Words Written Today: 0
Total Words Written: 32643
Well, the bad news is that this weekend has been something of a washout, with a couple of 1000-ish days, and then nothing today (my birthday, to be fair). The good news is I'm now only about 20 words behind where I was at this point last time. Of course, there were 31 days in January...
Still, I'm feeling pretty positive about it all. My daily count is now about 2480, which is a bit of a bugger, but still achievable. Definitely going to be some after-work sessions, but that's to be expected in the final week. Also, 50,000 words may be the required count, but that doesn't mean my story will magically end at that mark. Last time I came in a little over 52,000. As with last time, I've got the final two days of the month off (pure coincidence this time), so I'll be able to give a big push then, if necessary.
Anyway, back to my lazy day!
Monday, November 23, 2009
Words Written Today: 0
Thursday, November 19, 2009
Wednesday, November 18, 2009
Words Written Today: 2432
Total Words Written: 24294
Surprisingly, although I forgot to do my blog post yesterday, I did actually hit my word quota. Anyways, things are skipping along at a good pace now and the halfway mark looms tomorrow (a mere 4 days behind schedule). I'm sure I'll hit a hiccup in the final week as I try and tie everything up in a way that doesn't feel forced or rushed, but I have the next few scenes vaguely mapped out in my head, which is always nice to know. It means a few minutes less wasted time in the morning as I try to figure out what the hell I'm going to write.
I keep trying to think what the experience was like last time at this point. It's nice to go back to my blog entries and reread what I was doing each day. I'm certainly finding the scale much easier this time around. The story works better for having room to breath. Last time I just tried to pack too much into 50,000 words, whereas the narrowed focus here feels like a much better fit. I can let the characters have a little more room to breathe in a story that, basic though it is, feels much more salvageable than my last attempt. I'm in a positive frame of mind about it all, and about what I might do next, so it's serving its purpose so far!
(Unless I come crashing down in the last week, in which case it'll be a dispiriting kick to the balls.)
Monday, November 16, 2009
Words Written Today: 2355
Total Words Written: 19509
Well, here we are, the second half. Needless to say I'm somewhat behind schedule. The last couple of days weren't banner ones. Around a thousand on Saturday, then yesterday none at all as we visited Alex's granny. Today is back on track, but it is a day off. Really I should have around 26832 words right now, so while the wheels haven't come off the wagon yet, they sure are feeling a little shaky. Not about to give up though. After today, my daily quota is 2178 words, still within manageable proportions. My worry is that my daily average is well below what I was doing last time. I was at 22417 words at this point, and I also had an extra day in the month. Still, I'm able to write Thursdays now, which were a write-off last time.
So, I need to start hammering through things. The story is still pretty nebulous, though it took a turn today which I hadn't expected (a supporting character became much more important due to an act of cowardice which I hadn't planned on). I have a basic idea of where it's going, but the specifics aren't quite there. There's also far less room to pad this one out. My last was a big epic thing (in 50,000 words, haha), whereas this is meant to be an anti-epic. Lean and driven. So I can't start introducing extra characters and subplots now, or witter on about some world-building mythological nonsense. At best I can delve into small-town history, maybe do some kind of internal monologue about someone's troubled past with the law/women/gambling/alcohol in order to build sympathy before I knock 'em off (Stephen King stylee).
Still no social activity with the NaNo thing. Not the end of the world, but I hope to do at least one thing before it's all over. Even just one write-in.
Okay, now for afternoon of regression, listening to Transvision Vamp while playing video games. Oh, and making my lunches for the week. Big pot'o'pasta here I come!
Thursday, November 12, 2009
Words Written Today: 773
Total Words Written: 15103
Oh, shitsticks. Now 1939/day required (I miscalculated yesterday). On the plus side, I'm only about 1000 words below where I was at this time in January. Not a disaster! On the other hand, I was doing well over 1000 words per day by then. Best not to dwell!
Wednesday, November 11, 2009
Words Written Today: 725
Total Words Written: 14330
Did I say I wasn't going to do well? Well, even I didn't expect to do quite so poorly. Not a banner day, following a couple of underwhelming days. It now leaves me with a daily quota of 1982. I know from my previous experiences that going to around the 2200-2500 mark is about all I can really manage on a working day, and then not really consistently. I need to make sure I hit targets now, or I'm going to have to put in a couple of serious catch-up days.
Anyways, it's new comics night here at Salmond Central, so we'll speak again tomorrow!
Tuesday, November 10, 2009
Words Written Today: 1251
Total Words Written: 13605
Not great, but better than I thought I'd done, actually. I had an abortive attempt at getting things finished over lunch when my laptop ran out of juice, crashing mid-sentence. I'd thought I had more left than I did, so went to Costa. Costa don't have any powerpoints, so I started up on 10% battery power, which doesn't last me quite as long as it used to. I love my little EeePC, I really do, but it's starting to feel a little tired on the keyboard and battery life front. Still got some life in the old girl yet, though. The joy of these early netbooks is that they were made to be cheap, portable and durable.
Tomorrow will be a little tough, as I'm meeting someone for lunch. Not yet at the point where I feel the need to make up for lost time in a day, but that'll be coming soon enough I think. The beginning of the evening sessions. I do need to make sure I'm over the 20,000 mark by Sunday, though, or I'll be getting well off track.
I'm still flying by the seat of my pants at the moment. Each step forward in the story feels like a leap of faith, with little idea how it should progress. It's an interesting test of my storytelling intuition, or lack thereof. We'll see how it pans out in the end. I'm sure it'll take things in an interesting direction anyway. I do have what feels like the luxury of knowing the major event I'm currently heading towards, so that's nice, but naturally building one particular relationship and actually getting those two characters involved in the main plot might take some doing. Coming along, though.
Still enjoying it. The feeling at the end of the day is nice, though the feeling when I push myself out of bed is less so. I do feel like it's all in a good cause, though. It helps cement the idea that I do want to write, that I do need to write the things I enjoy, and that I do really, really need to get some practice in.
Monday, November 09, 2009
Words Written Today: 1810
Total Words Written: 12354
Well, been a bumpy couple of days. Yesterday was my worst, only racking up around 500 words, but Saturday wasn't much better at around 1000. Various reasons, but the end result is a revised daily requirement of around 1800. Not terrible. Less than the 2000+ I was needing toward the end of my last go around and certainly manageable within my normal writing time, but still more than it needs to be.
They say the second week is the toughest. The thrill of the early days has worn off, but the end is nowhere in sight. Furthermore, the story has begun to take on its own life, probably leaving the best laid plans at the side of the road. "Where the fuck is this going?" starts to become the dominating thought. I'm making this up as I go, so that's been the dominating thought for me from the start, but I'm at the point where I can't pad things out with introductory exposition any more. Gotta start moving some kind of plot forward.
Still been completely uninvolved with any of the social aspects of NaNo, other than a handful of forum posts. Must try and get involved, although I am a terror when it comes to alien social situations, grumpy, anti-social old bastard that I am.
One thing of note that I did today. I started a little late, as I was catching up with the estimable J Chandler, recently returned from Japan. So I went all out at the start, challenging myself to get 600 words written in 15 minutes. Didn't quite manage it, but only by about 3 minutes, so that was a buzzy start to proceedings. Then took me another two hours to write the remaining 1200, but I'm guessing they were probably a little better.
So how am I feeling on the whole? Well, once again it's going to be a terrible pile of rubbish, but as I said before I do think the story has some legs. I'm also feeling inspired to get stuff done once this is over; to not lose the momentum. Well, when I'm not feeling like some kind of club-languaged buffoon, that is.
Friday, November 06, 2009
Words Written Today: 1337
Total Words Written: 9079
Super-quick one today.
Didn't hit word count, which was disappointing, but I thought that might happen with lunch taken up. Also, felt I was spinning my wheels a bit today, and that I really need to get things moving forward. I delved too much into the history of one the lead characters and it slowed everything to a crawl, when really I needed to get some more action in there. Still, done now, so things can move on again.
Not sure how tomorrow will be. May not update, as I'm out tomorrow evening. I should get some done, but don't know if I'll hit quota.
Right, gotta watch something before bed!
Thursday, November 05, 2009
Words Written Today: 1739
Total Words Written: 7742
Quota! I was a bit worried this morning, as things seemed to be going particularly slowly, but somehow I managed to limp into touch with a 40 minute burst at lunch. It was the first day where I've been tempted by my evil, lazy side, though. Evil, lazy bastard.
On the NaNo experience, I'm finding myself in a curious relationship with the whole networking side of things. Certainly one pleasing thing has happened: in the first two days, I found seeing other people's word counts next to their usernames a little intimidating, with many clocking over 10,000 by day two (and some flying past the 20,000 mark). Yet over the last two days I've been starting to narrow the gap, and that feels good. I'm like a slow and steady writing tortoise. But otherwise it all feels a little distant, like I'm not really a part of anything. I may attend a couple of the write-ins, just so I can see if that aspect of it will help me connect to the idea that I'm participating in something bigger. I mean, it's not a big deal, but I sort of feel like I'm missing an aspect of it.
Tomorrow I'm having a work lunch, so no lunchtime catch-up session. It's a late start again, so perhaps I'll be able to get it all done in the morning. I doubt I'll have the energy in the evening and to be frank, Alex is out tomorrow night, and that means movie and Left 4 Dead. Or maybe Dead Space. Or something else entirely.
Wednesday, November 04, 2009
Words Written Today: 1451
Total Words Written: 6003
Well, not a complete disaster, but not quite up to word quota. Still, tomorrow is the first day of what will be my biggest advantage this time over my experience in January. I do the bulk of my writing in the morning before work. I get into town at about 8am and hammer away until shortly before 9.30am, then usually give it another blast at lunchtime. Very rarely did I need to do the evenings last time. But one thing that did work against me last time were the early starts while I was working on a Thursday. Thursdays are pretty intense at work. I'm constantly busy and on my feet and it would wear me down, so that by the end of the day I was in no mood to write. But I was starting at 8am, so nor was I writing before work (I'm a morning person, but not that much). My days and shifts have all changed since then, so Thursdays and Fridays now I don't start work until 10.30, which is great. I've gone from Thursdays being a total write-off, to Thursdays as a (hopefully) banner day.
Story-wise, things are shaping up okay. I nearly sent the story in a completely different direction today but decided against it, though I've still got the latitude to do it if I change my mind tomorrow morning. A lot of mundane stuff today, though. Lots of "get person A to point C to meet person G".
Anyway, must dash. Gotta go read some comics! Oh, and for those keeping score (like me), my daily word quota is now 1692!
Tuesday, November 03, 2009
Words Written Today: 2205
Total Words Written: 4552
Nice! Well, much happier today all around. Getting to the word quota was a breeze after a bit of a false start this morning finding somewhere to actually write. I did two sittings today, one first thing which took me to 1300 words before my laptop battery ran low, then another at around 3pm this afternoon. I do still prefer to get it all over with in the mornings, but I must admit that everything feels a lot less stressful if I also allow for another hour or so at it later in the day. Also, a couple of sessions a day is, I think, beneficial to the output.
Speaking of output, I'm still not thrilled with the state of my prose, but I do think the story in this one has legs. It's not high art, but I think it's salvageable into something which could be fun.
Also of note today: I had that great feeling of liking the protagonist. Enjoying spending time with him and his thoughts. That always helps!
Anyway, gotta keep it brief. Back to work tomorrow, so we'll see how that all works out. Night!
Monday, November 02, 2009
Words Written Today: 1317
Total Words Written: 2347
Another difficult day. Really, you would think that with a three day stretch off work I would be making the most of my time and getting a head-start on things. You would think that, but then that would only show how little you know me. So it was a couple of hours writing this morning, followed by a day of wanton abandon. Well, a day of lunch dates, window shopping and X-Box anyway. Honestly, what a terrible time to buy Left 4 Dead.
Anyway, in terms of the exercise itself, I'm still struggling. Self-doubt is still at large, stalking the hills of my consciousness, where my writing brain is lost as night is falling. He's defenceless, scared and lacking the proper clothing for a night out in the woods. Stupid writing brain; he's little more than a cautionary tale now.
Anyway, I digress. I'm still having massive problems with self-criticism as I write, leading to long bouts of staring out the window, wondering if I can write, if I can get back into the swing of it all, if I actually have something to say. That, and looking at pretty ladies.
So, tomorrow: last day off before I have to start fitting things in around work. I'm wondering actually if that may be a good thing. Given real time constraints I'm less likely to faff about. Certainly that's how it worked for me last time. Also positive is the fact that I did more today than I managed yesterday, and I know exactly what I'll be starting on when I sit down tomorrow.
Also: I love my EeePC. It's a dream of a writing machine. Could do with a new one though. Y'know, the 900 series go for around £170 a pop these days...
Sunday, November 01, 2009
Words Written Today: 1030
Total Words Written: 1030
Well, here we go again. As per my previous novel writing month endeavour, I'll be doing my best to update this daily with my progress. The idea, in case you're not aware, is to write a novel of at least 50,000 words in length in the space of one month. It requires (to begin with and already blown by me) a 1667 word count on a daily basis through the month. It can be about anything, in any style. It's not judged by anyone, nor do you have to actually show it to anyone (I still haven't shown anyone my last one). If you finish over the 50,000 word mark by the end of the month, you've "won". And that's it.
Now, that may sound like a waste of time. Chasing a daily word count is hardly going to garner anything of quality, and what's the point if you're never going to show anyone? Well, it's an exercise. An exercise in discipline, in pushing past the paralysis imposed by self-criticism and, of course, in writing. At the end of the month I'll have something that's rubbish. But I might, just might, have salvageable elements and when all's said and done I will have probably done more creative writing than I will have otherwise. Plus, y'know, it feels good. It's a bit of a rollercoaster, but when things start rolling along, it feels great.
So, that's what I'm doing! Each day I'll post about how the day's writing went, and how I'm finding the process as a whole. Interestingly, this is the first time I'm doing it during the official month, so I'll see how the networking aspect goes. Maybe I'll rock along to a writing session or two. We'll see. One thing I've noticed already: seeing people in the forums who have knocked down over 4000 words on their first day is a little disheartening. One guy wrote over 2500 between midnight and 3am. While I was shooting zombies. Still, I kicked some fucking ass.
So, today. Well, it was a tough start. I haven't been writing at all lately and in that situation it always takes a while to warm up. I had one of those writing sessions where it felt like I had been working at it for ages when suddenly the first page break came up. Hardly the marathon it felt like. This first day, especially after a lack of activity, is also where the self-confidence issues really start to kick in. Can I do it? Am I actually any good? Maybe I should just give up on the idea. Alla that shit.
But I managed to push past it and just force myself to keep writing, though once I got to the 1000 word mark I felt like there was a good stopping point. One thing I learnt from last time is that it's always best to leave it for the day when something exciting is about to happen. That way my mind is drawn to the subject throughout the rest of the day and when I sit down to write the next day I've got something fun to jump into.
With regard to the subject, I'm doing a fantasy thing again, although on a much smaller scale than last time. Of course, after the first page I immediately decided that, no, I wanted to do a horror instead. Or that young adults post-apocalyptic series I've been thinking about. Or the great New Zealand novel (it would have lots of birds as a metaphor for something). It's an easy trap, so I stuck with my first thought. I do wish I'd planned more though. I have some idea of where this is going - more than last time, certainly - but I would have liked to have fleshed things out a little more. Oh well, keeps me on my toes.
Fortunately I've got the next two days off, so I'm hoping one of them will give me the cracking breakthrough I'm looking for. I'll let you know. Keep an eye out for updates (which will be shorter than this, I promise), and hopefully the news will be good!
Monday, October 05, 2009
Oh yeah, totally. I've been totally updating every day, there must be something wrong with your browser or RSS feeds or whatever. Anyway, this weekend I:
- Attended the British International Comics Show in Birmingham. Rather than our usual method of getting to a con (Josh & Will drive up with stock on Friday night, I take the train on Saturday), we all drove up together on the Saturday morning. This involved me being picked up at 5.15am. Of course, I was woken up by drunken teenagers having a party in the street outside our window at around 1am, and that was that as far as sleep was concerned. I lay awake for the next 3 hours or so, thinking “Go to sleep, Andrew. Go to sleep.” Eventually I gave up, got up around 4.15 and took my time getting ready, having breakfast and so on.
- During my preparation time I was amazed to discover 4 Music’s best kept secret: “Signed by 4Music”. It’s a music video show for the deaf, complete with sign language translator in the bottom right corner of the screen. The translators dance while they sign, and do their best to emote the lyrics. It is quite something:
- Got picked up and the drive began. Not bad actually and as I had been up for some time, I actually was in better shape than I would have been if I had woken up at 4.45 or so. So it all went rather quickly, and we arrived at the venue with plenty of time to get set up.
- Well, my first impressions on arriving at Birmingham weren’t good. The convention venue felt well out of the centre of town, in a very industrial area. It was near the University, so I guess it can't be all that bad, but it really felt like the outskirts, just inside the motorways that loop all around Birmingham. We were up on the third floor of the science museum, in a large event hall which had no natural light whatsoever. What’s more, the dim lighting it did have gave a slightly depressive vibe to the whole thing, not helped by the usual rows of back issue dealer longboxes all set up from the night before. We got ourselves set up over three tables, plus an extra for Knockabout, whom we were covering as Tony B has a dose of the old swine flu. Then the public arrived.
- Odd crowd. The actual general audience seemed like far more of a traditional comics crowd: lots of guys wandering about with lists of backissues they were after. It all created the impression of a glorified mart rather than a convention. We had a very quiet start to the day, then a bout of people browsing before actually starting to sell stuff. I guess people want to take it all in before spending their money. To be honest, our collection of stuff seemed to be of more interest to the creators present than the punters. We didn’t really take a break throughout the day. I think stopping would have been a terrible mistake. We were all tired and in various stages of a cold, so we just forced ourselves through the day, which went fairly quickly in the end. I didn’t even have a proper look around the stalls.
- There were various plans going on for drinks that night, but to be honest confusion reigned. Unlike Bristol, there’s no real standard place everyone goes for drinks, which is another strike against it. The piss-up on Saturday night is generally the centrepiece of any British con, but everyone was walking around going "So what's happening tonight?". I wound up organising to potentially meet with Cheeky Joe Melchior, Garry Leach and Tim Pilcher, but after a very nice Chinese for dinner (and a wander through downtown Birmingham) me, Josh and Will just went back to the hotel bar for a couple before hitting the sack early. Just too bloody tired.
- Up nice and early for Sunday and I was feeling much better, though my cold had a bit of a resurgence. The day was more of the same, only a bit slower. I did get the chance to take a walk around the floor though, chatting with small press guys as I went. Found a few titles I liked the look of and bought for the store. It’s always awkward when you’re doing this kind of thing and you’ve got two guys sharing the table, one of whom is very good and the other who is not. The best you can do is kind of politely ignore their work. Otherwise you have to feign interest but when it comes down to the nitty gritty tell them you’re not interested. I was particularly impressed by crime comic Harker and a new collection by the Accent UK guys of a web comic called Strange Times. Nice stuff.
- I was on a panel in the afternoon called Industry Insider or somesuch, a retail/publishing/distribution discussion which really tried to cover too much ground in too little time. I felt a bit sorry for Tim, who facilitated it but didn’t even really get to touch on his main agenda, the formation of a UK comics advocacy organisation. Anyway, it all went fairly well, and I got to quickly talk about some of my digital comics theories, which I must write about more here soon.
- After the panel I went back to our table and we started packing up so as to hit the road good and early. It took a bit of negotiation with one of the organisers, as he didn’t want us to spark a mass exodus of dealers while there were still customers, but he eventually agreed to let us quietly slip out. So we secretly moved all our stuff around the back of the heavy black drapes that ran around the edge of the room to the goods elevator, got the car loaded up and were on the road for 4.45. Traffic wasn’t too bad and I got dropped off home just after 7pm.
- So how did it go? Well, we think we broke even at least. A con is an expensive proposition for a store, involving hotels, staff wages, meals and so on. Josh always frets about opportunity cost as well, so breaking even is never quite good enough. What else could we have done with that time to better effect? But I think our presence at these shows is always good for us as a store. We put our name out a little more, and we always carry a range of books unlike anything else at the show. Seriously, you don’t even have to get too esoteric to be distinctive: a few D&Q and Fantagraphics books would do the trick. Plus it’s always a good opportunity to network a little and strengthen relationships with creators we have existing ties with. We also got Charlie Adlard interested in a probable Walking Dead bookplate in the future (in full colour, with any luck). So all in all I think it was worthwhile, though I’m guessing we probably won’t do it again, as Josh was a little less enthused. What it has done is make me think about perhaps attending Thought Bubble in Leeds this November. Not as a store, but just as myself. It has a lot of positive buzz and a great line-up so I might head up there to check it out. It has the benefit of being a one-day show, which appeals to me no end, and I know enough people who’ll be there to guarantee a good night out. Now if I can just convince Alex...
Monday, September 21, 2009
Ring a ding ding! Yesterday I:
- Wandered down to Angel with Alex for a coffee before she headed off out to Essex to meet friends for lunch. We sat outside Starbucks, watching the dregs of the Goth club night they hold in Angel on Saturdays slowly dispersing. This is 10am, mind, so there were a few messy folk about. Alex then went on her merry way, and I headed for home, picking up some shower gel and bath foam on the way. Fascinating. I also picked up the Boots generic multivitamin A-Z, which I figure I’ll give a go to try and boot myself out of the energy doldrums I now find myself in. I’ve not been walking into work lately, and I think that has really affected me. I find it difficult to get any enthusiasm for things, find any energy to get off my ass and get things done. So, we’ll give this a go.
- Headed home and did some cleaning, then watched The Red Shoes. It’s an amazing film, rightly renowned for the cinematography. The actual ballet of the Red Shoes as presented within the film is quite something to behold, a strange expressionist diversion in the midst of filmic formality. Oh, sure, it’s an over the top melodrama, but then that’s part of the joy of a film like this. Brilliant stuff.
- Mr Zitron has lent me a copy of Batman Arkham Asylum for the 360, so I gave that a go, sitting down to it at around 3.30 or so. And that was pretty much that until 9-ish. What a fantastic game. I’m very impatient when it comes to games. Unless something draws me in straight away, I can’t be bothered with it. Unfortunately, when something does draw me in, the game suddenly comes to dominate my waking thoughts. How might I solve this or that problem? What should I have done there? When can I play it again? Now I’m a happily married man, this is a little more problematic than it was when, say, I was single and living alone, playing Civilisation 2 until the sun came up. So I‘m trying very hard not to let myself get too tied up with it. Though sitting here in the pub at around 1.30pm, writing this, I find myself suddenly thinking of how much time I have left today until Alex comes home. And what I might do with that time...
- Hit the sack and watched a couple of things, including some Big Train and the first episode of the new season of Peep Show. I love Peep Show with a passion. I think it’s a great piece of television that I hope will be hailed as a classic down the line. Okay, so there’s the risk that they are playing it beyond the point where they should have stopped, and some would argue that is the case already. But I’m not one of them. It’s still a wonderfully biting, cringeworthy series. Really must get off my ass and buy the first five seasons.
- Alex arrived home and collapsed into bed and I read Jeff Lemire’s Invisible Man riff, The Nobody. It was...okay. I must say, I couldn’t get terribly excited by it. It just felt a little pointless, to be honest, and the execution wasn’t enough to carry it through. Still a fan of Essex County, and I enjoyed the first issue of Sweet Tooth, but I think this one might slip through the cracks, and not undeservedly so.
Thursday, September 17, 2009
You know, I'm writing these bloody things every morning and just forgetting to post them up. Thanks to some free Wetherspoons wireless (leeched while sitting in Starbucks) you're getting this sucker live! I'm in a comfy chair, which is nice but makes writing a drag. So yesterday I:
- Got into town nice and early and did some writin'.
- Worked. Delivery day, and it was a pretty sizeable week this week. It wasn't helped by starting on the unpacking late thanks to a meeting about upcoming books.
- Went to the pub with wifey for one, breaking our September off the booze rule, but she really wanted to go for one and was willing to pay the extra pass price (a no-drinking week in October). So we had a pint and some very nice mezes at the Lord Clyde.
- Had some dinner then read some comics, which I did mini-reviews of over on Twitter. I keep toying with the idea of doing them as a blog instead, plus it means I can do some other comic-related posts as well, but then I think "Where the fuck am I gonna find the time?"
Tuesday, September 15, 2009
Gotta get my ass out the door! But yesterday I:
- Slept in a bit, but managed to get into town with an hour or so spare for writing. Did my Things I Did Yesterday summary which I never got around to posting. Typically. Must do better.
- Worked, cracking on with this month's library standing orders. Finished with gridded, Excel eyes.
- Went for a coffee with Nat, Tom & Barney (well, they had booze, I'm largely off it for the month). Had a nice chat about the state of things.
- Got home, had dinner then watched the final Band of Brothers, which was entirely satisfying. All in all a great series which didn't grip me to start with but from the second episode on really fired on all cylinders. I look forward to the upcoming series about the Pacific campaign.
- Watched the third episode of True Blood, which convinced us to watch another, but this is hanging by a thread. Honestly, something about it just work for me. It so desperately wants to be sexy and adult that it just comes across as juvenile. Give it one more.
Thursday, September 10, 2009
I'm sat n a cafe in a very comfortable chair that makes writing an impossibly awkward task. this will be short. Yesterday I:
- Worked. Delivery day, so I was unpacking comics and bagging most of the day. Not a great week, but I'll do some Twitter reviews later on today about what cam in over @grizzleddog. Not sure about the twitter reviews, though there seem to be a few people who enjoy them. But I keep thinking maybe I could do them on the blog instead, just limiting myself to the same kind of size restrictions. Not sure of the worth of a 140 character "review", but they're nice and quick to do, and I do enjoy it, which in these days of the Information Superhighway (isn't it funny how some terms wind up with no use other than knowing nods) is reason enough I guess.
- Went out after work for Josh's birthday, which was very nice. Sat out in the courtyard of Truckles Wine Bar (not the greatest named bar in the world) drinking rioja with current and ex Gosh people. To be fair, given the expense of the stuff, I'm surprised I feel quite as bad as I do now.
- Went on for a couple more at the Princess Louise down by Holborn with Tom, Nat, Will & wifey. It's a Samuel Smiths pub, so it'll not win any awards for quality beers, but it is the cheapest option in town, with about the only sub-£2 pints in central London. But one thing the Sam Smiths pubs do have is atmosphere. They do a great line in old-styled pub decor, and the Princess Louise has been re-fit with the warren-like booths of old. It's a lovely pub inside and well worth seeing. There's another Sam Smiths down near Chancery Lane that's also quite a sight to behold, with a huge, vaulting ceiling, massive old stove and private booths. Nothing like a proper old-styled pub.
- Got how, somehow. Funnily enough, we're not drinking in September, but we've got three passe each, of which we've both now used up two. We can buy extra passes, but it costs us a week of next month each time with no passes. What fun!
Well, here we are again. Again. Let’s get to it. Yesterday I:
- Got into town and did some writing, which was fine though my thoughts took an unexpected turn for the maudlin. Not sure why, and it didn’t last long, but what funny creatures we are, eh?
- Worked. Not a bad day in all. I caught up on my emails, got some library stuff done and put together this week’s How Late.
- Alex came down to meet me and we went to see District 9. I had been looking forward to this film and, as is unfortunately not too often the case, I wasn’t disappointed. It’s a wonderful mix of action, drama and comedy, all put together in a seamless blend of faux documentary, CCTV footage and standard narrative. The real compliment to this last bit of storytelling is that after a short while you barely notice the shifts. The effects are nothing short of astounding, and given the budget I’m guessing these were done through Weta at some serious mates rates. Honestly, the work is damn near flawless, from the huge, imposing mothership, through mechanised power suits and alien weaponry, to the aliens themselves. They really are quite incredible, probably one of the best full CGI realisations my inexpert eyes have ever seen. The inhuman design of them no doubt helps, their unfamiliarity easing the pattern recognition triggers that make CGI humans (or human-like aliens) look unconvincing. Compare this to what we’ve seen from Avatar (though in fairness we haven’t seen a lot yet). In short, it’s a great film. Entertaining, thoughtful (if not exactly subtle) and moving. Also, lots of people explode real good.
- Schlepped home and had miso soup with toast for dinner (this was about 10-ish). I watched an episode of Band of Brothers (war is even more like hell, but still kind of exciting) then hit the sack.
Tuesday, September 08, 2009
Oh Christ, this morning I had The Mortality Thought. It begins with thinking about how old I might live until and ends with me imagining myself on my death bed: what my last words might be; who might be there; will it be painful? Not a pleasant line of thought to start my day. The other thing I obsess about is knowing that when I’m there, I’ll be thinking “Bloody hell, that went quickly. What happened to the last 30 years?”
Anyway, on with more positive things, yesterday I:
- Got up fairly early and made myself a little plan which I didn’t really follow in the end, but it was nice to have a plan.
- Was sort of amazed by the vitriol I’m getting for my negative review of The Shadow over on my Fright Fest post. Makes me laugh.
- Got an email from Matt Z informing me that Spotify Mobile had been released! Very exciting stuff. So I signed up to the premium service, which I had been looking for an excuse to do anyway, and downloaded the app to my Android phone. So far it’s been a little frustrating. I have a particularly annoying crash problem which locks up my phone, forcing me to pop the battery out to restart. It appears to be download related, as it happened mainly when I was streaming music, or when I was trying to sync playlists for offline play. I’ve raised a support question about it and I’m not the only one having this issue, so hopefully there will be a bug fix soon. Playback of said offline playlists seemed fine. That aside, I’m still excited about it. Okay, so it’s over a 3G connection and therefore missing the P2P quick play experience (each track needs about a 20 second pause to buffer even in good 3G reception) that makes Spotify stand out from the crowd on a desktop, but the interface is all very nice and the offline mode is really what makes it so attractive to me. Spotify has actually become my default music player at home, so being able to build playlists within it to download to my phone (a doddle to do, by the way) is great. Hopefully they’ll sort out the kinks soon.
- Went into town and did some writing, then decided that I would go check out a movie. Timing was good to catch The Hurt Locker, which I was really wanting to see. Excellent film about a bomb squad operating in Iraq. Although it’s been described as deliberately apolitical, I don’t think that’s strictly true. It’s just that the politics aren’t worn on its sleeve and the real message is more along the lines of: War is hell, but war is addictive. It’s a sentiment brought home by one character’s return home at the end of his tour, only to realise that he needs the thrill that war gives him. It’s the only thing he truly loves any more. Anyway, Kathryn Bigelow has always been a director with an eye to suspense and she has never been better. The feeling of imminent danger – from bombs, from snipers and even from friendlies – is brought across in a series of nail-biting set pieces. Highly recommended.
- Came home and did some domestic stuff before having a quick run on Grand Theft Auto 4, which I haven’t played in bloody ages. In fact, after finishing Fallout 3, I had started playing Mass Effect, but realised I had better make GTA my next game to work through, as Alex bought it for me last Christmas and I’d hardly touched it. Well, not like it’s a hardship, eh? One funny thing: I got laid in the game, which was represented by a dawn cityscape with a soundtrack of sexual ecstasy and a vibrating controller. Quite. Then stole a taxi and helped a West Indian gangster kill a bunch of rival drug dealers. And enjoyed it.
- Watched an episode of Band of Brothers (the excellent “Bastogne”) before settling down with Alex to watch the second True Blood. Still undecided on this, plus I keep getting this creeping question: would I read this? Given my general distaste for “paranormal romance” novels, I suspect not. This inevitably leads to the question: why am I watching this? Oh well, we’ll see.
Sunday, September 06, 2009
Quickly! Quickly, Andrew! Yesterday you:
- Got up and did the dishes, as you knew you were going to be out last night and working today. You didn't want to risk wifey's wrath, as you'd left them about all you could get away with already.
- Worked, mainly stuck up on the till, though you managed to get a few things done. You sure have a lot of work to get through, Andrew. Better pull finger! Still, there were only three of you yesterday, so it's hardly surprising.
- Met up with a bunch of good folks for the lovely Ellen's birthday. Wandered up to Lamb's Conduit Street for a drink before heading to the Brunswick Centre for dinner at Giraffe (though wifey missed it, as she wasn't feeling too well). You had a chicken blt burger, and it was very nice indeed. A last drink at the Doric Arms in Euston (a curious den of iniquity with an appealing Euston-themed décor) then you walked out the door, straight into a 476 and all the way home.
- Had a bloody awful night's sleep. You may have snored a bit, my friend. That would explain the ragged throat this morning.
So I completely forgot that I wrote a few notes about Fright Fest the other morning! I had a great time over the weekend, my fears of a numb ass and just general burnout coming to nothing. I must admit, working on the Saturday was probably not a bad thing just to break it up, but I'd still like to get a weekend pass one of these years. But anyhow, I saw me some movies!
The Horseman – A gritty revenge thriller from Australia. Apparently made on a shoestring by way of local financing, it’s an impressive feature with an excellent performance from lead Peter Marshall. As the father of a girl found dead from a drug overdose after starring in a seedy porn film, he grounds what could have been a schlocky exploitation flick. The grainy, digital cinematography – now pretty much a standard look for any low-budget horror – is well handled, adding to the atmosphere rather than distracting. It also has the distinction of being unflinching, but only when it really wants to hit home. It often cuts away from the extreme violence, be it genital mutilation or just bashing someone’s head in, saving the explicit shots for moments when they have real impact. But it’s the performances that really make this work. They lift it above the material, bringing real drama to proceedings as the father’s trail of revenge harvests bitter fruit. A great little film and probably my favourite of the fest.
Beware The Moon – A fan-made American Werewolf in London documentary, looking back at its production and release in an exhaustive series of interviews with the key participants. It’s almost a scene-by-scene breakdown of the film which will be great as a DVD extra, but ran a little too long for a theatrical showing. It was quite obviously intended to be carved into 10-minute segments and would be great to dip in and out of, but as interesting as it was I just found my attention wavering after 140-odd minutes of talking heads with a few brief behind the scenes clips. Still, a nice labour of love which really added to the experience of watching the actual film.
An American Werewolf In London – This was a newly remastered version, projected from blueray, and the clean-up job on it is certainly impressive. Landis introduced the film and did a Q&A afterward, which was entertaining if not terribly informative. The film is of course still great. As much as people might tell you the transformation sequence is still as impressive as ever, it has dated somewhat now, but that’s really not what makes this film. The blend of humour, horror and drama has still never been topped to my mind, best encapsulated in the film’s opening sequence. One of my favourite films and a real joy to see on the big screen. Also, John Landis, while coming across as a bit of an arrogant bully, is very funny and not at all shy about speaking his mind. He was also very good about making sure that anyone present who was involved in the production came up onto the stage.
The Shadow – Well, this was certainly the lowlight of the festival for me. Luckily it was the only real duff film I saw all weekend. Touted by festival organisers as being the discovery of the weekend and the renaissance of Italian horror, Shadow is the brainchild of Federico Zampaglione, an Italian pop-rock megastar (apparently) making his directorial debut. It would seem that this has probably been knocking around Mr Zampaglione's head for some time, like since he was about 14, because that’s about the level of it. Basically (SPOILERS AHEAD) (not that you should care), a soldier comes back from the Iraq war for a cycling holiday in a remote Italian mountain range. He meets a girl and is terrorized by a (ridiculously accented) Brit and American pair who are on a hunting trip. Why? Because the girl makes the Brit miss a deer, so of course they have to die. Anyway, all four stumble into a weird region of the mountains and are captured by a chalky-white figure who takes them back to his Hostel-like torture chamber. There are hints this guy has some kind of Nazi background, but he also has souvenirs of other mass-murders throughout history. Hijinks ensue, torture happens, Brit and Yank die, girl disappears, main guy nearly escapes but pale guy appears at the last second and everything goes black. Main guy wakes in what appears to be the torture chamber but is actually (gasp!) an Iraqi field hospital! Turns out girl is a nurse and Brit & Yank were two soldiers (dead on the tables next to him) who were responsible for some kind of massacre while he was on duty with them. Leaving the scene of said massacre, they hit a landmine. So, wow, that means that, like, the pale figure was actually DEATH! And by fighting on and escaping, he escaped DEATH! Except he didn’t, actually. He got caught before waking up, remember? Oh well, nevermind! Anyway, it thinks it’s terribly clever but isn’t and looks for all the world like a Tool video. Also: it’s a pile of shit. We scurried out as soon as the credits came on to avoid what would no doubt be an embarrassing Q&A with the director.
La Horde – Funny one, this. What starts out as a serious crime drama quickly becomes an OTT, played for laughs, zombie siege flick. Basically, a group of corrupt cops track a gang down to a near-abandoned housing block to exact revenge for the death of one of their own. It all goes tits-up when the gang clocks them before they can attack, kills a couple of them and captures the rest. But before the cops are executed, the dead start returning to life and the tower is suddenly under siege by a ravening zombie mob. So it’s team-up or die time, with double-crosses and inter-group breakdowns along the way. It offers pretty much all you would expect from a film of this type: gore galore, character pick-offs and a downbeat ending. It’s not perfect, but there’s some great action and lots of genuinely good laughs along the way. Recommended, but probably better over a few beers. It may be a while before it surfaces, though. The films only gets a release in France next February, so god only knows when we'll see it again. Oh, they had a review embargo, too.
Trick’R’Treat – This seasonal, twist-in-the-tale anthology horror is a proper 80’s throwback, and a pleasure to watch for it. Witheld from release by Warner since 2007 for reasons no one will explain (but I suspect might have to do with the number of kids involved in the gruesome goings on), it’s about to come out on DVD. The director was present, as mystified as we were as to it’s lack of release. It’s quite mainstream, really, produced by Bryan Singer, featuring the likes of Dylan Baker, Brian Cox & Anna Paquin, and feels like it would be a solid hit for Halloween release. Okay, it makes a conscious step away from pretty young thing horror, but it’s hardly a grungy underground movie. Anyway, a lot of fun and probably a solid hit on DVD. Landis was in attendance. His response during the director Q&A to the Warner decision not to release: “Fuck them!”
Salvage – Made as a part of the Liverpool Year of Culture or somesuch, this is a great low budget horror. The key, as with The Horseman, are the performances. The main cast in this are fantastic and it feels more like some gritty UK drama than a monster movie. A teenage girl, estranged from her career-obsessed mother, is forced to spend Christmas with her, only to walk in on her shagging some random bloke. She runs off to the neighbours and before you know it the military have swooped into the quiet cul-de sac and quarantined people to their homes. Something is loose in the neighbourhood, something which has escaped from a washed up container on the nearby beach. Needless to say, things start going wrong and people start to die. The film definitely tries to say something, mainly about how the government uses fear to make us jump into line, but it has fun along the way. It’s a shame that there are just a couple of people behaving stupidly moments and lapses in logic that almost threaten to break it, but in the end it still impresses through style and performance.
Pontypool – An intriguing concept is the hook for this film: a virulent disease turning people into ravening zombies spreads through the English language. But again, it’s the central performances that really carry it. One performance in particular: Stephen McHattie as washed up DJ Grant Mazzy. McHattie is magnetic, from his initial incredulous reactions to what’s happening in the small Canadian town through to the acceptance of his own role in the spreading – and perhaps curing – of the disease. Performaces are particularly important here, as this is essentially a single-set piece, based around the radio studio Mazzy broadcasts from with a core cast of three (later expanding a little). The horror is mainly just from the callers, describing what’s happening outside in the blizzard conditions. I’ve since found out that it was concurrently produced as a radio play, and that’s not surprising. Like most films of this type it occasionally falls down, here mainly regarding logical inconsistencies with how the concept is treated, but it’s a bold, experimental horror film and is worth seeing for that reason alone. Landis was there. In fact, he seemed to be pretty much everywhere I turned during the festival, and was clearly enjoying himself.
I Sell The Dead – A silly, mish-mash of (mostly) comedy and horror that I absolutely loved from start to finish. I cannot understand how the grossly overrated Dead Snow was seen by many to be the highlight of the festival (a horror/comedy written by someone who just isn’t very funny) when this little gem was forced to languish in the tiny “Discovery” screen. Actually, I could make the same case for any of the films I saw in the small screen. This is a funny, warm-hearted film about a grave-robber who specialises in the undead. It has a strange feel, paying homage to Sam Raimi and the films of Hammer and Amicus. The story, such as it is, is slight, but the characters are a lot of fun as they drunkenly fall from one situation to the next. It has a nice, quirky look, exploiting its low budget to develop a style of its own. Highly recommended.
Black – Curious one this. A modern blaxploitation flick starring a French rapper. It’s actually a very entertaining crime flick with a slight supernatural angle towards the end, but a real mystery as to why it was in the Fright Fest. In fact, the supernatural aspects - all about totem animals possessing the bodies of characters - were the weakest part of the film. It’s on much better ground with the set-up, When our titular anti-hero heads to Senegal after a robbery goes wrong. His cousin has tipped him off to an "easy" diamond heist that doesn’t go as smoothly as he might have hoped. Lead actor MC Jean Gab'1 is a charismatic figure and carries the film well, along with his misfit backup men. It’s exciting and it’s funny, but it’s never, ever horrifying. Worth a look though. Also, Landis did a presentation of Thriller and the making of Thriller beforehand. All well and good, but the bloody film didn’t get started until 12.40am!
Wednesday, September 02, 2009
Quickly, before dinner is served! Yesterday I:
- Woke up feeling bloody awful. Just tired, tired, tired. Wrote my usual stream of consciousness drivel, then tried to write something creative and got about two paragraphs in before my brain just kind of shut down. The thing I’m fiddling with at the moment is writing character introductions, just random things for characters I’m making up on the spot for all kinds of genres. Yesterday was a boy and girl in a young adults post-apocalyptic setting. But I’ll be buggered if I could actually do it. Every time I set myself to it, a murky fog seemed to roll across my mind. Oh well, maybe today...
- Worked, though I wasn’t able to get straight into the main thing I wanted to do. A bit of tidying and looking at publicity for upcoming signings to start with. Then after lunch I was able to get packing on some library deliveries. Though I ran out of packing material. All told, not a great day.
- Alex came down and met me after work and we wandered an interesting route towards home, which was nice. Thanks to Fright Fest, we spent hardly any time together on the weekend, so it was nice to just hang out. We stopped at Angel and went to a new Turkish place there. The food was delicious.
- Came home and intended to watch something, but just dithered about on the net until it was time to get to bed.
Wednesday, August 26, 2009
In the nick of time! Yesterday I:
- Walked in, which I don’t do nearly as much as I should. It’s amazing how good I was with walking at our old place, and yet the place we’re currently in, though it’s only really another 10 minutes up the road, just seems a whole lot further out. I think it’s a combination of a few things, mainly the unattractive nature of the route (Essex Road...mmm...), the availability of buses along the route (which I didn’t have before), and the fact that the journey time is now that much closer to an hour. But I should get back into the swing of it. I had twigged that by adding less than 5 minutes to the journey time, I could head down a parallel road which took me onto the canal, then rejoining my old walking route. I was enjoying the journey, listening to audio books as I went, but at some point just got out of the habit, which I’m having difficulty re-establishing. It’s a hard knock life, eh?
- Worked. It was Nat’s first day back, so that was nice. Had a meeting with Josh about what’s coming up in the year and what we need to prioritise. Then just got stuck into libraries, which I’m seriously behind with at the moment.
- Met Dana for lunch. She’s looking proper preggers now!
- Worked late, until just after 8. I don’t want to get into the habit of it, but I’ve just got this hump of work to get past and it’s so much nicer working on this kind of thing when the store is empty.
- Got home, had lovely dinner and then talked money a little bit with wifey. We’re looking seriously into house buying now (got ourselves provisional mortgage approval and everything), but first we really need to take our finances in hand. We’re both quite wasteful in our spending, which is something we need to sort out.
- I faffed about a bit, then suddenly it was bedtime! But not before I quickly caught up on Facebook chat (which is awful) with Lisa, who I hadn’t spoken to in ages, and Claudia, who was on very briefly but seems to be settling in slowly but surely to her new LA digs.
- Went to sleep!
Tuesday, August 25, 2009
Crikey! Two days in a row? Well, as it happens, yesterday I:
- Didn’t get up until about 9-ish. I did some internet doodling, then got ready and headed down to Angel to do some writing before I met Doug for lunch.
- Went to Euphorium, a new branch of which recently opened on Islington Green. Nice little chain of cafe’s, with great food and good coffee. Unfortunately their espresso machine was out of commission, so the latter evaded me. Was a slightly weird time sitting in there, as I seemed to be surrounded by people working on various aspects of the business, from a guy sitting over the back from me talking with a bank man about financing an expansion, to the woman sat at a nearby table doing accounts, to the store manager (who had just arrived) talking with various people about restructuring the staff hierarchy, ordering, who has access to the safe and the broken coffee machine. I think I was about the only actual customer in the shop.
- Had a good little writing session, outlining my plans (again), making commitments to regular writing times (again), deciding to get started on the daily blog updates (again) and fleshing out a few ideas I’ve got kicking around (again). Now, it may seem like I’m just repeating myself, but every day is a fresh start and all that. Also, I figure if I keep doing it long enough, something has to stick.
- Met the Fuller-man and had a nice catch-up over a burger, then walked home, grabbing stuff for dinner on the way.
- Did a spot of cleaning, then played some Rock Band 2. Completed a gig in Stockholm that convinced the label to buy us a plane. Let me tell you: Myron Danger, guitarist for Cranial Gunge, totally rules. Ahh, Cranial Gunge. Rodger...you out there?
- Got started on Mass Effect, just getting to the point of landing on the planet’s surface. I like the look of it so far, though. Seems right up my street. Now it may seem that I’m wasting my time playing games here, but actually I hardly ever play on the Xbox and have been wanting to have a weekend where I really put some time into it for ages. So, y’know, now I have.
- Alex got home and settled in for soap night. We had dinner and then I cleared out. Watched episodes 2-4 of Band of Brothers which were great. I was a bit bleh about the first episode, and it does suffer from the US-centric view of the war (there are more Brits playing Americans in the cast than there are Brits playing Brits), but I’m slowly getting drawn into it. Plus, the action (sorry – the harrowing realities of war) is great. Plenty of nice little touches that you don’t often see, too: American Germans fighting with the Nazis; paratroopers losing their equipment during drops; clothes left at the laundrette by troops that have been killed. It’s certainly good enough to keep me watching.
- Oh, went to sleep.
Monday, August 24, 2009
Only just shy of a month since last time! Yesterday I:
- Got up at around 8-ish. Faffed about on the internet for a while, just catching up a bit. I’ve fallen ridiculously behind on my RSS feeds lately, just because we’ve been away or out so much that they’ve been building up and I’ve not been able to catch up. This has actually motivated me to cut down on the amount that I’m reading, culling out sites I never seem to find time to read, or that double up excessively with other sites have. Certainly, I’m not going to shed any tears for less time spent in front of the internet. I’m trying to clear things out a little, streamline where my time is going. Mind you, this is hardly a new obsession for me.
- Cleaned the kitchen. May not seem noteworthy, but it was a pretty major job given we hadn’t been home for a number of evenings this week.
- Alex had stayed over at Ben & Michelle’s the night before (I had piked out early, my hangover from Matt’s wedding finally running me to ground). She’d apparently been up until about 5am, so there was no sign of her coming home by midday. I decided to head for a movie.
- Went and saw Inglourious Basterds. I understand it’s been dividing critical opinion and I understand why, but for my part I found it a joy to watch. It’s curiously put together, a mish-mash of styles and odd techniques (for example, one (and only one) character’s back story is preceeded by his own garish blaxploitation-styled logo popping up over a freeze-frame) but it all hangs together. Even the use of Bowie’s Cat People theme song works in a way that it just shouldn’t. The film consists of five chapters, all connected, but each with a different feel, from the brilliant spaghetti western opening chapter to the tense cellar bar espionage riff. The performances are nearly all great, with the only exception being Mike Myers’ bizarre cameo as a British commanding officer. All in all, it’s a film that will stick in the head; certainly my favourite Tarantino since Jackie Brown.
- Came home and played some Rock Band 2, scoring well in Stockholm. Next up: the 744 gig. Time to get my own plane, baby!
- Dithered about a bit before playing some Fallout 3, which I hadn’t touched in ages. Every time I play that game I realise I had completely forgotten how much I enjoy it. The setting is so addictive, even though I’ve now gotten to a level of power where very little is challenging, unless I stumble into a proper nest of bad guys. I guess I could turn the difficulty up...
- Alex arrived home! We had some dinner (mmm...steak’n’chips!), had a little catch up then did our own thing for a bit. She crashed out at around 10, so I went back to Fallout.
- Finished Fallout at around 1am. I was a little disappointed, to be honest. The ending is quite sudden and doesn’t really satisfy at all. Well, it’s all about the journey I guess. Anyway, I’m going to have to go back to an earlier save at some point and continue to explore the world, which still has a lot of blank territory on the map. But first, I’ve got a massive bloody backlog of games to get through, let alone the ones out there I want to buy. So I’ll take this opportunity to play through some other games before coming back to Fallout later. I played through this time as a good guy, but I think maybe I’ll start again as a bastard.
Thursday, July 30, 2009
I was about to write a comment on a blog about writing when there was a small popping sound in my head, like a tiny firework going off. So here I am! Yesterday I:
- Got up late. So late in fact that my usual 1-1.5 hour pre work time I have in town was down to around 30 minutes. Not how I like to start the day, but I guess I needed the sleep. Still feel like I need that sleep.
- Worked. The delivery arrived nice and early, so that was a relief. We got well ahead and it was a fairly stress-free affair.
- Came home to head to fat club but wifey was nowhere to be found! In her defence she was out with her mate Anton, getting tips for our Belgium trip this weekend.
- Faffed about for a while, had some dinner, then read some comics. So-so week on the whole. Twittered reviews as I went, which I'm kind of enjoying.
- Uh, went to sleep! Jesus, what a boring day. Unfortunately, in a special sneak preview, I can tell you that tomorrow's installment ain't going to get much better.
Sunday, July 26, 2009
One day off this week! But yesterday I:
- Wandered in to town and just sat in a cafe for a bit reading websites and the Sun (grr). No writing (BAD!)
- Worked. Was fortunate enough to have plenty of people in, so I didn't really need to work the till until the end of the day. Made some good progress catching up on library stuff, particularly one (unnecessarily but not by my design) complicated order that's a couple of weeks late. Happy with my progress.
- Came home and faffed. about. Alex was away in Bath on Friday night and din't get back until 10.30pm or so, so the evening was pretty much mine to fritter away. Watched Unforgiven while doing some domestic stuff. What a great film. Haven't seen it in a while. Remembered that I still haven't worked through the extras on the 10th anniversary disc. Funny, but it seems like it should be older than it really is. The idea that I only watched this 3 years before leaving NZ is a bit odd.
- Played some Rock Band 2. Futzed out on the first track, but managed to bring it back from there. Got myself a tour bus and hired some new management. Hot damn!
- That reminds me...any X-Box folks out there, my gamertag is Grizzled Dog.
- Went to bed and read for a bit.
Friday, July 24, 2009
It's a night alone! Quick, to the DVD player! Meanwhile, yesterday I:
- Met Dana for coffee before work. Had a catch up and took a photo for the week-to-week pregnancy gallery.
- Was on a late start, so I had time to go and read for a bit before work.
- Worked. Started out in a remarkably good mood which vanished throughout the day. Just filed and worked the till, but it was a busy one and I was by myself most of the time. Just a bit exhausting! Also, at lunch time I discovered I had run out of money, so didn’t have any lunch. Well, I had a coffee and a couple of pieces of chocolate from out the back. I imagine that was the real downfall of my state of mind.
- Went home and chilled out. Wifey went out to meet her friend Jen, so I was home alone. Listened to some tracks on Spotify, including Digital Underground’s album Sex Packets and a Parliament Greatest Hits collection, all of which buoyed my mood considerably. That, and steak, mushrooms and chips for dinner.
- Intended to watch something, but typically browsed the internet too long and ran out of time. San Diego ComiCon is on, so there’s news galore to keep up with. Gave up after a while as it felt too much like work. Read my book for a bit then went to bed.
Thursday, July 23, 2009
Quick as you like, yesterday I:
- Walked in and sat writing in Nero, wondering why the hell I wasn't going somewhere else that might allow me, y'know, cool down a bit.
- Worked, mainly dealing with the delivery. Unpack boxes. Check against invoices. Pull standing orders. Bag standing orders. Pull orders for people who get variants.
- Didn't get out of work until about 6.30. Headed home for fat club but wound up getting back too late. Had dinner instead then booked hotels for our trip to Belgium in a couple of weeks. Dithered about for a bit before collapsing onto the bed and reading comics.
- Went to sleep and dreamt my head was full of bees, the delicate workings of my brain a vast labyrinth of honeycomb that some indelicate motherfucker was scooping out by the fistful.
Wednesday, July 22, 2009
Wooser wins. As does humanity. Yesterday I:
- Walked in, stopping in Nero on the way. Felt decidedly fuzzy-headed and writing came with particular difficulty.
- Worked. Mainly going over the order, disrupted regularly by smaller jobs. Made pretty much no headway at all on the large, pressing jobs that are nearly a week overdue already. Now with delivery day and new comics day at my doorstep, that’s another two days until I can even look at them.
- Alex swung by at the end of the day and we went to see Moon down at Haymarket. I’ve been looking forward to this, and it didn’t disappoint. Comparisons to 70’s science fiction are accurate, though I would point more to the likes of Silent Running or even Dark Star (sans humour) than the oft cited 2001. It has its minor flaws, certainly, with the ending and some of the science (which I only pick at because of its hard sci-fi veneer and the 2001 comparisons). But then, what classic science fiction film of the 70’s (or indeed ever) hasn’t? Like those films, Moon is all about the ideas. About the characters and their place within the isolating, dehumanising environment of space. In fact, the story could have been set in the Antarctic with only a few changes. But then, we wouldn’t have had the lovely, sparse set design, or the fantastic model lunar base exteriors. But it’s primarily a character piece carried exceptionally well by Sam Rockwell, who is completely believable as the increasingly wrought Sam Bell. The score by Clint Mansell (available on Spotify, sports fans!), while not quite up to The Fountain, is wonderfully evocative, adding layers of atmosphere (no pun intended). Best film I’ve seen in a long time and very highly recommended.
- Got home in time to watch something, which is the nice part about going to a movie straight after work. Watched the first episode of the new season of Jimmy McGovern’s series The Street, each a self-contained story set around the residents of one street in Manchester. I’ve never seen any other episodes, but it’s won plenty of awards and this one looked interesting: a retelling of High Noon with Bob Hoskins as a pub landlord who has barred a local gangster’s son and now has until 3.30pm the next day – when father and son will be paying him a visit – to decide whether he sticks to his guns or serves the boy. It was a bit over-earnest in places (especially one mawkish scene right near the end), but on the whole I enjoyed it. I especially liked the fact that it was a gritty British drama that really celebrated the idea of sticking to your principles and standing up for what’s right (and it actually working). Good stuff.
- Went to bed and thought of you. YOU.
Monday, June 08, 2009
Oh hey, I have a blog. Well, you know what? Yesterday I:
- Got up good'n'early to get a workout on the new EA Active fitness thing we got for the Wii. So far so good on it: I've hit my loss target for the week. It works a lot better than the Wii Fit, simply because it actually presents you with a program rather than letting you choose whatever you want to do (ie the easy stuff). Exactly what a spineless cop-out monkey like me needs.
- Did some dishes. My life is the kind of crazy shit you can only dream of!
- Scream for me Melbourne! Listening to the Flight 666 soundtrack. God I wish I'd gone to see them on this tour.
- Went out to Wickford in sunny Essex to have lunch at the merry Wagers. Tony is an old boss of Alex's and they have an expansive, lovely home out there. Always a nice time, as they really are fantastic hosts. Lovely roast lunch to boot. And I trampolined.
- Got the train back into London, then a bus back from Liverpool Street.
- Watched a little bit of Big Brother which seems even more like torture than usual.
- Hit the sack, where I appear to have cultivated some kind of strep throat. Great.
Monday, May 25, 2009
Tut tut. Yesterday I:
- Got up nice and early but then sat at the computer, trapped in our bedroom until Alex's mum woke up in the lounge. Oh, she was very generous in terms to telling me not to be sheepish about waking her in the morning, but dammit I can't help it. I'm always like this when people stay over, not wanting to impose on them. To be fair, I wake up early on the weekend and I appreciate that most people don't. So being a prisoner in our bedroom seems like the reasonable course of action.
- Got ready and then once everyone was up and functioning, we headed down to Spitalfield Market. I haven't been down there since all the renovations, and I'm really not sure how I feel about it. It certainly feels cleaner and more orderly and the food places feel a lot less like botulism stands, but it is lacking in soul. I'm sure the tourists love it, but it won't be a regular stop for me.
- Went around the corner to a proper East London street market, which is always entertaining for the barking stallholders, but quickly realised that pressing my way through throngs of pushy, inconsiderate people isn't that much fun either.
- Headed over to London Bridge and went to The George, a very nice pub off the main drag with a spacious courtyard out front. Had some lunch which mum-in-law kindly paid for. Result!
- Saw Alex's mum off, then walked back up through town for a while. Near Holborn Circus we found an abandoned office chair which I nabbed as my old one has fallen apart. Wheeled that up to Rosebury Ave and got a bus.
- Faffed about on the net before a dinner of delicious lamburgers.
- Watched Big Man Japan, a film which has been doing the YouTube rounds thanks to the scenes where our eponymous hero battles against bizarre giant monsters. The guts of the film, however, is a little more meditative, shot as a documentary about the normal life of our monster-fighting hero. There's a lot going on about family, sacrifice, honour and the fickle nature of celebrity, but to be honest a lot of it fell flat with me, probably because it really does speak directly to Japanese culture. It also suffers from a narrative shift, abandoning the documentary format whenever he becomes a giant monster-fighter, which is quite jarring. There were certainly aspects of it I enjoyed, particularly the trippy final scene, but the fights are pretty much all covered by the clips on YouTube and the documentary material only works sporadically, unhinged by a largely unsympathetic lead character. Can't recommend it I'm afraid!
- Watched some Inbetweeners then hit the sack.
Tuesday, May 19, 2009
Listening to the Bugsy Malone soundtrack on Spotify. Sweet. Anyway, yesterday I:
- Had the day off, awaiting the delivery of our new washing machine. I got up at the crack of dawn to go down to the post office to pick up my new phone, only to be told it hadn't come back to the branch yet. Miserable bastard behind the counter too. Put me in a fould mood.
- Got home and took out our old washing machine, ready for disposal. We had paid John Lewis £9 to take it away while dropping off the new one. Took it outside to empty any excess water out, then left it there with a note on saying it was being taken away. Within the hour someone had nabbed it! Waste of £9.
- Found out the machine would be coming after 12, so I went to the library and got a few new audiobooks: Enduring Love by Ian McEwan (read by Richard E Grant), The Mysterious Flame of Queen Loana by Umberto Eco (didn't the print version of this have comic strip material? Interested to see what they do about that) and the first season of The Mitchell and Webb Sound. Loving me some audio books at the moment, especially since I started hitting the library.
- Got home and faffed about. Twittered a bit, browsed Spotify, played some Crackdown (which went quite well, though the difficulty curve between islands is pretty steep). Didn't do any of my cleaning jobs. Oops. Did some dishes though.
- Alex surprised me by popping home in her lunch and picking up my phone on the way. She's a keeper. Got that sucker on to charge.
- The machine arrived at about 4.30, which is typical. Went to install it, only to realise that I needed to install an electrical socket to replace the dedicated cable the old machine had. Ran (walked quickly) up to Leyland and picked one up. Connected that, plumbed the washer in and hey presto! We have laundry! Cool machine, actually. Nice and modern.
- Had a bath then some dinner. Then retired to the bedroom for a little phone action. Oh yeah, baby.
- Initial impressions of the HTC Magic are very good indeed. Fairly intuitive interface, all very attractive. The touch screen is very responsive and I find the onscreen keyboard easier to use than I thought I might. The app store (the real deal-breaker for the newer generations of phones) could do with some more sorting options, but otherwise is a cinch to use and I was finding plenty of decent utilities straight away. I feel like I'm just scratching the surface so far, so more impressions as they occur to me. I must admit, I've fallen for this little minx pretty hard. I hope she's not a heartbreaker.
- Watched a couple of Inbetweeners from season 2. I like it.
- Read my book and dropped off to sleep.
- Didn't write. Haven't written in some days now. I plan to remedy that from tomorrow morning. If I can stop playing about with this fucking phone for 5 minutes.
Monday, May 18, 2009
Waitin' for the washing machine man. But yesterday I:
- Got up and faffed about online while waiting for Alex to wake up.
- Decided our day-trip would be a walk out to the Leyton ASDA. Exciting! Quite a nice walk on the whole, taking just over an hour. A good mix of inner-city London, through rough estates and nice parks.
- Shopped at ASDA, which was something of an endurance test. Honestly, Sunday afternoon shopping is some kind of awful lesson in dog-eat-dog ruthlessness. People are just so ridiculously blinkered to the needs of anyone else for fear they might be disadvantaged in some way. Anyway, went to buy dinner stuff but grabbed some clothes and other assorted household goods. Well, it was a nice walk, anyway.
- Came home and chilled. Played Crackdown for a while, had some dinner, then I went to the bedroom and played around a bit with Spotify, as well as a new (to me) music player called Media Monkey.
- Watched Liam Neeson action flick Taken. It was a lot of fun, although the American xenophobia was a bit heavy handed: the French are spineless; Europe is murky and dangerous; don't trust Arabs or Eastern Europeans. Neeson is great though, really selling the role.
- Read for a bit then hit the sack.
Sunday, May 17, 2009
Did I miss one? Rats. I'm playing about with Spotify at the moment. It's...okay. More functionality with LastFM it would seem to me, but there is something to be said for Spotify's simplicity. It's almost like that "radio" thing the kids are all on about. Currently playing the Alestorm album. Anyway, yesterday I:
- Got the bus in. I'm listening to an audiobook of Kazuo Ishiguro's When We Were Orphans, which is great, even if the reader's voice is a little soporific.
- Worked. Got into town to have a coffee and read for a bit first, but I was horrified to find the nice Nero not open yet (at about 8.30). Weather is still a bit crap here, so no park sitting. Had Costa instead, but it wasn't as good. Life is so tough! I'm concious of the lack of morning writing I'm doing at the moment. Must remedy that.
- Had one of those work Saturdays that dragged like a corpse caught on a smallish speedboat escaping the scene of a crime. Man that sucks.
- Walked home with Kane. Oh shit, maybe that's what I'll do tonight: watch See No Evil, starring WWE star Kane.
- Umm...what did I do? Played some Crackdown, I know that much. Oh, of course, Alex and I watched the Eurovision finals while playing cards to determine who would do which household cleaning tasks. Happily it all worked out pretty evenly, with 9 jobs each, though to be honest I've come out the better I think.
- Found a missed delivery card for my new phone. I'll have to swing down on Monday before Alex goes to work, as we've got a washing machine coming at God only knows what time. 7am-5pm is all the info I have so far, but they are supposed to be contacting me with more details. New phone is very exciting.
- Eurovision was fun. I've never watched it before, other than glimpses on a pub screen the year that Lordi won. It was very entertaining, and Graham Norton did a sterling job of putting some snark into the proceedings.
- Hit the sack and read for a while before succumbing to sleep's deathly grasp. Not this time, though. Not this time, you fucker.
Friday, May 15, 2009
In the nick of time! Yesterday I:
- Had the day off! I got up early-ish, read my web crap, then made a to-do list for the day.
- Popped down to Angel and bought some birthday cards for nieces and nephews. Wandered about a little, mainly in the bookshops. Saw a history of post-colonial Africa that looks pretty interesting.
- Had a coffee and read my book for a bit. Into the third book of Greg Keyes' Kingdoms of Thorn and Bone. I'm enjoying this series a great deal.
- Came home and settled in for an afternoon of web-shopping!
- Bought a new washing machine, which is coming on Monday, so no more £8 a pop service washes at the laundrette.
- Got myself an HTC Magic phone ordered from Vodaphone. I figured it was time to get into the modern world of handhelds. I'm trying not to get my hopes too high for it, as I'm sure it'll disappoint in many ways, but I'm looking forward to seeing how the Android OS develops. Also, I'll have a phone with a working call button! Oh, one important note here: this was the first time I've passed a credit check in years! I must be doing something right at last!
- Sorted out most of Alex's birthday present, which I obviously can't go into detail about here. Not that she reads this bloody thing.
- Had a sort of nothing evening.I honestly can't even remember what I did. Watched some Inbetweeners. Read my book. Read the internet. Maybe watched Britains Best Home? Was that last night? Christ, I'm losing it.
Thursday, May 14, 2009
Ahh, a day off, eh? The things you can do! But yesterday I:
- Worked. Delivery day, so I spent most of it unpacking the Thursday comics out the back to the tune of Waits' Orphans discs. Well, Brawlers and Bastards, anyway.
- Didn't take a lunch break, so I just worked through until 5 then finished early. Spent the afternoon bagging and then got a sneaky start in on the filing. Then it was off home.
- Read a bunch of comics. Actually got through my whole stack for the week, which hasn't happened in a while.
- That's about it. Bloody hell...
Okay, as fast as you like, quick reviews of what I read this week. This may be a regular feature. Let's see how long it takes! The idea is not to give an exhaustive outline of plot, creators and so on, but rather to just say whether or not it's any good. Well, that's the idea, anyway. In no particular order:
Lockjaw & the Pet Avengers #1 - Nice idea, so-so execution. Would've made a fun one-shot. As a mini-series? Not enough to carry it, I'm afraid.
Ultimate Spider-Man #132 - Ultimatum does its reboot thing, Bendis indulges his little dialogue tricks and it's all fine enough. But jumpin' Jesus, why is Stuart Immonen not a megastar? He is a phenomenal artist.
Trinity #50 - Flicking through to see how it ends. What the fuck is going on here? Can't make heads nor tails of it, really, but that's what I get for missing out 20-odd issues. Not to rag on Busiek, but this is twaddle.
Thor Tales of Asgard #1 - Always loved this Lee/Kirby Norse mythology stuff that ran originally as backups in Journey Into Mystery (with Thor as main star of the book). The recolouring on here is dire, though. I'm not opposed to recolouring jobs, but this looks awful. Nice Coipel cover.
Storming Paradise #5 - Easy to forget that everybody's favourite right-winger, Chuck Dixon, can still write a smart, solid comic. Great alt-history WWII stuff, with outstanding Butch Guice art.
Soul Kiss #4 - Promising start to this series, but I can't help but feel like it's losing steam a little. When I think how much Rasl packed into just the first couple of issues, this feels a bit flabby. Good cliffhanger, though.
Secret Six #9 - I don't follow this regularly, and whenever I pick an issue up I'm always pleasantly surprised. Funny and dark. Who would have thought I would be made to give a shit about Bane? Or Catman for that matter?
Secret Warriors #4 - I have to admit I haven't been astounded by this to date, but I did enjoy this issue. I think the problem for me lies in how little interest I have in Nick's new team. Who hardly appear here. Nice to see Gateway around, though.
Howling Commados #1 - Kind of but not really a lead-in to Captain America: White. Beautiful art, okay writing. It's not going to change your life, but you could spend hours pouring over those pages.
REBELS #4 - Why am I enjoying this so much? It may have something to do with the return of childhood favourites the Omega Men, and I'm happy enough with the art. But there's something about it I find quite compelling, which is I guess just means Tony Bedard is doing his job. Oh, I'm always happy to see Starro and those aliens out of Invasion, too.
Jack Staff #20 - Just recently caught up on this. Why isn't this book more popular? I really must try harder to sell the bloody thing. I guess it's quite highly stylised, and Grists sometimes abrupt scene transitions take some getting used to, but dammit, it's worth it!
Guerillas #4 - Is anyone out there reading this? Brahm Revel has a lovely Mazzucelli/Toth-inspired line and the story is far better than it has any right to be given the concept. Genetically-modified apes fighting in the Vietnam war? Whaaat?
House of Mystery #13 - Picked it up for the Eric Powell guest art, but this series bored me away a long time ago. Nice Sergio one-page at the back.
Oh shit! Interlude! Did you see that they're doing a Groo Library? At last!
Anyway, back to it...
Green Lantern Corps #36 - The prelude to Blackest Night rolls on. War is a'coming. This issue is....okay. Plenty of action, at least. I do like Gleason's art, too.
Fusion #1 - Typical company crossover shit. Seriously, avoid.
Elephantmen #19 - God I love this series. A focus on Sahara, with some nice guest artwork by Marian Churchland.
Final Crisis Aftermath: Escape #1 - Read it last night, can't remember anything about it. Bad sign. Oh yeah, it was weird, but not in a good way.
Dark Reign Young Avengers #1 - The pleasant surprise of the week for me. Paul Cornell garners a lot of respect from folks, but his comics work has been hit and miss so far. Good work here though. Nice set-up with a team of thoroughly unlikeable sorts, like the racist size-shifter who is quietly reprogramming the team android to disrespect minorities. Check it out.
Fables #84 - Not sure about this big crossover, but it does cement Jack as being a primo louse, which is nice.
Dark Reign Hawkeye #2 - Another surprise for me last month. Who would have thought it? Basically: Bullseye is a nutjob who does bad things to people and most certainly not a team player.
Walking Dead #61 - Kirkman makes the point in the back that he has now surpassed the issue count of Y the Last Man (a series he admires a great deal). Amazing really that he has managed to maintain such a level of quality. It helps he has had a relatively stable art team who are perfectly suited to the subject matter, but there's a deft hand in Walking Dead that he just doesn't show with any of his other books. I'm a big fan of Invincible, but it slips a lot more that Walking Dead. That being said, things happen at the beginning of this issue that just feel a little too much, especially for what seems to be the beginning of a new storyline. Still, I guess the repercussions of it may yet be felt in what Andrea and Dale do next. Anyway, I love ya, you big hunk of zombie soap opera!
BPRD The Black Goddess #5 - Another favourite series of mine, but I'm a bit gutted to have this end on something of a cliffhanger then find out there's no new BPRD until next year! Sheeeit. Arcudi and Davis are a brilliant team, they really are. They have the kind of synergy you only get once in a very rare while.
Captain Britain & MI13 #13 - Dracula wins! Well, pretty much. Cornell again, who is doing a nice job so far on this story arc. I wasn't blown away by the Secret Invasion storyline they did, but it feels like he's able to pave his own way now and it's paying off. Oh, and the cover for the next issue is stunning.
Black Panther #4 - So far so good for me on this new series. Lashley is doing the best work I've seen from him, with not a small amount of Barry Windsor-Smith creeping in there. Shame about Campbell's ass-tastic covers.
Azrael Death's Dark Knight #3 - Well, it's very pretty, but does anyone actually give a shit about Azrael?
All New Savage She-Hulk #2 - I'm undecided on this. Van Lente is a favourite of mine, so I'll cut him some slack, but the humour was very welcome last issue and it feels far more muted this time around. More Campbell ass on the cover.
Action Comics #877 - This stuff is decent enough, but not enough to make me really care. I suppose if I were more of a devotee of the Supes books it might grab me.
From the Ashes #1 - Minimum Wage was one of my favourite comics of the 90's, so I was quite excited about Fingerman's new post-apocalyptic autobiographical comic. It's a nice twist. But it doesn't quite work. The dialogue feels forced and doesn't quite pull you in. Still, nice ending, so hopefully it'll pick up next time.
Echo #12 - I'm loving this series, really I am. You should try it.
Rawbone #2 - Jamie Delano does pirates. And sirens. And tits. Lots of tits. Two issues is enough for me, I think.
Young Liars #15 - I have to admit, I gave up on this around issue ten. As much as I love Lapham's work, I couldn't get into it. Finishing soon, so I thought I'd come back for the end. I have no fucking clue as to what's going on.
X-Factor #43 - Peter David does a great job in his little corner of the X-universe. Character-driven superheroics.
Wolverine #73 - Two halves, one by Jason Aaron & Adam "The Talented One" Kubert, the other by Daniel Way & Tommy Lee Edwards. All of it looks great and Aaron's story is a real joy. Way's half is a bit nasty, really, but that's to be expected of Way I guess. All told, well worth picking up.
War of Kings Ascension #2 - Abnett and Lanning have actually made Darkhawk interesting. That alone is reason to pick this up. It's like transmuting shit into gold.
Unwritten #1 - New Vertigo title by Mike Carey & Peter Gross. Worth a look, with an interesting premise. Not sure it will go the distance with the current crop of Vertigo readers, but might find a niche. Plenty of recognisable London landmarks (including the Jurys hotel up the road from work), which isn't particularly important but made me smile.
Umbrella Academy: Dallas #6 - That Gerard Way can sure write some good comics. Who woulda thunk it? Not to understate Ba's contribution, who draws the ass off it all. Happy to hear a book three will happen.
And that's it! Phew! About an hour and twenty. Who knows, maybe I'll do it again. Though I might just do the highlights! What do ya reckon?
Wednesday, May 13, 2009
Ahh...was it really only yesterday that I:
- Got into work early to pick up the materials I needed for the graphic novel workshop I was participating in? Unfortunately, yes.
- Got a cab with Josh down to the venue in Southwark, taking my selection of 50 core books with me? Unfortunately, yes.
- Watched Paul Gravett give a great potted history of comics for the uninitiated? Fortunately, yes.
- Utterly butchered my own speech while getting an attack of nerves? Oh yes, yes indeed.
- Managed to claw back some positive results through talking with various librarians during the break and at the end? Thank fucking Christ, yes.
- Finished the day early thanks to my early start and a lack of lunch? You betcha.
- Met wifey for a pint, came home, had dinner, had a bath, watched a Pushing Daisies and hit the hay? Oh yezzzzzz...