Saturday, July 30, 2011

Review Friday: Fish Custard

In my recent blogging hiatus, I decided it was high time to see what all this fuss surrounding Doctor Who was about. I watched my first ever episode, The Impossible Astronaut, exactly a week before my twenty-second birthday. In the space of about a month, a friend lent me each of the boxsets starting on season 5 to fill in the Eleventh Doctor's story, and then back to series one to fill in all the fun from the Ninth and Tenth incarnations.

It took me a grand total of about 2 minutes to completely fall in love with the show. I am totally in awe of the acting abilities of all the involved cast who brought the characters to life. I am also constantly blown away by the intricate writing abilities of Russell T Davies, Steven Moffat, and all the rest of the writers who passionately contribute their imaginations to the show. BUT, that's not what I'm reviewing today.

I've been listening to the soundtrack* from Season 5, and while I'd like to review the soundtrack as a whole, I feel like there are a few stand-out tracks that really deserve a review post of their own. One such track is "Fish Custard". If you haven't watched the series and intend to, be aware that there are spoilers ahead. If you want to watch the series without having it all spoiled for you (which I highly recommend - Doctor Who is one of those things that should never be spoilt), I suggest you turn back now. Once you've caught up, then, feel free to come back and read, but don't say I didn't warn you.


The track "Fish Custard" is played during the scene where little Amelia Pond is letting the Doctor into her house and offering him food to eat. Eleven** is still very newly regenerated, and adjusting to his new body. He requests several different types of food, all of which he expresses his taste for before he tries, and promptly spits out and changes his mind upon tasting. At the end, he finally finds what he needs to eat. Fish fingers and custard. Together. The scene is very quirky and comedic and that is exactly what Murray Gold injects into the music. This is one track that I can listen to and instantly picture exactly what was going on.

The track starts with some sparse pizzicato, channelling some tip-toeing vibe. Already the track is perfectly endearing, and complements Matt Smith's new portrayal of the Doctor beautifully. The track bends and sways with lilting strings and brass, punctuated by woodwinds and quirky percussion, breaking off and building back up with each failed food. At one point, the orchestra*** strikes a dissonant, suspended chord, as the Doctor flings a plate of food - this time bread and butter - out the front door, "AND STAY OUT".

The oboe's tone makes it perfect to audibly describe the new doctor's inquisitive, bizarre nature, as he rediscovers himself. One of the reasons I absolutely love this scene is that it's the perfect opportunity for the audience to rediscover the Doctor as well. This was so, so necessary for this particular regeneration, considering the extreme popularity of his previous regenerated form, portrayed by the ever-charming David Tennant. When you lose such a loveable face, it can make it really easy to spite the next one, simply because it isn't the last. As a fan of the show though, it's one of those facts you just have to come to accept. But I digress.

Later on in the track, after all these failed foods, the pace of the track picks up a bit. It signals that the trial-and-error phase is over, and now, he has a rough idea of what he wants, but he just can't put his finger on it. Apparently carrots are not it ("Are you insane?") and as he takes over the search, the music keeps building and getting even more frantic, until he finds exactly what his new taste buds have been looking for - Fish Fingers and Custard. Here, the music hits its peak and ends boldly on a dominant chord. It feels finished, but not quite, like a sentence finishing on a comma. It's perfect though, because the musical silence that follows is perfect for the next part of the story.

The music doesn't take over the whole scene, rather, it lifts it to a whole nother level, which is exactly what it should do. As a whole, the track gives us clues to the Doctors new character, provides emotional - in this case, comedic - cues, and put's the whole audience into Little Amelia's shoes. It musically describes the scene without spelling it out or stealing the spotlight. But it's still distinctive enough that you can listen to it on its own and the scene floods back into your head. As far as I am concerned, this track, this crucial element, has been what has made this particular scene so memorable. Of course, it wouldn't have been without Matt's incredible performance either; and I in no way suggest otherwise, but the track pulls the whole thing together. Murray Gold has done a fabulous job yet again, and reflects the enthusiasm and gusto and passion for the show that seems to echo and emanate from everybody involved.

I can just imagine being a member of the orchestra. Being in one myself, I know full well that you have certain pieces that you adore more than the most for whatever reason. It could be a particularly difficult piece that took you forever to get but you finally mastered, and now you love it. It could be that piece that wells up some deep emotion right from the pit of your stomach. Or it could be one like this. Quirky, fun, and full of attitude. I imagine quite a few BBC musicians list this one among their favourites.

I'm going to end it there. It is stupidly late again, which means I need to stop writing before my ability slips, if it hasn't already. Thank goodness I did restrict the review to just one track, otherwise I'd be here all night.

Hope you all have a nice weekend, I'll be back on Sunday with a report on this week's creative endeavours.

Love :D

This reviewed item out of 5: Definitely *****
Average stars this year: 5

Days I've kept this going: 3

*I should mention at this point that I'm going to be reviewing LOTS of soundtracks. They make up about 70% of what I listen to at the moment, the other 30% consisting of classical music (about 25%) and whatever else on my iTunes takes my fancy.

**I will henceforth refer to the Doctors by their regeneration number. Eleven refers to the regeneration played by Matt Smith, who is the current Doctor, and will be up until the 50th anniversary year 2013, so we have recently heard.

***BBC National Orchestra of Wales if you were wondering. They do, and have done, all the soundtrack work on the modern series, and they're phenomenal and severely underrated as an orchestra.

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Here we go again

So, after giving it a generous amount of thought, I've finally decided how I want to set this thing up.

Without further ado, I present My New Blogging Schedule.

  • Monday - "Little Things Monday" - I will be continuing the series I started with the goal of listing all the things in the world that make me happy, and that I am grateful for, in blocks of ten at a time. This, with the goal of encouraging myself to look closer at things, and be glad for even just the little things when times are tough. I feel like this is a worthy thing to blog about on a regular basis.
  • Wednesday - "Critical Thinking Wednesday" - This will be the day where I plan/post an in-depth analysis of whatever has been occupying my thoughts throughout the past week. It could be anything, from politics, to music, to whether Snape deserved to be with Lily instead of James (short answer: No). I decided to include this one, because I am discovering that when it comes to certain topics, I have very strong opinions, and I'm pretty damn good at backing them up too. And where better to put one's opinion than on one's blog?
  • Friday - "Review Friday" - I tend to like reviewing things when I'm done experiencing them. You might see reviews of concerts (usually of the orchestral variety) or pieces of music, or movies, or books. Basically, if you can experience it in some capacity, and you can review it; you could possibly find it here.
  • Sunday - "Creative Sunday" - This is where I get to show you guys what I've been up to. Whether an illustration, or a video, or a graphic, or a song, or anything really, as long as I've made it using my own two hands and my creativity, it goes here. Even if it's just an idea. This is where you guys come in too. All creative people need a sounding board. I'm relying on you guys to let me know how awesome/terrible my work is, and also, what you would like to see me do next. See, being the creative type I am, I can be terrible at keeping the creative juices flowing. It doesn't have to be profound either. I may just need one word to kick-start the next project. 
Anyway, that's it for regularly scheduled posts. Unscheduled posts will include but not be limited to: diary entry or recount/reflection on the day whenever I happen to do anything interesting/worth recording/remembering, any other lists I happen to come up with, and so on and so forth. Labels/tags should also be used extensively, just in case a reader feels like going through and looking at every "Review Friday" post, or something. 

Also, posts should be ended with some sort of counter, preferably relating to the topic of the post, although keeping consistent within the category. For example, on "LTM" I will be keeping tally on the total things I can think of that keep me happy, and also, a tally on how many items listed were experienced on that Monday. "RF" could give a rating out of five for whatever was being reviewed, and also, a running average out of five for reviews throughout the year. "CTW" might include some sort of satisfaction rating, depending on how much a situation/issue is annoying me eg. if the issue is easily solved, or being handled effectively, or something relating to the resolution of the problem. This one still needs to be clarified though... ideas? 

Today is Thursday, so the first official scheduled post will be up tomorrow. A Review for Friday :)

Sleeping time is now though so I must away. I look forward to this new venture. May it actually work out this time. Cheers.

Days I've kept this going so far: 1
^ I like this counter. I might keep it there :D

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Keeping with the times

This is going to be a short post. Yes I realise I posted only a few hours ago, saying that I was tired and about to go to bed. Yes I am still awake. I blame the internet.

Skipping forward to the catalyst for me hitting the "new post" button for the second time in only a couple of hours, I just found out via Twitter that Amy Winehouse died. She was 27.

I'm devastated. I know she was a drug/alcohol addict. I realise that this is something she brought upon herself, but MAN! That woman had one heck of a voice on her. Have you ever heard it? She was incredible. I just, I think in my eternal optimism, I was hoping she might recover and make a decent career for herself. Which makes this even more tragic. It's like romeo and juliet, minus the romeo element.

I remember sitting in my work tearoom, reading up on her latest antics in whatever gossip magazines were there. I, just, why? I can't even.

I realise that topically, the events in Oslo, Norway are far more tragic, but to be completely candid with you all, I haven't really caught any of the news, so I'm really disconnected to the tragedy over there. I'm ashamed to say so, but it's true. Whereas, even though Amy had a choice, and the people of the Norway Tragedy had none, I actually spent time, while Amy was still with us here on this lump of rock, listening to her dulcet tones. Developing some semblance of a one-sided relationship with her as a human being (as we all do with musicians. That is, after all, the role of the singer/musician/artist/whatever). So, there was a part of her that had become a part of me before she died.

Don't get me wrong, any loss of life is terrible, and my heart goes out to all of Norway in the light of everything. But a little tiny piece of me died tonight with the news of Amy's parting. And that is why I am in mourning.

Last time I felt like this was a few years back, when we first heard the news of Heath Ledger. Then again when we heard of Britney Murphy. So much talent among them all. So much waste. And it's no unheard of either. Kurt Cobain, Janis Joplin, among others, were only 27 when they left us too. I wasn't around for those, but I imaging their supporters all felt the same too. GAH! I have no more words.

I'm going to shut up now before I get any more gushy. It's 10 past 3 in the am. I'm obviously just emotional and delirious because it's 3:10am, and I need sleep, though I doubt this news is going to suck any less when I wake up.

RIP Amy. Let the heavens enjoy your dulcet tones forevermore.

Oh wow...

I was just about to make a post about how long it's been, but MY! This whole system looks different! I must say, I like the sleek look of the upgrade, but, well, I mean, this is the most different the posting/dashboard has looked since I started blogging. SO UNUSUAL!

Ok, spaz attack over.

So, it's been like, forever again. Sorry. Whatever, let's move on.

I'm so out of practice at this I'm afraid I've completely forgotten why it is I come here. Why did I ever post here in the first place? Was it worth it? Why did I stop? I've been eyeing the Blogger bookmark in google chrome for weeks now, feeling guilty that I haven't posted in forever. It's been quietly nagging at me to come back and show it some love and attention, which up till now I have dutifully ignored. Tonight it finally won.

So for the few of you who still come on here to read these pointless meandering ponderings, I have questions. First off, I just checked my insight for pageviews on this here blog. It says that my viewing audience have logged on in Australia (not surprising), America (where I know some of you live) (specifically those to whom I used to write snail mail to) (speaking of, it's about time we jumped back onto that old bandwagon isn't it? I feel like it's time) (sorry, I digress) and, of all places, Russia. It's odd, because I know at least 2 of my subscribed readers live in the UK, but the UK didn't show up :-/ and I don't know anyone in Russia, but on the insight map, Russia is dark green, suggesting high concentration of pageviews.
My question for you, readers, is Where In The World Are You? Let's get some sort of idea of our demographic, shall we?

Secondly, how exactly do you benefit from reading this here pointless-waste-of-internet-time-and-space-I-refer-to-as-my-blog? I mean, I benefit because I suppose it's an outlet, and it's a form of entertainment. But, like, if you're reading it, you must be getting something out of it, right? Am I entertaining? Am I informative or insightful? Am I simply relatable? Please leave me little nuggets of joy and love down below in the comments. You know how much I love knowing that strangers/acquaintances on the internet/other side of the world love me enough to acknowledge that they have read/enjoyed/even hated my outpourings of mental mush...

Thirdly, what would you LIKE to see from me? See being the creative type I am, I'm completely hopeless at coming up with blogging ideas. I have a couple of post ideas, but in order to get into a routine, I feel I should follow some sort of blogging agenda or pattern. Like, post reviews of books/movies/music on Fridays. Post an artwork/work in progress on Tuesday. Some sort of critical thinking/analysis of something-or-other on a Sunday. And then in between, just post and keep you all updated on my not-so-interesting-when-you-compare-me-with-other-individuals-on-the-internet life. I'll sort out the details later.

I'm very tired right now, so I'm going to leave it there. So, minions, leave me your comments. Spam the heck out of my comment box. And get creative. Tell me what you want from me, and I will MAKE IT HAPPEN FOR YOU.


*EDIT* So I just noticed that last time I tried to recommit to blogging like a lunatic, I started a thing where I attempt to list ten things that I love. Little things, but things all the same. Should I keep going with that? COMMENTS. DO IT. Cool.