Monday, 31 October 2011

TEN CELEBS WHO SHOULD BE SENT TO THE MOON WITHOUT SPACE SUITS

There's only so much vacant-eyed preening I can deal with before I really want to stuff people face-first into a giant cannon and aim them at the moon. Celebs, hereafter referred to as 'Slebs', are rife with candidates for being sent on a one-way moon mission sans oxygen, and here are an initial ten suggestions (of many thousands of contenders) so I can make plans for early acts of my New World Order. They are in no order, as giving them numbers would only seem to humanize them somehow, albeit only a little.



Kim Kardashian 
The princess of being famous for being famous, Kim Kardashian has a face that makes me shoot white-hot lasers made of rage from my eyes while screaming incoherently. She has no talent, the IQ of a sun-baked dog poo and is clearly some failed clone of Nicole Scherzinger. In fact, chuck in her vile sisters too and I'd be happy to hit the big red Moon button.

Jimmy Carr 
I hear that he is a lovely guy to meet, but I am yet to be convinced that Jimmy Carr and his eyebrows are anything but agents of Satan. Everything about him oozes contempt, and his every mannerism and vocal quirk inspires apoplexy in this household. Please, for the sake of our future as a species, get him off the TV and into that limbo of faded Slebs opening supermarkets on warzone council estates.


Snooki 
This is one Sleb in particular that makes me proud that I am British and am safely thousands of miles away from America. The whole Jersey Shore gang deserves flinging into a lunar oubliette, but Snooki would need a special place of her own. A place full of vipers with laser fangs who can sweat hand grenades.

Cher Lloyd 
She can take her Swagger Jagger and stuff it where Cheryl Cole's stolen face doesn't shine. As a pop singer, she is a disgrace. She has no voice, no range, no songwriting skills and no desire to be anything remotely interesting. A fine contender to be strapped to the wing of the ship sending these lumps of wasted carbon into space.

Kanye West 
Because he is clearly a bit of a twat.


David Guetta 
The smug grin. The lazy stubble. The greasy hair. The vague air of trying to hard to be cool. The endless trite dance tracks with no artistic merit whatsoever. Big whoop, you can make a 4/4 dance beat and get some harpy or other to warble over it. I raise a staunch middle finger at the ubiquitous build-ups before a bouncy refrain. He will be sentenced to an eternity listening to a loop of PJ & Duncan's 'Let's Get Ready To Rumble' mixed with a backfiring car engine.

Nicki Minaj 
SHE HAS NO VOICE. Yes, she can rap quickly, but have you ever seen any live footage? She can barely even sound remotely like the processed, tweaked and polished version of herself during her oh-so-clever verses, and then she doesn't even sing the choruses. Oh, and her eyes and teeth terrify me. She looks like a Real Doll, only with a less convincing arse.

Chris Brown 
No matter how many cheerful pop ditties he comes out with, no matter how many videos he fills with laughing children and 'Beautiful people', he'll never get away from the fact that he beat up one of the most famous women in the world. It wouldn't have mattered if she was unknown, though. Attacking the woman you are supposed to be in love with is reprehensible and can never be forgiven. Now there's something you can't hide with auto-tune and a flashy dance sequence, dickhead.

Taylor Lautner 
WHY CAN'T HE DO ANYTHING BUT FROWN AT HIS OWN EYEBROWS?


Russell Brand 
I'm glad he's pissed off to be in films in America. It keeps his frighteningly pointy face off our TVs for a while. And which prick thought it'd be a good idea to cast him in a role originally made famous by Dudley Moore? Where is the sense in that? In fact, where is the sense in Russell Brand? As comedian Brendan Burns once said; “He looks like an advert for Hepatitis.”

Ladies and gents, all aboard! Next stop - LUNAR HELL!!!

Sunday, 30 October 2011

Why Don't Film Posters Look This Cool Any More?


Seriously, why don't film posters look this brilliant any more? While the days of painted artwork for most forms of popular media is seen as seriously old-hat now (or worse still, 'retro'), we do seem to be stuck in a rut of being offered nothing but Photoshop rush-jobs. Even on great posters from recent times there doesn't seem to have been much of an effort to come up with something iconic.

The closest I can remember in the past decade have been the Star Wars prequel posters, which were beautifully painted montages, but still done in such a manner to evoke the past. There is beauty in painted artwork that photos and flashy effects cannot reproduce.

having said that, maybe it's only genre cinema where painted artwork still works well. There just seems to be something much more epic and imposing to this style that still wins out over digital hack jobs. The film poster should be the main piece of advertising for any film. It needs to be iconic, instantly recognisable, and desirable in its own right.

Am I trying to hold onto the past? Am I stuck in a world of dead formats and hackneyed methods of advertising? No. I just wish film posters still looked this cool.

Friday, 28 October 2011

MORE FREE HORROR COMING IN DECEMBER


A new FREE horror story will be released everywhere in December. 

 More on this soon, but for now, be teased:


Thursday, 27 October 2011

Gearing Up For NaNoWriMo 2011

It's almost that time of year again folks, when it suddenly becomes easy to spot writers in the street by the bags under their eyes, the manic, caffeine-induced stare, the smoke coming from their laptops in coffee shops or the reams of paper under their arms. It is, my friends, time to write 50,000 words in 30 days again.

This will be the fourth time I have attempted to hit the 50k mark as part of NaNoWriMo, and I'm going for a different approach this year. Where in previous years (of which I completed the challenge once) I slaved away on one project for the duration of the event, this year I will be using NaNoWriMo in order to complete a slew of projects and start some new ones off as well as writing some short pieces in there too. 

This work will hopefully exceed the 50,000 word total, and as I'll be writing 50k in 30 days, I'll be sticking to the rules. Why the change in direction? Because I'm tired of being one of those writers with a load of projects 'underway'. I mean, I do finish my projects but there's always something else on the go which needs some attention. No more. Not this time. Time to get serious and get these stories out there. 

And so, this year's attempt from me will be a mixture of finishing fiction projects, starting a major non-fiction work that countless people have suggested I have a stab at, and keeping up with my regular assignments for the press and online media. As ever, I am foreseeing that it will be a struggle, but hopefully this way I will be able to clear my slate of a number of projects that would otherwise be trapped in limbo.

I want to get these things out there for you, get some stuff under the noses of editors and agents who work with my kinda stuff. Most of all I want to have a stack of finished projects rather than a series of unfinished pieces. Time to clear out the 'To Finish' folder and take all of this stuff to a new level.

If you're taking part too, then good luck. If you'\re not taking part, please excuse us poor hacks while we deprive ourselves of sleep and lives in order to get these things out of our heads and into yours. Cheers for that in advance.

Monday, 24 October 2011

FIREFEST 2011: Yet More Proof That Rock Is Alive And Well


I'm still coming down from the amazing weekend of music that was FireFest 2011. After last year's incredible event I thought it would be impossible to have a better time, but I was even more thrilled this time around. There is more to the festival than just listening to a bunch of bands, though. Much more.

A massive part of the magic of FireFest is the atmosphere – The crowd, the artists and the crew all seemed to be getting along famously, safe in the knowledge that they were amongst their own kind, sharing a deep and long lasting love for melodic rock.

Every band played their hearts out, and aside from a technical issue here and there, I couldn't have wished for more. Even though a selection of the acts had also played at last year's, the feeling of deja vu was minimal, and that's a testament to the quality on show.


I was lucky enough to spend a good deal of the event up in the VIP area, and talking to the other journalists up there and some of the artists themselves, I was thrilled that everyone seemed to be on the same page.

This is a festival that kicks ass in every way, from the cheery merchandise stall staff and the camaraderie of a venue full of people who barely know each other, right up to the polished and thrilling performances from each band onstage. The community spirit of FireFest went that step further this year, with a special extra event being held in order to help raise money for the Just Say Yes charity for children living with cancer. A most admirable endeavour.

I'm getting started on my parts of the write-up for a forthcoming issue of Powerplay, but had to speak up now and say thanks to everyone, the bands, the crowd and that hugely dedicated crew, for another weekend that I'll never forget. The melodic rock scene is very much alive, and I can't help but feel that FireFest is its heart and soul.

Thursday, 20 October 2011

FIREFEST 2011 - TIME TO ROCK AGAIN!


FIREFEST 2011 kicks off on Friday night, and I'm thrilled to be attending as part of the POWERPLAY ROCK AND METAL MAGAZINE contingent of hacks. The bill looks amazing again, and even though  Saturday's headliners WARRANT pulled out (for no clear reason that I can find) it's going to be an amazing weekend of melodic rock.

Last year's event was one of the greatest musical experiences of my life, and I can't wait to get through Rock City's doors and amongst likeminded people again. If you're a Powerplay reader, come over and say hello!

I'm stoked to see Jimi Jamison again, along with Serpentine, W.E.T,  Terry Brock, Steve Augeri and everyone else. Ladies and Gents, it's time to rock once again. Here's to an amazing event - see you there!

Saturday, 15 October 2011

Revisiting Yourself


I don't often write personal posts here, but...

It's late. My girlfriend is asleep. I was out cold earlier, but now I'm awake and typing nonsense. I'm listening to the songs that defined me 5-10 years ago (and a few from a bit further back), and these tunes are bringing back a flood of memories that are at once infuriating and fascinating. I was a mess a few years ago.

Several very bad decisions led to me having a very strange life indeed, which in turn resulted in me being royally f**ked up for years. I don't mean in the sense of drink (I barely do), drugs (I never have) or criminality (nope), rather in the sense of being a breathing bundle of turbulence. I was perpetually stressed, perpetually tired, very pale and always ill.

Something changed along the way, and I set about putting the fallout of those bad decisions right. Now I have found myself pretty close to being the man I aways wished I could be. At a very base level there was an attitude change, a snapping from one state to another, which enabled me to think 'F**k this' and start sorting my life out.

Revisiting yourself, while sometimes disturbing and upsetting, is a good thing. Remind yourself of how far you have come, and also how far you have yet to go. Remember those dreams you had? Those hopes? They haven't died with the passing of the years. They're still there. You're just not listening to them any more.

I say listen, and listen good.

Friday, 14 October 2011

FREE HALLOWEEN HORROR SHORT STORY: UNDEAD AND BURIED

For the run up to Halloween, I decided to write a new short story to give away for free as an ebook, and here it is. Think of it as an early Halloween treat. The story is called UNDEAD AND BURIED and is available to down load for FREE by right-clicking on the cover image below and saving the file. The story is a fun little horror tale which is ideal for this season, but I hope it can be read at any time of the year.



If you like the story (and I hope that you do), I'd appreciate it if you told other people about this freebie and indeed my other fiction. So share it with your likeminded friends at your will! You're welcome to link them to this post or just send them the ebook directly.

WARNING: 'Undead and Buried' is NOT suitable for young readers.

Happy (early) Halloween everyone!


Tuesday, 11 October 2011

AVENGERS TRAILER ARRIVES: CHRISTMAS COMES EARLY

I just watched the new, proper first trailer for Marvel Studios' THE AVENGERS, the team-up movie that geeks have been waiting years for, and am absolutely thrilled. From the characters, the snippets of dialogue, the action and everything else up to the use of a Nine Inch Nails track as the trailer music, it's all falling into place to be the greatest superhero movie ever made, and certainly the best yet from Marvel Studios.

 I had my concerns a while back that the involvement of Joss Whedon would make the film a bit too jokey, but now I wonder what the hell I was on, as it's pitch perfect. Of course, Whedon is experienced already with the team-based film, following the big screen adaptation of his TV series Firefly, namely the ever-wonderful SERENITY (as well as the show itself and that other thing he did about some girl that killed vampires. 'Tutfy' or something).

 Unfortunately due to the fact that the film is still being made and most effects shots are yet to be put in place, the trailer is completely devoid of any glimpse of the Skrulls, the legendary green-skinned Marvel villains who are said to be in cahoots with Tom Middleton's Loki (as seen recently in the gloriously daft THOR movie).

 Still, the trailer looks and sounds brilliant, and it does seem to be the case that at long last we will get the definitive Marvel movie. Man, a few years ago I would have laughed in your face if you'd told me there would not only be an AVENGERS film, but it would have the potential to be so utterly brilliant. Assemble!

You can find the trailer for Marvel Studios' THE AVENGERS over at the Avengers movie page from Apple.

Sunday, 9 October 2011

On The Passing of Steve Jobs


I've waited a few days to write about the passing of Steve Jobs for a couple of reasons. Firstly I wanted the frenzy of content regarding this sad loss to pass a little, and secondly I wasn't sure exactly what to write about a man that has indirectly had such an effect on my life, as he did with so many others. I wrote a quick post when the news of his death was released, but I never posted it. It didn't seem the right thing to do.

I never knew the guy. I never met him. I only ever saw him in the media and via the Apple keynote videos, and yet the devices he helped to bring to the masses and his work ethic and sense of innovation changed the way I think and work myself.

I first became aware of him, and indeed Apple, when I was recording music with my old band. We always used Apple computers in the studio, and they always seemed to be light years ahead of anything else I'd used. My old bandmate, Alastair, started to convert me to the ways of Apple and before I knew it I owned an iPod and my first Mac.

As I write this, on an Apple computer and using other Apple devices every day, I can't help but think of the legacy Jobs has left behind. There is no denying that his drive and eye for innovation has changed the consumer technology market, and indeed the way we live our lives, but I also find that Jobs himself had a hugely inspirational quality.

He was a gifted orator, yes, but his outlook and his constant drive towards higher quality and better technology also spilled over into promoting a better way of thinking in your life. There are some incredible quotes from Steve's speeches circulating right now, and all of them are uplifting, inspirational and aspirational.

There's nothing wrong with wanting better for yourself and from the things that help you live your life. There is nothing wrong with aspiring to great things. That's what I get myself from the legacy of Steve Jobs. I want to do more. Be better than I am. Go further. I want to be thrilled by what the future can bring, and in turn I want to bring my own contribution to the future that I can be proud of.

Steve Jobs transformed technology during his career, but he did something much more fundamental than that. He showed us what people are capable of with only ingenuity and determination as their tools. Thanks, Steve.

I'll end with a piece of one of his most famous quotes:


“I have looked in the mirror every morning and asked myself: "If today were the last day of my life, would I want to do what I am about to do today?" And whenever the answer has been "No" for too many days in a row, I know I need to change something.”

R.I.P, Steve. You were one of a kind.

Monday, 3 October 2011

Amanda Somerville Interview Coming Soon!


Tonight I had the pleasure of interviewing vocalist extraordinaire Amanda Somerville regarding the debut from her TRILLIUM project. Her voice has been heard the world over with acts such as Avantasia, Kamelot, Kiske/Somerville and her hugely popular stint fronting EPICA while Simone was sick a while back. Amanda was an absolute delight to talk to and was wonderfully enthusiastic and friendly.

I've started on the transcription now, and ever an edit and a polish it will soon be winging its way to you in Powerply Rock and Metal magazine. The Trillium album, to be released in November, is an absolute MUST BUY for any fan of Amanda's rock/metal work or her more pop-oriented solo material.

Fans of After Forever, ReVamp, Epica, Stream of Passion, Tarja Turunen, We Are The Fallen and the like are going to love it. Here's the preview video from Frontiers Records:

Saturday, 1 October 2011

Doctor Who: 'The Wedding Of River Song' – Moffat, you rogue!


So the moment we Whovians have been craving since April has finally arrived. Questions are answered, jaws are left agape, the show is transformed again and fans are left with the task of mopping up their own minds after having them well and truly blown. What a way to end a series.

As with the finale to series 5 ('The Big Bang'), this final twist in a very twisty series of Doctor Who is again a little small scale aside from a few of the effects shots, but as always with Moffat era Doctor Who, it's the ideas that are truly epic in scale. You really don't need endless visual bluster when you have stories this well realised.

The Silence are back, and how! The answers to the mystery of River Song are finally all cleared up (or are they?). The Doctor must face his death, or must he? It's a great episode, and while it would have been lousy as a standalone story, as the end to a spectacularly high quality series, it's spot on.

It makes me very happy indeed as a Doctor Who fan that the show is going from strength to strength since it returned to our screens in 2005, and it continues to fascinate, frustrate, entertain and enchant myself and millions of other people.

Of course, it has its detractors, complaining it's either too dark or too complicated, but these are issues that can easily be remedied by sitting down and WATCHING IT. Put down your phones, sign out of Twitter and PAY ATTENTION. Otherwise you'll miss some of the greatest television this country has seen since, well, since the previous series of Doctor Who last year.

Now we have to deal with not only the usual bout of post-Doctor Who depression (mainly me wailing that I'll never be of the same standard as its writers and why must fate mock me thus, etc), but also a wait of several months until we are blessed with the Christmas special. Mr Moffat, you rogue, you don't half know how to tease us sir. Oh, and BTW – Congrats to River Song on the happy occasion!