Sometimes a musician has immediate appeal. In this case there isn’t much that is wildly innovative or technical. It’s just done with a style and grace that is appealing. Dmitriy Samoylenko has four albums on bandcamp, ranging from ambient to jazz fusion. Some with vocals but all worth a listen.
Terry Jones’ Fairy Tales (The Fantastic World of Terry Jones)
by Terry Jones, Michael Foreman (Illustrator) (1993)
Thirty short stories of magic and adventure penned by Monty Python team member, Terry Jones. Embracing the tradition of the fairy tale, but adding Jones’ inimitable comic imagination and originality.
These stories are fun, satirical and sometimes sad. But always witty and enjoyable. Just the thing to read to children.
My favorite has to be the story of how the sun and moon came to orbit the earth.
Divinity Roxx is best known for touring and performing with Beyoncé Knowles (2006–2011) as her bassist and Musical Director. Divinity has performed with Beyonce at The White House for President Barack Obama and Michelle Obama during a State Dinner for the President of Mexico, Felipe Calderon.
She has also performed on the Grammy’s, The BET Awards, MTV Music Awards, Ellen, The Oprah Winfrey Show, Saturday Night Live, Good Morning America, The Today Show and countless other television shows with Beyonce.
In 2014, Divinity played bass on The Arsenio Hall Show and The Queen Latifah Show with Atlanta born rapper, B.o.B.. Divinity has also appeared on Big Morning Buzz Live With Nick Lechey and The Wendy Williams Show.
The Roxx Boxx Experience (2012) is a mix of rock guitars riffs, thumbing bass and raps. My favorite is a version of Ram Jam’s ‘Black Betty’ with a neat bass riff near the end. Another great is song is ‘Get Yo Fix’.
We Are Video
Callsign: Deep Blue (Tom Duncan)
by Jeremy Robinson & Kane Gilmour (2011)
Tom Duncan—Callsign: Deep Blue, former Army ranger, former president of the United States and handler of the black ops force known as Chess Team, is visiting the team’s new secret headquarters. The underground facility, known as Alpha, once belonged to Manifold Genetics, a corrupt corporation shut down by Chess Team. But despite being abandoned for years, Alpha still hides secrets.
Security doors slam shut and lock, sealing Duncan and his assistants inside. As Matt Carrack, the leader of Duncan’s security team, attempts to gain access, Duncan discovers they are not alone inside the abandoned facility. High tech intruders have infiltrated the base, their goal unknown. But a far greater threat rises from the subterranean depths beneath Alpha—failed regenerative experiments from the days of Manifold, and they’re fast, hostile and hungry.
The last of the jack Sigler novellas, this is hampered at first by too many plot lines and characters. But about halfway through, things simplify to two plot-lines. This is almost continuous action from the first chapter and it never lets up until the end. Robinson could have done a fine book with just humans involved, but no – he has to throw in giant slugs. It adds to the plot, but in the end is just another monster to dispatch with a maximum gore factor (nice).
Pink Floyd – The Wall is a 1982 British live-action/animated musical drama film directed by Alan Parker with animated segments by political cartoonist Gerald Scarfe, and is based on the 1979 Pink Floyd album of the same name. The film centers around a confined rocker named Pink, who, after being driven into insanity by the death of his father and many depressive moments during his lifetime, constructs a metaphorical (and sometimes physical) wall to be protected from the world and emotional situations around him. When this coping mechanism backfires he puts himself on trial and sets himself free. The screenplay was written by Pink Floyd vocalist and bassist Roger Waters.
Having read the book about Pink Floyd, it was fortuitous that this movie came to TV at the same time. Much of the shock and impact of the film remains. Gerald Scarfe’s animations are still brutal and relevant. The main thing that ages the film is the stereotype of the drug addled rock star.
La La Land is a 2016 American romantic musical comedy-drama film written and directed by Damien Chazelle and starring Ryan Gosling and Emma Stone (Mia) as a musician and an aspiring actress who meet and fall in love in Los Angeles. The film’s title refers both to the city of Los Angeles and to the idiom for being out of touch with reality.
So this is the big hit of 2016 (!). It’s been nominated for 14 Oscars and appears to be the film everyone is raving about.
My only theory for it’s popularity is that it comes after a depressing time in American history (the election) and it’s formula works at this time and place.
The film has lots of problems. The characters aren’t engaging and the plot feels like every other romantic comedy (but without the funny bits). After half-way through I partially lost interest. There are a few inventive sequences, one in a planetarium and another near the end.
As for the music –
The score feels like a continuous collection of symphonic cliches.
The songs are generally OK and they do appear to employ professional singers in the minor roles. Like Mia, I hated the self-indulgent Jazz snob Sebastian likes. It was only when John Legend performs that the music has some life in it.
Emma Stone and Ryan Gosling are only average singers. It couldn’t have been difficult to find better singer/actors. What was Sutton Foster doing at the time ? As for an alternative male lead, I can think of a few Court Theatre actors that could have done better.
The best comparison that can be made is to The Fabulous Baker Boys from 1989 with the Daniels Brothers and the fabulous Michelle Pfeiffer. (See this instead).
The Best of the Worst Review.
Hidden Figures is a 2016 American biographical drama film directed by Theodore Melfi and written by Melfi and Allison Schroeder, based on the non-fiction book of the same name by Margot Lee Shetterly, about female African-American mathematicians at NASA. The film stars Taraji P. Henson as Katherine G. Johnson, a mathematician who calculated flight trajectories for Project Mercury and other missions. The film also features Octavia Spencer as Dorothy Vaughan and Janelle Monáe as Mary Jackson, with Kevin Costner, Kirsten Dunst, Jim Parsons, Glen Powell and Mahershala Ali in supporting roles.
A great, inspirational story of three women behind NASA. Surprised to find Janelle Monáe in an acting role (she does well). What I liked was that they didn’t skimp on the science and maths details. Fun moment when they everyone went ‘WOW’ at a new IBM machine that did 24,000 calcs per second. Also a moment of recognition when the programmer opened the new FORTRAN manual.
Expecting Someone Taller
by Tom Holt (1987)
Malcolm Fisher inherits a magic ring from a dying badger and becomes the much-disputed Ruler of the World. Everyone wants the ring–despite the fearsome curse upon it. And Malcolm is about to learn that some are born to greatness, and some are, well, badgered into it.
This is based on Wagner’s Ring Cycle, something I have been fortunate enough to avoid. I initially started this as a comedic contrast to the last thriller. Turns out, it wasn’t that funny.
This is Holt’s first book and it’s very polished prose and easy to read. So it was surprising that the story and characters were interesting enough to draw me along to the end of the book.
Terry Jones’ Animal Tales
(The Fantastic World of Terry Jones)
by Terry Jones and Michael Foreman (Illustrator) (2011)
A dog who just cannot understand why he is not allowed to practice medicine. A fox who runs a circus of trained chickens. A flea who thinks he is the manager of a chain of mega-stores. A skunk who falls madly in love with a bear.
Another fun collection of tales for children of all ages.
Callsign: Knight (Shin Dae-jung)
by Jeremy Robinson & Ethan Cross (2011)
When a team of Delta operators goes missing in Shenhuang, one of China’s newly constructed ghost cities, Shin Dae-jung—Callsign: Knight, is called in to assist. But the Osprey transporting him to the scene falls prey to an EMP attack and is forced to crash land atop a parking garage. With a wounded pilot in tow, Knight explores the empty city for signs of life and finds two terrified children, who warn him that something monstrous is stalking the city. When the pilot disappears, leaving a pool of blood and spent bullet casings behind, Knight doesn’t doubt their story.
A straight forward and simple plot. Defeat the monster, rescue the Damsel and get clear in time. Just as entertaining as the previous episodes.