And yet somehow you never mind. Conan Doyle's prose is a thing of beauty. (Although if you could stop with all the "You can tell he's a criminal by the shape of his head", and "It was clearly a woman's handwriting," Sir Arthur, that'd be good, thank you kindly.)

Also a thing of beauty (corny links, I has them) was the weather of the last few days. My mother's weeping cherry tree exploded into life quite magnificently (she's only had it a year, and last year it only managed one flower!). It's properly settled in now though, and it looks stunning. Spring is nice. I do wish this one particular wasp (I'm assuming it's the same one, purely because they look alike, although I admit that that's hardly damning evidence) wouldn't keep flying through my window though. I have to keep leaping madly to the kitten's defence to stop her trying to eat it. *sigh*

There are pictures under the cut, of springy colour. It's all grey again outside today though. You're a killjoy, April. Give me my sun back.

... )

Oh, and top five artists of the last seven days, courtesy of last.fm:

Queen
a-ha
Blondie
Joe Jackson
Pet Shop Boys

(a-ha just put out a new album in 2015, so that list is more modern than you might assume, honest.)
swordznsorcery: (ratpack)
( Mar. 20th, 2017 20:56)
Boy Dominic came to its inevitable end, in a sweet and joyful reunion. I felt bad for them, knowing that most of the cast were soon going to be murdered off-screen, in order to trigger an unexpected sequel. Still, even with that shadow hanging over it, it remained a fun little series. Julian Glover cropped up in a handful of episodes (he was evil, of course). One episode had Brian Wilde in it as a dastardly murderer, which amused me. Nice bit of unexpected casting. All in all, I recommend it, at least to fans of seventies telly. The usual caveats apply, obviously. In one episode the windows are very obviously made of plastic sheeting, which amused me. Partly because of how obvious it was, and partly because it hadn't been invented yet. Good gender balance though, and a fine cast.

Following the one-sided struggle against The Brothers Karamazov, I decided to stick to short books for a while! I read an interesting 1935 novella called It Can't Happen Here, by Sinclair Lewis, which a lot of people have been recommending recently. Although it was written in 1935, it's quite clearly the story of Donald Trump's election, so possibly Sinclair Lewis had a time machine. An interesting one. Also read Douglas Adams's Last Chance To See, about his voyages around the world for the BBC in the late eighties, to track down endangered species. Two of them are gone now (and so, obviously, is he). The statistics quoted are terrifying, especially for the collapse of the northern white rhino population. Humanity, you suck.

What else? I watched Saving Mr Banks, the story of Walt Disney's struggle with PL Travers to get the rights to Mary Poppins. It was good, but a bit frustating. Every time somebody blinked, the narrative switched from the 1960s to the 1910s, or back again. Could have done with spending more than ten seconds in each one at a time. Also Colin Farrell was in it. Despite that, it was nicely done, and an interesting story. And Bradley Whitford was in it too, which helped to counteract Colin Farrell to some extent. I've been singing Mary Poppins songs ever since though, so it may have been a mistake.

Top five artists for the last seven days, according to last.fm:

01. Chuck Berry
02. Madness
03. Huey Lewis & The News
04. Duran Duran
05. Oasis

I know. I'm so modern and up to date.
swordznsorcery: (sleepy team)
( Feb. 27th, 2017 20:54)
It took effort (and I admit that I did skip some of the longer and more impenetrable chapters), but I have finished The Brothers Karamazov. Damned if I know what it's about though. I mean, certainly it's the tale of three brothers, and their father is murdered by somebody, but this apparently major event is probably only about a third of the narrative. The rest is wandering down lengthy side trails, talking of ailing schoolboys, boring monks, a veritable barrage of people with assorted ailments, and some people who may or may not be in love with each other. It must surely have been written whilst high. It's the only sensible explanation. (I'm guessing there's at least one level of allegory going on, and certainly there's comparative examples of fatherhood, and the importance of father figures, but jeepers). This is one book I'm not recommending! I've gone back to Sherlock Holmes now, and have just started The Hound Of The Baskervilles. It's a much better story, and Conan Doyle manages to tell in a dozen pages what Dostoevsky needs four hundred to even begin getting around to.

Boy Dominic remains entertaining, although it must be said that Richard Todd's bit of the plot (a short scene at the beginning and end of each episode) is infinitely more engaging than his wide-eyed son, still getting into assorted scrapes in the Yorkshire countryside. Each episode is only half an hour long though, and Brian Blessed is there, so it's enjoyable enough. Just had another Return To Treasure Island alumnus turn up, which was nice. Also falling in love with Sleepy Hollow all over again. Season four has been absolutely splendid so far.

Making use of last.fm's glorious statistics capabilities while it's still there (it seems forever in danger of falling before the unappealing juggernaut of Spotify), I see that my top five artists for the last seven days are:

1. George Harrison (14 plays)
2. The View (13 plays)
3. Kaiser Chiefs
3. Mika
3. Pulp (12 plays each)

I do like a nice list. Elsewhere I am mostly thinking about dragons for I Surrendered, and trying not to get sucked into the world of temptation that is Prompt Amnesty Week over at [community profile] 100words. Every ten weeks you get to choose any of the previous prompts. They are very prompty.

I have finished my cup of tea. Woe.

Bye.
swordznsorcery: (ratpack)
( Feb. 20th, 2017 20:37)
A blatant rip off of [personal profile] lost_spook's What I'm Reading Wednesday.

I think I've given up on The Brothers Karamazov. Or maybe I haven't. I shall probably pick it up again, but I've read two other books since I put it down last! Ordinarily I wouldn't struggle on with something, but people who are usually worth listening to keep telling me how good it is. The Kindle tells me I'm halfway through it, although goodness knows how. The less annoying brother just battered the butler possibly to death with a kitchen appliance, so it has briefly got interesting. I may persevere. In the meantime I'm reading something I picked up in a charity store: Spartan Gold by Clive Cussler. A husband and wife team of treasure hunters travel the globe seeking out archaeological finds, whilst being shot at. She's a history buff and a crack shot; he's an engineer and a danger magnet. It reads like a Hollywood blockbuster waiting to happen. It's good, but it's also very annoying - more to do with the writing style than the plot. People don't use cameras, they use Nikon 6FSb97s with HJK982.7 lenses, for example. Possibly he makes a packet on the advertising, as it's a trend that's repeated with cars, boats, jackets, shoes, phones, laptops, etc. But yeah, good story.

In Tellyland, lately I am mostly watching The Boy Dominic, which I bought two years ago for about 50p in a Network sale, and am only just getting around to. Richard Todd is believed lost at sea, and his young son Dominic, played by Jim Dale's son Murray Dale, wanders around the Yorkshire Dales in a silly haircut, getting into scrapes and missing his dad. Also starring Hildegard Neil in some slightly alarming make-up, and Brian Blessed apparently auditioning for Long John Silver (but with two legs). They made a sequel a couple of years later, in which both Richard Todd and Hildegard Neil had been horribly murdered, with seems very sad given how jolly hard Richard Todd is trying to get home. I shouldn't bother, Richard. You're safer as a castaway.

(Actually he isn't. He's just been drugged and kidnapped by dastardly foreign types, and is suffering from amnesia. But that probably still beats being horribly murdered in order to give your son a second set of adventures).

It's very well made, anyway. By Yorkshire TV, in 1974. Scarcely anything wobbles.
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