Thursday, January 29, 2009

Screw down my diodes and call me Frank...

....look who's coming back!

Yep, it's true... Red Dwarf is returning to Earth for two brand new specials on the improbably named digital channel, Dave, which has been showing re-runs for some time.

Rimmer, Lister, Kryten and the Cat have all signed up, Doug Naylor is writing and directing, and we get to see the finished article, along with a couple of new behind the scenes shows, this Easter. No mention of which, if any, version of Holly will be along for the ride yet though...

Am I excited? Well... hopeful, let's say. The last couple of seasons - first with the departure of Rimmer, and then with the resurrection of everyone else - kind of lost the plot, and while I have slight reservations about the Dwarf returning to Earth, nothing is as it seems in the Dwarfiverse (and anyway, Lister has already been back to Earth in the official novels)...

On the plus side, the only photo so far released by Dave is of Lister is his trademark leather jacket, so hopefully no more of that canaries nonsense.

But just in case, I'll close with these wise words from Holly:

He's dead, Dave. Everybody's dead. Everybody is dead, Dave!

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Tuesday Tunes: Radio 1's Live Lounge Volume 3

It’s January, so it must be time for Tuesday Tunes to do the annual* Live Lounge CD review. Obviously everyone else did it in about November when it came out, but I was kinda busy that month.

Anyone who cares should already know the formula: 40 tracks of exclusive live performances (the clue is in the title), consisting in roughly equal parts of one-off cover versions and recent hits.

This is the third CD of Live Lounge sets from Jo Whiley's Radio 1 show, and I'd like to say the standard keeps getting higher, but unfortunately I think the reverse is true. Although that could be because I've not had the chance to listen to Jo Whiley much lately, so a lot of the acts on the latest compilation may as well be strange new life forms.

That said, it is still worth... well, whatever it's going for on amazon right now, and the mix of artists is as ecelctic as ever. In the 'songs you know' category, we have Duffy (Mercy), Adele (Chasing Pavements), Scouting for Girls (Elvis Ain’t Dead), The Streets (Blinded by the Lights), and Athlete's Wires, quite possibly the best song ever.

The cover versions are always more interesting, and this time round, among others, you can hear:
Dizzee Rascal’s reworking of The Ting Tings' That’s Not My Name;
REM doing Munich;
The Script doing Eninem's Lose Yourself;
Kate Nash doing an Arctic Monkeys cover, which rocks mainly because its Kate Nash;
Goldfrapp’s laid back version of It’s Not Over Yet;
and Bat for Lashes (no, me neither) throwing some 80s into the mix with a cover of Eurythmics' Sweet Dreams.

*Volume 2 was reviewed in April 2008. Volume 1 wasn't reviewed.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

CSFF Blog Tour: Post Script

I intended to post yesterday, on the final day of the tour proper, but got a bit caught up in filing my tax return online, a pointless task which involves me paying a chunk of extra tax which will returned to me at some later stage when the powers that be realise they've already taken account of it in my PAYE coding. By the time I had rooted out all the necessary paperwork and logged onto the website about 3 three times I was fresh out of time for blogging. Ho hum.

So here, a day late, but here nonetheless, is something possibly meaningful.

On the 'about the author' page of D Barkley Briggs' website, the story is told of how The Legends of Karac Tor came about, as a tale his four sons could relate to as they dealt with the loss of their mother. The Legends of Karac Tor tells the tale of four brothers who, 'while struggling to adjust to life without mom, become enmeshed in the crisis of another world. Along the way they must find their courage, face their pain, and never quit searching for home.'

The thing that struck me when I read that was how the author used his talent to help his kids, and by extension, others in the same situation - thus bringing something good out of a bad situation.

I've been following the Daily Audio Bible podcast almost on time this year, and this week we've been following the story of Joseph, he of the posh jacket, and the extreme example of God working all things together for good. And this all kind of comes together for me because, although you may not get it from this blog, I've been to some pretty dark places in life over the last 3 or 4 years, and my latest WIP, Project Seven is a kind of therapeutic attempt to work that out, and if at the same time I can help someone else out of the same situation - or stop someone getting into it - then that will have made it all... maybe not worthwhile, but it will make sense of it.

I think I've forgotten where I was going with this now, except that The Book of Names is an excellent example of how we as writers - even writers of speculative fiction - can make a difference.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Tuesday Tunes vs CSFF Blog Tour: The Songs of Names

This isn't going to be as much fun without the mixtape, but, well, if you feel that way inclined you could hunt these down and make your own Top Ten Songs of Names:

10. Abba - The Name of the Game
What better way to kick off that with a slice of 70s cheese pop?

9. Terence Trent D'Arby - Sign Your Name
And what better way to follow that with some 80s cheese pop?

8. Destiny's Child - Say My Name
And 90s cheese pop? Anybody sensing a theme?

7. De La Soul - Ring Ring Ring (Ha Ha Hey)
OK, bear with me here, because this is verging on the tenuous: Ring Ring Ring borrows quite heavily from 80s popsters Curiosity Killed the Cat's Name and Number, and somehow manages to make it cool.

6. The Kinks - You Don't Know My Name
Written by Dave Davies, who is a guitar genius but doesn't write songs as well has his bro. Sorry, Dave.

5. Eminem - My Name Is
What? Who? Slim Shady! Warning: Contains swears

4. Rage Against The Machine - Killing in the Name
While we're in 'Parental Advisory' territory, here's a teen anthem to rival that Nirvana song, largely on account of all that screaming (and swearing) 'I won't do what you tell me!'

3. Petra - What's in a NameAnd in true mixtape style, we segue easily from sweary shout-rock to (slightly cheesy) Christian Rock.

2. The Beautiful South - Song For Whoever
You remember the one.... Jennifer, Alison, Phillipa, Sue... etc.

1. The Ting Tings - That's Not My Name
Probably not an indie rock response to Song for Whoever... They call me 'Stacey'/They call me 'her'/They call me 'Jane'/That's not my name...

Yeah, it's not really up to the standard of the vampire top ten a couple of tours ago, but it's the best list I could cobble together on the tube this morning. I'll try harder next time.

In the meantime, come back tomorrow and join me in the quest for a relevant and potentially interesting tour contribution on this blog. It will be a long and difficult journey, fraught with danger and mythical beings.

Bother, should have done a mythical beings top ten...

Monday, January 19, 2009

CSFF Blog Tour: The Book of Names by D Barkley Briggs

This week, the blog tour features The Book of Names by Biggs Darklighter, who I always thought was Red Three, but according to his website, he's some kind of author.

Which seems pretty obvious, since I just said the tour is about his new book. Am I rambling? Ok.

But seriously, The Book of Names is the first volume of the Legends of Karac Tor, and is so called because it's about names getting stolen. No, it doesn't make any sense to me either, but I haven't read it, as usual.

His website's pretty neat though (although, I'm not sure about the section about the Dark Side... have you turned, Biggs?), there's a section of links about myth & lore in our world, which is the kind of weird stuff that I find really interesting.

So, for meaningful comment on this month's featureed book, your quest leads into the Hidden Lands of these mythical beings:
Sally Apokedak
Brandon Barr
Keanan Brand
Rachel Briard
Valerie Comer
Frank Creed
Amy Cruson
CSFF Blog Tour
Stacey Dale
D. G. D. Davidson
Shane Deal
Jeff Draper
April Erwin
Karina Fabian
Andrea Graham
Todd Michael Greene
Timothy Hicks
Joleen Howell
Jason Isbell
Cris Jesse
Jason Joyner
Carol Keen
Rebecca LuElla Miller
Eve Nielsen
Steve Rice
Crista Richey
Alice M. Roelke
Chawna Schroeder
James Somers
Rachel Starr Thomson
Steve Trower
Speculative Faith
Jason Waguespac
Phyllis Wheeler
Timothy Wise

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Be seeing you...

A couple of days ago I had it in mind to post something about the imminent remake of The Prisoner, the original series of which I have been slowly making my way through on DVD since visiting the village a couple of summers ago.

I had in mind to wonder whether it would be the same without Portmeirion and Mini Mokes, or whether its themes of freedom and individuality are all the more relevant in today's society.

But that all seems a little pointless given yesterday's news, that Patrick McGoohan, creator and star of the 1967 series, died on January 13th after a short illness.

He did so much more, but The Prisoner - whether you think it is profound or a load of utter nonsense - is what McGoohan will be remembered for. I don't know whether McGoohan got fed up of being remembered as Number Six; I wouldn't blame him if he did, but Number Six is a man of principles, unafraid to go against the flow and stand up for his rights, and the rights of any individual, whatever the cost to himself.

A pretty good legacy, if you ask me.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

The belated New Year post....

Well, I guess it's about time to call an end to the extended holiday hiatus and dust off the old blog, eh?

It is traditional at (or more ususally about two weeks before) this time to set completely unrealistic goals for the year ahead. So, I might as well join in, eh? Well, I have a couple:
  • Sort out a daily devotional time. Not always easy when my work takes me out on the road, but along with that I plan to stay up to date with the Daily Audio Bible, which always comes out in my car with me.
  • Find a cell group. I kind of lost regular connection with fellow Christians shortly after Her Babyship arrived, and for various reasons have finally decided this is a good time to pick that up again.
  • Advance my professional development. An issue which has been slightly forced by the loss of more qualified people where I work, and certain professional organisations noticing how quiet I have been on the CPD front. Ooops!
  • Write! I don't know whether this is really my last priority, but having discovered how much I can get written if I put my mind to it (and use WriteOrDie) during NaNo, there is really no excuse. I think the time is right for Project Seven; all I have to do is get my head down and write the bloomin' thing. Specific target for Project Seven: a 90k first draft by the end of September. That gives me a nice 10k per month target, and then leaves October to prepare for NaNo '09...

No bloggy promises this year, although I will make an effort not to miss another CSFF Blog Tour (apologies to the Lost Genre Guild, which sounds like the sort of thing I would sign up for except Project Seven isn't speculative).

Project Seven wordcount so far, incidentally, is 2530. Hmmm....

Monday, January 05, 2009

I wasn't going to do this...

...but I feel obliged to start the year with a Doctor Who post. Because what's a blog for if not for inflicted one's ill-informed opinions on the world?

And my ill-informed opinion at the moment is... well, it could go either way. My heart did drop somewhat when I saw the 11th Doc, and I kind of mentally went 'What? What?! WHAAT?!'

But the new team, and Russel T Davros, seemed quite upbeat about him, and Steven Moffatt has been responsible for some of the better Who so far, so... I'm willing to give him a go. I guess being a young whippersnapper he might have plenty of Dalek fighting years in him. As long as it doesn't become a total kids show.

I guess you know you're getting old when the Doctors start looking younger...