Category Archives: Reviews

What I’ve been listening to in 2013

Here is my now-traditional top-ten list of the albums I’ve listened to the most in the previous calendar year. (See previous entries for 2012, 20112010 and 2009.) Note that this is for 2013, not 2014 — I won’t know the final 2014 tallies for another few weeks, and I want to get this out before it’s a whole year late.

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I listen much more to whole albums than to individual tracks, so each year I pick the ten albums that I listened to the most (not counting compilations), as recorded on the two computers where I listen to most of my music. (So these counts don’t include listening in the car or on the iPod.) I limit the selection to no more than one album per artist, and skip albums that have featured in previous years. Then from each of those ten objectively selected albums, I subjectively pick one song that I feel is representative.

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What I’ve been reading lately, part 1

It occurred to me recently that, since my Kindle lists books in the order of how recently I’ve had them open, the first few pages of its index are a useful reverse-chronological order record of what I’ve recently read (at least, once I discard the entries for books that I’ve not yet finished).

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Years ago, I used to keep a record of what books I’d read; I’m not sure why I stopped doing it, but I kind of regret it. Now that I have a record of my more recent reads, I thought it might be interesting to say a few words about each book. So here’s what I’ve read since I bought my new Kindle on 28 August (having had my old one stepped on).
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What I’ve been listening to in 2009

[This post is adapted from the original text-only version written in early 2010. I’ve edited only lightly. I’m posting it now because I like having all the “What I’ve been listening to …” posts in one place, in a single format.]

This year, I wanted to choose a Best Of collection of songs, in part as a response to my old colleague Alec Turner, who made a Best Of 2009 that was too horrible to contemplate, and left me needing to wash the bad sounds out of my ears.

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Jerry Springer: The Opera: the review

Because of a cancelled flight, I have a very rare evening of solitude (sitting around in an airport hotel) with no immediate demands on my time. Being an enormous fan of Stewart Lee, I took the opportunity to watch Jerry Springer: The Opera, which he co-wrote the words for (along with composer Richard Thomas).

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Well, that was two hours wasted.

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Two film reviews: The Desolation of Smaug and The Desolation of Smaug

I’m just back from seeing The Desolation of Smaug with the family and I’m really not sure what to think. I enjoyed lots of things about it, but still left feeling very dissatisfied. I liked the Tolkien material very much; and I liked the comic barrels-and-dragons action-adventure lots, too. But I can’t for the life of me figure out what they’re doing in the same film.

The entrance to Laketown

The entrance to Laketown

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What I’ve been listening to in 2012

But Mike, 2013 is nearly over!

True; but I won’t be able to tell you until 2014 what I’ve been listening to in 2013, so this is the moment to publish my much-delayed 2012 list.

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Last year, I did this across a sequence of twelve separate posts (introduction, ten individual albums starting here, and a summary). That felt like a bit of a slog, and half of the album posts garnered no comments at all; so this year we’re back to the more compact format that I used for the 2010 list.

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James Bond movies, part 6: Pierce Brosnan

[This series has been dormant for a while, but here is the penultimate part. To refresh your memory, see part 1, part 2, part 3, part 4 and part 5.]

I have two confessions to make about Brosnan’s four Bond films.

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First, they all blend into one in my mind in a way that none of the others’ films do. It’s pretty easy to keep (say) Thunderball and You Only Live Twice separate; or Moonraker and For Your Eyes Only. But while I remember seeing Brosnan in a sequence where he’s chasing a nuclear bomb down the inside of an oil pipeline, I can’t honestly remember if it was Tomorrow Never Dies or The World Is Not Enough.

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