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  1. "A writer of thrilling, unusual telly in the lead writer role" - yeah, they should have got the Broadchurch guy in or something. I kind of agree with his last point though. I'd like to see them give it to a non-fan next time - someone without all the baggage who can just write interesting stories without all the Timeless Protector bollocks. A bit like every single producer and editor on the show's original run.
  2. It got Torchwood off the ropes for season 3. Put it back on them again in season 4 mind.
  3. After years of using the most cack-handed workflow you've ever seen to animate other people's models in Blender, I've gone back to square one to actually learn how to use it properly. Step 1 is modelling and shading - this is the old 1960s toy dalek. Step 2: Donut
  4. Not to stick up for it or anything but I'm guessing "sipping a martini" is a figure of speech meant to imply that granny is not pulling her weight. Then the joke is that she actually is. The old switcheroo. What japes. As for the Daffy bit, they'll have done a statistical analysis of viewer metrics while watching the old Looney Tunes cartoons and ascertained that key spikes in engagement occur around moments of absurd physical action, so throw one of those in to tick that box on the spreadsheet.
  5. Prior to Luca we've had dead white woman stealing a black man's body, trolls on a quest, toys coming to life, dysfunctional superhero family, child growing up and learning to deal with emotions (plus guitars), shit talking cars, forgetful fish. Pixar stuff has always been about people growing up and learning to deal with emotions, they're just doing it a bit more blandly and on the nose nowadays. I think a lot of that is down to losing Lasseter. As much of a menace as he was in the workplace, he had an incredible animator's brain and he knew how to give a story a bit of energy. They need someone else like him in the driving seat again, just without the wandering hands.
  6. She was in a series called Flowers and that's pretty much all she was known for before this.
  7. Counterpoint: I absolutely lost my shit driving to work one day listening to The Humans when it gets near the end and... Properly crying laughing.
  8. I find it quite hard to get excited about the animated ones. I know the animators are doing what they can within the piss poor budgets they're given but they're just not very good. I'll pick it up eventually for the special features and that but not in any rush.
  9. Another month, another bunch of books. Problems and Other Solutions - Allie Brosh An illustrated memoir of sorts from the woman behind Hyperbole and a Half, covering weird childhood obsessions, friendship, loneliness, daft pets, crippling depression and all the usual stuff. Script Doctor - Andrew Cartmel Cartmel's memories of his time as script editor on Sylvester McCoy's run of Doctor Who. He doesn't come across super well considering these are all his own words - it's always the production people who ruin the stories and never the guy who commissioned stuff they didn't have the budget for and who couldn't time a script to 25 minutes if his life depended on it, and he can't seem to resist dropping in references to the physical attractiveness of any woman he had to work with, which may have been how you did things in the 80s but comes across a bit creepy in the 21st century. Still, it's fascinating to see how the BBC was run in those days and go behind the scenes for the shooting of some of the stories. It's a wonder anything ever got made at all. McSweeney's Quarterly Concern #12 - Dave Eggers (Ed) I got a bunch of these off ebay a while back because I'm a sucker for gimmicky book design. Issue 12 features 12 stories by new writers, a story by McSweeney's regular Roddy Doyle and a selection of 20-minute flash fiction curated by Dave Eggers. It's a mixed bag and your enjoyment of it is going to depend to some extent on your tolerance for hipster literary showboating. Highlights for me were the Doyle story and a piece about growing up in Ceausescu's Romania by Andrea Dezso that's like dystopian Elena Ferrante. The Case of Charles Dexter Ward - HP Lovecraft & INJ Culbard (graphic novel) Ian Culbard has carved himself a bit of a niche doing comics adaptations of classic creepy tales. If you know Lovecraft then you'll know this one - curious young man bites off more than he can chew when he takes an interest in an ancestor who had some unusual interests. It works surprisingly well in the comics medium, quite cinematic use of space and timing and he captures that creeping sense of dread nicely. The Motherless Oven/The Can Opener's Daughter/The Book of Forks - Rob Davis (graphic novel) Starts off like Jan Svankmajer doing Grange Hill and then gets weirder. Scarper Lee is a schoolboy doing normal schoolboy things in a bizarre world where your dad might be a steam-powered boat on wheels and it rains knives on a regular basis. He's living out the last three weeks of his life with quiet resignation. He knows it's three weeks because everyone in his town knows when their deathday is. Things start to change when he meets new girl and chaos magnet Vera Pike though. It's hard to explain where it all goes from here because it only makes sense if you read it, but the worldbuilding, character development and slow reveal of why the world is the way it is are all top notch. The Road to Wigan Pier - George Orwell (audiobook) A book of two halves. The first is decent social journalism, with Orwell embedded in the working class North and describing the miserable conditions first hand, then the second is a supposed defence of socialism that does the cause no favours at all. He never really presents an argument for how socialism would work in practice, or even attempts to explain what it is, just sets up some straw man arguments against it and then dismantles them. It's chock full of his hangups about his own class and, despite his time spent with the miners oop north, a lingering tendency to view the proletariat as a single lumpen entity that needs stirring into action by its betters. It does still offer some interesting insights but the endless moaning about the damage done to the movement by fruit juice drinking do-gooders in pistachio shirts (?) gets a bit wearing. He really fucking hates fruit juice drinkers. The House on the Borderlands - William Hope Hodgson I picked this up because I heard that it was an influence on Lovecraft. That's quite the understatement, seeing as it lays out the blueprints for two of HPL's favourite subjects - slouching subhuman beast men and vast, unknowably abstract cosmic horror. As with Lovecraft, the cosmic stuff can sometimes disappear up its own arse a bit but the more human scale horrors are really well done. House of Psychotic Women - Kier-la Janisse An unusual combination of film criticism and memoir. Janisse writes about her own turbulent upbringing and illustrates/expands on it with analysis of a range of cult and exploitation films that centre on disturbed women. It's not the most flattering comparison to make but she breaks everything down very rationally and has clearly done a lot of work getting to the roots of her own self-destructive behaviour. Applying the same kind of serious consideration to the characters in bargain basement exploitation crap is surprisingly interesting and I've now got a list of absolute chod to try and find on youtube.
  10. Leviathan Wakes is literally expansive Greg Bear's Eon (and Eternity which continues the story but isn't as good) Joe Haldeman's The Forever War NK Jemisen's Broken Earth trilogy is maybe more fantasy than SF but it's good and well narrated
  11. Fags, Mags and Bags always used to be good for a listen. Bit of a Father Ted vibe but it's an Asian corner shop in Glasgow instead of Irish priests.
  12. I think you'd struggle to get Tom's buy-in for a plan like that.
  13. Bit of a late start this year, for one reason and another. This is from May onwards. Things the Grandchildren Should Know - Mark Oliver Everett A laid back memoir from E out of Eels, covering massive amounts of family tragedy and his gradual rise to MTV icon. The music biz stuff in the second half is an interesting time capsule because it stops short just before streaming completely shafted the industry. It's the earlier family stuff that I liked though. He's very matter of fact about it all, which somehow makes it more effective. There is no Antimemetics Division - qntm Picked this up because of all the raves in the sci fi thread and they weren't wrong. A great brain melter of a sci fi concept executed very cleverly so that you're always just ahead of the characters (although it took me far too long to work out that the Vegas room they use wasn't just called that because it sounded cool but actually had a very obvious meaning). Not 100% sure about the personification of the threat toward the end but otherwise it rattles along and presents a potentially very confusing idea as a rip-roaring race against time. Noriko Smiling - Adam Mars-Jones A longform essay about Yasujiro Ozu's film Late Spring. Mars-Jones takes the contrarian view that the established film school view of it is a bit too reverential and steeped in orientalism, and that there's mileage in looking at the film on a more basic level as a social/family drama. All well and good, but he also proudly declares that he knows nothing about Japanese society or history and so all the book can really offer is a shot-by-shot breakdown that often resembles an Arnold Schwarzenegger DVD commentary, just describing the action and character motivation without adding any broader context or critical perspective beyond what you can pick up just by watching the thing. There's a stunner of a review of it by David Cozy in The Japan Times that sums it up well: "I can hardly be accused of being an expert on Japanese film," Adam Mars-Jones assures us early in "Noriko Smiling". Such protestations at the beginning of a work are not, in an age that distrusts expertise and celebrates ignorance, unusual. In most cases, though, a writer who makes this move goes on to demonstrate, however obliquely, that he or she is not, in fact, ignorant at all. Mars-Jones takes a different approach. The Art of Space Travel - Nina Allan (short) A tidy little short about a woman working in a hotel where the crew of a Mars mission are staying the night before their trip. Nominally science fiction but really just a character study that draws parallels with the Mars stuff to talk about dealing with family, abandonment and whatnot. The Bloody Chamber - Angela Carter (audiobook) Carter reinterprets and modernises various fairy tales, usually switching the point of view to the female characters, and makes them sexy and grown up. Pretty much a modern classic, and source for the film The Company of Wolves. The Rift - Nina Allan More nominal sci fi from Allan. Selena's sister went missing as a teenager and was never seen again. She's lived her life in the shadow of this event, so when the sister reappears years later with a story about how she was almost abducted by a creepy guy in a van but accidentally fell through a hole in space/time and ended up spending 20 years living a whole other life on a completely different world, it kind of knocks her for six a bit. I loved this - it does a great job of weaving the personal with the ambitious sci fi world building, looks at identity, loss, what makes us who we are, etc. Any Way the Wind Blows - Seanan McGuire (short) I need to stop downloading stuff just because it's free. This is a distinctly nothingy in-joke short story for the folk at tor.com. If you work for them or know one of the staff it's probably fun but as a casual reader it's just a bunch of sentences. The Cabin at the End of the World - Paul Tremblay OK, I guess. It's a home invasion story "with a twist", the twist being that maybe the invaders aren't bad guys at all. Sounds interesting on paper but in order to keep that ambiguity going, the invaders can't present that much of a threat and you end up feeling like if everyone had just sat down and had a bit of a chinwag they could have figured out a solution to the central mystery fairly easily. By the end, a bunch of stuff has happened but I had no idea what, if anything, Tremblay actually wanted to say with his story. The Penelopiad - Margaret Atwood (audiobook) What if tales of old weren't written for men by men about men? Atwood looks at what was going on with Penelope at home while Odysseus was off fighting/shagging. Hard not to measure it against Circe, which is a more thoughtful take on a similar idea, especially when the audiobook is read by a narrator who leans a little too far into the archness of the writing so that Penelope ends up sounding like Lucille Bluth a lot of the time. Roadmarks - Roger Zelazny On a road that spans all of time, a man and his sentient book have to deal with robot assassins, ninja monks and a mind controlled dinosaur while searching for an ineffable something that none of them really understands. Does it have things to say about the human condition? Not particularly. Does it read like a western and have the maddest ending? Absolutely. Ripped through it in a day. Paper Girls - Brian K Vaughan & Cliff Chiang (graphic novel) Cracking good read from Brian K Vaughan. 80s kids-on-bikes sci fi time travel shenanigans with a lot of heart and plenty of loopy twists and turns. Like good 2000AD. The Unreality of Memory & Other Essays - Elisa Gabbert A book of essays on the tricks our brains play on us to keep us sane in a bewilderingly complex and deadly world. Takes in the nature of "the self", empathy and its limits, how we process the inevitability of disasters, our concept of time, all sorts. Perfect pick for the beach this summer.
  14. Well damn, it looks like they've done 3 albums since I last listened to them. That'll be something to catch up on tomorrow. This is Slowcoaches. Released an album of non-stop punk bangers and a couple of singles and then went on hiatus about 4 years ago. I don't think they're coming back now tbh, which is a shame.
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