Chain link

So, you know that feeling when you’ve loved the soundtrack to a movie for years and years, and then you start listening to more albums and catch up with one that you probably should have already known about, that quickly becomes one of your top ten, and then you realise that one of the artists actually sings on that original soundtrack, one of your favourite songs? Happens to us all, right?

Turns out that Time Bomb Town is by Lindsey Buckingham. WHO KNEW?

This discovery, as dull as it may be to someone on the outside looking in, is one of those things that make me incredibly happy. That there’s some kind of meaning to this random world, and that everything will fit together in the end – at the right time, when it will actually make a difference and mean something to you.

It’s also just a really good song.

Kingsman 2 – ‘I hope you’re ready for what comes next’

New trailer released for The Golden Circle, the sequel to Kingsman: The Secret Service (which I can’t believe I watched two whole years ago!).

I actually ended viewing this trailer with my mouth agape. The first film garnered a 5 out of 5 stars rave review from me, and this second one looks just as good. It’s also a great excuse to have to re-watch the first one again… just to make sure I haven’t forgotten anything.

Harry Potter treads the boards

I recently got a chance to see Harry Potter and the Cursed Child, the two part HP play that is currently featured in London’s West End. Around the same time, the play broke records for Olivier Award nominations and actual award success, so I was going in with some pretty high expectations.

Naturally, I have to #keepthesecrets but it’s fair to say that I can fully endorse the awards for production, lighting and sound. The general production values of the entire five hour play are astonishing: incredible music, wonderful visuals and some astounding effects. We’re watching wizards, after all, so there’s some exciting stuff to behold.

I wasn’t so keen on all of the acting, some of it was too fast, too loud, too hammy. Ron and Hermione were perfect, and whilst Harry, Draco and the others had more emotions to deal with, it would have been nice to fully understand what they were saying. A new cast are coming in for the second year, so it would be interesting to see what difference a new take on the characters makes.

I can understand the need for the double play format, there’s quite a lot of story to get through, and there’s a natural cliffhanger right in the middle. I saw it all in one day, though, and so it was five hours of sensory overload so that I was totally wrecked by the end, and felt kinda delicate the next day too. The woman sitting next to me was in tears from start to finish of the second half, though, whether through joy or sadness I don’t know. I dread to think what kind of emotional hangover she was feeling the next day.

After I read the book, I said I would reserve judgement on many of the issues until I’d seen the play. Now I have, I’m still not much further forward. There are still some significant discrepancies between what was in the books and what happens 19 years in the future, but equally, the story works much better on stage and is an interesting addition to the canon. It was good to see the fleshed out characters, as it had felt one-dimensional in the script book.

Overall I enjoyed it and it was absolutely worth queueing outside the theatre for twenty minutes in the pouring rain. But I’m not sure if I would make quite so much effort to see it again.

On board with on-court coaching

If you’ve watched tennis for any extended period of time, particularly outside of the main grand slam events, then you might have seen the moments when coaches come on court to have a chat to the players mid-match. It only happens on the women’s tour, and isn’t at every event, nor does every player choose to do such a thing, so it can be a blink and you’ll miss it type of event.

I’ve railed against this in the past, not because I don’t find it interesting to hear the exchanges – granted they are often in other languages, but even seeing the body language can be fascinating – but because it’s so very specifically geared towards the women. I’ve heard others talk about it and it’s often felt like, as the men don’t have on-court coaching, that it’s a sign that women can’t cope with the mental stresses of the game. A form of sexism, I suppose.

Well, after a particularly good episode of The Tennis Podcast, I am now far better educated than that! It turns out it’s not a sexist thing at all, it’s actually an improvement brought into the game that the WTA are blazing a trail with, pushing to get others to join in the fun.

David: It was 2008, Larry Scott was in power at the WTA at the time, he was a pretty innovative guy… he brought this on board, he felt that it was going to open up the communications channels for spectators to get a real insight into what goes on and, you look at other sports, boxing, they mike up the corner men talking to boxers in between rounds. They do the same with the Formula One drivers, you can hear the exchanges between the driver and the pit lane. We’ve not got that in tennis, until this came in. That just didn’t exist.

Catherine: And yet, tennis has these built in periods of reflection for the player, where you see them sat at the change of ends, you get to gaze into their eyes and you’re aware that they have this minute and a half to chew over in their mind what’s happening out there, and yet it’s so frustrating because you can’t know what’s going on.

The conversation continues with David and Catherine discussing the problems that are associated with the coaching situation: that you can’t always understand what is being said, that it’s not always the right person that dashes on court, and that the hit and miss nature of its adoption means it can be quite confusing. But when it does happen, it’s definitely worth watching. I particularly enjoy seeing Darren Cahill, who is currently coaching a very temperamental Simona Halep, because his optimistic and calming ways are wonderful. I could do with some of that in my life.

So, I have re-assessed the on-court coaching situation and now, just like with three-set matches, I wish the men’s tournaments would also come on board.

First time, last time, no time

I’ve had a love/hate relationship with streaming music. At first I hated it because I wanted to be more in control of… well, everything. And then I loved it because I wouldn’t have been able to afford to listen to 100 albums in a year if I had to purchase every single one. Plus, I would have had to buy Drake’s album and that would not have made me very happy.

Now I’m in a neutral place because for the most part I’ve let go of controlling my music, and I’m happy to just stream as and when I want. But I am a bit confused. I wanted to listen to Kelsea Ballerini’s effort again after she was nominated for a Grammy, but found this:

kelsea-ballerini-streaming-first-time

The album that kicked off my Album Adventure more than a year ago, and remained in my top five right through to the end of 2016, is now not available to listen to. It’s on pre-release despite actually being out since 2015 but now only the singles are available.

This is the stuff that makes no sense to me.

Who next for Doctor Who?

doctor-who-logoIt was announced a couple of weeks ago that Peter Capaldi will be stepping down from the BBC role everyone’s talking about – no, not the lead of whatever baking show will replace GBBO, but in fact, the titular role of Doctor Who. It’s no secret that Capaldi hasn’t been my favourite Doctor, and I’ll admit that I have watched only two episodes of his since his tenure began. So unlike many, I’m glad that the show is adapting and changing once again, and I can only hope the replacement is more to my tastes.

The trouble is, I don’t know if those tastes align with the show anymore at all. The latest batch of Doctor Who has turned me off the show as a whole – I haven’t felt a need to revisit some of the greater times of Tennant and Smith. I rewatch TV shows quite often, using them as a good background distraction when working on a variety of projects. Have I  grown out of the show? For a while, I did think perhaps I was too old for it now, until I realised that one of my favourite movies of last year was Zootropolis, I laugh endlessly at Minions no matter what they’re doing, and I have a subscription to the Disney Channel app. Probably not that then.

It can only be that the current lineup hasn’t fostered my interest – and that’s not just actors. People tell me that the showrunner takes a lot of the blame, that Capaldi is wonderful but he has dire scripts to work with. I couldn’t argue either way, but if that’s true, it’s a shame and thus a good job that dear Moffat is standing down too.

I worry that I will be captivated by whoever takes over and then have to sit through all the previous episodes to catch up with the show. It’s a monster of the week structure at heart, DW, but there are often things you need to have seen in previous episodes to fully appreciate in current storylines.

So who is it going to be? I’m not foolish enough to guess. There’s a wishlist, of course. Ben Whishaw, Richard Ayoade, Adrian Lestor, anyone with the ability to find the quirky nature that really brings out the best in the role. There’s talk that Tilda Swinton is the current favourite but I’m not sure I want a female Doctor. I’d rather the females had their own awesome storylines, with Sarah Jane’s spin-off adventures a fine example.

For now, we’re just left waiting to see who will take over the much-coveted role, and I’m left wondering whether it will be someone so brilliant I’ll have to sit through Capaldi’s back catalogue, or simply let the show stay with its younger audiences.

The doing is the thing

I’ve just started reading Amy Poehler’s memoir Yes Please, and I only got as far as the introduction before I wanted to share some of the incredible wisdom. That’s the sign of a good book, I think.

So what do I do? What do we do? How do we move forward when we are tired and afraid?

What do we do when the voice in our head is yelling that WE ARE NEVER GONNA MAKE IT?

How do we drag ourselves through the muck when our brain is telling us youaredumbandyouwillneverfinishandnoonecaresanditistimeyoustop?

Well, the first thing we do is take our brain out and put it in a drawer. Stick it somewhere and let it tantrum until it wears itself out. You may still hear the brain and all the shitty things it is saying to you, but it will be muffled, and just the fact that it is not in your head anymore will make things seem clearer.

And then you just do it.

You just dig in and write it. You use your body. You lean over the computer and stretch and pace. You write and then cook something and write some more. You put your hand on your heart and feel it beating and decide if what you wrote feels true.

You do it because the doing of it is the thing. The doing is the thing. The talking and worrying and thinking is not the thing. That is what I know.

Writing the book is about writing the book.

I do so miss long-form stressful but oh-so-rewarding book writing.