‘Dust’ Panic! Horror in Space: Book 3 by Christina Engela – Review

Dust! The final frontier for one unfortunate crew anyway…

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Captain Stuart Flane is back and is called in again to investigate yet more strangeness in what is becoming a fun and mysterious version of X-Files in Space. And by X-Files, I don’t mean government secrets and the truth being ‘out there’, as much as these stories are ‘out there’, like most of Engela’s works, this book like the others in the series represent the better episodes of the X-Files or even the Twilight Zone in places. And by that I mean the good stand alone episodes that make you think and keep you interested until the end.

While Captain Flane has seen it all in terms of the strange and macabre. He’s even been chased by superiors with golf implements and lived to tell the tale. This latest mission will leave you guessing all the way until the final stages. An unmanned ship arrives with zero trace of a crew apart from an abundance of dust being left in their absence. It’s well written, fun and all around a good read to take one away from the mundane of life if only for a while.

4 Stars – another fun read from Christina Engela whom I must thank for the copy in exchange for a review. 

 

 

Lock down Survival Binge-watch Recommendations

I love me some good TV and the longer a series is the better. Call me a character development buff because I am, and seeing as many places all around the globe are facing lock down situations this is a perfect opportunity to kick back and watch some good shows!

Here are my binge watching recommendations for surviving lock down!

For a show that started way back in 1993 you would have thought as a 90’s kid I would be down with the X-files but the truth is (no pun intended), I have only just started watching it!

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Now my Mrs finds the show’s theme a little eerie and vividly remembers being scared by the Simpsons X-files episode (which was awesome too) but I will admit this show is great and even for something on the more retro scale it holds up quite well.

For those who haven’t seen it, here’s my upshot…

‘Fox Mulder’ (A young David Duchovny) plays a ‘believer’ of a Special Agent in the FBI who spends his time investigating the macabre to the paranormal and everything else in between. These investigations are known as the X-files and Agent ‘Dana Scully’ (an even younger Gillian Anderson) is tasked with finding out if the x-files is a viable resource in the FBI while inadvertently being swept up in the storm of belief.

Their on screen chemistry works incredibly well and very early on they become good friends, their partnership carries the show in what follows a monster of the week formula (anything and everything in sci-fi) while also delving into a longer ‘the man is always watching’ type story arc.

The main selling point is that the X-files is available on at least one platform wherever you are in the world and the amount of episodes (8 series worth) is a sure fire way to spend lock down and survive it! 

We’re going to continue with the Sci-fi theme and look at what I consider to be the best ever Robot fiction show and possibly story…

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Westworld ticks nearly every damn box available for a show with such a high quality. I was blown away by the first season which introduces us to a distant future world with a living, breathing and gun toting amusement park; hence the name of the show.

Guests pay money to basically live and stay in a Red Dead Redemption type world; they can befriend people, go on quests and pretty much do what they like. The world is populated by ‘people’ who are in fact very real looking robots and this is where the performances grip you.

Evan Rachel Wood is exceptional in this as ‘Dolores’ and for television it’s an all star cast including James Marsden, Thandie Newton, Jeffrey Wright, Ed Harris and the one and only Anthony Hopkins who brings a master class level of acting to this show that explores the morality of robots in confinement who are forced to do everything over and over again.

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Evan Rachel Wood

The first season is just the tip of an incredible underbelly with twists and turns but most importantly, revelations! Even for those who think sci fi isn’t their cup of tea, the performances and story will grip you, trust me! 

There are currently 2 seasons available with the 3rd currently being broadcast over the next few weeks!

We’re going to take an almost swerve in another direction now and head into true crime which is a genre if done well that I cannot look away from.

Conversations with a Killer: The Ted Bundy Tapes sheds a brand new murderous light over one of the most infamous serial killers of the 20th century. This show also introduces it to a brand new generation of folks like me who was born the year (spoiler alert) Ted Bundy was executed…

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The tapes consist of interviews Bundy did while on death row as he reflects on a life that involved brutally murdering many many women. For a 4 part series it manages to cover in detail his chronology in doing what he did. It’s stylishly cut and put together with archive footage and interviews that make it a chilling but ever so addictive binge watch!

Available on Netflix this one will distract you for a while! 

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Continuing with the Netflix documentary theme this one you’ll find to be absurd and a little bit harrowing because the Devil Next Door is like something from a film but it actually happened. Quoting the google (because this pretty much covers it), a Cleveland Grandfather is brought to Trial in Israel, accused of being the infamous Nazi death camp guard Ivan the Terrible…

Trust me when I say this one is addictive, gripping and of course it pays homage to the so many people who faced atrocities during WW2 who still deserve to be remembered for what they went through. Here’s my full review… 

It’s not all Netflix originals or HBO because here at the Hall of Information we have to give credit where credit is due and AMC have put together some awesome shows over the years. Even if it has fallen out of favor from me The Walking Dead is a binge watch institution and I am going out on a limb to say, just watch the first 5 seasons…

 

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The characters, the setting, the special effects, the story and hell the theme song along with everything else cannot be faulted with the first 5 season of TWD. Considering what’s happening just outside our windows this one will capture your imagination and heart.

Seeing as the amount of time we’re all going to be in lock down may change, you shall probably be seeing more television rec’s quite soon! 

Have you got a binge watching recommendation for lock down?

 

 

 

 

The stories that inspire us – ‘The Simpsons’

The stories we read, see and hear sometimes leave a lasting effect on our lives. Stories inspire us to be who we are. They shape our own journey and can take the mind anywhere. There are some stories that effect us so much, they even shape our future…

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America’s   The world’s favorite family get nowhere near enough credit these days and for a show that has been running one year longer than I have, that deserves a mention. The Simpson’s has not only paved the way for so many animation shows over the years but it has been the bringer of humor, fun and even some very moving character moments. It’s taken up a tenured residency in the homes of so many people and I know for a fact even today there is nothing worth watching at 6pm other than most probably the greatest cartoon ever created.

Many of us take The Simpson’s for granted and there is a theory that it’s nowhere near as funny as it used to be. While I partially agree, just the other day I laughed out loud during a moment of a very recent episode. The sheer amount of characters and their interactions make the show’s premise pretty much limitless and the 30 plus seasons carry that truth via Matt Groening who some folks would refer to as a ‘boomer’ but it is with his humor and imagination these stories come to life. Whether it’s a tribute or spoofing of a popular film or even a nod to a current political moment, there isn’t much that doesn’t get a mention in Springfield.

While some of the ever important characters may have appear to be parodies of those in the popular limelight , they have lasted in creating their own identities that people love to watch. Of course this is aligned with ever important real life celebrity cameos and a just a dusting of real world family values and you have the show. 

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Over the years there have been countless moments that have not only inspired my comedy but have kept me company since as long as I can remember. Who could forget the Springfield Monorail or even when somebody shot Mr Burns. Sideshow Bob must get an honorable mention while also nodding to Homer Simpson’s many many adventures, from tripping on chilli to tackling alcoholism or even thinking he had only days to live. The annual ‘tree house of horror’ episodes are now as ritualistic and trick or treat for Halloween.

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Above all it’s a show about life and how to embrace the funny side of it while also learning lessons. For years the Simpson’s has entertained us and for that is must be honored.

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Is there a chance the track could bend?

Do you have a favorite moment from The Simpsons? 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Let’s talk about the Breaking Bad film…

A slight delay in reaction over here at the Hall of information because I have been in the cave of intensive writing and with the fear of my brain becoming mush I’m attempting to pallet cleanse as well as discuss the fact Netflix have announced a Breaking Bad movie.

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‘El Camino’ will grace the screens (of those who have paid, mostly) this October and from the reaction I have seen, only present’s one real question:

AM I THE ONLY ONE CONCERNED ABOUT THIS? 

I’m trying not to be a party pooper here but can anybody entertain my point which I fully intend to defend.

Breaking Bad is simply a masterpiece, a fu**ing masterpiece of modern television storytelling. Some of you will know my favorite show of all time is Buffy the Vampire Slayer but even I know and appreciate there is a difference between something being the outright best and my personal favorite.

Digressing here but you can link the two shows, they both would have shared the same number of seasons initially but Buffy was basically ordered by the higher ups to keep running. (spoilers here but it’s no longer 2001) Buffy’s season five and it’s finality of the main character’s death sort of expressed that and quite honestly it’s the most powerful and beautiful moment of the whole deal. The same goes for the finality of Breaking Bad’s final episode (well we think ‘W.W’ died anyways). The story of Breaking Bad had a beginning and middle and finally an end. And it avoided cancellations, apart from the writers strike all seasons were of decent length and above all it finished on its own terms.

Of course the second billed ‘Jessie Pinkman’ rode off into the sunset during that finale but can’t the rest be left up to the imagination? A lot of what I liked about this show was killed off during the experience – the characters.

The defense

I am only suggesting this if ‘El Camino’ is bad, so my counter is simple.

Vince Gilligian – the genius behind Breaking Bad has returned for this film. So no matter what, we are in safe hands right?

Your opinion?

Don’t come at me with that ‘I haven’t seen it’ crap and I mean that in the most polite of ways, but seriously its the show of the decade! I’m excitedly concerned and look forward to seeing how they carry on what is a perfect story.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Orange is the new black Season 7 – Review

A show that isn’t afraid to be the mirror of truth displaying a reflection back to the modern world…

Orange is the New Black carved a path for modern television. Being the third ‘Netflix original’ it introduced the entertainment world to a brand new concept; binge watching. But that isn’t all this show is responsible for and quite honestly I’m a little cut up that it’s finished.

There aren’t many shows out there that make you laugh, think, get angry, feel sad and overall feel fulfilled like ‘Orange’ does in one episode. I have always raved about this show and I will proudly say there isn’t one bad episode or one bad series.

Piper is finally on the outside, her struggles intertwine with what it is like to be someone in this day and age struggling the find work and life balance while still trying to maintain her probation. Her story steers this season which feels like a change as the ensemble have had the floor for the past few years. We see Larry again and Piper’s journey seems to close after going full circle. Although I never approved of Alex their relationship finally finds balance.

Taystee is reeling from the shocking outcome that saw the riot pinned to her or at least the killing of Piscatella. She starts with nothing to lose but we see her eventually reform and it probably becomes the most rewarding journey seen in this show, even though she was knocked down, she found a way to get back up and we always knew Taystee was the one of the good guys.

Nicky seems to find only struggle and is caught between her prison family – both Lorna and Red are essentially receding into their own minds and the performance of these three in particular stands out along with ‘Crazy Eye’s Suzanne’ who may be the best actress in the whole damn thing.  

Joe Caputo really is a victim of the times as he is thrown into a ‘me too’ scandal and cannot help himself along with trying to maintain relevance and a relationship with Fig.

The prison itself is thrown into political and moral dilemmas such as the new warden being chosen simply for PR reasons and an ever growing drugs problem.

There are so many other characters I possibly couldn’t name that endure their own journey bringing this show to its eventual close but something happened during this final season, and although I know it has always been there from episode 1 but this show turned everything back towards the audience as if we were looking in a mirror but the reflection we saw was the ugly truth about this world. From corporations, politics, immigration, drugs, mental health, education, race and even harassment we saw it all.  There was even a huge dig towards Donald Trump’s immigration policies adding just another relevant dimension.

The performances throughout display some of the finest acting I have ever seen and known. Some win and others lose in what I found to be an emotional finish to what is a show that ended too soon. A show about humanity’s best and worst – pretty much all of the main characters are women which is yet another big important step for society.

You’ll notice this review is hyper vague because there is so much detail I could go into about how this show gave so much to society and I’m not exaggerating. All those hero stories out there get nowhere near Orange is the New Black. 

 

Weekly Ramble #33

Let’s talk about Game of Thrones; I want to talk about what a lot of folks have on their mind and like me I wholeheartedly agree with the fact GOT resolved itself in a pretty shitty way.

I don’t think a petition to redo will make it any better and when we’re removed from it in ten years time will it be that bad? Some of the stuff that happened fit, the good guys kind of prevailed and the evil Lanister regime fell. Overall GOT became a coming of age story for the Stark kids, looking back at S1 it always was about them so why would anything different happen?

John Snow returning north did kind of leave me a little deflated. Not every loose end was tied and above all this thing felt like a quick cash grab wrap up. Or is this just the complaining culture we live in these days? One person says something sucks; gives zero real reason other than they didn’t like something and then all of a sudden a twitter group is 200,000 strong and putting petitions together.

GOT and it’s final season may be the first time the internet horde generation has faced something like this. Maybe because of the availability of instant opinion means maybe it was always destined to fuck a lot of people off, or am I trying to rationalise the fact it was a shitty ending? But it isn’t ruined, it’s just not the way you fantasized it, grow up. At the end of the day you watched it, so they won.

From a writers perspective it seems the story was put together in a rushed kind of way. It’s almost as if the show writers/runners were offered some kind of lucrative deal from someone like Disney and they got distracted. This sounds like the case and in my opinion if so they have broken the golden rule of story telling – tell the current story you are working on, in an orderly fashion with all of your upmost effort. One project at a time, tell what is in front of you, not in the future or shall we say in this case a galaxy far far away. Above all that’s just unprofessional and bad form; hence GOT’s downfall… 

Another huge factor to the show’s somewhat disappointing culmination is the fact it always had to end. Most shows run until they get cancelled; the show runners then move to an endgame. In this case there was always going to be an end but it just wasn’t very good. It’s not as melodramatic as some people were trying to debate online; quite honestly I don’t have time to discuss a TV show. It is what it is and we can now all move on. The pandemic of bad story telling in the final act is alive and well, I guess they can’t all be Breaking Bad…

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Weekly Ramble #3

Reboots, are they just the outcome of failed originality? Or is there a deeper meaning and reason to re-tell a story of old? It seems nearly every other film release is a sequel or call back to a story previous these days. And is that the reason fan basses shudder at such an idea?

This is going to be a conflicted one, three questions in the introduction alone indicate that but for good reason, this ramble is close to home and heart.

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Buffy the Vampire Slayer is in the news and crosshairs as a rebbot has been announced. A show that is much more than a monster of the week quirky horror come sometimes comedy, its also the reason I am a writer today.

So maybe you’re thinking that my thoughts would be negative, not so because the idea of a Buffy reboot means fans like me get to see more of a story we have grown up loving. There were and is so much that came from that show, it influenced a generation and got scores of kids, teenagers and adults through the struggle of life in general. This included a 12 year old me. Afterall the galvanising quote of Buffy is about life and the fact the hardest thing in this world is living, sometimes.

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The whole journey of not just a vampire slayer but her likeable and very followable gang reached a status that not many televison clans ever think of gracing. Buffy may actually be the greatest character driven narrative ever and for that I became inspired to tell stories myself with the messages Buffy carried.

I am more than welcome to an idea of a reboot if it manages to carry with it what the original did so damn well. High school is hard if not hell sometimes, listen and learn from your elders, rely on friends and learn from one another. They are all just some of the moral themes Buffy carried and if that can be reproduced then this generation of kids need the slayer.

Not to mention the original show broke boundaries socially. As long as the reboot doesnt become just an opportunity to protest about the obvious problems this world has then it may be good.

We as fans will always have the memories of what that original run of 7 seasons did for us and me. Maybe it is time for the story to start again and show the world a still very relevant story.