Book review: Help I’m trapped in my best friends nose

A lot of children’s books are reviewed nowadays by either children, so adults don’t or wont read them, or adults, so kids don’t want to because its not written by them. So how do you break this vicious circle? how do you continue to have your children interested in reading? Well here’s one way….this review is written by both myself and my 11 year old son.

Help I’m stuck up my best friends nose is a book of short stories by Andy Griffiths and Terry Denton. The back cover is hilarious, where by most books have a synopsis of the story or a note about the authors, the back cover of this collection of stories is a points scoring quiz.

Questions like Do you ever look in a mirror and see a maniac looking back? or Do you swing on a washing line whenever you get the chance? you then score a point for every answer you like, the problem is whatever you score the answer leads you to loving the book. Very cleverly done.

Andy Griffiths then takes us through nine short stories of incredible humour for both children and adults with illustrations by the remarkable Terry Denton on every page.

Kraig picked this book due to the gory and funny stories and liked the idea that the stories where short so you could enjoy them and take a rest before the next one.

The title story is about a boys dream, in this dream the boys friend Danny is a giant and picks his nose with the boy on his finger, and Kraig thinks the stories just got funnier and funnier as the book went on.

A must read for all children in the 9 to 12 age group. – Steve and Kraig

Sherlock series 2 soundtrack review

When I sat to listen to this soundtrack, I didn’t really know what to expect or whether I would like it. I like classical music as much as I like heavy rock or my Billy Joel collection but I’m not a hugely knowledgeable fan so it normally takes something special to grab my attention. And grab it this does! All the way through the album there is the traditional solo violin in some form running. You are left in no doubt that this is Holmes.

I also liked the mix of electronica and orchestral sounds through the soundtrack.

There is an instrument that throughout all the tracks amazes me with its distinctive sound: very reminiscent of eastern European music, this is the Zimbalon, a sound box with strings across it that are struck by mallets, a drummers piano if you will.

The entire album feels heavily influenced by John Barry: rhythmic backgrounds but with slow melodies over the top creating distinctive atmospheres. Unusual instrumentation for unusual sounds but with traditional scoring and orchestral structures are very “Out of Africa.” They show huge landscape whether it be the Baskerville moors or the inside of Sherlock with the mind palace; strange moods are produced that really fit with the scenes.

As far as television soundtracks go this is sublime, obviously created from love of tradition and of big film score sounds. If only other television shows would follow this lead.

Overall it’s a fantastic listen – incredible scoring and orchestrations and excellent use of instrumentation to provide mood. 4/5. See ratings of the individual tracks further in.

David Arnold and Michael Price’s Sherlock series 2 soundtrack is available now from Silva Screen Records Continue reading Sherlock series 2 soundtrack review

Elementary

I was incredibly lucky as a child to have very supportive parents that wanted to push my learning through literature and education. My Father taught me the intricacies of espionage and shared with me his Le Carre collection and my Mother was always there with a bit of Mr Tolkien.

Little did I know at the time, but a character created in 1887 by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle would have a huge impact in my cultural learning during adolescence. Sherlock Holmes became a staple read during all the periods of my life and various incarnations on television and the movie screen have given me hours of pleasure.

From The adventures of Sherlock Holmes in the late 1980’s early 1990’s to the latest Guy Ritchie-helmed versions starring the wonderful Robert Downey Jr, Jeremy Brett was always my Holmes. He had the tortured, intelligent addict down and every performance was a masterclass of acting.

Then came the latest fashion in screen media, the reboot. I think what Steven Moffat has done bringing a classic old time character into the 21st century has been miraculous and so when I heard that CBS in the United States had an American Holmes being lined up I was really hopeful of another take on classic tales.

But then came the press release…

Continue reading Elementary

Book review: Voodoo Histories by David Aaronovitch

I love non fiction books. I have an unhealthy obsession with American politics dating back to lessons received through my school years. I love tragic real life stories like the one of Bernie Maddof who stole $65 billion and almost single handed started the world wide recession we find our selves in as I write. But most of all I love a good conspiracy theory.

Now let me explain before you think I am one of those insane people that wants to fill your mind with ludicrous stories of aliens running the planet, I love a good conspiracy theory because I like the fact a ridiculous notion can have such an overwhelming effect on what you describe as normal everyday folk, and turn there irrational fears into a warped reality.

Continue reading Book review: Voodoo Histories by David Aaronovitch

Who next?

There are many debates happening on social network sites regarding Doctor Who. What are you hoping for from season 7? What do you think will happen during the 50th anniversary year? etc. etc. What nobody seems to discuss is who’s next?

Now before you all attack me for wishing Matt Smith would go, please hear me out. Matt has done an incredible job – he has really made the role his own and is second only to Colin Baker in my affections so I want Matt to stay in the part forever. However I am a realist that has gut instincts that I usually keep to myself. So why am I bringing this subject up now I hear you cry? well a couple of reasons as it happens.

Continue reading Who next?

Happy Birthday Mr. Christopher Eccleston

Christopher Eccleston was born in Salford, Lancashire on the 16th of February 1964. After being classically trained as an actor Chris won the role of Derek Bentley in the great British Film “Let Him Have It.” I best remember Chris for his long running role as the lead detective in the ITV show “Cracker” alongside Robbie Coltrane and for his excellent acting the well-cast BBC drama “Our Friends in the North” with Daniel Craig and Mark Strong, amongst others. He has had a moderately successful film career with hits such as “The Others” with Nicole Kidman. Strong willed, he’ll only take parts that appeal to him as am actor; not for the fame. He even turned down a role with Steven Spielberg in “Saving Private Ryan.”

When rumours surfaced that acclaimed writer Russell T. Davies was relaunching the Doctor Who character, Chris emailed his old friend and asked to play the title role. Even though Chris admits publicly that he was not a fan of the show and was just after the opportunity to work with Russell again, he became the first actor born after the original 1963 transmission to take on the role. Maybe it was the qualities of his acting or disregarding the expectations of  fans but when Chris became the 9th Doctor he set a benchmark for future actors in the role. He brought humour, humility and darkness to his portrayal and brought new style to the Doctor/companion relationship with Rose Tyler, played by the brilliant ex-pop star Billie Piper.

We are probably not going to see Chris amid the forthcoming 50th anniversary celebrations as he doesn’t like to talk about Doctor Who and doesn’t tend to go back to roles once he has left them; that will be a great shame. Christopher Eccleston made the Doctor character his own and made sure any future portrayal would have to be top class.

Happy 48th Birthday, Mr. Eccleston.

Last year Bad Wilf broke the news as to why Chris left the role – check it out

Whovian

It was pointed out to me this week – by my mother – that I may have been wrong when filling out my census. Apparently the “what is your religion” question was supposed to have a more conventional answer than the choice I made of “Whovian.”

For those of you that do not know, (why don’t you?) Whovian is a fanatic of all things Doctor Who. I had heard that many thousands of people answered “Jedi” on the last one and thought I would have a little joke with the guys that have to read and analyse all these millions of bits of paper. Then I got to thinking – which is never a good sign – Whovian is my religion! I have actually thought this through and will lay out for you now my argument.

I would like to start though by explaining these are the thoughts of a non-religious, slightly mad and very tired chef with a warped sense of humour and are not too be taken too seriously. They’re certainly not meant as disrespect to those of you that are religious! I guess I’m asking you to read this and not to hurt me afterwards! Continue reading Whovian

Tribute to John Christopher

1982 edition of The White MountainsAuthor John Christopher was born Christopher Samuel Youd (a Dutch/Flemish name) in Knowsley, Lancashire on the 16th of April 1922. After serving in the Second World War, he won a prestigious Rockefeller grant that allowed him to concentrate on his love of writing. His big break came with the publication of “The Death of Grass,” which was his second novel under the pseudonym of John Christopher.

Christopher was a prolific writer; starting in the 1940s he published many titles under many different names. His first book was “The Winter Swan” as Samuel Youd; he wrote cricket fiction in the 1950s as William Godfrey, the “Joe Dust” adventures as Peter Graaf, “Felix” books as Hilary Ford, “Patchwork of Death” as Peter Nichols and four novels under the name Stanley Winchester.

It will be the tales he wrote as John Christopher that will live in my memory the most though. Through “The Sword of the Spirits” and the “Fireball” trilogy I was introduced to a kind of writing that as a young child i had never encountered before. Then came a life changing moment, reading “The Tripods.”

“The Tripods” started life as a trilogy. “The White Mountains,” “The City of Gold and Lead” and “The Pool of Fire” were originally written in the late 1960s but became part of the school reading curriculum twenty years later – this is where I discovered science fiction as a written piece. Continue reading Tribute to John Christopher

My Doctor

Colin Baker had the role of Doctor Who at a point in time when the British Broadcasting Corporation was experiencing what can only be described as an explosion of internal politics. Producer fighting executive, new talented writers being stifled, little or no budgets for shows. For the first time, Doctor Who was put on hiatus for 18 months.

The show returned with new effects, a new theme arrangement from Dominic Glynn and a shorter 14 episode single story arc. Popular writer Robert Holmes wrote the majority of the season and, under a single title, ”The Trial of a Time Lord ” came kicking and screaming back onto our screens.

It came with a warning from the then Director General Director of the BBC, Greg Dyke: “succeed or you will be cancelled.” This threat to The Doctor was one that a couple of years later would become a reality. Continue reading My Doctor