Thursday, 15 September 2016

Power Of The Daleks.

Thought it was just a rumour. One of those wee wishful thinking yarns started by Doctor Who fans trying to manipulate the fates and actually make something happen. Guess they did 'cause it is coming this November ( possibly the 23rd?). How clean and sharp the animation looks. I imagine this is going to top a few wish liswts with Santa this year. So depending on if you have been naughty or nice this could be waiting under the Christmas tree for you.
             I am familiar with the story thanks to the John Peel novelization and the audio recording ( A lovely gift from an old chum Jamie.) so this animated adaption of the story literally has a dream like quality to it.
             Brace yourselves chums. If this proves to be a good seller you can probably expect them to try it again. Imagine The Evil Of The Daleks or Fury From The Deep or The Highlanders Or The Abominable Snowmen..Oh Yes!
             They have already played out in the theater of my mind but my imagination is a bit of a crumbling ramshackle old theater.
              It is even haunted. I once said to a friend that I thought that Patrick Troughton was The Doctor I am most familiar with aurally.
              "For heavens sake do not say that out loud" he replied.

Doctor/Donna Adventures.

Was so looking forward to this boxed set from Big Finish and boy it did not disapoint. Listened to one of the three adventures on three di8fferent nights, did not want to glut myself on this wee aural Whovian  treat (oh Yeah, try saying that out loud and not get a funny look.) Contemplated listening to one story on a different Saturday night over a three week period in an attempt to revive or recreate that old Saturday-nightness of the Doctor/Donna Era (One of my favourite Tardis teams.) but I put that idea out on the doorstep along with the empty milk bottles and the pet sabre tooth cat.
               Time Reaver.
               Death And The Queen.
               Three great character driven stories that remind me why that special year of Who feels now like a Golden Era. Actually got goosebumps the first time that much missed version of the theme tune kicked in (c'mon current Who custodians kick that version of the theme tune up the back side. It is good but it should be great. Great enough to match the stunning time pieces opening credits.)
                Donna was never just a companion, she was more than an assistant, she was a full on chum. And it never felt awkward or forced. Just two wonderful beings enjoying each others company.
                Two friends completing each other.
                Oh more please.
                And maybe next time they could include Bernard Cribbins. I miss Wilf.

Lourdes Demons.

                                                              (From my sketchbook.)
Came across this picture in aq book on the history of the religious place of pilgrimage and holy shrine Lourdes( the book was called " Lourdes; Body And Spirit In The secular Age." by Ruth Harris.) Well, that is to say I came across the original print which my drawing is loosely based on. It depicts two scheming demons standing on a hill over looking the shrine discussing how they may mess it up as a destination for pilgrims. I think the original may have been a pro-shrine satire on certain voices raised in objection to the notion of Lourdes as a place of miracles and healing. Who can truly say if it is or it is not; it all comes down to personal belief.
             I have no wish to appear cynical regarding peoples personal religious beliefs  or to try and take from them even the vaguest notion that there is the possibility of miraculous healing in this world. But is it not something else to think of evil forces as living entities, demons and such?  An embodied force that watches , waits and calculates how to undermine a moral dimension. Yet I suppose if we take the trouble to create an actual force for good then the balance of that is an equally real force for,bad stuff. Like a Sauron with many different helmets.
               Or a divine NogBad.

In The Blood.

Read the doctor Who book In The Blood which reunites the Tardis team of the Doctor and Donna in a tale that feels so much like that wonderful period( Although possessed of a Casino Royale/Bond budjet.) The writer Jenny T. Colgan really brings that favourite Tardis team back to life. It is the Doctor and Donna and yet it also feels embedded with the great chemistry of Tennant and Tate. that is a visual and aural thing that she manages to bring back with what I suspect is deceptive ease.
             Hard to believe this is an era of Who which is now past as it still feels so fresh. It is pehaps that Jenny T. colgan has married the characters to a theme and an issue which pollutes the shared cultural zeitgeist at this very moment. In the very real minutes of this desperate hour. I am probably exaggerating the nature of the real world threat the novel exposes. you read the first few chapters and you say to yourself "wait a moment this is actually happening, right there in front of me.".
              Saw Jenny T Colgan on a chat show. She seems a lovely person, Very personable with an interesting tattoo ( A tattoo should be interesting. There should never an exist a tattoo which is moribund. ) I read her other Doctor Who novel Dark Horizons a while back. It had Vikings in it and fiery alien demons. Good stuff. An Eleventh Doctor story that had him travelling on his own. Post Ponds Pre Clara. It is still amazing to me how the tone of a show can change when the leads are so different. I never get used to it and I suspect it might be one of the truly magical things about this old show. Jenny T Colgan really brought back to me that feeling of trying to get home from work on a Saturday night to settle down in time for another episode of my favourite television show. I completely forget at times what an enormous fan base it has. Reading a book that captures the essential tone of a show is a remarkable skill and as reading is such a solitary experience it lends itself to this magical alchemical response.

First Favourites.

In my first year at Holy Cross Boys School the first two books I read at school were the Ladybird the Musicians Of Bremen and High On A Hill. The first blew my mind (Hey, Do not judge, I was not a very worldly child and the thought of a gang of talking animals banding together to trick some robbers out of their forest head quarters was right up there with the best of The Arabian Nights.) I actually remember racing home to retell the tale to my ma after reading it. I loved the page where the animals form a screeching totem pole of terror to shock the gang into fleeing their hut.
            Mind you, I remember thinking "Who will do the dishes?" after peering at the animals enjoying their stolen feast on the cover of the book. The rooster and the donkey are just not equipped to handle dishes and cutlery.It would most likely be down to the dog and cat to look after the kitchen duties and such. I was worried that the animals friendship might crumble under the weight of domestic irresponsibility.
               High On A Hill is a story told over the course of a year in which a fifties type Americana family unit move to a new town and the seasons change. I think this book raised my young life expectations to an unrealistic level. I thought my life was going to be all white picket fences and circuses. Just as the Northern Irish Troubles kicked off. The curse of being born into interesting times.
                I have loved books so much since. Always engaging and always life enriching. I can only thank whoever first pushed me towards reading and enjoying books.
                I cannot imagine a life without them.

Would You Like a Jellybaby?

                                                      (From my sketchbook.)
                                                        Well, who would,nt?

Saturday, 3 September 2016

Magpie Murders.

When I was a young catholic growing up in Belfast I often found myself struggling with the vagueness of my birth assigned faith. Especially the complex traditions that went along with established forms of worship, in the mass.For instance before a reading from a gospel it would state that it was an extract from a letter by Saint Paul to the Corinthians or Saint Conan to the Cimmerians. To my young uneducated mind I would ask myself; "Who writes a letter to a whole people?" or"what was the postal address or is there a PO box ?"It seemed such hubris and even a little delusional. Do you begin such a letter "Dear Romans" or "My Dear Samaritans".?
               I had a similar feeling whilst reading this new book by the always entertaining Anthony Horowitz . Had he in fact written a letter, a love letter to be more precise, to a whole form, a whole genre? If so, if this is what he intended then I for one think he pretty much succeeded. The genre in question being the great british murder mystery. Although, and if it is not stretching the metaphor too far, his cupids arrow has gone right into the targets heart and feels like a killing blow. It does not off course. Not beyond the narrative but a clever literary murder does take place. In actual and fictional terms, In a story wrapped within an unfinished manuscript with a series of clues hidden in plain sight.
There is so much to like in this book and it really does work well on a couple of different levels. The atticus Pond "fictional" bit is really rather good and all the behind the scenes stuff about the book trade are just as interesting. He makes some very telling and up to the moment actual cultural references(Including his own baby Midsummer Murders.) and he is none too flattering about the portrait of the successful but difficult writer who goes off the top of the building. I do not believe it to be parody or even biographical but it does have the ring of truth about it. A memory or perhaps an obsevation he has translated into "fiction".
                Who knows, writers are by nature such magpies..
                                                    One For Sorrow,
                                                    Two For Joy,
                                                   Three For A Girl,
                                                     Four For A Boy,
                                                     Five For Silver,
                                                     Six For Gold,
                                       Seven For A Secret Never To Be Told.
It is a children's rhyme off course and Agatha Christie, among others, has used the form to bookend or drive forward a narrative. It could be something to do with the downcast pathos of many such rhymes or the terrifying child like logic of cautionary tales passed on as children's poems. The wisdom and hard earned virtue concealed behind much pedantic prose. He also uses  chapter headings in a clever and entertaining way, little Easter eggs of information and occasional red herrings. Nicely wrapped but smelling of fish all the same. My favourite example is Agatha Christie using William Blake for Endless Night. One of my very favourites by her.
             He adapts styles for the different voices as the story and mystery deepens. In one switch of tone he becomes surprisingly unpleasant and reminded me of a certain speaking voice of a well know writer and pop cultural commentator. And blow me if it did not turn out to be the very reason!I really enjoyed the dipping in and out of "Realities" the tension generated by where the "writer" takes us
with his series of novels.
              Murder he wrote and he makes a killing.

Clothe With The Sun.

I wrote a review for the Forbidden Planet International blog of The Countenance Divine by writer Michael Hughes and the Moderator( A New Doctor Who Bad Guy?) Joe Gordon posted it with an accompanying vision by William Blake;The Great Red Dragon.And The Woman Clothed With The Sun. It was one of a series of paintings William Blake did to illustrate various scenes from The Book Of Revelations. Every Devil Babies favorite bed time reading.
           This beautiful piece of work  being used to give context to my rambling boobie-babble is just hanging a wondrous thing in a frame that does it no favors. Still, I do love it.

Gene Wilder.

                                                   "There is no life I know to compare
                                                             to pure imagination."

A Spoke In The Wheel Of Time.

Watched a few episodes of Rod and Line on Youtube. It is an old television series with Michael Hordern which uses a fishing guide book(Some might say the fishing guide book.) by Arthur Ransome as its point of reference. It is something of an ode, lovingly rendered to the melancholy joy of a sleepy England. To watch minnows break the surface of a fast running but gently bubbling brook as they break the surface to pick at flies or a determined fisherman escaping the wear and tear of the daily grind to maybe trick a fish from the water. It is warmly narrated by Michael Hordern who literally gets his feet wet by bringing to life the words and advice of Arthur Ransome. Hordern's wonderfully humane face is so expressive and engaging as he shares Ransome's words and insights with us. He is obviously an accomplished fisherman in his own right and brings a quiet but authoritative voice to the proceedings.
            While watching it I felt my soul go to a quieter more contemplative region. For at least the length of the short episodes and the return journey is almost as pleasant. a rest for the soul from the random unpleasantness of a world that makes one feel increasingly misanthropic as it seems to make less sense daily.
              Mind you it could be that my mind has been tricked into watching it for very different reasons. I remember watching Oh Whistle And I'll Come To You by MR James as adapted by Jonathan Miller in his 1968 black and white version for the BBC. It was magnificent and one of the scariest things I have ever seen. The memory of it haunted me for years. In that version it is also Michael Hordern who plays the dusty antiquarian Professor Parkin who strays way outside his comfort zone to confront phenomenon his rational mind is unable to cope with. He even appears to be wearing the same clothes in both shows as he tramps around the English countryside and wind swept coast. I think on some level I believed the fisherman in Rod And Line is the Professor from that MR James ghost story. As if this is what he did when he was not confronting supernatural entities with faces of crumpled linen.

We Shoot The Hearts Of Doves.

                                               (From my sketchbook) Music of Choice
                                                  Hearts Of Doves by The Tiger Lillies.