Elton John – Revamp

 

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After a *clears throat* couple glasses of wine with my boss after work one night, the subject of music came up. We were discussing the fact that we have quite eclectic playlists on our Spotify accounts and so she suggested that I listen to Elton John’s new album Revamp.

I gave it a listen…and I’ve not stopped listening to it a week later.

It is an album full of very big names, singing Elton Johns’ very big hits. Trust me when I tell you that it does NOT disappoint. The whole album is simply a beautiful piece of art, with the likes of Ed Sheeran singing Candle in the Wind to P!nk singing Bennie and the Jets.  

It’s extremely rare for me to listen to a whole album and even rarer for me to have a whole one downloaded in my Spotify, I’m one of those despicable people who has just the one massive playlist with a few songs from a million artists in it, I know, I know I need to organise it, BUT I now have this album in its entirety to enjoy.

There are two songs on this  album that stick out for me, I could listen to them over and over again…which I do in fact, Lady Gaga’s version of Your Song and Miley Cyrus’ version of Dont Let The Sun Go Down On Me. Both are just incredibly beautiful! This actually took me by surprise as I am by no measure of the word a fanatic of either artist, but their voices in this album just encapsulated me completely.

 

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Hello from the Magic Tavern!

Hello From The Magic Tavern is a podcast hosted by Arnie Niekamp in the Vermilion Minotaur in the magical land of Foon…not familiar with Foon? Oh well to get there you just have to go through a magical portal behind a Burger King in Chicago, that’s what Arnie did a little over two years ago and since then he has been uploading a weekly podcast with the help of his friends Chunt the talking, shape-shifting Badger (he turns into any animal he has sex with), and Usidore the blue wizard or to give him his full name *clears throat* Usidore, Wizard of the 12th Realm of Ephysiyies, Master of Light and Shadow, Manipulator of Magical Delights, Devourer of Chaos, Champion of the Great Halls of Terr’akkas. The elves know him as Fi’ang Yalok. The dwarfs know him as Zoenen Hoogstandjes. And he is also known in the Northeast as Gaismunēnas Meistar, and there are other secret names with such power that if you were to utter them aloud the very ground shall open up and swallow you whole! … its quite a mouthful.

This podcast is honestly the reason no one sits next to me on the London underground, it has turned me into the strange man that is constantly chuckling to himself, but you know what? I’m okay with that. Every week Arnie, Chunt and Usidore host a guest varying from a foul mouthed talking flower, to an evil minion of the Dark Lord. Each guest comes on the show to be interviewed about their usually bizarre and fantastical life.

I feel like the reason this podcast works so well is because it is completely improvised on the spot, no scripts, no prompts, just a handful of funny people sitting down and creating this vast, magical and nonsensical world around them. I have been listening to this series for almost 2 years now on and off, and still find it genius, it is actually the only podcast I am subscribed to!

The fact that Arnie and his companions don’t take this too seriously makes for a more enjoyable experience because, yes the “plot” lines are vague and ridiculous at the best of times…but they know that, they comment on that and poke fun at themselves constantly, tiptoeing over the 4th wall to include us in some hilarious moments. The fact that this whole series is improvised means that if one person says something then the rest of the cast need to take the new information on board and add it to their accounts of the world around them, a seriously impressive and entertaining process to watch develop and expand over the duration of the two seasons.

I would 100% recommend this however I say that knowing that this is not going to be for everyone, if you enjoy adult humor within a fantasy land of talking animals and impossible creatures, all coming together to share a mead at the tavern to talk nonsense, then this is perfect for you! A little niche perhaps, but where else can you get a flower shouting abuse at a wizard?

Have you listened to this podcast? Is it something that sounds like it could appeal to you? Let me know in the comments!

A Clockwork Orange by Anthony Burgess

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A Clockwork Orange is a novel by Anthony Burgess first published in 1962, the main protagonist is a little shit called Alex who basically likes to go round smashing peoples faces in with a few of his “droogs” (that’s scumbag mates for you and me), he is eventually caught and sent to prison where an experimental correction treatment is forced upon him, brainwashing him in a way so that when a bad or negative thought springs to mind, Alex feels incredibly sick and begins to hurt all over…

This is set in a dystopian version of Britain where the youth are “ultra-violent” and are terrorising neighbourhoods (could you possibly imagine it!?…) prisons are at breaking point from the strain of inmates and so a radical solution is needed.

The main themes of this novel are incredibly relevant today still, making us question social behaviours and our own moralities, I’ll come back to this in a moment.

I really enjoyed being introduced into this dystopian world as it isn’t too hard to believe that it could exist, a huge selling point for me was the use of language within this novel, the youth have developed a language of their own in this world, can you Adam and Eve it? At first it is a little difficult to follow along with what Alex is saying as he narrates this novel, but just stick with it! Because by the second chapter you will be well down with the kidz, know what I’m sayin bruv? … I’ll stop now I promise.

Alex is forced to participate in a new treatment that purges you of all bad thoughts, using hypnotism and shock therapy so that every time Alex has a bad, violent or sexual thought, he experiences horrible pains and feels incredibly sick. This raises questions about morality such as, is a man truly good, if he has no free will to be anything else? it’s a really interesting thought that has stuck with me weeks after finishing this book.

I’m sorry if I am about to spoil this for anyone who has not read the book yet but I was a little disappointed with the ending of A Clockwork Orange, I felt like there was such a well-paced and exciting build up to where Alex now has no control over his own body or thoughts…to him then being cured after a short stint in hospital. I really wanted to see Alex explore this world with this new condition, to see how he has to adapt to not trigger any of his symptoms, we see a bit of this, true, but I was left wanting more before he was miraculously cured.

A Clockwork Orange really is fantastic, I have owned the book for a while and had always had the book guilt of not yet reading this classic or seeing the Stanley Kubrick adaptation on the big screen…but I am so glad I took the plunge and picked it up. It is a story that sticks with you and impacts the way you think for a long time after you put the book down. There are some seriously funny moments and a few outrageous and gruesome ones…so what’s not to love?


I’d love to hear your thoughts on this novel, have you read it? What did you make of it? Is it a book that could interest you into picking up a copy?

Strange Practice by Vivian Shaw

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There are a lot of mixed reviews for this book out there, happily though I had not read any of them beforehand, I hadn’t even heard of this book, the cover alone just jumped out at me while I was on my lunch break on a snowy afternoon, just look at how amazingly gothic it looks!

Dr. Greta Helsing, is a medical practitioner for the secret supernatural community that reside throughout London. She and a few undead pals team together to take on a crazed and murderous cult group dressed in monk robes.

The monks were interesting antagonists with layers that we got to explore within the narrative, the crazed monks burn away their sins leaving them horribly scarred, I imagined them looking a bit like unmasked Deadpools, you know? Like a lone ballbag swinging in the wind? Horrible to imagine and even worse knowing that these monks may not be entirely human…

Greta herself as a character I felt was lacking a little bit of depth, which is a real shame as I thought the premise was set up so we could have a really deep and complex main character, for example when we begin to discover the reason Greta dedicates so much of her life to healing the monstrous, the reason she states is because it’s what her dad did and that there’s no one else who can do it…except for her two medical friends and another supernatural GP up the road from Greta’s practice… okay, I may be focusing on this point a little too much but bare with me, for a large portion of this book Greta was extremely worried about not being able to help her patients, It’s even said later on in the book that Greta should not be put in dangers way because she is irreplaceable, yet when we go back to the surgery Greta’s colleagues seemed to have managed just fine without her and no patient was left unattended, I just didn’t feel like there was much jeopardy with this area of the story.

Oh well, this is but a small critique to what is otherwise a bloody good read, the book gripped me from the start and I really fell in love with some of the characters such as Fass and Ruthven, and I am so hoping to delve more into their backgrounds in the second novel due to be released later this year. Honestly, please go out and read this book, I found myself watching the clock at work waiting for the commute journey home so I could find out what was going to happen next.

I really loved the pacing of this story, it had me flicking through the pages as if someone was going to take the book away from me, I couldn’t get enough of it. There were no ‘boring’ bits where the action seemed to dry out, it goes from 0 to 100 in chapter 1 and keeps you thrilled throughout.

The world that this book introduced to me is one I want to go exploring head first, I would like to see more of the hidden supernatural world that we caught glimpses of in this introduction and I want to feel as though the next time I’m walking past St.Paul’s I may catch a glimpse of a Ghoul wearing rat hides lurking in the shadows… a phenomenal debut novel from Vivian Shaw and a marvellously monstrous series to come i’m sure!

Drive Through Reviews

Is there anything more exciting than finding that new series on Netflix that is so good that you can’t help but binge the whole lot in a matter of days, coming out of your cave a slightly disgruntled yet freshly mind-blown zombie? Or finding that book that has you looking like a nutter on the tube due to the fact that you are crying with laughter…maybe even just crying. Or walking out of the cinema, wide eyed and unable to put into words the experience of watching your hero thwart the douchbag baddies (douchbagdies?) Well this is where I humbly try to articulate those findings and experiences, reviewing my newest obsessions and finds, or geeking out over the latest news within film, TV and books.

This is Drive Through Review, a place where I will try and turn my brain farts into something (hopefully) entertaining for others to read and most probably disagree with!