R.I.P. William Goldman (1931-2018)

Cary Elwes as ‘Westley’ and ‘Robin Wright’ as Buttercup in “The Princess Bride”Sad to say, veteran screenwriter William Goldman has passed into the infinite, at age 87. Besides winning shiny awards (and critical plaudits) for Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid (1969) and All the President’s Men (1976), he also won the hearts of Fantasy fans around the world with his endlessly quotable swashbuckling rom-com The Princess Bride (1987)… still the gold-standard by which all other romantic/comedic Fantasy/adventure stories must be measured. By law. To my shame, I haven’t read the original novel from which the film was adapted (by Goldman himself), but it is on my wish-list, and I’ve been keeping an eye-out for it in the shops ever since I started dropping extensive references in a script I’m writing… so maybe now I should stop being such a miser, and just order it online already! Either way, the movie version is a seminal classic… the duels/battles-of-wit between ‘Westley’ (Cary Elwes) and his various adversaries are a masterclass in cunning, wit, and old-timey chivalry… Mandy Patinkin’s impassioned performance as the vengeance-seeking ‘Inigo Montoya’ is one for the ages… and anyone who doesn’t shed a tear during the closing scene between Peter Falk and Fred Savage is a stone-cold monster. Fact.

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Susan Sarandon and Sara Le Roy at the Le Roy Art Gallery, Brighton (11/18)A former shipmate of mine, up-and-coming artist Sara Le Roy, recently opened a gallery in Brighton to showcase her remarkable anaglyph 3D paintings, and she’s already attracted an A-list customer… the actual actress Susan Sarandon, who is in town to shoot a movie, and stopped-by (with a couple crew-members) to buy “a few pieces” from the collection. Hurrah!

In case you’re curious, the Le Roy Art Gallery is situated in central Brighton, at 1 Bond Street Cottages, open Friday to Sunday (10am–6pm)… and it’s well worth a look even when it’s closed, because Sara has painstakingly decorated the exterior with a stunning mural of spooky/psychedelic imagery… though obviously it would be better all around if you waited until it was open, so you could go inside…

Update (12/11/18): Apparently Sarandon returned for a second visit a couple days later, and bought more art, earning Sara a write-up in the local newspaper!

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The Lounge Kittens circa 2017The Lounge Kittens, Britain’s foremost/funnest rock/rap-covers act, launched a PledgeMusic campaign this morning to support the recording/release of a new E.P., and by the time I’d read about it, the totaliser was already up to 56%! I attribute that both to the irresistible launch video they posted, and to the offer of a free download of their awesome “80s & 90s Cartoon Theme Song Medley” for every pledger… on top of the fantastic incentives in their store, ranging from a signed CD to an appearance in one of their official promos! To quote the Kittens: “If you like harmonies, hilarity, in-jokes, silly faces, rock, pop, metal, hip-hop, r&b, grunge, or basically any kind of music then please get involved. Throw some money into the pot and then tell your friends about it too!” Your ears will thank you later…

Update (26/10/18): Wowie! They passed the 100% mark shortly before lunch today, less than 24 hours after launching the campaign! Of course, there’s still a while to go before it closes, and plenty items and experiences left to buy… hint, hint…

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Yui, Adieu

Yui Mizuno (aka “Yuimetal”) circa 2015Suspicions were raised when the video for Babymetal’s new single “Distortion” was released in May without a proper shot of the band members in it, and all but confirmed by her absence from the American and European festival tours, but now it’s been officially announced: Yui Mizuno (aka “Yuimetal”) has split from the group, and is now hoping to pursue a solo career. To be honest, I’ve been a little concerned for her safety ever since learning about her accident during the Live at Budokan: Red Night show, so this news almost came as a relief to me! In theory they could decide to replace her with another graduate of the Sakura Gakuin idol academy that originally launched them, but it seems as though Su-Metal and Moametal are going to soldier on as a two-piece for now (plus the backing band, obvs.) So, best of luck (and health) to all of them, as they walk their separate paths. The new-new single, “Starlight”, sounds pretty awesome… though the video is kinda blah, with some random post-apocalyptic-types screaming in a desert, and no sign of our heroines… unless that’s supposed to be their eyeballs at the very end…?

Meanwhile, I remain perplexed/annoyed by the fact that the band still haven’t released a DVD of their 2016 Live at Wembley gig in the country that actually hosted it! All we got was a live CD, which is nice and all, but, again, they’re such a visual act that it’s hard not to feel a little cheated when the music isn’t accompanied by dazzling/dizzying dance moves…

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“Can I Still Have My Lightsaber Back Though?”

Jenny Nicholson as ‘Luke Skywalker’ in “If Rey is a Skywalker”So, t’other day I was searching through various online name generators, when I discovered the YouTube channel of a young “video maker and amateur theme park fan” named Jenny Nicholson. The clip that drew my attention, “How To Make Up Star Wars Names”, is pretty short and mostly just consists of her reciting ridiculous names to camera, but she has such great delivery that I quickly became hooked on her sweet-but-snarky skits. Some of the older ones are a little outdated now, as she rips into fan theories about then-upcoming movies, which have since been proven/disproven by the actual releases (such as “If Rey is a Skywalker”), but even those vids are worth watching for her hilarious performances as multiple conversing characters. The, uh, “production values” leave a little to be desired*, but the writing and comic-timing are top-notch, and her critiques of plot-holes and inconsistencies are so sharp, she’ll make you side-eye all your favourite franchises… but in a fun way! At the time of writing, her channel had nearly 300,000 subscribers, and that doesn’t surprise me at all… she deserves every last one of them, and plenty more besides! Surely it’s only a matter of time before “Jimmy Scrambles” and “Robo-Legs McLachlan” make it into the Star Wars canon…?

P.S. Apparently she also wrote an article for the Playboy website about “The Secret Sex Lives of Muppets”. M’kay…


* To be fair, the paper beard she wore as an older ‘Luke Skywalker’ was pretty adorable…

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Too Much Music?

Sarah Nixey circa 2018How much music is “too much”? According to my ears, there’s no such thing… but sadly my wallet doesn’t agree! This predicament was made even more painful yesterday, with the release of three great albums to taunt/tempt me…

First up is Sarah Nixey’s Night Walks, featuring the sultry insomniac’s first new solo material since 2011’s Brave Tin Soldiers! Fun fact: The video for lead single “Coming Up For Air” co-stars Nixey’s daughter, Ava, who I was going to say “looks eerily like her”, but it’s not really that “eerie” for relatives to resemble each other, is it?

Next up is Darkness Rains by Death Valley Girls, who I “discovered” when they were announced as a support act for L7’s tour earlier this year. I know it’s superficial and unimaginative to describe someone’s sound by simply comparing them to another existing artist, but lead singer Bonnie Bloomgarden really reminds me of Karen O, back in the good old days…

Then there’s Windhand’s Eternal Return. I’m ashamed to say I’ve only recently turned on to the hypnotic power of “Doom”-y rock/metal, with its relentless/churning bass-lines, and despairing vocals, but I’ve quickly fallen under its demonic spell, and really dig the psychedelic/phantasmagorical videos… though I imagine they’re a lot more fun if you’re drunk/high when you watch them…?

On top of that hat-trick, there’s also Vodun’s voodoo-channeling Ascend, which came out in September… Leader of Down’s Cascade Into Chaos (which boasts two tracks with the late Lemmy Kilmister on lead vocals)… and the forthcoming (retitled) re-release of Big Brother and the Holding Company’s Cheap Thrills (aka “Sex, Dope, and Cheap Thrills”) to add to my wish-list! Ack!

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R.I.P. Carlos Ezquerra (1947 – 2018)

Durham Red, as drawn by Carlos Ezquerra, circa 1987Sad to say, Carlos Ezquerra, the legendary Spanish comic-book artist who co-created futuristic/fascistic lawman Judge Dredd, bounty-hunting mutant Johnny Alpha, and badass vampire “bitch”* Durham Red (among many other characters), has passed into the infinite, at the age of 70.

Ezquerra was undoubtedly one of the finest draughtsmen to ever lend his talents to the British comic-book industry, and I have always been a huge admirer of his work. I remember, back in the days before the internet and cheap flatbed scanners, repeatedly trying to “input” a picture of Alpha into a school computer using a hand-scanner that distorted the image every time my hand shook a little or inadvertantly varied the speed of its movement across the page. Later, during my university days (when I was still trying to pass myself off as a cartoonist), I even attempted to imitate the signature bumps that he added to the outlines of his characters, but never managed to pull it off because I was using a cheap biro to “ink” my doodles, rather than the proper pens and brushes. Tch!

I never had the pleasure/honour of meeting Ezquerra in person, but I was chatting to (the equally legendary) Alan Grant at a convention once, when he pointed out his frequent-collaborator/friend passing us by on the other side of some trading tables… so I have at least been in the vicinity of the two men who created one of my fave sci-fi femme fatales… and that has to count for something, doesn’t it…?

* That was the unflattering (?) title of the Strontium Dog strip in which she first appeared (2000 AD, #505–529) (1987), and has also been used for several U.S. reprints of her adventures!

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