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Social niceties

Published January 25, 2023

Social niceties

Wahey, I’m on Mastodon! You can find me here and I hope to be using it as a full on Twitter replacement and actually engaging with it rather than falling into the on-again-off-again pattern that I had with the bird one. My path to Mastodon has essentially been: Oh, something’s up with Twitter, it’ll probably be alright though, continue as usual All anyone talks about on Twitter now is the demise of Twitter.

Break Point to prove

Published January 24, 2023

Break Point to prove

When Netflix announced they were making a documentary series about tennis, similar to their work focused on Formula One in Drive to Survive, I was intrigued. I didn’t watch the motorsport one, having spent too much of my time already watching that sport, but people seemed to think it did a good job telling the stories behind the races, and even non-F1 fans were raving about it. Imagine if they could do the same thing for tennis!

Closing the loop

Published January 22, 2023

Closing the loop

Variety published a story yesterday detailing a walkout by the jury at the Sundance film festival from a film where closed captioning wasn’t available. They’ve been striving for greater accessability anyway, but in this instance it was a specific problem for the jury, which includes wonderful actress Marlee Matlin. The article suggests it was a dramatic walkout after a captioning device didn’t work, whilst the statement from the Sundance organisers was more muted, that the jury just decided to watch the film at a later date so they could do so together.

Be Altitude: Respect Yourself by The Staple Singers

Published January 22, 2023

Be Altitude: Respect Yourself by The Staple Singers

I can’t remember why this album was next on the to-listen list, but whilst listening during the week, we then also watched the episode where Mavis Staples pops up on Carpool Karaoke and they sing I’ll Take You There. Amazing. That song is the standout of the album, but overall it’s a good soul/gospel album with some incredible vocals and some heartfelt themes.

Turn the Car Around by Gaz Coombes

Published January 22, 2023

Turn the Car Around by Gaz Coombes

There are some epic albums coming up this year but the early part of the year is always a bit of a slow one - I don’t think I would have picked this album at any other time. But I’m glad I did, it’s got some good songs on there. It’s short, sharp and to the point, mixing genres a little although strongly indie and guitar driven. A nice listen.

After the afterparty

Published January 21, 2023

After the afterparty

It’s no secret how much I love Kellyoke - the moment on Kelly Clarkson’s talk show where she covers a popular song, usually doing a much better job than the original! Another thing I love is behind the scenes info about music, tv and production, which makes this set of videos absolutely perfect. Called the Kellyoke Afterparty, this series of three videos features music director Jason Halbert and guitarist Jaco Caraco sharing a drink and some gossip after the live show.

The House Swap by Rebecca Fleet

Published January 20, 2023

The House Swap by Rebecca Fleet

This was a pretty quick read, it didn’t go to the thriller levels I was expecting it to but it was still a pageturner of what is happening and why. Midway through I felt like it was going a bit slowly for what was quite an obvious plot direction, but then there was a twist and the second half was really fascinating. A good story, well told, with an ending that was both shocking and sad, with just the right amount of hope to finish on.

Evvie Drake Starts Over by Linda Holmes

Published January 19, 2023

Evvie Drake Starts Over by Linda Holmes

I used to listen to the NPR Pop Culture Happy Hour podcast a lot and have loved Linda Holme’s opinionated but approachable criticisms of TV and film. I bought this first book of hers a long time ago but have only just got round to reading it - I wish I’d read it earlier! It’s a wonderful gentle rom-com drama story, the action is limited but the dialogue is wonderful and the relationships really well crafted. Friendships and lovers are investigated in detail, what works, what doesn’t, what people in smaller towns gossip about, and ultimately what you think about yourself. Gorgeous work.

The Midnight Library by Matt Haig

Published January 18, 2023

The Midnight Library by Matt Haig

I absolutely loved this, roared through it in double quick time. The consequences of decisions and ripples of changes are one of the best things about time travel stories that I love, and whilst this isn’t a time travel novel, it features those elements in the best possible way. It’s intriguing and heartwarming and leaves you feeling just a bit more positive about the world than before you read it. Which is perfect.

The soap box

Published January 17, 2023

The soap box

One of the easiest switches in the battle to reduce plastic is from shower gel and shampoo bottles to soap bars. Soap has, obviously, been around forever, but there’s been a real revolution recently in making it as eco-friendly as possible, as accessible as possible, whilst not being the skin-drying-boring-smelling compromise that some bars are. Who Gives A Crap, the plastic-free toilet roll delivery organisation, recently launched a new brand called Good Time which sees them branching out into soap and shampoo bars.

Death Comes to Marlow by Robert Thorogood

Published January 17, 2023

Death Comes to Marlow by Robert Thorogood

I snapped this up the moment it came out, listened to the audiobook in almost one sitting. I loved that the action basically got going straight away, just the samllest of recaps and then straight into what turned out to be a deadly party. Our trio of friends work through the clues to solve the mystery, whilst also dealing with their own stuff - I like them thinking they can possibly hide stuff from each other… surely they know how good at detecting they are? But a great cosy mystery, another good read from Mr Thorogood.

All for one and one for all

Published January 16, 2023

All for one and one for all

The third series of For All Mankind started streaming on Apple last June. For something that I proclaim to be one of my favourite shows, it’s shameful that it’s taken me over six months to get round to watching it. But you know what it’s like, there’s always something shiny and new to try and more TV that its possible to watch, plus it’s always nice to have an old faithful waiting in the wings for when all else fails.

The Oldest House in London by Fiona Rule

Published January 16, 2023

The Oldest House in London by Fiona Rule

This was an interesting concept for a book but as I was reading, I could never decide if I was enjoying it or not. The hook for the book is following the history of London by means of the oldest house in the capital, and what historical events it has seen. I guess I might have wanted it to be a bit more domestic in places, whilst fully appreciating there’s only so much evidence out there. Even so it was interesting to think about what this house has lived through - plague, fire, various monarchs and religions, protests, rebellions, two wars, and plenty of rebuilding. Overall a decent read.

Walk 1000 more

Published January 15, 2023

Walk 1000 more

We’re halfway through January now so those who were going to set resolutions have no doubt done so by now. If anyone is still looking for something to get more active and get out there, the Walk 1000 Miles initiative by Country Walking magazine caught my eye. It’s a challenge to do exactly what it says on the tin, although really the goal isn’t necessarily the target but really to get outside and get more steps in than you have before.

Mellon Collie and the Infinite Sadness by The Smashing Pumpkins

Published January 15, 2023

Mellon Collie and the Infinite Sadness by The Smashing Pumpkins

I was nervous going into this album because a) hard rock and b) two hours long! But in the end, neither of those things were too much of a problem. It only occasionally gets too much into the hard rock category, otherwise it’s just regular rock with the ups and downs that are required in an epic double album like this. It is long and I would never particularly search out an album at this length but I was never bored during it or wishing it would end, so that’s a great sign. I don’t know how much of this is going to stay with me (1979 maybe), but I’m glad to have given it a listen.

Dirt Femme by Tove Lo

Published January 15, 2023

Dirt Femme by Tove Lo

This is a great album. It took me a minute to adjust to it because I was stupidly expecting something more like Halsey. But this is more dance, and I really like it. Grapefruit is such an important song. However, it’s not all perfect, I don’t enjoy the one that samples Popcorn because how annoying is that? There’s never a reason to put Popcorn in any music. But otherwise, a good listen, great beats, fab vocals.

How to be Perfect by Michael Schur

Published January 15, 2023

How to be Perfect by Michael Schur

I don’t think I can adequately describe how much I loved this. My knowledge of philosophy has only ever been ‘I think therefore I am’ and the trolley problem, and that’s even having watched and adored every series of The Good Place. But I remember listening to the podcast that accompanied the show and whenever creator Mike Shur was on, it was always fascinating. This book is basically an extension of those epiosdes.

The men with the maps

Published January 14, 2023

The men with the maps

I’ll be honest that I don’t watch a lot of stuff on YouTube, other than the memes and clips from talk shows that gain a lot of popularity. There are a couple of channels I keep an eye on (Pitch Meetings and Tom Scott have been mentioned here previously), but I never mind a new creator to add to the list - particularly when they have fascinating videos that teach you a thing or two.

The Library of Lost and Found by Phaedra Patrick

Published January 12, 2023

The Library of Lost and Found by Phaedra Patrick

This is a really nice, gentle book of family drama and rediscovering yourself. Martha finds herself always saying yes to people and drowning in a sea of helping others, but through a mixture of new friends and revealing old family secrets, she starts to come back to life and find her way. The book does fall into the trope of dipping back and forth in time to reveal a little bit more of the story each time, but it works very well, and I enjoyed a relatively peaceful read.

It's only a little miss

Published January 11, 2023

It's only a little miss

I don’t remember being particularly fond of the Mr Men & Little Miss books as a child or at any point in my lifetime, but they were certainly around. I potentially had an affinity with Mr Bump and was suitably horrified by Mr Tickle. I didn’t know they were still being created and books were still being released with new characters all the time, it must be quite the universe at this point.