Mel’s Readings: August – September

SIGNS OF THE GODS?
Written by: Erich von Däniken
Read by: Peter Berkrot
Notes: A lot of what was in this book they’ve talked about in Ancient Aliens, but it was a fun read nonetheless. Crazy as all hell, but interesting.
Score: 8/10

SERIAL KILLERS: TRUE CRIME ANTHOLOGY 2014
Written by: Various, including Peter Vronsky and RJ Parker
Read by: Me
Notes: Enjoyed this one much more than the 2015 one, but that’s just because I didn’t have to listen to that droning voice reading it.
Score: 8/10

MAYA TO AZTEC: ANCIENT MEZOAMERICA REVEALED
Written by: Edwin Barnhart
Read by: Edwin Barnhart
Notes: Awesome, awesome, awesome! If you have even only a passing interest in the Mayans and/or other Mezoamerican cultures, I highly recommend this set of lectures. It was over 23 hours, but I absolutely inhaled it, and got sad when I had to turn it off.
Score: 10/10

DEAD EVER AFTER
Written by: Charlaine Harris
Read by: Me
Notes: So I finally got around to reading the last of the Sookie Stackhouse books (that’s the books that True Blood was based on… in the beginning, anyways). And it was a fine conclusion to the story, all ends neatly clipped and taken care of. While she didn’t end up with the person I’d hope she’d spend her life with in the end, I can’t dislike it just for that (like I’ve read from other readers).
Score: 8/10

DEAD ICE
Written by: Laurell K Hamilton
Read by: Kimberly Alexis
Notes: Finally, a strong entry from the Anita Blake series. The series, now at 26 books, has been in steady decline, but looks like Hamilton is finally listening to her readers, and took Anita’s head out of her ass, and gave her stuff to do other than complain and have power-gaining orgies. In this book, Anita goes back to her roots, and Hamilton delivers a fine book filled with zombies, magic, and crazy bad guys. It would have had a perfect score, but Hamilton tends to repeat herself… a lot. A good 2 or 3 hours could have been shaved off the 20 hour reading time easily, I’m sure, and we’d have lost none of the current story.
Score: 8/10

GREAT PHARAOHS OF ANCIENT EGYPT
Written by: Bob Brier
Read by: Bob Brier
Notes: A little disappointed with this one, not because it’s uninteresting, but because it’s an almost word for word redux of certain lectures from his The History of Ancient Egypt, which I’d already listened to. Still gets a perfect score, though, because it is still an excellent set of lectures.
Score: 10/10

THE VIKINGS
Written by: Kenneth W Harl
Read by: Kenneth W Harl
Notes: Awesome beginning, meh middle, good end. The middle was meh because they went on and on about the Viking’s conversion to Christianity. The first lecture about it was fine. But then there were more; how Sweden converted, how Finland converted, how Norway converted, how Iceland converted, how… we get it, they converted, move on. And the, um, lecturer, uh, always seemed to, uh, need to, um, search for his, er, words. I got used to it, but it was annoying at first. There were also people occasionally heard in the background, and there was a constant humming sound, like he was right beside an AC or something.
Score: 7/10

THE HISTORY OF ANCIENT ROME
Written by: Garrett G Fagan
Read by: Garrett G Fagan
Notes: I really want to give this one a perfect score, cause it was so very interesting, but I can’t. Not with this lecturer. I did finally manage to get used to his way for speaking, but it took me half the course. He’d pause right in the middle of……. a sentence, for a real long time sometimes, too. But the course was so amazing that I’m only going to knock him half a point for it.
Score: 9.5/10

LOST WORLDS OF SOUTH AMERICA
Written by: Edwin Barnhart
Read by: Edwin Barnhart
Notes: Not quite as good as Maya to Aztec, but still very, very good. You can almost never go wrong with The Great Courses.
Score: 10/10

RED LAND, BLACK LAND
Written by: Barbara Mertz
Read by: Lorna Raver
Notes: Absolutely stunning portrayal of life in Ancient Egypt, told with perspective and humour. Excellent!
Score: 10/10

THE THEORY OF EVERYTHING
Written by: Stephen Hawking
Read by: Michael York
Notes: Excellent, but rather repetitive if you, like I, have already read A Brief History of Time. Still, the man is brilliant, no denying that!
Score: 9/10

My Top 10 Documentaries

This will be a list of my favourite documentaries that were one-offs, meaning that they were only made as a one time thing, either as one movie length show, or a single season comprising of 15 episodes or less. I’ll make another post some other time about my favourite documentary series’. I was going to put them all together, but I realized that with the amount of documentary stuff I watched I’d never be able to keep the list relatively short if I did that, so I’m splitting it. I really enjoyed the new format I tried in my Top Horror Films post, so I’ll see if I can integrate it into my longer articles, making them easier to read. At least, that’s what I think. Am I right? Is it a good format? Let me know!

And now, without any further ado, let’s get this show on the road! 😀

NUMBER TEN

10 Gates of Hell

 

10 GoHTitle: Gates of Hell
Made by/for: History channel
Released in: 2010
Subject: Ancient beliefs that hell was a real place that could be reached from the physical world.
Narrated by: George Kourounis
Written by: Stephen Dost
5 Second Synopsis: A lot of ancient cultures believed that not only was Hell real, but it could be reached from certain places on Earth. We follow guides to seven such places to uncover the stories and mythologies each place holds.
Why I love It: I wasn’t sure I’d actually like this one,since I don’t particularly enjoying watching religious stuff, but I love ancient history, and mythology was a huge part of most ancient cultures, so I gave it a try, and I’m glad I did. It was very interesting, providing facts, and not just preaching fire and brimstone, which is what I was afraid of.

 

NUMBER NINE

9 Nightmares in Red, White, and Blue

 

9 NiRWaBTitle: Nightmares in Red, White, and Blue
Made by/for: Lux Digital Pictures
Released in: 2009
Subject: Horror movies
Narrated by: Lance Henriksen
Written by: Joseph Maddrey
5 Second Synopsis: An exploration of the appeal of horror films, with interviews of many legendary directors in the genre.
Why I love It:  I’m pretty sure I don’t have to explain myself here. It’s a documentary about horror films, how could I not love it?? hehe

 

NUMBER EIGHT

8 Ancients Behaving Badly

 

8 ABBTitle: Ancients Behaving Badly
Made by/for: History channel
Released in: 2009
Subject: Ancient rulers
Narrated by: Tom McCamus
Written by: unknown
5 Second Synopsis: Historians discuss the rulers of the ancient world, and a psychologist tries to profile them by examining their deeds.
Why I love It: It’s entertaining as well as informative, as all the good documentaries are. The animations are cool, too.

 

NUMBER SEVEN

7 C

 

NCOS7200Title: Cosmos: A SpaceTime Odyssey
Made by/for: National Geographic channel
Released in: 2014
Subject: The universe, cosmology and physics
Narrated by: Dr Neil deGrasse Tyson
Written by: Ann Druyan, Carl Sagan, and Steven Soter
5 Second Synopsis: Dr Tyson leads us on an engaging guided tour of the various elements and cosmological theories of the universe.
Why I love It: Cosmology and physics really fascinates me. I don’t always understand everything (I dare you to not get confused while listening to the String Theory), but I love it all the same. And when someone brilliant decides to “dumb it down” a little so laymen can get it (without treating us like morons, of course), and then pair that info with a beautiful, visual treat? Well that’s just gravy on the pie.

 

NUMBER SIX

6 Life

 

6 LTitle: Life
Made by/for: BBC Earth
Released in: 2009
Subject: Life on our planet
Narrated by: David Attenborough
Written by: Paul Spillenger
5 Second Synopsis: David Attenborough’s legendary BBC crew explains and shows wildlife all over planet earth in 10 episodes.
Why I love It: I absolutely love David Attenborough and his work, so it was a given that I’d love this one too. I find he’s got the perfect voice for narration. He rivals even Morgan Freeman! The cinematography is breathtaking, as usual, and all the information is interesting, and interestingly presented. If you haven’t seen it, I reccomend it greatly. Just make sure you get the original, and not the one redumbed, err, I mean redone in the States with Oprah narrating.

 

NUMBER FIVE

5 Blue Planet

 

5 BPTitle: The Blue Planet
Made by/for: BBC
Released in: 2001
Subject: Life in the oceans
Narrated by: David Attenborough
Written by: David Attenborough
5 Second Synopsis: This documentary takes a look at the rich tapestry of life in the world’s oceans.
Why I love It: David Attenborough again. Even though it’s already 13 years old, it’s still the best series I’ve ever seen about the oceans. But, again, make sure to get the original. I don’t even understand why the Americans changed the narrator, this time they picked another actor with an accent, Pierce Brosnan. But I digress… as usual :-p

 

NUMBER FOUR

4 Planet Dinosaur

 

4 PDTitle: Planet Dinosaur
Made by/for: BBC
Released in: 2011
Subject: Dinosaurs
Narrated by: John Hurt
Written by: Tom Brass & Nigel Paterson
5 Second Synopsis: An astonishing six-part series that brings to life the most incredible creatures that ever existed, dinosaurs that were more monstrous, more horrific and bizarre than ever before imagined.
Why I love It: Pre-historic life is another thing that fascinates me to no end.What I wouldn’t give to be able to go back in time and see these enormous creatures. But docs like this one are the next best thing. The animation is breath-taking and the narration is clear and interesting. A must for any dino fan.

 

NUMBER THREE

3 Into the Universe

 

3 ItUTitle: Into the Universe with Stephen Hawking
Made by/for: Discovery channel
Released in: 2010
Subject: The universe
Narrated by: Benedict Cumberbatch & Stephen Hawking
Written by: Stephen Hawking
5 Second Synopsis: In this comprehensive cosmology series, Stephen Hawking looks at the entire universe, from the Big Bang to the end of time.
Why I love It: Stephen Hawking’s brain, Benedict Cumberbatch’s voice, and beautiful animations of our universe? I loved this show before I even watched it.

 

NUMBER TWO

2 Planet Earth

 

2 PETitle: Planet Earth
Made by/for: BBC
Released in: 2006
Subject: Planet Earth (duh 😉 )
Narrated by: David Attenborough
Written by: David Attenborough, Vanessa Berlowitz, Alastair Fothergill, and Gary Parker
5 Second Synopsis: Each 50 minute episode features a global overview of a different region or habitat on Earth, polar regions, mountains, caves, deserts, plains, fresh water, seas, the ocean, and forests.
Why I love It: Attenborough again. This might be getting a little redundant, but I couldn’t leave any of them out. There’s a reason his shows are as popular as they are, and that’s because they’re the best. Yes, it’s as good as you’ve heard. Now go watch it. The original.

 

NUMBER ONE

1 Walking with...

 

1 WwDTitle(s): Walking with Monsters; Walking with Dinosaurs; Walking with Beasts
Made by/for: BBC
Released in: 1999; 2001; 2005
Subject: Prehistoric life
Narrated by: Kenneth Branagh
Written by: Tim Haines, Michael Olmert, Kate Bartlett, Jasper James, Nigel Paterson, and Georgann Kane
5 Second Synopsis: These shows document pre-historic life on our planet, from the moment it began, until the time that humans have evolved.
Why I love It: I know I’m technically cheating here by including three shows in one, but I simply couldn’t separate them and place them in order. Being so old, a good deal of the data is out-dated, but I still love to watch these shows. They’re so well done, the narration is fun and informative, the dinosaurs are beautifully portrayed, even going so far as to “connect” with the camera, as if they were real. My son and I love to watch this together. For more up to date information, Planet Dinosaur is the way to go, but for sheer watchability (and rewatchability), these will forever hold the top spot.

 

And that’s it! Hope you enjoyed my list? Do you agree? Disagree? What are your favourite brain-food shows? Let me know! And, as usual, stay tuned for more! 🙂

M.

The Alphabet Movie Challenge – A to M

I’ve seen a few of these movie challenges floating around the intarwebs, so I thought it’d be fun to do, so I picked one in the bunch and started my picture hunting. And since it’s so long, I decided to do it in two goes (cause I’m a giant lazy-ass). Without further ado, here’s A to M in my Alphabet Movie Challenge. Enjoy! 🙂

A
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I’m a big superhero movie fan, especially the X-Men. Actually Marvel in general. DC movies (with the obvious exception of The Dark Knight) are kinda dull. Despite his awesome powers, Superman is actually pretty boring, but that’s not the point here. I’ve loved all the X-Men films (Even The Last Stand, which everybody seems to have hated, I dunno, I loved it), so I’m really, really looking forward to this one. It should tide me over on superheros till Avengers 2 comes out next year.

B
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This book is one of the best books I’ve ever read. It’s an amazing story, I can’t believe it hasn’t been turned into a film yet. Actually, now that I think of it, I don’t think any of Robert R McCammon‘s books have been made into films. It’s such a shame, too, cause his books are mostly awesome and, in the right hands, would make amazing films. I wonder if it’s the author who just doesn’t want his books “messed up” by a film-maker…

C
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I don’t think I really need to explain this one. Robert Downey Jr is just simply the coolest cat on the planet, and I’d like to say howdy.

D
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I may be cheating a little here since this pairing already happened, but really, this is the best actor/director pairing that could ever happen. Joss Whedon‘s writing fits RDJ like a glove. I sincerely hope that they’ll have a long career of working together (without becoming as predictable and tired as Tim Burton and Johnny Depp).

E
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I decided to forego all the obvious classics, and reccomend something that may be a little less known. The Ghost and Mrs Muir is an absolutely lovely story about a young widow who moves into a new house to find that it’s haunted by a handsome, if a little rough around the edges, sailor. After the initial shock of finding a ghost in her house, the woman comes to care deeply for the ghost, and he her. If you haven’t seen this wonderful little film, I really reccomend it.

F
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It may not be the franchise that has the most films in it (there’s only three), but its quality is unmatched. I don’t really think I need to explain why. If you’re one of the three people on the planet who haven’t seen the Lord of the Rings trilogy, go, now. Schnell!!

G
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I like a lot of different genres, but my favourite by far is horror. Fantasy comes in a close second.

H
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So, The Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert isn’t really a “hidden” film, I’m sure a good number of people have seen it, but I can’t really think of anything else off the top of my head. But, still, I’m sure there’s a lot of people who haven’t seen this yet, and to them I say: shame on you!! hehe This film is so fun and so touching all at the same time. Or watch it simply to see Agent Smith (and Lord Elrond) in drag :-p

I
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So I don’t really have a movie that helped me through a tough time, or really impacted my life in a huge way or anything like that, so I had a bit of trouble picking a movie for this category. So I went all the way back to when I was a wee little thing, to the first time I saw The Lost Boys. My mom bought it on good ol’ VHS when it came out, I was about 7 years old. She hid it instead of putting it with my other movies, telling me it was too scary for me. So, of course, when she wasn’t home I hunted for it till I found it and popped it into the machine. And there began my life-long love affair with vampires. Did my mother ever catch me watching it, you ask? Well, yes, she did. But not before I’d watched it so many times that I could recite almost the whole film word for word. Exasperated at me, she nevertheless let me watch whatever I wanted from that moment on, since it obviously wasn’t giving me the nightmares she’d promised I’d get after watching.

J
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Another little cheat here, but really, can you blame me? It’s not like there’s only one film I ever watch when it’s raining. But Netflix is perfect for those rainy/lazy/sick/sleepy days. With tens of thousands of movies and shows to pick from, slacking off has never been easier! hehe

K
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There was absolutely no way that I was going to be able to choose a single film for this one. There are so many awesome films from my childhood, and I still watch them all. And I’ve got my own child now, and I’m enjoying watching him enjoying them now. They don’t make ’em like this any more. Such a shame.

L
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Obviously. I wouldn’t bring beer, but oh, to sit on the moon looking out at the Earth. Or to float around space, seeing all the majesty of the planets, stars and everything else in the universe. In a protective bubble, of course. I want to see the majesty, not have it murder me.

M
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I had to sit and think about this one. I binge watch stuff often, but rarely do I do it with movies. In fact, I always wait till the end of a season to watch the shows I like, so I can watch as many as I want, without the frustration of waiting a week (or more) to know what happens next. But every so often I’ll watch a few movies in a row, and when I do, it’ll invariably be one of these.

That’s it for now, hope you enjoyed!

Stay tuned for part two, N to Z, coming soon(ish), hehe. No, but really, I’ll try kick myself in the butt to get it done. I’m such a lazy bones…. :-p

M.