Tuesday, 16 October 2018
Anyway, there she was at Christmas, oh yes, Christmas night last seen falling from an exploding Tardis, clutching desperately, trying in vain to close the distance between herself and the thing she loves and needs. Hows she going to get out off that one! We now know she did not, crashing through the roof of a stalled train, presumably protected from going splat by the residual energy of her recent regeneration. fortunately she landed on a sheffield bound train and not on the Belfast to Dublin line. Or perhaps not so fortunate, I have no doubt she would have found herself in a tricky situation of some sort, just not one involving alien tech. Probably.
She hit the ground running did Our Jodie (And doesn't that feel natural already). Only born and already trying to save innocents from a fate worse than Casualty. It was a strange story to kick off with, a predator inspired hunt I suppose, with an alien entity that felt more like a creature from Torchwood than Doctor Who. Although they do occupy and share the same continuity, just a human tooth clad creature..ugh. She was fortunate enough to find great company straight off the bat to share her adventure, both in the industrial underbelly of the city and the green open spaces overlooking it. A great juxstaposition both visually and in terms of telling the story. One being part of the other.
No Tardis yet, no Unit to check out the alien incursion, no sentient puddles...I think at least two of those things are sure to reappear at some point. I really liked seeing this new incarnation running about in the tattered remains of her previous incarnation. I had hoped the ramshackle but well equipped workshop she built her new Sonic in was going to be her regular workshop. Goggles and torch in gloved hand she looked every inch the cyberpunk inventor.I love the idea of The Doctor building magical things out of junk. It so speaks to the heart of why I love this show so much. And with everything else going on it might have been easy to overlook, or not quite hear, the amazing new soundtrack provided by Segun Akinola. He had such huge shoes to fill who would have blamed him from shying away. He did not though and we were rewarded with an atmospheric soundscape that really held its own with the bold new visual direction.
Nine more weeks off this..
Its enough to make one believe in magic.
Thursday, 4 October 2018
Monday, 3 September 2018
Best remembered as the nemesis of Blake, and Avon off course, in four seasons of Blake,s Seven. I do not know if this is true but her character was said to have been intended for one episode but such was the charisma on display that they allowed the character to grow and come to share an equal place in the affections of fans of that classic genre drama.
I will never forget the two Hammer movies , filmed back to back, in the sixties; Plague Of The Zombies and The Reptile. Two dark fantasies, with all involved on top of their game. Jacqueline Pearce was a stand out in both movies. Darkly beautiful and doubly doomed, he loss in both movies as she became transformed into the stuff of nightmares made doubly so because of that tragic beauty. Her transformation into an undead thing during one of the movies classic dream sequences is one once seen never forgotten. Despite what would be considered by today's standards quite primitive make up effects they, and she, pull it off. Watch he change and then climb wordlessly from the grave. Same with her turn as a reptile lady(how often do that particular set of words come together in a sentence.). Witness her teasing her poor father with a rift on a sitar( again, how often does that set of variables come together?), her attempts to have an ordinary life and the revelation she is quite extraordinary.
For all that though, she had some other quality that set her apart. A knowing worldly wit I suspect. A smokey voice that could be threatening as well as elegant, seductive and unreliable. And those amazing eyes, those were eyes that had peered into the untempered schism and did not blink.
Jacqueline Pearce. One of a kind. Kind of special.
Friday, 31 August 2018
Mike Massimino is an ex astronaut although I wonder if one can become an ex astronaut. When does an angel cease being an angel or a catholic stop being a catholic? Actually Mike Massimino is a catholic astronaut. That is not a contradiction or even a tautology. His dreams of walking in the stars were born in 1969 when Neil Armstrong and his crew went further than man ever has. He was born into a working class family in Long Island and it took a lifetime of studying and working hard to achieve his dream of following in Armstrong's example. The book details his many ups and downs and he writes with a simple honesty and a educated clarity, and a page turning enthusiasm. It also covers a turbulent and exciting period in the history of NASA, which in turn reflects the changing fortunes of America through the seventies to the present day.
Mike Massimino is also a huge fan of the film The Right Stuff, the film more so than the book, and he talks at every opportunity about the profound influence it had on his life. Chapter after chapter he refers back to it, inspired by the friendships and shared courage of the astronauts in the film, attempting to recreate that aspirational quality in his own life with the men and women he works with in the space program. They are all hugely talented people , hard working, patriotic, all seeking to better the fortunes of mankind. There is a great photograph which sums up this idea, that stands testimony perhaps to the power of dreams and how they may shape our lives. There is the picture of young Mike Massimino the school boy in an astronaut costume his mother made for him standing outside his home in July 1969 and in his hand is a Snoopy Space man toy. It is side by side with a picture of Mike Massimino the astronaut at work in space and floating next to him is the very same Snoopy Space man toy he held onto since then( Not every moment of course. I am sure he put it down for important things like going to school then college then work then marriage and children etc..you know, the building blocks of his life.) I do hope he cleared with NASA bringing the Snoopy Space man toy on board his craft and that he did not jeopardise the mission by bringing a non safety cleared item into a zero G enviroment.
You know on the same date I was also a school boy who stood outside our family home looking up at the moon and wondering about the men who walked up there for the first time in human history. "Well Da, Theres men up there tonight," I said pointing up at the moon. My da stood at our front door with his hands in his pockets smoking a park drive " Nah, theres nobody up there, its not real." he said in that way of his, that any other possible observation than his is just nonsense.
What a thing to say to an innocent boy who's mind contains images of dark lunar landscapes and the brave men who risked everything to walk there. What an off puttingly negative thing to say to an impressionable dreamer. Who knows, if he had said something positive I might have been an astronaut by now.
The copy I read off this book had the words "Is Humanity Worth Saving?" asserted across the top part of the cover. I am not sure if the author attempted to answer this proposition or if he had even intended to. The reader will have to answer that question to their own satisfaction. He does provide insightful glances into the lives of some very different examples of who we think to be human despite their actions probably best described as inhumane. It is not only "The Good" who will, or will not, be saved by this powerful cosmic intervention. Which is what the alien incursion actually is and like all interventions, even for the significant ones good, is not always welcome. The intervention takes the form of a series of force fields which push mankind out of any areas on Earth where our presence had led to enviromental damage. That is as you would expect is quite a radius of ground to cover. These force fields are also adaptable to other scenarios and prevent mankind from dealing any more harm to its fellow beings, mostly stopping bullies and greedy people from preying on others, showing evil on a grand scale is really petty on a grand scale. In no time at all the world changes as the threat of violence becomes nothing more than the empty promises of the impotent.
Rejoice is a book with dark beginnings that gradually builds towards an optimistic visions of mankind's potential. A Canadian science fiction writer is abducted and told she will become the designated go-between the intervening aliens and the human race. A spokes person to articulate the aliens intent, probably preferring not to come face to face with mankind, for reasons which may, or may not, become clear. You will have to read the book, to go on that journey to the undiscovered country, guided by your designated driver, Steve Erikson. In his company the journey is more World War ET than World War Z.
Olly Alexander shines in this film, he resembles Prospero's sprite Ariel, a self made magical being, possessed of otherworldly abilities and a fey gentility that makes him as loveable as he is magical. He plucks metaphysical ideas from a bubbling cauldron of humane sexuality and makes you want to dance to the anthems he and his band conjure out of the ether. I do not think I have enjoyed a musical interpretation of a series of abstract but believable concepts as Palo Santo since I saw David Bowie's Blackstar. In fact if I could suggest David Bowie as The Sandman or Morpheus of our musical dreaming then I would surely nominate Olly Alexander as its Ariel.
He is the stuff that dreams are made off.
There have been a number of biographies about Lawrence the man, Lawrence the myth, Lawrence the mythy man.He seemed a complex fellow, almost larger than life, driven by forces and ambitions that were at times other worldly, certainly outside the motivations that drove many historic figures to make the impact their lives left on the world they in time left behind. Few of them outliving the legends foisted upon them by the worlds perceptions of their deeds.Despite the fact he led a full, active and colorful life from beginning to its unexpected close, it was the two/three years he spent uniting the desert tribes in Arabia that he is best remembered for. The visually appealing and iconic image of him in his flowing desert robes is the stuff of legend. Looking every inch the desert warrior or Ealing movie born Jedi knight( Peculiarly English in a remote desert setting.) is famous the world over in no small part an image generated by the David Lean bio pic with that amazing turn by the amazing Peter O Toole.
TE Lawrence was born into an eccentric family situation. The mother and father of the five sons being unmarried. A terrible stigma in those far off class based days which would have affected the boys chances for good schooling and career prospects, had the details of their life been better known. To my uneducated ears it all sounded terribly bohemian, a mix of Tom Brown's School Days and Swallows And Amazons. Even as a school boy he seemed destined for a life less ordinary. A life he certainly went on to lead, recorded in fascinating and engaging juicy detail by Michael Korday. And some of those details were and remain almost pruriently unresolved. Arabia was the glittering prize in a deadly game of thrones played by the world's power players. In fairness Michael Korday does not play down the ruthlessness of England as an ambitious and greedy power player in that game.
Hero is an intimate glimpse into the life and legend of Lawrence Of Arabia. It is a big book that covers many miles and minutes but does not outstay its welcome. Something the man himself would have appreciated.
Here is a tiny gleam in the eye of TE Lawrence himself when he once explained to his mother his passion for reading and for beautiful books; " Father won't know all this-but if you get the right book for the right time you taste joy-not only bodily, physical, but spiritual also, which pass out above and beyond one's miserable self, as it were through a huge air, following the light of another man's thought. And you can never be quite the old self again."