Saturday, 10 August 2019

Beautiful Cromer #Norfolk

August 5th ~ 9th.  I went back to Cromer, where I used to live, for a few days.  Missing it already.....

If you've read my book Tipping Point, you might be interested to know that Shipden, where the virus first breaks out, is based on Cromer, which was originally called Shipden-juxta-Felbrigg.  More about its history here.

I always loved going for walks early on summer mornings, 
when there is hardly anyone about.

Love the narrow streets....

I made this plate in 2001 for Breakers Café's then-owner, when I lived there; three owners later, it's now older than some of the girls who work there 😁
The food is and always was first-rate, by the way! 

(It is called the Seagull café in Tipping Point ~ as for Lawrie and Gemma, who owned it... I admit a slight resemblance, apart from the fact that they're both alive and kicking 😉)

For four years I lived in a flat in the white-ish building at the end of this photo.  Lovely morning views :)

Monday, 29 July 2019

Lately I've Been Watching

More mini TV and film reviews; I watch mostly on Netflix and Amazon Prime.  For more, click the 'Lately I've Been Watching' tag at the bottom of the post.

Series: Perpetual Grace

5 stars plus ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

A darkly, darkly humorous series about a scam that goes terribly wrong, starring Ben Kingsley as a psychopathic pastor and Jimmi Simpson as the poor guy who gets roped into it.  Think Breaking Bad; it's that sort of vein, though some of the scenes, cinematography and characters reminded me of a Tarantino film.  Violent, but... also very funny.  It really is excellent; highly recommended.
10 episodes in Season 1, 8 have been on so far. 

Series: Fear The Walking Dead (Season 5)

4.5 stars ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

For my thoughts on this, see HERE 

Series: The Boys

4.5 stars ⭐⭐⭐⭐

Fun series about a New York of the not too distant future, in which superheroes are the new celebrity, especially 'The Seven' - the best of them, who are owned and managed by the evil Vought corporation.  It's all deliciously corrupt, and some of the superheroes are more reluctant than others.  Stars Anthony Starr (the hot guy in Banshee) as the main hero, Homelander, and Dennis Quaid's son Jack, whose character gets involved into a gang trying to expose said corruption after one of them (A Train, the fastest man in the world), kills his girlfriend.  Highly entertaining, and well done.

Series: Castle Rock

4 stars ⭐⭐⭐⭐

Based on a Stephen King book - a cursed town in Maine, a mysterious young man appears who is thought to be the devil.... flashbacks throughout reveal the sinister happenings of long ago.  Features Shawshank Prison, and stars Sissy Spacek, Terry O'Quinn and some others that I recognise but whose names I can't recall.  It's good because, hey, it's Stephen King, but I found it a bit slow; I liked it but didn't love it.

Comedy series: HUGE in France

4 stars ⭐⭐⭐⭐

Gad, a famous French comedian, arrives in LA to see his estranged wife and son.  The son, Luca, is determined to become a New York model; the wife's new boyfriend is a handsome former model and (unsuccessful) actor, who has become Luca's new father.  Gad discovers that his celebrity means nothing in the US.

It's funny, but filled with pathos and great characters.  What I liked most is that it doesn't fall into the cliché of making the new boyfriend a high-achieving dickhead; his confidence is but a thin veneer, and he turns out to be as hopeless and likeable as Gad—it is the wife and son who are the monsters.  Very good, I liked it alot.

Film: The Upside

4.5 stars ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

Based on a true story.  The wonderful Bryan Cranston stars as a quadriplegic billionaire who, on impulse, hires an ex-con (Kevin Hart) to be his full time 'life auxilliary', who will perform most of the duties that will enable him to live something approaching a normal life.  It's funny, sad, 'feel-good'—I usually run a mile from anything with the 'feel-good' tag, but I'll watch anything with Bryan Cranston in, and liked it much more than I feared I might not.  Definitely recommend.

Comedy Series: The Impastor

3 stars ⭐⭐⭐

Dodgy guy (who has even more dodgy guys coming after him) accidentally falls into another man's life, and escapes the mob by pretending to be the new pastor in a quiet town in upstate New York.  As the person who was watching it with me said, 'It would be good if it wasn't shit', and yes, it's pretty daft, but I quite liked it; it's entertaining.

Sunday, 28 July 2019

The Park on the 28th: July - Mid Summer

On the 28th of each month, I take photos of my usual walk in my local park; many in roughly the same places each month, so you and I can observe the changes in season: the trees, the flowers, the light in the sky ... and the weather!  

As this week has zig-zagged between sizzling sunshine and muggy downpours (ghastly for those like me with hair that frizzes up with the first droplet of moisture), I checked the weather at 7 a.m. today, and discovered that I would need to go out immediately if I had any chance of sunshine and not getting soaked.  So this month's pics are a mix of sunny and not, which seems representative of the month as a whole, and it was a lot more soggy than it looks.  I'm so glad I went when I did; now, at 10.30, it's completely overcast.

(Incidentally, going out immediately meant not having the strong, freshly-ground coffee and nutritionally sound breakfast that I have convinced myself I need in order to function.  I took a bottle of water and a Nakd bar with me, and I felt just fine.  See, coffee, I don't need you after all!)

Click month to see previous pictures:

Looking worryingly autumnal in places -
conkers on the ground (the round green things).


 I've been taking pictures of these branches since last autumn;
this month they're so leafy/soaked that they're touching the ground in places.

 Plenty of flowers out now...

These ones were still in bud last month.  Boer War memorial in background

These trees were bright red in October :)

Wednesday, 24 July 2019

Thoughts on S5 #FearTheWalkingDead, #TWD S9 re-watch...and back at the prison.

I caught up with Fear The Walking Dead this week, as I like to save my favourites to watch in one splurge. I think it's the best season so far, though indeed the first two seasons felt like a different show; aside from the occasional mention of Madison and Nick, and the reappearance of Daniel, there is little to connect them to the more recents episodes of FTWD.

So great to see the appearance of Dwighty Boy, as he goes back to his pre-Negan self—another excellent actor and convincing character added to the cast.  The addition of Morgan was inspired, and I adore Garret Dillahunt as John, but, sad to say, I find that the rest of the cast just doesn't make me want to root for them in the same way that the TWD family does.  Maybe it's because the new look that came with S4 is still 'bedding in'; we haven't lived with these people for so long, whereas in TWD we've known Daryl, Carol, Maggie and Michonne for almost a decade now, and Tara, Rosita, Eugene, Aaron, Gabriel, Jesus and Enid for many years, too. 

...though I have to say that I was massively impressed by the episode with Al and Helicopter Girl.  So often in TV shows you feel that the writers are just remembering to tick the diversity box with a gay couple, but with these two you could really feel the chemistry between them, even before they acknowledged it themselves; even before you knew how they felt, for definite.  And you could feel their pain on parting, too.

I'm hoping Matt Frewer's character will develop in a sinister way - he'll make a great baddie.  Luciana is growing on me, but I think Charlie is still wooden and superfluous (compare that dreary two person episode with her and Alicia, with the brilliant TWD one about Morgan and Eastman, or Sasha and Rosita's last conversation....)

Great to see that the mysterious helicopter people are featuring in this, too; I'm crossing my fingers that this is how Michonne will make her exit from S10, too—surely they can't let her die!  Not our Michonne!

Talking of which, I went back to re-watch S9 of TWD after finishing the-FTWD-story-so-far, partly to see if it was just my imagination that it's a better show—and, for me, it is.  The dialogue, the storylines, just everything about it.  To sum up: for me, FTWD is good, I enjoy it, but TWD is still #1.

Watching S9 again, after not having watched it for several months, I was doubly convinced that's it's definitely one of the best seasons, to rival S6, 3 and 4.  I noticed so many little nuances that I hadn't seen before—e.g., at some point between Daryl looking for Rick's body with Michonne in Scars, and 6 years later, he lost one of the wings off the back of his waistcoat.  A lost wing for a lost brother....

Like Negan, I find the 'love quadrangle' amusing; I've always been a big Rosita fan and think she could do better than any of those three! (😢 still sad about Abraham...) And I found I wanted to lock Henry in a cell, permanently, even more than I did when I watched S9 5-16 first time round; aside from hating to see Carol so crushed, I couldn't feel sad at his demise.  Tara, Enid, totally hot DJ and all the others, gone because of his adolescent romantic ideals.  Yes, yes, I know Daryl and Connie went back for her too, but maybe they would have just lived with it, as Daryl had said, if not for Henry.  I felt sad about Tammy Rose, too; I loved her and Earl.  They were such authentic characters; I could see them on Hershel's farm.

After I'd seen all of S9 again, I began watching S3 again, starting with episode 07, When The Dead Come Knocking, when Michonne was first taken in at the prison (no, I didn't watch all this in one day, and yes, I did get almost painfully nostalgic!).  It was also the episode in which Daryl discovered Carol, when they all thought she was dead, and when she saw Judith for the first time, and learned that Lori was dead—😢😢😢.  

When Carol held Judith for the first time, I thought about the two of them meeting up again at the fair, in the brilliant The Calm Before; I wanted to take a snapshot of it and show it to Judith now!

There was also a lovely shot when Michonne was looking at them through the bars; if she had known that one day, that baby would call her Mum....

Watching S3, which was about a year into 'the fall', and comparing it with S9, I was so aware of how brilliantly the producers have aged the whole TWD world.  They're all so much dirtier (not just Daryl!), and look hardier, more like apocalypse survivors.  The Walkers are far more skeletal, of course—and the traces of pre-zombie life are fading away, so that there is little trace of them; the old towns look ghost-like, a shadow of a world that once was, rather than simply abandoned, as before.  The attention to detail is so clever; the ageing-up has happened so slowly. 

I was thinking, too, about why the show's ratings have gone down over the seasons.  I know a lot of people said they didn't like how the Negan war went on for so long, or that it was too gun fight-orientated, or that Glenn and Carl, in particular, shouldn't have been lost along the way, but I can't help thinking that much of the slide is just natural wastage.  TWD is every bit as good as it ever was, but no long-running TV show, or series of multiple books, or whatever, is able to maintain the same level of interest for everyone who loved the first few seasons (or books).  

Maybe it's also because, with any post apocalyptic series, the most exciting part is always the start—the shock, as the breakdown of society takes place, the slow, appalled acceptance, as characters realise that they have been thrust overnight into a lawless, dangerous world—and their own development, as some flounder, some become stronger...and some discover their dark sides.

The trick is to keep finding ways to keep the story fresh, unpredictable, and finding new challenges for the survivors, which TWD does magnificently.  I will be watching it with the same avid interest until it finishes (though of course I hope it never does!)—and then I will start at the beginning and watch it all over again.  Again 😉