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March of the Internet Nobody…

Because, ummm, well, just because, I’ve decided to post something every day in March.

Yeah, I know, it’s obtuse, everyone else does Just Jot it January or The A-Z Challenge and I choose, at nine o’clock at night on the first of March, to inflict a month’s worth of posts on myself (and you) for no good reason whatsoever. 

Or any plan, either, as per usual.

So there’s no telling what you’ll get, knowing me you’ll end up getting some random weird photo each day, but I’ll try to keep it more varied than that.

Although not today, today is audio visual day, partly made up of weird photos, most of which you may recall seeing recently in my Twin Peaks related post and now complied, to music, in a fancy video.

Followed by the rather more frenetic, yet somehow hypnotic creation that is the video I made for the last tune that came out when I noodled with Oscilab, my loop making/oscillator app.
I made the video using the “visualization” mode on my Poweramp music player, installed on my old tablet. Placing my phone on a sheet of glass above the tablet, which sat at the bottom of a black box, I filmed the wave patterns that resulted from playing Thudd through it. I treated the raw footage with a couple of filters, re-synched the edited video with the original tune and, voilà, my eye-scrambling masterpiece is complete.

First off, then, is; Wool, Knit With Me by The Woolhouse Boys.
The music is Diane Dreams (The nightingale remix) and is performed by The Deathless.

And now, brace yourselves, it’s time for Thudd, by me.

See you tomorrow, for, eerrr, something else.

 

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The rise of The Woolhouse Boys…

If you’ve been reading my ramblings for any length of time, you’ll already be aware that I’m a huge fan of Twin Peaks and you won’t be at all surprised to hear that I’m looking forward to the belated arrival of season three with great anticipation.

But although I was completely obsessed with the show when it first aired, I’m not the sort of po-faced, chin stroking überfan who has an instant sense of humour failure, when someone pokes fun at the extraordinary blend of art house soap opera, surreal comedy and paranormal film noir that was David Lynch’s television masterpiece.

In fact, I’m perfectly happy to join in.

So when I discovered a Facebook group called The Woolhouse Boys, I realised that I was amongst likeminded folks with a similar sense of the absurd.

Billy Zane (above, centre; flanked by Twin Peaks’ finest, Michael Ontkean and Kyle Maclachlan, as Sheriff Harry S Truman and FBI Special Agent Dale Cooper) played a largely unnecessary character called John Justice Wheeler, who apparently arrived solely to sweep pouting, virginal sex kitten Audrey Horne off her feet whilst he lounged around in garish knitwear.

Well The Woolhouse Boys have given a new lease of life to Mr Zane’s foppish creation, skillfully Photoshopping him into a range of amusingly bizarre new scenes from the original series and beyond.

But that isn’t all, oh no; for the fascination with Mr John Justice Wheeler is primarily with his choice of woollen garment and it is the skill with which they have edited his trademark striped sweater onto various other characters that makes their photo collages and memes so hilarious. At least they are to a veteran of many a Twin Peaks marathon such as myself and I think that even non-Peakies will appreciate the attention to detail in their creations.

So I’d like to present a selection from the rapidly expanding portfolio, some of which were manipulated by yours truly; ladies and gentlemen, The Woolhouse Boys.

{Tony Stanic, Joel Peacock, Mark Zandi, Dan Jones, Christian Hartleben}

{Original source material: David Lynch/Showtime }
#WoolhouseBoys

Why not follow the Woolhouse Boys Tumblr page to keep up with our latest creations.

 

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Random photo mashup…

Did you hear the bizarre story this week, about Sky TV’s (unsurprisingly cancelled) drama about Michael Jackson, starring Joseph Fiennes?

Well I was chatting to a friend about that doomed project on Facebook today, which led to a discussion about which inappropriate actors could be cast as recently departed musical icons.

While she suggested that Samuel L Jackson and Denzel Washington should star in Wham: The Final Stand, I quite fancied the idea of David Bowie: Heroes to Ashes starring Ray Winstone and Lemmy: Last Wild Man of Rock with Peewee Herman in the lead role.

But my friend wasn’t convinced:

“Both good choices.  Though I fear they are a little too Caucasian to portray these roles effectively”

She was right, of course, so I reevaluated my decision to have everyone’s favourite short, stocky, East End hard man play the Thin White Duke and instead went for everyone’s favourite smoldering, six-packed, tortured hard man, Idris Elba.

This met with a great deal more enthusiasm, (to be honest, I think she’s got a bit of a weakness for him) so I thought I’d provide her with a visual interpretation of my casting idea and I was so pleased with the result that I’m sharing it with you, too.

You’re welcome.

{You’ll have to imagine Peewee as Lemmy, it was too disturbing to post} 

 

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#atozchallenge: V is for Very excited…

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So, we’re down to the final five days of the A-Z challenge and although it’s been an interesting month of randomly unplanned posts, there is one thing I haven’t manage to squeeze in and today I have an excuse.

Don’t worry, I’m not going to go on about it, I’ve already done that at some length in the past, but I can’t not mention the impending return of Twin Peaks, the greatest tv show of all time, bar none.

And yesterday we got further details of David Lynch‘s rebooted soap noir;
– Filming has been completed.
– Probable release date is very early 2017.
– UK release will be on Sky Atlantic, as they have exclusive rights to all original Showtime output (bad news for those of us without satellite tv)
– The cast list has been released, confirming a large number of original members are going to be back amongst the pines.
So, for those of you who are interested, here are those returning heroes in full:

Richard Beymer – Ben Horne
Catherine E Coulson – The Log Lady (scenes filmed before she sadly passed away last year)
Julee Cruise – Roadhouse Singer​
Jan D’Arcy – Sylvia Horne​
David Duchovny – Denise/Dennis Bryson​
Sherilyn Fenn – Audrey Horne
Miguel Ferrer – Albert Rosenfield
Warren Frost – Doctor William Hayward​
Harry Goaz – Deputy Andy Brennan​
Andrea Hays – Heidi​
Gary Hershberger –  Mike Nelson​
Michael Horse – Deputy Tommy ‘Hawk’ Hill​
David Patrick Kelly – Jerry Horne​
Sheryl Lee – Laura Palmer/Maddy Ferguson
Peggy Lipton – Norma Jennings
Bellina Martin Logan – Louie ‘Birdsong’ Budway
David Lynch – GORDON COLE
Kyle MacLachlan – Special Agent Dale Cooper
James Marshall – James Hurley
Everett McGill – ‘Big’ Ed Hurley
Walter Olkewicz – Jacques Renault​
Kimmy Robertson – Lucy Moran
Wendy Robie – Nadine Hurley​
Marv Rosand – Cook at the Double R Diner
Carlton Lee Russell – Jumping Man
Harry Dean Stanton – Carl Rodd
Charlotte Stewart – Betty Briggs​
Al Strobel – Philip Gerard/ ‘Mike’ The One-Armed Man​
Carel Struycken – The Giant​
Russ Tamblyn – Dr Lawrence Jacoby​
Ray Wise – Leland Palmer
Alicia Witt – Gersten Hayward
Grace Zabriskie – Sarah Palmer​

You’ll have to make your own minds up as to how some of these characters are being resurrected included in the plot, but it’s a good sign that the main body of the cast is still involved.

– More casting details have also been released, featuring a good many high profile surprises.
What do you reckon Lynch is going to do with the likes of;

Monica Bellucci
Michael Cera
Laura Dern
Sky Ferreira
Ernie Hudson
Jennifer Jason Leigh
Ashley Judd
Trent Reznor
Tim Roth
Amanda Seyfried
Jessica Szhor
Eddie Vedder
Naomi Watts

Ok, Laura Dern is a Lynch veteran, but Eddie Vedder and Trent Reznor? Really?

And then there’s this; Emre Unayli‘s amazing new artwork.

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So yes, I think it’s safe to say that I’m VERY excited at the prospect of going back into the woods with FBI Special Agent Dale Cooper and friends.

Here’s the trailer…

…which, of course, tells you nothing whatsoever.

But then, I’d expect nothing less.
Roll on 2017.

If your thirst for Peakiness is piqued and you want even more details, GO HERE.

And if that hasn’t put you in the mood, here’s a Road House favourite from Julee Cruise, the lovely Rockin’ Back Inside My Heart.
Enjoy.

#atozchallenge

 
3 Comments

Posted by on April 26, 2016 in A - Z challenge, Arts, Internet, TV, Twin Peaks, Video

 

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Just Jot It January: Day twelve – The next day…

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Before I start the 12th post of JJIJ, I’d like to thank everyone who commented on yesterday’s David Bowie tribute, it’s good to know just how many of you were touched by his life and work.

Having said that, I just want to follow up that post with some reflections on how Bowie’s death was received in the UK.

Even after having spent the day reading (and writing) the tributes to him all over Facebook and on various blogs, it was still with a sense of unreality that I sat down to watch the news last night, because there was no warning, no way to ease ourselves into the idea that we were about to lose an icon of modem music.

Of course, with hindsight we are all now aware that the signs were there, hidden in plain sight on his latest album, Blackstar, with its themes of death, illness and one last transformation; from corporeal megastar to ephemeral legend in one small step, the ultimate space cadet left the planet for the final time.

When we know that we are soon to lose someone who means so much to us, we prepare ourselves, consciously or not, so that when we attend the funeral, watch a memorial service or read an obituary, we have already reached the point which enables us to put aside our sadness and celebrate the life of the one who is no longer with us.
But when the news comes as a shock, when we are caught unawares by such a loss, the reaction is often one of raw grief and irrational anger, that we have been deprived of the chance to properly say goodbye.

So it is a measure of how much a part of our psyche he’d become that, within hours of the news of his passing, after the posthumous message of Blackstar became clear, fans, journalists and fellow musicians alike were praising Bowie’s ability to surprise us, even at the end.

Indeed, it seems that the only person outside his immediate circle of family and friends who knew of his battle with cancer was Belgian theatre director Ivo van Hove, who was working with Bowie on the Lazarus stage show, for which he provided the soundtrack. Van Hove was apparently told of the singer’s illness when they started work on the project and was asked to keep it confidential.

Despite the sadness of yesterday’s announcement however, the overwhelming tone of the news coverage was one of celebration that we’d all been fortunate enough to share the planet with a man who made music and culture so unpredictable and fascinating.

Celebrity fan, Simon Pegg, summed it up perfectly with this tweet…

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…while Channel 4 News ran this piece, fronted by Paul Mason, (usually their economics editor, but clearly a huge Bowie fan) which caught the mood of the nation nicely…

…and followed it with a live feed from the former David Jones’ birthplace, Brixton in South London, where thousands of fans gathered to leave tributes at the Bowie mural there, and to remember him in the best way possible; by singing the songs that gave pleasure to so many, exactly the way he would have wanted.

Even anchorman Jon Snow, (himself a fan) signing off at the end of a show almost entirely devoted to the singer’s life and legacy, couldn’t hide his feelings, his voice cracking with emotion as he read a message from Bowie’s long-time friend and collaborator, Brian Eno.

So we said goodbye to a man who transcended fashion, musical fads and the very idea of what makes a rock star, making him a hero to millions of fans over five decades, all of whom, I’m sure, will pass on their love of an artist who never stopped evolving and ch-ch-ch-ch-changing.

It seems only right that I should finish this post with the album that brought David Bowie to the attention of yet another generation of new fans, when he returned to recording in 2013 with The Next Day.

It’ll be a long time before a man like him falls to Earth again.

#JusJoJan

Pingback to Linda G Hill.

 
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Posted by on January 12, 2016 in Just Jot It January, Music, News, TV, Video

 

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Down to The Wire: When TV drama got real…

David Simon was uniquely qualified to write an uncompromising, grittily realistic crime drama, serving as he did for over ten years as a journalist on the Baltimore Sun newspaper, much of which was spent reporting on the vicious wave of drug-related crime in the inner city.
Not that he was any newcomer to the genre, he’d already had a hit with the NBC drama Homicide: Life on the street and also with his book which inspired the series.

But when he came to his next project, he wanted to produce something completely original. A new way of watching television drama” was how he described the format at the time and, despite not receiving rave reviews from the critics when it was first aired, The Wire has now been widely acknowledged as one of, if not the, greatest crime series ever made.
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But that’s just the thing, The Wire is so much more than just another police procedural, it has so many levels, so much to say about society and it isn’t always easy to tell which side you’re supposed to be rooting for.
The usual goalposts of “Good” and “Evil” are constantly moving, the lines defining the characters’ ethical boundaries forever blurring and flexing, to accommodate the impossible, rock-and-a-hard-place situations in which they find themselves.

Simon said that, at the start of the series, he wanted you to feel as though you were eavesdropping on a conversation and that you would have to pay attention to find out what was going on.
In fact he said he didn’t think it mattered if couldn’t follow all the street slang and terminology at first, it was something that you would get the hang of over time.
And he was right, I didn’t have a clue what was going on for the first couple of episodes, but that didn’t matter one bit, because before too long it all just clicked into place in my head and I found myself following the story with ease.

But even bearing that in mind, from the very first episode, I was still hooked.

Here’s the opening scene, along with the first of five different versions of that fabulous theme, one for each season.

Simon’s Baltimore crime saga is a masterclass in long-arc storytelling, the interwoven strands of all five seasons making a cohesive and satisfying backdrop to the five distinct themes that the series follows and this is one of the things which makes The Wire so different from other “cop shows”, the way the apparently distinct and separate investigations in each season are tied together so seamlessly.

The series follows the work of Major Crimes, a unit set up in response to the violent crime wave connected to the drug gangs who control the housing projects, high rises and street corners on the west side of Baltimore.
Season one focuses solely on the case surrounding heroin dealer Avon Barksdale and his right hand man, Russell “Stringer” Bell, their lieutenants, hoppers, runners, various young wannabe gangsters and of course, their clientele.

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Bell and Barksdale.

We see the way the Barksdale gang rule their territory, the casual brutality with which they enforce their own private form of justice and the jockeying for position amongst the lower ranks, whilst at the same time we follow the seconded, disgraced, or demoted detectives who make up the hastily put together squad, in their attempt to bring down the organisation and incarcerate Barksdale, putting all their efforts into a wiretap on the gang’s phone pagers, the “wire” of the title.

It makes for riveting viewing.
And the clever thing is, after a while you genuinely don’t know where your loyalty lies, with the cops or the corner boys.

Surprisingly, for such an distinctly American show, two of the lead characters are played by British actors.
Dominic West plays the self destructive, heavy drinking detective, Jimmy McNulty, in pursuit of Idris Elba‘s smooth but menacing Stringer Bell.

The Wire’s strength is in its characters. McNulty’s long time partner, William “Bunk” Moreland, played by Wendell Pierce, is the perfect foil to Jimmy’s brilliant but damaged Irish rogue persona, coming across like some sort of foul mouthed, cigar-chomping Barry White in a sharp suit, tough and smart but with more respect for the system than his insubordinate drinking buddy.
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Bunk and McNulty.

One of my personal favourite members of the squad is Clarke Peters‘ character, the dapper and thoughtful Lester Freamon, who spends much of his time making carved miniatures of period doll house furniture at his desk, much to the initial bewilderment of his fellow detectives.
It’s only when Lester thinks he has something worth saying that he gives the team the benefit of his wisdom and it isn’t long before he becomes the mastermind behind the all-important wiretap.

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Freamon.

As the second season begins, the attention of Major Crimes shifts to the local dock workers’ union and a case taking in sex trafficking, prostitution, corruption and murder, while at the same time, staying connected to the original story, the primary target, Barksdale and his crew.

This is also when we get to see more of the pretender to the drug king’s throne, the cold eyed, highly intelligent and deceptively quietly spoken young sociopath, Marlo “Black” Stanfield, played with a frightening ruthlessness by Jamie Hector.
Stanfield rules his people with an iron fist, mercilessly dispatching anybody he sees as having disrespected his authority in even the smallest way and making serious inroads into Barksdale territory, all of which leads to escalating violence and extra complications for the police and their operation.

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Marlo (second left) and the Stanfield crew.

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Major Crimes.

With each new season, the corrupt “money trail” leads the investigators further into the Machiavellian world of city politics, with story lines set in city hall, the school system and, in a fitting fin de seicle, back to Simon’s old employer, the Baltimore Sun newspaper.

There are many side plots, involving the strained personal lives and relationships of players on both sides of the game; arguably the show’s most popular character, stick-up man Omar Little, played with evil charm by Michael K Williams; a serial killer of homeless people; a pair of amusingly chilled out contract killers and an awful lot of swearing, including liberal use of the oedipal compound noun and this scene, which consists entirely of variations on the word “fuck”.

You have been warned.

There is a lot of humour in the dialogue between the characters, on both sides of the law, most of whom we get to know well across the nearly sixty episodes, the sort of authentic, natural inter-personal relationships that ring true for groups that experience such intense and brutal daily lives.
Gallows humour maybe, mixed with much profanity and non-pc use of “the n-word”, but the way the show is scripted and the freedom given to actors to improvise parts of their own dialogue somehow makes the offensive seem everyday and usually unacceptable behaviour is portrayed in a sympathetic and non-judgemental way.

Although the world in which The Wire is set is a male-dominated one, that isn’t to say Simon didn’t provide us with some great strong female characters too, the main one being Sonja Sohn as Shakima “Kima” Greggs, a tough yet diminutive lesbian detective with a complicated personal life, who gives as good as she gets from her male colleagues and often acts as the squad’s moral compass during some of the more ethically ambiguous moments in the case.

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Kima.

Then there’s Deirdre Lovejoy‘s character, Rhonda Pearlman, the team’s appointed State Prosecutor. The feisty and ambitious lawyer doesn’t balk at going after corrupt politicians and state officials, but who occasionally gets frustrated by the squad, McNulty in particular, and their habit of bending the rules to breaking point, in pursuit of their continually adapting targets
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Pearlman.

And attempting, against all the odds, to hold the entire thing together is the team’s lieutenant, Cedric Daniels, played with a strait laced cowboy swagger by the excellent Lance Reddick.

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Daniels.

He seems to spend half his time fighting political battles within the department on behalf of his squad and the other half trying to keep the squad from tearing itself apart. It’s the loyalty and support he gives the detectives under his command, as well as the ability to turn a blind eye when necessary, that makes Daniels popular with his men and they in turn back him up when the bosses question his decisions.

The way that the series is written, the fact that it features cameos from real people who inspired the show’s characters, the way in which Simon manages to show us the vulnerabilities and insecurities in characters who are too often portrayed as two dimensional, it draws us in to a world that we would normally shy away from, a frightening and uncompromising world that we’re glad someone else has to deal with, but which ultimately is populated by human beings with the same frailties and imperfections as the rest of us.

If The Wire does anything but provide fantastic entertainment and impeccable storytelling, then it’s that it makes you realise that these people aren’t just statistics, soundbites and news stories, they have lives and families and all the things we all take for granted, it’s just that they are living them in what amounts to an urban war zone.
And that kind of environment will inevitably breed the sort of disenfranchised anger and unrest that Simon shows us in his groundbreaking series.

I got so much more out of watching The Wire second time round, maybe because I was already tuned in to the street slang and unfamiliar accents, maybe because I was paying more attention to the nuances of the brilliant cast, but I cannot recommend it highly enough, whether you are already a fan of hard edged police drama, or just searching for a brilliantly acted drama with plenty of heart, give The Wire a try, you won’t regret.

To finish this post and to give you a more in-depth background to the series, here’s Simon talking to president Obama himself, about the impact of The Wire and the US “war on drugs”

{Check out David Simon’s blog HERE.}

 

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Seasons on the sofa…

Seasons on the sofa…

imageThe era of binge viewing is well and truly upon us.
With DVD box sets and streaming services like Netflix popping up all over the internet, there’s no longer any need to wait a week to catch the next thrilling installment of whichever blockbuster TV series you are currently obsessed with, in fact if the temptation becomes too much you can watch all thirty episodes in one weekend.

In the same way that I’ve (more than once) enjoyed Twin Peaks, a total immersion experience.

Sometimes, because of the way shows like Game of Thrones and Breaking Bad are hyped, with spoilers, speculation and fan theories on every culture and genre TV website, watching the entire season in one go is the only alternative to walking around with your fingers in your ears, going; “La La La La La I’m not listening.”

Regular readers of this blog will know that I don’t own a computer so, short of laboriously downloading episodes one at a time to watch on my phone or tablet, I’m limited to buying whole series on DVD or Blu-ray, which is how I’ve been watching the aforementioned Game of Thrones (accompanied by the “La La La…” method, to combat friends with satellite TV) and the highly entertaining, if slightly daft, Grimm.

But recently I’ve taken to trawling our local library’s collection of TV box sets and, since Rhonda was never much of a TV watcher in the States, I had no problem finding something she hadn’t seen before.
Although, as I’m sure you know, revisiting any type of entertainment, be it music, movies, or TV, in the company of someone who hasn’t experienced it before, can add a new perspective to something you previously thought you knew well, so I was perfectly happy to re-watch anything I’d enjoyed in the past.

Which is why we’ve spent most evenings for the last month or so, watching at least a couple of episodes of probably the best crime drama series ever made.
And the conclusion of this post will be my attempt to convince as many of you as possible to discover it for yourselves. Or rediscover it if, like me, you thought you’d had all you could get from it the first time round, because believe me, it’s well worth another watch.

I won’t keep you in suspense for long, I wonder how many of you will guess right…

 
2 Comments

Posted by on June 24, 2015 in Arts, Personal anecdote, TV, Twin Peaks

 

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