Review of Terry Pratchett’s Hogfather (Spoiler free)

I’ve been threatening/planning to reread Terry Pratchett’s comic fantasy classic series of Discworld and at last apathy has been overcome. So grab hold of the giant flying turtle, do not call the passenger next to you a monkey and, please sir, stow that suitcase away in the overhead compartment (no I don’t care if it has legs).

So ignore the throbbing pain in your shins we’re mixing metaphors and hopping aboard the Discworld express as it winds it’s way down from the Sto plains to Ankh-Morpork.

Due to some temporal confusion our first stop is not ‘The Colour of Magic’ but is in fact the ‘Hogfather’. Lets do a plot synopsis..

Hogfather – The Plot

It’s the most wonderful time of the year. Hogswatch i.e. Saturnalia. Right at this moment the Hogfather should be abseiling his way down chimneys delivering presents to excited children.

There is a slight snafu though the Hogfather is not anywhere to be found and in his place DEATH has taken it upon himself to deliver presents to the world’s children, one computer and a Librarian Orangutan that you definitely shouldn’t call a monkey.

DEATH‘s granddaughter Susan De’Ath finds this, understandably, slightly troublingly and sets about to investigate. Her sleuthing takes her to a collapsing castle of bones, the Unseen University and a place where the sky doesn’t meet the ground. Along the way she meets the Oh god of Hanggovers, the Veruca Gnome, Cheefulness Fairy and a maniac assassin who looks at the world as if through a cracked mirror…

Review

The first thing I want to say is if you haven’t read any other Discworld books don’t be put off by the plot synopsis or the fact that this is the 20th in the series. To enjoy this book you don’t have to have read any of Pratchett’s other works.

The second thing I want to say is that this book is funny. There are large sections of this book with the wizard’s and Bloody Stupid Johnson, DEATH , the Ankh-Morpork Beggars and assorted others that are laugh out loud funny. The book is worth picking just for the jokes alone. It is certainly funnier than almost any sitcom, romcom or standup routine.

Thirdly, this book has a great plot, a great heroine and a brilliant villain. The plot so this book is brilliantly clever playing around with ideas of faith, ritual, tradition and well ideas. These concepts really appeal to me.

The heroine Susan De’Ath is kickass clever using a poker to beat up monsters like the boogeyman and Mister Teatime (pronounced Teh-ah-tim-eh)  is one of the most chillingly creepy villains I have ever come across. All great stories need a memorable villain and Mister Teatime is probably Pratchett’s best.

Unsurprisingly, the author puts it better than I ever could so here is a couple of quotes about Mister Teatime. The first from Head of the Assassins Guild Lord Downey

“We took pity on him because he lost both parents at an early age. I think, on reflection, that we should have wondered a bit more about that.”

The second “Mister Teatime had a truly brilliant, but it was brilliant like a fractured mirror, all marvelous facets and rainbows but, ultimately, also something that was broken.”

And the third upon being told some heroes have arrived on the scene to stop him ” ‘Well?’ said Teatime. ‘Just… do away with them.’ …..

Chickenwire coughed. ‘Don’t you want to find out why they’re here, sir?

‘Good heavens, no. Why should I want to do that?”

Finally, Pratchett’s writing is sublime. Without using lots of language he is able to create a vivid picture of the world and its characters. Each scene is allows the reader to inhabit the Discworld and the characters by grounding even the most fantastical stuff in human experience.

All of the Discworld books are worth a read but Hogfather is is Magnum Opus. It truly is a holiday and literary classic. So get in the holiday season early this year with Terry Pratchett’s Hogfather.

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Review of Archer Season 5 Episode 5 – Southbound and Down

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So after breaks for the Superbowl and the Sochi Olympics Archer is back on our screens and I couldn’t be happier even if I was munching on one of Pam’s special cupcakes (although my heart would certainly be beating faster).

ImageWell, at least I think that’s cupcake residue. There is the possibility it’s “snowball” related because, in Pam’s words “truck stops are fun”. Warning google ‘snowballing’ and ‘truck stops’ at your own risk. It’s a one way ticket to some dark places that you just cannot unsee.

So anyway, stepping out of one of the internet’s darker alleys, the plot of this episode is a deliberate homage to the Burt Reynold’s film “Smokey and the Bandit”. The gang has to get Charlene aka Cheryl aka the rich crazy railway heiress (I can never remember her name) to Texas in 24 hours.

Que hilarity as Archer brings some cocaine along to sell and Pam tells a every trucker about said drugs betwixt snowball sessions. Leading to the gang’s pursuit by a biker gang.

As you would expect with Archer the episode clips along at a reasonable pace interspersed with laughs. My favourites being 30-year-old Archer getting upset at not getting a Bert Reynold’s doll for his birthday and Krieger forcing Ray to frog march doing a Nazi salute. Reminding us all that he is a possible genetic clone of Adolf Hitler.

So another solid but ultimately unspectacular episode. I’d give it a B-.

I’m left wondering why this is?

I haven’t checked my reviews but other than the first episode there is no single episode of the season that I look back on as being worthy of an A grade.

Now I am I’m all for Archer, the show, growing and taking chances but can they include Archer, the character, in the action a bit more.

He wasn’t the driving force of ‘Southbound and Down’ and looking back through the rest of this season the same holds true for the other episodes. More Archer please!!!

Review Archer Season 5 Episode 1 – White Elephant (Literally many plot and joke spoilers)

Change can be a very good thing

I am a huge Archer fan. It is the most consistently funny and clever show knocking around at the moment. It’s like Family Guy on speed back when Family Guy was great. Archer also tends to use literally and figuratively correctly which I am ashamed to say is something the pedant in me really appreciates.

Anyway coming back off the saddo tangent. The launch of the new series of Archer was always going to a must watch TV event. I am not going to lie though I was somewhat worried by the cryptic/teasing statements of the cast and crew at (i think) comiccon that they were going to change things.

Within the first thirty seconds of the episode though I knew that ‘we’ the audience were in good hands (Spoilers about to start). The tone of the opening as Archer comes into the ISIS office set to classic music followed by, wait for it, an FBI raid was a fantastic development. Yes ladies and gentlemen Archer is about to become an ‘official’ criminal.

I say ‘official’ because the arrest of everyone by the FBI reveals an hilarious twist. One that in retrospect makes a whole lot of sense. ISIS has never had any authority or permission to conduct espionage operations so Archer has always been a criminal. This brings the first of a number of great lines (I’m paraphrasing slightly)

Lana “I asked you like 50 times if we had permission”

Mallory “and like fifty times I lied”

as usual the voice actors delivery for this was perfect.

From the arrest the episode moves onto interrogation and everyone (surprise!) tries to save their own skin only for Mallory to  swing immunity for everyone through some unknown means.

Bonus points go to Archer continuing to using the word “figuratively” correctly because back at the now defunct ISIS HQ that line sets him up to ask “What are we going to do with literally, not figuratively, a ton of cocaine?”

Que the reveal of literally a mountain of cocaine (and I just used literally wrong, curse the modern idiom!) and the soon to be immortal lines in response to lets become a cartel

Mallory “Well if Mexicans can do it”

We then get treated to an extended trailer to the rest of the series. In which I spotted movie references to The Fugitive, Life of Pi and Miami Vice and I’m pretty sure there were many many more.

Anyway time for a review 4.5/5. It literally (damn!) misses out on a 5 because it was too short (that’s what she said. Boom!).

Chris Christie and liberal media double standards

You may have noticed that GOP governor Chris Christie has gotten himself into a bit of trouble recently by causing a traffic jam on a bridge. It is of course right that questions are being asked.

What I want to know is why the media is not also focusing on the staff of a dangerously liberal President whose staff did the same thing and were caught on video tape doing so! This was filmed for an NBC documentary.