Want to know what gerrymandering is?

If you've ever wondered what exactly gerrymandering is, well now there's an app for that. What on the surface seems a complicated concept that might be hard to get your head around - rigging electoral boundaries so that you can win more seats despite not having a majority in the overall population, is made simple and clear with the delightful little puzzle game 'Gerrymander: Rig the Election'. Despite some issues with point systems and level progression (it's too easy to get stuck later on having to repeat levels over and over to earn enough points to unlock the next one), it's fun and addictive, tongue-in-cheek puzzler which serves to show just how easy our political systems can me manipulated. Definitely worth spending a few minutes of your time on, while standing in line to cast a vote.

The fantastical world of Marvelous Mrs Maisel

I gave in, I succumbed to The Marvelous Mrs Maisel! For many years my mother and sister have been imploring me to The Gilmore Girls. While they weren't the only to recommend it to me, they were my main beseechers, and while I never denied that what I had seen of it seemed to be well written with endearing characters, I just never found the time. 'There is too much other good TV I need to watch first' and 'I'll watch it one day when I retire' (along with learning to play a MMORPG) were among my favourite excuses.

The 1950s period setting for the series, The Marvelous Mrs Maisel intrigued me (Mad Men still has a lot to answer for), and when I realised it was from Amy Sherman-Palladino, the creator of Gilmore Girls, I knew I'd found an out to my Gilmore Girls shaming. Just eight episodes, released all at once on Amazon Prime would be easy to finish off. Little did I know just how easy it would be to consume. The Marvelous Mrs Maisel is a delightful confection,…

We're all looking forward to the next season of Jessica Jones, right?

I've sat through far to many hours of silly Marvel shows on Netflix, and it's all basically because of Jessica Jones. The first season was so adeptly executed, the story, the pacing, the characters, the performances, that it's glow managed to rub off on all those other Marvel shows. It didn't need the city/world on the verge of ending to create compelling tension, David Tennant's unsettling villain, with her intimate agenda, up against Krysten Ritter's bruised determination as Jones was more than enough. She was the only good thing about the boring Defenders series, so it's time to get excited again about having a whole story all about her again. If only it was a big screen movie.

Welcome to Nightvale and my thanks to the Unseen Gods for fandom

I have a confession to make, I'm very behind in my Nightvale episodes. The cult hit just keeps rolling along, and I find myself completely out of the loop. I long for the dulcet tones of Cecil Baldwin, as the host of the community radio program 'Welcome to Nightvale', to be immersed again in that dusty, Lovecraftian, twilight space but life keeps getting in the way (ok, Youtube Let's Play videos). I realised I've only listened to about 30 or so of the over 100 episodes now aired, and I can't remember at all what was going on the delightfully peripatetic story.

Thank the unseen gods who shall not be named that the internet specialises in fostering compulsive obsessions, so of course I've found the WTNV fan wiki, which has a helpful break-down of all the salient and surreal plot points of the all the episodes.

I've done Welcome to Nightvale an injustice by not keeping up, as it's the sort of unique, outside the box storytelling that I'm always wi…

The tension of the screen: Viewing Paterson with unconscious expectation

I caught a screening of Jim Jarmusch's 2016 Paterson recently, and was struck by my innate fear of what would unfold. While watching, I noticed a constant tension in myself, unconsciously wondering 'when is the horrible, dramatic thing going to happen? Will it be now? Now?' I had to make the mental effort to push those feelings aside, and tell myself, maybe nothing like that will happen at all (which was the case). There are so few films, or at least so few that I've exposed myself to, which don't have some moment of violence or extreme emotional distress for their characters, that seems inevitable it will happen, even in the most benign films. Perhaps it is Adam Driver, who although giving a wonderfully understated performance as a considerate, thoughtful and kind man, nonetheless carries the baggage of so many performances as troubled and angry characters. I don't think I can put my tension down to simply casting though.

How curious that I've become condi…

Hurry Up, We're Dreaming about the 80's with M83

Nostalgia is a powerful force, and when I first listened to M83's 2008 song 'Kim + Jessie' I immediately fell under its spell. It captured and condensed a nostalgic 80s aesthetic that seemed almost more authentic than music from the actual 80s might (In the way I guess only hindsight allows). When their 2011 album 'Hurry Up, We're Dreaming' came out, I was again entranced by that poignantly nostalgic 80s feel, while simultaneously inspired by their trilogy of video clips they produced with it, rife with a lost 80s dark imagination. Clearly inspired the breakthrough anime 'Akira' (1988), one of my favourite films, the videos and music remain some of my all time favourites, and I never fail to be instantly transported to a lost, sad, yet fantastical world whenever I hear those opening synths of Midnight City.

Visit a different sort of fantasy world in the 'Broken Earth' trilogy

I've just finished reading the third book in N.K. Jemisin's amazing Broken Earth trilogy ('The Fifth Season', 'The Obelisk Gate' & 'The Stone Sky'), and what more praise can I heap on the books that hasn't already been said. How thrilling and compelling it was to delve into a fantasy world so unlike the usual shtick, experienced through the eyes of complex characters of the sort rarely given much of a voice in fantasy tales. I loved the 'orogenic' powers to move the earth itself, the upending of the racial paradigm we know, the very human insights into slavery, subjugation and exploitation, the complement of complex queer characters central to the plot (especially the gay male character so driven by the love for his children and the heartbreak of losing them), the inspiring emotional strength of the women at the centre of the story and the dark, vivid and detailed world Jemisin created for it all.

The books are undoubtedly all the more p…