Alive And Twitching

Lindsay and Jenny Nicholson (aka "Skylarky" and "ProGamerJenny") streaming on Twitch (3/20)As Covid-19 plays merry hell with our world, more and more countries are urging their citizens to remain isolated indoors, thereby creating a growing need for fresh “home entertainment”. To help fill that gap (and fight their own fears/boredom, presumably) a number of my fave YouTubers have started streaming game-play videos on a site called “Twitch”*. Technically, Jenny Nicholson launched her channel (ProGamerJenny) last year with the help of her visiting older sister Lindsay (aka “Skylarky“), but only managed a couple streams before her sibling left town and the set-up broke-down, bringing a swift end to her dreams of big-money sponsorship deals. Now they’re both quarantined together and streaming as a duo, with Lindsay also continuing her own separate, long-established channel using Jenny’s equipment.

Meanwhile, Bailey Meyers (aka “bailienvspredator“) has just switched to Twitch, after posting a couple Pokemon videos on YouTube back in the day, and is currently winning her way through Rollercoaster Tycoon (accompanied by a playlist of “good jamz”). All three streamers make for great company, and have deliberately chosen casual, low-adrenaline games which leave them plenty of  time/attention to charm/chat with viewers. Bless.

* Meanwhile, several high-paid late night TV hosts have become homebound YouTubers, with, uh, fairly “mixed” results… Seth Meyers (no relation) either needs to hire Ryan George as a consultant, or just sub the monologues out to him for the immediate future. Seriously, dude gets paid $3 million a year, and he can’t be bothered to buy a decent unidirectional microphone, or at least wait for his neighbour to stop mowing their lawn before he records!? Samantha Bee, on the other hand, is still killing it out in the woods… and I actually think I prefer John Oliver‘s show without a studio audience, but it’s probably not as much fun for him…?

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#Ad (Infinitum)

Melissa Bonny in the promo video for Ad Infinitum's “Marching on Versailles”Melissa Bonny, the lead-singer/founder of up-and-coming symphonic-metal band Ad Infinitum, posted an Instagram video t’other day kindly asking fans of her new band (Ad Infinitum) to spread the word about them (Ad Infinitum) far and wide, in order to attract new listeners, and encourage venues to book them (Ad Infinitum) for tour-dates, so… uh… yeah, I thought I’d do my part to verify that Ad Infinitum do exist and are very good, even if Wikipedia remains oblivious to their (Ad Infinitum’s) existence. And Bonny’s too, weirdly, despite her having fronted at least two other groups over the last ten years (Rage of Light and Evenmore), with plenty professionally recorded/released records on her resume.

I’m notoriously bad at describing music to people, but Ad Infinitum’s last two videos (“See You in Hell” and “Marching on Versailles”) made me start to think of Bonny as a “Disney-Princess-of-Darkness”, with her super-cute face, classical voice, bombastic tunes, melodramatic emoting, and old-timey dresses… er, but you’re probably better off clicking the links and judging for yourself! Just be sure to hop on the Ad Infinitum wagon before their debut album (Chapter I: Monarchy) drops on April 3rd. [Insert “Easter Bonny” pun here]

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“You Should Be Ashamed Of Yourself!”

Miriam Margolyes as ‘Queen Victoria’ in “The Windsors” (ep #3.1)Huzzah! The Windsors is/are back for a third series on Ch4, while (for better or worse) the real-life royals are providing the writers with plenty of fresh material for absurd/satirical japery! Thankfully Meghan-and-Harry’s recent domination of the headlines means that Kathryn Drysdale is assured a decent share of the screentime… though I must confess, I’m still “stanning” hardest on ‘Eugenie’ (Celeste Dring) and ‘Beatrice’ (Ellie White), and will never tire of seeing/hearing them sadistically torturing vowels to death, while pursuing their wacky stay-rich-quick schemes. Oh, and last week’s opening episode even boasted a cameo by Miriam Margolyes as the ghost of ‘Queen Victoria’, which was a very pleasant bonus. On the downside, Morgana Robinson (‘Pippa’) was missing-in-action, and ‘Meghan’ didn’t say “S’yoots”, but you can’t have everything, can you?

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A Voodoo To-do…

Vodun circa 2/20Vodun, the UK’s foremost Afro-Metal-Soul-Psych band, are serving up a shedload of shiny newness for 2020… with an energetic new video for “Rituals” (the penultimate track from their storming Ascend album), featuring their new drummer Lorena Cachito (aka “Sobo”), and a slew of live shows across the country:

February 25th – Nottingham, UK, Alberts
February 27th – Bristol, UK, The Old England
February 29th – London, UK, 10 Years of Chaos Festival, The Dome​
March 1st – Bournemouth, UK, The Anvil
March 6th – Berlin, Germany, TIEF/ Zukunft am Ostkreuz
March 7th – Le Mans, France, Le Mans Tattoo Convention, Centre des Exposition
March 29th – Manchester, UK, Riffoloution Festival, The Bread Shed
April 18th – Leeds, UK, Brudenell Social, Strange Forms Festival

Meanwhile, they’re getting some great press, with Bandcamp declaring lead-singer Chantal Brown (aka “Oya”) one of “Metal’s Most Powerful (Comprehensible) Vocalists”, and Classic Rock Magazine featuring “Rituals” in their “Tracks of the Week” round-up… rightly so, on both counts!

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A Fantabulous Fail?

Margot Robbie as 'Harley Quinn' in “Birds of Prey (and the Fantabulous Emancipation of One Harley Quinn)”There’s been a lot of news stories lately about the relatively lacklustre box-office performance of the new DC movie (formerly) known as “Birds of Prey (and the Fantabulous Emancipation of One Harley Quinn)”, as well as a fascinating Deadline article examining various potential causes contributing to its belly-flop, so I felt moved to bash out a blog-post explaining my own apathy towards it, despite being a HQ-fan from way-back (with the T-shirts, wallet, beanie, keyring, and toys to prove it!)…

I guess the first turn-off came many months ago, when I was randomly searching for a HQ hoodie, and saw one on eBay that simply had the words “Birds of Prey” printed on it, followed by that dumbass subtitle in much smaller lettering. The main logo looked pretty cool, using the silhouettes of various weapons to separate the letters, but it confused/worried me because the only connection my brain could make between Harley and the eponymous vigilante group was that godawful TV show from 2002, where she appeared (in name only) as their nemesis. So, not a happy association at all. Shudder. This confusion was deepened by the reviews I read (and videos I watched) suggesting that the story was really more of a HQ solo outing, with the Birds as her tagalong side-chicks (despite one of them being a powered-up superhuman!)… so why give them so much prominence in the title, when they’re even less familiar to a general TV/movie-viewing audience than she is? The marketing was a muddle, frankly, and it didn’t inspire any real confidence in the production itself. Now, just days after its release, the studio has belatedly changed the title to promote Harley’s name ahead of the Birds, but surely someone should have thought of that before all the posters (and merchandise) were printed up!?

Margot Robbie as 'Harley Quinn' in “Birds of Prey (and the Fantabulous Emancipation of One Harley Quinn)”The second strike against it, of course, was the rotten aftertaste left by the largely-laugh-free Suicide Squad… even though this semi-sequel has a totally different creative team behind it, and a higher age-rating, there was nothing in the first trailer (released 10/19) to dispel the pessimistic assumption that it would be much-of-a-meh-ness (they didn’t even take the opportunity to scrub those stupid scribble-pad tattoos off!). To be fair, the second trailer (released 1/20) had a lot more jokes in it, but I only saw that yesterday as “research” for this post… and Margot Robbie‘s HQ still kinda gives off an overbearing cool-person-trying-to-be-“kooky” vibe to me, rather than the adorably unhinged underdog I was rooting for back in the Animated Series days. Personally, I’d rather see them cast a comic actress with a more intense/off-kilter energy, like Jenny Slate, Kristen Schaal, or Kate McKinnon… or even let Gotham’s Francesca Root-Dodson have a shot at the big-time!*

Obviously I’ll end up watching this eventually, because I’m a geek (and a masochist)… and I’m sure it will be more bearable than the godawful video-flick Batman and Harley Quinn (starring The Big Bang Theory’s Melissa Rauch) and super-sweary cartoon series (starring The Big Bang Theory’s Kaley Cuoco), both of which I had to turn off after the first 10 minutes-or-so… but for the moment I’m left in that frustrating, conflicted purgatory where I “stan” the original character super-hard**, but am totally unenthused by any of her current headlining gigs. Gah!


* Normally I’d namecheck Aubrey Plaza here too, but if she’s cast as HQ then she can’t play Catwoman as well, and she absolutely has to play Catwoman!

** For that matter, I’ve really enjoyed reading comics featuring the other “Birds” in the past, and think any of them could carry a movie by themselves… though obviously my dream would be a Renee Montoya character-study starring Michelle Rodriguez

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“Taking A Big Swing!”

Aubrey Plaza hosting "The Film Independent Spirit Awards" 2020Obviously Art is subjective, and I’m always lagging behind when it comes to the latest movie releases, so I don’t really take much notice of the fancy award shows anymore… but for the second year in a row the Independent Spirit Awards have demanded my attention by hiring Aubrey Plaza as their host!

This year they also had her appearing in a couple hilarious skits, spoofing The Lighthouse alongside Michael Shannon, channelling Judy Garland as a spirit guide, and performing a glitzy musical number combined with a roasty opening monologue! Of course, she aces every skit in her own wonderfully awkward/aggressive way, putting all the other hosts to shame… assuming there are any…? I wouldn’t know. She’s the only one that matters to me, anyway. They should really get her to front all the award shows… when she isn’t playing every character (male or female) in the MCU/DCUs, that is…

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Barb-ed Eggs

'Queen Barb' in Kinder Egg toy form for Easter (2020)The shops have already started stocking their shelves for Easter, and I was excited to see that Kinder has teamed up with DreamWorks to include a line of (self-assembly) Trolls World Tour toys in their eggs, including a couple figures of Queen Barb herself! Unfortunately you have to buy them “blind”, and I don’t fancy my odds of finding her in amongst all the other characters, who I don’t care about/recognise at all, because I still haven’t gotten around to watching the first flick yet! I’ll probably wait to see what other merchandise comes out when the movie’s actually released in April, rather than rush to buy these off some reseller on eBay… but I’m glad that Barb’s such a prominent part of their promotional campaigns, bless ‘er. If nothing else, she’s helping to educate children about female punk/rock icons, with her character description on the website referencing Blondie, Joan Jett, and Wendy O. Williams!

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