Tuesday, 27 September 2016

Musing Mondays - Reading spy novels & a look at my TBR pile

Musing Mondays - September 26, 2016

Musing Mondays is a weekly meme that asks you to choose one of the following prompts to answer:

  • I’m currently reading…
  • Up next I think I’ll read…
  • I bought the following book(s) in the past week…
  • I’m super excited to tell you about (book/author/bookish-news)…
  • I’m really upset by (book/author/bookish-news)…
  • I can’t wait to get a copy of…
  • I wish I could read ___, but…
  • I blogged about ____ this past week…

I’m currently reading…

Our Kind of Traitor by John le Carré

My coworker Melanie and I went to see the movie adaptation of this over the summer, at first we didn't know it was a movie adaptation of a novel. The movie starred Ewan McGregor as Perry, Naomie Harris as Gail,  Stellan Skarsgård as Dima and Damian Lewis as Hector; 4 actors who I always get enjoyment from watching. We both really enjoyed the movie, which I personally wasn't expecting because I did not enjoy Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy (another John le Carré adaptation) which seems blasphemous because I love Gary Oldman.

After seeing the movie I decided I would give the novel a try because I keep saying that I really enjoy spy novels and should read more of them. I borrowed a copy from the local public library, oh about 7 weeks ago? (I've renewed it twice) Ah, Goodreads says I started reading it on September 4, thank you Goodreads for knowing that. Usually I read *MUCH* faster, Angie will attest to how fast I can read I am sure. But this? Such a slow read for me. Not nearly as slow as Wicked, but slow enough for someone who read Deathly Hallows cover to cover in just under 9 hours.

What makes it so slow for me I think is that I honestly was not enjoying it, like I kept saying to my coworker Melanie that I was thinking about stopping because the movie was actually so much better in my opinion (which doesn't happen often I usually find the book to be better and even have a shirt that proclaims as much). I decided that I would follow the "give a book 100 pages minus your age" way of reading - I would give myself until page 70, and then if I still wasn't enjoying it I would stop reading it and call it a DNF. I got to page 70, decided it wasn't so bad and I really wanted to see just how different it was from the movie (because it deviated HUGELY) and now I'm up to page 222 and I'm actually enjoying it. I still preferred the movie and don't see that opinion changing.

Here's the summary of the book from Goodreads:

Two young lovers treat themselves to a once-in-a-lifetime holiday on the Caribbean island of Antigua. He's an austere tutor at Oxford. She's a sparky rising London barrister. Their native Britain is floundering in debt. On the second day of their holiday they encounter a rich, charismatic fifty-something Russian millionaire called Dima who owns a peninsula, wears a diamond encrusted Rolex watch, has a tattoo on the knuckle of his right thumb and wants a game of tennis. What else Dima wants is the engine that drives John le Carré’s majestic, thrilling, tragic, funny and utterly engrossing new novel of greed and corruption, from the arctic hells of the gulag archipelago to a billionaire’s yacht anchored off the Adriatic coast; to the Men’s Final of the French Open tennis championships at the Roland Garros stadium; to two murky Swiss bankers dubbed Peter and the Wolf; and finally and fatally to a Swiss alpine resort nestling in the shadow of the north face of the Eiger and the story’s terrifying end.

          THIS WEEK’S RANDOM QUESTION: What is currently on your TBR pile?

Heh heh heh, you really want to open that can of worms? All right, don't say I didn't warn you. My 'Want to Read' shelf on Goodreads currently contains 1280 items. I will admit I don't remember a good 75% of those items -  a lot of them got added just for giveaways I entered and that shelf kind of becomes an "oooh that looks interesting let me shelve it so I remember it in the future" kind of shelf. But there is some over lap between it and my physical TBR pile.

Some of the inclusions on the Want to Read shelf that I really, really still want to get around to:

1. Watchmen by Alan Moore - the classic graphic novel that inspired the movie
2. The Gun Seller by Hugh Laurie - Yup, House wrote a novel and I want to read it
3. Jane Slayre: The Literary Classic with a Blood-Sucking Twist by Sherri Browning Erwin - I'm *really* not a fan of the classics, they usually bore me, but I think I could totally get behind Jane Eyre with vampires
4. Johannes Cabal the Necromancer (Johannes Cabal #1) by Jonathan L. Howard - I have a coworker who is obsessed with these and she's got me curious about them
5. Carry On by Rainbow Rowell - the complete novel of the fanfic from Rainbow Rowell's Fangirl which is very vaguely loosely an analogy for a Drarry fanfic. I have the audio book and as soon as I finish my HP audio books I plan to listen to it

I also have a few "to be read" lists on Amazon, they sort of function similarly to my want to read shelf on Goodreads (and there's A LOT of overlap between the two), more like a reminder than anything else, but there are a few things on there that I really, really want to read like:

1. Figment 2: Legacy of Imagination by Jim Zub - Figment is one of my absolute favourite things at Disney World so when I found out there are Figment I knew I had to have them
2. Angel Catbird by Margaret Atwood - it just sounds so super duper completely out there given everything I know about Margaret Atwood that I just have to read this
3. Strange Fate by L.J. Smith - ya know, if and when it ever bloody well comes out...
4. Son by Lois Lowry - the 4th and final book in the Giver quartet I have read the first 3, the first one *many* times so I need to read this one if only for closure
5. Incarceron by Catherine Fisher - I accidentally bought the second book in the series first so now I need to read this one so I can read it, oops

And last, but certainly not least, I present to you, my physical "to be read pile":

You're not seeing things, it takes up 2 and a half book shelves, in fact it's spilling off them and that doesn't even include the books I want to read that are up in the spare bedroom. The Archie collection there is not TBR, those have all been read, many, MANY times, that represents about 1/3rd of my collection of Archies not including what I've sent to Angie over the years.

Obviously all of these are ones I really want to get to, because that is why I bothered to buy copies of them and have them sitting there, but let me pick 5 to showcase:

1. Front Lines by Michael Grant - an alternate history where young women were subject to the American draft in WWII
2. The Last American Vampire by Seth Grahame-Smith - did you know that Abraham Lincoln : Vampire Hunter had a sequel? Because I did not know that until I spotted this in a bookstore
3. Flood by Stephen Baxter - it's kind of like a modern day Noah's Ark which meets Day After Tomorrow from the sounds of it
4. Queen of Hearts by Colleen Oakes - this one's kind of a cop-out because I got to read an ACR of this book as an ebook in 2014 but it'd been published in hardcover now finally so I want to reread it - it's an Alice in Winderland re-telling from the Queen's POV - all about how she became the Queen of Hearts we all love to hate
5. An Evil Guest by Gene Wolfe - I bought this probably a good 5 or so years ago for $5 on the clearance shelves at a Chapters - I'm still not 100% sure what it's about but it's got a Lovecraft-vibe and the cover reminds me of some of my favourite Christopher Pike novels

Sunday, 25 September 2016

When kid's TV was cool - Part 3

As we once again delve into the world of vintage children’s TV, I am sitting here in bed watching the two programmes I am talking about today.  I have certainly been enjoying watching these old shows again, reminding me of a time when children’s TVv was simple yet so enjoyable.

First up this week is Bagpuss.  Much like the Flumps, this was a programme that seemed to run for years and years but again only thirteen episodes were ever made.  Bagpuss was a show that has always stayed with me, I remembered every character and their quirks.  I remembered the opening credits and the closing ones too.  

Bagpuss himself was a stuffed toy cat who belonged to a little girl named Emily.  The other characters were all either toys or ornaments in the shop where Bagpuss lived.  The musical toys were a singing rag doll named Madelaine and a banjo playing frog called Gabriel.  There was also the ‘Marvellous Mechanical Mouse Organ’ which was an old musical theatre which had carvings of mice on it.  And finally my favourite was Professor Yaffle, an old carved woodpecker bookend who had some wonderful sayings such as ‘Fiddlesticks and flapdoodle’ and he made a wonderful noise each episode which is impossible to describe or put into words, it was a sort of laugh but it was unique.  All the characters would come to life when Emily spoke her magic words.

‘Bagpuss, dear Bagpuss.  Old fat furry catpuss.  Wake up and look at this thing that I bring. Wake up,be bright, be golden and light. Bagpuss, oh hear what I sing.’

The show followed a traditional format of songs and stories which all revolved around the object that had been brought into the shop that week.  It was usually dirty or broken when it was brought in and the toys would mend it or clean it and then leave it in the shop for the owner to come and collect.

With the other shows I have talked about I remembered watching them but I could never ever remember any specific episode of each show.  With Bagpuss there was one episode which I vividly remembered.  There was a mill which made chocolate biscuits from breadcrumbs and butter beans.  It wasn’t a particularly spectacular episode but for some reason I always remembered it.

My second choice for this week is another Hanna-Barbera creation, the legendary Hong Kong Phooey.  Hong Kong Phooey was the ‘Number One Superguy’.  He was a superhero, solving all the crimes in the town but no-one knows his real identity.  Each episode starts in the same way.  Rosemary, the police telephone operator takes a call from someone reporting a crime and goes to tell her boss Sergeant Flint all about it.  Meanwhile, the station janitor Penry is working nearby and hears all about the crime and dashes off to the vending machine.  He slips behind it and jumps into a filing cabinet and after his cat Spot frees him from the sticking top drawer, he emerges as Hong Kong Phooey.  He drives the Phooeymobile which can change into any vehicle when HKP rings his gong.  

HKP is not the smartest of superheroes, in fact it’s mostly Spot who solves most of the crimes but everyone thinks it’s HKP. He uses The Hong Kong Book of Kung Fu which usually comes up with some crazy named move suitable for that specific criminal but as with everything else, HKP usually gets it wrong or gets tangled up and Spot usually intervenes so HKP still manages to pull off the capture of the villain and thus ensures HKP remains the greatest superhero of all time.  Sarge thinks HKP is amazing although thinks his alter ego Penry is useless, and Rosemary has a bit of a crush on HKP and runs his fan club, even going so far as to make up their own fan song Hong Kong Phooey, we love youey, whoo whoo whooey!’  I swear to god I don’t make this stuff up.

Hope you enjoyed the latest installment of my childhood heroes and I’ll be back next week with some more.

Friday, 23 September 2016

Bridget's Back - a review of Bridget Jones Baby (no spoilers)

So I spent last Sunday getting reacquainted with Bridget Jones by watching the first two films, namely Bridget Jones’ Diary and Bridget Jones The Edge of Reason.  Both excellent films although the first will always remain the greatest.  The reason for revisiting these fabulous films was that yesterday evening my sister and I went to see the latest instalment of Bridget’s life, Bridget Jones’ Baby.

It’s been 10 years in the life of Bridget (Renee Zellwegger) since we last saw her catching the bouquet at her parents wedding vows renewal.  Once you get over the initial shock of the ageing actors (can’t help the passage of time) and the new slimline Bridget, we soon fall back into the craziness of Bridget’s world.  She hasn’t changed much.  She’s no longer with Mark Darcy (Colin Firth) but once again single and back in her old flat.  What makes it so easy to reconnect is that everyone is back, with the notable exception of Hugh Grant as womaniser Daniel Cleaver, gone but definitely not forgotten.  However everyone else is there, Jim Broadbent and Gemma Jones as her parents, along with Celia Imrie as Aunt Una. She is still working alongside Richard (Neal Pearson) and her old friends Jude, Shazza and Tom are still around although all of them are already on the baby wagon which makes Bridget feel a bit left behind so she spends a lot of time with Miranda, the anchor of the TV news show.

Miranda takes her to a music festival where Bridget hooks up with the handsome Jack (Patrick Dempsey) and one thing leads to another but Bridget leaves the next morning without leaving a contact number for Jack.  A couple of weeks later she meets up with Mark Darcy again at the christening of Jude’s latest child where they are both godparents and they reconnect and spend the night together.  However Bridget leaves before he wakes up after remembering how his work always came before she did, hence the reason they broke up in the first place.

Three months later and Bridget is gaining weight and can’t understand why. A quick pregnancy test later and Bridget has the quandary of all quandaries: Who’s The Daddy?  Without giving away any spoilers here, the film continues in a way that sets both candidates up to be ideal prospects.  On the one hand you have Mark, the love of Bridget's life and you kind of want it to be him because he’s been there from the start.  However in the blue corner you have Jack, the sexy newcomer who is a seemingly perfect match for Bridget and has an instant closeness with Bridget that Mark always seemed to be pushing away or fighting for.  I was pretty pleased with how the film finally resolved itself although there was a nice potential alternative that my sister and myself both thought might be coming but didn’t.

Everything that made the first two films such a success is repeated in this film.  You have the two men in Bridget’s life fighting each other for her attentions, although no actual physical fights this time round.  In one particular scene where the potential daddies step outside I was just waiting for the familiar strains of ‘It’s Raining Men’ but alas there was no scratching and kicking as there was between Mark and Daniel in the first films.  

Bridget’s parents are just as delightful as they were previously.  In the first film you had her mother running off with a perma-tanned home shopping goon, in the second they renewed their wedding vows in a haze of lavender coloured everything. This time round you have her mother running in the local parish council elections promoting ‘Family Values’.  A bit tricky when your daughter turns up pregnant, unmarried and not exactly sure who the father is.

And there’s even a wedding thrown in but I won’t say who’s it is.

All in all, I thoroughly enjoyed the trip back into the life of the girl who made over-sized knickers popular again.  It was a laugh out loud, feel good film that has withstood the test of time and survived the long gap between instalments.

Welcome back Bridget, the world’s favourite singleton.

Thursday, 22 September 2016

Unboxing - #nerdblock September 2016

Nerd Block is the very first subscription service I ever subscribed to. Since first joining up I've done stints with Classic!Nerd Block, Comic Block and most recently Sci-Fi Block. This month I switch back to classic though. The first 2 months of my 6 month Sci-Fi Block subscription were pretty good but then after that they started repeating the same franchises over and over and just generally giving me things I was unimpressed with. So when I saw that the September classic block was going to have an exclusive HP item I knew that was the sign I needed to switch my subscription over.

What have we got in this month's box then? Let's go through it the same way I do with my #owlcrate unboxings, item by item. We'll start at the top left and go clockwise:

1. Ghostbusters screen cleaning cloth

I am a big Ghostbusters fan I've watched the DVDs of the originals so many times I've had to replace them twice. I know both off by heart and The Real Ghostbusters cartoon series is one of my most coveted wish list items on Amazon. I was definitely excited for the reboot, a group of coworkers from the library and I went to see it and I thought it was awesome. So all that said I am pretty pleased with this - I think it's going to go to work to keep our scanner bed clean haha.

2. Fun with Kirk and Spock book

So this book is a parody of the old grammar books Fun with Dick and Jane obviously with a Star Trek theme. They put this together in honour of the 50th anniversary of the original air date of the very first episode of the original series. I look forward to reading it at some point. I suspect it will end up making its way around among my friends and family as well because I have a fair few Trekkies in my social circle, myself included.

3. Attack on Titan scarf/costume

So all I know about Attack on Titan I know from the internet, I know it's some sort of anime/manga but I've never cared enough to actually find out if it was a show, book, movie or video game. This will probably get offered to my friends on Facebook haha. I really need to figure out how to go about selling all the stuff from these boxes that I don't actually want.

4. Batman the Animated Series action figure

There was 3 different options for this one - Penguin, Batman and the Joke. I have to say I'm pretty pleased that I got the Joker. This incarnation of the joker is voice by Mark Hamill and he just does such an awesome job at it. I've unboxed him, he has far too many little bits and accessories though, but he and his swag are now living on one of my bookcases right beside my Dumbledore Funko!Pop and at the opposite end of the shelf from my C3PO Pop and Mr. Bean and his bear from a previous Nerd Block.

5. Star Wars pin back buttons

2 buttons for the rebels and 2 for the Empire. I'm a big Star Wars fan too so I enjoyed seeing these in the box, I have no real use for them though so they might get attached to my cousins' christmas gifts in place of bows this year.

And last but certainly not least, in fact BEST ITEM IN THE BOX, this month's tshirt was the exclusive HP item:

Tuesday, 20 September 2016

Musing Mondays - Wish I could read rant & my life as a book blurb

Musing Mondays - September 19, 2016

Musing Mondays is a weekly meme that asks you to choose one of the following prompts to answer:

  • I’m currently reading…
  • Up next I think I’ll read…
  • I bought the following book(s) in the past week…
  • I’m super excited to tell you about (book/author/bookish-news)…
  • I’m really upset by (book/author/bookish-news)…
  • I can’t wait to get a copy of…
  • I wish I could read ___, but…
  • I blogged about ____ this past week…
I wish I could read The Darkest Torment (Lords of the Underworld #12) by Gena Showalter, but…
19 of the 55 (at the moment) books that I have read this year have been in anticipation for this book. I re-read 11 Lords of the Underworld books and finally got around to reading Lords of the Underworld #11 The Darkest Touch for the first time and I read the entire companion series (3 novels) Angels of the Dark so that the entire story would be fresh in my mind for this one. I've been SO pumped for this book, because it's FINALLY Baden's story, which I have been wanting to hear since like book 5! But then it came out at the end of May, and it only came out in hardcover...all of the other books I own in LotU/AoD are mass market paperbacks. I can't have one as a hardcover, it's different when I buy a series I'm not really big into because I'm just trying to get all the books cheaply at that point but with a series I am really into like this series, or my HP novels, or my Rick Riordan ones, for example, having matching formats matters to me. So to bide my time while waiting I decided to reads all 4 books in her Atlantis series too.

Now I am stuck waiting until November 22 for the mass market to be released. At which point I may as well wait another month or so and use my christmas money/gift cards/rewards points for it the same way I did last year to buy all the other LotU/AoD novels...*heaves a put upon sigh and pouts* I'll stop whining about my first world problems now. Except I want to say just one more thing. Because of my impatience I did a stupid thing and read some of the Goodreads reviews a few months back...and now I'm not even as excited for it because from what I can tell, compared to what I had imagined on my own, she has butchered poor Baden's story.

          THIS WEEK’S RANDOM QUESTION:  Write out a description of your life, as if it were a book’s description.

In a world where travel between countries is almost prohibitively expensive and immigration nearly impossible; meet two best friends, soul mates who are separated by a vast ocean as well as multiple borders, time zones and governments. Follow them as they do whatever it takes to spend time together. For fifteen years they've found any way they can to eek out time to talk to each other plotting and planning for the day they can finally live in the same place. By day one works in a call centre the other a university library, by night they come together thanks to the glory of the internet to talk about anything and everything and indulge in their hobbies, those they share and those they don't (though the former out number the latter to be sure.). 

Sunday, 18 September 2016

Unboxing - Marvel #collectorcorps - August 2016 - Spider-Man box

I know it's not August anymore, it's the middle of September, but I'm only just now getting around to writing this unboxing post. The box itself arrived about a week and a half ago now. So last month's Marvel Collector Corps theme was Spider-Man. I've always liked Spider-Man, he's never been among my favourites but I like him well enough and I know a fair bit about him and his villains so I was eager to see what would be in the box.

As you see there to the left we've got the usual Collector Corps pin,(featuring Spider-Man's chest logo) and patch (adorned with his mask). We've also got the usual Funko Pop variant cover on a comic, this time it's Amazing Spider-Man 016. I keep saying that one of these days I'm going to get a jean jacket or something and sew all of the patches onto it just for giggles. The pins are currently lined up on a shelf on the book case - a couple of the backs are missing because I hijacked them to hold the Steampunk Cheshire Cat; Mockingjay; and Ravenclaw Pennant pins onto the front of my messenger bag. The backs on the collector corps pins are better than what those 3 had. One of these days I also need to get around to reading all of the random single issue comic books I now own...I'm more of a trade paperback girl, I like to wait until I can read a longer chunk all at once instead of the single issues.

There's usually a t-shirt included in the boxes, the only time before now that they've changed that up was for the Groot scarf in the Christmas Guardians of the Galaxy box. I'm going to be honest, I don't like when they change it up like that, I prefer to pick my own hats especially. That being said the quality of this hat is really good, it's a very nicely made hat. That thing that you see below the hat is a 6 inch Spider-Man Fabrikation which is Funko's answer to stuffed toys. His feet are weighted and solid and his head swivels, and I love him! I've been wanting a Fabrikation since I found out they existed.

Lastly, but certainly not least is this month's MCC exclusive Funko!Pop - it's Spider-Man of course. So what did I do with him? Well I'm not one for keeping toys in their boxes so he immediately came out of his box, and is now posed with the Deadpool Pop on top of my entertainment unit. I considered putting him with Civil War Cap & Iron Man but I love Deadpool & Spider-Man together, they make such a fun pairing.

My thoughts overall? A good box for sure, but it would have been even better if it wasn't 100% Spidey! Seriously he has such hilarious villains and they didn't include anything for them?! I think instead of having both the Pop and the Fabrikation one of them should have been a villain -  a Venom Fabrikation would have been cool! Or Doc Oc! Plushie robot arms! Oh well, wishful thinking on my part.

When Kids TV was cool part 2

Hey everyone

I continue my stroll down the childhood memory lane this week with two more of my adored shows from yesteryear.

First up is The Flumps.  This was a series that seemed to be on the TV forever but in actual fact, only 13 episodes were ever made, the BBC just kept repeating them regularly but us being naive little kids never actually realised we were being duped.  We just enjoyed seeing them again.

The Flumps were, well I’m not sure what they were actually, they were just Flumps.  They weren’t flumps as in the marshmallow sweets you can buy in the shops, but that was the name of their race.  My best description of them would be pompoms on legs.  There were 6 Flumps in the family.  Grandpa Flump was the oldest and he spent most of his time sleeping or playing his Flumpet (a trumpet like instrument).  There were the parents Mother Flump and Father Flump.  Mother Flump was an excellent cook and usually spent her time in the kitchen, Father Flump could be found in either his workshop inventing things, or in the garden growing vegetables.

There were three children Flumps.  Perkin, a boy flump and Posie a girl flump.  I don’t think it was ever specified if they were twins or not but they looked around the same age and then there was Pootle, who was my favourite (and quite possibly a lot of other people’s favourite too).  He was the youngest Flump and was always getting into mischief, getting his words mixed up or getting confused with the things the other Flumps said to him.

The episodes tended to follow the usual kids TV format of a main story line featuring the Flumps and a song about the theme of the episode.  All the episodes were narrated and sung by British actress Gay Soper and the iconic theme tune was played on a trombone by George Chisholm.

My second show this week I remember with great delight was the incredibly crazy Wacky Races.  Made by Hanna-Barbera and unlike my previous shows, came from America.  I remember this being shown quite a lot when I was a child.

Each episode featured the same characters, eleven race cars in total all competing to be crowned the World’s Wackiest Racer.  Each race crossed a different state and each competitor had their own unique vehicle.

Car number 1 was The Boulder Mobile and was driven by The Slag Brother, Rock and Gravel.  They were cavemen and their car resembled a large rock. It’s powered by the brothers hitting it with their clubs, although it’s special power features being carried through the air by a large Pterodactyl.

Car number 2 was called The Creepy Coupe and was driven by the Gruesome Twosome.  This car was like a Haunted House on wheels featuring an array of various horror themed characters such as witches, ghosts, dragons and snakes, all of which are used to speed the car along.  The drivers themselves are Big Gruesome who resembles a Frankenstein type creature and Little Gruesome who is a vampire.

Car number 3 is the Convert-A-Car driven by Professor Pat Pending.  His car can convert into almost any vehicle or even moving objects such as a drill or giant bow and arrow in order to get past any obstacle thrown in his path.

Car number 4 is the Crimson Haybaler driven by The Red Max.  Max is an ace flying pilot and his car is a mix of both car and plane.. It mainly drives along the road with the other racers but is capable of flight for short periods, again usually to get over any obstacles in the way or occasionally to leap into the lead.

Car number 5 is the Compact Pussycat driven by Penelope Pitstop.  Penny is the only female driver in the race and is a stereotypical Southern belle, always maintain her appearance during the race and her car has all sorts of beauty gadgets installed.   The Pussycat and Penelope’s outfit are a very girly pink and the car is a convertible sports car.  All the other drivers are very polite to Penny (with the possible exception of Dick Dastardly although even he is less mean to her than the other racers).  Peter Perfect has a bit of a crush on Penny and she finds him charming and sweet.

Car number 6 is the Surplus Special driven by Sergeant Blast and Private Meekly.  The vehicle is an army tank which uses the cannon to blast itself forward to give it extra speed.  Blast and Meekly are, as their names suggest, two soldiers.  Meekly drives whilst Blast shouts the orders from the cannon tower.

Car number 7 is the Bulletproof Bomb driven by the Ant Hill Mob.  The mob are seven miniature gangsters called Ring-a-Ding, Danny, Rug Bug Benny, Mac, Kirby, Willy and their leader Clyde.  The car is a sedan and in order to gain extra speed, the Mob resorts to Getaway Power which is done by the mob sticking their feet through the bottom of the car and running, carrying the car along.

Car number 8 is the Arkansas Chuggabugg driven by Lazy Luke and Blubber Bear.  The drivers are just like their names suggest with hillbilly Luke in the driver’s seat, most often found asleep and steering the vehicle with his bare feet. Blubber the bear is his pet grizzly bear but is far from grizzly.  He never speaks but whenever their vehicle malfunctions (which is often), he blubbers and cries.  Their only form of improving their speed seems to be by pouring various types of liquids into the tank which usually cause the aforementioned malfunctions.

Car number 9 is the Turbo Terrific driven by Peter Perfect.  Peter is a very gentlemanly driver and rarely resorts to any kind of cheating or dirty tricks to win.  He considers himself the best driver with the best car, a dragster but the car often falls apart during the races.  He will often stop to assist his crush, Penelope Pitstop.

Car number 10 is the Buzzwagon driven by Rufus Ruffcutt and Sawtooth.  Rufus is a giant lumberjack and Sawcutt is his pet beaver.  The buzzwagon is put together from logs and the wheels are buzz saws.  They don’t have any form of boosting their speed but the wheels tend to cut through anything in their path, even the other vehicles on occasion.

Finally the last car is numbered 00 and is driven by Dick Dastardly, a moustache twirling villain and his sidekick Muttley, a dog of unidentifiable breed who doesn’t speak but laughs wheezily every time his master’s plans go wrong.  Dastardly actually owns the fastest and best car by far and if he wasn’t busy trying to cheat his way ahead or hold up the other racers with his dastardly schemes, he could likely win most of the races fair and square.  As it turns out, Dick Dastardly won a total of zero races, quite apt considering his car is numbered 00.

With the exception of Dick Dastardly and Mutley, all racers won more than one race and the results are as follows

The Ant Hill Mob    4
Luke and Blubber Bear 4
Penelope Pitstop 4
Peter Perfect 4
Gruesome Twosome 3
Professor Pat Pending 3
The Red Max 3
Rufus Ruffcutt & Sawtooth 3
Sergeant Blast & Meekly 3
The Slag Brothers 3
Dick Dastardly & Muttley 0

Whilst there was no theme tune specifically, each episode started with the narrator introducing the racers.

These are my shows for this week, I’ll be back next week with two more classics from the archives of children’s TV.

Tuesday, 13 September 2016

Musing Mondays - What I'm reading & what book I think should be a movie

Musing Mondays - September 12, 2016

Musing Mondays is a weekly meme that asks you to choose one of the following prompts to answer:

  • I’m currently reading…
  • Up next I think I’ll read…
  • I bought the following book(s) in the past week…
  • I’m super excited to tell you about (book/author/bookish-news)…
  • I’m really upset by (book/author/bookish-news)…
  • I can’t wait to get a copy of…
  • I wish I could read ___, but…
  • I blogged about ____ this past week…
I'm currently reading: 

Horrorstör by Grady Hendrix

I've had my eye on this novel off and on ever since I first heard about it in 2014. It popped up again on my radar a few weeks ago when I was browsing Goodreads for something else and at the time I was looking for a 3rd book to add to a Chapters order so I could get free shipping so I decided to pick it up finally. As an obsessive fan of Ikea and their catalogue, and a lover of satirical and irreverent horror (the Scream franchise is one of my favourites) the entire premise and appearance of this book appeals to me. It's published by Quirk Books, which is the same publishing house that puts out books like Pride and Prejudice and Zombies, Android Karenina, and Sense and Sensibility and Sea Monsters so that should give you an idea of what this book is about.

Personally, I think one of the best parts of the book, which is set in a knock-off Ikea wannabe called Orsk, is that the actual physical book has been laid out and designed to look like an Ikea catalogue, right down to the fact that the page numbers associated with specific products on the cover actually feature diagrams of those products:

Why yes, I did just happen to have the new Ikea catalogue sitting on a shelf on my desk...
I started reading it yesterday afternoon and now I'm about 80% done - it reads fast - but between it and all the Supernatural I've been watching lately, needless to say I didn't get the greatest night's sleep last night. Here's the summary from Goodreads:

Something strange is happening at the Orsk furniture superstore in Cleveland, Ohio. Every morning, employees arrive to find broken Kjerring bookshelves, shattered Glans water goblets, and smashed Liripip wardrobes. Sales are down, security cameras reveal nothing, and store managers are panicking.
To unravel the mystery, three employees volunteer to work a nine-hour dusk-till-dawn shift. In the dead of the night, they’ll patrol the empty showroom floor, investigate strange sights and sounds, and encounter horrors that defy the imagination.
A traditional haunted house story in a thoroughly contemporary setting, Horrorstör comes packaged in the form of a glossy mail order catalog, complete with product illustrations, a home delivery order form, and a map of Orsk’s labyrinthine showroom.

          THIS WEEK’S RANDOM QUESTION:  What obscure book do you think should be turned into a movie?

BERLIN GAME! Well *ALL* the Bernard Sampson books actually, and not a movie but a TV show where each book takes place over the course of a single season which would make for 9 seasons which would be perfect, just so perfect. I've even done a fan!casting for this in my head as I was reading it. I want to see David Thewlis as Bernard, Alex Kingston as Fiona, Ian Holm as Uncle Silas (based on the fact that he played Bernard in the original, obscure TV mini-series from the late 80s that I would LOVE to get my hands on) and Matt Lewis as Dicky Cruyer among others.

I feel like this is a missed opportunity, I really think that if they picked these up as a BBC or HBO series now it could be really, really well done and popular. I mean it's got everything politics, espionage, sex, murder. infidelity, chase scenes. And Bernard is a much better character than James Bond - don't get me wrong I do love the James Bond films, but my god he was and still is pretty damn sexist and I am so over that...

But that's not entirely within the scope of the question that was asked. We were asked to discuss an obscure book we would want to see made specifically into a movie and I have a choice for that too, but I've been looking for an excuse to bring up my fan!casting of Berlin Game ever since I finished reading it for the #ReadThemAllThon.

I've mentioned Daughters of Eve by Lois Ducan a few times on this blog already. I'm pretty sure this book of hers is actually still pretty much considered obscure. I think it would make a fantastic movie in the same vein as Heathers, Jawbreaker, and Mean Girls.

The story itself is set in the 1970s in Modesta Michigan but I think for a movie that could easily be changed to a modern day setting with the addition of modern technology and not have it affect the message and action of the story overly much. It's about a group of teenage girls and the impact and power that one strong willed role model can have on them. It is also about the trials of peer pressure, the importance of feminism, and above all the nature of friendship.

It really does have a lot going on, and a lot of characters (11 main/POV characters, and about an equal number of very important supporting characters) which I actually feel is what would make it an even better movie than it is a book and it's a pretty darn good book in my opinion. It continues to be one of my favourites to this day. If they did make it into a movie I'd love to see them cast Viola Davis as Irene Stark, that would be so badass, and another great way to bring it into the 21st century by adding some really much needed diversity (of which there is none in the book...). It would be really interesting to see how much diversity and interest they could bring to the girls themselves through casting as well. Oh man, I wish so bad I could make this happen now haha.

Saturday, 10 September 2016

When kids TV was cool part 1

I’m glad I’m not a kid today, it’s no fun. I mean where’s the fun in having endless TV channels filled with strange and wondrous delights such as Peppa Pig and In The Night Garden? A celebrity hasn’t arrived in this world until they’ve voiced a brightly coloured character on CBeebies and Nick Jnr.  These days, children can switch on the TV at any time of the day and find something to entertain them.  However I come from the generation that knew quality entertainment.

When I was a child, we had two channels only to choose from, BBC1 or ITV. Children's TV was only on in the week from around 3.30 until 5pm and you had to decide which channel you wanted to watch.  There was no such thing as playback TV or plus one channels.  You had to plan those precious minutes right down to the last second and with no remote control, you were dashing over to change the channel regularly. Weekends meant Saturday morning TV such as Going Live (with Philip Schofield) or SMTV (with Ant and Dec) which meant about three wonderful hours of cartoons, pop music and mayhem.

Allow me to share with you some of the classic TV shows I remember from my younger days.  

My all time favourite has to be Chorlton and the Wheelies.  This zany show started with a happiness dragon arriving in Wheelie World.  He was christened Chorlton by the Wheelies because his egg he hatched from had ‘Made in Chorlton-cum-Hardy’ (a town near Manchester) written in it.  His happiness took over Wheely World and freed all the inhabitants, round little orbs on wheels called the Wheelies, from a wicked Welsh witch called Fenella who had plunged Wheelie World into an endless depression.  The rest of the series revolved around Fenella’s plans to get rid of Chorlton in order to regain her control of the Wheelies.   The beauty of this madness is Chorlton doesn’t dislike Fenella and her obnoxious ways, he just finds her amusing and wants to be her friend.  Chorlton is incapable of feeling miserable or bearing anyone ill will so he just adores Fenella, referring to her as ‘little old lady’.  As  well as Chorlton and Fenella, there are other zany characters such as the Wheelies consisting of King Otto and Queen Doris, the Minister of Wheely World and youngsters Zoomer and Jenny.  There’s also Fenella’s son Clifford who is so large you can only ever see his foot, and Fenella’s henchmen the Spikers, the Toadies (toadstools), her telescope Riley who she uses to spy on the Wheelies and Chorlton, and her evil spell book Claptrap von Spillderbeans.  However I think my favourite part of this show was the theme tune and I can still remember every word verbatim.

Another one of my favourites and one I’m watching at the moment is Danger Mouse.  I’m not talking about the new reboot with Alexander Armstrong voicing the White Wonder, I’m talking about the original 1981 cartoon featuring the vocal talents of David Jason as the mouse himself and Terry Scott as his faithful assistant Penfold, third runner up in the Penfold Lookalike contest.  Based loosely on James Bond, Danger Mouse is the world’s greatest superhero saving the world from villains such as Doctor Augustus P Crumhorn, Count Duckula (making his TV debut), sneaky serpent Mac the Fork and his dimwitted brother Mac the Spoon, and of course the most famous nemesis Baron Silas Greenback and his henchman Stiletto and his pet caterpillar Nero.  Each episode featured DM saving the world yet again from another dastardly villainous plot with Penfold being dragged along whimpering and complaining.  There are certain elements that recur regularly in each episode.  The narrator complaining (also voiced by David Jason), the alarm ringing to signify an important message from Colonel K giving DM his mission for the episode. Penfold usually getting something wrong and being told “Penfold, shush!”  by DM and of course Penfold's own famous catchphrase “Oh crumbs, oh crikey, oh carrots!”

So begins my wander down memory lane into nostalgia and the delights of my childhood.  I have many more wonderful shows that hold lovely memories for me which I will talk about in my next post in this small series.