Scully Love Promo’s Best of 2012 Lists

best5listsWell, it’s that time again.

Bloggers love to make ‘Best of Lists’ at the end of each year and I don’t usually do it, but I thought, well why the heck not?  I didn’t read as many books, watch as many movies, attend as many concerts or write as many reviews this year as I have in the past, but that’s because I worked for myself full time in 2012 and when you’re self-employed, there just aren’t enough hours in the day!  However, when I do want to unwind, I turn to the things I love the most for entertainment: music, books and film.

So here are my top 5 favourite CDs, concerts, books, movies and television series that I experienced in 2012 (although they might not have been released in 2012):

Top 5 Favourite CDs of 2012Ninth

  1. Ninth by Peter Murphy (2011)
  2. Red Revelations by Jace Everett (2009)
  3. Blunderbuss by Jack White (2012)
  4. A New Season For Love by Cormac O Caoimh (2012)
  5. Sing by Maria Doyle Kennedy (2012)

Top 5 Favourite Concerts of 2012IMG_5231

  1. Bob Geldof at The Empire Theatre, Belleville, ON, Oct. 16, 2012
  2. Andy White at The Rankin Gallery, Inverary, ON, Sept. 14, 2012
  3. The Tea Party at The Grand Theatre, Kingston, ON, Aug. 30, 2012
  4. Ruthie Foster at The Limestone City Blues Festival, Kingston, ON, Aug. 25, 2012
  5. Shari Ulrich at The Rankin Gallery, Inverary, ON, Jun. 4, 2012

Top 5 Favourite Books of 2012The Good Daughter

  1. The Good Daughter by Jane Porter (5 stars)
  2. My Cross To Bear by Gregg Allman (5 stars)
  3. In The Mood For Peace: The Story of the Izzy Doll by Phyllis Wheaton (4.5 stars)
  4. Whistling In The Dark by Lesley Kagen (4 stars)
  5. Three Graves Full by Jamie Mason (4 stars)

Top 5 Favourite Movies of 2012Seven Psychopaths

  1. Seven Psychopaths
  2. The Dark Knight Rises
  3. Skyfall
  4. Life of Pi
  5. The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel

Top 5 Favourite TV Series of 2012Breaking Bad

  1. Breaking Bad (Seasons 1-4)
  2. True Blood (Season 4)
  3. Californication (Season 4)
  4. Treme (Season 2)
  5. The Game of Thrones (Season 1)

I’d love to hear what your favourites were so please leave me a comment and let me know because I’m always interested in recommendations.

We made it through another end of the world (YAHOO!) so I’ll take this opportunity to wish you all a very blessed, healthy, prosperous HAPPY NEW YEAR!!

Introducing Scottish Artist: John Gallagher Graphix

The best thing about social media and in particular Facebook, is the ability we all have now to make friends online with people that we might never have had the opportunity to meet in person.  I can honestly say that I have at least a couple dozen Facebook friends whom I’ve never met in person who have made a significant difference in my life for having befriended me.  They share with me their life’s passions, dreams, goals, friendship, love, compassion and understanding.  They listen when I need to talk and make me feel that I’m not alone when I might otherwise have been feeling lonely.  Their thoughtfulness, light and loving spirits have illuminated me through many moments of darkness.

One such magnificent human being, and an extremely talented one at that, is Scottish artist, John Gallagher.  John and I were introduced on Facebook by a mutual friend and bonded over our shared love for and appreciation of Irish singer-songwriter Jack Lukeman over two years ago.  He’s a year younger than me and is quiet, easygoing, interested in film and art, books and creative media as well as music.  John (nickname “Magpie”) often shares the fantastic videos he creates for Jack L with me because he knows how I adore his voice.  You can watch them and witness John’s talent for yourself at Magpie’s Haven on YouTube.

The first thing you notice about John is how artistic he is and I (among others, I’m sure) have encouraged him to market his art and make it available to the public.  And he has! His brand new website John Gallagher Graphix showcases his considerable gallery of fantastic digital graphic portraits of musicians, actors and popular and cult television & movie icons.  He’s the kind of guy who enjoys Star Trek and Dr. Who, but I don’t hold that against him (*smile*) because he’s created some brilliant prints that I will be gifting myself with this holiday season, including this iconic rendition of another of my favourite male vocalists of all time, Peter Murphy.

Using a variety of techniques John can produce some extremely striking and often emotive images.  He’s created digital and pen art and is probably the No. 1 source for The Rory Gallagher Art Collection on the Internet!

I asked him how he does it and this is what he said:

“I create all my images working from several different photographs most of the time; sometimes video stills for a more unique and challenging image.  I use my knowledge gained from creating videos over the past few years to then restructure the photograph and give it a ‘pop art’ effect which also gives me a clearer image of the subject to work from.

I am then ready to begin creating the piece and I work directly from the image facing me on the computer screen, which is first drawn out in pencil, as well as all the areas I wish to tone and shade.

I use pen and ink mostly and these days, my artwork is mainly created by using alcohol markers which I discovered some time back.  I found them ideal to my needs.  With these markers, I am able to give more depth and substance to my work and whilst my own preference is for black and white or tones of grey and blues, I have created many colour pieces over this past year where colour suits the theme of the picture.

I enjoy my work immensely and relish the challenge the combination of different styles I have learned over the years brings!

Thanks for taking an interest in my work!”

I urge you to take some time to peruse the galleries on John Gallagher’s website and to let him know what you think.  For art enquiries, he can be reached at jgsales@gmail.com or you can contact him directly at at johnpg65@hotmail.co.uk

I guarantee you that it will be hard for to choose just one favourite image (I love this one of Joe Strummer too)!

http://www.johngallaghergraphix.co.uk

The First Season of Hawaii Five-O

DVD REVIEW
Title: The First Season: Hawaii Five-0
Studio/Distributor: CBS Home Entertainment & Paramount Home Entertainment
Principle Cast: Alex O’Loughlin, Scott Caan, Daniel Dae Kim, Grace Park
Number of Discs: 6
Released: September 20, 2011
Stars: 4.0

When I was a kid in the 1970s, I was a huge fan of the original Hawaii Five-0 created by Leonard Freeman, starring Jack Lord and James MacArthur.  I used to beg my father to let me stay up and watch the show with him and most of the time he let me.  My crush on Jack Lord was a bit bizarre for a kid my age (10-16) but even then I knew he was the coolest guy on television, surpassing even Lee Majors’ Six Million Dollar Man.

The theme song for Hawaii Five-0 is undoubtedly the coolest ever in the history of television.  I was thrilled that the producers of the new Hawaii Five-0 decided to stay true to the original when they re-recorded it for the 2010 series as it’s so immediately identifiable and positively rockin’!

In the 2010 version, ex Navy Seal, Steve McGarrett (Alex O’Loughlin of Moonlight & Three Rivers) returns home to Oahu to find his father’s killer.  The governor offers him an opportunity to lead his own task force and Steve chooses high school chum Chin Ho Kelly (Daniel Dae Kim of Lost), former New Jersey detective Danny “Danno” Williams (Scott Caan of Entourage) and new police academy graduate, Kono Kalakaua (Canadian girl Grace Park of The Border & The Cleaner) to work with him.

The show opens with Steve’s father, John McGarrett (William Sadler) held hostage at gun point by Victor Hesse (James Marsters), a man McGarrett has been tracking for five years and who is involved in all kinds of evil business including human trafficking, and we soon find out he’s connected to the sinister Wo Fat (Mark Dacascos).  Steve has Hesse’s brother in custody and is transporting him to prison when his military convoy is attacked by a helicopter bomber sent by Hesse.  During the chaos that ensues, Steve ends up shooting his brother in self defence.

The pilot episode is more like a movie than a television show – shot on a grand scale – it’s completely riveting to watch from the first scene to the end.  The look on Steve’s face when he calls Hesse and realizes that he’s going to kill his father is completely realistic and I can think of no one better to play McGarrett than Alex O’Loughlin.

Jean Smart (24 & Designing Women) plays Governor Jamieson and after John McGarrett’s death she asks a reluctant Steve to put together a task force to help him find Hesse as well as other major criminals in Honolulu, with full immunity and means, allowing his rules, her backing, and no red tape.

Daniel Dae Kim, who portrays a very hip & cool Chin Ho Kelly, is definitely the sexiest Asian man alive and he is as important a part of the cast as O’Loughlin and Caan.  Chin Ho has been fired from his job with the Honolulu Police Department after a gruelling Internal Affairs investigation for a crime he didn’t commit.

Scott Caan plays Detective Danny Williams, a displaced Jersey cop who is living in Hawaii to be close to his young daughter Grace (the weak link in the series as child actor Teilor Grubbs is not good at all), with whom he shares custody with his ex-wife Rachel (Claire van der Boom).  I’ve never been a fan of Caan’s but he has won me over completely with this role.

Williams and McGarrett first meet when Steve is searching through his father’s garage looking for clues as to what he was involved in at the time of his death and Danny is investigating John’s murder.  They pull their guns on each other and their uneasy alliance and quippy repartee begins as Steve accepts the Governor’s proposal over the phone and forces Danny into becoming his partner.  Danny gets shot in the arm on the first day he works with him.  They team up with Chin Ho and his cousin, former surfing champion and new cop, Kono Kalakaua, as well as a former confidential informant who now runs a shaved ice business: the Sumuesque but beatific Kamekona (Taylor Wily).

This brightly photographed show primarily proffers style over substance, sporting a myriad of shots of sunshine-lit landscapes, surfers, hula dancers, King Kamehameha, the city of Honolulu’s lights at night, fist fights, martial arts moves, car chases, gun fights and explosions, although the recurring theme of McGarrett’s quest to find his father’s killer is an interesting one that will keep you watching.  It’s the secondary storylines that involve kidnapping, drugs, illegal gambling, gang wars, murders, prison breaks, government conspiracies, prostitution, armoured car heists, etc. that don’t really offer the viewer anything new from what they’ve seen in a hundred dramatic television series that have come before.  What makes this series slightly above average is the chemistry of the principal cast.  There is very strong character development throughout Season One and we get to know the main characters very well.

Danny is still in love with Rachel (although she’s remarried), Steve has a lover named Catherine who is in the Navy that he sees infrequently, Kono can kick serious ass for a skinny surfer chick, and the magnanimous Chin’s covering up a family secret.  We’re also introduced to medical examiner Dr. Max Bergman (Masi Oka of Heroes fame) who is very eccentric and unique, but likeable, and CIA analyst Jenna Kaye (Larisa Oleynik).

Alex O’Loughlin is the finest piece of eye candy on Network television and when he smiles, which isn’t often enough, he lights up the screen.  However, the series doesn’t take itself as seriously as the original as it’s infinitely more humorous and not just in the scenes where Steve and Danny bicker back and forth more than an old married couple.  The show makes me laugh but usually not as much through the comic banter as during the farfetched stunts and “solutions” that are so highly unlikely, they’re laughable.

However, one of my favourite episodes is when Danny’s former partner is found murdered and he and the Five-0 team set out to exonerate him from the wrongful accusation made by Internal Affairs that he was crooked.  I love the way the team banded together to support Danny as it really shows the strength of their bond for the first time since Five-0 was formed.

Another excellent episode is “Hana ‘A ‘A Makehewa”, the Christmas episode in which Chin Ho is collared with a bomb by Victor Hesse (who 5-0 discovers is still alive although Steve had put two bullets in him and left him for dead) and Steve, Danny & Kono have to play beat the clock to get Hesse ten million dollars before he kills Chin.  They take the money from an HPD evidence locker, but later at the drop, Hesse throws it in a fire before Kono shoots him and Steve punches him out.  Hesse ends up in jail where he is visited by Wo Fat (the first time we meet him) who wants to know how close Steve is to finding out what his father was involved in at the time of his death.  Hesse answers, “too close”, and Wo Fat reiterates, “well we can’t have that.”  This episode sets up the second half of the season and the Wo Fat storyline is carried through to the cliffhanger ending of Season One.  While we don’t actually see a lot of Wo Fat, he is very significant to the main story arc, and the season finale is excellent and a shocker.

The DVD package for The First Season (also available on Blu-ray) is full of deleted scenes for each episode, cast interviews, commentary, and in-depth, behind-the-scenes features, including one about the legacy of Hawaii Five-0 that is particularly fun to watch.  Each episode has a Hawaiian name and after watching the special features I realized that I liked the show even more than when I watched it on television.  The primary writers, Alex Kurtzman, Peter M. Lenkov and Roberto Orci have done a fine job in paying homage to the original series (“Book him Danno”) while putting a fresh 21st century stamp on the new one.  Watching it however, has made me want to see the original series all over again and fortunately it is also available on DVD.

Hawaii 5-0 is plain, old-fashioned FUN television and I look forward to watching this exciting series for a very long time.  Aloha!

True Blood: The Complete Third Season

DVD REVIEW
Title: True Blood
Studio/Distributor: Warner Bros./HBO
Principle Cast: Anna Paquin, Stephen Moyer, Sam Trammell, Alexander Skarsgård, Ryan Kwanten, Rutina Wesley, Nelsan Ellis, Carrie Preston
Number of Discs: 5
Released: May 31, 2011
Stars: 4.0

I haven’t yet read the Sookie Stackhouse novels by Charlaine Harris upon which True Blood is based, but I just bought the first three in the series so will hopefully be enjoying them soon.  I started watching True Blood (rated R and definitely for adults) about a year ago because I’m a vampire fan and love Southern Gothic settings.  I also count Oscar & Emmy winning creator/producer Alan Ball’s previous series Six Feet Under among my all-time favourite shows, so I couldn’t wait to see what he was doing.  The glowing reviews for this HBO series had already made their way to my consciousness so when I finally watched Seasons 1 & 2 (I give them a 5 star review) I became addicted to this series for as long as it runs.

The characters in True Blood (a synthetic blood manufactured for vampires so that they can reveal themselves to the world and live among humans without necessarily feeding upon them) are so well-written, intriguing and phantasmagorical that you can’t help but be drawn in by them.  The interwoven storylines are complicated, outrageous and downright joyful in their debauchery.  The cinematography is superb, the music – especially the theme song “Bad Things” – is utterly captivating and most of all, the acting by this top-notch cast is quite simply out of this world.

Mixing romance, suspense, mystery and humor, True Blood tells the ongoing tale of Sookie (Anna Paquin, Golden Globe-winner for this role), a waitress with telepathic gifts -– and an irresistible attraction to now-174-year-old vampire Bill Compton (her real life husband Stephen Moyer), who went missing in the Season 2 finale.

I loved the bacchanalian evil of Marianne Forrester (Michelle Forbes) in Season 2 and was sad to see her staked, but in Season 3, Bon Temps, Louisiana is besieged by vicious werewolves and we find out that much to Sookie’s chagrin, she is in fact, a fairy!

Sookie desperately tries to find her fiancé Bill with the help of her werewolf bodyguard Alicide (the hunky Joe Manganiello); assigned by vampire sheriff Eric Northman (Alexander Skarsgård) to protect her.  Together they travel to Mississippi where they must out-manoeuvre the Vampire King, Russell Edgington (Denis O’Hare appears to have had an absolute blast with this character), who along with his disciples – a pack of sadistic werewolves who feed on vampire blood – plans to consolidate his power.

Sookie’s dim but loyal brother Jason (Ryan Kwanten) is working on his police exams and meets a mysterious girl named Crystal while his detective friend Andy Bellefleur (Chris Bauer) is on the wagon and making a name for himself as a local hero.  Bud and Arlene’s relationship is tested by Arlene’s unexpected news – Arlene’s a character I could do without as I find her annoying – and Sookie’s shape-shifting boss Sam Merlotte (Sam Trammell) is discovering that his real family are people he never would have chosen as friends.  Sookie’s best friend Tara Thornton (Rutina Wesley) is mourning the death of her lover Eggs but soon finds an ally in a creepy vampire named Franklin Mott (James Frain) and later, some solace in Sam’s bed.  Tara’s V-addicted cousin Lafayette (Nelsan Ellis plays my favourite supporting character to perfection) takes up with his crazy mother’s (Alfre Woodard) gay male nurse Jesus (Kevin Alejandro), and teen vamp Jessica (Deborah Ann Woll), after being briefly tempted by Sam’s brother pledges herself to Hoyt (Jim Parrack).

Haunted by visions of his past, Bill makes a surprising pledge of allegiance to Edgington and by the end of Season 3, Sookie, in a fit of fury, uninvites him from her home forever.

The reason I liked Season 3 a bit less than the first two was because I like Bill & Sookie as a couple and in this season they are not together very much.  As far as supernatural beings go, I’m less interested in werewolves than I am in vampires, shape-shifters and fairies but I must confess that werewolf Alcide was a tasty bit of eye candy who almost had me forgetting about Bill.

There is always a lot happening every season and it can be hard to remember everything, so HBO’s episode guide is a great way to refresh your memory.  Season 4 has already started but as I don’t have cable, I’ll have to wait until it’s available on DVD to find out what happens next.  I’ll be one of the first in line to rent it from Classic Video when it is!