This week, Monday 28th January 2013

Life is a Lot Like A Spreadsheet

Merly Lego Beast2One of the greatest, and most ignored tragedies of human existence is not war, or famine or disease – all of which are terrible yet somehow intrinsic to our species Darwininan blundering – but spreadsheets. I spend hours staring at those imaginary grids of data, verifying, analysing, cursing and burning the wee hours of my life away. Many of us do. It is utterly without value. Even the purported organisation value of the activity is likely to be ultimately worthless as well. I will grudgingly concede that the activity does provide the money that keeps me in a house, Lego, whiskey and books. But still…

In recompense I create. I have my mind returned to me at the end of the day, albeit in a dissolute state of statistical angst and then I can do something with it.

This week’s scribbles

Tuesday The Reluctantly Hospitable Adventure

Ye captain returns in another short piratical jaunt about the relative merits of hiring ye ship out.

Wednesday A Second Cup of Coffee

Poor stupid Percy continues his cafe-based experiences. It gets a bit more serious than choking.

Thursday Lego Creations: The Hoth Christmas Wonderland

I know it’s not Christmas yet/still, but I haven’t had the heart to take this apart yet.

Friday Book Review: Nodal Convergence

A short review of the eBook by Terrence E Zavecz.

Updates on my thrilling life

Writing

Quite good – mainly fixing and tidying up stuff that I’ve scribbled in my “challenging” handwriting. That already appalling hand is not aided by having my right writing hand in a splint, or rather my modified rollerblading glove from back when I could face that much exercise. Yes… I continued to cycle this week. But I didn’t fall off in the ice. The wrist is still bad on its own. I now have a radiology appointment (which always sounds awesome, even though I know it’s “just” for an x-ray) after which they’ll probably tell me to splint it, like I have done. So that’s a probable win.

I’m pleased that the The War Alone has been popular with some of my friends. I shall definitely visit it further. The two short stories for this week were both written in the last fortnight. I’ve wanted to get back to Percy for a while, and find some purpose for him. That appears to be evolving as we read.

This week I’m going to type up some of the longer stories I have been toying with. I also need to get to grips with typing stories directly into the electroverse. I often struggle with this, I think it’s because I see an immediate opportunity to tinker and edit which I don’t feel I have when handwriting. Discipline required. Balls.

Last week’s scribbles

Tuesday Shankaz’eroth: The Dead God of Bitter Verse A little more bitching and whining in poetical format.

Wednesday The Magical Space Engine A dinky little flash fiction story of magic and science.

Thursday The War Alone: The Beta-Haris, part Three The final part of one man’s story of survival in The War AlonePart 1 and part 2 here.

Friday Film Review: Wreck-It Ralph A short review of the new Disney film.

Lego

Fresh LegoA relatively quiet Lego week – mostly because I haven’t been at home much. On Monday I finished the course of counselling I’ve been going through, which has wiped out a good many Mondays in an alcoholic blur of self-indulgent introversion. I’m pleased, partly because I get Monday nights back (ooh rah, cinemah!) and partly because I think I’m better. I have new Lego though! From a dear friend who is making space for another dear friend to move in with her I have received a number of loverly bundles of new Lego to play with. Step one: disassemble. There’s some lovely stuff in there, including vines and Ewoks. Some of it may require an expansion / rebuild of The Woodland Whimsy. Excellent news. We also acquired a couple more mini figure cases to contain more of my other half’s obsession with Lego mini figures.

Improv

A splendid week of improv; this being a show week it has taken its toll physically and mentally. Tuesday continues to be Fisticuffs night, and this time I persuaded my other half to join us, to great comic effect and satisfaction for us both. We’re still practicing the Unspeakable Acts format which Martin has devised. We begin with a play (or screenplay) and use it to give the scenes a solid grounding and context, then abandon it after maybe a page and create it for ourselves. We did three different sets; the first using The Empire Strikes Back – I played a Tauntaun concerned that Luke didn’t know my gender, or my name. That lack of awareness of difference and cultural sensitivity carried through much of the scene, with tonnes of fannish nonsense thrown in. It was definitely harder making something new out of what we already knew so well, but the play we performed was certainly not Star Wars: “Tatooine, desert planet, spice…” Then we re-created The Godfather (a film I find too tedious to endure) in Yorkshire with a lasagna cabal. Lots of fun, much playing with metaphors. I can’t remember the third one… I’ve recorded them somewhere.

A fun jam on Thursday preceded an outstanding show at The Glee Club on Friday. It probably helped that the team had also all played together on Tuesday at Fisticuffs (Lloydie, Martin, Ben, Marilyn, Parky and myself). We had a wonderfully large and noisy audience and some really funny and peculiar scenes for them. We’ve slightly shortened the show’s running time and it works better. We ended with the popular Party Quirks and seriously made Ben suffer to guess Kurt Cobain (he’s only young), but managed to get Hetty Wainthrop and the sandworms of Arrakis fairly quickly. A fine night that concluded in a huge snowstorm! Awesome.

We got up painfully early the next day to get some quality workshop time with Alan Starzinski from the Upright Citizen’s Brigade theatre in New York. We’ve spent good time with several folks from UCB and Alan was no exception. There were only six of us, so we got a lot done and I found Alan’s manner and attitude very productive. I like his use of film and video games as metaphors for improv. He introduced us to ‘flashing’ for inspiration, and trying to use all of that which inspires us, and also to two forms: the Eventae (maybe just with an acute French accent, but I like the latinish ring to this) and Tracers. We had a few cracks at the former where you present a set up scene – some major event for all players, then bounce through a series of scenes leading up to it exploring each character in more depth. The finale is returning to that original scene with all that extra information and re-creating it. Tricky, but worth playing with further. Tracers may appeal to some of our elements even more as it obeys the traditional unities of time and place allowing only scenes that take place in the same five minute (for example) slot.

A busy week. No wonder we slept until one o’clock today!

Events and Excitement

Improv shows

Wednesday 06/02/13 MissImp Presents… Fisticuffs in: Unspeakable Acts – The City Gallery, Nottingham.
Friday 08/02/13           Mission Improbable – Create Theatre, Mansfield.
Friday 22/02/13           MissImp in Action: Improvised Comedy Show – The Glee Club, Nottingham.

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