Saturday, 19 December 2015

Bill's 2015 Top Ten Lists - The Number 6's

I'm a bit late with this today, spent the morning watching my Saturday footie matches, Strictly Come Dancing finale and then, the past hour or so, Skyping with my daughter. So now that it's quiet and  while the missus prepares our evening tea; stir fry tonight, I'll get on to my latest Top Ten items, the Number 6's. Here we go now


6. Excession by Iain M. Banks - One of my favourite SciFi series over the past couple of years has been the Culture books by Scottish writer Iain M. Banks. Originally published in 1996, this is the 4th book in the Culture series. Banks wrote 9 books in this series before passing away in 2013. I've read 2 other books in this series, not in any particular order as they can be read as individual books; Consider Phlebas and Matter.

The Culture is a futuristic society of inter-bred humanoids, intelligent machines and super intelligent artificial intelligences and it is their interaction with the other races in the universes that make up the stories. It's a fascinating series and Excession was a fantastic story.

This is my review of the story - "This is the 4th book in the Culture series I've read and once again, it didn't disappoint. I will say that at times I had no idea what was going on, but even then it didn't seem to matter. Basically the premise is that an unknown entity has been discovered somewhere in the known universe; has done something with the ship that discovered it and set a course of action that might result in a full-scale galactic war.

That's the big picture, but also on the smaller scale, and these events might also be influenced by this entity (the named Excession in the title), we have various individuals who are guided/ heading towards each other and this Excession for a variety of purposes. I've not described it very well, but basically you have the intimate story of the various people; Genar Hofoen, Dajeil, and Ulver Seich who are brought together; stories of past events (Genar Hofoen and Dajeil both becoming pregnant, after Hofoen sublimates from male to female; their falling apart); both complex and simple.

I enjoyed the stories of the ships (basically animate beings in their own right), even their names are interesting and fun (e.g. the Sleeper Service, the Fate Amenable to Change, the Honest Mistake, etc). The universe of the Culture is one of the most unique world's I've ever read about. The stories and characters are all so interesting and just to experience this world of SciFi makes reading that genre interesting and exciting again.

I find it difficult to describe in a few words. You just have to try one of the stories to discover for yourself. Excession is the 4th book in the Culture universe/ series."


6. International Rescue by Fuzzbox - Fuzzbox are an English alternative rock, all - girl band formed in1985. I've always been partial to girl rock bands, Heart, The Gogos, The Bangles and more recently, The Corrs (yes, their brother is part of the band), The Veronicas, The Belle Stars. The common thread about most of these groups is the full-of-life quality of their music. Great vocals and musicianship. They get my feet tapping, my blood flowing and I just love driving and enjoying their sound.

International Rescue was released in 1989. It was a song I discovered after listening to Sara Cox's Sounds of the 80's back in Jul, when she played another excellent Fuzzbox hit, Pink Sunshine. It made me check the group out and I also liked this one so very much.


6. Dr. Who (Series 9) - Series 9 is the second season featuring the 12th Doctor, Peter Capaldi. I mentioned this previously when I noted Peter Capaldi as one of my honourable mentions for Best Actor, that I had been less than overwhelmed with his first season as the Doctor.

This past season has rekindled my interest in the show and I think a major part of the credit for this has been Peter Capaldi and the fact that he seems to be more comfortable in the role had has made it his own. The season has been most enjoyable and I am now looking forward to the next season. I'm glad I gave Peter a chance and stuck with the show.


 6. Million Dollar Arm - Million Dollar Arm was released mid-2014 and was directed by Craig Gillespie. It stars Jon Hamm, Bill Paxton, Aasif Mandvi and Lake Bell, amongst others. It's the best kind of sports movie.

The basic plot is that Hamm is a struggling sports promoter looking for the next big thing. He comes up with the idea of sponsoring a contest in India to find the next baseball pitcher. The film is based on a true story about sports promoter, J.B. Bernstein, and two Asian /Indian pitchers, Rinku Singh and Dinesh Patel. It's very much a story of strangers in strange lands, from Hamm in India and the contest winners in the US. It's an endearing, funny, family movie and well worth watching.


6. Bree Turner - I've had American actress, Bree Turner on my Top Ten List before, from the first time she became a regular on NBC's, Grimm. It's a great gang show and each actor brings their excellent qualities to the show. Bree plays Rosalee Calvert, her character becoming a regular in Season 2. She is a Wesen (shape changer) and since this 2nd season has married one of the main characters, Silas Weir Mitchell.

Their relationship is perfect, they work well together and are so believable in their roles. It's unfortunate that Bree hasn't worked in other roles lately, but I'm more than satisfied with her excellent performance in Grimm.


6. Mark Ruffalo - I tend to like Mark Ruffalo in everything I've seen him in. He's a versatile, likeable actor. He's a regular in the Marvel Avenger type movies, adding gravitas to the role of Bruce Banner, aka the Hulk. The last thing I saw him in was Now You See Me, which I mentioned previously, as the FBI agent on the trail of a group of magicians. In 2015, he starred in Age of Ultron, one of the Avenger movies and also Spotlight, playing Pulitzer Prize winning reporter, Michael Rezendes.

So there you go, the Number 6's. Tomorrow we hit the half way point in our journey.

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