Friday 29 April 2022

My 100 Favourite Songs - Part 2

Welcome to Part 2 of my Top 100 Favourite Songs list.  They're divided into 5 groups of 20; the first 4 are in no particular order.

Part 1 can be seen HERE.

Part 3 HERE 

Something I found when I was compiling my Top 100 was that songs I used to number among my all-time favourites, I no longer do.  For instance, I used to adore 'The Way It Is' by Bruce Hornsby and The Range, but when I listened to it again, as I listen to them all before including them, it didn't do anything for me.  I much prefer the sampled version: 'Changes' by 2Pac, and was about to add that instead when I realised that what I was enjoying most of all was the beauty of the late lamented Tupac Shakur in the video!

But I'll stick it on here as a bonus song anyway, so you can see it too πŸ˜‰.


Back to it!

...and here is my second group of twenty, a random mix of musical types, as before!

Bohemian Like You - The Dandy Warhols (2000)

Message of Love - The Pretenders (1981)

I wavered between this and 'Brass In Pocket', but I decided that, although I played the latter about 20 times a day when it first came out, I've heard it so many times that I'm not sure I shall ever need to again.  Thus, not a Top 100!

Silver Machine - Hawkwind (1972)

One of the first singles I ever bought :)

 The Order of Death - Public Image Ltd (1984)

Dig A Pony - The Beatles (1969)

I'm not much of a Beatles fan - I appreciate how good their music is but most of it doesn't quite hit the spot for me.  Except for this.

Castles Made of Sand - Jimi Hendrix (1967)

I love how the voice of Clifford Smith Jnr, aka Method Man, just melts into the flow and the rhythm of this.

(We Don't Need This) Fascist Groove Thang - Heaven 17 (1981)

Hey Boy Hey Girl - The Chemical Brothers (1999)

If I had a quid for every time I've drunkenly danced to this at 2 am... not for some years now, though!

Burlesque - Family (1972)

Pure Shores - All Saints (2000)

I adored the soundtrack to the film The Beach, and used to play it over and over about 20 years ago.  

You Wear It WellRod Stewart (1972)

I bought this when I was just 13, and remember playing it in the living room about 20 times on the day I got it.  Still love it now.  

Wichita LinemanGlen Campbell (1968)

Bittersweet Symphony - The Verve (1997)

Somebody Loves Me - George Gershwin (1924)

sung by Margot Bingham on Boardwalk Empire

(yes, Margot Bingham aka Max in The Walking Dead!)

Owner of a Lonely Heart - Yes (1983)

As perfectly early 80s soft rock as Africa by Toto!

Saturday 23 April 2022

My 100 Favourite Songs - Part 1


I had the idea of compiling this list a while back, and it turned out to be a longer project than I'd imagined - half of them differ from the original list.  You keep thinking, "Damn it, how could I have forgotten 'Bohemian Like You' by The Dandy Warhols?", and similar!

I think I've got it about right now - I've included a couple of instrumentals, but on the whole this my Top 100 of pop/rock, as if I'd started including other musical genres it would have been too vast a project.

I'm posting them in five groups of 20.  The first 80 are in random order - a Top 100 countdown would have been impossible.  However, the fifth post will be my 20 most favourite songs of all time - now that was a task!

I tried not to choose songs simply because they evoke a happy memory ; if I had, my Top 100 would have included 'gems' like 'Get Out of My Dreams and Into My Car' by Billy Ocean, and possibly 'La Macarena' (don't ask).  

The title and artist are linked to the Wikipedia page for more information on each.  Where possible, I've chosen a video that shows an actual performance or promo vid, but obviously the sound was the most important thing.

Here's the first group, in no particular order:

Golden Years - David Bowie (1975)

From my one of my favourite two albums of his - was a toss up between this and the title track.

Marquee Moon - Television (1977)

Under Ice - Kate Bush (1985)

The whole of The Ninth Wave, B side of Hounds of Love, is a masterpiece!

My Favourite Mistake - Sheryl Crow (1998)

Sympathy for the Devil - The Stones (1968)

Little Bit of Love - Free (1972)

This song was how I discovered Free - it was in the charts when I was 12 or 13

Lover - Dan Reed Network (1989)

The whole of the Slam album takes me straight back to 1989/90 - hard to choose one track.  

Remedy - The Black Crowes (1992)

(and Chris Robinson wins the 'Hottest Guy in Red Velvet Loons' award)

Feel So High - Des'ree (1991)

Can't Happen Here - Rainbow (1981)

'Dystopian lyrics 30 years before the world realised what was happening' - comment on YouTube.  Aside from that, just a terrific song. 

Paradise City - Guns N' Roses (1989)

'Two degrees in be-bop, a PHD in swing...'

The Bitterest Pill  - The Jam (1982)

Seasons of Wither - Aerosmith (1974)

Most hauntingly beautiful - long intro, so stick with it if it's new to you

Tunnel of Love - Bruce Springsteen (1987)

Reeling In The Years - Steely Dan (1972)

...and this was how I discovered Steely Dan, when I was 13.

Linger - The Cranberries (1993)

I was working in a pub in 1996 after a long relationship break-up.  The landlady had to tell me to stop putting it on over and over again.

Transmission - Joy Division (1978)

Space Junk - Wang Chung (1997)

Famously used as the outro in the first episode of The Walking Dead, and then again in Rick Grimes' last episode, so I've chosen this excellent fan-made video, by Ah Perfect.

Part 2 HERE

Part 3 HERE

Tuesday 12 April 2022

Lately I've Been Watching

The latest in my series of mini TV and film reviews, with trailers and 'where to watch'.  If you have trouble finding where any show/film is available in your country, this is a good site: Justwatch.  Just put the name of the show into the search, and choose your country further down, from the drop-down menu.  It shows where you can stream, buy or rent.  

However... I've found it to be not absolutely up to date at all times.  Sometimes I've had better results simply putting 'where can I watch ***' into the search engine, or going to the programme's own site, if it has one.

If you would like to see more posts, please click here: Lately I've Been Watching.  If you get as far as the bottom, 'Older Posts' will take you to more.

Series: Raised by Wolves - Seasons (1 and) 2

5* ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

(UK: Sky, Now.  US: HBO Max)

We re-watched S1 before watching S2 - I reviewed S1 in a previous post, but that was 18 months ago and I needed a recap!

Set way into the future when wars (between atheists and those who believe in the god Sol) have made the earth uninhabitable, two androids have been sent to a deserted planet with the eggs of twelve human babies, to restart our race.  Their mission is hampered by illness, and by the appearance of some other space travellers (one of whom is Travis Fimmel, aka Ragnar Lothbrok)

In Season 2, the conflict between the atheists/robots and the followers of Sol continues as Mother, Father and 'their' children discover what lies on the tropical side of the island.  Mother and Father struggle with the development of human emotion, and Mother with her innate instinct to kill lots of people and blow things up.

It's every bit as good as the first season - didn't want it to end.  If you haven't seen it and you love quality futuristic sci-fi, do give it a go!  Trailer is for Season 2; Season 1 trailer in previous post.

Series: Severance - Season 1

5* plus ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

(US, UK, Aus: Apple+) 

Employees of Lumon Industries are given the option to have the controversial  'Severance' brain operation - when at work they remember nothing about their life outside, and when they leave, they remember nothing about their day at work.  Mark Scout (brilliantly played by Adam Scott) chooses to have the procedure as a way of coping with the death of his wife; while at work, he will not be tortured by grief.

As the episodes unfold, we become more and more aware of how enclosed the life of the Lumon workers actually is, and the impact Severance has on their 'real' lives.  During the day, knowing nothing at all about the outside world, or their own histories, they become amusingly obsessed with office minutiae, and behave in a sometimes almost childlike way towards their colleagues.  Of course, there are much more sinister goings-on behind the scene, as some of them being to suspect.

Also stars Patricia Arquette (fabulous!), Christopher Walken, John Turturro and various others you'll recognise.  A great story perfectly realised, I was gripped all the way through and am very much looking forward to Season 2.

Series: From - Season 1

4.5* ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

(Epix, Amazon, Netflix)

A family on a road trip takes a wrong turn, ending up in a one-horse town that looks as though it dates back to the 1960s.  They ask Sheriff Boyd Stevens (Harold Perrineau) for directions back to the highway, but find that the road out takes them back into the town.  There appears to be no way to leave - as was discovered by the others who live there.  Even worse, the town is plagued at night by terrifying nocturnal creatures.

Really good stuff, this.  Convincing, sinister, and I have no idea what's going to happen, why they are there, how they will get out, if the town exists on another plane, or what, so I very much hope there is going to be a Season 2!

Film: The Outfit

5* ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

(US: Rent on Amazon, Google, Apple and many more.  

Stream on Disney+ in July.)

This is such an excellent film, with an unusual structure for these days of special effects and fast-paced plots.  The whole thing takes place in a bespoke tailor's shop, in 1956 Chicago - it could be a play.  There are just seven cast members.

Mark Rylance (Wolf Hall) stars as Leonard Burling, an English 'cutter' (a term considered, in the industry, to be superior to 'tailor') with his own successful business - though his main customers are a family of gangsters; the Boyles and their associates.  Burling allows them to use his shop as a stash house for their dirty money, feeling he has little choice.  One evening, two of the gangsters crash in needing assistance; Ritchie, son of the mob boss, has been shot.  Burling allows them to use his cutting room to lay Ritchie out so they can do their best to save his life.  From that moment on, the events of the evening go from bad to worse.

Mark Rylance is as terrific as you might expect, and I was totally absorbed by this film all the way through.  The plot is unpredictable and gripping, and it's so well acted and produced.  Definitely recommend!

Series: The Walking Dead - Season 11b

(AMC+, Disney)

Episode 14: The Rotten Core - full review HERE  5* ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

Episode 15:  Trust - full review HERE  4.5* ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

Episode 16: Acts of God - full review  HERE   4.5*  ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

(Trailer is for episode 14)

Miniseries: The Dropout 

5* ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

(US: Hulu.  UK and Aus: Disney+.  )

The true story of Elizabeth Holmes, failed biotech entrepreneur who falsified evidence that her company, Theranos, could produce the technology to revolutionise the blood testing/early illness detection industry, in order to amass untold millions in investment and backing.  She was named by Forbes as the world's youngest and wealthiest female self-made billionaire.  

Trouble was, it was all based on a lie.  She'd been told, when she first came up with the idea, that it was impossible, and this proved to be the case.  She then faked demonstrations to secure initial funding, and used her youth, femininity and passion for her project to lure in the big names.  Her world began to crumble when two dissatisfied employees decided to talk to a Wall Street Times journalist, and one of them also reported her to the CMS (Centre for Medicaid and Medicare Services).

I got the feeling, watching this, that Holmes was a deranged fantasist whose actual goal was to be seen as a brilliant entrepreneur who'd changed the world, rather than to produce a workable product; she was obsessed with Steve Jobs, even copying his style of dress.  She put her name on the patents for the items invented, though she'd had little input; she had neither the education or the experience, having dropped out of college.  

I watched a documentary about the real Holmes a couple of years ago (review/trailer on previous post) and am fascinated by the story, so when I saw that this miniseries had been made, I jumped on it.  Holmes is played by Amanda Seyfried, who captures her narcissistic idealism perfectly; the more highly acclaimed she becomes, the further from reality her mind wanders. I imagine if you watch this, you'll be as fascinated by it as I am!

Elizabeth Holmes' Wikipedia page is HERE, if you want to know more about her.  She is currently awaiting trial and could face up to 20 years in prison.

Film: Gold

4.5* ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

(Not streaming in US and UK yet, but on Stan in Australia)

Set some time, somewhere in a post-apocalyptic future, when two men who have only just met drive through a vast and inhospitable desert.  When they stop for a while, they discover an enormous gold nugget under the sandy soil, which they are unable to break free.  Kevin, the driver (Anthony Hayes) leaves in search of an excavator, while Virgil (Zac Efron) stays behind to mind the gold.

The film centres around Virgil's survival and deterioration in the barren wastes.  Loved it, and Zac Efron gives it all he's got, most successfully!

Series: Snowpiercer - Season 3

4.5* ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

(UK and Aus: Netflix.  US: HBO Max, Directv, TNT, Spectrum)

I was a bit 'don't really care' about this season at first, but got more and more into it as it went on, and ended up sticking my bottom lip out at the BRILLIANT ending, because I can't wait until S4 to see what happens.

For anyone who hasn't seen it, it's set in the future in an ice age, where the only survivors (that they know about) travel in a permanently in motion train, 1029 cars long, on a circular track laid all round Africa and Europe and the Middle East; yes, they pass the Pyramids once every three months.  The hierarchy in the train makes the story, as disputes arise and get resolved, and shift into other disputes, etc etc.  It's jolly good.  Stars Sean Bean, Daveed Diggs and Jennifer Connelly.  And Steven Ogg is in it too ;)

Documentary Series: Secrets of Playboy

4* ⭐⭐⭐⭐

(US: Directv, Spectrum, A&E.  UK: Amazon, Sky)

Interviews with former residents of the Playboy mansion and girlfriends of Hugh Hefner that make clear what a totally evil, disgusting sleazebag he was.  And I'm not just talking multiple sex partners.  The women, particularly Holly Madison and Sondra Theodore, came across as completely authentic and still so damaged by what went on there, now decades ago.  Like me, you may think before watching this, 'Well if it was so bad why didn't they just leave?'  But when you hear the whole story you kind of get it.

Also includes interviews with Hefner's male friends and one female photographer, all of whom said he was a really great guy.  May or may not have something to do with the fact that Hefner filmed all his guests enjoying their orgies and other degenerate stuff, for insurance against them, should they ever be tempted to reveal what really went on in the mansion.

Hugh Hefner did not 'love women'.  He despised them, and used his wealth and powers of manipulation to degrade them as much as he could.  There were claims that his Playboy empire arose from a teenage rejection by a woman he loved - maybe partly, but I think that's just an excuse.  It's clear there was something very dark inside him; there's a reason why he was fascinated by Charles Manson.

Warning: you may be unable to get certain anecdotes out of your head, and wish that someone had provided him with a long, painful death, years ago.  Ditto all the men who went to his 'parties'.

Film: Bull

4* ⭐⭐⭐⭐

(UK: Buy from Apple, Amazon, Sky.  US: same, but rent option too)

English film set in and around London.  Neil Maskell plays a former contract killer returning to assassinate the entire family of his father-in-law (David Hayman), who he blames for separating him from his son.  Tamzin Outhwaite plays his mother-in-law (not quite sure how she got to be in her fifties, but, you know, that time passing thing!).

It's extremely violent with horrible people living a hard, criminal life, the sort that make you think, 'I hope nobody like that ever floats into my orbit'.  The ending was a bit off-genre, possibly a bit daft, but I kind of liked it and enjoyed the film generally, if 'enjoyed' is the right word.  I must, however, reiterate the 'extremely violent' bit.  Not for the faint of heart or anyone who thinks working class Londoners are all jolly market traders with hearts of gold.

Sunday 10 April 2022

Review: #TWD S11x16 ACTS OF GOD #TheWalkingDead

Previously: Review 11x15 Trust

- S 11 x 16  ACTS OF GOD -

Directed by Catriona McKenzie

Written by Nicole Mirante

How I love a mid-season finale that brings some plot lines to a conclusion while digging others even deeper - I don't think it was the best of 11b, but there were some moments of real TWD excellence (my favourite episodes were No Other Way, Warlords and The Lucky Ones).  

We started with Hershel channelling the young Carl Grimes when told he had to stay behind while Maggie and her fearless crew of Lydia, Elijah and Marco went off to save 'some shit-hole of a home that's not worth saving'... though of course it is.  

I'm sure Negan understood that really - that Hilltop is precious to her for reasons other than Barrington House, which was worth blowing up to get rid of a few Commonwealth soldiers (Lancers?!).  Like she said, Hilltop is the people, not the buildings, a place where both her crew and those formerly of Riverbend can live - and she's not going to give up the place where Glenn is buried, without a fight. 

That said, it was sad to see the inside of the house now burned out, dank and dark, and imagine the ghosts walking down that grand old staircase, as it was back then: Tara, Jesus, Enid... and equally sad to see Maggie forced to leave Marco's body where it lay.

Incidentally, I was unimpressed that only Negan and (pregnant) Annie offered to go with Maggie to help—what about all those Riverbend men down in the Whisperer Wormhole?  She would have said no, but they could have offered, right?


At least we've finally seen the last of Leah, possibly the most universally loathed character since Ed Peletier.  Sadly, though, I found myself a little unconvinced by the scenario.  For a woman known to off people without a second thought - including Pope, who was like a father to her - I thought it odd that she bothered to knock Maggie out, then drag her goodness-knows-how-far to the house, sit her up in a chair and, despite being a black ops style mercenary, tie her up in such a pathetic fashion that that Maggie could get her hands free in minutes.

Then, after the talk that baddies always have with the main character they're going to kill, just long enough to allow rescue to arrive, she gave the impression she was debating whether or not to pull the trigger.  I predicted the whole Daryl-arriving-in-the-nick-of-time thing before I even saw Maggie in the chair.  Of course he'd read the signs and knew where Leah was, and he had to be the one to kill her, but it just seemed a bit ... y'know.

Then again, maybe I'm being too cynical. Maggie surmised that Leah wanted her to suffer, rather than just die. Leah wanted her to know that she was going to kill everyone who mattered to her, like Maggie's people had killed Carver and co.

Maybe she looked hesitant about pulling the trigger because of what Maggie said about revenge not bringing satisfaction, or because Maggie's a mother (thinking back to when she couldn't kill that woman in 11x07 Promises Broken) ... or maybe (stretching it a bit here) she subconsciously wanted Maggie to kill her because she had nothing left.

Anyway - hopefully it went a little way to relieving the guilt that has plagued Daryl since the death of Glenn, one of the most pivotal points in his life, what with him considering it his fault (and we will never know if Negan would have killed Glenn anyway - will we?).

S7x14  The Other Side, when he apologised to Maggie about That Night.

Incidentally, I've always thought that part of the chip on Leah's shoulder - the bit that changed her from just fairly objectionable to the Wicked Witch of the East - is about Daryl dumping her for his old friends, Maggie included.

I liked the locust storm ... reminded me of Rick's last episode (except then they changed into helicopters).  Also, the subtle way Daryl, Gabriel and Aaron signalled to each other that their arrival at the vehicle graveyard heralded the right time for their mutiny to take place—the little looks between them.  

Something about they way they executed the assault felt a bit like the old days, and the vehicle graveyard setting was one of those perfect TWD sets; I'd so love to explore them.  

Just before Daryl put the final bullet into Romano's head, the information that Lance's plan was to 'clear the field' was surely the final confirmation of his true agenda - that no community refusing to be allied to the Commonwealth will be allowed to exist.


Meanwhile, back at the Commonwealth, Eugene and Connie's Resistance gather to investigate the secret files stolen by Max, namely a list of all missing people with what appear to be co-ordinates showing where they are locked up/hidden/imprisoned.  I was rather disappointed that the files didn't have 'Top Secret' emblazoned all over them, like in a 1960s spy film, but it was good to see that Max was able to find exactly the information they wanted in the first file she opened, within about three minutes of Pamela leaving πŸ˜‰.

Ezekiel's promise that he has a whole network ready to ride at dawn, and Max's low-key 'Let's Ride' would imply that, come 11c, this group will go AWOL on a mission to release many non-compliant former Commonwealth citizens back into the wild.  Will Mercer go with them?  I'm thinking reluctance at first, but joining them at the last minute.  Connie, in particular, needs to have a go-bag at the ready, if Pamela's fury about her Sebastian's heist article is anything to go by.

The way that Max's 'out of the box' idea for using the budget surplus to help the less fortunate was dismissed in such a patronising fashion suggests that Pamela contributes more to the Rotten Core of the Commonwealth than might have been evident previously; instead, she wanted to keep it for some upcoming 'event', which, presumably, is to show off the glittering façade once more.

Her statement 'We've found a reason to live when everything outside these walls is dead' was a pertinent one, I thought—bearing in mind one of the two highlights of this episode: that brilliant, horribly sinister and terrifying ending.  The way those red and black banners were unfurled was reminiscent of the Nazis, as was the rounding up of the Oceansiders.  Everything outside the walls isn't dead, Pammy, though it will be if Lance has his way.

Now all pretence is over, and Lance doesn't care who knows that his plan was always to take control of any independent communities.  Excellent, excellent ending. Seeing Commonwealth soldiers on watch at Hilltop was as impending-doom-laden as the trying-to-get-to-Hilltop sequence of the marvellous 6x16 Last Day On Earth.  Like, we've dealt with some bad stuff before, but this...

Judging by the state of Hilltop, this move by Lance can only be to show Maggie who's boss, though it has value as an outpost, a look-out, if Barrington House is not beyond repair - when Jesus first took everyone there, he said that the windows enabled them to see what was coming for miles around.

And once again our people meet up post-battle: bloody, tired, hungry - but alive.  This time, though, Daryl, Aaron, Maggie, Hershel, Gabriel, Elijah, Lydia, Negan, Annie, and everyone else who was involved now have nowhere to go.  Before, they could regroup back at Alexandria, but not any longer.  And the Resistance will have burned their bridges too, if they're riding out at dawn—but let us not forget that they still have Carol on the inside.  Everyone needs a Carol on the inside.  Before she does the sort of things that only she can do, I'm sure she can sneak them out a few cookies.  I wonder if she'll make use of that old winery she found in 11x10 New Haunts?  

As a Twitter #TWDFamily friend Charli said, it's in Part C that the magic will happen!


The other highlight of this episode was, of course, Maggie finding common ground with Negan, at last.  I thought it was a perfect scene, touching but not over the top, and all the better for having been such a long time coming.  Means they can now work together, properly, without 'that' hanging over their heads, constantly.  Maggie and Negan make a great team, and with Annie a great three.

'You have big balls, Maggie Rhee.  I got you, and I got your boy'.

And as Daryl knew that he owed Maggie, Negan does too.

(ps, can I be really superficial for a moment and say that I loved the leather jacket Maggie wore in this episode?)

~ RIP Marco ~

Trailers for Episode 17!!!

See you in the autumn, thanks for reading, and I hope whatever you wish to happen in the final eight comes to fruition!