What’s going on?


blondie garbageSo with a slight update to my usual ‘update’ heading on here … I thought I’d do a post about what things have been peaking my interest of late.  Let me firstly get out of the way the awesome news that my favourite band, Garbage are this summer going on tour with legendary 70s / 80s band ‘Blondie’ fronted by none other than the iconic Deborah Harry.  Yes, THE Deborah Harry.  Now, Shirley Manson has previously been on stage with this singer and former actress, and they are old friends from way back, so I suppose their imminent teaming up for what has been titled the ‘Rage & Rapture’ tour should have been an easy guess.  This for me is two generations of a similar band, at least as far as a female-fronted, otherwise male orientated bands are concerned and there are certainly some similarities to Shirley Manson’s singing-style and that of Deborah Harry’s.  So for any fan of either group – these are going to be shows not to be missed!  More info: Click Here.

Resident Evil 7

In other news I picked up the eagerly anticipated Resident Evil 7: Biohazard last Friday and have been nervously enjoying this scare-fest ever since.  It’s of that recent trend for genuinely unnerving and scary horror games as apposed to the action-orientated style the series had gradually become known for, and is probably more like the very first game, what with secluded mansion to explore and limited ammo etc.  I’m playing it on Xbox One and having a great time with it.  It drips with atmosphere and the dark and gloomy visuals and accompanying eerie sound design have me on the edge of my seat.

On the music front I’ve been enjoying albums from Blossoms, Tegan and Sara and Two Door Cinema Club in my growing journey to broaden my horizons and discover different artists than purely my beloved Garbage.  It’s fun finding out what’s out there and Apple Music is helping me do that perfectly.

homeland

TV-wise I’m getting into the latest series of Homeland, a firm favourite and also gritty British period drama Taboo starring Tom Hardy, which will do me nicely in the run up to The Walking Dead and eventually the return of Game of Thrones.

Other than work, that’s pretty much me for now.  Come back soon and I’ll tell you a little more.

Craig.

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2016 a look back


Regular visitors to this blog will already know what my major highlight of 2016 was … hey, I still can’t stop talking about it.  Yes it was going to watch my favourite band Garbage perform at the Troxy theatre in London and to actually meet them.  Wow, I still pinch myself that it actually happened but it did and I feel so proud of myself for achieving a true dream of mine.  Their latest studio album ‘Strange Little Birds’ also impressed.

garbage troxy

Other than that event, I think 2016 has been a decent year for quality movies, something that will be reflected in my end of year Top Ten coming on New Years Eve (make sure you check back here then!).  But it hasn’t all been great.  There’s also been a number of disappointments and rubbish I’ve had to sit through just to bring my opinion to you, my readers.  Particular disappointments include the rather poor Legend, a new movie about the British gangsters Ronnie & Reggie Kray, and despite the casting of Tom Hardy in both roles, this was a borderline insulting Hollywood-isation of a violent and gritty true story that was done so much better when the Kemp brothers from Spandau Ballet did it in the early nineties.  I really didn’t get much out of The Coen Brothers’ Hail Caesar! either, which should have been a fun, fascinating snapshot of old Hollywood, but had a limp script and a confusing plot that just felt like a slog despite good production values.  Also along the way I felt underwhelmed by Deadpool … probably the most hyped and acclaimed comic book movie of the year that left me a little ‘meh’ despite finding it funny, it just seemed a bit of a one note show.  The summer also brought with it some further disappointments … let’s all agree that Batman V Superman could have been better, and well, wasn’t Suicide Squad a let down, promising so much and delivered so little?  I wasn’t that impressed with Richard Linklater’s Everybody Wants Some!! either – a deflating spiritual follow up to his classic Dazed & Confused.

deadpool

It was also the year that I tried to branch out, listen to more music (not just the aforementioned band) and discovered new artists like Kristin Kontrol, PVRIS and Against The Current … yeah, thankyou Apple Music.  So broadening my horizons has been fun, even if in the music industry it has been sad to see the passing of legends such as David Bowie and Prince this year.  With that said, the music industry continues to irritate me however and I find myself left cold by much of today’s most popular music (Beyoncé, Lady Gaga and to an extent Gwen Stefani all delivered rather ‘average’ albums despite plenty of publicity and hype).  Yet I find solace in those artists existing outside of the heavily publicised, record label controlled mainstream and well, there’s some really good stuff to find if you’re willing to look beyond what you’re told to listen to.

game of thrones

On the TV route highlights of the year for me have definitely been the last season of Game of Thrones, arguably the best yet and some of the best TV I’ve witnessed all year.  I also got a lot of enjoyment out of House of Cards (I’m still behind…currently on season 3).  Daredevil was also good, despite a slow start.  However the big surprise this year has been just how good West World turned out to be, of which I’m due to watch the final episode any day now.    Orange Is The New Black was underwhelming this year though and despite some shocks towards the end, really needs to step up it’s writing and characterisation for the next season or I can see myself switching off.

titanfall 2

Oh and hasn’t it been a packed year for videogames?  I enjoyed and completed the following:  Uncharted 4, Deus Ex Mankind Divided and Titan Fall 2 … but have played many other titles, some of which have been too huge to finish (yet) or have caused me to lose interest.  One such game like that has been The Division, which managed to lose it’s appeal after a while and I haven’t gone back to it in ages … something I can’t say for the similar Destiny which with it’s expansions and still-intriguing concept keeps on pulling me back even two years since release.  The news of updated versions of current systems wasn’t so good however, having spent a great deal of money on owning the PS4 and Xbox One only to have the advent of PS4 Pro and Xbox One Scorpio to eventually replace them.  But for now I’m still happy with what I’ve got and will continue to be until games stop getting released for these machines.

I wanted with this post to touch on the various things that have interested me and stood out for good or bad this year and with that I’ll sign off for now.  There’s some more reviews on the horizon and of course my end of year Top Ten.  So watch this space for much more soon.

Craig.

What I’m watching


I thought I’d write a small post about the TV shows I’m currently watching and my brief thoughts on each.  Over the last few weeks some have had new seasons start and it’s been fun getting back into familiar characters and storylines.  One such programme is Orange Is The New Black which has become one of my favourite shows even though I struggled through season one initially.  However the show has gone from strength to strength and this fourth season is already looking very promising.

OrangeIsTheNewBlack

I am also quite addicted to House of Cards which is currently at four seasons but I’ve been rather late to the party and am working my way through season two.  I’m loving watching Kevin Spacey, Robin Wright etc. manipulate, corrupt and conspire their way through U.S. congress.  I’ve almost finished the latest season of Game of Thrones, a show I began watching simply because so many people I knew were talking about it and so I caved in and took the plunge and am so happy I did.  The earlier seasons were a bit reliant on sex and violence and well, shock factor and that hasn’t changed much but with a greater knowledge of all the characters I’ve really found myself absorbed by it all and it probably is the best big budget drama on TV at the moment.

GameOfThrones

One I’m struggling with this season is Daredevil – following a riveting, surprising and addictive first season, this second helping has felt a lot more drawn out and tiresome, wasting a pivotal character’s inclusion by descending into yawnsome courtroom drama … but I still like the main characters and will stick with it to see how this season concludes.

WentworthPrisonTwo shows I’ve also started watching again are Wentworth Prison and Luther, the former being the Australian women’s prison drama that’s loosely based on cult Ozzy soap Prisoner Cell Block H and is really well done and stylish and at times quite violent.  It’s been very good since its inception and this season doesn’t look like faltering on that initial promise.  The latter is a British crime drama series with Idris Elba as a cop who specialises in solving serial murder cases whilst at the same time battling his own psychological demons.  It’s a bit samey from episode to episode but the shock factor of some of the storylines and Elba’s performance has drawn me back to this one after a long break.

Well those are the shows I’m currently into and enjoying so far, between movie watching, music listening and occasional gaming.

Autumn TV Goodness and update


the-walking-dead

Yeah I know to the majority of my readers, that’ll be ‘Fall TV goodness’ but I’m in the UK and well, that’s just how I roll.  Starting pretty much from now, there seems a plethora of exciting TV shows coming my way to fill up my nights with quality drama.  First off we have the return of The Walking Dead for it’s sixth series.  This very consistent and very well made show has never disappointed and the characters and storylines remain as compelling as ever.  Next up will be the return of er…The Returned, a French horror drama about a group of dead people who return to their hometown seemingly unaware that the people they love have been mourning their deaths for several years and had only just began to rebuild their lives.  Season One was excellent with some great characters and a quality, eerie atmosphere.  So I’m looking forward to whatever this season has install. 

homeland

Last week also saw the latest season of acclaimed drama Homeland hit UK screens and going by that first episode, it looks to be another gripping season ahead.  Homeland has certainly been one of the best shows in recent memory and the real-world relevant backdrop of terrorism adds a great deal to the impact this show can have.  Starting this Monday too, is the second season of that surprise hit TV spin-off Fargo, based on the Oscar winning Coen Brothers movie of the same name, this time set a number of years before season one.  I don’t entirely know what to expect, but last season was so damn good, it should be pretty unmissable.  Now add to this I’m still catching up with Game of Thrones which has been fairly consistent and gripping through the almost three seasons I’ve watched thus far, and that’s a lot of TV to cram in.

In other news, I’m gearing up to see my favourite band, alt-rockers Garbage on the 9th of November in London, a very long-awaited and never before realised dream for me personally.  Th12094917_1078237858853731_1035346105295295619_oe highly anticipated 20 Years Queer Tour kicked off stateside on 06 October and runs until end of November with a final date in lead singer Shirley Manson’s hometown of Edinburgh.  I’ve been watching videos on Periscope of them backstage, checking Facebook fairly religiously and probably doing my head in (and everyone else’s) during the build up – but dammit, am I excited and looking forward to it.  In preparation I got myself a copy of the re-mastered edition of their debut album in a deluxe version on CD, as well as buying a couple of t-shirts and other bits of merchandise.  Hey, I may never see them again as it’s not the easiest thing for me to arrange or make happen … so why not go all out?  I’m intending to take some photos and possibly record some footage so maybe I’ll put some stuff on here once it’s all over with.

In recent posts I have remarked on depression and difficult times and I’m trying my best to steer away from this now.  I have some amazing things on the horizon that should and will give me a different, more positive outlook on life.  I think I’ll always be prone to negative thinking and dwell on the past and on certain people in my past, but looking to the immediate future …. it’s more positive than I sometimes let myself believe.  My 40th birthday is also right around the corner and it will mark a milestone in my life and a step in the right direction, and I need to see it that way.  I need to look ahead with a clearer outlook and not focus on the past at least not as much, anymore.

Update


Movie Night

What have I been up to lately?  Well I can’t recall if I had mentioned this but over the last few months I’ve begun a ‘movie night’ with my Dad.  Each Tuesday we watch a movie and have some popcorn.  It’s nice and also an excuse to get some movie watching in.  It’s not always a new movie though so sometimes I don’t have a review to post afterwards.  Last Tuesday was such a case, as we watched the horror ‘Oculus’ which I previously reviewed.  Again I enjoyed it and my Dad got a lot out of it too.  So in coming weeks you may get to see more reviews, but if there is a lull, it’s probably down to us watching something I’ve already reviewed (I have ‘John Wick’ lined up for Tuesday).

metal-gear-solid-5-the-phantom-painIn other news I have been playing a great deal of Metal Gear Solid 5: The Phantom Pain.  It’s my first proper stab at a Metal Gear game since Metal Gear Solid 2, and even though I purchased Metal Gear Solid 3, I didn’t play it all that much, and I skipped Metal Gear Solid 4.  What do I think of this latest entry?  Like many games these days, it’s open world and huge, with side quests (ops) and a large storyline that I am only really touching the surface of.  Graphically it’s pretty lush.  The wildlands of Afghanistan are immensely detailed and atmospheric and look fantastic, especially with sand storms, day to night cycle and great textures, lighting and effects – even if the water is a bit last-gen.  I like the concept of mother base too, your hub location where you can build up your army (from kidnapping enemy soldiers) and adding to the facilities for developing better equipment for use in the field.  It’s very absorbing stuff.  It also plays really well.  Metal Gear pretty much invented the stealth genre and the ideas here work superbly, with the Fulton delivery system (the ability to attach a balloon to a knocked out enemy, animal or piece of equipment, and immediately send it back to mother base) proving a great deal of fun.  That’s not to say it’s easy as the game takes no prisoners if you get discovered, and the intelligent enemies will hunt you down and nine times out of ten, end your game swiftly.  I’m having a great time with it, but like I said – it’s still early days.

I also got my hands on Gears of War: Ultimate Editon, which looks great…it was always a very well made shooter and had some good characters and a great concept.  The gameplay hasn’t aged badly at all and you can see how the game has influenced a ton of games since it came out, especially with the rock-solid cover-mechanic and the satisfying gunplay.  Graphically it’s quite a step-up from the original, and the textures, lighting and everything looks really good.  I’d say some of the design; of the characters and levels has moved on a bit, but it’s still worth revisiting.

Garbage-20Other than this, I’m still in run up mode to November, where two things are happening…firstly on November 9th I finally get to see in concert my favourite band of all-time ‘Garbage’ of which it’s a special 20th anniversary tour to celebrate the anniversary of their debut album, and loads of things are happening online at the moment, such as regular updates on the band’s Twitter, Facebook, Periscope and Instagram accounts, as well as a re-release of the album in special packaging, on CD, Vinyl and digital complete with remixes, b-sides and specially re-mastered versions of the individual tracks.  I obviously have stuff pre-ordered, and am looking forward to it a great deal.  Next up is my 40th birthday on the 14th.  Now I’m not big on fuss or attention, it can make me uncomfortable…but hey I’m hitting the big 4-0 so may as well make the most of it.  Not sure what that’s going to be right now, but as I’ll be in London leading up to it, that’s a good a start as any.

On TV I’ve been finishing up season 3 of Orange Is The New Black which has once again been great.  I’m also watching Game of Thrones (currently working my way through season 3) and Australian prison drama Wentworth, which I highly recommend.

orange

I’m sitting here also at the start of a week off from work.  Damn work has felt gruelling of late.  I’ve also got my head in a slightly better place than it’s seemed to have been in a while.  Depression, thoughts of things that have happened to me in the past etc. can linger and it’s easy to wallow in it, but it never does me any good or solves anything … so even though moving completely on seems like the hardest thing to do some days, I’m trying my hardest.  I really am.  Having good work colleagues and a job I enjoy and a good family around me helps a great deal and makes me wake up to myself.

So here’s to relaxing, watching movies, playing games and a few days out.  I’m looking forward to it!