100 Word TV Review: Doctor Who: Into the Dalek

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The second episode of Capaldi’s Doctor was actually quite disappointing. I feel like we’re still getting used to this Doctor and something a little more character building might have worked better. Matt Smith’s first post-regeneration episode (The Beast Below) did a lot to establish his character and relationship with his companion. This episode gave us a taste of The Doctor’s new darker, more callous side but I didn’t feel like it was done in a particularly exciting way (The Doctor being compared to a Dalek has been done before, and better).

Positives: Danny Pink has potential and Clara’s killing it.

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100 Word Music Review: AM by Arctic Monkeys

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Arctic Monkeys’ fifth album AM is a masterpiece. I was madly in love with their first two albums and then went cold with three and four but five has brought me back. It is one of those albums that you find yourself changing your choice of favourite track with each listen. It’s a rocky, ballad-y album about unrequited love. It’s about lying in bed thinking about the person you should have gotten up the guts to talk to. It’s about finding the perfect thing to say an hour after you leave the club/bar/party/etc. It’s an album for your after party.

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FIVE FILMS TO START YOUR KOREAN MOVIE OBSESSION

###THIS ARTICLE FIRST APPEARED ON AUDIENCESEVERYWHERE.NET – GO THERE AND READ THEIR STUFF (INCLUDING AN EXCELLENT EXORCIST ARTICLE BY YOURS TRULY) BECAUSE ITS A REALLY GOOD SITE FOR MOVIE REVIEWS, FEATURES, LISTS AND NEWS###

 

I recently lived in South Korea for two and a half years. When I left I had developed a love for two things: K-Pop and Korean cinema. The love of K-Pop waned somewhat (not entirely, Big Bang are still my jam) but the love of the cinema remained.

My enjoyment of Korean cinema is based upon the fact that the Korean movies I have watched and enjoyed have shared two main characteristics, confidence and unpredictability. I feel like Korean directors are more willing to test their audience and zig when we expect a zag, making for a movie experience that keeps you on your toes and the edge of your seat.

My love of cinema, Korean or otherwise, is based upon a love of talking about films and sharing experiences. With that in mind, I present my choice of five excellent Korean movies to get you started on your own little Korean movie obsession (and probably an obsession with the actor Song Kang-ho who stars in five of the eight movies discussed below.)

The Host

The Host (Dir: Bong Joon-ho)

The Host is a monster movie done right. The plot follows a loser shop owner played by Song Kang-ho who, along with his dysfunctional family, is searching for his daughter who has been taken by a creature that emerged from the Han River.

The lovable losers at the center of the plot are well-drawn and likable even when they’re bickering or being completely useless in the face of danger. Bong Joon-ho manages to avoid the usual monster movie tropes and is able to make a plot which should be cookie-cutter predictable, still have some truly shocking moments.

If you only choose to watch one film on this list I would wholeheartedly advise this one. It is easily accessible, enjoyable, and a nice starter to whet your appetite for more.

The Thirst

Thirst (Dir: Park Chan-wook)

Song Kang-ho plays a devout Catholic priest who, after contracting a disease, makes a full recovery following a blood transfusion. It is only later that he realizes he has been saved with the blood of a vampire, and that if he does not consume the blood of others his disease will return.

At times scary, gory, funny, sexy, and horrifying, Thirst is unlike any vampire movie I’ve seen. Park Chan-wook manages to merge gore and comedy seamlessly, resulting in scenes like Song’s priest lying on the floor beneath a hospital bed with an IV pipe in his mouth, noisily sucking the blood from a coma patient like a child drinking a very thick milkshake.

Thirst is not for the faint of heart with its graphic sex and violence, but it is also not going to be like any other movie in the contemporary Western/Hollywood vampire obsession.

Cyborg

I’m a Cyborg, But That’s Okay (Dir: Park Chan-wook)

I was fooled by the DVD art for this one. The box has a picture of the female lead flying and looking dreamily into the eyes of the male lead, played by super pop star Rain. I dismissed this from the start as a cheesy romantic comedy in the same way I would if it was a Western film and the cover showed Zooey Deschanel flying into the arms of Justin Timberlake.

But I was wrong. So very, very wrong.

Yes, it’s a romantic comedy, but it’s a rom-com about mental illness that steers into some of the darker elements of the subject matter instead of avoiding them entirely. The movie was very enjoyable and refreshing because it takes broad comedy and mixes it with very dark themes. This mix of comedy and serious drama is something Korean films do very well. The closest analogue I can think of, in terms of Western film, would be Life is Beautiful, in that even though there are dark elements to this film, at its heart it is a sweet romantic comedy. Park Chan-wook also directed the Vengeance trilogy (Sympathy for Mr. Vengeance, Oldboy, Lady Vengeance) and Thirst. It would be like David Fincher directing Seven and Fight Club before directing 500 Days of Summer.

Secret Reunion

Secret Reunion (Dir: Jang Hun)

Secret Reunion is the movie that I don’t think has as much of an international reputation or release as the other films on this list, and if it hadn’t been for the fact that I was living in Korea when it was released, I think it would have passed me by entirely.

This is an odd couple movie about a North Korean spy, Kang Dong-won, and a South Korean spy, Song Kang-ho. In an effort to win back favor with their superiors after both being dismissed by their agencies, they find themselves living and working together while spying on each other, each one sure that the other does not know their true identity.

There are some obvious plot beats in this film but it also throws out some nice curve-balls and keeps you guessing right to the end. This is another example of a Korean filmmaker taking a serious topic (in this case the plight of people with families trapped in North Korea) and being able to present it in an approachable, humorous way, while still respecting the subject matter.

The Good, The Bad, The Weird

The Good, the Bad, and the Weird (Dir: Kim Jee-woon)

My favorite film is The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly, so when this film was released while I lived in Korea it was like the skies opened, light beamed down, and all I could hear was that ‘aaaahhhhhhh’ sound that accompanies miracles. In all honesty, the remake is not a patch on the original, but it is still a fun movie with some very well executed set pieces.

The Weird, played by Song Kang-ho, steals the show (à la Eli Wallach) from the handsomely bland Good (Jung Woo-sung) and the moustache twirling Bad (Lee Byung-hun), and also provides the lion’s share of the movie’s comedic moments.

The movie’s action is frenetic and cartoonish, and two of the sequences – The Good swinging around a market on a rope shooting people and the final chase, in which The Weird is chased by The Good, The Bad, a group of Manchurian gangsters and the Japanese army – are that awesome combination of breathtaking and laugh out loud funny.

Bonus

If you want an easier gateway into Korean films, there are Korean filmmakers who are making films in America, giving you Korean sensibilities and recognizable actors.

Snowpiercer (Dir: Bong Joon-ho) is a fantastic piece of surreal sci-fi. There are moments in this film (the sushi scene, the school scene, the tunnel/axe attack) that I doubt the average Western filmmaker would be brave or creative enough to put into their movie, for fear of alienating their viewers. The movie also stars Song Kang-ho, which for me makes it a must-watch.

Stoker (Dir: Park Chan-wook) is a very strange film populated with creepy, cold characters, murder, sexually charged piano duets, and pencil stabbings. It is a hard to recommend as I haven’t quite worked out how to fit it into a genre or explain the plot, but maybe that’s recommendation enough.

The Last Stand (Dir: Kim Jee-Woon) is an entertaining post-governor Arnie piece of popcorn action. It is a refreshingly R-rated action movie with some funny parts and cool scenes that shows that Kim Jee-woon has a good eye for a bit of cartoon craziness. This is the least essential film on this list unless you’ve just ordered a pizza, found four beers in the fridge, and want something to watch while you stuff your face and get a buzz on.

100 Word Movie Review: Night of the Hunter

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Night of the Hunter (Dir: Charles Laughton) is a great film. Its main story (bank robber hides loot before he dies) is set up quickly, as if the writer/director didn’t want to take any time away from Robert Mitchum’s wily machinations as he searches for the loot on a widow’s property. Mitchum is terrifying as the sonorous voiced preacher/serial killer, terrorising the widow’s children, the only people who know the money’s location.

An excellent film full of jarring, incredible images: Mitchum’s Love/Hate tattoos, the rider on the hill and a pitiful murder victim sat at the bottom of the lake.

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100 Cool Things #039 (Edit): Awesome Movie Blogs

This was originally a post about how good the Youtube channel Cinema Sins was. Since writing the channel has gone from showing fun little three minute videos showing errors with movies to showing twenty minute videos criticising every slight error with every frame.

Unlike Honest Trailers, a similar video channel, the videos are not fun or affectionate, they are nit-picky and pointless.

So my new 39th cool thing is this, a list of sites to look at which revel in movies and enjoy them, faults and all.

Have a read, take their advice, watch movies, enjoy movies, hate some movies but at least make sure you hate them for a reason, not just because of trying-too-hard cynicism.

100 Word Book Review: B^F by Ryan North

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Ryan North’s B^F: The Novelization of the Feature Film is that rarest of creatures: an eBook of a Tumblr about the novelisation of the first draft of a movie screenplay. It is also hilarious and bat-shit insane, though most of the insanity comes straight from George Gipe’s novelisation itself, which the eBook is analysing.

North manages to get to the beating heart of why the novelisation is so crazy and does so with wit, sarcasm and a proud love for authoritarian bald men.

Probably the only book of its kind, it is a must-read for people who can read books.

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My Ebook, available now on Amazon

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100 Cool Things #046: Animated Doctor Who

It may not have escaped your notice that I am a pretty big Doctor Who fan. One of the best things about the resurgence in interest in Doctor Who is that now, during the Internet age, people can reinterpret the show in all kinds of crazy ways (see previous Cool Thing about Doctor Who by Tim Burton)

Here’s two very cool things I stumbled upon recently. Doctor Who as an animated show or movie. Both are awesome and both are things I would be happy to see exist.

1. Doctor Who made by Disney. I am particularly happy with The Second Doctor and the War Doctor (mainly because anything involving the War Doctor makes me happy).

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2. Doctor Who as an animated kid’s show in the style of Gravity Falls (the best cartoon on TV at the moment). Very happy to see a cameo from Handles. I can always handle more Handles.

Bonus. The 12th Doctor if made by Tim Burton.

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100 Word Movie Review: Heathers

Heathers, starring Winona Ryder (looking gorgeous and exuding don’t fuck with me-ness) and Christian Slater (doing a Jack Nicholson impression with just a sprinkle of Heath Ledger’s Joker), is an 80’s high school movie steeped in dark humour and suicide.

It follows Veronica Sawyer, a former geek who has been raised up by the most popular clique in the school, The Heathers. After Veronica meets the dangerous-looking and too cool JD she decides that the lead Heather needs taking down a peg, with homicidal results.

Full of crazy one-liners, ridiculous cigarette lightings and massive shoulder pads, Heathers is essential watching.

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100 Word TV Review: Doctor Who: Deep Breath

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Doctor Who is back. Last seen contemplating his kidney colour at Christmas, Peter Capaldi steps into the role proper for his first episode, Deep Breath. Regeneration episodes are hard as the writer needs to introduce the new actor to the viewers and the new doctor to the other characters while also telling a compelling story. Moffat has shown himself capable of doing this (Eleventh Hour was awesome!) and manages to do so again here. Capaldi’s Doctor is angry, crazy, wild, unpredictable, Scottish, angry eyebrow-ed and a little bit of a dick. A great episode that left me hungry for more.

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My Ebook, available now on Amazon

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Friday Fictioneers: How Hard Was the Crossword?

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How Hard was the Crossword?

It was so hard my wife starved trying to answer 3 Down.

It was so difficult that my friend, a truck driver, spent so much time trying to solve 9 Across that the Earth grew around his truck and reclaimed it.

It was so hard that I found Jesus and was born again. I live in a convent now where there are no crosswords allowed.

I set fire to it. It cannot get to me now.

It would be easier if it wasn’t four dimensional. 3 Down? 5 Towards? 6 Back in Time? What kind of crazy puzzle is this?

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Another Friday Fictioneers story with prompt supplied by Rochelle Wisoff-Fields.

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Currently reading: The Pesthouse by Jim Crace

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Started a new job recently and need to commute to work on the train. Quickly remembered how much reading you can get done on the train and have started plowing through my backed-up Kindle collection. A few days ago I started The Pesthouse by Jim Crace and it’s very good. Very dark, very atmospheric and i’m being made to work  to decipher the plot and setting (It’s the future but how far in the future? Why is everyone getting sick?)

I’ve also read and would recommend Galveston by Nic Pizzolatto and B^F by Ryan North (I cannot recommend this high enough, it was amazing).

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Friday Fictioneers: The Perfect Writer

The Perfect Writer

My grandfather was one of the most prolific authors who ever lived. In ninety years he penned over 300 novels. He wrote constantly but always found time for his family and friends. He never experienced writer’s block, nor did he fall into black moods when the ideas that were so clear in his head did not translate readily onto the page.

My writing career stalled magnificently and I became a block mood 24/7.

I went to his house and stared at a picture of him that hung above his writing desk.

‘One word after another,’ he would say.

Smug bastard.

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Another Friday Fictioneers story with prompt supplied by Rochelle Wisoff-Fields.

My Ebook, available now on Amazon

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Marrying the Animal: On sale now

The Equiatic Bind

Marrying the Animal

The wait is over!

Marrying the Animal: One hundred 100 word stories is on sale now here for Australians and here for Americans and here for Brits or at your local Amazon site if you’re not from these three countries. Some of these stories have featured on this blog (usually from prompts supplied by two very awesome, very talented ladies) but there are a whole lotta others that have I’ve kept to myself until now. 

Buy it, tell your friends to buy it, tell your enemies to buy it, tell their friends to buy it and most of all enjoy it!

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Sean Fallon Loves… The Exorcist

Here’s an article I wrote about The Exorcist – It’s really good, if I do say so myself. Read it and tell me what you think.

Writer Loves Movies

A few weeks ago in this Writer Loves series exploring our favourite movies, David Shreve posed a question: can loveable movies ever be considered truly great? Can only serious films earn the ultimate cinematic accolade and be labelled a genuine ‘classic’? Now Sean Fallon, from the eclectic writing blog The Equiatic Bind, approaches the question from a different angle. In his exploration of The Exorcist, Sean examines the hard sell of slow-burning movies, asking whether what makes a movie ‘boring’ can actually be its greatest strength.

Sean Fallon on The Exorcist (1973)

I love procedural movies. Anything that takes you through the nitty-gritty of a murder investigation or a well-planned heist is like catnip to me. A big reason why I love The Exorcist is because it isn’t the film that we think it is. People who have never watched it assume it’s a gory, jumpy, fast-paced horror film…

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Review: Prince of Cats by Ron Wimberly

Here is a review I wrote for Bibliosmiles.com. Have a read and then go and track down the book 🙂

BiblioSmiles

9781401220686_p0_v1_s260x420Prince of Cats is a prequel to Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet told from the point of view of Juliet’s cousin Tybalt, Prince of Cats (according to the dramatis personae at the start of the play). That in itself is pretty interesting, but author and artist Ron Wimberly sets this tale of woe in Brooklyn, 1983, and casts black youths in the major parts (except for the white Romeo). As in Shakespeare, all of the characters speak in iambic pentameter. Wimberly also gives each character a samurai sword.

It is an incredible work.

The artwork is amazing, all dark colors and rich navy blues and purples with neon everywhere, and blood on the pink side of red. The characters dress in crazy eighties clothes and carry beepers. They are obsessed with their ranking in the Duel List, a magazine showing who has fought whom and won, and the feud between the two families explodes beneath the chakka-chakka-chakka of…

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Friday Fictioneers: Imagine a House

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Imagine a House

In order to will a house into existence one must first eat a hardy breakfast. The exertion of imagining walls that can hold up ceilings will drain you until you are staring at the reflection of a low-toner photocopy version of your face.

Windows are especially tricky. You can close your eyes, make fists and eat lots of fiber, but the idea of imagining into being a surface that can be seen through will cause nosebleeds and whiten your hair.

Stairs, floors are easy. And creating a house out of nothing is easier than assembling flat-pack furniture. So there’s that.

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Another Friday Fictioneers story with prompt supplied by Rochelle Wisoff-Fields.

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Mapcrunch Game and the Airport Game

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A game I stumbled upon and am addicted to is The Airport Game on Mapcrunch.

The game is simple. Go to Mapcrunch and press GO. You will be shown the street view of somewhere in the world. The game is to find your way to the nearest airport and thus escape the country.

When I first heard about it I thought it sounded pretty boring but once I got playing it I was hooked. I have only won once and that was when it landed me in Seoul, somewhere that I have lived, and I knew which kind of bus stop would take me to the airport.

Other times I have been dropped in a field in Denmark and presumably starved to death.

For bonus hard mode you can turn off the location name so that you have no idea where you have been dropped.

Have a go and tell me what you think?

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The 100 Word Novel – Forty-Seven: As Peg Lay Dying

1024px-Bleeding_fingerPeg held onto her stomach. Blood seeped through her fingers. Kat was hovering her hands over Peg’s stomach, unsure what to touch or where to put pressure. She kept apologising.

So this is it, thought Peg. She expected more pain from the gunshot, but it just felt as though she had swallowed a fiery whiskey that wouldn’t cool down in her belly.

I always thought I’d die in bed. Or just after my Nobel Prize Speech. Darkness encroached at the edges of her vision.

Someone shouted, ‘There’s people coming out of the woods!’

Peg didn’t care. She closed her eyes.

Previously on the 100 Word Novel: Introduction to the 100 WORD NOVEL. Chapter One Chapter Two Chapter Three Chapter Four Chapter Five Chapter Six Chapter Seven Chapter Eight Chapter Nine Chapter Ten Chapter Eleven Chapter Twelve Chapter Thirteen Interlude Chapter Fourteen Chapter Fifteen Chapter Sixteen Chapter Seventeen Chapter Eighteen Chapter Nineteen Chapter Twenty Chapter Twenty-One Chapter Twenty-Two Chapter Twenty-Three Chapter Twenty-Four Chapter Twenty-Five Chapter Twenty-Six Chapter Twenty-Seven Chapter Twenty-Eight Chapter Twenty-Nine Chapter Thirty Chapter Thirty-One Chapter Thirty-Two Chapter Thirty-Three Chapter Thirty-Four Chapter Thirty-Five Chapter Thirty-Six Chapter Thirty-Seven Chapter Thirty-Eight Chapter Thirty-Nine Chapter Forty Chapter Forty-One Chapter Forty-Two Chapter Forty-Three Chapter Forty-Four Chapter Forty-Five Chapter Forty-Six

 

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Harry Potter and the Revolution

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On Tumblr the other day and came across this:

“The basic plot, which cannot be ignored even in the films, is that Harry, Hermione and Ron give up everything for their political struggle. They drop out of high school, they go illegal, defy the government, belong to an underground organization [The Order of the Phoenix], operate out of safe houses and forests and even raid offices of the government and banking offices. This is all done in principled opposition to the Dark Wizard Voldemort and a corrupt bureaucratized government that has been heavily infiltrated with his evil minions. This is revolutionary activity. But the movie version does not present it as such or emphasize these radical aspects of the plot, thereby entirely missing the dramatic sweep and action present in the first half of the last novel.

The novels recognize the importance of alternative media for political struggle. The mainstream press [The Daily Prophet] is shown as unreliable and unprincipled, eventually deteriorating into a fear-mongering propaganda machine for the Voldemort-controlled bureaucracy. For a while the alternative but above ground media [The Quibbler] publishes the real news, but it ceases to print after the daughter of the publisher is kidnapped. In the book, friends of Harry [Lee Jordan, with Fred and George Weasley as frequent guests] start broadcasting the real news from an underground radio station, encrypted with a password. This radio station becomes a critical link for the resistance, which is scattered and weak. Although we are treated to some radio broadcast updates in the movie, they are delivered by a disembodied and professional sounding voice, not our friends the Weasleys. This undermines the important message – a guiding principle behind the media coop – that in a serious situation it becomes necessary to produce your own media and not to rely on ‘professionals’.

The novel makes it clear that in this phase of the struggle the characters romantic lives take a backseat to their political activity, as Harry breaks up with the love of his life [Ginny Weasley] so as to avoid making her a target for Voldemort’s forces, who are known to use torture and kidnapping as tactics. The ‘love triangle’ that becomes the focus of the movie isn’t even really present in the books. In the books, the relationship between Harry and Hermione is totally platonic – Ron is shown as jealous, but the feeling is entirely without foundation. In the book Harry says to Ron: “I love her like a sister and I reckon she feels the same way about me. It’s always been like that. I thought you knew” (pg 378, DH US Hardback). This conveys that men and women can be close comrades and friends without being involved romantically. But in the film, Harry and Hermione are shown dancing romantically, and Harry’s line to Ron about his brotherly feeling towards Hermione does not even make it into the film. This completely undermines the important message that jealousy is counter-productive and has toxic effects, which is an important feminist message for young people.”

Love it. I can’t seem to find the original source but it originally appeared on Mugglenet and then was shared around (if anyone can find me a source to credit that would be awesome). Reading this after living in Turkey during the unrest of last summer made it really resonate with me as I saw then the mainstream media feed lies to the people, and saw the young people of Turkey gradually lose faith in their leaders and take to the streets night after night in an effort to take back control of their country.  It was a reading of the books that had gone over my head and really changed the tone of those final books for me. And changed them for the better.

What do you think? Should Rowling be teaching our children about revolution? Is this a mis-reading of a fun fantasy story?

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Marrying the Animal

My ebook, available at Amazon.

 

 

 

Marrying the Animal: On sale now

Marrying the Animal

 

The wait is over!

Marrying the Animal: One hundred 100 word stories is on sale now here for Australians and here for Americans and here for Brits or at your local Amazon site if you’re not from these three countries. Some of these stories have featured on this blog (usually from prompts supplied by two very awesome, very talented ladies) but there are a whole lotta others that have I’ve kept to myself until now. 

Buy it, tell your friends to buy it, tell your enemies to buy it, tell their friends to buy it and most of all enjoy it!