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Archive for April, 2021

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The Falcon and The Winter Soldier

As I have already been writing about TV shows I’ve been watching, I may as well continue. I finished watching the latest MCU show Disney+, The Falcon and The Winter Soldier.

Of all the Marvel Disney+ series announced, this is the one I was looking forward to the most. And it was very much as I expected. It was solid, actiony stuff with plenty of quips and character development for Bucky and Sam. And I enjoyed it.

Unlike WandaVision, there weren’t as many surprises and twists. And I didn’t feel the need to each week to call a friend afterwards to try and get our heads around what the hell was going on, but then I was hardly expecting to have to do that for WandaVision.

Anthony Mackie was great. And by the end, it felt like he had well and truly earned his place as the new Captain America. I really liked his suit, but would have liked a bit more a Wakanda-style look considering that’s where it was made. Also, get this man a helmet. Otherwise, he’s going to get a serious head injury.

I’m now not quite sure where Bucky’s meant to go now. By the end of the series, everything had pretty much been wrapped up for the character. He’s 104 years old, so perhaps he’s going to enjoy some retirement, or do the Steve Rogers things of going back in time to have a normal life.

Baron Zemo’s return was a lot of fun and definitely elevated the character from Civil War.

The new Cap, John Walker, was a great character. He wasn’t a total villain, but also certainly wasn’t a hero. I’m really looking forward to seeing what they do with the character in future. And I would also very much be up for a film focusing on Isaiah Bradley.

What didn’t quite work was the show’s villains, bringing back a traditional from the MCU Phase 1.

Many people have commented on how the Flagsmashers weren’t the best and I agree with this. They never really felt like much of a threat, Super Soldier serum and all. There are rumours that there was a pandemic storyline central to them was cut as it was a little too close to home, but I don’t know.

The Flagsmashers being led by someone considerably younger than everyone else in the group was never really explained and there was nothing we saw in the show that justified it. Presumably, the older actors were chosen for martial arts skills more than anything else. So it was a bit like veterans from Power Rangers being led by someone from Byker Grove. Everything just felt a bit off, which is very rare for Marvel.

What would have been better was if the whole group was much younger. Say, 17 and 18 year olds who were aged about 12-13 when Thanos snapped his fingers and had 50% of everything taken away from them. The age of the leader would have made more sense this way, and it would have also been more shocking when John Walker caved in the chest of a teenager than a fully grown man.

And then there was the Power Broker, and it was pretty easy to predict their identity. Although who is she working with? There is still some intrigue left there, so that’s a good thing.

Regardless, I enjoyed the series. Even if it didn’t get everything right, there was enough good stuff in there to enjoy. It’s always a good sign when a series ends that you want to see what happens next with the characters and I am looking forward to seeing where their adventures take them.

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Edinburgh Fringe is happening?

The organisers of Edinburgh Fringe have announced this week that they’re cracking on with proceedings. I can understand why they’re doing it, as it is kind of their thing and all.

The fact that they’re not printing a paper programme suggests that they’re not exactly confident that it will go ahead as planned. They’re planning on running online shows, as well as performances in the actual physical realm.

Whatever does go ahead in the real world will almost recently require some form of social distancing, which as I’ve said before on here will wipe out large swathes of venues. And the shows being planned outdoors are entirely dependent on the Scottish weather. And let’s just say Scottish rain doesn’t exactly hold back when it gets going.

I also don’t think the organisers have given enough thought on whether punters will feel comfortable going and mixing in and around with thousands of strangers from all over the place, especially with mutant variants of Covid appearing frequently.

Even if the entire country is vaccinated by that point, there will almost inevitably still be outbreaks of the virus one way or another.

Then another factor is that if performers are up there for the full month, they will be suffering from weakened immune systems. By the final week comes around, I am almost always running on empty. Edinburgh Lurgy is a very real thing. Combine that with Covid and you have a massive problem on your hands.

There are a couple of indicators for how a festival in the time of Covid could look.

In Perth this year, the fringe festival there had to shut down completely for a few days when there was an outbreak of Covid recorded in the city. Shows did restart again when they managed to track down and isolated whoever it was and who they’d been in contact with. It’s easy to see something similar happening during Edinburgh, albeit on a far more problematic scale.

And at NZ Fringe in Wellington, venues were running with reduced capacities. And Australia and New Zealand are countries with significantly better records on controlling the diseases.

We will just have to wait and see what unfolds.

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Joke writing

—- This was originally written on Sunday to keep up with my sort-of New Year’s Resolution of putting something on here every week. —-

Since the pandemic began, I have written very little stand-up material. There’s a certain musical I’m working on, or at least I’m meant to be working on, but that’s not quite the same thing.

I’ve tried sitting down and writing jokes, but very little ever materialises. This is partly because there are currently no gigs where I can perform at. And without having an hour’s show to work on, or even 20 minutes followed by a quiz, I find it difficult to write anything. And my progress on that particular musical is also being stunted by not having any performances on the horizon.

Then a couple of weeks ago when I was taking my dog for a walk, I started thinking of one-liners as a character. Very soon, I had a dozen or so. And I think some might actually be pretty good. The character is called Dave Plums and he’s an unemployed weirdo, so totally different from me. I’ve found that having a distinctive voice in my head when thinking up mateiral is really helpful. Writing as a character also takes the pressure off, as Dave Plums hasn’t desperately been trying to cling onto the success quiz-based comedy show. But then I already knew this, I’d just forgotten.

A more established comedian told me five years ago that I needed to decide what type of comedian I wanted to be, either just do one-liners or stories instead of mixing the two. It made a lot of sense, but I did nothing about it and persisted doing what I always did. I’ve always thought of myself as closer to being a one-liner comic than a storyteller. I find one-liners far easier to write and it feels more comfortable to perform them. But just to confuse matters further, a promoter of an established comedy night in London said to me in September 2019 that I was a natural storyteller. And I also sort of agree with this.

So I now will be splitting my material into two groups. Dave Plums will take all the one-liners, and stories will be left to me – unless I choose to give those to another persona. I’m not ruling this out.

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Exhausting

When I was driving home from the supermarket the other day, the exhaust on my car fell off.

And by “the other day”, I mean last week. As I had something to write about last week, I made a conscious decision to save the exhaust incident for another week. This gives you an idea of how action-packed my life is during the pandemic.

When it happened, I was thankfully only about 20 seconds away from the garage my family has been going to cars fixed for more than 30 years. I’ve driven this particular car all over the country, all around Yorkshire, up to the north of Scotland, and the west coast of Wales. So if something like this was going to happen anywhere, it’s incredibly fortunate that it happened where it did.

I thought that the repairs would cost me a lot, especially after I saw the mechanic removing a long piece of metal from underneath the vehicle. But I was amazed when they only charged £20.

In August, it will be 20 years since I first got behind the wheel of a car when I began my driving lessons. Yet two decades later, I still know very little about cars other than how to drive them.

It’s only really been in the last five years that I’ve learned how to check the levels inside the engine and what the correct tyre pressure should be. They really should teach this sort of thing in driving lessons. It was only when I bought a car that I realised I really should know a bit more about how to maintain it.

On the whole, it’s been a good car and this is only time when anything’s gone wrong on the road since I bought it five years ago. Admittedly, it does have a lot more sctatches and dents these days.

If I am moving back to London later in the year, I’m thinking I probably won’t take my car with me. For one thing, parking will likely be a lot of hassle. For another, it almost certainly won’t fit on the train.