‘Sherlock – The Great Game’.

The other day, I found myself analysing the person in front of me in a Sherlock Holmes style. Sherlock, that is, in 2010. “Hm.. Sporting a blue plaster? Works in the catering industry. Chavy clothing though. Works in a chain pub. He’s carrying.. Knives?! Well he’s illegal but he clearly cares about his profession. Taking knives home to sharpen them..?” As I passed this chap on the street, I realised he was foreign – which was clearly my one great mistake. He was probably a brilliant chef but no one here would give him a chance.

Huge, probably wildly inaccurate, assumptions.

But yes, the point is ‘Sherlock’ is addictive and makes you want to be a consulting detective. Really. He makes detecting cool. And it must be so much fun acting the analysing scenes – the greatest moments of his career centres around making everyone else look incredibly thick because Sherlock can work out the hugest facts on the tiniest details. I WANT TO DO THIS.

‘Great Games’ reminded me of the 1939 Sherlock Holmes (with Basil Rathbone), ‘The Adventures Of-‘, which is a fantastic watch really. The main idea was that there were many small puzzles for Holmes to solve, whilst one huge one that he didn’t think was that important was going on in the background. Rookie mistake Holmes. This episode was also the first proper introduction of Moriarty, and it didn’t disappoint.

It starts with Holmes being bored in Baker Street, without a case to solve. He is disappointed with the criminals of London. After a gas-explosion, Mycroft visits and tries to persuade his brother to investigate the death of a MI5 employee, Andrew West, who was in possession of some highly important information. Holmes says no.

But then Sherlock is called to Scotland Yard, where he is given a package containing a pink mobile phone, similar to the one in ‘A Study In Pink’. A message on the phone is a recording of the Greenwich Pips – presumably an updated version of ‘The Five Orange Pips’ – and soon Sherlock starts receiving calls from unsuspecting members of the public who have had explosives strapped to them. These people give Holmes a number of hours in which to solve a puzzle, and if he doesn’t solve them, the explosives on the victim are detonated.

Case One involves Carl Powers, a boy who was drowned in a swimming pool in 1989. Being interested in the case at the time, but underage, Holmes was unable to do anything about it, but now a picture of 221C Baker Street (the basement flat of his building) is sent to his new pink mobile, and the trainers of Carl Powers sit there. Through analysing the trainers, Holmes solves the first case by detecting that Powers was poisoned through his eczema medicine – Case One is solved, and Victim One is saved.

Case Two – another photo message is sent to the pink mobile, this time of a car. When the car is found, a quantity of blood is discovered in it, and the assumption is made that the owner of the car, Ian Monkford, has died. But that is what we are supposed to believe – after Holmes finds a card for a rental service in the glove compartment, and talking to his ‘widow’, and analysing the clues, Sherlock discovers that Mr Monkford used the rental service to help him disappear, and set up a new life in Columbia. Job done.

Case Three involves a TV personality and make-over host, Connie Prince, who has died from a tetanus. Although it suspected she cut herself on a nail, Holmes blows this theory out of the proverbial water by pointing out the wound was made after death, and that it was Connie Prince’s housekeeper Raoul (how cliché…) who had poisoned her Botox injections to murder her. Holmes solves the case in time, but as Victim Three starts describing the perpetrator during her call to Holmes, the building she is in is blown up, and twelve people die. That Moriarty bastard.

Case Four – Alex Woodbridge. This was a particularly good one, and a photo of the Thames is sent to Holmes, via the pink phone. Checking the high and low tides, Holmes finds a body that has been lying under the water, and after a quick glance at the victim, he can tell Lestrade and Watson where he works and why he has been killed – a supposedly lost painting, worth £3 million, has been discovered and is to be unveiled at the museum that the dead man works at. Clearly the dead man knew, and so he had to die. OUTSTANDING analysis from Holmes here, who has about ten seconds to solve the case – or a child dies. He realises that a star, discovered in 1858, is painting into the picture. If this picture is supposed to be genuine, it cannot have been painted in the 1640s. Child survives. 1-Up Holmes.

Case Five – we are back to the underlying story of Andrew West, the murdered MI5 employee. After breaking into his brother-in-law’s flat and confronting him, said brother-in-law confesses and tells them about owing money to drug dealers, and how the important information that Andrew West was possessing could help him out of his debts. The death of West was an accident, and the information is reclaimed.

The episode ends in a stand-off between Moriarty and Holmes, at the swimming pool that Carl Powers died in (how sick). As his victim this time, Moriarty has Watson. Ouch. A discussion between whose mind is better ensues, and the scene ends with lasers from snipers on both Holmes and Watson, and Holmes trying to decide what to aim at with his gun – Moriarty or Watson’s explosive vest?

WHEN WILL THE NEXT SERIES BE?! Hurry up yes? Good.

You said it Holmes.

Song Of The Day #14.

This is an odd choice for me…

The Beatles – Things We Said Today

I am not the biggest Beatles fan in the world – in fact I’d be the first to tell  hardcore fan who starts warbling on about how they’re the “greatest band in the world” to fuck off. Mainly because said fan would tell me I have to like them too, because this fact is so obviously fact. *cough*

However, that’s not to say that The Beatles are bad musicians or a crime against rhythm at all – indeed, they have some absolute tunes, including ‘Eight Days A Week’, ‘Lady Madonna’, ‘I’m Looking Through You’ and maybe some others… But it REALLY puts me off something if I’m told to like it. Just because everyone else does.

That aside, check out this apparently little-known track from the third studio album ‘A Hard Day’s Night’, released in 1964 –

I think I like this song better because I didn’t know it was by said Beatles until I looked it up.

Music Monday – The Besnard Lakes.

(I am aware it’s not Monday, but Music Monday hasn’t happened in so long! It returns here…)

So. Usual set-up, Tom gets all excited about a gig, I say yes because I’m his gig buddy, am disappointed my gig research, and then am dubious about the supports – as, if the main act isn’t promising, surely the supports will be dire? – and we always miss the end of gigs. As we aren’t rich enough for a car, and have to rely on public transport.

The Lakes Of Besnard

Right, in all but one point. The supports were pretty good! This is potentially because I’m always expecting them to be awful, but then the surprise me by not only being able to play their instruments, but also playing good music. Good, in that I actually quite like it on first listen. This is rare, and if it comes from a support band, then they can’t be too bad can they?

This gig was on Sunday night (the 22nd) at the Fleece in Bristol, and after having spent a day wandering around the city, we were both pretty tired but still up for some musics 🙂 (Really, when are we not?) The Besnard Lakes were supported by Twin Falls (I can’t work out if this is supposed to be one word, or where they’re from) and Final Flash. The latter were from Canada, and I believe had supported said Lakes on the last few shows of this tour. I didn’t know th supports so had no research done for them, but both bands were rather enjoyable. Twin Falls played without a drummer – a point referenced in their set as “we usually have a drummer, but not today. It’s a nice chilled out set today”, and it was indeed. I would recommend they don’t use their drummer in future, as it gave their band a new sound that you don’t frequently hear: so many bands seem to assume a drummer is necessary. A beat and rhythm – fair, that is usually needed – but in this case, the lack of drummer gave their set a pleasantly relaxed ambience, and it was a very good contrast to what was going to happen later. The evening really did build into a crescendo of noise. It’s hard to describe what music Twin Falls were giving us, but they had four guitars (one acoustic, one bass and two electric) and a female singer. I’m not entirely sure if four guitars were necessary, but they made a good sound and their set went quickly – this is seriously rare with supports. Good work, I enjoyed!

Now – since there is nowhere to sit in the Fleece, we went to the slightly seedy pub next door and shared a pint as our funds were low. How cute. However, their was a juke box within this place, and it played ‘Give Up The Funk’ by Parliament – a tune and a half by anyone’s standards. This broke up the evening nicely, and we returned to the majority of Final Flash’s set. This band has a lot of energy it would seem, and gave it their all during

Final Flash

their music. It was a slightly disappointing to see that Jeff was the only one getting his groove on (as is frequently the case at Bristol gigs), as when a band is putting on such a performance, it feels like the audience should give the same back. But then there was much clapping and cheering post-song, so not all was lost. I enjoyed their music too – it was a little loud, but energetic, pretty melodic, and with good beats, so what’s not to like? I am very appreciative of music that is accessible on first listen, and this was some of it which makes it even better. Again, good work Final Flash, I liked it.

Now. The Besnard Lakes. Formed of Canadian husband and wife team Jace Lasek (a scary looking chap) and Olga Goreas, they are loud, noisy and monotonous. I have discovered one track of theirs that I like, entitled ‘And This Is What We Call Progress’, which we did not see them play, and my gig research on this one was spot on. No. I think it’s just not my kind of music. They played their music well and seem to have a theme going on, which all the songs fit to, but it is most definitely not my theme and I’m not hugely bothered we only saw 25 minutes of them. Unlike someone… My gig buddy was not pleased about having to catch the 11:10 train. We haven’t seen the end of many gigs in Bristol.

So what exactly did I not like about these Lakes? It seemed to me that, even though their was a four-piece band, and it was supposedly the project of a duo, that this was very much one man’s band. Scary-looking Lasek that is, and the times that no one else was playing and he was falsetto-ing over and over was almost cringe-worthy. The first song they played was good in that it started off quietly and build up to a pretty epic finish, but they somewhat self-indulgently didn’t stop playing and sunk straight into the next song (I had to confirm it was the next song with my gig buddy), and each time they started a new tune, my thoughts read “Isn’t this the same song..?” Unlike Twin Falls, The Besnard Lakes seemed to think the louder the better, and I think this is the first gig where I’ve actually come away with a headache. A real one. Not even Mogwai managed that! So I guess Besnard Lakes achieved something. No I would not see them again, but that doesn’t mean they’re terrible. Well they are to me, but I prefer more melodic, quieter, (better), less monotonous tunes. Tunes, I really like tunes.

In conclusion, it was all about the supports for me in this gig, and the fact we saw more of them than Besnard Lakes did not annoy or vex me. Having said that, I would take more Besnard Lakes any day to make my gig buddy smile a bit more 🙂

Song Of The Day #13.

John Williams – Schindler’s List

A cracking theme from a not-very-exciting composer. Obviously, due to the nature of the film, it is a sombre tune, but try not to think of a lot Nazis killing many more Jews won’t you? This is a genius piece on its own, and although it fits in very well with the theme of the film, it doesn’t need the actors and costumes and lighting to be acceptable. If you haven’t heard it, try it now:

Song Of The Day #12.

Walter Murphy – A Fifth Of Beethoven (Soulwax Remix)

This song – as a regular pop song – was first pressed upon me in the ’90s when some chap called A+ (his rapping name) sampled it in his 1999 hit ‘Enjoy Yourself’. Which I think we’ll all agree was immense. At the time. It was first created, as the title suggests, by someone called Walter Murphy, who released it in 1976 with his Big Apple Band. Known as “disco instrumental”, it sounds pretty, on paper, pretty naff. Contrary to popular belief, however, disco is not crap. Disco is awesome. And it is made even more awesome when Belgian duo Soulwax are allowed to work their skills on it – this is what they came up with:

Song Of The Day #11.



Obvious, but still a CHOON.

The Whip – Trash

Used for about a thousand adverts, most recently I’ve seen for Coors Light, this is potentially one of those tracks that you know but don’t know the name. Hopefully you’ve always wanted to know. Because you do now!

The Tuesday Muse – Tea Time.

Ahh tea time. 4pm. The kettle’s hot, the teapot’s ready for filling, and there is a full cake stand.

Except – when does this ever happen?

Never. Unless you have high tea at fancy school, or it’s the holidays, or you’re retired. Or if you finish work at 3:30, like me.

Tea? Coffee? Obviously tea, but which one? I’m not sure if there’s too many teas, or the selection is just brilliant. I am partial to a certain weird one called Lapsang Souchong – it’s made by smoking the leaves over burning pine needles – but Assam is just fine. I have qualms with English Breakfast, because if you’re going to blend things, surely you should make your own blend? Hence antique tea caddies with two compartments for two teas, that you can choose the amount of which you blend with. But I suppose it will do if there’s nothing else.

Now – milk? Yes? No? Yes with generic Indian tea, huge no to Earl Grey and others. You know, the ones where milk ruins the taste. Even though people insist on it. At work, I frequently get odd looks if I ask if milk is required in someone’s Earl Grey – as if it’s the most obvious thing in the world to add it. Weird people. Having said that, one bird was posh enough to ask for a slice of lemon the other day. Even I don’t do that.

No one has time to make cake anymore either. This I regard as a great shame as homemade cake is so much nicer than shop-bought. Found a marvellous recipe from Hugh which is a regular sponge where you weigh the eggs (in the shells) and however much they weigh, you use the same amount of sugar, butter and flour. Basically it sounds like a pound cake, but it turns out excellent, and much nicer than pound cake sounds. There seems to be a currently craze of cute cupcake things going on, like tea and cake time is the quaintest thing in the world and we just HAVE to have tea darling! But really – huge slab of freaking awesome cake? Or tiny cupcake that is a fifth of the size? Man cake or poncy girly cake? I ask you.

I know it's not exactly "trad" but it IS awesome 😀

Having said that, cake is not the only option. Crumpets? I think so. Muffins also, but not really scones… And what’s with clotted cream? Just no. Not really cookies either – they’re more a “with milk” thing, or a midnight option, but tea and cookies don’t sound well together, so the likelihood is that they won’t go well together. Not like cake does.

I feel we should all be allowed tea time. Even my dad (who saves lives every day in the hospital) has tea time. Things are so civilised in the NHS. I’m sure someone will say that NHS workers shouldn’t have tea time as it’s our taxes paying for it – but whatever. Free health service? Yes please. Tea, being “what made Dr Watson and the British Empire what it is today”, is the cornerstone of comfort, and is a lovely way to start and end the day. Always best at 4pm with cake though.

‘Sherlock – The Blind Banker’.

Although not exactly how I would imagine Sherlock Holmes, Benedict Cumberbatch’s portrayal and appearance of him is almost spot on.

Is he about to kill me..?

The second episode in this now confirmed first series, called ‘The Blind Banker’ was still rather good, though the story line was a little far-flung for my liking. On research, it seems there was a different writer from the first to the second episode – so this is the most likely explanation.

First of all, ‘The Blind Banker’ is missing Lestrade. Fair enough, not all Holmes stories have Lestrade in it, but why take him out so soon? Having said that, it could be a pattern of things to come, but I was more impressed with modern-day Lestrade than with this episode’s replacement, who rejects Holmes’ input until he solves the mystery. He was a little irritating as his character was somewhat exaggerated, but not to worry – he wasn’t in it much.

There's a lot of teapots involved

Now to the murders. We start with a break-in at a fancy bank whose workers would be described as working “in the city”. Mr bank manager is a bit of a tosser – but a comical one – and he offers Sherlock a “five-figure sum” to find out who spray-painted what looks like meaningless squiggles on a painting in the building. After a little investigation, Holmes obviously works out who these symbols are intended for (despite the bank having hundreds – maybe even thousands – of employees), and they pay this chap a visit. Except he’s already dead. The same thing happens to a journalist the next day, the same symbols being found. On the surface of it, it looks completely ridiculous and obviously there aren’t enough clues for Watson or the audience to work anything out at present. After some more investigation, Holmes and Watson find themselves in China Town, and, after finding similar symbols on items in a shop, they start to piece together the puzzle. They have discovered a smuggling ring called the Black Lotus, who leave origami black flowers on their dead victims. The banker and the journalist were clearly part of this ring – but why were they killed? What had they done wrong? Stolen a valuable item? Yes!

So after some more research, more good lines, and more patronising tones from Holmes, the code from the symbols is cracked, and the climax of the episode ensues. While Holmes has been detecting, Watson has been getting a new job and a potential new bird, who he goes on a ‘date’ with – except it’s not really a date as Sherlock thinks it’s perfectly fine if he joins them too. They go to see a display of Chinese circus acts, but the reason for the artists to be in England is

much more sinister, as we soon discover. Inevitably, Sherlock disregards all social conventions and takes on one of the circus members, which ends in Watson and his lady friend joining in, and the latter two being tied up and held at arrow-point, by the head of the Black Lotus society. After a few heart-rendering moments, Holmes saves both Watson and girl, kills the two henchmen, but the head of Black Lotus escapes. In the finally scene, she is seen talking on the internet with someone who is dubbed “M” – presumably to make us think it’s either Moriarty or Mycroft – but then is shot in the head. A satisfying end!

You can tell it’s a different writer than the first – this plot line is a little fanciful and I found it slightly disappointing in that a “crime syndicate” and a band of smugglers is not only a bit of a cliché, it’s also a bit of a cop-out. Think of a real plot! That aside, it was still a very enjoyable watch, and the attention to detail in the episodes is quite excellent really. I like the way it caters for an intelligent audience whilst helping you through the detection process, and it is pleasantly updated. It’s a modernised Holmes, but still with his personality – Holmes for the 21st century. He has “three patch problems” instead of three injections of cocaine. And of course he would use the Internet, mobile phones and GPS.

Next time I’m going to watch this when it’s actually on.

Song Of The Day #10.

The National – Anyone’s Ghost

This band opened their set at Glastonbury with this absolute belter off of their latest album, ‘High Violet’. Their performance was immense, and so is this tune. There really isn’t much else to say except that it’s amazing and you should all be listening to it and them 😀

Song Of The Day #9.

Arcade Fire – Modern Man

I’m tempted to review this album in full at a later date… But this new offering from Arcade Fire isn’t too bad so far! Three tracks in and ‘Modern Man’ has been my favourite track so far – the first two came across as a little samey, although I wasn’t paying as much attention to them… Anyway, after three years, ‘The Suburbs’ seems to be everyone’s new favourite album – this is even reflected in album charts across the globe, as it’s reached #1 in Canada (unsurprisingly), the UK, the US, France, Ireland, Portugal, Norway… And probably a lot of other places to.

Anyway, hoping this track may inspire you to make it your album of the year, listen to ‘Modern Man’ –