I decided to review the highlights of my year recently. The first part of which can be found here. Without to much in the way of preamble here is part two.
I’ve said before I read a lot. Last Xmas I got a Sony eReader and that has only increased the amount of books I get through. One thing I did notice however was that I thought I would never buy another paperback again. I was wrong. Though electronic books are cool there is a certain something about a proper paper book. The tactile sense of the pages? Who knows.
I have read some fucking corkers this year. Mark Chadbourn completed the Kingdom of the Serpent series with Destroyer of Worlds. This brings to a close a cycle of novels started 10 years ago with World’s End. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again Mr Chadbourn is an excellent author. Turns out also a top bloke and he thinks I’m an uber-geek which, to my mind, is the ultimate compliment.
The publisher Abaddon Books is publishing some great stuff as well. Their Pax Britannia and Afterblight Chronicles are worthy of your attention and your pennies. If you would like to know more check out here and here.
Andy Remic has moved away from sci-fi and has tried his hand at fantasy. Kell’s Legend is a real page turner and left me hungry for more. I should point out his sci-fi is fuckin cracking as well. The Combat K novels rock as do those that came before. I’ve been reading Remic’s work since Spiral and will continue to devour it whenever possible.
Final entry into this year’s good reads. The Descent and Deeper, both by Jeff Long. These books have been around for a couple of years now but I only just discovered them. One word…..brilliant. I read The Descent and almost immediately re-read it. Deeper, the sequel, continues in the same vein. If you’ve read the books that last sentence maybe a shitty pun for which I apologise profusely.
Again I fear time has managed to get the better of me and I’m still not done yet. I promise I will be back to complete my review of 2009 soon…promise.
Until then please remember to tip your waiters and waitresses. You’ve been a wonderful crowd. I’m here all week.
So 2009 is very nearly over. With that in mind I thought I would write a little (turns out its gonna large) blog detailing as many of my favourite things from this year. As usual, whenever I put together a list, they are in no discernable order. These are just a few things that found there way into my life in the last 12 months and how I feel about them.
I make no secret about the fact that my musical tastes are what some would call odd, I collect movie and TV soundtrack tunes for fuck sake. That aside I think this year I have found myself slightly more mainstream than normal. Lovely new web apps like Spotify and Blip FM have opened my ears to new music more than ever before. The two biggest discoveries for me this year have been Them Crooked Vultures and Alestorm.
Them Crooked Vultures self titled debut album is fan-fuckin-tastic. Take a little Foo Fighters, season liberally with some Queens of the Stone Age and add just a pinch of Led Zepplin and behold a super group is born. Every single track is a winner. There are a couple of truly exceptional tracks though. Caligulove, Gunman and Dead End Friends are all epic. This is a perfect example of musicians making music just for the hell of it. It is all fuckin great.
Alestorm are the kings of Scottish Pirate Metal. Now I know what your gonna say. “But Pablo that seems to be a rather niche genre isn’t it?”. Your not wrong but damn if they don’t totally own it. I should say at this point there is a good chance that I am a frustrated pirate at heart so I may be slightly biased…..Yar!!
I’ve said before that I am a genre junkie and 2009 sure was a good year for genre films. Watchmen was a garish big clusterfuck of a movie, personally I adored it. Pandorum was an unexpected gem. Star Trek was a fantastic update. District 9 was insightful, clever and thought provoking sci-fi. Underworld: Rise of the Lycans was fun and looks pretty great on blu-ray. In fact its worth mentioning that all the blu-rays I have watched so far look brilliant. Another highlight of 2009 I guess was my first exposure to blu-ray.
Thank fuck for that. I got through my movie section roundup without mentioning Avatar…aww bugger it.
Calm down Cameron you’ll get your review when I’ve seen the film. I’ve heard good things so hopefully Avatar will deliver.
My this blog is nowhere near finished but I have lost the will to type. I still haven’t mentioned books and TV. I think I may have to split this into two and come back to the second part later.
Till I can be arsed to write the next part.
Yesterday Mrs Cheesecake and I were up at the crack of dawn. Like crazed shopping ninjas we found ourselves in town by 9:05am. The good news is that we are pretty organised and by 11am we were all but done. We managed to pick up almost everything we were looking for and I didn’t blow a gasket and go on a rampage.
Don’t get me wrong I like this time of year. Good will to all peoples and all that but I hate Xmas shopping. The collective unwashed manage to get in my way and underfoot at every turn. I just can’t stand people that would about aimlessly and then get upset when I come along and know exactly what I’m looking for.
Sorry rant over. I just need to get that off my chest.
As you were
I recently wrote a blog about how good the Pax Britannia novels produced by Abaddon Books are. The post can be found here. I mentioned at the time I had also picked up another couple of novels by the same publishers but from a different series called The Afterblight Chronicles.
By way of an explanation I relish the opportunity to read post apocalyptic fiction. I can’t really explain why these stories are my favourite form of genre fiction but I read as many as I can get my hands on. From Stephen King’s The Stand to Robert McCammon’s Swan Song. Add a dash of Simon Clark’s King Blood and Blood Crazy and you’ll get the idea.
Anyway I’ve finished both now and I thought I would take a minute or two and pass on my thoughts.
The books are called Arrowhead and Broken Arrow. Both are written by Paul Kane. Set in the aftermath of an apocalypse that has decimated the world’s population these books take elements from Robin Hood mythology and interweave this with the tale of the survivors.
Excellent stuff going on here. I live in Nottingham and I found myself enjoying every minute. The author is great a describing surroundings and as I knew exactly where he was talking about for some of the key scenes it made the experience of reading the books all the better.
A shout out the the artist that illustrates the covers. The first book has a splendid picture of Nottingham’s Market Square. The trashed tram is a bonus!
I look forward to more and urge people to seek these novels out.
Till next time
I was taking a look at WordPress this morning. Considering a change to where I blog. Curious more than anything else, I was trying to figure out if WordPress would suit my blogging requirements better than Blogger.
Cut to a couple hours later and I am none the wiser. Don’t get me wrong WP looked ok but I then complicated matters by deciding to see if it would be possible to tweet my latest blog to Twitter and then onward to Facebook automatically.
(I figure if your going to write your thoughts down on a regular basis and send them out into the ether it makes sense to get as large and audience as possible.)
The problem I have is that there are so many different bloody methods and tutorials and how to do this my head may fucking explode. I was just looking for one easy simple method to bring together all this social networking malarkey together. Under one roof so to speak. AARRGGHH
It’s driving me nuts.
UPDATE: Typical, five minutes after I posted this I figured it all out. I’m going to go have a lie down now. As you were.
This afternoon I was busy working and listening to my iPod. As is often the case a random thought just popped into my noggin. I often blog about films I’ve seen recently but don’t often revisit my favourites. I thought I would try to establish a list of 10 films that make my life better and also try to explain why. I should add a note at this point that the list is in no particular order.
- Krull – The theme to this film always cheers me up. I can’t explain why it just makes me smile. Regular readers will know that I am a sucker for good music. That and part of me really would like a flying horse, fuck who wouldn’t.
- Who Dares Wins – If testosterone was collected from every action star to grace the silver screen, distilled, dried and reconstituted as celluloid the resultant film would not be as action pack as this eighties gem.
- Brazil – I work in an office, I will always work in an office. I have made my peace with the universe regarding this. Mr Gilliam helped.
- The Dark Knight – I read comics. This is the best comic book based film I have ever seen.
- Saturday Night Fever – Sometimes when I walk down the street in my head I’m Tony Monero. I don’t care who knows it!
- Aliens – I like Alien but I love Aliens. Game over man
- The Long Good Friday – Best Gangster film ever. Gritty as fuck and all the better for it.
- The Italian Job – I cannot convey in words what this film means to me. It warms my heart every time. 1969 brought the world this film and my soulmate. Best year ever.
- Flash Gordon – If this film was a dairy product it would be cheese. It is a beautiful explosion of sight and sound….oh and Brian Blessed is in it.
- It’s a Wonderful Life – you know…it is.
Quick to the living room and lets slip one of these beauties on!
For a bit of a change of pace I thought I would write a blog about books rather than film.
I’m a genre addict. I love sci-fi, fantasy, horror and the occasional thriller thrown in for good measure. There are so many excellent authors out there that deserve more recognition than I think they get.
In September I had to opportunity to go to FantasyCon 2009. It’s right on my doorstep (so to speak) and I have to admit I quickly found myself in the dealer hall wandering from table to table trying to decide what to spend my hard earned cash on.
In the end I went for some novels from Abaddon Books. This publisher has a number of series that caught my eye. Specifically I was interested in Pax Britannia and The Afterblight Chronicles.
Pax Britannia is just great. Set in an alternate timeline where the Victorian era never ended. I believe the phrase du jour is ‘steampunk’ ? There are characters with splendidly evocative names like Uriah Wormwood and Devlin Valentine. The main character is dandy adventurer, Ulysses Quicksilver. Forever accompanied by his faithful man servant, Nimrod, Mr Quicksilver is thrown from adventure to adventure as the series unfolds.
The most recent book is Evolution Expects. Like the majority of the series it’s written by Jonathan Green. Top stuff all round. Nods to The Fly, green issues and even a certain ‘caped crusader’.
I strongly recommend picking these book up. There is a new one on the horizon in December and I’ll be added it to my Xmas list. I do hope Mrs Cheesecake takes note.
Till next time
PS – I should stress just because I didn’t mention anything else about The Afterblight Chronicles doesn’t mean I didn’t like. I did it’s just I’ve still got one to read so will reserve my comments to some later blog.
The second film this week was Cirque Du Freak. Now before I get started on the film I should be honest and admit I have read The Saga of Darren Shan. I liked it and read it all the way to the end. No small accomplishment when your talking 12 books.
I went into the film realising that there had to be changes made for a movie version to work. Some other reviews I have read have been very dismissive of the film due to these differences. What do I think? You know what fuck em. Books make for great source material for a movie but people have to expect changes. Reading is such a internal process. People envisage the story they read and everyone can have a different take. A film is always going to be another person’s vision of the material and I would guess likely to be different from your own.
I’m also not that bothered that the film is set in America. I thought I would be but I seem to recall the books were always pretty geographically indistinct anyway so no real issues there.
One thing I really enjoyed about the film was John C Reilly. He was great. I’ve seen him in other films but this is the first time I think I have seen him in anything as the main lead and I thought he was brilliant. Some of the other character seemed a bit two dimensional but Mr Reilly seemed to flesh out Larten Crepsley.
Also incredibly weird to see Salma Hayek with a beard (Talk about conflicting emotions!)
Will there be more Cirque? Probably. If it makes enough money. I would love to see to war between the Vampire and Vampaneze. Maybe one day?
Enough of this disjointed muttering.
This week I was fortunate enough to get to see a double feature with Mrs Cheesecake. First off, based on the 2005 short film of the same name, 9 is a dark fantasy telling the story of life after humans.
The visual elements of this film are a real treat. Personally I feel sometimes that computer animation can be a bit to crisp but in this case there was a nice grungy quality will still being picture perfect.
Shane Acker directs and the voice cast includes Elijah Wood, John C Reilly, Jennifer Connelly, Crispin Glover and Christopher Plummer.
The film nips along at quite a pace and the seventy nine minutes are done before you know it. I, for one, would have liked to have see more.
Perhaps a bit scary for younger children but I think the rating of 12A was a bit extreme.
Till next time
Mr P Cheesecake Esq
This afternoon I have been messing about with the desktop functions in Windows 7. I have been tinkering away using Rainmeter, ObjectDock and the Win 7 options themselves. Now I don’t claim to be an expert by any stretch of the imagination but I think it has turned out quite well.
I was particularly pleased you can hide the clock on the taskbar. You can probably spot I use quite a large desktop gadget for this so find it unnecessary in the bottom right of the screen as well.