Empty landscapes, middle-aged buffoons, and exceedingly dark comedy are some of what's been setting the tone of my February 2018...
Click "READ MORE" below to see this month's looks, sounds, vibes & flavours...
The Grand Tour: Series 2 - having improved on a couple of things ('The American' driver was replaced with Abbie Eaton, the one-note joke that was 'Celebrity Brain Crash' was exchanged for a proper celebrity segment), the second series finds the trio on more sure footing after the more explorative aspects of the first go-round. Very much looking forward to the third series!
Abandoned - Viceland series hosted by skater Rick McCrank exploring the parts of America's landscape that have been left empty. From ghost towns and commerce-free shopping malls, to crumbling schools and missile silos, this visually arresting series brings a deft human touch to urban exploration
Blade Runner 2049 (Blu-Ray) - review/rant here.
Milano Calibro 9 (Blu-Ray) - review here.
Two Doors Down: Series 3 - BBC2 comedy series from Scotland about a middle-aged couple whose neighbours continually invite themselves around. Social faux pas by the truck load and generally hilarious character-based comedy ensues. I saw the pilot episode a few years ago, but then had no idea it was turned into a series (so I've not seen Series 1 or 2), but I've hopped back on board since the Christmas special that aired a few weeks ago. It'd make sense to put the previous episodes up On Demand, seeing as it was returning to screens, but what d'ya know, nobody bothered to stick it up there for folks to catch up, not that you're cast narratively adrift by joining in late, to be fair. Still though ... woulda been nice.
Massacre In Dinosaur Valley (DVD) - review here.
Kevin Smith movies - specifically "Red State", "Zack & Miri Make A Porno", "Tusk", and "Yoga Hosers". Best wishes to the writer/director/podcaster, as well, for his recovery from a heart attack on February 26th. Get well soon, Sir!
Rage Against The Machine - their self-titled 1992 album.
Offspring "Americana", "Conspiracy of One"
Sheryl Crow "The Globe Sessions"
Nine Inch Nails "Pretty Hate Machine", "Broken", "The Downward Spiral", "The Fragile", "And All That Could Have Been", "With Teeth"
Fabio Frizzi "Blastfighter Theme" - this rockin' piece of 80s synth was recycled for "Massacre In Dinosaur Valley", and was remixed many years later by Vercetti Technicolor with their track "L'incubo Senza Fine (Original Mix)".
VIBES & FLAVOURS:
How Mr Snuffles III and Others Met Their Maker - having completed the first draft by the end of January, the task in February was rewriting and all the fiddly finessing required to polish out the rough edges. Now I've got a really good third draft (which builds upon the various drafts of the novella version, remember). It's only in the rewriting stage that you're able to jump back and forth putting in lots of little details, tweaking dialogue so it can have double meanings or mirror images, and it's surprising how many cracking ideas for small tweaks you can find along the way that are akin to cherries on top for numerous scenes. It's an exceedingly dark black comedy, and I've had an awful lot of fun writing it.
Forza Horizon 3 (Xbox One) - in the last several weeks I had been playing Forza Motorsport 7, more of a driving simulator, but fancied diving back into the sandbox fun of the franchise's more arcade-like side. There's a stark difference between the two. Motorsport 7 is positively tight-fisted with handing out credits and vehicles (so in championship mode you only scratch the surface of the available cars), whereas Horizon 3 dishes out cash and cars with a generous regularity that inspires exploration (and upgrading) of the vast array of vehicles. Speaking of vehicles, the sense of speed in FH3 far outstrips FM7 - case in point - the 2017 Ford GT is absolutely terrifying to hoof through the Austrailian rain forrest. Horizon 3 also benefits from not having Motorsport 7's 'prize crates' bullshit (which, while not requiring real money, is essentially a brainwashing exercise in trying to get gamers to accept 'loot boxes'). FM7's 'mod' system is also akin to busy work managing a restrictive amount of randomly selected modifications from said prize crates, whereas in FH3 you just get points for doing what you do no questions asked, no requirements enforced. Both games provide different things to enjoy, one a big fun romp, the other a hardened real-world sim - and I've had a lot of fun with both - but out of the two I prefer Forza Horizon 3.