Thursday, 31 December 2015

Century Wings SR-71

SR-71 Blackbird U.S.A.F 9th SRW 61-7958 1990





When I first saw this model I pretty much fell in love, the SR-71 has always been a firm favourite of mine but the price was always just that little too high. That changed when KH Norton whose mailing list I am on mentioned that had a cancelled order and were offering limited stock first come first served and at a discount, click and paid within minutes:)

Friday, 25 December 2015

2015 Seasonal TV Viewing - Die Hard

Die Hard

An annual watch so once again liberated a previous blog entry with some updates.
The debate rages on if Die Hard really qualifies as a christmas movie, it's set during christmas and you could probably engineer the same circumstances for any major holiday but for me the christmas theme is always there and becomes part of the story so it qualifies in my book. It really does have the important ingredients of family and redemption as the main character addresses mistakes made and lessons learnt through events in the movie, no different to a Christmas Carol when you get right down to it. New York Cop John McClane visits his family in LA as his wife took a good promotion but there are evident marital issues, it's not simply their jobs that are keeping them apart.
He arrives during the senior staff christmas party at the partially completed office building and before he even gets settled in the bad guys raid the festivities with superior manpower, technical resources and firepower. They present a terrorist stance but it soon becomes apparent that this is a high tech raid against the company's vaults which contains hundreds of millions of dollars in bearer bonds. While their plan seems to be going flawlessly the "fly in the ointment" soons makes his presence felt after witnessing the murder of a senior company official and the battle is on.

Die Hard from the opening scenes to the final credits is a classic action movie and is holding up very well as the years move on, yed technology wise the state of the art gadgets are laughable but the production and style of the movie seems to be proving ageless. Bruce Willis earned every penny of his then record breaking paycheck having really made the most of his success on tv with Moonlighting and negotiating a huge contract but he is ably supported by Alan RickmanBonnie Bedelia and Reginald VelJohnson. While I will always watch this movie over the christmas holidays it's also an option for when I want a good high energy action flick made when the studios were not afraid to make something for adults rather than just the family.
Welcome To The Party Pal!


Tuesday, 22 December 2015

The O.C.L.T. Omnibus: Books 1-4

The O.C.L.T. Omnibus: Books 1-4The O.C.L.T. Omnibus: Books 1-4 by David Niall Wilson
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I've grown very fond of the idea of having a single world which allows multiple authors to write for it with as much interconnectedness as they see fit. The world of OCLT uses this writing style to offer up in this collection four stories which while standalone tells a bigger story and in this case the notion of the sum of its parts holds true.
In the first story "Brought To Light"written by Aaron Rosenberg we have a US military intelligence unit searching for a scientist and one of their own agents in Sweden and they come across something totally unexpected. The second story written by David Niall Wilson is called "The Parting" and deals with ancient magics brought into the modern world with a geo-political twist and those who seek to protect the world and it's people from such things. In the third story "The Temple of Camazotz" by David Niall Wilson we have a mystery surrounding an ancient religion/god in Mexico and its use to aid in a drug smuggling operation and finally the fourth and probably best of the bunch a very X-Files style of story called "Incursion" written by Aaron and deals with mystical and everyday forces on a tribal reservation when a number of strange deaths occur.
While each of the stories are entertaining in themselves when read together the use of the same characters and structure really comes to the fore and adds immensely to the enjoyment.

View all my reviews

Monday, 21 December 2015

2015 Seasonal TV Viewing - Christmas Magic

Christmas Magic

Carrie Blackford (Lindy Booth) is driving back to the city in her new BMW when she stops off at a petrol station, she meets a bus driver and they have a friendly chat about life and christmas, he warns her to be careful driving in the icey conditions and they say goodbye. Carrie loses control of her car and smashes into a concrete pillar and wakes in central park with the bus driver and she learns that he is an Angel and after her crash she has been given the opportunity to return and improve the life of a restaurant owner. She agrees and meets Scott Walker (Paul McGillion) who owns a small restaurant which is close to failing, he is also a single parent of a young girl Abby (Kiara Glasco) and she gains his trust by offering her skills as an event planner to boost the marketing of his restaurant and she has until christmas eve to effect a change.

Christmas Magic is distributed by Hallmark so you know what you are going to get but this movie is a very definite step above the usual seasonal fare, two very good performance from Lindy and Paul with Kiara really shining. The story while certainly not unique was done well which again is helped by the casting and I don't think there is really anything not to like, well except for the singing at the end which for one song really was overplayed and didn't even sound like Scott.
 

For fans of Paul or Lindy this is the seasonal movie for you and it works if you are just looking for a family feel good movie for the holidays.


Friday, 18 December 2015

2015 Seasonal TV Viewing - While You Were Sleeping

While You Were Sleeping

This feel good movie is a Sandra Bullock romantic comedy and one of her earliest, produced after her breakout in Demolition Man and the huge hit Speed which really gave her career a boost. In this movie she is a lowly cashier/collector on the city's network of elevated trains who is mildly infatuated with a guy (Peter) she sees on daily basis. Working on a christmas eve she sees him accosted and he falls onto the tracks, she jumps on to the tracks and saves his life. A slight hiccup at the hospital has the staff and the man's family believing she is his fiancee and this surprising but most welcome news helps the family get through the holidays while their oldest son is in a coma. Meanwhile complications mount up as the lie is played out and to add a further twist Lucy (Sandra Bullock) and Jack (the older brother) played by Bill Pullman fall in love but neither will admit it thanks to guilt and existing obligations. It all comes to a head after Peter awakes from his coma and well he asks Lucy to marry him (for a second time as far as he knows) and we get the classic farce wedding scene as everything comes to a head.



While You Were Sleeping is an excellent romantic comedy and a great feel good christmas movie, there is not a bad character or performance in the entire film even Joe Jr. Since I watch this movie every christmas I've taken last years blog entry and tweaked it a little, my opinions haven't changed, this will always be on my must watch list at christmas if not anytime.


Wednesday, 16 December 2015

2015 Seasonal TV Viewing - Scrooged

Scrooged

I watch this movie every year so being the lazy so and so I am I copied and pasted the majority of this entry into the blog, so there:)
There have been many adaptations of the classic Dickens novel and to be honest those that stay within the traditional setting leave me a little dry so when I first watched Scrooged many many years ago it was because of it's star a certain Bill Murray. Since then I have watched the movie more times than I care to think about with no shame in the reasoning, it's an excellent reworking of the tale in a more modern era (well modern as in when it was made) and combines all the important aspects of the original with some very good comedic elements both through visual gags and some excellent writing and performances.

Robert Mitchum was great in his small role and Karen Allen as always a delight and it's hard to fault any of the actors, I particular liked the score for the movie as well. It was also rewarding to have a movie that made full use of the talents of Bobcat Goldthwait without going over the top, his hunting rabbit line was inspired and a sign of the times, Lee Majors was a fun cameo for those that grew up when he was a headliner on television:)




2015 Seasonal TV Viewing - A Christmas Horror Story

A Christmas Horror Story

All I really knew about this movie was that William Shatner had a pivotal but small role and truth be told he was magnificent as the radio disk jockey who was used to tie the stories all together. Yes this movie is comprised of a number of separate stories each I assumed directed by one of the guys who shared credit for the movie. One story deals with the investigation of a year old double murder of two young people at a private school, three teens sneak into the building to make a documentary and find themselves locked in the building where the murders took place. Another story has the original police officer who investigated the crime trying to get his life back with his wife and son, he had taken leave for stress after the bloody events of the year before. The family goes to get a tree from some private land and there is an incident with his son which turns christmas eve upside down. The next story follows a rather dysfunctional family on a trip to a wealthy relative, again it does not go well and on the way back they crash their car and have to walk through the woods but there is something out there that punishes the naughty. The final story is more whimsical as we are at the North Pole and Santa is almost ready for his annual trip around the world when something terrible happens to his elves and hell comes to the workshop.

William Shatner as Dangerous Dan
Adrian Holmes as Scott
A Christmas Horror Story was an entertaining movie, Bill was brilliant and each story made full use of the tropes of the genre although I have to say I had an inkling about the story that was being unveiled as the movie went on but it still was enough of a surprise to be a credit to the writers, directors and editors.

Monday, 14 December 2015

2015 Seasonal TV Viewing - Under the Mistletoe

Under the Mistletoe

Under the Mistletoe is a 2006 movie which stars Michael Shanks as Kevin Harrison and Jaime Ray Newman as Susan Chandler. Susan lost her husband in a car accident the year before and her son Jonathan (Burkely Duffield) claims that the ghost or spirit of his father has returned and talks to him, his snotty and smack worthy attitude combined with financial pressures has the first christmas without her husband becoming a bit of nightmare.
Susan meets Kevin after she rams his car while she was talking on the phone, it's not a great first meeting and the second meeting is after Jonathan attacked a fellow student and she is called in to talk to the councillor and yep Kevin is the new school councillor.
Kevin is sympathetic and offers to go above and beyond to help Jonathan although you wonder even at this stage he is attracted to Susan, of course nothing they can do will make Kevin look anything but a good guy mainly because the "spirit" of the dead husband (Tom played by Conan Graham) comes across as a bit of a dick. First he communicates with his son with no regard to how the world would see something talking themselves in public least of all a young boy surrounded by his peers so getting bullied isn't a surprise. Tom also goes on to pretty much stalk and terrify his former wife with his spooky piano playing and lights flickering. To be fair he ultimately shows he wants the best for his family by supporting the story's main plot to get Kevin and Susan together albeit in a very complicated way and with many a false start but this is a christmas family movie and you will get the happy ending:)

Hockey is involved in this movie.
Under the Mistletoe has it's issues but overall it's a good seasonal movie with some fine performances from the two leads and well worth a mention is Ingrid Torrance (SG1) who played Diane Holmes, but I disliked the son and hated the father and the dotty shopkeeper had me seething:)


Sunday, 13 December 2015

2015 Seasonal TV Viewing - Hell On Wheels

Hell On Wheels

AMC chose to split the fifth season in half showing the first seven episodes in 2015, the remainder of the season has yet to have a US airdate announced but it can't come soon enough.


The fifth season follows our anti-hero Cullen Bohannan played by Anson Mount as he continues the search for his wife and child and to aid that he is now working for the Central Pacific railroad driving through the Sierra Nevada mountains. The storyline deals strongly with the Chinese aspect of building the railroad from the exploitation of contracted labour, class of cultures and racism inherent in the people and the system of the time.
Tim Guinee returns as a regular playing Collis Huntington the railroad owner and Christopher Heyerdahl once more aids an appropriate amount of devious menace to the proceedings despite his current cloak of religious respectability. Of course we can't forget Colm Meaney as the larger than life Thomas Durant who continues to be totally untrustworthy as he drives the Union Pacific westward. In the center of the season so far is the ever present shadow of Salt Lake City and the Brigham Young who is looking to have the two railroads meet in his city and lead to a utopia where his people and religion would become dominant.



AMC may consider The Walking Dead to be their crown jewel and it is in pure viewership but I can't help but believe Hell On Wheels would get as much praise and marketability if more people would take a chance on it. The writing has been flawless throughout the series and production levels second to none given so much location work and the period aspect of the show. The final episode of this run left us with a bit of a cliffhanger which you realise they have been building towards since the previous season if not the very first and that is the quality of the writing.
There is no doubt in my mind that come the conclusion of the series a Blu-ray boxset will find a welcoming home on my shelves and once I can submerge myself in the birth of the intercontinental railroad and all that hell it brought with it.


Saturday, 12 December 2015

2015 Seasonal TV Viewing - Groundhog Day

Groundhog Day

While the movie is certainly not set at christmas there is a lot of snow and you get the main character on a path of redemption, that for me makes it a christmas movie and one I do watch more than once a year. To be honest anyone that doesn't consider it worth finding the time to watch one of Bill Murray's best movies has something wrong with them:)



Groundhog Day follows Phil Connors a very arrogant regional weather man who draws the short straw to visit Punxsutawney and cover the Ground Hog festival. He goes along with his camera man and new line producer (Rita Hanson played by Andie MacDowell) and the coverage of the event is fine but on the way back they get caught in an unexpected snow storm and return to Punxsutawney. Phil awakes the next day to the same music on the radio and the same people in the same situations, he is living the day all over again and again and again.
The majority of the movie covers Phil as he explores the options with living the same day so many times, he uses it to seduce women, steal money and indulge the more negative aspects of his character until he sees the opportunity to better himself with music and medicine and many other things to make those around him feel better. Ultimately having spent so much time in the company of Rita he eventually has an almost perfect day and no matter how hard he tries he can not recreate it until she surprises him and maybe herself and they spend the night in his room and he awakes to find her at his side. Phil can now live the rest of his life.

Groundhog Day is a classic comedy with dramatic elements but at it's heart it's teaching the viewer a lesson as we see Phil fall and rise as he embraces the negative and then the positive aspects of humanity. It also has Stephen Tobolowsky and that is never a bad thing:)
Ned... Ryerson. "Needlenose Ned"? "Ned the Head"?

Friday, 11 December 2015

2015 Seasonal TV Viewing - The Santa Clause Movies

The Santa Clause

The first movie in this trilogy is a comedy but has a serious overtone missing from the following two and it doesn't feel out of place, in fact it adds some weight to the story that's missing in those that follow. So Scott Calvin (Tim Allen) is a workaholic who has ruined his marriage to the point his young son Charlie has no desire to spend christmas eve with him. During the night they are both woken by noise on the roof and find a guy dressed as Santa, he is startled and falls to his death, you see what I mean, not all sunshine and rainbows. Scott puts on the Santa suit which triggers the "clause", he is now officially Santa and completes the rounds for this christmas with Charlie in tow. For the following year Scott is in denial which causes grief with his son and ex-wife but as christmas approaches he gains weight, grows a beard and THE list arrives. IMDB


The Santa Clause 2

So Scott Calvin is settled in as Santa but his son Charlie is on the naughty list after lashing out at school and vandalising property. The principal Carol Newman played by the simply gorgeous Elizabeth Mitchell is not willing to spend money on decorations and comes across as a bit of a hard ass but we soon learn she is very different in her personal life which is helpful as Scott needs to find a Mrs Claus before christmas day or he ceases to be Santa. Scott begins to court Elizabeth and wins her over until he reveals his identity and she pretty much flips accusing him of running away from commitment and honesty. Meanwhile a "fake" Santa is running the North Pole and when he gets hold of the rule book begins his reign of terror, coal for every child in the world. IMDB


The Santa Clause 3 The Escape Clause

In the final movie in the series Carol in very pregnant and the pressures of being away from her family clash with Scott and his commitment to getting ready for christmas. He decides to bring her parents to the North Pole and disguise it as a Canadian toy factory but Jack Frost who is looking to become a force in the world manipulates events and gets Scott to admit he wished none of this had happened. The escape clause is triggered and time rewinds and Jack Frost becomes Santa and the North Pole is turned into a theme park and money making machine. Scott having lived the time again and losing friends and family visits the North Pole and attempts to remove Jack and revert the timeline to what it was meant to be. IMDB


The Santa Clause movies are a lot of fun, I enjoy the second movie as I like the romance between Scott and Carol but it's also a little funnier. The first movie is probably the better "film" but a shade darker and the third is more slapstick and has a significantly smaller budget and it shows.
Great christmas movies though and I've just seen the Blu-ray boxset (I have it on DVD) but the price is a little high, maybe I'll check again after the holidays:)


Thursday, 10 December 2015

2015 Seasonal TV Viewing - Trapped In Paradise

Trapped In Paradise



There are many Nicholas Cage movies I don't like and there are many that have received viewer and critical acclaim and judging from the reviews Trapped In Paradise is a movie that is not that good nor appreciated by the audience. That said for some reason I just enjoy watching this movie once a year during the christmas holidays, at least from about about ten minutes in:)

Trapped In Paradise deals with three brothers namely Bill, Alvin and Dave played by (Nick Cage, Dana Carvey and Jon Lovitz) who rob a bank in the small town of Paradise and from then on through a number of trials come to understand that what they did was wrong and change their evil ways and are rewarded for it. On the surface you can easily see the appeal during the holiday period as bad guys (but not really) meet good people who by example bring the antagonists back to the side of goodness. Of course this is comedy and relies a little too much on the usual sticht of Dana and Jon with Nick as the straight man, it doesn't always work and that is where the movie falls a little flat. The support cast is excellent though with some great performances both in the emotional sense and the humour and I would say adds more to the movie than the main cast. I'm not going into any specific plot points even though this movie was released in 1994 because my guess is that this probably passed you by even in the great days of video rental and for the last few years anything with Nick Cage in the credits (barring established hits) seems to be avoided by the mainstream audiences.


Trapped In Paradise is not a great christmas movie despite some very familiar themes, it's not a great crime caper or fish out of water comedy either but overall it kinda works and is certainly worth a watch.





Wednesday, 9 December 2015

2015 Seasonal TV Viewing - Deadliest Catch

Deadliest Catch

This is the eleventh season of the Discovery Channels premier reality/drama show dealing with the crab fishermen of the Bering Sea. While overall there was nothing new in this season the ingredients to make the final product offered up plenty of humour and drama with the usual mix of relationship and real world issues impacting on the job.

It has to be said that Deadliest Catch makes no bones about clever editing to maximise drama and pretty sure they milk the ups and downs of the "greenhorns" who are taking their first trip on a working crab boat. That said the entertainment derived from watching men (and a woman) face down mother nature never lets up and while we don't see weeks of simple, clear skies and calm seas fishing we do see the worse the crabbers have to deal with. The downside of an edited reality show is that you simply do not know for sure how serious events and situations are so you're never quite sure if you should invest in the conflicts between characters or events in their real life. However as before the sheer thrill of watching the boats and crews brave 30 foot rogue waves which smash the decks more than makes up for any question mark you put against a "story" being told.


The eleventh season had eighteen episodes and perhaps the highlight was Jake making a move away from the NorthWestern to skipper the Saga, it was very risky and perhaps proved he still wasn't quite ready but he didn't fail and that's a learning experience. He also became a father and pretty much had to leave right away to take on his duties on his new boat, it's that element of real world and the extreme workplace that makes this series work.



Monday, 7 December 2015

2015 Seasonal TV Viewing - Ice Pilots NWT

I'm going to be posting some comments and/or reviews for the programming I watch while off work this December, these are not particularly shows that are aimed at the holiday market but shows I have put aside throughout the year with the intent to marathon.

So let us begin...

Ice Pilots NWT

The sixth and final season of this reality/docudrama only had eight episodes and in many ways it benefitted since they didn't have to dream up some of the more "silly" storylines to keep the show going. In truth the show sticks to the formula, the everyday lives of the main family and personnel of Buffalo Airlines as well as the ups and downs of the airline itself and as is the norm new "characters" thrown in to spice things up. This season we got Air Canada demanding the removal of Joe, a major engine fire on one of the C-64's, problems when all the large cargo planes were down during the christmas rush and the loss of Sophie the dog who had been with Joe and the airline for 16 years.


The entry level job for pretty much everyone with the airline is reception/cargo and on the ramp, again we are introduced to a couple of new guys looking to become pilots but have to pay their dues with those important but thankless tasks. We also learn that one of the DC-3's believed to have been used in D-Day was indeed one of the hundreds used drop paratroopers behind enemy lines prior to the invasion. With proof Mikey approaches the Canadian Air Force and offers the plane to celebrate the anniversary of invasion and bravery of the troops and we get a very interesting and compelling storyline as the plane has to be retrofitted to original spec along with some safety features and of course a couple of the Buffalo guys choose to make their first jumps as well.



I enjoyed this final season of Ice Pilots NWT, a good mix of characters and situations without going to the extreme that some reality shows which centered on real world concerns, of course they still create conflict and manipulate people but they showed some restraint.





Saturday, 14 November 2015

My Random Journey Through Trek #57

Genesis
TNG

The Enterprise is field testing a new weapons system and day to day events around sickbay are in full swing, Reg is complaining of just about everything but Crusher does spot an anomalous reading on her tricorder. She injects Reg with a compound which will activate a gene which will help fight an infection and so life goes on. A photon torpedo goes astray so Data and Picard go to fetch it in a shuttle, they do not return for three days and the Enterprise is not at the agreed location, they search for the ship and find it a couple of light years away but something is seriously wrong.
During the time that the shuttle has been searching for the torpedo the crew have been struck down by a mysterious malady which has affected each one differently, Worf for example has become aggressive and primal, Riker forgetful and indecisive and Troi is always thirsty and cold and after three days no one is what they once were.

Picard and Data are able to identify the problem thanks to the fact that Spot (now a lizard) has given birth and the kittens seem fine and lucky for them Nurse Ogawa is pregnant and her amniotic fluid will provide the elements required to create a retrovirus for the crew.

Well what can you say about Genesis?
We kick off with Riker seemingly letting the whole sickbay know who he was fooling around with and so much for 24th century uniforms if a quill can penetrate them. Reg is once again his hypochondriac self and being a total pain in the backside, I still don't quite understand how he survived the rigors of Starfleet selection. Crusher to be fair is doing her best despite a room full of people and no semblance to privacy at all which I can assume may have led to her slight mistake when dealing with T- Cell's (cue Resident Evil flashbacks). Anyhow she gives Reg an injection to turn on a gene which is normally active and in walks Data with Spot who is due to give birth any day now. Yep in Starfleet the vet is the doctor, for a ship with so many specialists experts in veterinary medicine would not have been a surprise to me, the lack of is. We also get a very 20th and 21st century joke at the expense of the human male and dealing with pregnancy, oh how we laugh.
The Enterprise is field testing new weapons and targeting systems, could be fun but why in the middle of nowhere, these are not next-gen developments and they would have been thoroughly tested before even getting put into the flagship. I also laughed myself silly at Worf claiming he created the targeting systems, seriously these would have been designed by very intelligent and specialised personnel at Starfleet, not a bridge security officer with every day education. So a torpedo goes astray, they chat a bit and then decide to detonate it but oops it's out of range (ok maybe a good idea to be in the middle of nowhere) but the Captain goes to fetch the LIVE WEAPON OF MASS DESTRUCTION, oh dear.
So Picard and Data are off the ship and thus begins the transformation of the crew beginning with small behavioral changes, Worf is hyper Klingon which is quite entertaining and Troi wants something salty (snigger) and Worf later is happy to help, funny enough Troi looked quite fetching the bathtub.
We get to see most of the regular crew undergoing some changes but obviously they have to limit these since they can not show everyone after the transformation so we get caveman Riker and fish face Troi and battle tank Worf but the best has to be Spot the lizard:)
Ah yes the kittens save the day, knew there was a reason why animals were kept by crew members, sorry but it was stupid on Enterprise and still stupid on TNG, mind you the whole crew are animals at the moment so what do I know. It was indeed lucky that Nurse Ogawa announced she was pregnant, an excellent way to make the story work but very heavy handed, she did look funny as a primate but even with 70% DNA match I think she should have looked very different.

I had some major issues with the episode, first off it didn't really work, the setup felt haphazard and amateurish, the reasoning behind the transformations far fetched and the solution and total reversal of the condition the oh so typical scifi reset. We also had the Captain stating he was adjusting attitude control which seemed kind of pointless and the shuttle sensors were getting a visual image from two light years away, that's freaking impressive. The sickbay door seemed to be made out of fabric and Data in the close up looked very very old (HD doing the makeup no favours at all). The real twist of the knife was the almost happy and cheerful finish to the episode, people died on this ship and certainly more than the guy at the con, there would be bits of people all over the place as the crew turned on each other. Oh and Crusher, your incompetence should have you struck off, kinda your fault my arse! They also ducked the issue of Ogawa's unborn, she should have lost the fetus, yes it was immune to the virus but her body chemistry would have seriously compromised it.

I could easily have switched this episode off after ten minutes, yes I consider it that bad and the rating will reflect that but credit where it is due, some of the cinematography was very nice, the use of the subwoofer was perfect and ambient sound effects were spot on (award winning). Marina put everything into playing an amphibian and Riker did remind me of Oddbod from Carry on Screaming so points:)
Rating 1




Sunday, 8 November 2015

Bloodletting Part 2: The Affinities Cycle Book 1 Part 2

Bloodletting Part 2: The Affinities Cycle Book 1 Part 2Bloodletting Part 2: The Affinities Cycle Book 1 Part 2 by Peter J Wacks
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

The second novel in The Affinities Cycle "Bloodletting Part 2" continues with the youngsters who survived the massacre and destruction of Jaegen by the mysterious Oroc be they imprisoned by these beings of the woodlands or supposedly safe in the heart of Castle Drayston. Events however continue to unfold and shed new light on the barbaric attacks against both Human and Oroc settlements pointing to a bigger picture as forces are played against each other but to what end remains a mystery.
I picked up the first novel in the series as part of a Bundle deal (you know the type) and after reading and totally enjoying the world and characters created by Peter and Mark I've patiently awaited the second installment and it was well worth it. The story and characterisation are both stronger in this novel perhaps because the overarching narrative is weaving into the events binding them all together where as in the first it was more scene setting and world building. Of course the down side of finishing this type of novel is the wait for the next installment but for now we have two of the series ready and waiting your attention:)

View all my reviews

Thursday, 5 November 2015

Superhero Soundtracks

Thanks to La La Land Records I got copies of The Flash season 1 and Arrow season 3 soundtracks both signed by the composer Blake Neely.



Sunday, 1 November 2015

Ladies of Kirk

My book of the Ladies of Kirk arrived from the US the other day, many thanks to Kelley and of course Kickstarter and CBS who could have been dicks about this project but weren't.


My Random Journey Through Trek #56

Ferengi Love Songs
Deep Space Nine

If life isn't hard enough for Quark without his business licence an infestation of voles has put his bar off limits and so like a good boy he goes home to mother for the love only she can give, well that's the plan anyway. As usual it's raining on Ferenginar and Ishka seems a little disturbed the Quark has just turned up and the reason soon becomes apparent as the Grand Negus and his guard are hiding in the closet. This confuses Quark who is at best paranoid but in his current mental condition he's utterly confused until it becomes clear that his mother and Zek are having an affair which is being kept quiet from the glare of Ferengi society.
DS9 in HD please :)

Ah, old wrinkly love
As you would expect Quark isn't totally happy about all this, he still has issues with his mother wearing clothes etc but he eventually comes around after all having Zek as a friend of the family is just good business. Zek however isn't going to return Quarks business license and Ishka agrees, Quark has to accept the consequences but much to his surprise he then finds Brunt hiding in his closet and he offers Quark a deal, disrupt the romance between Zek and Ishka and the FCA will return his license. Quark the opportunist he is wrecks the romance but then finds that Zek is having memory issues and Brunt knew about it and the fact that Ishka was helping to stabilize the Grand Nagus. The political moves are now in motion to remove Zek and make Brunt the Negas but Quark reveals his part in the plot and together they allow Zek to survive the FCA examination and retain his position. Quark then reveals to Zek his part in breaking up the romance and when he admits the truth his mother and his Nagas are reunited, Brunt allows Quark to retain his license knowing he will get a chance to destroy Quark sooner or later.

The "B" plot to this episode dealt with Rom and Leeta and the interference of many of the staff of DS9, the couple broke up and then got back together with plenty of angst and misunderstandings all around.
Brunt FCA
The episode begins with the chaos that is a vole hunt, lots of noise and confusion but still the question remains why sensors and transporters can't handle the infestation, ah yes Cardassian technology always falls short when the plot requires it:)
Quark is depressed, not surprising so the joy of Rom and Leeta getting married doesn't quite hit the mark, kudos for the spectacular cleavage shot of Leeta, the directors were never shy in showing off the beauty that is Chase on the show and it is in character for a dabo girl even one in a serious relationship. I also liked the idea that when Quark is at his lowest he goes home to mother even if it's chucking it down (as usual) on Ferenginar and I never really noticed how "Hobbit" like the dwellings were. It was hilarious how Quark was indignant over the missing action figures and how much later he laments his lack of foresight when taking them out of the original packaging.
As for the closet, never have so many people hid or beamed into such a small space for dramatic impact, that was wonderful and worked so well throughout the episode. I also liked the story of how Zek and Ishka met and you have to say that Zek has a little bit of a kinky side after all a strong relationship with a clothed female is far outside the norm for this culture. You also have to wonder about Brunt and his obsession with Quark but in this case the plan to depose Zek made a lot of sense and would have gotten Brunt a lot of credit even from Zek supporters if the "rumours" were believed. It was also revealing to hear Quark go on about Human ethics and morality as a form of brainwashing and yes we do see in DS9 the social structure of the Ferengi begin to alter thanks to the influence of outside forces not through direct military or political pressure. When push comes to shove Quark does do the right thing, I don't think we ever had any doubt and great to see Ishka and Zek living life to the full even if it makes Quark squirm a little:)

Meanwhile on DS9 we have fun as Rom and Leeta listen and take advice from their friends, well intended but their relationship is based on Rom moving well away from his traditional roots so an equal 50/50 marriage was never going to be their thing. That said when Rom finally figures out that Leeta is not after his meagre profits his choice to donate all of his money to the Bajoran Orphan fund and start the marriage with nothing was a grand gesture and pretty much sealed the deal.

Ferengi Love Songs was a fun episode and DS9 once again proves the Ferengi are a good species when you have the right actors and good scripts. Wallace Shawn Jeffrey Combs and Cecily Adams were all outstanding.

Rating 8

Sunday, 18 October 2015

Pangaea

PangaeaPangaea by Michael Burstein
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Pangaea was a project I backed via Kickstarter for many reasons, a number of the authors included in this anthology were very familiar to me having read many of their other works both original and licensed properties and I find the idea of a central theme being shared amongst authors very appealing. In this collection the core idea is that the Earth has a single supercontinent and many of the environmental conditions which created our global society as it is never happened so how would mankind develop with say no huge tracts of water separating the evolution of species and development of technologies?
In this anthology we have a main story arc that is central to some of the stories and in others only mentioned in a single sentence but this method really binds the whole concept together. I'm not going to go into detail in regards to specific stories because they all offer their own unique appeal but I will say there were some fantastic tales being told and again not to repeat myself the fact that they are linked adds a level of enjoyment that pure stand alone anthologies can not offer.

View all my reviews

Saturday, 17 October 2015

My Random Journey Through Trek #55

A Piece of the Action
Star Trek

The Enterprise approaches Sigma Iotia II a planet that was visited by a human crewed starship a century previously, fearing cultural contamination Kirk has been sent to investigate. They receive a signal from the planet from a man calling himself Bela Oxmyx with an invitation to visit, Kirk accepts and calls for Bones and Spock to join him.
They beam down onto a street which looks like a typical American locale with vehicles and outfits which match the late 1920's era, nearly everyone seems to be armed and soon two men approach and take the landing party captive. As they lead them away a car roars by and a machine gun opens fire, one man dies and the rest make their escape and proceed to Bela Oxmyx the "boss". He's overjoyed to see the "Feds" who are from the same organisation as those of the Horizon but he is not dealing in good faith, he demands a supply of "heaters" so he can remove the competition. Spock sees a large book on a pedestal entitled "Chicago Mobs of the Twenties" and indeed this book along with some basic text books have been used to shape this culture into what it is today, devoid of civil government but a number of organised crime families who run everything.

Taxpayers demanding their rights
When Kirk refuses Bela he tells his goons to put them away somewhere safe, they are taken to a warehouse under guard and Kirk ingratiates himself into the goons card game by mildly insulting them, he then goes onto to invent the mind boggling "Fizzbin" card game and once distracted the landing party subdue the goons, Spock and McCoy return to the ship and Kirk grabs a gun and heads back to Bela's office. He doesn't get far before being waylaid by a goon working for the rival boss "Krako" who then pretty much demands the same concessions from Kirk, he refuses again and is locked up but escapes. Spock and McCoy beam back down to negotiate with Bela who takes them prisoner again but Kirk turns up, disarms everyone and steals their suits. He and Spock then raid the officers of Krako, get taken prisoner again but Kirk is able to get Krako beamed onto the ship and during the confusion they escape and make their way back to Bela. Kirk then plays the part of a "boss" himself working for the Feds, he informs Bela and Krako that the Feds are taking over and if they play ball they could get a piece of the action. Bela calls each of the bosses in turn and Scotty tracks the signal and beams them into the room where Kirk lays down the law but when some goons turn up and questions begin to be asked he has Scotty use the ships phasers on low power to stun everyone around the block and demonstrating the power of the Feds. Bela is made boss with Krako second in command and Kirk promises the Feds will be back in a year to pick up their 40% of the planets profits.
Fizzbin is Addictive

Fuzzy hats but sharp suits
A Piece of the Action begins with the surprising news that the Federation has only just learnt about the cultural contamination by the Horizon a century after the ship was destroyed, standard radio signals had only just been picked up but you still have a small question over the reckless nature of the space fleet back then, we assume the fledgling Starfleet was still playing with a prime directive. More surprising is that the planet contacts the Enterprise, not quite sure how they managed that but not to worry this Bela guys sounds reasonable so much so Kirk doesn't take any security with him.
Always enjoyed the Paramount backlot this time in classic gangster era guise and my oh my the young woman certainly wiggled when she walked, I'm sure Kirk and McCoy were feeling right at home until of course the tommy gun wielding goons appeared. We then get a classic drive by which was done very well, a rather high energy dramatic sequence for the show and just to add the cherry on top two I assume ladies of negotiable affection accost the surviving goon demanding that the "percentage" they pay should be funding better street conditions etc. I've to admit that this "tax" in everything but name would work in theory, a good boss would make sure those who paid for his protection/favour got a return making the cost a worthwhile investment and allowing the local society to flourish. We then meet Bela who makes it a point to show off his "dame" and his well total lack of skill on the pool table but the clash of expectations makes for good drama and of course we see the "book" which has caused this culture to embrace this aspect of US culture. "Chicago Mobs of the Twenties" was left behind by the Horizon and it seems to have become the bible for this culture dictating how they should live and interact with each other, it hamstrings them in many ways but has certainly empowered the growth of this worlds technology. One thing you do quickly realise is that Shatner and by extension Kirk is having a lot of fun hamming it up, even introducing "Fizzbin" was a scene worthy of any comedy/drama of the time, it was inspired and shooting Kirk and the goon up close just added to the impact of the scene.
Spock and McCoy go to the radio station and yes as McCoy says Spock has got the nerve pinch down to a fine art although truth be told the actress was making the most of her time on screen but the humour of the scene continues with Spock being taken down a peg or two by his failure to get the Enterprise on the first retune of the AM station. Kudos to Kirk for doing a MacGyver long before that show every hit the screen and clever of the goons to realise that until the transporter beam stopped sparking they were safe. I'm not sure if we had two sets of suits one for the goons and the other for Kirk and Spock but they certainly seemed to fit well on the two Starfleet officers and they looked cool with hats and tommy guns:)
Brace yourself now, Krrk is going to drive a manual motor vehicle. The grinding of gears puts a smile on your face, the reverse and crunch has you laughing and then the stop/start progression through the streets is just ridiculously funny but we're not done there. Kirk is approached by a youngster who realises they are going to hit Krako and offers his services as a distraction for a piece of the action, nice touch that. The writers must have been on a roll, the guys return to the car and it's Spock deadpan saying when Kirk sees his is a little concerned that it's Kirk driving that is alarming.

The story begins to wrap itself up when Kirk is in full on gangster mode, he forces his personality onto the situation and the bosses and goons respond and only question the path they are being led down when the shooting starts outside. Lucky I guess the ship's phasers can be set for stun since it offers a very clear demonstration of the consequences of not playing ball with the Feds and so the deal is done by raising a glass.

A Piece of the Action is a fun episode, over the top yes in pretty much every aspect but played to perfection by everyone involved. I'm not sure if it just me either but Kirk's solution makes a lot of sense given the situation and by stating the 40% cut would be funneled back into the planetary finance market to fund development which would help correct the flaws in the society he pretty much covered his backside. Of course there would still have to be some sort of presence on the planet, the threat of Fed intervention may always be there but given the opportunity there will always be those skimming off the top when there is no one watching, it's the nature of the beast:)
Oh and McCoy left his communicator on the planet, clever piece of writing and who knows where the franchise would be if that loose thread had been pulled years later.

Rating 9