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Friday, December 12, 2008

It Was Nice To Get Married And All....

But I can't believe I missed this!

(Look familiar Bruce?)

(Tom Waits, live in Dublin earlier this year)

(Drunk In Charge Of YouTube - DICOYT)

Carry on reading...

Saturday, December 06, 2008

Things I Did Yesterday 06/12/08

Home alone! I do hope someone tries to break in (again)! Yesterday I:

- Crawled out of bed at about 8.30am. Got myself ready then wandered down to Angel to do some writing.

- Wandered through Borders and Waterstones, obsessed with the idea that I needed a new fantasy novel to read. Found a few things I liked the look of, but didn't actually buy anything.

- Walked home, buying Alex some flowers on the way!

- Spent some time reading reviews of the novels I'd liked the look of. Productive.

- Wandered up to get the laundry Alex had dropped off. Came home and did the dishes. Jesus...are you still actually reading this?

- Worked through the NaNoWriMo site, emailed those that are keen to take part (except you, 2treesandahorse, because although I feel I should know who you are, I can't for the life of me remember. Sorry!) and then cleared the rest of my Inbox.

- Went through various guides on stripping down Windows XP using nLite and creating USB stick installs. Did both.

- Went to bed. Hells bells! Was that really it?

Carry on reading...

Friday, December 05, 2008

Just For Lisa

Carry on reading...

Things I Did Yesterday 05/12/08

Bugger, I actually wrote one of these for Tuesday but never got around to posting it up! Oh well, yesterday I:

- Woke up at 5.30am with a mind toward getting into town good and early to write before work, which I started at 8am. Wound up rolling out of bed at 6.15am after deciding that some extra sleep was more important.

- Worked. JD is away this week, so I did an 8-7 stretch. Lots of good comics this week though, which is always nice. Also, as I don't often do the long Thursdays any more, I saw a lot of customers I haven't seen in a while, which is nice.

- Came home, grabbing a lamb & chicken shish on the way (Alex was out). Dithered about watching something substantial but didn't. The highlight, however, was this week's Screenwipe, which was a special episode of interviews with telly writers. Good and inspiring, as these things should be.

- Went to bed and had some freaky dreams that kept waking me up, but damned if I can remember then. From the state of the pillows though, it would seem as though I had attempted to crawl caterpillar-like up the wall at the top of the bed. Oh when will I be a beautiful butterfly?

Carry on reading...

Tuesday, December 02, 2008


So another thing I did yesterday was contact a number of people to see if they would be interested in doing a bit of novel writing.

You may or may not have heard of National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo), but in essence it's an event held each November where people commit to writing a 50,000 word novel in the space of one month. It was started by a writer in San Francisco who wanted to stop procrastinating and get something done. The idea was that by applying a strict deadline to a large project, he would be forced to write with an intensity that precluded the kind of counter-productive thumb-twiddling and self-censorship he usually engaged in. He enlisted a group of friends to help drive him on, made a big deal out of it so that he would feel extra pressure to get it done and cleared the decks for a month to make the time for it. From there it's gone on to become quite a big deal, with groups around the world taking part each November.

This whole thing only came to my attention early last month. I'm at a bit of a funny point with my writing. I'm writing regularly again, which is a good thing, but I feel like I need to take some kind of creative leap. I'm terrified, though, as it has been years since I actually completed anything. My command of language and my ability to tell a story both feel clumsy and amateurish. Which doesn't bode well, given that I want to make a leap to some kind of writing based career once we leave the UK in 3-4 years time. So, despite certain cynical reservations, this NaNoWriMo thing leaped out at me. It sounded like exactly the kind of literary cliff-jumping I needed. A fixed deadline at the end of which, regardless of quality and free from judgement, I will have finished something again.

Yes I was cynical. The whole exercise smacked of the American self-help industry. As a basic concept I approached it sniffily, feeling it was trying to offer me easy answers to something I knew to be difficult. It felt like the writer's equivalent to some kind of ab-tensing fat-buster and the title of the founder's book on the subject - “No Plot? No Problem! A Guide To Writing A Novel In 30 Days” - didn't help matters. But beneath that, as with many self-help guides, lay some good ideas: the importance of deadline-setting in creative work; the need to set aside ego in the creation of a first draft; the joy of completion. These were all things I needed to embrace, but even so I went into the book expecting to last about 50 pages.

I was pleasantly surprised. The tone was conversational and down to earth, and most importantly there was no sense that the author was waving a magic wand to tell you how to write. The fact that writing is hard work was not tiptoed around. Nor was it implied that you would necessarily write anything of worth. The idea was that this was an exercise that could well be useful for you. Even if you progressed nowhere as a writer, the undertaking itself was a worthwhile mental and emotional exertion. The book was quite candid about your chances too: I can't remember exactly off the top of my head, but I think the successful completion rate each NaNoWriMo is (I think) about 17%. Best of all, there was no sense of on-selling. Nothing to suggest that you needed to invest any further money into the venture (in fact, the organisation actually runs as a non-profit venture). It was just a book of tips and encouragement for people who wanted to participate. So that sold it: I was going to do this thing.

November had gone, of course, so I had to either wait a year or just do it myself. Wanting to capitalise on my enthusiasm, I decided that I would do it early next year. January seemed like the logical choice: lousy weather (in this hemisphere, anyway), 31 days in the month (mua ha ha), everyone is broke and there's not a lot going on.

So that's where I am! Andrew's Novel Writing Month (AnNoWriMo) will be happening January 2009, from the 1st (optimistically) to the 31st. 50,000 words, or about 1,600 words per day.

I've emailed a few people to see if anyone else is keen. I know at least three more people who are going to take part and if you haven't heard from me but think you might be keen then please let me know. What doing it as a group will involve I don't know. Probably somewhere online to post our word counts and maybe, for those who are local, a few writing sessions in a pub or cafe. This last thing sounds weird, but the idea is that by meeting up you get a better sense of not being alone in this thing and encourage each other to make the time.

So, will I manage it? I'm not sure to be honest. I have no real idea of what I'm going to do. The freedom of the exercise, the ability to write in any genre I choose while know that no-one else will ever need to read it (read: I may write a trashy fantasy novel), makes me quite indecisive. The rules, such as they are, are quite open too. For example, you are allowed to plot and plan as much as you like in advance. You can do your research, sketch out your characters and plaster your walls with notecards, just so long as you don't write any prose until that first day. On the other hand, it's recommended you don't overdo it, or indeed use ideas you've been developing for some time, simply because the greater your attachment to the idea, the more difficult it will be for you to compromise quality in the short term for the sake of a word count. So I'm not sure whether I should start kicking ideas around now or just start on the first day and see where things take me. And those considerations don't even begin to address how I'm going to manage my time or meet daily word quotas. Well, we'll see.

Anyway, that's what's going on for me. Any thoughts are welcome!

By the way, official NaNoWriMo site here and Wiki here.

Carry on reading...

Things I Did Yesterday 02/12/08

Criminey! How did such a nice clear day turn so foul? Anyway, yesterday I:

- Worked. Got closer to finalising the Christmas roster, got the holidays up to date and worked on library orders for Islington, Southwark and Hounslow. Tried to get away early (I'm owed a couple of hours) but it just wasn't happening.

- Sat on the internet during Alex's soap night, just catching up. I think I need to clean out my feeds a little, just to make them a little quicker. Do I really need the BBC entertainment news feed?

- Watched this weeks TV Burp, which had me laughing my ass off. Also watched the second episode of the new IT Crowd season, which was a good laugh. Finally, got back into the WWI doco series I've been watching. This covered the war in the Middle East, including Gallipoli. It also had an amazing piece of footage of a young Mustafa Kemal Atatürk, who even on a piece of grainy old footage from early this century had an incredibly powerful, magnetic look.

- Actually had a decent night's sleep. Amazing!

Carry on reading...

Monday, December 01, 2008

Things I Did Yesterday 01/12/08

Hello December! I am Andrew Salmond, and I am here to rock you! But yesterday it was November and I:

- Got up around 8.30 with a cracking headache. Completely self-induced, but boy did I feel sorry for myself. Stil, I was in better shape thanAlex, who wasn't well at all.

- Sat at my desk to catch up on my reading only to have my chair suddenly topple forward, snapped at the base. Bugger.

- Popped out to the shops for juice, rolls and bacon.

- Played a little Xbox then made up some bacon rolls for us.

- Once Alex was up, we went for a walk up Holloway Road to the Waitrose with a roast in mind. I do love shopping at Waitrose. Everything just seems a little bit nicer, not to mention the amazing deli section they have. But we were good and just bought ingredients for the roast.

- Popped up to Argos and got myself a new desk chair. Unlike Waitrose, I take no pleasure whatsoever from shopping there. In fact, there are few things worse on the weekend.

- Came home. I did the washing up then played a little Fallout while Alex dozed on the couch. Broke my combat shotgun. Bugger.

- I headed off to have a bath while Alex started dinner. Then I put my new chair together, which is okay but not as nice as my old one. Life is so hard.

- Roast lamb. Mmmm...

- Having eaten, we decided that around 8pm was certainly late enough to go to bed (is this what getting older means?), where we watched a marathon session of Paul Merton in India. I enjoyed this series, more than the China one I think. You get the sense there was a lot more freedom for him to visit whomever he pleased. I certainly don't think his Chinese governmental escort would have allowed anything like the eunuch beggars/extortionists he went to see in India. Anyway, I hope he does some more. He's no Palin, but he does the Englishman abroad thing very well.

- Thought about reading, but I was too bloody tired.

Carry on reading...

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Things I Did Yesterday 27/11/08

Gotta get Liz's brother Ian back from them Family raiders, if the radscorpions ain't got him already. Oh, yesterday I:

- Got into town and wrote a little bit about my plans for January. More on that soon.

- Worked, dealing with the new delivery. I also double-checked the order for the month, observing the new watchword of "caution".

- Was interviewed by a student at lunchtime about the industry and why shops locate themselves where they do (for the same reasons any business does). He was supposed to shout me a coffee in return for 10 minutes of my time. I wound up buying his coffee and talking my entire lunch. Mind you, the latter probably wasn't his fault.

- Got home and read some comics. Batman continued it's shit-festery with the end of the RIP storyline. Honestly, the whole thing has been pretty dire, mainly let down by Daniel's confused storytelling. As for the ending? Limp. Walking Dead and Night Witches were the best of the week so far. I've yet to read the Brubaker double of Cap and DD, nor the latest instalments of Northlanders, Incredible Hercules and Umbrella Academy.

- Played some Fallout, which so far I've been very good about keeping to small bursts of an hour or so.

- Watched the last episode of Stephen Fry in America, which we've enjoyed. It's not exactly in-depth, but it makes for great pre-bedtime viewing.

- Had a very broken night's sleep. Just what I need!

Carry on reading...

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Things I Did Yesterday 25/11/08

How do you manage to keep up? Anyway, yesterday I:

- Trekked back from Greenwich, where Alex and I had spent the previous day as a special birthday surprise! It was really nice, actually, and it was only the buses that kept reminding me that we were, in fact, still in London.

- Lugged our new kitchen table back with us, which we picked up from a market for £35. Such a great find as it's perfect for the limited space we have, both as a 4-seater dining table and also as a work surface.

- Tidied and rearranged the lounge in time for Andrea to arrive, bearing the base for a laksa, which she then cooked in typically excellent style. We had a good catch-up and then walked down to Angel, where I bought a copy of Fallout 3 (after much deliberation) to go with my new Xbox 360 (£110 from ASDA).

- Got home, did some stuff, had a bath, read some comics (boy do I love Scalped) and caught up on my web reading.

- Once Alex's soaps had finished (9pm) I moved in on the lounge, popped Fallout in and started playing. That pretty much took me through until 1am, whereupon I died trying to kill a bunch of guys who were guarding the ruin of an old supermarket. I must say, I'm loving it. I was a big fan of the Fallout games way back when, and indeed Wasteland before them. The post-apocalyptic RPG thing always appealed to me and this new one does an excellent job of recapturing the feel of the earlier chapters. Okay, so it also feels a bit like a re-skinned Oblivion, but that's fine by me. I think it has been a bit mis-marketed though - the Gears of War crowd are going to be bleeding out their eyes with the amount of dialogue and reading material - but it's exactly what I hoped it might be. Good news for me, bad news for productivity.

- Though actually, it's not too bad. The fact that I have gone down the console route rather than upgrading my PC has a number of benefits. Firstly, it means I can play all the new games for far less than it would have cost me to do an upgrade. I'm at the point where a games-ready conversion is essentially going to be a rebuild, but really my PC is fine for 90% of what I need to do. Aside from the odd fan that needs replacing, it's still rock-solid. Secondly, to play a game I need access to the television, which means it can't monopolize my time every night. At least, these are the justifications I tell myself.

- Stumbled to bed, intending to get up early to make the most of this, my last day off of a 5 day stretch.

Carry on reading...

Sunday, November 09, 2008

The Mighty Thor

Have I put this up before?

I don't remember. I could put this up every day.

Carry on reading...

Things I Did Yesterday 09/11/08

Hot damn! Two days in a row! Time to reward myself with a day off. Anyway, yesterday I:

- Got up early intending to capitalise on the fact that Alex had got to bed late. What a world of early morning possibility!

- Sat on the internet. Like a gigantic sea-sponge immersed in a sewer. Suddenly it wasn't early morning any more.

- Had poached eggs and bacon for breakfast and then we planned out the mammoth task that was Rearranging Our Lounge.

- Rearranged our lounge. Phew!

- Nipped out to Leyland to pick up some tester pots of paint. We're gonna give the lounge a fresh lick. Of paint. Came back via a diversion to the Scolt's Head for a cheeky pint.

- Tested a couple of paints, one of which was unsuitable, but the other of which seemed quite good. Pretty much what we have now, really: a kind of off-white. What do you call that? Eggshell? Beetle Breath? What am I, a decorator?

- Saw the start of the NZ/Scotland game and then walked down to the Orwell to have a quick drink with Alex before she went off to a house-warming (which - as was sort of expected - she is yet to return from around 24 hours later).

- Settled in front of the telly and watched the extras on the [REC] DVD, then the latest Futurama DVD, which was a little underwhelming, to be honest. Meant to watch Swedish vampire flick Let the Right One In, but wound up watching a show about recently deceased comedy producer Geoffrey Perkins.

- Watched a World at War episode which covered Germany to the end of the war. There's a particular relish in Olivier's voice while narrating the destruction of Germany's cities as revenge for the destruction the Germans had wrought. Thankfully, however, the last few episodes' frequent footage of bulldozed piles of bodies has not inured me to the sight.

- Slept, and dreamt of bunnies.

Carry on reading...

Saturday, November 08, 2008

Things I Did Yesterday 08/11/08

Is there a blogging equivalent to ex-lax? Yesterday I:

- Spent the morning catching up on the internet. It was, thankfully, still there. I often fantasize about living out in the middle of nowhere. A simple life where my days would be filled with making treehouses for the kids and maybe mending that fence that borders on the Johnson farm. But could I get decent broadband? It's amazing how accustomed I've become to high-speed internet, to the point now where even an 8mb connection is irritating. I have to wait for a quicktime trailer to preload? Ridiculous! Still, I imagine it would just be a case of going cold turkey. How much of it all do I really need to read, after all?

- Popped down to Angel for some breakfast and a wander around the shops. Started reading a new writing book. Did not, however, actually write.

- Came home and did some tidying and then took to what became my main task for the day: getting rid of the sofa. At this point I should address my landlord, who may well be reading. The old sofa has reached the end of its life I'm afraid, Bill! Covers are torn, the inner springs are shot and it's all just a bit grotty now. Luckily last week we picked up a used sofa for free and while not being the most glamorous piece of new furniture, it's in good shape, is comfortable, and actually gives us a bit more flexibility in terms of lounge layout. We'll leave it when we move out.

- So anyway, the sofa. The sofa we have had is huge. It's about 7.5 feet long and about 3 feet wide. There's no way I was going to be able to get it out the door without moving half the furniture in the house, and even then I had no way of disposing of it. So I took it apart, which took about 3 hours start to finish (allowing for dust-settling breaks). All the covering and foam needed to be cut off, then the springs all had to be removed before I could get to unscrewing/unbolting the frame. But I got there in the end and once everything had been cleaned up and the new sofa had been put in place it was all looking spiffy!

- Watched Brit horror flick Donkey Punch, which was an effective little thriller of spiralling circumstances. Not one to watch with grandma, but good if you like this kind of thing. Speaking of horror flicks, by the way, do yourself a favour and check out the Spanish film [REC]. I just got the DVD, which I'm looking forward to getting stuck into. It's a quick (75 min), claustrophobic zombie movie that's a nice shot of andrenalised horror. There's a US remake on its way, which may or may not be pants, but I can give the original a big thumbs-up.

- Watched a World at War episode which covered the Holocaust, which put me in a suitably miserable mood before bed.

Carry on reading...

Monday, October 27, 2008

You Terrify Me, America

I mean, I love a twelve-gauge shotgun as much as the next guy, but...

Carry on reading...

War! Never Been So Much Fun.

Okay, who remembers the greatest strategy/satire computer game ever?

Also, after an iteration of the verse from the opening tune, skip ahead to get the funky recruitment hill music.

God I loved the Amiga.

Carry on reading...

Things I Did Yesterday 27/10/08

My clamouring public demands me! Yesterday I:

- Didn't write. Bad Andrew. Read fantasy tat in the park instead, huddled out of the miserable weather.

- Did, however, continue my Bill Bryson audiobook odyssey, with Notes From A Small Island, which I'm very glad I never read before living in the UK for a while.

- Worked. Biggest job was putting together an invoice for Hounslow libraries, but other than that I was mainly covering (and tidying behind) the till.

- Claudia and Morgan swung by at the end of the day, so they, I, Will and Nat swung down to the Princess Louise for a quick drink. Nice to see them, particularly given that there's limited time left to see them in before their American relocation.

- Came home to the smell of roasting chicken. Mmmm...

- Also came home to discover that Alex had salvaged some goodies from her friends that she helped move through the day, including a bicycle and an original Xbox. It's just the kind of time waster I've been looking for.

- Played some Mario Kart while Alex watched. That's the kind of crazy shit we do at night.

- We started watching Stephen Fry's America, which was, of course, quite entertaining, if a little brief in its coverage.

- Went to bed and tried to read. Went to sleep. Fitfully.

Carry on reading...

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Things I Did Yesterday 21/10/08

Rudy Ray Moore has died! RIP muthafucka! Anyway, yesterday I:

- Got up nice and early with a mind toward achieving stuff. Achieved little.

- Got out and about to get some breakfast and find a teapot. Ran into Ossie down near Angel and had a little chat, then had no luck whatsoever finding a teapot I liked.

- Came home and flipped from one thing to the other all day. Watched Powell and Pressburger's A Canterbury Tale, which was thoroughly enjoyable if lacking some of the visual panache of their later stuff. I also watched Plague of the Zombies from the Hammer box set, which was great.

- Got back into playing Half-Life Two Episode One for a little while. It was nice to give it some time actually.

- Like a restless spirit I then went on to playing some Mario Galaxy, which is great. There's something quite remarkable about the Mario games when they're on form. The density of imagination in them is a thing to behold. Just played through one galaxy, as I'm trying to spin it out.

- Spent a bit of time on the Wii Fit, doing some yoga stretches, a bunch of balance exercises and a few aerobic exercises.

- Read some comics, including Legion of 3 Worlds, which is rather baffling to me as a non-Legion guy, but is substantial enough to feel like a satisfying read. Well, it's mainly just a big fight scene, but a very dense, enjoyable one.

- Caught up on movie trailers. I love the fact that The Transporter 3 (who knew we needed it?) is directed by a man named Olivier Megaton.

- Used chopped Moroccan lamb burgers mixed with garlic roasted portobello mushrooms as the basis for kebabs for dinner. Very happy with the results.

- Watched the latest episodes of the Sarah Silverman Show.

- Played a little Age of Empires on the DS, which has an addictive "Just one more turn" sort of quality. My battery died at about 2.30am.

- Promised myself that today I would spend some time reading a book.

Carry on reading...

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Apple Hate-On #234

So I'm cleaning up my system a bit, when I come across this:

MobileMe is, I discover upon further investigation, a piece of software installed with iTunes without any consultation on my part whatsoever, nor any kind of notification that it had been done. What is this, Real Media? This on top of the Outlook add-on they decided I needed (which stopped my Outlook shutting down properly) is the last straw. The last straw!
Now I appreciate you Mac people live in a happy wonderland where your benevolent dictator makes everything work without having to worry about it. And yes, I concede the attractiveness of the hardware. But I tell you what, they don't play well with others.

Carry on reading...

Friday, October 03, 2008

Give Us A Spin!


Normal service soon, but meanwhile, make sure you check out cockney geezer Nathaniel Metcalfe's upcoming comedy and variety night, Tombola of Fun! It's gonna be ace!

Carry on reading...

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Things I Did Yesterday 11/09/08

Stick a fork in me. Yesterday I:

- Foolishly took my heavy winter jacket to work, as the weather has been all a bit topsy turvy. Of course, every time I take my jacket its tend toward more topsy than turvy, and I just don't have a jacket suitable for topsy.

- Worked. Library stuff. Blog proofing stuff. Checking off stock stuff. Bagging stuff. Totally stuffed stuff.

- Came home and read some comics. Not a great week, and I never got around to reading most of the really good stuff (aka BPRD, Invincible, Goon & Criminal). I didn't grab the latest Love and Rockets, as they've gone to a book format and therefore it'll take me a while to get around to it. I've got a year until the next one though, so that ain't so bad. I also want to read the collected edition of Jonathan Lethem's Omega the Unknown series and the Edginton/Culbard Dorian Grey adaptation. Of the stuff I did read, I enjoyed Magneto: Testament #1 and the first issue of Marvel's adaptation of The Stand.

- Watched the second episode of FX skit show The Wrong Door, which was, again, pretty good fun. Like any sketch show it can be hit and miss, but it moves so quickly that it doesn't lose your interest. I also caught up on the latest Robot Chicken episodes, which hold to same principle really, though do reward a certain level of geeky knowledge.

- Watched the Wire to regain some sense of worthiness, because comedy is a bit base and classless, innit?

Carry on reading...

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Things I Did Yesterday 10/09/08

On the ball I am not. Anyway, yesterday I:

- Went to Russell Square again. It’s a shame that such a terrible cafe has residence there. The cafe itself looks very nice since its refurb about 5 years ago, but the food, drink and service are all abysmal. The guys who run it are surly and temperamental, and like all employers of that nature, they pass it on to their staff. And yet I keep coming back, because the park is without a doubt the nicest place to stop before work, and has a good deal of sentimental significance for me. Also, as I’ve no doubt mentioned before, the shitty coffee has become like a comfort thing now; the acrid, milky flavour of familiarity.

- Worked. Mish-mash of stuff, including libraries, How Late and interviewing for staff. Thankfully it looks like the girl we interviewed is going to take the job, which is a godsend as we were about to hit a staffing drought. So she will be picking up a lot of the shop web copy writing, publicising events and generally assisting Nat. She, for future reference, is named Hayley, and for those to whom it means something, she’s the daughter of one Mr Eddie Campbell!

- Went to see Tom, Tobi, Rachel & Jack (aka Four Sad Faces) record their radio show for BBC7. It was great. I’d never been to a radio recording before, so it was enjoyable for the sheer novelty, but it also helps that the guys are actually funny. It took a couple of hours to record two shows, the first of which is going to be broadcast on my birthday! The second show seemed funnier than the first, but I’m not sure if that was just because I was warmed up by then. Anyway, I recommend you check it out. I'll post details closer to the time. Realised I haven't seen Tom in bloody ages! Gone all showbiz on us now, with his cocaine nose and heroin toes...

- Came home via Angel, where I picked Alex up from the pub. Got in, watched an episode of the Simpsons, and damned if I didn’t fall straight to sleep.

Carry on reading...

What I Did The Day Before Yesterday 10/09/08

Holy hoopla! The day before yesterday I:

- Had the day off. My days are all over the bloody place at the moment. Monday/Sunday this week.

- Got out early with Alex and went to Angel to do my morning writing. I am enjoying this, especially the feeling come midday that I’ve done my productive bit for the day.

- Went to Sainsbury’s to get some stuff for dinner. Shopping in the day on a Monday is fun!

- Came home and got stuck in to sorting things out. Did a big purge of DVDs, books and papers. Cleared out my overflowing box of spare cables and did the same to my memento box. I do always hold onto a few things of sentimental value, but I like to reassess and clear out every now and then.

- Watched She, from the Hammer Collection box set Matt got me. Peter Cushing, Christopher Lee, Ursula Andress and Bernard Cribbens. How could it be anything but great? It’s based on the H Rider Haggard novel, and really captures that classic adventure feel. I also started watching The Reptile, but was cut short by Alex arriving home. It was, after all, Soap Night, where a back-to-back marathon of Home & Away, Hollyoaks, Coronation Street, Eastenders and then another Coronation Street is put on for the suds crowd. I made dinner, ate and then went to the bedroom. !boS !em pleH !lliw ym tsniaga ereh dleh gnieb m'I !enoemos esaelP

- Played some Diablo 2. Heh...vulture monsters explode real good.

- Watched some Wire. Still good.

- Skimmed through a book on hauntings in the British Isles by Richard Jones. I have been on a ghost walk taken by Richard Jones, and the flair for melodrama he showed there certainly follows through in his work. Entertaining, though.

- Hit the hay by 11, like all responsible young men should.

Carry on reading...

Monday, September 08, 2008

Things I Did Yesterday 08/09/08

The truth is out: I still love comics. Anyway, yesterday I:

- Had my pre-work coffee time in Russell Square, where I had one of my most favourite of experiences: sitting under the awnings of the cafe drinking their shitty coffee, looking out over the park while the rain hammers down only inches away from me. That feeling is something I will always take from London.

- Worked. Did the count for Nat, then sorted out ordering on the Southwark standing order for September. Got annoyed with the sheer level of mess in the mail order shelving unit, so cleared it all out and reorganised it. Turfed out a lot of no-longer relevant small press material, old catalogues and general mess. Not the most high-brow of jobs, but a damn satisfying one.

- Knocked off a little early and met Claudia & Morgan for a coffee, which was very nice. Hadn’t seen them since the wedding, and barely saw them there. So it was good to have a catch-up on their doings (which have been as globe-trotting as ever).

- Headed home to find that Alex had cooked a roast! Mmmm...

- Watched the first part of Charley Boorman’s By Any Means. Like Long Way Round and Long Way Down, only utilising more modes of transport and leaving behind Ewan MacGregor. It was okay, but to be honest, without MacGregor, Boorman just feels a little bit like a spoilt little rich kid. The whole sequence of him tooling about his old home and fooling about with dad (director John Boorman) was cringe inducing. However...I’ll watch the rest as I’m sure once they get on the road proper (which is to say, past Europe) things should get interesting.

- Played an hour’s worth of TF2 and rather enjoyed it. Mainly because I played on my favourite server, which tends to have great custom maps. Also, I did quite well, by my standards, which is always going to make the whole thing more fun.

- Watched the season finale of My Name Is Earl, which I just don’t enjoy that much anymore. It has its moments, but the format feels a little tired.

- Gave Baltimore a rest for the evening and tried out a new fantasy novel, Acacia. Not bad so far, and it has the distinction of being one of the few fantasy novels that doesn’t have a cover I would feel the need to hide on the bus. Quite derivative of the George RR Martin novels though.

- Had a bloody awful night’s sleep.

Carry on reading...

What I Did The Day Before Yesterday 08/09/08

Damn you Windows Service Pack 3! My custom theme, destroyed! Anyway, the day before yesterday I:

- Worked. I do hate working a Saturday. There’s something about it that just feels wrong. Not to mention that it’s crazy day. As in the day when all the crazies come to get their comics. Which is fine, when the store is nice and quiet. But on a Saturday afternoon, the store is anything but quiet. Anyway, I did get some stuff done, including an instruction sheet for converting the Diamond order into something ComTrac can use and a letter of complaint to Marvel regarding their current variant incentive program.

- The idea was that Alex and I were going to have a “doing something together” night, but that went out the window. Alex was midway through having a purge of stuff and wanted to carry on (as well as watch the X-Factor). So it was a night on the computer for me.

- Played some TF2, but got bored pretty quick, so I watched The Wire instead.

- That’s about it!

Carry on reading...

Sunday, September 07, 2008

Hallelujah, Baby!

Jesus Christ...

Carry on reading...

Saturday, September 06, 2008

Things I Did Yesterday 06/09/08

Summer's done, man! It's done! But yesterday I:

- Had the day off, but got up early to walk down to Angel with Alex. There’s a Starbucks down there that has a great mezzanine floor which isn’t well used first thing in the morning. It’s perfect for writing and reading, and I’m trying to get into the habit of going there so as to get myself out of the house and doing something productive first thing in the day. I get there between 8.30 and 9.00, depending on Alex, and work through until somewhere between 11.00 and 12.00. That means I get stuff done in the morning, when my mind tends to be a bit sharper anyway, and have the rest of the day to do whatever the hell I like. It works pretty well, as I don’t spend the afternoon fretting about doing something worthwhile with my time, thereby procrastinating myself into inaction.

- Went into town and bought books for Josh’s birthday. I do love shopping for books, even if they’re not for me. I love bookshops. I try to always spend a little time in bookshops on my days off. There’s something incredibly relaxing about them. Frustrating too, given the number of books I want to read but probably never will, but on the whole it always feels like a worthwhile use of time. A Good Thing.

- Came home and pottered about. I had intended to do some organising of stuff, which Alex is hip-deep in at the moment, but never quite got around to it. Bloody internet.

- Watched The Fall, the new film by Tarsem Singh. It starts out well, promising to be something a bit special, like The Princess Bride married to the sensibilities of Guillermo del Toro, and there’s no doubt that the man makes a beautiful film. But it’s ultimately a bit flat. Which is a shame, because it is stunning looking, even though there are a couple of scenes that have taken their inspiration from Ron Fricke’s Baraka. Which, by the way, you should absolutely see.

I originally saw Baraka in the Paramount theatre in Wellington back when it was released. That was great, but I was lucky enough to catch a 70mm print of it playing in Madrid about 5 or 6 years ago and it was mind-blowing.

- Started watching Bill Bryson’s Notes From A Small Island tv series, but stopped after about half an hour. It wasn’t anything special and I think I’ll just read the book. Or get the audio-book. Speaking of which, I’ve started on the audio book for The Lost Continent, which I’m enjoying. I do find the narration a bit jarring though. I’m used to Bryson audio books being read by Bryson, and this is not. But distractingly it is very much his narrative voice.

- Realised that I stopped watching World at War about halfway through. Must get back to it.

- Watched a couple of Wire episodes. Gonna be a kick in the pants when I finish them.

Carry on reading...

Friday, September 05, 2008

Something Good For Your Soul

Couple of things actually. Y'know, YouTube really is a wonderful thing, even if it's now akin to trawling through a really good rubbish tip.

Hell, yes!

Carry on reading...

Things I Did Yesterday 05/09/08

Holy moley, my day off is evaporating! Oh well, another tick on the clock. Anyway, there's nothing like looking back to put off the present, so yesterday I:

- Worked. Started early, got the filing done and finished early.

- Came home and faffed about. Read my web pages, chatted to the esteemed Dr Wu and watched Joe Biden. Bit of panto in there. "That's more of the same". Jesus.

-Ate dinner and watched Eastenders. Oh Stacey! What are you doing?

- Played some TF2. I feel the end of my current playing splurge is near. Which is no bad thing.

- Watched an episode of My Name is Earl. We've had the final two episodes sitting around for bloody ages.

- Read some more Baltimore bad news, then hit the sack.

Carry on reading...

What I Did The Day Before Yesterday 05/09/08

Do I remember? Yes, yes, the day before yesterday I:

- Worked. Delivery day, so that was pretty much that!

- Came home and read comics. Highlights? Dead of Night: Devil Slayer #1 was a promising start to the mini-series. Fables #75 looked stunning, but felt a bit anti-climactic. Jonah Hex #35 was probably my pick of the week. Beautiful art by JH Williams III and a nice, twisted little story. I also enjoyed Sub-Mariner Depths #1 and (improbably) continued to enjoy Chuck Dixon's alternate history WWII story Storming Heaven. Otherwise it was a bit of a damp squib of a week. Ah well, they can't all be winners.

- Watched Barack Obama's DNC speech. Man, can that guy orate. Check the little powerhouse show around the 34-minute mark. It's quite funny to compare his style to the chummy, good ol' boy style of Bill Clinton. Funnier still to compare it to the charisma-free panto show of the RNC. What the hell was all that "I want to..." blah blah "He wants to..." blah blah "BOOOOO!" nonsense in McCain's speech? Man, American politics is such a fucking circus.

- Went to bed and dreamt of puppies. Being eaten by Kate Bush.

Carry on reading...

Tuesday, September 02, 2008

Things I Did Yesterday 02/09/08

Is it getting chilly, or is it just me? Anyway, Yesterday I:

- Got up early to get into work for 7am, as John Lewis were going to deliver our wedding gifts sometime between 7am-1pm. It was my day off, so I wasn’t thrilled, but I figured I’d get in, get a coffee, read my web pages and then once someone else arrived I’d go off and do some writing.

- Got myself a coffee, read my web pages and once the guys arrived at 9.30, I went off to do some writing. Actually, I didn’t get away until about 10.15, but that’s how it is, getting away from Gosh.

- Sat in Russell Square and wrote in a decidedly meandering fashion. I do enjoy sitting there, shitty coffee and awful service aside. It’s a comfort thing.

- At 12 I headed back to the store to find no gifts. I called John Lewis, but while I was on hold the stuff showed up. Result!

- Got a black cab (outfitted with a very friendly driver) back home with the stuff loaded in the back. Unfortunately I couldn’t open it until Alex got home.

- Watched the original Cape Fear, which is a great little film. I need to watch the Scorsese one again, I think, but Robert Mitchum is brilliant. His mix of charm and menace hasn’t dated in the slightest. Whatta bastard. Whatta guy.

- Started season three of The Wire, which for the first fifteen minutes felt like I had missed an episode. It highlights one of the things I love about the show: it doesn’t talk down in the slightest. It demands you keep up, and if you fall behind then you’re on your own.

- Played some Diablo 2, which was fun, but damned if I could remember what was going on since I last played it. I had a bunch of quests to complete but couldn’t remember where I needed to go and so on. So most of my time was spent reorienting myself.

- Tidied up my PC. I’m a bit of an app junkie. I love trying out new programs that perform functions that sound great on paper, but in practice I just never use. Well, usually, anyway. I have got some great little gems that are a default part of any install I do now. Trouble is, I never uninstall the duds straight away, so every now and then I have to go through and do a bit of housecleaning. Now one day I might sit down and properly reorganise my photos....

- Is anybody else sick of the stuff Apple is pulling at the moment? I upgraded iTunes the other day, and damned if they’re not trying to install Safari as well now! I don’t mind them suggesting it to me, but they’re default checking the option to install it. Bad Apple, bad! Let alone all the little tendrils they’ve got into my system now. They’re getting to be as bad as Real or AOL. Yes, yes Mac users, I know it’s all smooth and wonderful for you and I should just buy a Mac, but putting Apple into a competitive software environment is really showing them for the bastards they are.

- Had takeout from Miso to celebrate our first month of marriage. We’re classy folk, don’t ya know!

- Opened our pressies! Got some great stuff, but god only knows where it’s all going to go. We were already pushed for space. Still, mustn’t grumble!

- Went to bed with our new pillows, which are nothing short of heavenly. Seriously, these things are amazing. Hungarian goose down with a duck feather core. That’s living the life, that is!

Carry on reading...

Monday, September 01, 2008

Things I did Yesterday 01/09/08

Hell, I been married a month! Anyway, quick as you like, yesterday I:

- Sat in a cafe writing in the morning, thinking about how nice it is in the winter when you’re inside, warm and dry, looking outside in the cold & wet. Then it started pissing down about 5 minutes before I had to head into work, and it didn’t seem like such a great idea any more.

- Worked. I was owed time from Thursday, so I worked through lunch and knocked off at 2.30, which was nice. The only thing I really did of note was convert this month’s order form into something our system can use.

- Got home and got to work uploading wedding photos.

- Read some comics: Wolverine First Class, which was good fun; Amazing Spider-Man, which was very pretty, but introduced one of the lamest concepts I’ve seen in a while; and something else that left such a strong impression on me that its awesomeness has wiped my brain of its existence. Jesus....what was it...

- Helped Alex start filling in thank you cards for our wedding gifts. Watch out for those!

- Watched Forgetting Sarah Marshal, which was nice enough but not as funny as I was expecting. I would pay to see that puppet Dracula musical.

- Hit the hay so I could get up early today to be at work for the delivery of our gifts from John Lewis! Pressies!

Carry on reading...

Sunday, August 31, 2008

Wedding Photos

Okay, so I realised it'll be our first anniversary by the time I get photos of the wedding up if I carry on trying to play catch-up, so here they are, more than you could ever wish for! Choke on them!

I will be adding more, by the way, as people send them in to us. Special thanks to Ed, who played official photographer on the day!

Carry on reading...

Things I Did Yesterday 31/08/08

As the world turns, so yesterday I:

- Woke up fairly early, so I twiddled my thumbs in an electronic fashion until Alex woke up.

- Got out and had some breakfast with Alex and then we walked into town, bound for Covent Garden. Alex had gotten in her mind that she wanted to buy me a new wallet (which I sorely need), and there was one from Fossil that she particularly had in mind.

- Was given a new wallet as a gift from my lovely wife. I find wallet shopping really difficult, as each different wallet seems to be missing one feature that I like. Why is it so difficult to find a wallet that has all the features I like? Anyway, I was to-and-fro-ing on several wallets, but in the end decided to go with the one she liked in the first place, which is very nice (but doesn’t have any zipped sections!)

- Wandered back home via what must be some kind of special Slow Service branch of Subway and the always entertaining Cass-Art.

- Thanks to some kind weird time-compression it was suddenly 7pm. So we got some dinner and watched X-Factor (just so I can stay topical in the office), then I was off to play some TF2.

- Watched the final two episodes of season two of The Wire. It really is great television, though this time around things are left a lot more open-ended than they were at the end of the first season. The story of the dock workers is wrapped, but everything is still ongoing for the dealers, distributors and cops. And me, of course, with three more seasons to go.

Carry on reading...

Saturday, August 30, 2008

Flickr Dump: South Island Day Three

Day three of the South Island trip is now up! Travelling from Franz Josef down to Wanaka, taking in Fox Glacier, the Blue Pools, the Gates of Haast and lakes Wanaka and Hawea.

Go have a look!

Carry on reading...

Things I Did Yesterday 30/08/08

Saturday, it's a Saturday. Yesterday I:

- Worked a long day to try and get the filing done. Didn't manage it, but I did alright I reckon, given the size of the week.

- Came home and pretty much collapsed. I played some TF2 and watched some Wire and then basically flaked out. Meh. Who needs a Friday anyway?

Carry on reading...

What I Did The Day Before Yesterday 30/08/08

To be honest I'm a little sketchy, but the day before yesterday I think I:

- Worked. Long weekend meant that the delivery arrived on Thursday, and it was a biggie.

- err...I really don't remember what else. I came home, had dinner.

- Oh, and read comics! Of course! Jeez. Got through pretty much this week's entire pile. Highlight was probably the first issue of Grant Morrison's Final Crisis: Superman Beyond, which is nuts and has some great 3-d sections. Kickass #4 was okay, but the book is very slight, as is Millar's "Wolverine in the Cursed Earth" storyline Old Man Logan. They're quick, easy reads, but his stuff does tend toward the comics equivalent of candyfloss. Oh, and I forgot to mention the other day that I have seen the first 5 pages of League of Extraordinary Gentlemen 3 #1, and it's looking very nice indeed!

- Started reading Homicide: A Year on the Killing Streets, the book that spawned the tv series, which has been kindly lent to me by Mr Kane.

Carry on reading...

Curse You Fransham!

You and your bloody talent! You're like an octopus of creativity.

Carry on reading...

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Things I Did Yesterday 28/08/08

Curiously, one of my old Gore Watch posts has caused a sudden spike in my stats (such that they are). Oh well, yesterday I:

- Had the day off. Got out early and did some actual, honest to god work, which involved digging out all of my notes on Winter, assembling them into something like an order and indexing them. I then started going through them, noting what I liked, what I didn’t and where I think the story might go.

- Wandered around Borders wishing I could read faster. I love books. Love flicking through them, love browsing them, love buying them, love getting home and pulling them out of my bag. I have so many treasured memories of time spent reading and of books that completely swallowed me. Even now, in a time where I don’t keep fiction at all once it’s read, I still dream of having an expansive library somewhere in my house. One day, I guess. I have come around to the idea of owning property, something I used to have no interest in. Really what attracts me is the notion of having my own place that’s essentially a gigantic toy for me to play with. The chance to do what I want with the place. Well, nice theory, anyway.

- Came home and read a bunch of comics. I’m almost caught up on my outstanding reading now, with a few notable titles to go. Catching up on Brubaker’s Captain America made me realise how much better the book reads in chunks, though he is careful to set up a cliffhanger at the end of each issue. I also caught up on his Daredevil, which I’d lost a lot of enthusiasm for, and was happy to discover that latest storyline is great. A nice little mystery, wrapped up in healthy doses of conspiracy and legal procedural.

- Played a bit of TF2, which was okay, but I may well be coming to the end of my attention for it. The trouble with these kind of death match games is that nothing is being achieved, and sooner or later you realise it. At least with a good solo game you should have some kind of story to work through. Diablo 2 still sits unfinished, for example, and although it’s hardly War & Peace, at least I feel like I’m progressing to some ending. Let alone the supposedly wonderful Psychonauts, which is on loan from Tom and gathering dust on my desk.

- Watched a couple of Wire episodes. Similar to season one, there’s a mid-season quickening of pace that’s really starting to gather steam now.

- Finished off my Nigel Kneale biography, which was a real joy. I don’t read enough biographies, but then it could be argued that I don’t read enough of anything. Except comics.

- Had an Amarula & milk nightcap. Mmm....

Carry on reading...

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Things I Did Yesterday 27/08/08

Did we really need Kid Rock back? Maybe we deserve him. Anyway, yesterday I:

Yesterday I:
- Had the day off, as I’m working at the end of the week.

- Did more flickr.

- Rather annoyingly faffed about until midday, when I had intended to get out early and do some work.

- Wandered down to Angel and met Alex for lunch. We went to Mucho Mas, a Mexican joint down there that can best be described as Subway with burritos. Justin’s mate Rob works there in a management capacity for the chain, but was behind the counter fixing his own lunch, I think. Anyway, good timing on our part as he gave us our lunches for free. Result! It was bloody nice, too. I’ll be going back for sure.

- Went home and cleaned like a demon while watching The Mindscape of Alan Moore (at last). I did enjoy it, but on the whole it was nothing I hadn’t read in interviews with him before. Felt good to get some cleaning done.

- Played some TF2, which had a major update over the weekend introducing a new play mode. Arena mode is a fast play game where you don’t get respawned after you’re killed. The winning team in a round either wipes out all of the other team or takes the capture point on the map. A team wins on a map when it wins 5 consecutive rounds. It was good, but really highlighted how crap I am. I was also pleased to discover that my total play time on TF2 so far has been about 26 hours, which isn’t too bad, really. Not as big a waste of my time as I’d feared.

- Alex’s folks came into town to have dinner before they head back to SA at the end of the week. Had a couple of drinks at the Scolt’s Head before dinner at the reliably tasty Bavo, a Mediterranean place around the corner. Good food, as ever. Then it was a quick drink at The Perseverance, a rough as hell pub at the end of our street. Luckily Tuesday night was pretty quiet. It’s a funny thing about these kind of “local” pubs, actually. When they’re busy they feel all a bit threatening and nasty, but when they’re empty they usually provide incredibly friendly service, as the bar staff are usually older characters who have seen it all. Anyway, a quick drink and then it was home to bed.

- A quick note for Jon: the small press thing is always tricky. I don’t want Gosh to be seen as hostile to small press, and I do really want to support it, but basically it came down to the fact that staffing is going to be a little tighter after Matt goes, so the time it takes to effectively manage small press is going to be harder to find. In addition to that, nobody actually wanted to pick up the job. Managing small press is something which does require some enthusiasm, because without that it would all fall into disrepair pretty quick, which I don’t think would serve anyone’s interests well. At least this way we are still taking small press we believe in, while (not to slight yours and Tony’s excellent spreadsheet in the slightest) removing the hassle of managing a sale or return system. The problem we have at the moment, and something I will strive to make sure is resolved, is giving the small press a decent place to sell from once it has come off the new shelf. Hopefully, though, the amount we have left over will decrease as we tighten our belts on what we buy in, as we would with any stock. I’m sure that will take a bit of time as we don’t have the knowledge that you guys have on what does actually sell, but we’ll get there.

Carry on reading...

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Flickr Dump: South Island Day Two

Day two of our South Island trip is now up on flickr, covering Cape Foulwind down to Franz Josef, taking in the pancake rocks at Punakaiki and the Franz Josef Glacier!

Go look!

Carry on reading...

Things I Did Yesterday 26/08/08

Shake well before opening. Yesterday I:

- Worked. Caught up with Josh and did a bunch of bitty jobs, culminating in some kind of attempt to sort out our small press section. Not too difficult, but sloooow.

- Came home and had a stir fry for dinner.

- Watched some Wire, watched the final Venture Bros of the season.

- Jesus... was that really all I did? Man, I gotta get out and do something.

Carry on reading...

Monday, August 25, 2008

Things I Did Yesterday 25/08/08

Like the beat that my heart skipped, yesterday I:

- Worked. Did the count for Nat, cleaned a bit and generally got things ready for Josh to come back from holiday. Fiddled a bit with the look of the work blog.

- Wrote in the morning for the first time in a while again. It’s amazing how fast the daily habit can be broken. Oh well, I’m getting back on track.

- On the way home I had a craving to have steak, mushrooms and egg for dinner. Being a grown-up, I was able to make that happen. It’s good to be alive!

- Wrote a thank you letter to The Plough for being so great with regard to our reception.

- Watched a bit of X-Factor, which included an absolutely shameful segment where a woman who had a serious obsession with Louis Walsh was put through even though she really didn’t have any talent. Why shameful? Well, because the woman has been put through for no other reason than to humiliate her. Cringe television is good television, after all. Couldn’t keep watching and went to carry on watching The Wire instead. Some old familiar characters popped up and the strands of the story were starting to come together.

- Stayed up too late. Because I can!

Carry on reading...

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Things I Did Yesterday 24/08/08

Sweet mama jama, where did the year go? Anyway, yesterday I:

- Did housework.

- Did internet things.

- Met up with Andrea, briefly back from the US and on her way to India, for a coffee. It was great to catch up and as always her life seemed a whole lot more interesting than mine. Which is great, because I get vicarious busy life while chillin' back here in relaxed life. Best of both worlds!

- Came home and faffed about for a while before settling in to watch some stuff. Watched the US version of Funny Games, which was great. I never saw the original, so I can't really compare, but from what I understand Haneke has just made the same film only in English. Very good film though, which quite deliberately (to the point of satire) plays with viewer expectations. Nasty stuff. I also watched the final part of Richard Dawkins' Genius of Charles Darwin, which I've enjoyed. Then it was time to start in on season two of The Wire...

- Watched Wire episodes until 1am, rediscovering just how fantastic this show is. After finishing season one a while back, I decided I didn't need to watch any more. I loved it, but it ended so well that I was quite happy to walk away. There's only so many hours in the day, after all. But just lately I came around to a very simple idea: if I can't justify the time to watch what is considered (and what my experience confirms) to be one of the best shows in recent memory, then what the hell can I justify time watch? I dropped 90 minutes of my life the other night watching The Mutant Chronicles. Don't get me wrong, I laughed my ass off, but really...

- Dreamt I was climbing a high tower on a rope made of pure, silken hair. My love was imprisoned at the top, her locks providing my only means of access. Her hair smelt sweet and grassy, each clutch of my hand into the thick, luxurious mass releasing a burst of scent that spirited me to sunny childhood afternoons, freshly mown lawns flavouring the air. With a mix of pleasure and regret I reached the top and there lay my love, gazing longingly into my eyes. I weighed up my options, blew her a kiss and in one swift movement hoisted myself back down that wonderful golden trail of olfactory memory. Not sure what it means.

Carry on reading...

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Flickr Dump - South Island Day One

Okay, I've uploaded photos from our ferry crossing and the first day of our trip driving around the South Island. Here's our route:

 Go look!

Carry on reading...

Things I Did Yesterday 23/08/08

Strike a light Guv, yesterday I:

- Played catch-up on a number of admin things, just so I was able to feel like something positive had been achieved from the day. Sat back with a satisfied feeling, then ran out the door to catch a couple of movies. Didn't clean the kitchen. Oops.

- Saw Wall-E, which I thought was very good, but falls short of being great. Its problem lies in the fact that for the first 30 minutes or so you feel like you're watching something quite special. The almost wordless storytelling, the vision of this toxic future earth, it is, no word of a lie, amazing. I appreciate that the movie needed to progress beyond this, but everything that happens once they go into space just feels like a standard kids film. Which is all fine and entertaining, but it just doesn't live up to the promise of the first part. Still recommended, but doesn't quite topple The Incredibles as my favourite Pixar flick.

- Saw Hellboy 2, which was lots of fun. Not perfect by any means, but better than the first one. As I was watching it, the film's willingness to be a bit playful while still handling serious material really brought to mind the biggest problem with The Dark Knight: it's so bloody joyless. Hellboy's other great strength is that it's made by one the great visionary directors working today. Del Toro's commercial films always suffer a little in comparison to his more personal works, but even Blade 2 looked gorgeous.

- Met up with folks for Billy's stag night. I stuck to the red wine and had a pleasant drunk buzz going, and the company was good, so a fun night in the end, despite some dodgy pub choices. :-)

- Dreamt I was at a job interview, waiting to be seen by the panel. For some reason I was behind a curtain, which opened to reveal glaring, multi-coloured lights. Three women were seated in front of what I now realised was a stage, and with horror I looked down to find myself dressed in chaps and a thong. Slightly lost, I began to gyrate around the pole that sat in the centre of the stage. Not sure what it means.

Carry on reading...

Friday, August 22, 2008

Flickr Dump - Paraparaumu & Levin

In an effort to catch up and get some of the wedding photos up I'm going to be putting a lot of stuff on Flickr over the next week. Ridiculously that starts with the remainder of the Oz/NZ trip photos, beginning with the time we spent in Paraparaumu and Levin (and a day trip to Palmerston North) just after we arrived in NZ.

So head on over!

Carry on reading...

What I've Done The Last Month Or So

I'm still alive! And for the last month or so I:

- Had a visitation from Sphenodon himself, Mr Norris. Bruce arrived early last month and then his partner, Sharla, arrived a little later in the month. Needless to say we drank some beer, talked some shit, played a lot of N64 and went and saw some prog rock. Good times! Bruce and Sharla took off travelling from the middle of the month, including a jaunt to see Tom Waits in Dublin. Lucky bastards. They were back for the end of the month (though Bruce flew over for the stag do the week before).

- Flew my mother over from New Zealand. It’s the first travel she’s ever done and she took to it like a fish to water. Seriously, I was worried she would find London a bit overwhelming but she absolutely loved it. Everywhere we went she was wide-eyed and excited and it was a real pleasure to show her around the city. She stayed with us for a week then went up to my sisters in Stockton for a week, before coming back down again.

- Had my mate Lisa fly in from NYC for the wedding, which was great. Didn't get to see her as much as I would have liked (sorry!) but we did hang out one day, where she pretty much spent the whole time talking me back from stresstown.

- Had a stag do! Organised by Doug and Dana, I had a great day. I had made it clear that standard stag hijinks weren’t gonna fly with me and bless ‘em they took me at my word! Not a humiliation in sight and a better day all around for it! Anyway, we started out at 8.20am with a trip out to Sidcup to play some laser paintball, which is light (hur hur) years ahead of the laser tag of my youth. American military spec laser rifles that have a range of 400m and can shoot through light foliage? Hell yeah! In the words of much-loved gaming classic Cannon Fodder: “War! Never been so much fun!” (followed by the immortal lines “Go to your brother, Kill him with your gun, Leave him lying in his uniform, Dying in the sun.”) After this it was off to London Bridge for some quality pub time (where the pub in question had weirdly laid a carpet of grass on their floor) before the heading to Smithfields for some Karaoke. After shaming myself with some awful renditions there we came back into the West End for a rock club, by which time I was about ready to collapse. Seriously, half an hour there and that was it. So off home for cocoa, slippers and the cold realisation that I’m not as young as I was and death creeps ever closer. Good day! Thanks to everyone who was involved, I had a great time and it was much appreciated.

- Got married! Yes, I’m now officially a married man, with paperwork and a ring and everything! We couldn’t have asked for a better day, to be sure. The sun was shining, everything seemed to work the way it was supposed to (despite a number of last-minute panics involving accommodation and transport) and everyone seemed to have a pretty good time. We’ll put photos up as soon as we get ‘em. In the mean time, could anybody who took photos on the day supply us with copies? Either uploaded to a website, or on a disc or the like. Anyways, it really was like a dream for us and yes I may have blubbed a bit at the altar. What of it? They were manly tears! MANLY TEARS! Thank you so much to everyone who made it and to those who sent their good wishes. You all helped us have the wedding we dreamed of. Thanks also to those who had their special roles on the day (you know who you are) and also to everyone for the generous gifts we received! We’re just catching up on life at the moment, but we’ll get to thanking each and every one of you very soon.

- Went on honeymoon! Paris. Montpellier. Sunshine. Deluxe hotels. First class train travel. Good food. Lots of wine. All in all a bloody fine time!

- Came back home and began to reassimilate to Life Without A Wedding. Started a joint bank account with HSBC, which felt very grown up. Spent the better part of a day just catching up on my web reading...

- Got back to work, where I'm still settling back in, not helped by the fact that the holiday season still reigns, so lots to do with not many people to do it.

- Caught up with Morgue, who was over briefly, which is always welcome!

- Saw Turisas play as a part of the Kerrang week of rock. They were great, as ever, though I foolishly went along with the idea of going for more drinks after the gig. Stumbled in at 1.30 and then spent most of the next day feeling bloody awful.

- Dreamt of an endless, verdant plain stretching out before me, filled with the promise of unexplored territories and unknown frontiers. Was excited and happy. Not sure what it means.

Carry on reading...

Thursday, July 31, 2008

Crunch Time

So much for normal service...

Been a crazy few weeks here at Salmond Mansions, but it's time now to throw our hands up and let what will be, be. No time now to tweak arrangements, find alternative solutions or perform tribal sun-dances.

Tomorrow is Wedding Day.

See ya in a couple of weeks...

Carry on reading...

Friday, July 18, 2008

Tales From the Junk Folder

Whoops, sorry about the lack of posting. What can I say, it just got out of hand. Like a social smoker, I just slipped down the slope of bad habit hill. Actually, to be more accurate I've tumbled down the side of good habit hill, undoing all my hard work. Oh well, expect regular service again soon.

Anyway, I'm enjoying the current fake headline junkmail trend. Below are a few of my favourites from the last few days:

 Okay, speak soon!

Carry on reading...

Friday, July 04, 2008

Things I Did Yesterday 04/07/08

Jesus, I gotta get out of the house. But yesterday I:

- Worked. Thursday means new comics day, means long day, means busybusybusy. Also, had some annoying NZ woman in who, at the peak of the lunch time rush, stood smack in front of the counter barking questions at us, asking the same things over and over because we obviously hadn't given her the answers she wanted. Then, when she was done, she tried to haggle down the price of a copy of Comics International (£2.99). I don't haggle. Anyway, it really was that kind of day. Got the filing done though, so that's good.

- The Gosh logo has undergone an as yet unimplemented redesign and as such we're getting new stationary and, at long last, business cards for the store. More importantly though, I'm getting one of my own! At last, I've made the big-time!

- Faffed about a bit when I got home before making some tasty chorizo-sauce pasta and watching a flick.

- Watched Val Lewton's "Bedlam". Another classic RKO picture whose sensationalist publicity belies the thematic intelligence of the piece. William Hogarth is actually given a writing credit for being the inspiration for the story with his depiction of the hospital in A Rake's Progress. Set in 1761, Boris Karloff plays the apothecary general of the titular asylum, intent on crawling his way into high society. Anna Lee plays an itinerant actor who has becomer the companion of a prominent lord, managing to do that which Karloff so dearly wishes for. She seeks to bring reforms to Bedlam with the help of Whig politician John Wilks and seeing her as a threat to his position, Karloff has her declared insane and committed. Another shadow-drenched study in mood and atmosphere, the film does a very good job of recreating Olde London Towne (the odd iffy accent aside) on what was a limited budget. Less a horror than a humanist study of 18th Century England, I would highly recommend it.

- Speaking of humanism, I played some TF2 and totally blew some guys to bits.

- Read for a bit then hit the sack.

- Dreamt I was swimming across a lake, pursued by long-fanged, water-winged babies. The water was thick with weed and my long, ungainly limbs became entangled to the point where it was all I could do to stay afloat. The infants, however, skimmed across the placid lake surface, their long incisors gleaming with drool as their tiny limbs clawed the water, moving them ever closer. On the other shore a pretty woman in a summer dress, carefree and smiling, waved to me encouragingly. I turned fully to her and focused on her happy features even as the small, splashing sounds of death closed in. Not sure what it means.

Carry on reading...

Thursday, July 03, 2008

Things I Did Yesterday 03/07/08

It's...July 3rd. But yesterday I:

- Had the day off, as I have to work this Saturday. By coincidence, Alex had the day off to see Jack Johnson and Ben Harper play in Hyde Park. So we went out and had some breakfast, which was very nice.

- I went in to town to pick up a new power supply. Picked up one on sale from PC World for £20. Result!

- Had a coffee and did some writing, during which I got some good mileage out of a few old ideas.

- Came home and replaced my power supply. Bingo! Everything starts up as it should. Only now one of the internal fans seems to be packing up. I thought it might be the cpu fan, but upon further investigation I think it's actually one of the case ones.

- Went back into town and picked up some comics for reading.

- Read some comics! Small week, but some good stuff in there. Top pick would have to be Hellboy: The Crooked Man. Creepy stuff. Walking Dead was also solid as ever, Astounding Wolf-Man offered a bit of a turning point, Patsy Walker Hellcat was a ton'o'fun and Astonishing X-Men was a promising start to Ellis' run.

- Watched some more Middleman, which I've changed my mind on, then went to sleep.

- Dreamt I was walking around the streets of London with a flamethrower. People would try to engage me in conversation, but when I tried to respond in a friendly manner I would instead consume them in gouts of flame. Distraught, I ran down a back alley to get away from those I might harm. Suddenly I was cornered by three ne'er-do-wells, intent on relieving me of my money. I went to torch them, but instead all I could do was inquire politely how their day had gone. They loomed above me, blotting out the feeble light of the street lamp beyond. Not sure what it means.

Carry on reading...

Wednesday, July 02, 2008

Things I Did Yesterday 02/07/08

Our wedding invites have been seized by NZ biosecurity folk! But yesterday I:

- Slept late, but managed to get out by 8, allowing for pre-work writing time.

- Worked, mainly building the ship list for the first standing order deliveries for Islington adult and Southwark.

- Walked home and probably sweated out my 2 litres for the day. Man, it was hot! I’m enjoying the London Biography audiobook immensely, though. As much as his hammery (a word which doesn’t exist, but should and now therefore does) can get on my nerves, Simon Callow is perfect for this. It’s all clear enunciation and rolling r’s and feels somehow very proper. I should also add that despite my feelings on Callow’s sub-Blessed boomishness (see hammery), I have a terrible, foul hunger to see him play a reincarnated Aleister Crowley in Bruce Dickinson’s film The Chemical Wedding. Please, Prince Charles Cinema, give me a second chance.

- Cleaning time! Got home, had some sub-par food from the new Malaysian restaurant around the corner (what a shame, I had such hopes for a decent Malaysian place nearby) and then got stuck into cleaning the bathroom. Proper-like. We’re talking a removal of anything not fixed down, eye-watering bleach on the tiles, sulphuric acid drain cleaner (with attendant hissing and smoke upon application) and some kind of fruity Flash variant to mop the floor. Oh and I got my hair cut.

- Managed to coax a start-up out of my PC and was happy to find out that Bruce has managed to procure me a copy of the Under The Mountain DVD, which I should have in my hot little hands when he arrives on Friday. Expect a review. Well, as soon as I’ve done the Val Lewton ones of course, which I must confess have ground to a complete halt.

- Finally hit the sack at about 12.30. I realise this is a normal bed time for many of you. An early bed time for some. For me, in my dotage, this is now officially Too Late. Went straight to sleep. As opposed to going to bed 1 ½ hours earlier and taking an hour to drift off. Hmm...

- Dreamt I was racing against time to save the world from nuclear Armageddon. Only my top notch hacking skills could win out the day, as well as nab me the beautiful girlfriend of the asshole jock she just couldn’t seem to dump because of her insecurities. Racing to my desk, I hit the power switch to fire up my machine but the FUCKING THING WOULDN’T START! Not sure what it means.

- PS Let it be said that, as much as I love my little Asus Eee PC, it’s in the last few days that I’ve really come to lavish upon it the passion it deserves. If I weren’t to be married in less than a month, I’d take it as my bride.

Carry on reading...

Tuesday, July 01, 2008

Things I Did Yesterday 01/07/08

It's a year today since we got engaged and a month today until we marry. How exciting! Anyway, yesterday I:

- Celebrated my finance's birthday! Happy yesterday-was-your-Birthday, Alex!

- Worked. Had a meeting with Josh looking at the year ahead; what kind of events we have planned and so on. Then came home to work on putting images into the Marshal Law segment of the O'Neill interview.

- Had an incredibly frustrating afternoon, where I picked out, scanned, cropped and resized pics for the video, but then when they were dropped in they looked appalling. And of course throughout this my PC crashed several times. I'm convinced now that the problem lies with the power supply. Even as I type I can hear its fan struggling away like an erratic heartbeat. Shopping trip tomorrow, before it explodes and burns our house down.

- Anyway, couldn't figure out what I was doing wrong, which is frustrating because it's sure to be something ridiculously simple. Will try again over the next few days, but this pushes the interview back another week.

- Met Alex and Debs for a drink at the Hen & Chickens at about 6.30 and then we headed down to Brixton to see Erykah Badu. She was fantastic. I expected that, despite not really being fussed one way or another, I would enjoy it. But I was blown away by her. The stage layout was great, a sprawling series of platforms and mini-stages for her sprawling band, and the lighting was excellent. Most importantly, Badu has a real charisma on stage, even from our view at the back of the Academy. Amazing voice and a real confidence in her material that allowed her to play fast and loose with the arrangements of her older songs. She did no encore, instead just playing on past the venue curfew time of 11pm. Fantastic night.

- Experienced the joy of coming home from Brixton without the aid of the Victoria line. Got a bus to Stockwell then Northern line. Our intention was to head to Angel, but we got involved with a guy sitting near us who seemed to be having a seizure of some kind. He was leaning forward on his knees and kept slipping off them, but would always right himself. He was drooling, also, and sweating like a demon. When asked if he was okay, he would reply like a stuck record saying only "Sorry" or "Oh, yes." He also seemed to be getting progressively worse. We ended up carrying him off the tube at Kings Cross and getting him some help there. I managed to get out of him that his name was Mark and it became apparent that it was more likely drug-related than anything. Anyway, hope he came out of it all okay.

- Got home, had a shish kebab, went to sleep.

- Dreamed I was a baby, asleep on a bed of down and mother's prayers. Angels floated above me, singing lullabies of peace and salvation. Was awash with feelings of tranquillity as I nestled deeper into my bedding. And then my fucking computer crashed.

Carry on reading...

What I Did the Day Before Yesterday 01/07/08

Holy shit, it's July! And wouldn't you know it, the day before yesterday I:

- Worked. Went through the s/o people and made note of anyone with more than 2 months worth of stuff. Replied to some emails. Went home early, as I was owed time from Thursday.

- Had more PC problems. Twice I couldn’t get it to start straight away and once it actually crashed in the middle of a game of TF2.

- Had a kick-ass run on TF2 with the Demoman character.

- Went for a drink with Alex at a really nice local pub called the Scolt’s Head. Sat outside and had a couple of pints while inside started to build up for the Euro Cup final.

- Got home and had dinner. Watched some telly, including Top Gear and Ramsey’s Kitchen Nightmares.

- Played on the PC for a bit, then read Tom’s short story, which I enjoyed but will talk to you about more later, Tom.

- Read my book, staying up until midnight so I could sing Alex a Happy Birthday! Went to sleep.

- Dreamt I was squeezing an orange to serve the king a glass of fresh juice. I took to the task with relish, but it soon became apparent that all of my oranges were rotten. As I picked each up, it would disintegrate into a sludgy mess, its pulpy mass emitting a sickly sweet stench. I heard the footsteps of the Kings guardsmen approaching, who I knew would execute me if I didn’t have the juice ready. Frantic now, I scrabbled through the pile of fruit, only now seeing that everything was covered in mould, thick, pus-like excretions seeping from their skins. I turned to face the door as shadows grew on the corridor wall, acidic juices burning beneath my fingernails as I stretched my hands outward, a citric supplication for mercy. Not sure what it means.

Carry on reading...

Sunday, June 29, 2008

Cover Art Adventure!

I found some cover art for the editions of Willard Price books I used to own as a kid, presented below for your entertainment and edification!

These covers really do just have that much more action going on than the newer ones. Animal attack galore and all the panic-stricken adventure you could want!

More action!

More danger!

More lasso!

More teeth!

More spears!

More rays!

More stripes!

More smaller pictures of a few more covers! Thanks, eBay!

Carry on reading...

Things I Did Yesterday 29/06/08

Mekon Andrew! Yesterday he:

- Woke up feeling like a family of rats were having a domestic in my head. My stomach was no picnic either. I guess not all red wines are created equal.

- Cleaned that kitchen while Alex was out with her mum.

- Played some TF2, which I’m still enjoying, but is starting to lose some of its lustre.

- Went out with Alex over to Dalston. Was headed to the Matalan there to get some clothes, but the place was rammed, so we just browsed about then went to Sainsburys for dinner stuff. After that, my Saturday Afternoon Dalston High Street Tolerance was at an end so it was time to get out of Dodge. Went by Leyland and picked up some nuclear strength drain cleaner. The kind that comes in a plain box with “Sulphuric Acid” warnings on the side.

- Got home, went to switch on my PC and....nothing. No signs of life at all. All I was getting, upon unplugging, replugging and button pressing, was a brief sign of life in my external drive, a flash of light on the power and HDD indictors and then nothing at all. I played around with it for a bit, then just as I was about give up it decided to work. That wasn’t then end of it either. Later in the evening, restarting after an install, it seemed to disable the graphics card drivers and generally run veeerrryyy slooooow. Okay, so the afternoon’s wackiness wasn’t just a one-off. Something’s up. I shut down and then....nothing. Back to that again. So once again I played around for a while and once again it miraculously, for no obvious reason, started up. It’s still running now, but I’m going to take a proper look tonight. I’m thinking it’s a problem with the power supply, but I guess it could be something fritzed on the motherboard. Anyway, it did spur me into doing that proper back-up I’ve been meaning to do for a while now...

- Finished off working on the gift list which we’ll post a link to on the wedding website tomorrow.

- Watched some Glastonbury coverage. I do want to go to one of the big festivals before I leave this country. Of course my real preference would be Download, but Glastonbury would be an experience I guess. Alex is talking about going for her birthday next year, so maybe then.

- Watched the pilot episode of The Middleman, a new tv series based on a comic that I rather like. I enjoyed it, and it’s certainly faithful to the comic (as it should be, adapted by the comic’s creator), but I’m not sure it’s good enough for me to keep up with. It suffers, like Reaper, under my “Thou Shalt Not Waste Any More Time on ‘Decent’, ‘Okay’ or ‘Alright’ Television” commandment. Unless of course it’s something I watch with Alex, in which case it coes under the “Thou Shalt Make An Effort To Share Entertainments With Thine Partner” commandment (as laid out by the mighty Thor). I still have 4 seasons of The Wire to watch, after all, and I’m intrigued by the buzz on Mad Men. Not to mention the backlog of films, comics and books I have. Also, there’s this whole “creative ambitions” malarky I really need to spend some time on.

- Read for a while then hit the hay.

- Dreamt I was walking down a hill in high winds pushing a pram. Suddenly, as though possessing its own will, the pram twisted from my grip and began to plummet toward the bottom of the hill. I screamed out for someone to help, but there was no one near enough and my baby continued careening down the steep hill toward the busy street at the bottom. As a sense of terrible dread fell upon me I saw my baby’s face peering out from the runaway pram, its features a mess of circuitry and wires, small sparks, like tears, falling from its bright, shiny eyes. Not sure what it means.

Carry on reading...

Saturday, June 28, 2008

Things I Did Yesterday 28/06/08

Saturday, it's a Saturday. But yesterday I:

- Got up late-ish and deliberated endlessly about what I was going to do.

- Went down to Angel to write, pick up a couple of frames for my Guera pieces and have some lunch. Didn't take my bank card. Luckily I had enough money for lunch, but I had to head back home to get my card which, it turns out, was hidden away in my wallet all along! Oh how I laughed!

- Got a frame for the smaller Guera, but the large one is an awkward bloody size.

- Bought a copy of the original Cape Fear boxed with the Scorsese one in the HMV sale. Got home and realised that I already owned the Scorsese. Time for a moritorium on DVD purchasing I think. Though I would like that region one Mist...

- Met Alex down near Angel and headed to Farringdon to meet her folks. Went to dinner at Kolossi, a Cypriot joint in Exmouth Market. Excellent, copious food and great service. The place is run by these old guys who are real characters, joining in conversations and occasionally just wandering past the table to check how we're getting on and shouting "Excellent! Wonderful!"

- Jumped a bus down to the Southbank for Matt's birthday drinks at Namco Station. Was impressed, as I always am when I see it up close, by the London Eye. It really is a nicely done modern tourist attraction. Anyway, drinks were nice, though I didn't get to catch up with everyone, but I had a good time. Though I was horrified to discover that for pool at Namco they charge 20p/minute! How do they get away with that? £12 for an hour of pool?

- On our way home, Doug, Nat and I popped into a self-conciously arty bar called Concrete and had a nice final round before heading for the bus over Waterloo Bridge. Got home about 2 and clumsily bumped around the flat, waking up Alex. Collapsed into bed and went to sleep.

- Dreamt that my head was full of bread and nails, a mixture of stupifying mug-headedness and piercing agony. My throat had been surgically scraped with a wood rasp and my stomach was a churning sea of bile and booze. Woke up to discover it was all true. Know exactly what it means.

Carry on reading...

Friday, June 27, 2008

Nostalgic Adventure

Did anything shape my childhood love of reading more than the series of books below the break? I think not. Politically incorrect, but absolutely rammed with facts about wildlife, wildnerness survival, and even - if occasionally a little patronising - other cultures. Do you remember....the Adventure books of Willard Price?

First line of the first book? "Hal sat on the head of a stuffed crocodile in the lobby of the Quito hotel and cleaned his gun."

Hal, 18, and his brother Roger, 14, travel the world for their father, a bring 'em back alive supplier for "zoos, circuses & museums". Museums. Think about that.

These covers are not the ones that I had as a kid, which were far more exciting and action focused, but I can't find those at all. Rather, these are ones from a set I bought a little while back for a (hush now) Top Secret Project.

Each book would start with the boys arriving in some new location with a list from their father of animals they needed to nab. They face various natural and man-made challenges before invariably some kind of villain enters the story with a plan to secure sunken treasure, poach ivory, or even (later on) take revenge! There was occasional unexpected twist in there, but that was the formula.

The books steamroll along, nary a chapter passing without some kind of challenge (or three) to overcome using Hal & Roger's seemingly encyclopaedic knowledge of the wild.

Although they don't exactly hold up to modern standards of acceptability, there's much to recommend the books. The boys are smart and resourceful. For all the guns getting waved about, it's the application of their knowledge that ultimately saves Hal and Roger. Most importantly, as any good children's fiction should, they transport the reader to worlds outside their own scope of knowledge, feeding and encouraging their curiousity.

"My aim in writing the Adventure series for young people was to lead them to read by making reading exciting and full of adventure. At the same time I want to inspire an interest in wild animals and their behavior. Judging from the letters I have received from boys and girls around the world, I believe I have helped open to them the worlds of books and natural history."
- Willard Price (1887-1983)

Bonus: From the editions I had as a kid, the cover to Whale Adventure...

Carry on reading...