This week, Monday 4th February 2013

Brain Anaesthesia

RaaarghThe year of exhausting weeks continues… Last week was an endurance feat for me: five days of receiving training in preparation for training others in a system that doesn’t do what it’s supposed to and wasn’t the version we’ll get. I have no wish to go into IT-babble here, suffice to say that there is potential cluster-fuckery in the offing. I just can’t focus on what other people are saying for that long, let alone sit still for more than twenty minutes. I got through quite a lot of medicinal whiskey last week.

But that’s over, as is having to get up extra-early for the week. Hurray! By extra-early I only mean 7am, which I realise is much later than most real adults. I find it appalling. It was very much like having an alien weevil boring into my brain, or syphilis. I think I can survive this. On the plus side it drove me to read the next Harry Dresden book in a night. This next week will be equally exhausting, in strictly fun ways.

This week’s scribbles

Tuesday Fairground Misadventure

A short sci-fi-ish story that emerged in an early morning mind fit.

Wednesday Pulp Pirate 15

Another edition of the marvellous Flash Cast with a Franklyn de Gashe tale by yours truly.

Thursday Alex Trepan: A Cyborg Calls

Alex and Galaxy Team are back! I think this is going to be a three-parter. No promises.

Friday Film Review: Ray Harryhausen: Special Effects Titan (and Jason and the Argonauts)

A short review of the new documentary on the legendary film-maker and his most legendary film.

Updates on my thrilling life

Writing

The getting up early pretty much shot me in the head for getting anything done in the mornings. I did stare at my writing book though so it’s not like I did nothing at all… The new Alex has been mostly typed up and I’ll be posting it up in serial form again over the next few weeks. I find that to be exceptionally motivating for getting it edited and finished properly. It’s not as action oriented as some of the others, but hopefully it offers some interesting character insights for both Alex and the villains/heroes of Galaxy Team. I feel quite pleased with it.

Last 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-ased 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.

Saturday Short Film: Punchline and Pirate Haiku Two gifts from an old friend.

Lego

As I mentioned, I have barely managed to speak this week let alone root about in my Lego drawers. I am currently engaged in constructing in miniature. The recent Lego mini-figure series have included such fantastic figures as the guy in the Godzilla and gorilla costumes and a number of awesome robots. It would be remiss of me not to build a mini-city for them to destroy. I’m still toying with building scale um buildings, and have a tendency to make them too big. More playtime to follow!

Improv Comedy

Woof. This week is the one to look forwards to! Last week was alright. The Fisticuffing on Tuesday was a bit strained as we had someone along who isn’t really in sync with the rest of the team. That chemistry and sense of unity feels like one of the most important aspects of improvisation for me at present. The Fisting team are performing this Wednesday for realz instead of rehearsal and it’s going to be a lot of fun.

Thinking about it, much of last week was rather soured by the return of a seemingly endless debate about the value of preparation for improv. I can’t be bothered to rehash it here, since it’s only one person who just doesn’t get it- but the general issue is easily paraphrased: “if you fail to prepare, prepare to fail”. I’ve found that to be a steady constant in almost every area of life. A good show or rehearsal is preceded by preparing for the show itself (logistics and format) and preparing to perform in the show. That means we have to get five or more players on the same page mentally and energetically after and in spite of whatever else they’ve been doing that day or in life. All I can note for those who reject this principle is that they are almost always dreadful as a consequence of not warming up.

Thursday’s jam was a fun example of a warm up working. It was a fairly large group (16 I think), some of whom had rushed there, others had been out in the cold for a while. We warmed up. Thoroughly. Then played a bunch of focus exercises aimed at setting up a scene and using that initial flash of inspiration (thanks Alan Starzinski!) to set scenes up fast and hard. It paid off, delightfully. Most people had paid attention to the warm up, that ritualised meditative process which lets us all ditch the day and focus on each other. As a result the strictly two minute scenes we played for the rest of the jam were great! We started with a round of two player entirely open scenes (no restrictions or theatre sports games) and then built up through 3 and 4 player games to 5s. The last set started to get quite messy, but the 3 and 4 player scenes were splendid examples of cooperation and applied listening. Good work MissImp humans.

Media Intake

Books

Despite the busy and mind-numbing week I should mention that I’m back into the collected Hellboy – volume 3 had some fantastic short stories in it. I really enjoy Mike Mignola’s combinations of folk tales and ghost stories, plus each gorgeously drawn frame is a joy in itself. I also finished The Jonah Kit by Ian Watson. I mainly remembered his name from the Warhammer 40K novels I used to read in my teens. This is a very different book! It’s a rather bleak lament on astrophysics and whale sentience, especially mankind’s interference in both. I think I enjoyed it. I definitely enjoyed, and inhaled within a day the tenth in Jim Butcher’s Dresden Files, Small Favor (it pains me to spell it without the ‘u’). It’s a very reliable series of weary wit, magical action and monsters and book 10 is no exception; I enjoyed it even more than the last couple. I enjoy his treatment of fairies and the relationships they have with humans.

Films

An odd trio of films this week (plus more Dexter of course).

First up: Django Unchained. I’m badly torn on whether I like Tarantino’s films. About half of them are okay (Reservoir Dogs, Kill Bill Vol.1), and the rest leave me cold (Jackie Brown, Kill Bill Vol.2, Inglorious Bastards) so I wasn’t desperate to see Django. I’m glad I did, it was funny, excessively bloody, slightly too long (should have ended ten minutes early) with some really fine performances from Christoph Waltz (always brilliant) and Jamie Foxx (usually irritating) and the increasingly excellent Leonardo DiCaprio – getting older and uglier has made him a better actor.

Zero Dark Thirty is a strange film. I liked the main CIA investigator, obsessed with tracking down Osama Bin Laden. A lot of people die during her quest. The film skips forward through significant terrorist events, detainee torture and the final storming of the bleak little stronghold where he dies. There are some shocking moments but mainly it was the progress of the central character that I liked watching. Good film!

In a very different line, Monsters Inc. is also fabulous. I adored it when it came out originally (my god – 2001!), especially the wonderful short film that precedes it For The Birds. This is a reissue in 3D. I don’t care about 3D, I’ve yet to be impressed by its addition to a film and this was no exception. It’s still great and the wisecracking relationship between Sully and Mike, and their acceptance of Boo remains charming, funny and touching. Pixar at their height.

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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