Music to Write By #6 – This is England

How YouTube comes up with its recommendations based on what you are listening to, I cannot fathom but this week after plenty of upbeat music, I was suddenly plunged back in time to 1980’s England with this wonderfully moving piece from Ludovico Einaudi.  Then surfaced memories of first watching this film – with all its impact – and the accompanying series, including a second three series binge watch with Tom over a weekend.

I was once in a queue, three people back from the lady on the right of the gang, loaded with alcohol and one packet of plain rice, I am glad she didn’t turn round and wonder at what my night was going to be like.  Anyway, if anybody is wanting to watch some powerful drama with great characters, this is truly a film (and series) to make you laugh and hit with you some challenging story lines.

On the writing front, this week has involved doing a lot of varying things including thinking of actually trying to focus on one thing at a time, which is hard to do with a lot of books that need reviewing and more being sent every day it seems.  I, of course remain grateful but what with all the other future plans, I need to start clearing the backlog whilst pursuing my own goals.  To that end I am currently fighting the urge to binge watch The is England again…

Perhaps I will just play this music and pity myself for so much good fortune.

Advertisements

Music to Write By #1 – I Still Believe

When writing – or struggling to think of something to write about –  it’s always easier to focus with some music on in the background so why not introduce – or remind you of – some quality or cheesy music, as well as giving myself some easy content too.  Each week I shall attempt to post a piece of music or a song that has come up on the autoplay with some personal remembrance associated with it, or failing that, a randomly occurring thought or two.

First up is this beauty:

When this came on, I was caught in memories of being first introduced to the brilliant I Still Believe, at local (and awesome) rock pub, The Town Mill. Having never seen The Lost Boys, I recall a hazy Tuesday night confusedly watching my friend Rick doing an impression of oiled up, topless, Tim Cappello on saxophone (check out one minute and ten seconds if you have neither time, or inclination to watch the whole thing), I knew from this bizarre, energetic display of the gyrating man before me that this had to be a must see film, and it was.

Last Weekend Reviews Part 1

Last weekend being a bank holiday weekend, had me out enjoying life with a couple of mates before a week of night shifts hence my silence of late. Instead of running down our trail of destruction, pillage and debauchery like I usually would, this time I’ll be reviewing two of the pastimes of the weekend that polarised my opinions.

The first was watching Straight Outta Compton, I had high hopes for this biopic of ‘the world’s most dangerous group’ which were sadly dashed fairly early on.   For those not familiar with N.W.A., they were an immensely talented group around from 86-91 who revolutionised Hip-Hop with visceral social commentary as well as some interesting moral values, or lack there of.  Their notoriety stemming from their standing up to an institutionally racist police force and giving a platform to how life was on their streets of Compton.

The film’s running time is two and a half hours so I accept things have to move quickly but the Genesis of the band and the subsequent successes and seemingly meteoric rise to fame felt like they were achieved with no real struggles or setbacks apart from the odd run in with the police, which felt pretty unrealistic.   With such a speedy introduction the protagonist’s histories weren’t given much of a look in and there was little sense of fleshing out as a result.

The gigs are wonderful though, there is a feeling of the energy which their stage presence undoubtedly generated coupled with the obvious talent and ability they had.  This coming out of adversity and driving anger, telling it how it is in a raw way is very well done and having listened to the albums for a number of years, there are some mighty catchy tracks from these lyrical poets.

It was a waiting game for it all to go wrong but that just wasn’t balanced with much in the way of underlying tension, the greed and creative differences just sort of pop up in sequence as it were, rather than being in the background brooding and slow burning before the inevitable clashes.  The main problem of the film for me though is how awkward it feels in certain parts, where instead of using subtlety chooses to stick a massive great signpost into a foundation of clunky dialogue because as an audience we are obviously too unintelligent to understand the nuances what it happening. Continue reading “Last Weekend Reviews Part 1”

Q&A at StetotheJ

Despite being elusive around here of late, I was very kindly nominated for an award by Irena over at Books and Hot Tea and whilst I’m not one for awards these days I thought it would be nice to mix up my usual posts with a little Q&A with some pleasingly eclectic questions.

If you could choose your theme song, which song would it be?Sunshine_poster

John Murphy’s Surface of the Sun is something I very much like, not exactly a song but it is a mighty fine tune with just the right amount of epic in it and if it gets more people to watch the underrated film Sunshine then that is all to the good.

People often ask about favourite characters, but I would like to know who are your favourite villains?

There are plenty of great villains, the list is almost too long, villains always seem to have more depth about their motives than the good guys ever do so I would have to pick The Phantom (from that opera), Kurtz from Heart of Darkness, Claude Frollo from The Hunchback of Notre Dame, Randall Flagg from The Stand amongst other Stephen King books is also a good choice but does Gollum count?  He was a victim of circumstance after all.

What would be your dream trip?

I would love to do a whistle-stop tour of bloggers in their home countries, it would take in a lot of the world and would involve lots of new foods and blog posts which is always a bonus as well.  My interests aren’t in the popular spots so much as meeting people in real settings and seeing a country without its clichéd tourist trappings is always more preferable to mine eyes.

If you could own a fictional/fairy tale/fantasy pet, what would it be? Why?

Kiki the parrot from Enid Blyton’s Adventure series would be awesome, she was really clever and could mimic loads of voices to scare away criminals.  Whilst neither of these next two are strictly pets, Shinto the donkey from the travel book Spanish Steps was a great pilgrimage companion and provided plenty of comedy relief as did The Luggage, a wooden chest with hundreds of little legs – once described as half suitcase, half homicidal maniac – that was bodyguard to Rincewind the wizard,  if that counts? Continue reading “Q&A at StetotheJ”

Musings, Ribs and Mad Max: Fury Road

So I’m on the bus the other day and with the road works effecting every conceivable route (all one of them) to my destination, I had much time to ponder and luckily having a window seat to peer out of made me feel like I was acting in a reflective scene for a film as well, I always enjoy that, just in case anyone is glancing in my direction.

WP_20150518_003

After having had a wander around for a bacon cob and securing cinema tickets, a pint was well due, as my latest book (one for the anthropology fans amongst you) hadn’t been getting the love it deserved that day.  Partly because I had wandered into the big bookshop armed with my wish list and found none of the obscure titles that had taken my fancy, neither could I find the new titles being spoken of by my fellow bloggers which begs the question what do I do in future if I want to actually physically buy a book I want.

It is that becoming a reader with different tastes from the big name authors is actually a hindrance when shopping?  Maybe high street shops are redundant for me, as they aim for a different market, it’s a sad state of affairs but my mind quickly turned onto something more whimsical.   I was quite surprised to have found that alone with my thoughts and still not having read that book yet, I had been taking in this fairly surreal set up and it hadn’t clicked for at least twenty minutes.

WP_20150518_007

All that was quickly put right by meeting Tom at a barbecue joint and having a can of Pistonhead Full Throttle, picked purely because it seemed appropriate for the film we were about to see.  Red’s True BBQ is a curious place, it’s very friendly staff seem not to notice that they work in a restaurant which is the spitting image of the location of the knife fight in West Side Story, the only difference being that Hey Joe by Jimi Hendrix was blasting out which is always a welcome aural pleasure
Continue reading “Musings, Ribs and Mad Max: Fury Road”

Music To My Ears

People in the world tryin’ to make ends meet
You try to ride car, train, bus, or feet
I said you got to work hard, you want to compete
It’s like that, and that’s the way it is
HUH! – Run DMC Vs Jason Nevins

Photo0165

Perhaps I get more inspiration out of a pint or two than I really should do but nothing beats spending a bit of time at the pub, getting lost in a book and if anything comes to mind with that heady mix of literature and alcohol, well all the better.  The music at my local The Bold Forester encouraged me to keep the inspired feeling for this post and was a handy excuse to stay for one more pint as I wrote these notes.

The photo above is a Ste’s eye view of what I saw, complete with blurry vision of those long-range areas, just like my defective eyes!  There is something to be said for the ambiance of a reading place and my atmosphere was solely based on an eclectic and impressive choice or tunes, which only lacked something classical.

I have wanted to do a music post for ages but for some reason not gotten round to it, yet there I was hunkered in a corner, writing down various phrases on my phone – as I forgot my notebook – keeping one eye on my (naturally) precariously low battery and finally the aural magic captured me to compose.  It does make me wonder how many times the subliminal soundtrack that accompanies me as I read has inspired me to the words I use when reviewing books. Continue reading “Music To My Ears”

Silent Flight (of Fancy)

Recently I have been re-indulging in silent films, such is my desire to get into a little bit of everything and as usual I have been agog at how the simplest of situations can be turned into something really clever and still visually stunning.  Today’s post then is more heavily accented on the visual than usual.

Part of the charm that these films have, apart from crossing language boundaries and being universally accessible in any era, is their inventive nature.  With such constraints in place as there were in the technology, there was a need to innovate to capture the viewer, especially people of today who are spoilt with all their HD, 3D Ultra sharp coloured up special FX.

It’s art in its purest form, the whole body portrayed in dramatic terms to convey to the watcher what the character is experiencing.  Which is reminiscent of the actors in Greek plays who wore masks and would manipulate their voices and bodies in order to bring their message to the crowds watching.  Constraints always bring innovation and these days physicality is less important in films but perhaps it should be an inspiration to build on. Continue reading “Silent Flight (of Fancy)”