This week, Monday 11th March 2013

Hunting the Bastard Fish

Bastard FishMaybe it’s just the time of year – the darkness hasn’t yet left us, and the promise of summer and light is still just that, a promise that may never be fulfilled – and I find myself struggling still. I know my Dad often puts the gloominess of this part of the year down to SAD-like symptoms, as do quite a few other people I know. I’m not sure; I’m usually happiest inside anyway, I have no particular love of being outside; I’m an indoor bunny.

It is still trying to snow, her white flakes blustering past against the dark of night always give me a bright internal smile. I imagine the world smothered and silent in that soft deadly blanket and it gives me a calmness inside. So I like the apocalypse, it has an enormous appeal – not necessarily surviving it for long, but just a few months after everything else is gone. Can you imagine the peace?

This week’s scribbles

Tuesday Shankopalypse – The End of Angry Poetry

Expressing stress through verse. It sometimes works. (not the last poetry edition, I promise)

Wednesday Pulp Pirate 14

Franklyn de Gashe pops up on Flash Pulp’s FlashCast once more.

Thursday The War Alone Day One: Art Class (2 of 3)

When the phones start ringing it’s time to start dying.

Friday Book Review:The Commmonwealth Saga by Peter F Hamilton

A review of Pandora’s Star and Judas Unchained.

Updates on my thrilling life

Writing

once upon a timeI’m stumbling around in the dark in the mornings, but I’ve got a trip to London this week so I aim to devote my travel time to yarn spinning. I’ve been tidying up a couple of multi-part stories, which still need further tidying. I need more one-shot tales as well – I’m going to have to impose some discipline upon myself again. I was quite pleased with the different voice I employed in Once Upon A Time. It felt a bit darker and more fairy tale like than I’d usually write. I’d also have to confess that the superb The Sad Tale of The Brothers Grossbart was high in my mind when thinking about that kind of story.

Last week’s scribbles

Tuesday Once Upon A Time Part 2 The bad fairy tale concludes with death.
Wednesday Franklyn de Gashe’s Audio Entertainments Two recorded de Gashe tales for your ear pleasure.
Thursday The War Alone Day One: Art Class (1 of 3) How the war begins, for one art teacher and her class. 
Friday Film Review: Hansel & Gretel – Witch Hunters A short review of the truly dreadful new film.

Lego

Genie FriendsJoy and excitement. I’ve been following The Brothers Brick with great interest as they post up some of the best Lego models from the world of Flickr and beyond. The detail and technique displayed in many models utterly confounded me until I started to read further. There are such things as Advanced Building Techniques. I found a great guide to them online (see the link below). It has tonnes of maths in it – the ratios between different bricks and their sides provide a platform for building unusual shapes. I’m especially enamoured of SNOT – Studs Not Out Technique, which can leave a beautiful polished shape quite unlike how Lego often looks. It does use and require a huge number of bricks. I may finally have to order some specific bricks to accomplish what I want.

Advanced Building Techniques

In case you’ve somehow not seen Alice Finch’s enormous Lego Hogwarts: check it out now.

You may not have spotted Lego for girls out there, or Lego Friends as they call it. The new mini figures (all girls) are a bit taller and have the suggestion of chest bumps, so they must be girls, and there’s an adorable range of mini animals out with them too. Most appealing are the new colours – pinks, purples, mustard yellows and blues that are presumably designed to appeal to girls. I like them too. I’ve been collecting the mini sets and had fun fiddling with them while watching Dexter this weekend. They made a nice little environment for the genie minifig.

Improv Comedy

Not much to report this week, we had a quiet Fisticuffs on Tuesday. We’re playing with Evente still and found it slightly more straightforward with just the four of us. Much of the difficulty feelsl ike it lies in the single opening scene which needs to be quicker and shorter, otherwise when we return to it later we are just repeating ourselves rather than expanding it into something new. We need to practice 5 and 6 person scenes where all the work is done with no more than two or three lines each. That reminds me of the Unspeakable Act from last week which featured privatisation of prisons and contract tendering to a ludicrous degree, such as the renting out of our single prisoner’s mind. It ended with the prisoner (Ben) being driven insane by an outsourced group of singing psychiatrists. Lovely. This week’s was equally odd, based on a Greek play and revolved around cannibalism and a blind seer (me).

Media Intake

Books

I inhaled the last two Dresden Files books I had – Turn Coat and Changes in just over a day each. A naughty pace but my god they are satisfying stories to read and enjoy. If you haven’t read them but enjoy a spot of paranormal detective fiction these are amongst the best out there. I’m now eyeball deep into The Dreaming Void, which follows on from the Commonwealth Saga (well, 1300 years after). The Works sell books, so we picked up seven there yesterday. The highlight for me was Cory Doctorow‘s Makers which will get added to my birthday heap, also one of the H.I.V.E. series which is fun Bond-ish young adult fluff. We got a bunch of things for The Lady M too: a Susanna Gregory, some Sherlockian nonsense and a great collection of vintage posters, including one for Monte Carlo featuring a couple surfing on Nessie; they are odd.

Films

Oz The Great And Powerful – I was happily surprised by how much I enjoyed this. I love Sam Raimi‘s early films, including Spidey 1 and 2, and this was equally filled with his sense of fun in direction and editing. Stylistically it has the same feel as the original The Wizard of Oz in the visial richness and slightly mannered performances, and a similar lack of complexity in the story. It was lacking something, but I’m not sure what. I suppose Oz is essentially for kids, but unlike most recent young adult fiction it lacks punch and the understanding that whatever darkness might appeal to an adult will also appeal to a child. I imagine lots of people really will not like the film. I adored the intro credits, which offer optical illusions and (sadly) CGI black and white zoetropes and the like. Very cool. It’s also nice to see that midgets are still in films purely for comic value.

Side Effects – a splendid, subtle little thriller that squeezed a very good performance out of the usually irritating Jude Law. There’s nothing especially original here, but the execution really elevates it. Rooney Mara is excellent and I found her portrayal of severe depression very affecting personally. Of course I can’t entirely give away the film, but that emotional investment left me feeling… odd afterwards. Good film.

Music

Very rare this segment. I’m not terribly aware of music, although I do listen to it in the shower and occasionally when writing. The last wave I music I truly loved was Trip Hop, and that’s a way back now. Nonetheless, this weekend I enjoyed The Baseballs and their ’50s American style covers of frequently terrible songs (Candyshop is a notable hit) – I very much enjoy their version of Natalie Imbruglia’s Torn:

Events and Excitement

Improv shows

Thursday 14/03/13      Gorilla Burger: Improv Comedy Chaos – The City Gallery, Nottingham

Friday 29/03/13           MissImp in Action: Improvised Comedy Show – The Glee Club, Nottingham.

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