Friday, August 07, 2015

Friday, July 24, 2015

TV Review - Sense 8 : 9*

It isn't often that I rave over a TV series, GoT and Penny Dreadful aside, but the scope, depth and grandeur of Sense 8 had me hooked from the start. Sumptuously filmed with an above averagely good-looking cast, gorgeous locations and carefully used special effects, this is a big budget series which is seriously beautiful.

If you are looking for a quick fix one-shot this-is the-crime-this-is-the-capture sort of show then the Wachowski's production for Netflix might not be your thing. This is a real slow-burner, True Detective not CSI. The opening episode introduces the lives of some of the main characters, but it is does introduce much if anything in the way of plot. At the end of the that episode, in which the everyday lives of people are built up layer on layer, and the underlying themes are only gently referred to I was amazed. I'd watched an hour of TV and had no idea what was happening. This is how the great horror writer Stephen King makes his characters work, he fills in the minutiae of people's lives and thoughts until we become familiar and at ease with them, and then he pulls the rug from under them.

In Sense 8 the rug-pulling isn't so obvious. Many of the characters live lives which include an element of danger, Tuppence Middleton's Riley associates with dubious friends on the edge of the London nightlife scene, the almost obnoxiously handsome Miguel Angel Silvestre's actor Lito Rodriguez has to hide his true sexuality to protect his career, and in nicely opposite manner, Jamie Clayton's transgender Nomi Marks flaunts and displays her sexuality in a precarious present built on Pride and harder times. Most often, when these characters have their worlds changed it isn't so much as a result of their newly awakened mental powers but as a result of some change in their normal lives.

Jamie Clayton

As the eight members of the Cluster begin to recognise what is happening to them, we see a the series take a more human than superhuman direction. In a more traditional comic book style series we might expect a superpower to unveil itself at the moment of deepest need, and this does happen in Sense 8, but what we also see is much more emotionally based set of psychic abilities in which the characters sense and mirror each others emotional states and desires. When Capheus channels the fighting abilities of Doona Bae's Sun Bak the danger and thrill is palpable, but we learn more about the Cluster members when they mirror each others fear, misery and lust.

Sense 8 is a wonderful achievement, it brings a richness of character development not often seen in sci-fi and it champions love as much as it relies on action and tension. Just as importantly is that Sense 8 has not jettisoned the friends and lovers of the Cluster in order to focus on the central players, the importance of Nomi's girlfriend Amanita (Freema Agyeman) to her emotional stability and ability to interact with her Cluster companions is vital, and the odd and painful/hilarious symbiosis between Lito, Hernando ( Alfonso Herrara) and Daniela (Erendira Ibarra) is beautifully played out.

Tuppence Middleton as Riley

Visually Sense 8 is a masterpiece, shot on location in Nairobi, Mumbai, Mexico City, London, Chicago, Berlin, Seoul and San Francisco, emotionally it is heart-warming and empowering and it draws you in, makes you love the characters and feel and fear for them, and this was surely the intention, as the characters mirror each others emotions on screen that we in turn mirror their feelings in watching and become part in turn of the events.

The biggest challenge for Sense 8 in series 2, and I do hope there is one, will be to keep the series away from being just another sci-fi plot in which the shadowy bad guys hunt the good guys. Sense 8 feels in a way more like Warren Ellis' FreakAngels than it does say X-Men, because more often in life, when you're feeling lost and alone, fragile and scared, what you need most in the world isn't a man with a metal exo-skeleton and retractable knuckle blades, what you need most is a friend.

Saturday, January 25, 2014

Cutting For Ian

There were unsettling scenes yesterday as thousands of fans of the disgraced singer Ian Bieber descended on the prison where the god awful little creep is incarcerated. Fans waved toddlers in the air and took to Twitter with hashtags like




in order to profess their misguided support for the foul actions of the rock singer.

Locals were aid to be horrified at the crowd's reaction.

"He's a horrible, disgusting person, he makes me sick, hanging's too good for him" said one local woman. "And I'm none too keen on Ian Watkins either."

Friday, January 03, 2014

I don't normally make any specific plans for the turn of the year, but on the other hand I do like to have a few projects on the go...

Weight loss - I've put  bit on over Christmas, so dropping half a stone to be back down to a 5 stone loss would be good.

Keep On Running - I ran 598 miles last year, and feel loads better for doing it. I'll do my best to keep this up, the exercise keeps the weight off and makes me feel good.

Rock The Charts - Can a community of rock addicts fire a small band into the UK Top 40 ?

Wednesday, January 01, 2014

Top 20 Tracks for 2013

Brian Molko, Placebo

Top Tracks, stats from

1 Placebo – Nancy Boy 38
2 AC/DC – Thunderstruck 31
3 Lauren Aquilina – Lilo 30
4 Dessa – Alibi 28
5 Grifter – Good Day For Bad News 27
6 The Cranberries – Zombie 26
6 Lauren Aquilina – Wonder 26
6 Lauren Aquilina – King 26
9 Crucified Barbara – The Crucifier 22
9 Lauren Aquilina – Fools 22
9 Black Star Riders – Bound For Glory 22
Lauren Aquilina
9 Lauren Aquilina – Talk to Me 22
13 The Wildhearts – Nita Nitro 21
13 Max Normal – Stay At Home 21
13 Max Normal – The Cop Song 21
16 Max Normal – Punch my teeth out 20
16 Placebo – Taste in Men 20
16 Crucified Barbara – Rock Me Like the Devil 20
16 Black Star Riders – Before the War 20
20 Skindred – Pressure 19
20 The Undertones – Wednesday Week 19
20 Enuff Z'Nuff – Fly High Michelle 19
20 Max Normal – Mall radio 19

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Top 50 Bands for 2013

Crucified Barbara
All stats from

1 Open University 414
2 Skindred 378
3 Michael Monroe 372
4 Coheed and Cambria 364
5 Crucified Barbara 360
6 Rancid 348
7 Placebo 323
8 The Answer 317
9 Airbourne 298
The Quill
Noam Chomsky
10 Ramin Djawadi 284
11 Avril Lavigne 276
12 The Wildhearts 273
13 Chumbawamba 271
14 Nazareth 266
15 Dessa 260
16 Megadeth 258
17 The Undertones 251
18 Backyard Babies 237
18 Shakra 237
20 Max Normal 230
21 Tracer 225
22 Ramones 211
23 Tygers of Pan Tang 209
24 The Cistercian Monks of Stift Heiligenkreuz 208
25 Igor Stravinsky 203
25 Black Spiders 203
27 The Quill 199
28 Ravi Shankar 197
29 Madness 194
30 Chrome Molly 193
31 Muse 188
31 Skarlett Riot 188
33 Diemonds 186
34 Manu Chao 182
35  Enuff Z'Nuff 181
35 Lauren Aquilina 181
37 Thrice 178
37 Baroness 178
39 Birdy 175
39 Abonwabisi Brothers 175
41 Marillion 173
42 Black Star Riders 172
43 Desmond Dekker 170
44 Uli Jon Roth 169
45 Arch Enemy 168
45 Noam Chomsky 168
47 Hanoi Rocks 166
48 John Williams 161
49 Grifter 160
50 Georg Friedrich Händel 159

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Desperate Sales Pitch from LUFC Today