Monday, 14 October 2019

Review: #TheWalkingDead S10:02 WE ARE THE END OF THE WORLD

Review of S10:01 Lines We Cross HERE

Writer: Nicole Mirante-Matthews
Director: Greg Nicotero

Wow, wow, wow, what a fabulous episode!  I adore flashbacks and 'this is how/why it got to this' backstory, and this ticked every box.  Samantha Morton is terrific and has created such a multi-faceted character in Alpha - and yes, I too am frustrated about not seeing Beta's whole face, even though we know what Ryan Hurst looks like; I imagine that this won't happen until his last moments, whenever they will be.

Of course clever Alpha sussed out the Guts method of walking with the Walkers, early on—and, like Negan and the Governor, she is one of those who not only discovered their inner psychopath when the world ended, but is strong, intelligent and charismatic enough to persuade weaker people to follow her, and believe in her ideas; even to emulate her.

I thought Beta, however, came over in this backstory as a damaged person who might have been the sort of misfit who kills people to satisfy a bitterness against the world—as the episode progressed, I could imagine him shooting up MacDonalds or indulging in human sacrifice some day, if the world hadn't ended.  Something about the way he'd written 'I am the end of the world' on the walls, I guess.  I wonder if we will ever find out who the scratched off face-Have a Nice Day t-shirt guy was, whose face he took ... and so, to keep him with Beta always, they moved from balaclavas and covering themselves with Walker guts, to the Walker masks.  Brilliant.

Showing that the two of them didn't just zip from nought to sixty as soon as the world changed, though, has made such a difference to the story, and an episode like this is probably what Negan and the Governor could have done with - the 'why' is so important. Incidentally, I liked the posters in the place where Beta was living seven years ago: Hope Corner, and Believe - Change.

This was such a strong episode all the way through, from the uncovering of Alpha's weaker side as Beta found out that she hadn't killed Lydia after all—will this lead to her undoing?—and the creation of Gamma, who killed her sister to protect the pack leader.  The sister whose baby Alpha decided should be left to die, currently being cared for by Earl now that Tammy Rose is dead, if I remember rightly.  

 ...We are strongest when we kill our own blood, the most honest way to bring order to chaos...

But some of that pack liked what they saw at Hilltop—safety, livestock, normal lives. Is this likely to cause problems for Alpha in the future?  I'm guessing yes, especially as she has plans for them to see it up close so they can see it is a 'fantasy'.

They will fear us because of what we did—and she and Beta talk about their 'mission'; one assumes this is just to kill everyone, or get them to join the pack.

The Whisperers is one of the more fantastical aspects of this world, but whereas I always thought—only my opinion, don't shoot me!—that the King Ezekiel/tiger and Jadis's junkyard gang elements felt too comic book-ish when compared with the rest of the series (try imagining Jadis at the farm or Ezekiel and Shiva at the prison, and you'll see what I mean), the Whisperers have been presented in a less bizarre way; you can imagine a potential killer like Beta rising up to become everything he always wanted to be in such times—and Alpha could be seen as the dangerously warped version of Carol; she's discovered great strength that might have remained hidden forever had the Walker apocalypse not happened.  And so those two housewife/mothers will meet head on...

...we walk in the darkness
we are free
we bathe in blood
we are free
we love nothing
we are free
we fear nothing
we are free
we need no words
we are free
we embrace all death
we are free
this is the end of the world
now is the end of the world
we are the end of the world...

.... and finally: that last scene, showing Alpha and Carol facing each other across the landscape - double and triple wow!!!  I looked all over for a picture of it, but can't find one yet.  

Some feelings of dรฉjร  vu that I liked: the reflection of S8:03 Monsters, when the younger Lydia said 'we're all monsters now' (I thought of Rick looking at himself in the mirror over baby Gracie's cot, after he'd killed her father), and the way Lydia called them 'the monsters' like Sam Anderson did in S6, not being sure if Beta was one, too. Then there was the scene of the Whisperers walking over a field in either the early morning or evening light, just before Gamma's sister saw the Walker with the baby sling—it looked exactly like the herd approaching Hershel's farm in the pre-titles bit of Beside The Dying Fire

The pack, Season 10:02
Walkers head for Hershel's farm, S2:13

Next week is looking good, too.....

 And who best to do it but Carol?


Sunday, 13 October 2019

Coming soon..... BLACKTHORN #NewRelease

Hitting the virtual shelves 
around the end of November!
... and it will be just 99p/equivalent for the first 7 days, 
dates to be confirmed ๐Ÿ˜€


The UK, year 2139
One hundred and fifteen years ago, a mysterious virus wiped ninety-five per cent of the population from the earth.

Blackthorn, now the largest settlement in England, rose from the ashes of the devastated old world. It is a troubled city, where the workers live in crude shacks, and make do with the worst of everything.

It is a city of violent divisions, crime, and an over-populated jail block―until a charismatic traveller has a miraculous vision, and promises to bring hope back to the people's lives.

Blackthorn falls under Ryder Swift's spell, and most devoted of all is the governor's loyal servant, Lieutenant August Hemsley.

Twenty-one-year-old Evie has lived her whole life in the shacks.  She and disillusioned guard Byron Lewis are two of a minority who have doubts about Ryder's message.  Can they stand against the beliefs of an entire city?

Would you believe what this man told you?  It's actually a model called Ben Dalhous, but it's exactly how I picture Ryder Swift :)

These two are the nearest I can find to Evie; the bottom one is totally her; pity you can't see her face!  
The top one is actress Alexandra Daddario.

....and Byron

Wednesday, 9 October 2019

On Being Sixty

In August this year, I was sixty. ๐Ÿ˜ฎ๐Ÿ˜ฎ๐Ÿ˜ฑ

Forty is sobering, fifty is a 'how the hell did that happen?' moment, but sixty—well, the big 6-0 takes you to a whole new, previously unimaginable stage of the ageing process.  When anyone asks me how old I am (medical people, etc), I want to say 'which totally freaks me out' after I've said 'sixty'.

I read somewhere that forty is the old age of youth, and fifty is the youth of old age.  Sixty, though, is just old.

The other day it occurred to me that I may actually be classed as a 'senior citizen' (the official age of such a definition varies).  This seems completely ludicrous.  I feel like I've moved from my racketing around, chaotic younger years to being an old lady, without having the mature adult decades in between.  I've somehow managed to skip that part, perhaps because I spent my forties in the pub/immersed in ill-advised relationships, and my fifties sitting at my laptop writing books. 

My 60th birthday cake - a Walking Dead cake, made by Ema of Dotty About Cakes

Of course, my twilight years crept up on me during my late fifties.  The usual stuff—more achy bits, more pills to take, going off alcohol and worrying about my B12 and D3 intake, saying, "Oh God" instead of "Oh good" when invited out on social occasions, and the increased padding round the middle that isn't going anywhere soon, because I don't care enough to do anything about it.

When I was younger I thought being this old would be ghastly.  For a start, I thought the end of romantic adventures would mean that life was totally dullsville—I didn't realise that your desire to have them decreases at exactly the same rate as the likelihood of them happening.  Having been happily married for the past decade-ish, I now wonder how I had the energy.  Now, if anything happened to my husband, I am convinced I would remain single for the rest of my life, and contentedly so.

Two months before this milestone birthday I decided to do something I haven't done for ages: I would lose at least a stone for my birthday, and everyone would fall down in amazement about how slim and glamorous I looked.  Of course the diet lasted less than one day, and they didn't.  I met up with a few family members and old friends, looking just the same as I always do, and that was just fine; another positive, I suppose—kidding myself I was going to diet was just the last hangover from my younger days.  The loose tops are here to stay.

In Cromer, on the last evening of my fifties (wearing one of large selection of very loose tops!).

Something I had forgotten about, which is another of the upsides of this age, is that you get free and cheap stuff!  I didn't even realise I got prescriptions free until I went to pay for one, a few weeks after my birthday.  And I've got a senior railcard, which rocks my world—I can travel first class for less than the price of an normal ticket, before!

In Cromer, on the second morning of my sixties - now I am officially old, I dare post no-make-up photos without a care!

On the whole, I rather like being old, aside from the fact that I worry I have a terminal illness with every twinge, and I wish I just had more time—will I have enough years to write all the books I want to write?  To read and watch and learn about everything that interests me?  

I regret all the time wasted on stupid stuff, in some ways, but don't in other ways because it's taught me a lot, and provided material for novels!  I began to take my health seriously several years ago, when I stopped smoking; I scarcely drink now, and am fanatical about nutrition—and that stuff works.  Since I've been an almost-vegan and started making sure I have all necessary vitamins and minerals every day, certain aspects of my health have improved greatly.

One slight downside is that sometimes you feel as though the world is escaping from you.  I remember my mother saying, in her seventies, "I don't like this world anymore.  I'm glad I was born when I was", and I have begun to feel the same over the last few years, particularly as technology advances to scifi films level.  I'm glad I was a child in the 1960s and a teenager in the 1970s, that I remember those times.  I think it's probably the same for everyone, whenever they were born.  Sometimes I look at Twitter bios of the young and think, "I wonder what all that stuff actually means?"

The fun part, though, is that when you are old you get to make broad generalisations about the youth of today.  

On the other hand, it is not only old farts like me who make broad generalisations.  A while back, on Twitter, I made a harmless joke on the trend for describing oneself as 'pansexual'.  (I actually said I was 'napsexual', ie, too lazy and would rather go to sleep).  Some young chap had a right go at me, saying I was mocking a genuine sexuality. He practically accused me of a hate crime, and said that 'my generation' were all pro-Trump, pro-Brexit homophobes.  He really did say that, I'm not making it up.

I thought about this for a while, and sent him a polite DM to point out that it was actually my generation and the one before who fought all the battles, so that people of his age could claim any lifestyle/sexuality they want in their bios without fear of mockery or prejudice.  He didn't want to see that, though.  Especially not when I suggested that it was he who was bigoted, not me.

Possibly my favourite birthday card this year, from my friend Sharon

Generally, though, I get less het up about stuff than I did when I was younger, but that could be because I don't have children to worry about.  I just want a quiet life.  And I think you get more happy in your own skin, as it were, when you get older.  Which is just as well, because it's the only one you've got.

I wonder if I will be writing a similar sort of post in ten years' time, when I'm seventy?

Probably the best sort of 60 year old photo - hair safely over the face!

Monday, 7 October 2019

Review: #TheWalkingDead S:10.01 LINES WE CROSS #TWD #TWDFamily

For all my other TWD posts, including reviews of S7 & 8, please click HERE

S10:01 Lines We Cross
Written by: Angela Kang
Directed by: Greg Nicotero

Thank you, Ms Kang and Mr Nicotero; season 10, and just as good as ever - a cracking first episode that reminded me of the openings to Seasons 3, 4 and 9: we've skipped a bit of time here, so here's a little bit of everyone and everything to show where we're all at now.  As, in my opinion, 3, 4 and 9 were three of the four best seasons (the other being 6), I'd like to think this bodes well.  

It's been such a long road now, as we see the remnants of even the early post-apocalyptic world crumble into dust - the dried up skeletons with the tin can fence remains of those camp sites that survivors used to make back in the early days, the collapsed roads with the rusty car parts.

Still, though, there is that question often talked about by Rick and Glenn - the subject of who we are, when, in a reflection of Negan's observation to Michonne at the end of S8 ('everyone thinks they're the good guys'), Aaron pondered whether they still are.  I hope he doesn't lose his lovely-Aaron-ness in his pain and anger... that would be a shame.  Remember what Michonne said to Tyreese.... anger makes you stupid, and stupid gets you killed.

A few inspired ideas this opening episode - a nice change to see Oceanside.  Love the crashed satellite idea and the fire scenes, and ditto the Walker coming out of the water looking like Jesus with the cross over his shoulder.

The feeling of creeping suspense in this episode was so good ... there are few things more frightening than the foe you suspect might be around the corner, but isn't actually doing anything yet.  A hundred times more scary than any gun fight.  Glad, glad, glad that the writers/directors/producers appear to have realised that this is what makes the show so good; that, and great dialogue ('Do you know why they call bird droppings guano?'  'No. I just call it bird shit'), and plenty of Walker stuff.  The suspense in this, especially when they found the skin, was almost as good as the brilliant final episode of Season 6 (the road to the Hilltop...).

I hope we continue to be reminded of those we have loved and lost - not quite sure why Judith didn't tell RJ that the brave man on the bridge was his dad, but one assumes he will find out at some point. I don't usually do cutesy, but when it comes to Rick's kids, I'm totally up for full-on schmaltz.

As for the fun stuff, I thoroughly approve of the newly slimline Luke, and Rosita's get-up with the long black cardigan thingy - no doubt we will continue to be amused by her fan club playing Daddy, while she gets her general kick-ass-ness back up to speed.

Great to see Daryl with a bit less chaotic hair, talking more, and even signing in a southern accent - and some nice hints of possibility for him; Carol or Connie?  Okay, I know what we all want, but Connie is worthy, too!  Carol and Daryl's scenes brought a tear to my eye, I have to admit, especially when she arrived on the boat ... and didn't you feel Ezekiel's pain?  We've never seen Daryl so insistent that she stay, though.  Hands up who thinks she will  ๐Ÿ˜‰

In other areas, I'm not quite sure about this cheesy Dante character - I know he is important in the comics, and I've read that he's going to become Maggie's new love interest when she returns.  I hope Carl would have been pleased to finally see Negan on gardening duty....

Only two things I wasn't so sure about with this episode - this slow motion, Spartacus-action type stuff.  Not necessary.  Would this have happened on Hershel's farm and at the prison?  Come on, producers, keep it real - not all your viewers are 14-year-old gamers!  The other thing was the appearance of Alpha at the end (though I'm still trying to convince myself it was Carol's hallucination) - if it was her, it's too soon.  We need more creepy is-she-around-or-isn't-she stuff yet!  But on the whole I loved it - it was a great all-rounder.

It's lovely to have them back, isn't it?

Sunday, 6 October 2019

Lately I've Been Watching....

An irregular series of mini reviews and recommendations of stuff I've been watching, most if not all of it on Netflix and Amazon Prime.  Having been busy finishing a novel lately, I've mostly been flopping into bed at about 9.30 and re-watching all of South Park, which is of course TOTALLY worth it - and it's interesting to see their takes on the issues of the past 15-20 years. ๐Ÿ˜‰

If you would like to see the other posts in this series, please click HERE

Series: Succession

5 stars ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

Nothing like a dysfunctional family saga, especially when that family is ridiculously rich... as with Yellowstone, I'm hugely enjoying this other 21st century version of Dallas, this time about a media company, and set in New York.  I've seen up to episode 5 in S2 so far; saving the rest to watch all at once.  Highly recommended.  nb, I don't usually like Matthew McFayden, but he's brilliant in this as the sycophantic son-in-law.

Something that does irritate me - their mother is played by Harriet Walters, and is meant to be minor aristocracy; I find it unlikely that an English upper class woman of her age would have children called Kendall and Roman.  Conor and Siobhan are fine, as they are traditionally Irish (also part of the family heritage).  

Reminds me of Joan Collins during Dynasty, who always refused to call Stephanie Beacham's character anything but 'cousin' - she said that there was no way on earth an upper class English family would have a daughter called Sable!

Film: Wag The Dog

5 stars ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

Starring Robert de Niro and Dustin Hoffman and made in 1997, it's a terrific and very funny look at how the media influences the public, especially during election times - and of course all this was pre-social media.  Very clever, and I'm sure it is based far more in truth than many would imagine!

Series: Why Women Kill 

4.5 stars ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

Darkly humorous drama, involving 3 alternating scenarios about people who've lived in the same house, in 1963, 1986 and 2019.  Each of the women kills.... but why?  And who?  I'm up to episode 6 of ten yet, and am saving the last 4 to watch together.  Highly entertaining, and each story is so much of its time: the 'little woman' at home of the 1960s who fears her executive husband is cheating, the 1980s socialite who discovers her husband is gay but doesn't want to forfeit her lifestyle, and the couple in an open marriage in 2019, in which the woman is the breadwinner.  

Just realised I mentioned this in the last post, too, so consider this a definite recommendation!

Series: Criminal 

4 stars ⭐⭐⭐⭐

Series of scenarios set in a police interview room, in which a potential murder victim is interviewed.  David Tennant plays the first; I've seen 3 of the 4 UK ones, but there are others set in different countries. They're good, and well-acted, but I found them frustrating because I wanted to see more than the interview room, and more about what happened before and after.

Comedy Series: Schitt's Creek

4 stars ⭐⭐⭐⭐

About a super-rich family who lose all their money and end up going to live in a hick town - because they own it.  Classic riches to rags, oddly compelling, and entertaining enough to make you want to know what happens to the characters.   

Series: The Politician 

4 stars ⭐⭐⭐⭐

Started watching this last night - 3 episodes.  It's a darkly humorous drama set in a Californian high school, in which Payton Hobart, an ambitious young man, is determined to become High School President, the first step on his way to becoming POTUS. It's good, but very 'teen' (though most of the 'kids' look about 25), and I was unsure about the way that certain aspects seemed to be actively promoted, not least of all casual sex as a recreational activity for schoolkids. Also, there is a girl with a supposed terminal illness that seems to be not so much inspired by the true-life drama The Act, as directly copied from it.  But the guy who plays the main character is great, with a character that is developing well, and Gwyneth Paltrow and January Jones are excellent as super-privileged California wives - I basically liked it, and will carry on watching.  

Note - two days later.  Watched a few more - it's now a couple of years later and they're all in New York - I think it's turned into Excruciatingly Irritating and Smug Millennials Take On The Old Fogeys and Win.  But it's still good :)

Film: Child's Play 2019 

3 stars ⭐⭐⭐

I never saw the original, but I quite liked the updated version, in which the doll is activated by AI.  It's a nice bit of fun escapism!

Saturday, 28 September 2019

The Park on the 28th ~ a recap, and why I started it.

My Park on the 28th series on this blog has been so popular over the last year (thank you if you've enjoyed looking at it!), and as I have now completed a year's worth of photos, I thought I'd do a recap of the 12 posts (links to all of them, further down), and have a word about why I started it.

Last year, on the 28th of September, I went for my usual walk and took some photos because it was such a beautiful day.  I'd gone out because it was the first anniversary of my father's death, and I wanted to think about him.  

September 28th, 2018
It was when I was posting the photos on my blog that I had the idea of taking similar pictures on the 28th of each month.

Dad loved walks amongst trees and green; in 1971, he and some friends started up a walking group called The Strollers, and he would stroll along country lanes and across fields with them most weeks, year in, year out; in fact he last went out with them two days before he died!  

Dad was the last surviving original member, and my Park on the 28th series is a kind of tribute to him, because he would have loved looking at it.... but this is not intended to be a sad post - it's been two years now, and we all go through it.

Dad (on left) with some of his Strollers chums, probably about 15 years ago

A tree is planted for each Stroller when he goes off to 
walk the great country lane in the sky :)

My brother helping to put the tree and its frame together ~ 
was pouring with rain that day!  Julia with umbrella, me with camera๐Ÿ˜‰

Six months ago, a few hours after I'd completed my 'Park' post for the 28th of March, I had a phone call from the nursing home where my mother had lived for the past 6 years, to say that she'd died.  

She'd had Alzheimer's for 10 years, and since a stroke early in the year she'd become unable to acknowledge anyone or feed herself.  We knew she was fading, but the end came quite suddenly.  We'd thought we might get a chance to see her again; my sister was actually just getting ready to make the journey when we got the call.  

March 28th, 2019
She died exactly 18 months after Dad, on a Thursday, too, so the 28th has, in a way, become my day to go for a walk and think about Mum and Dad.  Not in a morose way, necessarily; just to think about them.  I still don't believe they're dead - I hear that acceptance comes much later.

Mum with Julia and me in 1987
I loved doing this series—if you would like to look at any of them again, please click the month above the photo; looking down the changes in these single pictures over the months is a quick overview! Thank you for enjoying my walks with me over the past year. ๐Ÿ˜Ž






I have something else up my sleeve, similar to this, because I liked doing it so much.... all will be revealed!

Thank you again, for your interest in this project :)