The Desert Crystals – Part 24: The Taste of Light

Part 24 – The Taste of Light

Desert Crystals 3

The sun had heated the breeze and sent it mischievous and daring through between branches of devil-trees and into the long helmet grasses surrounding the master airfield. It chased fakemice and thornbirds out of their roosts and perches, distressing their feathers and brush-teeth. Agitated and spoiling for a fight two fakemice espied and assailed the nest that hanged low from the peak of a stand of helmet grass. An unwise choice on their part; halfway up the stem the bottom of the nest tore open, dropping a bundle of squirming teeth and beaks onto the bolder of the fakemice, almost instantly shredding its feathery coat.

The slower, or luckier fakemouse shrieked and abandoned the venture, bounding into the deeper grass. A cautionary check behind itself for pursuit showed only the minor-gambimole’s tearing slivers off its former companion and returning to their nest. That glance was enough for the fakemouse to be snatched up by a thornbird roused by the racket and swallowed whole. The clatter of the thornbird’s teeth hid its prey’s death cries.

The breeze carried on, undeterred by the blood in its wake or the thornbird vomiting chunks of fakemouse into its kinder-pouches. The thick copses that punctured the grass slowly thinned out into garden and trimmed order. The rich scent of honey and appledarts cleansed the wind of its past. Here it plucked cheerfully at hair and leaves, playful again. Spotting an opportunity it caught at the sheaf of papers which rested precariously on the edge of a folding table, gently nudging them clockwise across its corner. The updraft gave the sheets a flutter, teasing them off the table.

Emaille lunged forwards and snatched a handful of paper from the wind’s grip. He returned them to the centre of the table, next to a sliding dune of similarly rescued papers, sketches and photographs. Casually he placed another hunk of rock on top of the additional papers, which joined the motley collection of garden stones, paperweights carved from geological oddities (notably a rare fossilised gambimole footprint) and the thumb spine of a Cactus Lion presently engaged in defending his work from the elements.

The proximity of the Cactus Lion’s spine set a fearful itch to work in his jaw. The familiar bone-deep itching irresistibly drew thumb to face. He ran it hard into the deep crenelations left there by the spines that had punched all the way through the bones of his face. Although pain had accompanied their acquisition, time had softened the memory and rounded it with thoughts that made Emaille smile wistfully as his thumb rose and fell along his jawline. The zephryous weather whisked his hair across his face, tickling and blinding. He fell back in his chair and thrust his hair back behind his head, tying it loosely with the leather thong dangling from his right wrist.

Though Emaille was supposedly working in the garden, he had in fact been deeply engaged in staring into the middle distance. Brought back to himself by the breeze he took a moment to glance over the messy rabble of paperwork weighted to the table. His article was in middle of revisions, and consequently marred by rivulets of red scribbles running between margins, up down and across the papers. Most of the handwriting was his, but a more crimson vein had been opened by his rather more critical colleague Professor Ryme, despite the latter’s reluctance to acknowledge Emaille’s field at all. He sighed; what else was there to do? Almost all of Ryme’s spidery commentary was worthless, but he would have to incorporate at least some suggestions if he was to have any hopes of committee approval.

The sheer frustration of dealing with the academic hierarchy was easily enough to drive a person quite insane; a concern that Emaille’s partner, Mehlion tended to note just before departing on another aerial voyage. Emaille sighed again and stretched backwards in his chair until it rocked onto two legs and only his bare toes kept any grip on the wiry grass beneath. He tipped back to earth, and rose to his feet with the bounce. As he returned to the world outside of his work the sounds of the grass being blown seeped back into his awareness, followed by the clatter of stoneleaf trees as the leaves vied for sunlight.

The twins were out of sight and for a moment Emaille stiffened, until a giggle preceded Chilai bursting out the purple bushes in the middle of the garden with Erlaigh tripping on her heels. Emaille allowed himself to breathe; he hadn’t been quite so inattentive as to lose track completely of the pair. He had however lost track of his article. The twins vanished into another thicket of carefully clipped plants in a blizzard of papery leaves and tiny blue flowers.

Emaille sighed again and sifted through the papers until he found what he was looking for: his letter book. Mehlion had left him a letter, as usual before departing with The Dove’s Eye and Lord Corshorn. As usual, Mehlion had hidden it in their house and it had taken three days for Emaille to find it. He was certainly glad he’d found it before either of the twins. Their letters had been slightly easier to find – Mehlion had hid one inside Erlaigh’s favourite book and Chilai’s had been between the last two slices of bread in the loaf. Emaill’s letter was taped behind the bedframe, where it would be barely visible in the mirror on the other side of their bedroom. If Emaille wore a cravat more often he might have spotted it sooner while struggling with the knot.

The least Emaille could do was to write a letter in return. It was highly unlikely any airships would be heading out in the same direction as the Traverstorm expedition, so Mehlion would have a stack of similarly well secreted missives on his return. With that thought in mind Emaille set pen to paper and smiled at the sound of their children play-fighting.

Next Week: Part 25 – Ghosts of Dawn

In the same series:

This week, Monday 4th November 2013

Autumn’s Fallen

Early to bed...
Early to bed…

It’s been a nice quiet week, followed by a nice quiet weekend of getting some sleep and not doing very much. I have enjoyed it! Mainly I’ve been noticing the wind howling down our road the last couple of nights. We didn’t get anything from the much rumoured storm of the century earlier in the week though, which is sort of disappointing. We don’t get a lot of interesting weather in Nottingham – shielded as we are from the best and worst of it all. It was windy enough to be irritating when cycling to the chip shop – forcing me to actually pedal in one direction was tiresome. I much prefer to be pushed.

With the prospect of radical change in the near future at work we’ve been given access to ‘enhanced’ career/finding a job guidance. The first day of that was primarily looking at CVs and how they can be written as well as information about how best to seek future employment. It was interesting and the gentleman running the session was knowledgeable and funny, plus we got chatting about favourite sci-fi novels, so I felt very comfortable.

Many things became clear during the day for me. The first was that I don’t want to seek work doing the kind of performance management, spreadsheet and query writing activity that I spend much of my time doing. I like training people, that’s dynamic and fun and has high potential for spontaneity and improvisation. It’s also the arena in which I can make best use of my communication skills and can synthesise information from the specialist and generalised information I’m good at holding in my head, and then direct that straight to those who need it, in what feels like the best way at the time. Spontaneity and communication seem to be the aspects of my work, and of improv that I most enjoy.

While looking at CVs I realised that the key achievements and experience I would wish to talk about are mostly related to MissImp, not the work that occupies my daytime. The experiences that have had the strongest effect on me are those of performing and organising improv comedy, as well as going through counselling and writing about my various journeys. I’m quite comfortable speaking about mental health and myself and I wonder if there is a genuine role out there where I can use these skills and experiences to be of benefit to others and accomplish something that I feel is worthwhile. Mental health outreach in schools? I’m unsure, but I’m strongly interested. If you have any ideas I’d love to hear them!

Writing

I didn’t get as much done last week as I’d hoped, I suspect applying pressure to get more writing done is likely proving counter-productive. It’s going to be a useful measure of returning to reality. I’m quite pleased with last week’s Desert Crystals, I’ve wanted to do a follow up chapter to the first person account of Mehlion, who (unnamed at the time) falls from the airship to his death (presumably – he’s a long way up!) but struggled to find an angle that felt right, since his family can’t possibly know that he’s missing or dead.
Re-reading Part 14: A Timely Intervention felt personally quite poignant; I’d forgotten the feelings I ascribed to a man falling to his death. It’s strange what we find ourselves writing about. I do want to follow his family alongside the rest of the story. I always struggle a bit with red shirts in fiction – that they die serves no purpose and they don’t get to be treated as people. I’m going to try not to do that in my writing (unless I want to!)

♥ Scribbles of time and space

Lego Blog: Sticking Bricks Together – it’s easier to make odd things than good things.

The Desert Crystals – Part 25 “Ghosts of Dawn” – morning comes at last for the crew of The Dove’s Eye.

Last Week:

In Memory: Sadness and Laughter – thoughts on the funeral of my uncle, Colin Barnfather.

Slightly Broken: Getting A Good Bad Night’s Sleep – horrible dreams and failing to sleep properly.

The Desert Crystals – Part 24 “The Taste of Light” – freshly escaped from the monsters in the sky, a moment of peace can be hoped for.

Updates on my thrilling life

Improv Comedy

I’m a big fan of Improv4Humans, a podcast by UCB founder Matt Besser. It’s a consistently funny podcast with some delightful improv and often entertaining, interesting discussions about improv and the people who do improv. I was disappointed and a little surprised (I suppose I shouldn’t have been) when had a bit of a rant about hating shortform. Shortform’s the stuff we grew up watching on Whose Line Is It Anyway? and for lots of people who do improv it’s either the first thing they do or what they cut their improv teeth on or what they find themselves doing on stage. But there’s an especially noxious snobbery about shortform vs longform. Like most snobbery it’s unjustified and exists to boost one’s self perception as being better than someone else.

The skills required and used in shortform and longform are the same, particularly when you acknowledge that “longform” is a rubbish term since it includes very short scenes as well as hour long pieces off a single suggestion. I don’t find the terms helpful; games and scenes may be a better description than shortform and longform. The only difference, as far as I can tell, having done both for a while is that shortform games provide and require an additional constraint or element that is not organically generated by the performers. People sometimes talk about there being a different mentality involved, that longform requires greater attention and skills. Sorry, but that’s just snobbery again. Those same abilities to listen, to adapt, to recognise and build on opportunities in a scene are all still there in shortform, you’ve just got to do something else as well. External intervention exists in most longform too – editing of scenes, tagging in and out, jumping the timeframes. These can all be someone who is not (right now) in your scene forcing a change on it. You can perhaps make a case for greater concentration needed in a longform set, but I think that’s pretty weak as well. If you can’t concentrate on what’s going on you’re not going to successfully play an Alphabet Game or an Armando.

The differences exist as attitudes in the minds of those who regard shortform and longform as different things. If you approach shortform as you would do longform, with an intent to create a scene with characters and relationships then your shortform will be amazing. It’s a false dichotomy, and that becomes apparent whenever you get deeply into defining the differences between them. Just embrace it, enjoy it all and remember that the audiences just want to be entertained.

Events and Excitement

Tuesday 5th November 2013

Happy Mondays (on a Tuesday) – Open Mic for Open MIND

Jam show – a chance for anyone to get on stage, plus special show slots!

The Canalhouse
Canal Street
(off Broad Street)
Nottingham
7.30pm – £3

Thursday 14th November 2013

Gorilla Burger: improv comedy carnage

Gorilla Burger2_SQ_SM

Jam show – a chance for anyone to get on stage, plus special show slots!

The Corner
8 Stoney Street
(off Broad Street)
Nottingham
7.30pm – £4

https://www.facebook.com/events/174297189420385/

Tuesday 19th November 2013

Unspeakable Acts

Unspeakable Acts_SQ

Nottingham’s longform improv troupe, will create a mutant hybrid of scripted drama and improvised comedy.

The players will begin performing a scripted play chosen by the audience; as the show progresses, the script is distorted, violated and abandoned. In its place we will create a new narrative, a squalid perversion of the playwright’s intentions or a beautiful butterfly made of broken dreams.

The Corner
8 Stoney Street
(off Broad Street)
Nottingham
7.30pm – £4

https://www.facebook.com/events/711364735543846/

Things I Hate: What the fucking fuck is wrong with people?

The World Is Broken image

Some days I could just let the world burn, sit back in a deckchair with a bottle of beer and watch everyone just tear themselves into thin strips of dead flesh and lay them across their own special barbecues of stupidity. Alright, that’s most days. I don’t consider the unique and mundane stupidity that affects all of us to be unduly problematic, by sheer balance of hatreds a lot of that gets evened out between ourselves. I think it’s those who initiate or encourage the eye-bleeding idiocy that really wind me up.

I’d also allow that I’m not especially noted amongst those who know me for remaining entirely calm. I am easily driven to anger, but it’s a passing, easily dissipated fury. Sometimes it gusts through me for days and it’s like catching fire again. Things I don’t like: lies, wankers, bigots and incompetence. That’s just today’s list obviously. Oh, and laziness- not that random idleness where one might spend an evening or weekend in idle dalliance, but proper laziness that causes purpose and competence to elude a person leaving them just fucking useless.

A lot of hatred and stupidity is ignorance I suppose, but I find I dislike a common current use of ‘ignorant’ to mean rudeness. I’ve always thought of it more as a lack of knowledge or understanding, in the sense that you can fix ignorance with learning and experience, but rudeness is just someone deliberately being a wanker. It follows, then (to me) that it’s doubly inexcusable to be deliberately ignorant; to refuse to expand or consider one’s actions and beliefs is to dehumanise oneself.

An Object of Hatred

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Totty Clicker – Gauge Your Pulling Power

Now and again you bump into the odd thing or person which feels as if it exemplifies all that stupid arsehole paradise world. This week it was in B and N Bargains – a great discount store where we find lots of useful and reasonably priced things. They also had this – it’s a handy little device to help you judge and quantify your fellow human beings.

Obviously this is a novelty gift, of the sort you might give someone if you or they consider the female half of our species to be only noteworthy if they meet your personal high standards. Because they should; I mean, how could they possibly exist without knowing and attending to your shallow aesthetic hatred? What a lovely gift: “I think you are the kind of twat who would stand in a bar and use this to count those you consider worthy.”

If you see this, and think you have someone (who you like enough to buy a present for) who would like this then maybe just should just kill them and yourself. That is the greatest possible contribution you could make. Don’t worry about all the people who will go unclicked, unlisted, unrated by you and your diamond of a pal: they’ll be fine. They’ll be just fine.

Maybe you think that’s a little harsh. I’m okay with that. I’d be interested to know what the values and vision of the producing company are. I imagine it’s something like “to demoralise and belittle our fellow humans”. Even better, it costs only £1.49 to make other people feel like shit. That’s a bargain. We should all get those and click our little wanker hearts out.

I realise this is a joke gift of some kind, I mean, wouldn’t it be hilarious to diminish each other, y’know to not only judge others by their attractiveness, but also yourself by whether they give a flying fuck about you. What part of that makes sense? This is bad for everybody.

Already got one? Use it? Go fuck yourself.

Other Things I Hate

Fucking Adverts

Hate filled poetry

Lego Blog: Making Stuff and Finding It Strange

A Highway Into The Mind

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There are lots of supposed indicators of what’s really going in people’s heads, I’m thinking of ‘Freudian slips’ as well as complete nonsense like astrology and personality indicator questionnaires. There have to be simpler ways to get those insights. I think Lego’s one of them, or at least Lego and any other creative endeavour. If a person doesn’t do anything creative, be it music, writing, acting, knitting or whatever then I’m pretty sure they have little of interest to offer. On the other hand, assuming the creative person isn’t just mindlessly copying something (which I suppose gives you a clue anyway) then surely some aspect of their character is going to be revealed by what they choose to or are inspired to create.

It’s a discussion that comes up in improv and acting quite often – to what extent are the characters we portray representative of our inner selves? There are usually two different cases: one is that we can be anyone and it is has nothing to do with who we ourselves are. Personally I find that rather weak, where does the information, inspiration and words we use come from if not within? I find the notion that everything we produce comes from within (because it can’t come from anywhere else) far more persuasive. If I play an astronaut or serial killer all I can use is the information I have digested from other media and exposure in my life, parcelled up with my own feelings and ideas. That doesn’t make me an astronaut or serial killer (unless I were directly using those memories) and neither does it diminish the aspects of humanity that I’ve chosen to use and reflect on through those roles.

Everything we do and see is through the filter of that loose conglomeration of concepts and memories that we label the self. Our perceptions of the world outside are heavily coloured by what lies inside and so it seems pretty straightforward that what we project externally is filtered through that same bag of meat. You can see then tension in someone’s mind in the tight weave of their knitting for example, and in the increasingly strained handwriting of an angry person (but that only tells you they were angry when writing it, and it’s probably quite hard to spot unless you knew they were angry. Otherwise you’ll be taking crap like a curly ‘d’ and making a vast leap about their character which isn’t terribly reliable).

Show Me Your Lego Mind

Of late I’ve found it difficult to engage with creative activities. Partly that’s simply because I’m busy and the time available has constricted, plus I’m tired and brain frazzled, so those slim intervals of opportunity tend to be pissed away on staring at things. Lego is very calming though, and simply having a box of random parts to hand gives opportunity for disconnected creativity. I found that last weekend while chatting on the sofa with a friend. I’d dismantled some models the week before and the sad detritus still sat unsorted in a tray. While talking we both naturally leaned into the box and fished about for whatever our fingeers wanted to build. That semi-conscious awareness of what I’m doing often leads to interesting results. I’d say it’s how I best improvise – being alert enough to listen and respond, but blank enough to prevent planning and thinking about what I’m doing.

So I made a neat little bug thing which I promptly dismantled and then constructed this little robot fellow. The head and legs and arms seem fair enough, but what the hell is that appendage sticking out of his body? I guess it’s a claw-bladed face gathering device. Or something. Possibly just for stroking a cat. It looks damn weird though. Now what does that say about me? I seem to remember thinking that the front of the body was just too empty (I don’t know what that means…) so it needed something and it just got more, um, stabby.

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Oh well, I’ve finally got around to building my Lone Ranger set, Colby City Shootout and that will occupy my devilish fingers for a few hours yet…

Related articles

This week, Monday 11th November 2013

It’s Time To Get The After Eights In

merlyxmasSeems Christmas is a-coming. We’ve been poring over the glut of Christmas catalogues spilling out of shop doors and thrust (with astonishing inexpertise) through our letter box. It has as always whipped round with frightening speed, especially since the last two months have gone by in molten Dali toffee loops anyway. I like Christmas. It’s a nice time of peace and quiet to me. We’ll have some family time, but I feel it as a freedom from everything I’m ordinarily required to. I have no religious association with the event, though I’m grateful that some people thought it was important enough to justify taking a fortnight off work in the middle of winter- ta.

We’ve also been popping out and stocking up on Christmas beers from lovely 4 for a fiver. We’ve been collecting such delights as Young’s Chocolate Stout, Old Crafty Hen, Fuller’s 1845, Old Peculier, London Pride, plus a couple of bottles of Pilsner Urquell and some Erdinger Weissbier. Oh, and some Buddy’s Bourbon Beer. It’s a fine cupboard full of strong ale. I must remember to top up the stack of alcohol free non-booze to stop myself from falling into an alcoholic coma over Christmas. There will be Lego to assemble and I can’t afford to be unconscious for that!

I have been burying myself in reading, which is always relaxing and satisfying. I’ve been highly remiss in keeping track of what I’ve read this year and I finally persuaded myself to plunge back into the book cupboard and Kindle to figure out what I’ve been enjoying. Turns out I’ve read 76 books so far this year (including graphic novels, or collected comics depending on your personal pretension or shame), which ain’t bad. It’s a little slower than usual, but I’ve had stuff to do! It does include re-reading the whole of Peter F Hamilton‘s Commonwealth Saga which is 5 giant tomes (and amazing).

Right now I seem to be on a paranormal fiction bender (not paranormal romance I urgently point out). I’ve just finished the second on Ben Aaronovitch‘s brilliant and hyper-readable Moon Over Soho which is basically Dresden Files vs The Bill. Then I hopped straight into the first of the Mercy Thompson series about werewolves and the Fae by Patricia Briggs, Moon Called. Or maybe it’s just books with ‘moon’ in the title. I wonder if I’ve got any more mooning books…

Writing

I’m still struggling to write. I still feel quite broken and my mind is not in my fingers where I need it to be. I’m trying to convince myself that this is okay. They are only promises to teh internets and it’s okay if I don’t do what I intend to. It does irritate me though. I didn’t manage to write the next Desert Crystals chapter, though not for want of trying. It just wouldn’t come. Instead I had a lovely rant and babbled about Lego and creativity: it’s not all bad. Perhaps I need to just not be so hard on myself and take it slightly easier. You’ll note that this post is two days overdue… bad Captain Pigheart.

I substituted reproduction for innovation over the weekend and recorded the Alex Trepan in ‘Midnight Shopping’ for my friends at Flash Pulp. That’s another really fun thing that has somehow slid for a few months and I’m really very happy to be able to contribute once more. Super folks.

♥ Scribbles of time and space

Things I Hate: What the fucking fuck is wrong with people? a small and justified rant about stupid sexism and stupid people.

Lego Blog: Making Stuff and Finding It Strange Lego can be gloriously therapeutic and has lots of creative overlaps with improv and writing.

Updates on my thrilling life

Improv Comedy

To continue briefly from last week’s raving about shortform, we had an especially fun shortform jam last Thursday which I enjoyed immensely. Many thanks to one of the current crop of students on the beginners course Parky and I are running, Chris, for endowing himself and me as having vagina monsters in a genre rollercoaster. A fine and strong choice sir. And it was very fun to do.

This week we’ve got Gorilla Burger and unless I chicken out I’m going to do some solo stuff which I’ve wanted to have a crack at for ages but not found an opportunity, so I’m making one for myself. Next Tuesday we’ll be doing a full show of Unspeakable Acts which is one of my favourite things in the whole world.

Here’s JAWS from the show in August – chaotic and silly:

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qXa3TyqGbfM&w=420&h=315]

Events and Excitement

Thursday 14th November 2013

Gorilla Burger: improv comedy carnage

Gorilla Burger2_SQ_SM

Jam show – a chance for anyone to get on stage, plus special show slots!

The Corner
8 Stoney Street
(off Broad Street)
Nottingham
7.30pm – £4

https://www.facebook.com/events/174297189420385/

Saturday 16th November 2013

Knickerbocker GloriousKnickerbocker Glorious

A sweet layered stack of free live Entertainment, an abundance of Acoustic Music, a generous measure of Performing Arts. Topped off with a liberal sprinkling of family friendly Comedy. I’m compering!

The Fountain
Derby Market Square
Cathedral Quarter
Derby
11am-3pm – FREE

Tuesday 19th November 2013

Unspeakable Acts

Unspeakable Acts_SQ

Nottingham’s longform improv troupe, will create a mutant hybrid of scripted drama and improvised comedy.

The players will begin performing a scripted play chosen by the audience; as the show progresses, the script is distorted, violated and abandoned. In its place we will create a new narrative, a squalid perversion of the playwright’s intentions or a beautiful butterfly made of broken dreams.

The Corner
8 Stoney Street
(off Broad Street)
Nottingham
7.30pm – £3

https://www.facebook.com/events/711364735543846/

Slightly Broken: Morbidly Musing

Dark Thoughts, Wayward Minds

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I think about dying a lot. Well, sometimes. I don’t have an especially good grasp of the regularity of these thoughts, maybe I should attempt to keep track of them. When I was undergoing a course of cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) in the early part of last year each session began with a series of questions and scales to enable me to rate how I was feeling, mood and such to provide some quantifiable information about the therapy. The last few questions were ‘have you thought about self-harming or killing yourself this week?’, followed by another about frequency and seriousness. I always said that I’d thought about those things on most days, but that I hadn’t made a plan for it and that I still had things to live for.

Just being asked those questions reminded me that I do find my mind in dark places at some point on most days. Since the mind and my models of other minds are based on me I never really thought that was unusual. Apparently it is not usual. Oh well. What to do? I’ve always figured that the contemplated horror is less awful than the uncontemplated. To consider a thing is to give it both life and the possibility of death in your mind. To have a lurking horror that is given no expression or exploration is a thing of infinite potential. If you grant it enough room to be played out inside you can get to know it. You can see where it would go, what it would actually do and what the outcomes might be; you remove its relentless and remorseless shadow power.

Skipping To The End

I have never attempted suicide, in part because it would be so galling to attempt and fail – to get halfway through and fail at that. I don’t think I could live with myself… The reason I always gave in therapy was that ‘something new will happen tomorrow’. Dying and denying myself the possibility of a future strikes me as even worse than ceasing to exist. I would also not wish the pain on my family and friends, but honestly that concern comes second. Suicide is often described as a selfish act, but it’s so much more than that – it’s the ultimate self-denial, denial of choice, of opportunity, of agency. It’s also an assertion of power, of destiny and of independence. If we can choose nothing else in this world we could choose to escape it.

The Pain Runs Freely

Self-harm seems much the same, though less drastic of course; it has far more opportunity for future choices. I suspect it’s about seizing control. I know that from when I was trying to put myself back together after that catastrophic trip to Amsterdam when I was sixteen. There was no other way to excise or supplant the pain I felt inside, the sense of utter loss and degradation, the horror at my own memories and mind. Slicing strips out of my own skin was strong, decisive, painful, and hugely distracting. You can bleed out the pain for a while. It doesn’t work for long though. Long term I needed more substantial fixing.

Nearly twenty years later I am a different person, though I remember feeling that way. I still consider the freedom of a razor blade. Some short sharp pain that lingers and draws out the suffering. I choose not to indulge. I know it’s an indulgence, I know it’s a distraction. It’s also a way of not dealing with information. We can’t always choose how we respond, and I know that when I’m tired – either physically or emotionally, when frustrated by failures or by others, what my mind turns to first is that it could all just be over. I could just not be here, and it wouldn’t matter what is happening anymore. I wouldn’t need to choose, to argue it out and fix it. I could just step away, off this mortal plane and nothing would ever concern me again. It would just… stop. All of it: the noise, the feeling, the colours, me.

Out Of Control

I think about dying when it is not of my choosing. Accident, cars, fire; being broken and just dying. Dying alone. I’ve always felt that I’ll die alone somehow. But I can’t imagine the world without me. I don’t mean that ‘I’m just so damn important that it just won’t make sense’, I mean that I can’t conceive of the world when it’s not from my perspective. The whole of reality is intimately bound up with existing. When we go to sleep the world may as well stop for all we are connected to it. When we die, the world presumably goes on through others eyes, but that’s not the same world.

Why so gloomy today? I don’t feel gloomy, just a little sad and emotional. We went to see Gravity which is pretty much as good as everyone is saying that it is. I found it frightening and deeply upsetting – I guess the prospect of dying utterly alone struck a chord rather violently. Oddly, the film’s outcome didn’t make me feel less horrified but rather more appalled and filled with tears. Strange.

We saw Gravity on Monday and I wrote this immediately afterwards, but it didn’t feel like something I wanted to post right away. It’s later in the week now, and I’m less gloom-filled, which is nice.

This week, Monday 18th November 2013

Sad Television

Knickerbocker GloriousThe main drama in my life this week has been the death of our BT Vision box. It had been titting about with failing to record or recording weird skipping images so I made the possible mistake of contacting BT for some support. Well… I should preface this by saying I’ve been fairly content with BT for all the years we’ve been with them, so I have no grindable axe. The straw that broke the TV’s back seems to have been the factory reset where you unplug the box and hold down some buttons. The box has never recovered from it and it’s sent the TV picture all washy and shadowy, no matter whether the aerial is plugged in, or if it’s the Wii or DVD we’re using. Sigh. I’m talking to BT now… my hopes of a swift resolution are low. The screen is now strobing at me. Positive? Actually I have a tiny axe to grind and that’s about their infuriating password reset process failures on the website. That has nearly driven me insane.

Never mind. It’s been quite a nice week. Our Level One improv beginners class is nearing it’s end, which is sad. They have been marvellous though and it is enormously cheering to see people internalise the kinds of behaviour we teach and promote in improvisation. They’ve come a long way. I look forwards to taking them further. It’s also been great fun to teach with Parky again, I find it a very rewarding thing to do together.

We’ve got more improvisation to enjoy this week – the last session with our Level 1 group, then Unspeakable Acts on Tuesday, on Wednesday I’m exploring improv on a one-to-one basis with a client, Thursday’s more improv jam time and then I think I get to sit down and read a book on Friday!

I’m compering several Knickerbocker Glorious(es?) in the run up to Christmas in Derby city centre. Last Saturday’s was a blast. I very much enjoy working with the Furthest From The Sea crew and I’m looking forwards to further collaborations, including improv shows and workshops in Derby in the new year. Oo-rah! I’ll be back there on the 7th and 21st December, hopefully with MissImp.

♥ Last Week’s Scribbles

Slightly Broken: Morbidly Musing – Gravity made itself felt.

Writing

Okay, so I still suck at getting stuff done. I’m beginning to realise that I’m genuinely struggling, rather than just not being organised or focussed enough. I’m finding it hard to re-engage properly. I find I just stare at the screen. It’s annoying. Perhaps I need to ease my brain back into it and initiate a new series of morning pages to convince myself it’s alright and I can still do it. It’s possible I should also be making better choices of films to go and see – Gravity was brilliant but it really didn’t help.

Media Intake

I’m reading Gozeul’s Dark World Toy Box by Michael Nokes on Kindle. It’s one of a dozen or so free ebooks I downloaded, but of those I started is the only one that survived beyond the first page. I’m not certain whether I regret starting it or not. The premise appears to be some kind of Bermuda Triangle style island/world where people end up and their lives are controlled by the evil god Gozeul. I’m fine with that but it’s lurching weirdly between characters and feels like it’s implying more than is being revealed. I don’t know whether I’m enjoying it. The book does suffer very badly with spelling and grammatical errors (at least three on every page) which is distracting me beyond all reason. I wish to persevere, but I won’t hate myself if I don’t. That said, I do dislike abandoning a book once I’m more than a quarter of the way through it – I feel I’ve invested the time and want the pay off.

We finished watching Dexter series 6 last week. It ends on a great cliffhanger! I’ve been consistently impressed by the show and its cast and I’m going to be seeking out bargain prices for series 7 right now… A friend lent us Boardwalk Empire too and we’ve watched the first two episodes. It’s beautiful, a truly gorgeous set design and vision (the tailoring is impeccable) and it’s already shaping up to be as much fun as Justified. Steve Buscemi is finally getting a chance to shine and I’m thrilled to see Michael Shannon getting so much screen time. I’m also hugely cheered that there are at least three seasons already in the can.

Events and Excitement

Tuesday 19th November 2013

Unspeakable Acts

Unspeakable Acts_SQ

Nottingham’s longform improv troupe, will create a mutant hybrid of scripted drama and improvised comedy.

The players will begin performing a scripted play chosen by the audience; as the show progresses, the script is distorted, violated and abandoned. In its place we will create a new narrative, a squalid perversion of the playwright’s intentions or a beautiful butterfly made of broken dreams.

The Corner
8 Stoney Street
(off Broad Street)
Nottingham
7.30pm – £4

https://www.facebook.com/events/711364735543846/

Friday 29th November

MissImp in Action – live improv comedy show

MissImp_in_Action-SQ2

Thrilling all-action end of the month show sporting the best of MissImp inventing scenes and playing games.

The Glee Club
The Waterfront
Canal Street
Nottingham
8.30pm (doors open at 8pm) – £4.50 in advance/£6 on the door (£3 students/MissImp)

https://www.facebook.com/events/699359346758274/

Unspeakable Acts – Theatre on Bath Salts – Tuesday 19th November 2013

I love this show format, it’s the most fun I have on stage. We start with the script of a film or play as our scene inspiration and rapidly go off script (and rails). Recently I played the hooker with a prosthetic leg and spring-loaded toes from ‘Pretty Woman’. You remember that bit right? Anyway – this is tomorrow!

Shankling – Combustible Verse of Hatred

Shankanalia123I am frequently filled with emotions I don’t know what to do with. Counselling helped somewhat, sorting out the feelings that are relevant and appropriate versus those that arise from unknown causes and towards unknown antagonists. I’m pretty sure why I end up writing angry poetry though – I just want to be left alone to get on with things. If I want people’s input I’ll go out and find it, enjoy a cheerful babble-filled conversation with those who I enjoy having such conversations with.

Spare me the banalities of forced customer service culture and the imagined altruism other foist upon us. At least try to get things right, that’s almost all I ask. Just try, maybe even succeed. You never know, with a tiny bit of effort you won’t even need me – imagine how awesome and empowering that could be!

Follow @shankanalia on Twitter for irregular poetic updates.

Shankling – Combustible Verse of Hatred

Love It or Hate It I Hate You
I wanna see your eyes inflate
As I bellow loathing in your ear
Till they pop
Like runny jam-bags
To spread on toast
Tastes of pain;
Tasty treat.

The Eye of The Beholdened
Oh you fucking moron twat
What do you think you’re looking at?
I can’t bear to hear you sigh
I want to punch you in the eye.
Oh you fucking..

Proactive Solution Identification
Today’s the day that I strangle your baby
Self,
Travelled back in time,
Spelunked into your momma womb,
To lasso you with your own belly rope.

Choking Serpent
Every word from your mouth
Is ear-bleeding poisonous crap,
Like a serpent pissing itself through its teeth.
Your worthless husk,
Dry in my path.

(Good) Customer Service
Hi, thanks for calling
(Hope you die)
How can I help…
You to kill yourself?
Mmm, that sounds like a problem.
I don’t care, just fuck off.
Bye,
Die.

You’re a Chatty Sort
Fucking shaft-twazzling shit-flute,
Erectile cock-muffin.
Slide your burning mind-fucker
Into your own cranium:
Spare me your noisy verbo-spunking.

More of The Same

This week, Monday 25th November 2013

Slow Motion Acceleration

The run up to Christmas always feels really strange – it skips from September to a month from Christmas Eve with alarming fluidity. Maybe it’s just that it’s dark all of the time now. Generally I don’t

mind that – I have little use for sunlight. I’ve always been perfectly content inside away from all that sunny business. I think I’ve spent more time outside since compering for Knickerbocker Glorious than ever before.

Our TV is still fucked. That’s the technical term. A very nice gentleman from BT came and replaced the BT Vision box with a softly purring black and purple lit beast. It appears to be recording, which is nice. The TV is still trippily awash with the clarity of an acid trip. Hopefully it will sort itself out, otherwise we’ll have to go through the agony of choosing a new TV from the four hundred almost identical models. Competition isn’t particularly helpful when everything is the same.

For no clear reason we’ve finally decided to paint our kitchen. I had grown fond of the white and bare plaster look. We’ve picked a lovely ‘Moody Blue’ but have sadly run out of paint. There is more on order. Until then our kitchen is swathed in plastic and everything is in the wrong room again. Ho hum. It’s both enjoyable and frustrating as activities go. It will be lovely when it is done (one day).

I’m still a bit memory blind and failing to track the passage of time. I know I’ve played quite a bit of Plants Vs Zombies 2 and I’ve also watched this video of a porcupine making adorable noises while eating tiny pumpkins more times than I should really admit. I’m currently turning the audio chuckling in my new ringtone. There may be something wrong with me.

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cILZ_cB3_so&w=560&h=315]

Still, there’s a lot to look forwards to this week – we’re undertaking a pilgrimage to the Lego Store on Wednesday as a mini road trip. It is likely we will be consumed by glee, schinkling and spending much money. I am excited. We’ve also got our monthly improv show at The Glee Club which will be outstanding, not least because we have the musical geniuses of Heather & Joe from The Maydays joining us. To make that even better we’ll be having our annual musical improv weekend with them immediately afterwards!

♥ Last Week’s Scribbles

Shankling – Combustible Verse of Hatred – ah, a bit of rage never goes amiss – enjoy it in poetry form.

Writing

Alright, I confess – I am not pulling myself back together well. I’m perplexed that my writing has taken such a hit and is proving so hard to get back on track. I’m doing quite a bit of improv so I suppose I’m creating stuff, but I’m spending a lot of time working and much of the rest just blank. I’m going to refocus on small thing and try to remove the self-imposed pressure which I’m pretty sure isn’t helping.

With luck I’ll be writing and putting up some slightly different poetry and ideas than the usual angry ranting. We’ll see.

Improv

It’s been a busy improv week.

Monday was the last session with MissImp’s most recent crop of new improvisers. I’m impressed by how far they’ve come in such a short time, and they did say lovely things about me and Parky (and each other). They finished their course with a series of splendid scenes, including a La Ronde (or park bench as we tend to call it) which developed beautifully into an insane spy thriller by a duck pond. Really nice work from everyone. It will be odd not seeing them all this week. Guess we’re going to have to schedule in the next course!

On Tuesday we performed Unspeakable Acts, my absolute favourite thing to do with other people. We did three acts – They That Sit In DarknessStar Trek II: The Wrath of Khan and Les Miserables. Brilliant fun with quite brilliant people.

Wednesday was my first meet up with a prospective one to one client for improvisation. We got on well and we’re going to do some work together. I’m rather excited because I think improv is a fantastic way to build confidence and develop creativity. For me, alot of it hangs on trusting that the ideas you have and the things you say are at least as interesting and valuable as anyone else’s.

Thursday – more improv jamming funtime. We played a tonne of games and developed into 5 player montages. I was particularly fond of ‘Blunder Bra and Cod-Peace’ – crime fighters in lingerie.

Media Intake

I’m still reading Gozeul’s Dark World Toy Box by Michael Nokes. Despite my frustration with the typos I’m approaching the end, mainly because I now feel I have to find out how it ends. I may not feel it was worth my time though.

Since our TV’s knackered we have not watched the new Doctor Who – I wanna see it on our pretty TV not my laptop. It’s annoying though… we’ve been snagging odd episodes of Boardwalk Empire though and it really is very good, even if they seem to have felt compelled to include graphic sex scenes. I know this gets people talking about the series (e.g. now) but it doesn’t add to the story or bring out the characters especially, other than those who are defined solely by their sexual activity. It’s kind of annoying.

We have failed to hit the cinema this week! Disaster. The Hunger Games is out though, so it won’t be long…

Events and Excitement

Friday 29th November

MissImp in Action – live improv comedy show

MissImp_in_Action-SQ2

Thrilling all-action end of the month show sporting the best of MissImp inventing scenes and playing games.

The Glee Club
The Waterfront
Canal Street
Nottingham
8.30pm (doors open at 8pm) – £4.50 in advance/£6 on the door (£3 students/MissImp)

https://www.facebook.com/events/699359346758274/

 

MissImp in Action @ Glee Club 29th November 2013

copied off of yon MissImp site

It’s the last MissImp Glee show of the year!

This time we’ve got music

MissImp_in_Action-SQ2

Start your month of happy boozing and indulgence early with us this Friday. What with it being nearly Christmas and all we’re celebrating by inviting Heather & Joe, two of our friends from Brighton’s award-winning The Maydays to join us on stage and add music and singing to the mix.

We bring you entirely unplanned adventures, scenes, sketches, games and songs from the darkest depths of our imaginations. You give us the suggestions, we turn them inside out. We’re on in just a few days – and you can seize your tickets now.

A silly sketch that Parky and I did recently…

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8fa6mo06wFM&w=420&h=315]

It’s going to be ace fun, and for us it’s just the start of a weekend of improvised musical workshoppery with Heather & Joe, which is most definitely one of my favourite weekends of the year. Pretty damn psyched for that. 

Fight off the terrifying imminence of Christmas

We are the only show in town bringing you a gorgeous blend of seasoned old pros and brand new improv comedy talent. Brilliant and weird enough to shake all thought of what you want for Christmas from your mind.

There’s nothing like improvised comedy – it’s unique and different every single time. You will NEVER see the same scene twice, so come along and enjoy comedy that is for your eyes only.

This month’s show is on Friday 29th November. Book your tickets here and we’ll see you on Friday.

Show Details

The Glee Club

Castle Wharf, Canal St, Nottingham

Friday 29 November 2013
Doors open 8.00
Doors close 8.15
Show at 8.30
Tickets £6 on door (£4.50 in advance) / Students and MissImp members £3