Alien: Covenant and some thoughts about bugs

So today I went to an afternoon screening of Alien: Covenant in a big-screen cinema with fuck-all people in it. As you can probably tell, below.

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Not pictured: cap-wearing jerk who sat in front, just before it all got started.

I have long been a fan of the Alien franchise, largely because the first two movies are practically untouchable. The first (and best, let’s face it) is a peculiarly English thing, despite its cast: it’s almost a locked-room film, a And Then There Were None-style elimination game. It’s claustrophobic and sweaty, Das Boot in space, and its reliance on biomechanical similarity – the creature is kind of like things you know, but not really – is deeply fucking creepy. There’s something about the first that gives you bone-deep chills. Is it because it’s a big ole filmic rapefest? Is it because everyone is weak and at the mercy of uncaring fate? Is it because of a feeling of entrampment, of isolation? Take your pick, but it sticks in the mind. (more…)

Zeus, you’re a dick: finishing with God of War

Over the past couple of weeks I’ve been playing my way – maybe finally – through the God of War series. And it can be distilled down to this: as Kratos, you slash your way through thousands of monsters and people because you’re angry because you’re sad. 

Granted, having your wife and child killed – well, actually killing them yourself, to be more correct – is a bit of a bummer. But to foster that big a killing spree? That’s some next-level grudge-holding work there, guy. I certainly couldn’t manage it in person, and sometimes during my playthrough of the six games, I wondered if I’d manage it in by proxy.

kratos_face_zeus

I HATE YOU ALL.

But I did, and I’m kind of glad, because I don’t know that I’d be able to have a run through them all. The backlog is too large, and there’s only so much time one man can spare for a bald, angry Spartan. (more…)

Goodreads review: The Commandant

The CommandantThe Commandant by Jessica Anderson
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Jessica Anderson is someone who I’ve always meant to read more of but hadn’t managed to. Tirra Lirra By The River was loosely covered in my Eng Lit degree, and didn’t make much of an impression (probably because of my youthful inattention, frankly) but The Commandant, it turns out, is exceptional.

It’s one of the titles reissued in Text Publishing’s yellow-covered series of classics, and from the introduction I can see how the work might have been considered a bodice-ripper when it came out. Though – the off-screen appearance of shagging, if any, aside – it’s a disservice to call it such. It’s a meditation on early Australian history, as well as a forerunner of other such historical fiction as Peter Carey’s Oscar and Lucinda. It sits well with Patrick White’s Voss inasmuch as it takes history for its basis, and then adds to it, using invention as the magnifying glass for fact. (more…)

Goodreads review: Junji Ito’s Cat Diary: Yon & Mu

Junji Ito's Cat Diary: Yon & MuJunji Ito’s Cat Diary: Yon & Mu by Junji Ito
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

If there’s anything the manga-reading public can agree on, it’s that Junji Ito is one fucked-up dude. He’s a writer of horror manga, and is probably most famous for Uzumaki, a spiral-obsessed mind-fuck of popped eyeballs and extreme scoliosis. (I reviewed its three volumes here, here and here, if you’re still unsure about his oddity.)

His work is normally known for extreme violence and inventive ick and squick, so when I found out he’d written a series about cats – yep, cats – I figured I had to give it a go. (more…)

Goodreads review: Post Everything: Outsider Rock and Roll

Post Everything: Outsider Rock and RollPost Everything: Outsider Rock and Roll by Luke Haines
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

You know, there’s a lot of room in my life for books in which the creator of one of the best Britpop-umbrella bands details the life-and-death of his next project, writes a music featuring a Lord Lucan cameo, filches cash from a label even as they are dumping him, is told how to make decent scrambled eggs (low heat, folks, low heat) by a perhaps-imagined drug-addict cat, and receives album advice from dead rappers.

(Even though he’d hate the fucking Britpop bit.)

This is that book. (more…)

The Fuzz: 100 Demons (2005)

This is an older review, rescued from the internet ether. I wrote it for a site I was involved with at the time, and I’m prompted to put it online as I’ve just listened to the band’s album and it still holds up OK if you’re keen on the whole garage-rock kinda thing. Excuse the writing: a lot has changed in 12 years – including lead singer Abbe May, who’s now out of the garage and into the spotlight. 

d74a214_4563After two well-received EPs, Perth quintet The Fuzz has upped the volume (and the dirt level) with their debut album, 100 Demons. What results is an album that’s got the sound of hunger nailed. With young bands, this keenness, this eagerness to rock isn’t unusual, but what marks this bunch of noiseniks out is the strength of vocalist Abbe May’s cords. They’re phenomenal, and bring to mind some kind of scientific experiment wherein Bon Scott and Adalita from Magic Dirt are somehow combined to create the Ultimate Rock Throat.

She’s that good. (more…)

Goodreads review: The Book: On the Taboo Against Knowing Who You Are

The Book: On the Taboo Against Knowing Who You AreThe Book: On the Taboo Against Knowing Who You Are by Alan W. Watts
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Alan Watts died in 1974, but he seems to be much more popular today than ever he was while alive. This book, The Book, was written on a Sausalito houseboat, and has been on my to-read list since I heard about it on a discussion forum years ago. I feel it might have been of more import to me had I read it when I was younger – it’s certainly a counterpoint to the “you’re all special!” mindset imparted by school – but I still found it quietly reassuring today.

(more…)

Goodreads review: Revival

Revival Revival by Stephen King
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

So, I’m back on the King train. I’d fallen off it when I was in my early 20s – I feel his readership is probably most vehement about keeping up in its teens, as I was – and it had been years. I read From A Buick 8 some time ago and really enjoyed it. Since then, though, there’s been thirteen-odd books – four (including one out later this year) since the time Revival was written.

It’s hard to keep up, is what I’m saying. Also, I’m not sure I’d pick Revival as the book to jump back in on. (more…)

Goodreads review: The Complete Phonogram

The Complete PhonogramThe Complete Phonogram by Kieron Gillen
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Oi. Do you like Britpop? Did you like Britpop? Are you familiar with the psychogeographical pitches resonating through the shitholes of Camden? Did you have a dog in the Blur/Oasis fight? Were you mad for it? Did you think Luke Haines was more arch (and better, let’s face it) than Brett Anderson?

Oh, and do you like magic(k)?

If the answer to any of those was affirmative, you’re gonna love this book. And I mean love. (more…)