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The Stainless Steel Rat's LiveJournal

The Rat who is made of Stainless Steel

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LJ Animated
Welcome to the last post in my LiveJournal! Well, technically this isn't the last post in my LiveJournal - he says recycling a poor joke from the first post - as it's a forward dated post as part of a wrapper around it; for anyone who strays across my LiveJournal this is likely to be the first post they'll read, savvy?

Anyway, if you want to know more about me you can't do much better than by having a read of my profile. I welcome LJ friends, in a more-the-merrier sense, and also welcome friendly comments/discussion, so feel free to add me.

You don't have to be a member of LiveJournal to comment here, although I recommend it as a blogging system. You can also comment using OpenID. I think you can even login with a Facebook and Twitter account, but I've not tried it personally. Comments are screened from non-friends, but if they're genuine they'll be moderated quickly.

A large proportion of my posts are "friends-only", which means you will need a LiveJournal account to see them.

If you want to subscribe to my public posts using RSS, then go to the feed at http://stainsteelrat.livejournal.com/data/rss.

There isn't much more to say than that, but if you've got any questions or comments then feel free to ask them here.

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BB Piano
As is the annual tradition, my favourite films, TV, music, and games from 2017. Last year I did away with picking a favourite, and I'll do the same again this year. Also a format change, I'll just list my favourites, and what I liked about them. I'll try not to waffle too much about each individual entry, but chances are I won't as I don't have the patience.

Films = 2017 was a pretty good year for films. I also started my cinema subscription in April, so I've seen a much larger number of current year films than before, and a wider range of films full stop, which is nice. In roughly chronological order my favourites of the year are:
Life. Aliens in space, but a quite genuinely freaky story that is more horror than science fiction.
Ghost in the Shell. The much feared live action remake. It made some mistakes, but overall I felt it was a solid effort. Still not as good as the original animé though.
Logan. A great, dark superhero film.
Cure for Wellness. Light on story, but heavy on acting and atmosphere, and an unusual story to boot.
Valerian. I think I've already described it somewhere as a beautiful mess. It feels like a spiritual successor to The Fifth Element, albeit it doesn't have anywhere near the same panache or coherence.
Wind River. Dark depressing drama, but very solid.
Happy Death Day. Probably aimed at the intelligent teen demographic, but I had a lot of time for it.
Jungle. Another film that was a little light on story, but still a solid bit of drama, in an unusual environment.
Molly's Game. More in the way of solid drama, helped by being a true story.
Dunkirk. Inevitably depressing, but a supremely good depiction of three stories at Dunkirk. Amazing and unusual soundtrack.
Star Wars 8. Only surprises were some odd humour and the bum-numbing length, but on a second viewing I feel it's a solid entry in the canon.

Blade Runner 2049 was the big disappointment. As much as I would have loved a great Blade Runner sequel, it did finally confirm for me that Blade Runner shouldn't have sequels. For me it just paled into comparison with the original, and in places was downright rubbish. Probably an OK film overall, but I just can't decouple it from the original.

TV = An equally good year for TV.
The Tick. Amazon's take on the comic, which I felt was pretty good.
American Gods. OK, I'm not sure offhand if this was actually 2017, but I watched it this year. A really solid unusual supernatural story, chock full of characters and plot.
Parks & Recreation. This definitely wasn't 2017, but I managed to make it through 5, or was that 6, seasons. A bit samey, but the flipside being consistency, and very funny in places.
Brooklyn Nine-Nine. Same as Parks & Rec really, samey, but a reliable fun watch, with some hilarious moments. This was just the latest season, which was 2017.
Red Dwarf. At risk of repeating myself again, another solid effort from the boys from the Dwarf.
Electric Dreams. One of the two standout series this year, with Philip K Dick's short stories finally getting the treatment they deserve. Sadly not 100% faithful to the books, but the end result is still excellent. Second half of the season showing early next year.
Black Mirror. Season 4 just released, and the second standout of the year. Some dark but superb writing, and so consistent.

Music = I'm trying to remember if I listened to any actual 2017 music... to iTunes! Ah yes, of course I did.
Will Cookson's About Love EP. I have a feeling that Will Cookson was a new discovery in 2017, recommended by Tom Rosenthal. He has a folk-y feel to his music, but it also feels quite original. Melancholy though.
Tom Rosenthal's Fenn. Tom's latest album, named after his youngest daughter. It includes a song about his love for pasta, what more can I say?!
Jamiroquai's Automaton. A surprisingly great effort from Mr. Acid Jazz. A number of tracks have been on repeat across the year.
Amber Run's For A Moment, I Was Lost. I discovered Amber Run while awake at 5am, and searching for tracks with "5am" in the title. I love the serendipity of that. This is their second album, which I love. Plus I got to see them live for the first time, and they were excellent. Just a shame that standing gigs are so tedious.

Games = Not a big year for gaming, for me that is, but I did have a chance to play a few, so I won't leave it off this year. It helps that my eldest loves computer games, and I have a bit more time for myself.
Space Marshalls. Android/iOS game that borrows from those isometric realtime isometric shooters on the Atari ST and Amiga. Really fun, plus there's a sequel.
Slime Rancher. An unusual game where you get paid to sell the poo from farming slime creatures. It all started to get a bit complex, so I gave in after 10 hours play, but it was a fun 10 hours. Amélie loves it.

(Past faves from 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015, and 2016.)

LJ 18th anniversary
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#mylivejournal #lj18 #happybirthday

2016 Faves
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In traditional style, my favourite films, TV, and music from 2016. This year I'm going to do away with picking single favourites as I simply couldn't choose.

Film = Not a great year for films, I felt. But there were four films I really liked, that were genuine UK cinema 2016 releases as follows (in order of release during the year, probably). Deadpool was a big dollop of superhero fun that like a handful of films before it went against the grain. The Witch was a really quite spooky but beautifully produced film that it just doesn't seem right to call horror. Captain Fantastic was a wonderfully acted emotional roller coaster. And finally, Kubo and the Two Strings, a gorgeous animated effort that I would have sworn had come from Studio Ghibli, but was actually an entirely American effort.

TV = Two choices in this category. Firstly, the bizarre and wonderfully original animé One-Punch Man. Secondly, the also bizarre and wonderfully original science fiction animation Rick and Morty.

Music = And finally, three choices for favourite album. David Bowie's Blackstar kicked off the year, followed two days later with the terrible surprise of Bowie's death. Blackstar's an odd album, but has several tracks that have either grown on me, or that I've liked from the off. Favourite track: I Can't Give Everything Away, which inevitably feels like a goodbye from Bowie. Tom Rosenthal's The Pleasant Trees Vol. 3 arrived in the middle of the year, following on from his album Bolu being my favourite choice last year. I continue to adore Tom's music, which feels like contemporary English folk, and also feels like it was written for me. Favourite track of this album/EP, About the Weather. And finally, Bon Iver's 22, A Million. Certainly the weakest of the three, and on first listen it sounded like an experimental rehash of his self titled 2011 album, that I loved. But the album has grown on me. Favourite Track: 29 #Strafford APTS. As per the last two years, a big big big honourable mention for Nutty Noah, whose music has yet again kept the family entertained the whole year through. Noah released two particularly good tracks this year, Nice to be Nice and You Might, technically three if you're lucky enough to get a sneak peek/listen. Keep it up Noah, we think you're fab!

(Past faves from 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, and 2015.)

2015 Faves
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In traditional style, here's my favourite film, TV programme, and album from 2015. I might as well do away with games and books for now, as I don't have the time nor inclination for them.

Film = It looks like I watched around twenty genuine released-in-2015 films, which doesn't sound like a great deal, but I've not counted in years gone by. It's a close call for my favourite film though. Mad Max: Fury Road was certainly action packed, but I found it a smidge light on story, which is why it's in second place. Ex Machina's my pick for 2015, with an atmosphere-laden story, fab production, and an excellent soundtrack.

TV = I watched some very good and genuine new-to-2015 TV serieseses such as Mr. Robot and Ash vs Evil Dead, but The Walking Dead continues to kick bottom for me and is my definite choice for favourite TV series of 2015.

Album = I listened to around fifteen genuine released-in-2015 albums, if iTunes is to be believed. And several of them were pretty good, such as vangoffey's Take Your Jacket Off & Get Into It, The Prodigy's The Day is My Enemy, Kurt Stenzel's Jodorowsky's Dune soundtrack, and Ben Salisbury & Geoff Barrow's Ex Machina soundtrack. 2015 was the year I discovered a handful of new bands, which I'd have to give preference to: Dengue Fever with their 2015 album The Deepest Lake (managed to catch these guys on tour also!), and CHVRCHES with their 2015 album Every Open Eye. But my definite favourite is the newly-discovered-for-2015 Tom Rosenthal, with his substantial body of work (and music videos), his 2015 album Bolu, and 2015 EP The Pleasant Trees Vol 2. Again an honourable mention to the fab Nutty Noah. Although he didn't release any new albums in 2015, he did release at least three singles (arguably five for lucky people, teehee!), one of which even mentioned Amélie and I! Along with him performing at Amélie's birthday party, and going to three of his shows in Bristol and Bath, his songs continue to bring great joy and mirth to the kids and their silly dad.

(Past faves from 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, and 2014.)

As always YMMV, so what were your favourites?

Public Post...
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I'm about to do a mass purge of dead journals and communities, as per this poll.

If I delete you by accident or you want to carry on reading and missed the poll then just comment here.

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I was trying to remember why The Age of Adaline was in the film queue. I spotted Harrison Ford was in it, albeit he doesn't appear until later on, then I realised it was because Anthony Ingruber was in it, playing his son. Ingruber achieved some fame by doing amazing impressions of Ford on YouTube, and he looks very similar to Ford. There's been some sort of Internet campaign to get him to play a young Indiana Jones. Anyway, The Age of Adaline was a curious film, now that I've finally finished it. It reminds me of August Rush, because it has this cheesy story that still ends up being charming (YMMV). The basis of the story is that Adaline (Blake Lively) crashes her car into a lake, and while she's drowning the car gets struck by lightning. There's some hokey science, explained by a narrator that comes and goes during the film, that her DNA is made rigid which prevents ageing. She then spends subsequent decades escaping people that realise something's up, and the main story inevitably ends up being romance related. I enjoyed it though, just about. Those who need a more believable romance probably won't.

Film Review: Birdman (2014)
Birdman (2014). Co-written and directed by Alejandro G. Iñárritu. The film opens with a meteor streaking across the sky. It then switches to the dressing room of a New York theatre, where Riggan Thomson (Michael Keaton) is floating cross-legged in his underwear. He receives a Skype call from his daughter, Sam (Emma Stone), querying what flowers he wants. This is my second attempt at watching Birdman. The first time I made it about half an hour in, but the rather talky and pretentious nature of the content just turned me off. So I tried again, and made it all the way through this time. I can appreciate the film technically: it's well acted and shot, it's clever how the film appears as a single take, the drum solo soundtrack is interesting and original, and even the CG is excellent. But I just didn't enjoy the story. I've only watched one review subsequently, and the reviewer seemingly got a lot of existentialism from the film, among other things. I didn't, I just saw a bunch of mostly irritating characters that I had no interest in or sympathy for. I'm guessing if you like theatrical feeling films, even though it's mostly set in and around a theatre, you might get something from this. 2/5 (Poor)

Film Review: Wild Tales (2014)
Wild Tales (2014). Written and directed by Damián Szifron. The film starts on a plane mid-flight. Two of the passengers get talking and discover they both know a young man called Pasternak. A passenger behind them pipes up that he also knows Pasternark, followed by another passenger. Wild Tales is a mixed bag of a film, somewhat in the vein of Tales of the Unexpected. There are six short stories, including the very short story at the start of the film. For me, none of the stories are particularly mind-blowing; some are fun, some are rather predictable, and some are just odd (and not really in a good way). It feels like the general trend is downhill during the film. Certainly the acting, direction, and cinematography are all competent. The CGI is average, but it is a low budget film. If you're a fan of short story films and stuck for something to watch, then it's worth a punt I think. 3/5 (Average)

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BB Piano
On the basis that a lot of people have given up LiveJournal I'm going to do a friends clean up. If you're still reading, and I know some of you are at least, can you just fill out the single question below.

Are you still reading?