Monday, 19 March 2018

Lately I've been watching.... TV and film recommendations (with trailers)

Previously on Lately I've Been Watching....

Once-every-few weeks-series of film and TV recommendations ~ or not, as the case may be.  For more info about a show/film, click its title.

TV mini series (6 episodes)  about the 1993 disaster, when, after a 6 week siege, a compound housing members of a religious community burned down.  Of course Waco is famous and I thought I knew what happened, because I remember it being on the news at the time and had read/heard bits and bobs about David Koresh over the years.  When I watched this, I understood the full picture; it's truly shocking.  I thought about it all the next day.  Stars Michael Shannon (love him!) and Taylor Kitsch.

5 stars

5 stars 

Here's the trailer for the first season, in case you've never seen it!

TV Series, about a TV news programme in the late 1950s.  I've watched both seasons currently available.  Stars Dominic West playing a womanising drunk, Ben Whishaw, and a hopeless miscast woman as his eventual love interest (she looks more like his auntie).  Lots of great acting and drama, corrupt politicians, behind the scenes TV stuff, scandal, etc.  Jolly good!

4.5 stars

Film: SciFi, pre-apocalypse.  About a coming 'extinction event' ~ 'the shimmer' covers a section of land, is growing, and anyone who goes in to investigate what it is does not return ~ at least, not as themselves.  Biologist Natalie Portman joins Jennifer Jason Leigh and three others to go in.  Normally I can't stand Natalie Portman but I liked her in this.  It was good, but not particularly memorable.

3.5 stars

TV series ~ comedy, about the Vice President of the US (Julia Louis-Dreyfus) and her entourage.  At least 6 seasons available; I've been watching it on and off but slowly getting through it all.  Really, really funny.

4.5 stars


Film: Horror

About a couple of kids who get lost in the wilderness for several years, go feral, then get taken in by their uncle and his girlfriend.  Twist is that they bring with them something nasty and scary.  Started off okay, lots of stuff to make you go 'waaaah!', but got sillier as it went on.  Extra half a star because it stars the lush Nicolaj Coster-Waldau (Jaime Lannister in GoT).

2.5 stars 

Documentary series, about a religious cult originating in India that took over the small Oregon town of Antelope and tried to take over the county, too, by means of harrassment, attempted murder, poisoning, and importing thousands of homeless people to their 'city' so that they would have the numbers to vote their members onto the council.  Early 1980s.  Fascinating, horrendous, and you will feel so sorry for the people of Antelope.  And angry, too.

4.5 stars

Review: THE KEY #TheWalkingDead S8:12 #TWD #TWDFamily

Last week: Review Dead Or Alive Or

Photos from amc official site
So Rick has about fifty chances to kill Negan and screws up every one of them.  Fair enough, he's not at his fighting best; he's probably starving hungry, and certainly out of his mind with heartbreak, so yes, maybe he can be forgiven for bad calls like shooting off all his ammo before he could see where Negan actually was, missing the opportunity to cut off his fingers, not bashing his brains in with the burning Lucille ~ and why, when he plunged after the weaponless Negan into the room marked 'eaters', didn't he fight his own way out and leave the Walkers to do their stuff?

I'll just shoot off all my ammo at a car door 
then face my enemy with a hatchet and my bare hands.

Maybe because he wanted to kill him with Lucille or the hatchet with which he was supposed to chop off Carl's arm... but I bet, when he walked out and found a big Negan-free nothing, he wished he hadn't got hung up on those details. 

Still, at least we got a car chase.  Not quite the Fast and the Furious, but...

I wonder if the janitor job is still open...


With Negan missing, Simon instructs the Saviours to expunge, redact and erase their Hilltop, Alexandria and Kingdom foes.  BTW, when Simon asked Gary Saviour what his name was, I really thought he was going to say 'Gary'.  Could have started off a whole new page in their history.  

Horrible nasty Gary Saviour

We could already see Dwight's brain ticking over, working out how he was going to let Hilltop know... I expect he will manage to save the day.  Did his wistful glance at Sherry's wedding rings and her tab end at the beginning indicate that she's going to show up soon?  Maybe she and Dwight will live, and join our gang ~ now, wouldn't that be nice?  And btw, isn't his burn make-up excellent?

I'm looking forward to seeing what transpires now that Negan knows Simon wasted the Scavengers.  Perhaps now that Jadis has abducted Negan, she will show him the Super-Mega-Zombie-And-Untrustworthy-Lieutenants-Masher?  Yes!  I seriously hope the writers have thought of this, too....


Not too sure about this windmill and crop manual storyline with the woman who used to be Karen Hayes in 24.  Is it in the comics?  I don't know; I stopped reading them because of the spoiler thing.  It seems a bit more comic-book-ish, though.  But it's good to have a bit of positivity, and it's not totally unlikely ~ we have to remember that there will be good people in the post apocalyptic world, too.  Not all women will morph into psychos like Arat, the evil Olivia-killer.

More stuff I liked in this episode:
  • The talk between Daryl and Rick beside Glenn and Abraham's graves ~ good to see Daryl talking in more than three-word grunts again, and to see a bit of his compassionate stuff coming back.
  • The conversation between Michonne, Maggie and Enid.  You can see Enid's point, but I am sure Michonne will prove to be right about Karen Hayes; I predict she will tell Enid that you can't just nick people's food, and that you have to trust some people because it's still who we arrr-rrr. 
  • How fab Rosita looked in that sleeveless black polo neck.  When I am reincarnated I want to look exactly like her.  Or just be her.

More questions for the next 4 episodes:
  • So when IS Negan going to find out that Gavin failed to secure the Kingdom?
  • Have the writers forgotten about 'orrible outpost leader Regina who was written in at the beginning of this season?  She seems to have disappeared.
  • What happened to Saviour Laura, the only one who saw evidence of Dwight's change in loyalties?
  • Will Aaron turn up with the ladies of Oceanside in the nick of time?
  • What use will be made of the Super-Mega-Zombie-Masher???
  • Are we going to finally see an end to the Saviours War?  Please?  I know the rankings have been slipping over the last two seasons, and I think they will take another plummet if there's not a hint of a new storyline by the end of this one.
Here's something interesting ~ The Walking Dead deaths ~ Comic vs TV 

I will leave you with some reminders of happier times....

Monday, 12 March 2018

Review: DEAD OR ALIVE OR #TheWalkingDead S8:11 #TWD #TWDFamily

Last week: Review ~ The Lost and the Plunderers

Not quite such a fab episode as last week, but I'm sure it pleased those amongst us who want to see zombies not gunfights!

I was a bit worried at first; when Gabriel was doing his 'I called for help, help came' stuff again, I thought, oh dear, are we supposed to believe that the Man in the Sky is leading him and Dr C out of the wilderness?  Come on... but no.  Just when I thought 'this is getting a bit daft', as I did with Ezekiel and all his 'and yet I smile' ridiculousness in S8:4 Some Guy, the silliness/schmaltz got turned on its head.  As Ezekiel's 'motivational' over-confidence was but a vehicle to show us how delusional he was....

And yet he smiled... but not for long. the smashed piggy bank revealing car keys, the Walkers getting trapped in the traps while sight-impaired Gabriel stepped over them, the bullet that somehow hit the Walker, not Dr C, were but lucky coincidences, and Gabriel's belief that God was delivering them to safety was nothing but optimistic, blind faith.  A moment later they were back in the Saviours' truck, and Dr C was dead.  

Gabriel was delivered to Eugene's workshop, where Eugene explained to Negan how, if he couldn't make enough bullets, they could kill their enemies by catapulting pieces of Walker over the walls of Hilltop ~ what, in the lame hope that some Walker innards will seep into their ears and up their nostrils?  Not sure how this is going to work; if I remember rightly, the Saviours used to eat the Kingdom's Walker-fed wild pigs, and nothing happened to them.  

Lucille has a good forage

I do love a dangerous journey, and Daryl and Rosita leading the Alexandrians through swamps filled with alligator-style Walkers ticked the right boxes.  Along with Tara (who has always got on my nerves but more so right now), the original Alexandrians (Tobin, Scott, Kent etc) are sure that Dwight is leading them into a trap, but Daryl and Rosita can see the bigger picture ~ and something tells me that Daryl doesn't want to kill him anymore.  Everything he did was for Sherry, Dwight says ~ and Sherry is, we are reminded, still out there, so I assume she will pop up just when she is needed, sooner rather than later!

Dwight gives himself up to lead the band of Saviours away.  He's fast becoming the hero of the hour - and I bet I was not the only one to find myself on his side rather than Tara's. 

Back at the Hilltop, Carol, Morgan and Henry sit on a log looking at the nasty Saviours, and Carol wonders if she feels so fond of Henry because he is actually Sophia's brother (Macsen and Madison Lintz).  Maggie presses her hand to her stomach and wonders when it's going to stop being totally flat, given that she must be into her fifth month by now ~ I'm guessing that Dr Siddiq will eventually save Glenn Jnr's life, so that we can forgive him for (indirectly) causing Carl's death. 

The Lintz siblings

But Maggie is no soft touch, and makes the decision to starve foolish Gregory and the captive Saviours, along with Alden the Most Slimy.

 Slimy Alden

The food situation is not too desperate because Jesus is out scavenging ~ maybe he will find a way of getting that supplies-filled truck out of the lake.... you know, the one that he and Daryl managed to let slip in S6:10 The Next World, when they were having their 'my dick's bigger than yours' tussle.

And so our gang finally get to the Hilltop, Daryl having remembered to take Judith from Tobin/Barbara first, to make the heartstring-tugging entrance we girls want. 

It's never not a good time to include this....

But although Carol springs forward to see her favourite man again (with you there, Cazza), it's not one of those wonderful TWD reunions we love so much, for we see Daryl mouth one word: Carl.  Poor Enid ~ her despair and tears were so real that my eyes watered too.  To those who say the show is not as good as it used to be, I'd ask you to compare that scene to Beth's ludicrous attempts at crying. 

I got to like Beth eventually, but her crying was baaa-aaad!

What next?  Will Sherry turn up with beer and pretzels just in time?  What's Simon going to cock up next?  Where is Ezekiel (I can't actually remember)?  Will Gabriel lose his faith?  What will happen when Negan finds out about The Kingdom?  Will Aaron arrive at the nick of time with Oceanside?  Will Jadis get to use the Super-Mega-Zombie-Masher again?

I hope all this, and more, will be answered next week!

Sunday, 11 March 2018

The Good and the Bad of Fifty-Something

When I reached my 5oth birthday, in the summer of 2009, I scarcely noticed it.  I was working at a job I didn't actively hate, I had a nice house in which I'd lived alone for the past year, a jolly social life, I was in a happy new relationship and felt as fit and lively as I had throughout my forties, even though the menopause was already standing at the end of the road, waving hello.  I spent my 50th birthday getting plastered on Cromer pier with several of those close to me.  Being 50 wasn't an issue.  I thought I'd just carry on carrying on.  It never occurred to me how different I was about to feel.

Age 49, in Cromer (where I used to live) with my friend Sharon

The change came when I got to 51.  The menopause had taken up residence and brought along its pals Hot Flush and Unreliable Moods.  My body decided to add a dress size.  My dodgy knees developed arthritis.  I'd never noticed I had these things called jowls, but I knew all about them when they began to sag.  Despite the happiness of the rest of my life, I kept feeling depressed and flat.  My sister, who is two years and four months older than me, told me that all this passes, as soon as the menopause packs its bags.  I couldn't imagine how this could be.  Surely, if I felt like this at 52, the only way was down?

But she was right.

 I do!!!! (in the bath)

Sometime around the age of 54, I realised that I'd accepted this new stage of my life, and no longer mourned what was before.  Which is just as well, because there's bugger all I can do about it.  Of course I have the odd regret or two, everyone does, and moments of nostalgia (perhaps more for the simpler, pre-internet days than anything else), but I'm glad I've done a lot of stuff and known a lot of people; if nothing else, it's all material for novels!  My mother often used to say 'youth is wasted on the young'.  Like most things older people say, I didn't understand it until I was old myself.  It's true, though.  If only I'd had the head I have now, I wouldn't have made so many dumb mistakes.  I wonder if part of this is simply being past the menopause; my moods/choices are no longer affected by my hormones.  

I didn't want this post to be all about superficial stuff, ie physical appearance, but then I thought, what the hell ~ most women talk, think and care about how they look.  So here it is: I think you have to accept that 'gorgeous' is no longer an option, and the sooner you do, the happier you'll be.  I've always felt sorry for the film stars who have all sorts of scary work done to their faces in an effort to keep themselves looking 30.  It never works.  Plastic surgery, botox, whatever, it doesn't make you look younger.  It just makes you look weird.  I am 58.  I have spidery liney bits around my mouth, the-jowls-that-sag, crows feet, a couple of lines around my neck, and a totally white hairline.  My youth has passed.  I can't bring it back; none of us can.  No matter how much money you have, you can't hold back time. 

Madonna, almost exactly one year older than me.  Even the lines round her eyes look lifted, and she's got that 'pillow face' look that fillers give you.

The good, bad and ugly of being 50+:
  • Good: In that I expect to be with my husband until one of us kicks the bucket, I am so glad that the ups and downs of my previously 'colourful' (euphemism for chaotic) love life are now over.  Now, I don't know how I had the emotional energy.
  • Good: I mind less what people think of me.
  • Bad: I have aches and pains that weren't there 10 years ago, and less energy.
  • Good: I've slowed down, and like being on my own more and more. 
  • Bad: There's stuff I didn't do that I am not able to do now, like travel and studying all the subjects that I find so fascinating.  There simply aren't enough years left.
  • Good/Ugly: That added dress size ~ mostly, I don't really care.  I just dress accordingly.  When I was younger I'd have been fretting, and loathing the sight of myself in the mirror.  
  • Good: I've stopped worrying about a load of stuff that doesn't matter, and feel more relaxed, generally. 
  • Bad: I have had to stop smoking, because it would be just crazy to have carried on.  I loved smoking.  I still have the occasional one, but it's very rare, because I'm now at the age when I have to take serious care of my health if I want to have a chance of living for as many more years as I can.  Yes, I now have to think about all that boring stuff like high blood pressure, blood sugar levels and cholesterol; that alone is hard enough to control.
  • Good: Experience has taught me how to deal with and understand the processes of grief, loss, rejection, bad days, anxiety, etc etc.
  • Bad/Ugly: I have to take about 30 photos before I find one or two I can use for social media/guest blog posts without thinking 'Jesus H Christ' every time I see them. And no, I will never photoshop them, because that's just nuts.
  • Good: I'm glad I had my youth before the women's liberation backlash; I feel saddened by the way in which so many young girls dress like hookers and feel under pressure to look and be sexually available.  But perhaps that is another blog post.

I took this one to show a friend my white hairline!!!  Thanks goodness for hairdressers 😃

Stuff to bear in mind if you're going through the 50-something depression:
  • It won't last forever.
  • The key to being happier when you're older (and I'm talking seeing 60 on the horizon now, not just perky, youthful 50!) is accepting it and learning to enjoy this new phase of your life.  And only not doing stuff if it doesn't feel right, not because you think you're 'too old' to do it.  The phrase 'too old' is different for everyone.  For instance, I am too old to wear leopard print leggings/go to noisy pubs.  I am not too old to *** insert something you not too old to do/be in comments, if you wish!***
  • The menopause is a normal part of a woman's life, not an illness.  Ideally, all the bleak times in our lives (bereavement, heartbreak, etc) are easier to cope with in the long run if you face and accept them, work through them, instead of masking them with chemicals.  But this is only 'ideally'; of course I understand why some people choose HRT or feel they need anti-depressants for a while; many of us choose the pills route at some point in our lives. I used Prozac to help me deal with PMT for a few years, and it worked, but I think the key is not to let it go on for too long.
  • Skin care works, and makes you feel nice.  My skin is not too bad for my age, and I am sure this is partly due to slavishly slapping on the moisturiser and Tropics Organic Elixir.  It doesn't have to be expensive; I use E45 during the day because my skin is so dry that it needs moisturising every few hours, and I can't afford to spend £60 a fortnight on face cream!
  •  Long baths filled with nice smells, walks in beautiful places, reading good books and watching escapist stuff on telly make you feel good, too (and it is a sure sign of old age to think of 'a nice bath' as something of a treat, but there you go!).
  • My mother told me that the happiest part of her marriage to my father was when they were in their 60s and 70s.  And I am actually happier now than I have ever been.
  • We are so lucky to be at this age, at this point in history, generally.  Even 50 years ago, women of our age were thought of as irrelevant by so many people.  Now, though, it is generally accepted that this is but another stage of life, and can bring with it new discoveries, new experiences and a different sort of happiness.

Other 50-something stuff you might like to read:

Are you in danger of becoming an old fogey? by Sally Cronin

Not Invisible by Tracey Scott Townsend

Tamara Goriely on Tom Willams' blog:
Older women and sport: yet another gender gap

Loving The Fifty Something blog 
Sam Smith on Twitter


Thursday, 8 March 2018

Coming Soon: UK2, the final part of the #postapocalyptic Project Renova trilogy


The final part of the Project Renova trilogy 
will be out soon! 

'Two decades of social media had prepared them well for UK2.' 

The pace steps up in this final instalment of the Project Renova trilogy, as the survivors' way of life comes under threat.

Two years after the viral outbreak, representatives from UK Central arrive at Lindisfarne to tell the islanders about the shiny new city being created down south.  Uk2 governor Verlander's plan is simple: all independent communities are to be dissolved, their inhabitants to reside in approved colonies.  Alas, those who relocate soon suspect that the promises of a bright tomorrow are nothing but smoke and mirrors, as great opportunities turn into broken dreams, and dangerous journeys provide the only hope of freedom.

Meanwhile, far away in the southern hemisphere, a new terror is gathering momentum...

'I walked through that grey afternoon, past fields that nobody had tended for nearly three years, past broken down, rusty old vehicles, buildings with smashed windows.  I was walking alone at the end of the world, but I was a happy man.  I was free, at last.'


Please note: although this is the promised end of the trilogy, I haven't finished with all these characters and this world yet.  There will be more!  

The other books in the Project Renova series have 85 x 5* reviews across the series, on Amazon UK (others on Goodreads).

Tipping Point: Book #1 on Amazon HERE

It's summer 2024, and everyone is signing up for Private Life, the great new social media site.  Meanwhile, news reports tell of a strange new virus on a quiet death march across the African continent.  A countrywide vaccination programme is introduced ~ but who will be the first to receive the vaccine?

When the first UK case is reported in the quiet Norfolk seaside town of Shipden, no one realises that it heralds the beginning of the end.

Lindisfarne:  Book #2 on Amazon HERE

Survivors find a safe haven on the Northumbrian tidal island, but soon discover that lack of food is not their only problem, as they come to terms with the reality of a lawless society.

Patient Zero, stand alone short stories from the series, on Amazon HERE.

Monday, 5 March 2018

Review: #TheWalkingDead S8:10 THE LOST AND THE PLUNDERERS #TWD #TWDFamily

Review of Epsiode 9: HONOR

What a terrific episode!  Definitely one of the best this season; I loved the format with the named sections.  Great idea, hope they do this again.

The handprints discovered by Michonne as she packed to leave
Michonne's pre-titles part was so, so sad, as she and Rick packed up (not forgetting the orange backpack) and said goodbye to Alexandria, looking back at the Walkers roaming through the roads of burnt out buildings, where once kids walked dogs, Deanna planned expansions and Rick punched Pete's lights out, in front of half the community.  Even more sad than Hershel looking back at his lost farm...

Carl's grave
Michonne tried to save the gazebo from burning because Carl used to sit on the roof, apparently, though for me it had a sadder memory: when Noah met Reg Munroe over oatmeal to discuss architecture in S5:14 Spend, little knowing that he would get eaten by the Dead in a revolving door later that day, and Reg was soon to get his throat slashed by the aforementioned Pete.

'This is the beginning...'

But back to the present ~ how much do you love that Negan doesn't know that 'perpetually-pissed-off' Gavin and his gang are all dead?  A group has already been sent out to see what's afoot at the Kingdom.  So good to see the main man out of the loop for once, and with only the arrival of Maggie's '38 more' boxed gift giving a hint that his army might be failing.  I suspect that the newly rebellious Simon is soon for the chop, or certainly will be when Negan discovers that he offed the Scavengers rather than implementing standard measures.  Talking of which....

Simon shows Jadis and Tamiel who's boss

The Walker Scavengers about to fall into the Super-Mega-Zombie Masher

... I have never liked or been that interested in that particular group, but I so enjoyed seeing the 'real' Jadis and finding out what she was before, why she was there, etc.  Yeah, it wouldn't have hurt Rick to take her with him, but you can see why he didn't.  Maybe he might have done if he'd known about her Super-Mega-Zombie Masher ~ let's hope Negan doesn't discover it first, as I am sure it must have another part to play, it's too good a bit of kit to only show once.  Wasn't there something a bit pathetic about Simon still talking the talk to Jadis and her crew?  Even though he killed them all, you got the feeling it was a last, desperate show of strength.

Jadis alone

Meanwhile, Aaron and Enid are still with that other not-very-interesting group, Oceanside, knowing nothing of the latest events back home.  I had to smile; once again the lovely Aaron tried to discuss matters in a reasonable, middle class and intelligent fashion, only to discover himself chained up and threatened, just like in S5:11 The Distance, when Rick wouldn't listen to him, either.  I note that Saviour-in-Waiting Rachel was eager to kill both him and Enid; I'm sure Negan can make use of her. 

'Why won't Cindy listen to my perfectly reasonable proposal?'
'Um, Aaron, I killed her grandmother.'

And so Rick and Negan talk.  Yes, the latter did seem truly sorry about Carl, but we must not be swayed ~ if ever you think he's starting to seem more human, remember how he smiled and made jokes when he killed Abraham and Glenn.

...and ditto when he killed Spencer!

I think Andrew Lincoln has excelled himself since Carl's death.  The despair on his face is so convincing.  I wonder when we're going to get to hear the contents of all Carl's letters? 

Incidentally (for TWD obsessives only!), I love that thing they did in this  ~ showing a scene, i.e., Rick and Michonne turning up at the junkyard to find no one but undead Scavengers, and Rick stepping in the blue paint, then turning back the clock to show how it all came to be.  They did this in S4:10 Inmates, when Daryl and Beth are making their way through the woods after the fall of the prison, and find lots of clues as to what might have occurred along their path before.  We're then taken back a few hours to show how Tyreese, Lizzie and Mica trod on the grapes, left fresh blood on foliage, saw a guy get bitten, etc.

Such a good episode ~ I felt we're getting near to some resolution at last, and hopefully on to the next phase in Rick and co's lives; maybe even the odd happy day when things start to work out, before the next foe appears?

After the credits I watched the excerpts for next week, which looks like an absolute belter - Daryl, Rosita, Dwight and co on the road to the Hilltop, with dangerous Walker-filled watery crossings, Tara pointing a gun at Dwight (my guess is that she won't do it just yet), a feverish Gabriel and Dr Carson on their own journey, Maggie starving her prisoners, Enid crying (why?) and Eugene making a bullet ~ who for?  I really don't like to wish away my days, but...!