Saturday, 16 October 2010

Bathynomus giganteus

Forget all the drawings, paintings, models and computer generated imagery of what an alien race should look like. All you have to do is look up this creature - the giant isopod or Bathynomus giganteus. It is a very weird looking animal and you can find them in the deep waters of the Atlantic Ocean.

You don't need to go traveling to other worlds (of the imagination or otherwise) to see strange creatures.

Saturday, 9 October 2010

Stephen Fry

I'm supposed to be reading all kinds of books at the moment. I think I must have about 20 or so review copies sitting on my to read pile. The only problem is that Stephen Fry has a new book out - his second volume of autobiography - and I simply have to read it. You see like a number of other English people (I can't claim this to be so for other nationalities - I've never asked) I like Stephen Fry.

I like his cleverness. I like his word use. I like his geeky enthusiasms. I could go on. He would. He's not the most modest of people - and I have to admit I can appreciate that. There are few things that annoy me more than false modesty. If you have a talent, an ability, why the hell not be proud of it and promote it, and hence yourself, as best you can.

Equally I like honesty. And in this book, The Fry Chronicles - I'd noticed I'd not mentioned the title earlier, Stephen Fry discusses his University life and early career in TV, radio, journalism, playwriting and all-round general clever-clogs-ness.

But he also tells of is failings. His physical failings such as nicotine addiction, his feelings of shame about his own body and his desire, immense desire - need really - to be loved.

I rarely read autobiographies. I'm trying to think of ones I've read as I type this. I've read all of Asimov's but then again I am a total Asimov addict so they go without saying. And yes I probably would read his old shopping lists - how do you spell obsession again?

And I've read Frankie Boyle's - on a whim that one. I like some of his comedy, he takes chances. He tries to do things with comedy others do not. A lot of people think he goes too far but unless you try things how do you know what's going to be funny? His book is frightening honest at times. And very scathing. But all through it's just plain funny.

Anyway I digress. Back to Stephen Fry. And his book. It's superb. And tonight it will be finished. I just pity the author whose book I pick up next. It will suffer in the comparison.

Monday, 4 October 2010

Murky Depths #13

Just received my copy of Murky Depths #13 in today's post. It's a really good looking magazine and I'm looking forward to giving the stories a read later.

But I wanted to post a quick little blog entry about it as the issue contains three of my short (c. 250 word) reviews. There are two book reviews (for Dean Koontz's Relentless and Ronald Malfi's Snow) as well as a film review (for Stag Night).

If you feel like taking a look at their site - and preferably considering buying a copy of this fine mag (and I'm not just saying that because it features me) - then their website can be found at

Oh and the site currently has the cover for #14 (really great cover too) which is available for pre-order and which I will also have reviews in. You could go buy both.


Sunday, 3 October 2010

Catch-up time

I've not been blogging much of late. Holidays and new bookcases have taken up a lot of my time. I spent a week based in Belgium and managed to go exploring in Holland, Germany, France and Luxembourg (in addition to Belgium itself). I still love Belgium. I think I may have to go back there many more times.

As for the book cases. Well we had a little bit of building work done earlier this year and some of the extra space was devoted to storing my books. And book cases arrived this last week. So I had the happy task of going through the boxes which have contained many of my books for the past couple of years and give them shelf space. Oh it was fun.

I have managed to find time to watch some movies too - so I thought I'd spend a few minutes giving some short comments.

1. Night of the Demons. I liked the original of this back in the 80s. It was a fairly tasteless, silly little horror comedy. It had all the elements you'd expect for a straight to video (remember pre-DVD age) release. Bad effects, corny dialog, decent amount of bared female flesh and silly monsters. But it was good fun. It didn't take itself even remotely seriously. So - the sequel, have they screwed it up, made it all PC and taken the fun out of it?

Thankfully no. It's a fairly straight (or should that read camp and twisted) remake. All the elements you'd want are still there. And it's still great fun.

2. Zombie Women of Satan. Oh dear, oh dear, oh dear. This is bad. Seriously. A mad scientist has been experimenting on his son's sex slaves. (Sonny boy runs a brainwashing cult - who doesn't?) And he's created zombies out of lyngerie clad young women. And it all kicks off when a 38th rate adult caberet act, with the prerequisite dwarf, have turned up for an interview for an internet broadcast (also run by sonny boy). This film is terrible. But as I watched it in good company the experience was at least enjoyable - we spent the hour and a half taking the piss out of it mercilessly.

3. Robin Hood. I know, it's a bit mainstream for me. But I do have a family and I'm not the only one who decides on the films to watch. The production values are high. The film looks good, although the locations don't look much like the Nottingham I know - Nottinghamshire is only about a dozen miles away from where I live so I am reasonable familiar with the county. And the story seemed a little silly to me - even for a Robin Hood story. Nice looking film (probably better for the women watching it - Russell Crowe doesn't do it for me).

4. Bodyguards and Assassins. Back to Chinese films. Much more my thing. Slightly different to the norm this one - for Chinese films. It's set in Hong Kong at the turn of the 20th Century when the city was still a British colony. And it's subject matter is revolution against the Imperial rule in China.

Most Chinese films I watch fall into one of two categories. Firstly there's the epic history, the true cast of thousands, slightly fantastical legend movie that the Chinese are so good at producing (think Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon or House of Flying Daggers). And secondly there's the modern, edgy gangster type movie with plenty of kung fu and guns.

I like both. This is neither. But that's not to say I didn't enjoy it. I found the film was superb.

4. Death Tube. Japanese horror that's very much in the Saw mold. Our main character wakes up to find himself inside an internet based killing game called Death Tube. He's not alone. There are eight people in total each facing tasks and puzzles with death being the penalty for failure. Oh, and the whole thing is run by people dressed in teddy bear costumes.

It's a very silly concept but it manages to be quite disturbing. Somehow having a dehumanised, partly synthesized voice coming from the image of child's toy is creepy. That and people do die in this game. And the good thing is the survivors of the killings really freak out about it.

5. Meat Grinder. Korean gorefest - a very over-the-top sequence of torture and grisly killings. This is definitely not a film for the faint of heart. The central concept of disposing of bodies by serving them in a fast food restaurant is certainly not new - Eat the Rich came to mind as I watched this - but none before have done it with quite as much on screen claret. Satisfying to all us sickos.

6. Arn: night Templar. Swedish historicla movie set during the crusades. Young kid Arn is raised in a monastery and trained by a former Templar. No sooner has he returned to his family as a young man that a single indiscretion sees him pressganged into the Templars and sent to fight in the crusades for twenty years. He proves himself a great warrior and an honourable man...

I could go on but I don't want to spoil it. This film is superb. Truly wonderful. It has the grime and dirt you'd imagine of the 12th Century, lots of action, love, chivalrous knights, betrayals, unlikely friendships and plenty of sword fights. Fantastic

7. Road Train. Australian horror (I'm getting around the globe a bit with this movie watching aren't I?) The road train is a multi stage trucks. They are famous in Australia and hundreds of them criss cross the country delivering all manners of goods. This one though is evil and it's found it's next victim. It's a bit like Christine on steriods, this truck. Can't say it's the best film I've seen but not bad at all.

8. Nazi Dawn. American supernatural war film. Lance Henricksen leads a rescue mission to a US warship adrift in the Persian Gulf and drifting towards Iranian waters. It's a silly film. I mainly watched it as a fan of Henricksen. Problem is he is just too old to be convincing as a special forces soldier - even one who admits he's nearing retirement age.

There are others. But I'm running out of time. It's 11pm and I'd like to get another review written for submission before I go get sleep.