Ramble No. 16 – Seaside, cinema, content and concept

Star Wars Rebels Season 4 got better towards the end and provided an explanation of what the devil happened to Ahsoka when she was fighting Darth Vader in a previous season. I also stumbled across the news that they are finishing off  Star Wars Clone Wars which gave me a little nerdgasm. Incidentally the bug in Battlefront II not awarding the trophy on Playstation for reaching Level 50 has been removed by patch 1.15. I knew you were worried.

On another nerdy note I’ve started watching Mark Kermode’s Secrets of Cinema on BBC4. He’s covered heist films and romcoms so far and basically confirmed a lot of what I knew already but in a much better presented manner than my ramblings at Siggy when we watch films. Plus he’s got a good eye for old films and callbacks to classics which I don’t have. Incidentally I’ve been invited to provide a talk to my local Rotary Club about ‘what makes a good story’ so watching the show is a bit like homework for me. I’ll talk more about the talk once it’s happened. I’m currently trying to decide what to include and how to talk about the structure of my novels (which I’m told they’re actually interested in, along with answers to deep questions such as ‘where do you get your ideas?’). Oh boy.

I was also pleased to find and watch Stewart Lee Content Provider on BBC iPlayer. One of the highlights was his section on Game of Thrones which was similar to audio clip on YouTube below but with pictures and no annoying woman talking over the top of him:

He did his usual thing of pretending the gig was going well and blaming the audience in the first half before settling down somewhat in the second half providing a rant against people under the age of 40 – including the section on GoT which by the time the gig was filmed he’d honed down to perfection even though all his material for the section was copied off the side of a mug in HMV.

We also watched a couple of films – Hitman: Agent 47 on Channel Four and Paddington 2 on Amazon. The hitman film was not a sequel to the original adaptation from the popular computer game and wasn’t particularly good despite starring Homeland’s Rupert Friend and Star Trek‘s Zachary Quinto. The main problem for me was the wooden performance by Hannah Ware not helped by a dire script. I remember the orignal film at least having some elements of fun about it. The Paddington film on the other hand was great fun, with some good computer animation and a stand out performance from Hugh Grant as the caddish old actor Phoenix Buchanan.

We had a little trip away to North Wales last weekend before during and after the heatwave waved goodbye. Here’s Pensarn beach again, this time with the sun out and more people than I’ve seen in a long time:

Below is Llandudno on ‘Furnace Friday’ when the weather took a turn and normal service was resumed i.e. it started raining. A lot. We went to a chippy and feasted on anaemic chips watching the seagulls circling expectantly above us beneath the gathering clouds. The chips were lousy but we’ve had a good tip of where to go next time for some award winning potato based scram. The chippy was giving away buckets and spades with their kids portions. It made me laugh because the beach is mostly comprised of pebbles. Not much sand castle action to be had when the tide’s in.

On the Saturday, between showers, we walked up to Gwrych Castle. We were too late to visit properly and stopped at the ‘No Public Access’ sign, but I’ve made a mental note to make an effort to go and see it properly when I get the chance. I used to trespass quite regularly on the grounds as a teenager and once went officially to see a jousting tournament. It’s nice to see that someone is making an effort to keep it from falling down. For more information and better photos have a look at the official web page here: http://gwrychtrust.co.uk/.

While I was in North Wales I had the time to finish reading A Spot of Bother by Mark Haddon. I bought this from a charity shop on the basis that I had vaguely enjoyed The Curious Incident of the Dog in the night-time. I’m not sure why the dog book won Whitbread Book of the Year, but it was certainly was thought-provoking, heart-warming and at times amusing.

A Spot of Bother to my mind was a superior book. It concerns the trials and tribulations of a recently retired father on the edge of breakdown who thinks he has cancer and discovers his wife is having an affair with an old work colleague of his, his grown-up daughter who isn’t sure if she should be marrying her boyfriend and the grown-up son who’s homosexual relationship is on the rocks. So a family farce which if made into a TV series would be a sight more enjoyable that Channel Four’s Flowers which we once again found heavy going.  The book is well worth a read by anyone at any stage in life.

And finally… what to say about the Mercury Prize nominated Tranquility Base Hotel & Casino by the Arctic Monkeys? I listened to what’s been described as a concept album on Spotify last night with my headphones on, today in the car (I bought the CD – not sure if this is the first one this year) and I’m listening to it now on my computer while typing this.

I’m slightly disappointed that all the tracks are quite low-tempo but I like how joined up the album feels and it triggered thoughts of David Bowie or Mansun’s epic and vastly underrated Attack of the Grey Lantern. The story isn’t completely clear, even after perusing the lyric sheet, but Alex Turner’s vocals are amazingly evocative and he still has a quirky turn of phrase. I miss the energy of their early stuff, but I bought this on physical media because I simply can’t get enough of their music. I give it four out of five (there’s a joke in there, trust me)…

What do you mean, you’ve never seen Blade Runner?

 

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