Thursday, 28 December 2017
The above was a brief extract from an M R James short story A Neighbour's Landmark. It is not a story I am overly familiar with but I would single out this short piece of writing as a lovely example of just what a fine writer James was. A beautiful set up of rustic charm which pivots and slides into unfathomable terrors. A roofs edge nicely balanced paragraph that is equally descriptive as it is mood setting. There is as much Turner as there is Poe in this piece of writing,the work bleeding from the edges of the canvas of the reader's imagination, in ochre and gray hues.
M R James body of work can be found in many editions. He inspires as many formats as artists who seek to illuminate the tales. The two editions I took to read over the Christmas holidays are two nicely put together paperback editions from Penguin. Easy to carry, hard to put down. Went for a walk today down a frosty country lane that runs between an old Protestant graveyard and an equally old Catholic one. Leafless trees hung weighed down with frosty moisture in protective groupings around the resting places of the long deceased. Reading M R James is the perfect prelude to such a winter dander although it renders the darker corners somehow seemingly unquiet.
Thursday, 21 December 2017
Tuesday, 19 December 2017
Ricky Wilson was a hugely talented guitar player and song writer. The sound he produced from his guitar was literally all his own work as he tuned it in his own special way, creating a Ricky Wilson/ B52 sound. Just listen to his playing on stuff like Private Idaho, Give Me Back My Man or the seemingly effortlessly cool Lava. If there were such a thing as a rock god he would be tapping his feet in approval "Yes, like me, that Ricky is a creator.". These among others are inspired and brilliantly timeless. Yet I do not know if he has ever received the admiration and respect he deserved, which his musical gifts surely warranted. I might be wrong. I do not read any musical papers or am familiar with related musical journalism. I do not know if there is even such a thing anymore. Reading an article in Record collector or the NME would be like me reading about trout fishing in in-land waterways in Trout Fishing Monthly. I feel so distanced from the current music scene yet still take great joy in listening to so much of the music I grew up listening to. I still have a load of vinyl from them Golden Years but as far as I am aware there were no great gay guitarists in the bands I listened to and I think it would have been something great to know there was a great gay rock and roll guitarist belting out great tracks that made you want to dance and sing a long to.
I also do not if Ricky Wilson would have been comfortable being described in the music press or any press for that matter as "Gay guitarist Ricky Wilson" he might just have preferred "guitarist Ricky Wilson", perhaps not wishing to have his sexuality become a defining characteristic of his persona as a performer. He sounds by what little I know to have been something of a private individual. Flamboyant front men, and women, are in no short supply in the history of Rock n' Roll. The colorful captains leading their fellows across the vast sea of entertainment. Yet we so often never get to see the men, or women, who stoke the engines keeping the vessels moving forward, straining before the open furnace shovelling fuel. None of the other band members were even aware he was sick with AIDS as he did not want to burden them with worries for his sake, which indicates a reserved but caring nature.
Mind you,way back in the mid eighties there were so many misconceptions and societal mysteries regarding AIDS and the many people who suffered with the condition, some of which, unbelievably, persist to this day. So many sources of support and treatment were not readily available and many sufferers found themselves demonised and ostracized and even mistreated.
What a terrible thing it was that Ricky Wilson was only thirty two when he died, a hugely talented and much loved person with so much potential. He had already achieved so much and it would have been something to see how he would have matured as a writer and performer. Just look at the video made for Song For A Future Generation and see him having a laugh, swinging on a flower bedecked tree swing, taping away joyfully with feet of flame to that anthem to the power of song to transcend time. What a honey.The B52s went on to record again and to achieve great world wide success but their finest period for me will always be when Ricky Wilson was effortlessly belting out great guitar riffs and tunes that will always be around as long as people love to dance around a mess.
Wednesday, 13 December 2017
Watched his adaption of Edgar Allen Poe's short story "Ligiea". With Vincen Price bedecked in a suitably funereal fashion as a widower, Vernon Fell, who is haunted by the spirit of his dead wife who has returned from the dead in a vengeful angry mood in the form of a black cat.
Tomb Of Ligiea is a lovely film to look at with the exterior filming being particularly striking as it was done in a ruined ancient abbey somewhere in a lost middle England. While the interior sets include every left over prop from every other Roger Corman Poe adaption made up to that point. I thoroughly enjoyed this piece and thought that Vincent Price was ubber-cool with his specially made wrap around glasses created for his character who was sensitive to direct sun light.
At one point though I had to pause the movie as the dialogue totally threw me. I had never heard such an a weird marriage of goobly-gook and bizarre skewed sentiment delivered with such heart felt sincerity, as an actor of Vincent Price's abilities was capable off.delivering. The dialogue went as follows; "Christopher,not ten minutes ago I tried to kill a stray cat with a cabbage and all but made love to the Lady Rowena. I succeeded in squashing the cabbage and badly frightening the lady. If only I could lay open my own brain as easily as I did that vegetable. What rot would be freed from its grey leaves. I need a stroll."
It was so unintentionally funny, so loaded with wonkily poetic melancholy I could not stop laughing. Honestly, for about ten minutes. I love Vincent Price and he delivered this clanger of a statement with one hundred per cent commitment to the dialogue and character. But boy did I think it was so funny. The screen play was written by a writer called Robert Towne who later went on to win an Oscar for his Screen play for Chinatown. I do not remember any dialogue from that movie but I will never forget his dialogue for this one.
Tuesday, 12 December 2017
The flame that burned twice as bright burned only half as long.
Thursday, 7 December 2017
This version has the most amazing cast. Almost every part played by a familiar old face that are so good at what they do they make it seem so natural and easy. There is Helen Merren as a beautiful but equally other worldly and imperious Titania. See Phil Daniels as a punk street urchin Puck who seems filled with a boundless energy yet also slyly natural. And what a joy to see Brian Glover as Bottom. That Dead-pan delivery in the dourest of northern tones whose transformation generates a magical smile despite the fact you know its a coming. The whole production has an wonderful dark wintery night production feel to it. As though it ticks every box that made the BBC a creative force to be reckoned with the world over. It is a joy and it is a keeper.
"Lord, what fools these mortals be!"
Wednesday, 6 December 2017
Tuesday, 5 December 2017
Oh that Rodger. He was incorrigible.
Twice Upon A Time airs on Christmas Day.
How is it possible to look forward so much to something you know is going wring a tear? Its possible ,I suppose, thanks to the man who put the Who back into Doctor Who.
Sunday, 3 December 2017
Ken Reid was also responsible for other great comic book favourites of mine; Rodger the dodger and Jonah. What a great thing it would be to see similar collections using these these two great and much missed heroes of yester-year. I suppose it will depend on the success of this volume but hopefully it will happen. This world needs its funny characters more than ever.
Tuesday, 28 November 2017
Never thought I would see that old face in that old console room.
I don't know about you but its done me a power of good.
Double, double toil and trouble,
Fire burn and cauldron Bubble...
Its not a lost art, just a seemingly neglected one.
Jerry Goldsmith's score for Alien has never dated. It truly is a special one. It so captures the dark romance of man's dreams of travelling through the black eternal sea of space.Its just genius.
Wednesday, 22 November 2017
I have always thought that the Racnoss Queen as she appeared in the Runaway Bride ( oh the memory of happier days and happy holidays.) was an astonishing triumph of of costuming married to prosthetics. Her first appearance was a startling revelation and to this day I cannot see Sarah Parrish buried under that hideous make-up. In this story they have managed to recreate the rasping cringey quality of the Racnoss. Like a bunch of wicked Dickensian Arachnids. It was an old BBC drama trick, projecting archetypes using class inspired performances and this one for me is pitch perfect. This always innocent incarnation of The Doctor is unable to grasp how devious and cruel the Racnoss are as a species. That these enormous spider gods are driven by a voracious hunger that practically defines them as a race. Almost everything they do is motivated by hunger of some shape or form.
Even Tolkien's great spiders, which the always war like Orcs rode into battle, were marked by a similar characteristic. The relationship with everyone they ever allied themselves with breaking down as these great omnivores ate not only their enemies but their allies also. Even giving birth was a hugely dangerous experience as their off-spring were born starving. Baby Racnoss almost always devoured whoever sired them. Art imitating life.
It is a spider's web of a tale. Twisty turny as well as timey-whimey.
Classic Doctor, new expression.
Tuesday, 21 November 2017
This is the first story in a quartet of tales, where older incarnations of The Doctor encounter monsters from the more recent era. Written by John Dorney this is a story which evokes much of what I liked, what I loved, about the whole Tom Baker era. It is a story which feels well suited to the first three or four seasons of this most Bohemian of our favourite Time-Lord. A strangely familiar if distant and distorted location where something very nasty lurks in the shadows and dark places. Strong characters emerge and some of those strong characters are reduced to dust and bones.
Tom Baker sounds so on form too. That towering and yet emotive voice helps the drama move along at a thunderous pace, listen to the consternation in his voice as he is constantly frustrated by the very people he is trying to keep alive. It was such an entertaining ride I restarted it right after I finished it. Barely a breath between ending and beginning again.
Much like The Doctor's lives I suppose.
Saturday, 18 November 2017
I am gushing, I know, but this book has so entertained me over the last three nights. I am prone to the blues as the dark nights creep over us and this lovely book has so far proved an antidote to that melancholy shade. Not only a great story well retold it also manages to smuggle a host of wee knowing treats within the text. For instance the great Dave Gibbons gets a mention among a list of great artists named as those whose genius are not recognised within their lifetime. (.Pssssst, Dave, we all know.)
Its a era that is never so very far away from my thoughts. Probably in part because of a framed painting I have on a wall at home of Romanna as played by the lovely Lalla Ward, painted for me by a chap named Roger Shore. In the photo below you will also see a painting by Paul Holden of Leela, signed by Lovely Loise Jameson. Hope these ladies do not mind me prefixing their first names with the descriptive " Lovely." In truth they were and remain so. Lovely, luminous beings.And any friend of The Doctor is a friend of mine.
Shada was to be Douglas Adams swansong on Doctor Who. What a bitter sweet thing it is to see it out there in the public shared cultural zeitgeist about to find a host of new admirers. I almost envy the sense of discovery of coming across the work of Douglas Adams and his time on Doctor Who. I say almost because I would not want to perhaps have foregone sitting through those episodes on dark Saturday tea times oh so long ago on a sofa far, far away as they were originally broadcast.
Thursday, 16 November 2017
(From my sketchbook.)Maybe its the dark nights coming in but The far off days of the Leisure Hive recently.sprung once more to mind. The Doctor snoring away on the pebbly old Brighton beach as Romanna tried her best to entertain K9 in her Thomas Mann swimming suit. Or maybe its the imminent release of the partially animated SHADA. Or maybe its just the fact that Doctor Who is never very far away from my mind but I got to scribbling in one of my sketch books.
Next stop The Leisure Hive on the planet Argolis.
Although I will pass on a session in the Tachyon Recreation Generator.
Do not want to go to pieces.
Wednesday, 15 November 2017
For instance your own tastes may lean more towards the dark and very original comedy of Bubba-Ho-Tep by Joe R Lansdale, the story which became the hit cult movie. A rightly beloved slice of Egyptology/Americana. Or perhaps there is The Mummy's Heart by Norman Partridge, a great modern noir writer who has produced some great books and short stories. It is a great novella tucked away in the crispy bindings of this book and has the best chance of breaking out to a wider demographic than the one which would normally be drawn to such an outre collection. A coming of age yarn spawning decades in the history of small town middle america. ( I do not know if that is an actual geographical location. It has always had a location, a welcome place, in the landscape of my imagination.) if you enjoyed a Boy's Life by Robert Mc Crammon or even the movie Stand By Me or the Stephen King short story it was based on, then this is the one for you.
I also really enjoyed On Skua Island by John Langon . It so reminded me of particular movies of my youth such as the Peter Cushing creature feature Island Of Terror. It had isolated locations and mysterious things long buried that would be better left that way. I have always admired and enjoyed the antiquarian qualities of the work of MR James or EF Benson. And this wee story echoes similar themes in spades. A very atmospheric tale with old school perils given a modern twist.
I could continue this way, breaking down the individual stories and their deserving reasons for being in the big collection but I would rob you entirely of that element of discovery that has enriched the history of anthologies.
Get in there. Get dirty and dusty.
Find yer mummy.
Tuesday, 14 November 2017
The exhibition will be running until the 25th November and the doors are open to all.
Do pay a visit if you can and maybe treat yourself to a copy of his beautiful and timely book Your Little Tiny Welcome To The Great Big Whole Wide World.
Thursday, 9 November 2017
Thursday, 2 November 2017
The Doctor and Romanna have set down on a very alien world, one with a spongy soggy surface where one will sink if one remains in the same spot for too long. There are native inhabitants, not off this world, who go about their business kept aloft and afoot by the use of balloons. It all has a Lost Continent feel about it which means that this particular Tardis team are able to confidently navigate its surface, they are effective adaptors are The Doctor and Romanna. Despite being completely wrongly attired for the location there is a surprise lurking in the damp shadows; another Galifreyan, one I never expected to see.
Mostly because I never knew they existed.
The fruit of the genetic looms of Gallifrey bear very different fruits and Big Finish always deliver a bumper harvest with regularity. Last season we even saw the return of Drax, an old school chum of The Doctor's. although I have often wondered what a "drax2 is in much the same way I wondered what a "Rani" is. Its a Gallifreyan thing I suppose.
It is another story which feels era appropriate. A legacy this company seem to proudly uphold. And very successfully so I might add.
There is a Snowy Milou reference in one of the tales which got me all choked up. Honestly, felt so emotional seeing a beloved lifelong character in such a sad state that was so artfully employed I could not help but choke back a sob. I will not say which book this appeared in as the stories are loaded with bueatifully and joyful "Easter Eggs" I would not wish to diminish the impact for any reader. I do hope he is rightly celebrated for this remarkable ability. I hear Grandville was once nominated for a Hugo Award which is off course a huge honor. I cannot imagine what may have surpassed his creative vision at that time in that it is not more of a case of describing Grandville as a Hugo Award winning series as it certainly deserves to be thought of with that degree of respect.
Archibald "Archie" Le Brock is one of my favorite fictional characters, right up there with The Doctor and Sherlock Holmes and Basil Brush.
"Who is the third who walks always beside you?
When I count, there are only you and I together
But when I look ahead up the white road,
There is always another who walks beside you
gliding, wrapped in a brown mantle, hooded
I do not know whether a man or a woman
-but who is that on the other side of you?"
T.S.Elliot, The Wasteland And Other Poems.
Journey To The Dark Side is a fledgling web site which seeks to draw in subscribers using photographs and subscribers created purely to appeal to its viewers prurient natures (Ahem, 90% of everything on the internet.) Simon Newman is a founding member and main contributor to the site. He is a sort of "Go With Noates" for a nightmarish millenial generation in search of the Darkside. In search of arcanna and thrills that will not require leaving the soft glow of a console screen. Simon is a damaged fellow following a harrowing experience with a madman deep underground on a perilous potholing expedition, one he escaped with his life if not entirely a healthy state of being. He is something of a wounded beast desperate for closure through widening his life experiences by perhaps throwing his negative feelings into some comparitive relief. A trip to Everest seems to be just what a bad doctor would prescribe and indeed proves to be the bitter pill he swallows. The things people will do for secure web hits, tsk,tsk. Causing people to go against their better natures.
Its a book that plays with memories and notions of regrets. It is a story about a damaged man trying to rebuild himself in a haunted realm. The horror is subtle and lingers, like a climb in a high place. The story never gets above itself though, the characters remain complex but very human.
The stuff of ghost stories.
by William Besik.