Friday, 29 June 2012

Music: Singing From The Grave by Anna Von Hausswolff

Brilliant And Beautiful

Singing From The Grave by Anna Von Hausswolff
At the time of writing Singing From The Grave is currently ranked at number 305,298 in the Amazon UK music sales chart.  I can absolutely guarantee that there are not 305,297 albums out there which are better than Singing From The Grave, so I’m on fairly safe ground when I state that Anna Von Hauswollf’s debut album is without doubt thoroughly worthy of a bigger audience.

I should point out straight away, however, that Singing From The Grave won’t be everyone’s cup of tea.  The album has a classical sound to it, so by no means is it a typically commercial album and it may therefore appeal to perhaps an older listening audience.

Sunday, 24 June 2012

Graphic Novel: Groo And Rufferto

Another amusingly daft tale from Sergio Aragones and Mark Evanier.

Groo And Rufferto, originally published as a
four issue mini series, then later reprinted
as a graphic novel.
In Groo And Rufferto, Groo (an extremely dumb but highly skilled warrior from times gone by) and his faithful canine companion wander into the land of King Ravenus, a gold-worshipping ruler who loves wealth so much that he spends all his time either gazing upon his hoards of treasure or dreaming up new taxes to impose on his people.  So paranoid is he that he will one day encounter someone who wants to steal his gold, that King Ravenus sets his wizard, Anakrony, the task of discovering the means to transport him to a safe and faraway land.

Anakrony decides that the safest place would be to disappear somewhere where his enemies can’t follow him … the future.  More specifically the present day.  Unfortunately for Groo and Rufferto, it is Rufferto that Anakrony uses to test his time travel formula and that sets up the story-line as Groo then refuses to let anyone cross the bridge into King Ravenus’ land until he gets his dog back.

Wednesday, 13 June 2012

TV: Parks And Recreation

Parks And Recreation: Criminally overlooked in the UK

Lesley Knope flanked by Tom and Ann.
For those who have never heard of Parks And Recreation (which in the UK might be quite a few), this is how the programme was first described to me:

"It's like The American Office but better."

To be fair to The Office, the mate who recommended it to me isn't a massive Office fan like myself, but I would still put Parks And Rec on a par with it.  That only makes it all the more a shame that a show as good as this remains largely undiscovered to a UK audience who would no doubt love it if they only knew about it.

To put the figures into perspective, at the time of writing the Season One DVD currently has 2,502 likes on versus only 25 likes on  The English sense of humour surely isn't that much different from the American sense of humour, so the difference can only be explained by the fact that virtually no-one in the UK has heard of Parks And Rec.

Saturday, 9 June 2012

iPod App: Tiny Tower by Nimblebit Games

Tiny Tower: Simple But Addictive Fun

Your Tiny Tower 'bitizens' going
about their daily business.
The basic idea behind Tiny Tower is a very simple concept - build a tower, earn money, build extra floors - and in truth there's not that much more to it, but it's still nevertheless a very well implemented and a very addictive game.  It’s the simplicity which makes Tiny Tower very easy to jump into, but then in order to keep you interested Nimbit have also added various features which give the game lasting appeal.

The currency used in the game is TowerBux and these can be earned by various methods such as fully stocking a floor, fulfilling a request to find a specific resident or ‘bitizen’ as they are known, or completing one of the weekly missions.  The missions involve collecting specific items with a connected theme.  For example the ‘A Baby Is Born!’ mission involves collecting 2,700 family portraits from the Photo Studio and 270 toy blocks from the Toy Store.

Once you have accumulated enough Towerbux you can then spend them on practical uses, such as upgrading your floors so they can hold more stock, or on more frivolous goals such as buying fun outfits for your bitizens, for example chicken, robot or caveman costumes among many others.

Sunday, 3 June 2012

Movie: Super

Rainn Wilson and Ellen Page as
The Crimson Bolt and Boltie.

"Shut Up, Crime!"

Super tells the story of Frank Darbo who on discovering his wife has left him for a local drug baron, decides to put on his hero costume and adopt the persona of The Crimson Bolt as he takes to the streets to fight crime, at times in an extremely violent manner.

I suspect the extremeness of the violence is probably meant to be a parody of comic book violence but whatever the motivation behind it, it’s still approaching gruesome at times and therefore the humour is for the most part quite dark.  It would be fair to say that Frank’s methods of dealing with crime are closer to those of The Punisher rather than the likes of Spiderman or a similarly more family friendly super hero.

I’m a massive fan of The Office and so it was Rainn Wilson’s presence that first brought Super to my attention.  However, in some ways the character of Frank Darbo is the very opposite of Dwight Schrute, although there are some similarities.  For example Frank is a similarly dorky character, but unlike Dwight he is well aware of this fact and suffers from major self-confidence issues.  Frank’s behaviour is extremely unhinged at times, and some of his more severe actions even make Dwight look the model of sensibility and normality.