Sunday, March 22, 2015

Blues Pills & "classic rock"

When I was growing up in the early 1980s, I was (no surprise) a bit of an odd duck. I did not listen to the pop or rock of the day. I was entrenched in blues and what we now call “classic rock” of the 1960s & 1970s. Except for surviving holdovers (The Rolling Stones, The Kinks, The Who, etc.,) very few bands were doing that style of rock'n'roll. So, in my defense, that was what I liked and that is what I sought out.

Along came The Black Crowes and I realized I wasn't entirely alone.

Now, if you want to talk about being out of your expected of time-stream, there is a whole 'nother generation of “kids” out there, harkening back like I did – Grace Potter & the Nocturnals, London Souls, Saint Jude, Rival Sons, the Sheepdogs and my newest discovery, Blues Pills.

It's great that nowadays “doing your own music thing” is even more prevalent. In Europe there is a large fanbase for “classic rock.” But, not the same old tired FM radio anthems, but new bands performing & writing with classic rock influence. It's a genre, just like “classical” music is. They've been doing festivals and award shows for a while now, and this year (or 2014) America finally held its first “classic rock” awards show which includes awards for new music in that style.

's all good!


Check out this live Blues Pills show, and check out the absolutely rockin' song, “Gypsy.” 

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

recent viewing; Quatermass and the Pit (original t.v. serial)


Caught up on my Quatermass television history and finally watched Quatermass and the Pit.

It is a thrilling scifi tale with solid horror edge. At an archaeological dig, human "missing link" skulls are found, soon after the remains of a spaceship are found, and it is five million years old. The ship itself begins to exert an influence on people, and Quatermass soon learns that Hob's Lane has long been the center of "hauntings" anytime there has been a disturbance in the area. Quatermass butts heads with the military colonel on site, who insists the spaceship must be a German bomb from WWII, and refuses to change his view. Eventually the ship hull is breached, and the alien pilots are revealed. Quatermass soon believes the aliens are ancient Martians, who came to collect early man, experiment on them, and release them back on Earth. And their malevolent influence is still tangible.


As far as the actors who played Quatermass on television, I have to go with Andre Morell. He infused the presence and the humanity needed.


If you've seen the Hammer movie adaptation with Andrew Keir, they are very similar. Mostly, a newsreporter subplot from the television serial was dropped to tighten up the length. Everything else is in there.

This was definitely my favorite of the first three original television serials. It is worth watching, especially for its history if you enjoyed the Hammer adaptation.

(p.s. - the writer/creator of Quatermass, Nigel Keane, is the subject of a book coming later this year, We Are The Martians.)

Thursday, March 12, 2015

Saint Padraig's Day

So, this little poem jumped out of my brain this morning;

==

Saint Patrick's Day comes 'round,
Folks see shamrocks and leprechauns
Music and drink
I see ancestors
Green landscapes of unforgiving rock
Gods and fighting men
Gaels swinging bloodied swords
Music and drink

===

Partially inspired by finding this painting on a google search;

"Irish Gael attack a viking raiding party. Painting by Angus McBride"

Wednesday, March 4, 2015

recent listen; Doctor Who - UNIT: Dominion


Big Finish synopsis;

The universe stands on the brink of a dimensional crisis – and the Doctor and Raine are pulled into the very epicentre of it.

Meanwhile, on Earth, UNIT scientific advisor Dr Elizabeth Klein and an incarnation of the Doctor she's never encountered before are tested to the limit by a series of bizarre, alien invasions.

At the heart of it all is a terrible secret, almost as old as the Time Lords themselves. Reality is beginning to unravel and two Doctors, Klein, Raine and all of UNIT must use all their strength and guile to prevent the whole of creation being torn apart.


As you can see from the photo, UNIT: Dominion is a bit of an epic tale spanning four CDs (the fifth CD is behind-the-scenes interview content.)

This was epic, but it kept my attention all through. Plenty of setups and payoffs. In addition to Sylvester McCoy as the (7th) Doctor, the supporting characters were well done.

Elisabeth Klein continues to be one of the best, most interesting supporting characters Big Finish have created. This time around, she's been slightly reinvented. Integrated back into the proper historical timeline, she is now an efficient scientist and the Scientific Advisor of UNIT (the Doctor's old gig.) But, the Doctor has been keeping tabs on her, to ensure her Nazi previous personality doesn't reassert itself. Unfortunately, his plan has backfired and she has become almost paranoid & obsessed with "the Umbrella Man" - the Doctor.

Alex Macqueen was a real treat as the “Other Doctor.” Now that the story has been out for a few years, the spoiler can be mentioned here. The Other Doctor is, in fact, the Master; the Doctor's arch-villain. Big Finish have created their own incarnation of the Master here. Macqueen does a great job, too. Though, he is only revealed as the Master in the last episode, so we only get a taste of the Master in this story. But, it highlights how similar the Doctor and the Master truly are – two sides of the same coin.

I really enjoyed this one. I look forward to listening to both the next Klein trilogy, as well as Alex Macqueen's continuing performance as the Master in the Dark Eyes series.

Sunday, March 1, 2015

recent listen; Doctor Who - Masters of Earth


Big Finish synopsis;

The year is 2163. Ten years since the Daleks invaded the Earth. One year until the Doctor, in his first incarnation, will help bring the occupation to an end. But for now, their reign of terror goes on.

The TARDIS brings the Doctor and Peri to Scotland – enslaved, like everywhere else on the planet.

When the Doctor falls in with an unlikely group of freedom fighters making that dangerous journey to Orkney, he finds himself trapped – but not only by the Daleks, their robotised henchmen and their human collaborators.

By history.

Because history shows that for another year, resistance is useless...


Masters of Earth brings the Doctor dangerously close to changing his own past. In Doctor Who, this is referred to as the Web of Time. Yes, the Doctor can mess about history & future, but he must be very careful not to change his own past. If the Daleks capture him, interrogate him, they will be prepared for his first incarnation's involvement in future. Not to mention, they will learn of the Doctor and perhaps Time Lords decades or even centuries before they should.

Of course, the Doctor's own attitude & character and events plunge the Doctor into the middle of the muddle, anyway. Along the way there are prison breaks, Slythers, Vargaplants, Daleks and Robomen. All the classic 1960s Dalek elements are sharply realized through very experienced use of soundscapes plus the listener's imagination.

Colin Baker really shines in these audio-plays. He gets to work his Doctor they way he never could on television, and by-&-large, he has had far better material to work with. Hearing him battle classic Daleks is a treat.

Friday, February 27, 2015

recent read; "Damned Ranker"

Lately, I've taken to reading short stories for a week between novel reads. I have many collections and anthologies in the bookcases and on my Kindle.

The other night, I turned to The Mammoth Book of Sword and Honor.


Some background; I work in software. Yes, my company outsources. We have a team in Kiev, Ukraine. As you might imagine, the current turmoil in the Crimea is very real to us. Although the nastiness in Kiev itself calmed down, and the Crimean fighting isn't directly affecting the Kiev office, it's still a jumpy situation. (One of our guys is from the Crimea, though I don't know where his politics lie and I certainly am not going to ask.)

One saying my father drummed into my head and which I still abide, "Those who don't learn from history are doomed to repeat it."

So, I went with one of the Crimean War stories in the book, "Damned Ranker" by Paul Finch.

I really enjoyed it. It pulled me in, kept me reading longer than I meant to. It's hard-hitting, and gory with a good twist.

As for history repeating - between the story and now; I'd say no. But I did find it interesting how the Russians were described undisciplined rabble - racing forward, no concern for lines or formations, cavalry and infantry intermixed, smooth bore muskets and improvised weapons. I was strongly reminded of the opening of the movie, Enemy at the Gates, where the Soviet officers pushed the men into the carnage as so much cannon fodder. Advances in weaponry and tactics didn't seem to change that attitude much between Imperial Russia and the Soviet Union.

If you enjoy Bernard Cornwell's Sharpe, you'd most likely enjoy this one.

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

recent read; Congregations of the Dead


Congregations of the Dead is the second novel by James A. Moore and Charles R. Rutledge featuring the duo of sheriff Carl Price and private investigator Wade Griffin.

Price and Griffin are investigating real world issues – missing girls, forced prostitution and other dark, unsavory elements of humanity. Tangentially, they clip the world of the supernatural and find themselves facing a vampire and his congregation, as well as real world criminal organizations.

Oh, and those Moon-eyes' in-bred Blackbournes from the first novel (which you don't need to read first, but should anyway; Blind Shadows) are keeping tabs on Price, too. Add to that an ex-wife (for Price) and the smothering heat & humidity of a Georgia summer, and our heroes are quite piled upon by the time we reach the crescendo of this tale.

Occultist Carter DeCamp and his protege Charon return here, as well - offering occult advice, assistance and weaponry.

I really like the vampires in this story. I really enjoyed the twist of Reverend Lazarus Cotton as a Holy Roller, fire & brimstone revival preacher who earnestly believes his vampirism is a gift from God. Fry, his human servant foil, was a great sociopath character (and, I love the tribute to Dwight Frye/Renfield in his name.)

Classic vampire tropes are used to solid effect. The “native soil” angle was very well played, and the rats...- oh, those rats. I don't want to say anything else for fear of spoilers.

Not unlike Buffy the Vampire Slayer t.v. series, real world issues were not directly related to the supernatural. Real world problems still exist, and supernatural issues do not change any of that. A problem is a problem, and the heroes must deal with each in its own way.

If you enjoyed Blind Shadows, you'll enjoy Congregations of the Dead, too.