Oh, I don't even know how many times I have been to see Bowling For Soup play live any more. It's eleven years since I saw them on their first Get Happy Tour and even though we're all getting older (but not getting no wiser - see what I did there?), I'm still finding new ways to appreciate this band. And, as is evident by the very young members of the crowd, there is an new and upcoming legion of fans. A new generation. People that went to BFS gigs in their teenage years are now having kids and bringing them along to share in the fun. That's how you know a band is good, because they aren't bound by a single generational boundary.
Great music, a great show and a barrel of laughs are universal.
Because that's what you get when you buy the ticket. It's what you expect. And this band do not disappoint. They perform all the old favourites, but also shine a light on some album tracks that have been woefully underappreciated over the years. Their stage banter gets better and better every year.
Bowling For Soup have never disappointed me. Other bands come and go, but I think the reason these guys stick around is because they really seem like they're having the time of their life. Please go and see this band and witness the hilarity. Long live BFS!
File under: Bowling For Soup, Jaret Reddick, Erik Chandler, Gary Wiseman, Chris Burney, Manchester O2 Apollo, gig review
Black Panther is one of the most eagerly anticipated films of the year. Does it live up to the hype?
I'm a recent convert to the Marvel universe. I started with Spider-Man Homecoming (and the Guardians Of The Galaxy movies) and grudgingly decided that I should probably watch the rest of the franchise releases so that I would be up to speed with the story so far. I am now totally invested in this universe.
I was introduced to the character of Black Panther during Captain America: Civil War and was really intrigued as to how someone can be a superhero but also a king of a full country. How does that work out? I suppose when your genius sister is creating super speed aircraft, then you can take care of rogue weapons dealers at the other end of the world and still be home in time for a Netflix binge before bed.
As T'Challa struggles to get to grips on what kind of king he wants to be, he realises he cannot sit by and be idle, unlike his predecessors, while the world deals with issues of famine, war and poverty. This is the films underlying message about having a choice to do what is right. It boldly refers to modern day poverty within first world countries, racism and slavery. The filmmakers had an opportunity to get their thoughts across and they seized it with relish, but it never feels like a preach that is being rammed under your nose.
The film is a masterpiece to watch. It's stunning. Vivid. So much work has gone into designing the world of Wakanda. From the locations, to the gadgets, to the costumes. Wakanda feels rooted in reality.
The characters are great. It's refreshing to have a mainly black cast that don't fall into black stereotypes. Every degree of human beings is shown here. There is a black superhero in a predominently white movie universe. Michael B. Jordan as Killmonger isn't just some ghetto thug. He possesses a quiet, thoughtful determination behind him as he tries to put wrong to right in the world. His methods are seriously flawed but you can understand his way of thinking. Andy Serkis is a riot from start to finish.
Black Panther has a variety of non-sexualised, non-token, believable female characters that don't feel like they're part of a box ticking exercise. The female warriors stand side by side with their male counterparts. The head of the Wakanda science division is a teenage girl and nobody questions it. This is long overdue.
Black Panther can stand alongside its Marvel counterparts with its head held high. I found the story line to be quite predictable at times but I'm willing to let it slide because it does so many other things right.
Oh and make sure you stay for the extra scenes at the end of the film. Both of them, one mid credits, one post credits.
File under: Black Panther, Marvel Cinematic Universe, Wakanda, T'Challa, Chadwick Boseman, Michael B. Jordan, Lupita Nyong'o
How To Stop Time is a story about people that have unusually long life spans. I mean, ridiculously long.
Step forward Tom. Born in France, the year 1581. Now currently a history teacher in London. Every eight years or so, when the people around him begin to really notice that he isn't ageing at the same speed that they are, he has to move to a different area, or country even, taking up a new identity. This is made possible i.e. funded, by the Albatross Society. A collection of people with the same condition, that have built up their wealth over time (something they aren't exactly short of) and use it to help the members go incognito in an age where mobile phones and video cameras make anonymity all the more difficult.
Slowly Tom grows disillusioned with the society and with his life in general. He is sick of hiding, sick of running and he is desperately trying to find his only child, Marion, who has inherited the same rate of ageing. Hendrich, the owner of the Albatross Society, senses that he is close to revealing their secret and will do whatever it takes to silence Tom.
I really enjoyed my first read of 2018. It's not a beginning-middle-end kind of book. There is quite a bit of weaving between the past and present. But each chapter is the perfect length to not skip out on detail, but not overload you with new characters or minor details that aren't essential to the story line.
I'm also quite fond of Tom. He's not a superhero. He's just trying to get by in his overly long life and be as decent as he can be. But you really feel for him. Even though he's lived through great historical moments and meant important figures in time, there is still so much that he has to miss out on because his life is at risk, particularly during the witch trials era of Britain where he's under danger of being hanged or burnt at the stake for looking too young.
My only complaint is that I was a bit short changed by the ending. It felt rushed, underwhelming and I don't think it gives the main characters the real closure they deserve.
It's still a worthy read though and that bit of 'something different' that a lot of readers are searching for. Very satisfying.
File under: How To Stop Time, Matt Haig, book review
Ever since I can remember, I have been enthralled by Wallace & Gromit. It has always been a firm family favourite and it was joined soon after by Chicken Run. I have a lot of love and respect for Aardman Animations. They have built themselves up to be a worldwide renowned animation company, yet they still hold true to their British roots.
Their attention to detail, both visually and with what the characters do and say, is infinite. Gag follows gag but the legendary British wit is spread carefully throughout the film so it never feels too much or too little. The films also carry a great deal of heart. You can feel the love that went into making them.
Early Man continues on these traditions. There are plenty of jokes for the kids, plenty jokes for the adults. When I initially saw the trailer, I had worried that it was one of those films where ALL of the best bits had been put into that 90 seconds. But even though they do include some of the funnier moments in the trailer, there is still so much humour to experience.
The sets and characters are wonderfully bright and colourful, with lots of media culture references in the backgrounds that are easy to pick up, no pause button is required.
(Yes Pixar, I'm looking at you and your overly-subtle Easter eggs that are impossible to spot without being pointed out by someone who works at your studio during an interview)
If you're expecting something new, exciting or surprising from Aardman, you might be a little bit disappointed. It does follow the Aardman formula quite rigidly and can play it a bit safe. I would also say that even though there are bits that adults will appreciate, it is definitely more a film for younger audiences.
But it's a delightful story and a worthy addition to the Aardman collection.
File under: Early Man, Aardman Animation, stop frame, film review
I did this fan art because I love Nekoama's funny little Pokemon comic strips every week. They really make my Friday work shift happier and I love her renditions of Bulbasaur, Squirtle and Charmander.
Sponsor Nekoama on Patreon HERE
File under: Nekoama, Bulbasaur, Pokemon, comic strip, Kanto, The Beach Boys, Barbara Ann
File under: calligraphy, lettering, fonts, design, Lucie Fink, Living With Lucie, Refinery29
I have to admit I wasn't initially as excited for Coco, as I am for The Incredibles 2. But I'd decided this year that I wanted to start watching more new films and usually Pixar is more often a hit than a miss, so it would probably be decent enough.
Where to begin.
There's the heart behind the story. It's not a complicated film. A boy wants to play music but his family has banned it from their house. A wife left abandoned by her husband, having raise their daughter alone. A spirit who wishes to cross over into the lands of the living to see his remaining relatives. It's not hard to see how they all link into one another but it's told with such passion that I cried. Twice. And I'm not in the habit of sobbing in public places.
It's asthetically a gorgeous film to behold. The use of colour is breathtaking, the scenery is wonderous. It's almost as if Corpse Bride met a rainbow (in Mexico) and this is the offspring.
The characters, while very obviously belonging to the Disney universe, manage to steer clear of looking like anything you've seen before from the house of the mouse. I've found that a lot of the newer CGI films from Disney have ended up with characters that are so stylised they're almost clones of one another.
And yes, there have been serious debates about the true accuracy of the film in how it represents Mexico, Mexican people and traditions. That Disney and Pixar are just trying to make a quick buck by pretending to be inclusive.
I've never been to Mexico, nor do I know any Mexican people. My knowledge of their culture is very limited. I don't know if I can say whether the film is cultural appropriation, because it's not my culture up for debate. But what I will say is that Coco isn't an historical documentary, which some people seem inclined to forget.
I'm pretty sure Disney and Pixar could do better and expand their horizons further, but Coco for me was a step in the right direction. It's a really enjoyable film if you sit back and focus on the story.
File under: Coco, Disney, Pixar, Mexico, Día de los Muertos
I had seen so many videos of Chris Rock on youtube that I knew when he announced his Blackout tour, that I needed to go and see this man and put my hard earned money into his pocket.
It turned out that the title 'Blackout' was a very literal description of the tour because all cameras were banned from the show and before entering the inner part of Manchester Arena, we all had to have our phones sealed in pouches that could only be unlocked with magnets by a member of staff. This may have been a cause for concern after the incredibly sad bombing at the Ariana Grande concert but we were able to leave the show at any point to visit the outer concourse and have our phone pouches unlocked at various zones.
Airport style scanners were positioned in the box office entrance with extra security standing by with handheld body scanners. I will also point out that upon the show finishing it took literally three seconds for staff on the doors to unlock each phone pouch with no queues building up. I never at any point felt unsafe.
It was honestly great to visit a show where you weren't distracted by all the screens flashing up in the dark. People actually sat and talked to each other properly during the interval and when the performers were on stage, they watched, they listened, they laughed and they paid attention.
I wish more shows would do this or at least have sections where people could take photos/videos for maybe one or two songs, but then have the rest of the show gadget free.
Chris was on fire. He is as witty and sharp as ever. The man does not shy away. He goes through various topics that he's known for talking about such as politics, gun crime, police brutality, white-black relations, but then he turned to other subjects as well, such as his divorce. I saw another side to him. Although he attacks the breakdown of his marriage with cutting humour, there's also a very stark honesty alongside.
My favourite part was where he attacks the subject of bullying and how it impacts how we let people treat us later on in life as adults.
Very funny stuff. I would recommend you see this guy if he's ever performing in a city near you.
Check his website for tour information
File under: Chris Rock, comedy, tour, Manchester Arena
Decided to get some new glasses as I haven't had some in two years & I'd started to see a change in the prescription. Because I'm so reliant on them, I am able to qualify for free eye tests & a voucher towards the cost of the glasses. I'm a little bit weird, but I really enjoy eye tests! I've been wearing glasses since I was 5, so when I tried contacts last year, I felt naked without the frames in front of my eyes.
I went with blue because I'm sick of black. And red. And burgundy.
We have a police phone box in the village where I work & also lived in for twenty years. It doesn't look exactly like the TARDIS of Doctor Who lore (the roof is more rounded), but it has always been a fond little fixture in Almondbury. It recently disappeared for a short time while it was being restored.
The house next to the 'TARDIS' has now put out a very cute TARDIS bird feeder & I can't help thinking how perfect it is.
File under: Doctor Who, Dr Who, TARDIS, Huddersfield
Kel McGowan is Kelligrafie