The Brain, Its Eye Peels
I feel as if my mind is slowly reawakening. Normal things are being normal again, I’m laughing at funny things and am sad about sad things. I’m edging back from the precipice on my mental health unicycle. So that’s good. It’s not yet getting me, or us out of the stasis bubble we’ve been in for the last 7 weeks since we lost Merly. There’s still a moment every day when I’m physically staggered by the change. It’s certainly hit us a lot harder than any other death, but I think we were pretty close to the cliff before that happened.
We’ve been making friends with a bunch of new cats who have popped up around Beeston, and I finally made friends with the adorable little cat who slinks through the garden outside my window at work.
So what is going on? I can’t say we’re going out much, but we’ve returned to useful routines like improv on Thursdays. It’s even started to be fun again. If all goes well MissImp will be moving out of current digs and into shiny new ones soon, and then we can restart monthly shows. Mind you, we’ve got Gorilla Burger this week (I’m compering again, back in the saddle and all that), and Interrobang in Derby on 7th July. I’ve begun saying yes to events again – I’ll be compereing and possibly performing at Furthest From The Sea Festival on 20th June, and I’ve just been invited to be part of the cast for The Mad Hatter’s Cocktail Party at Splendour on 17 July. It looks like it’s filling up quite quickly.
I’ve got to have time for everything else as well though – some of that is returning to writing, because this is how I think and remember what I’ve been doing. If I don’t write about it there’s a good chance it will vanishes into the abyss between thoughts.
I’ve hoarded a horrifying amount of Lego which sits unopened in a heap on top of a wardrobe. It pleases me to look upon that immaculately packaged mound. I’m waaaay behind in blogging about what I’ve built so I suppose I’ll just have to pick somewhere to start.
Recently I was facing brain freeze coupled with a twitching need in my hands to assemble things. I mastered this fidgety frenzy by building some of the smaller sets I’d acquired, but I knew I needed to build.
I’d had the idea of building more stuff from the Flash Pulp universe. There’s a wealth of inspiring ideas in there – zombies, forests, ancient gods… For the Flash Pulp Secret Kar’Mas game I made one of Opopanax’ illustrations into a Lego (nightlight?) model.
I was pretty happy with how it turned out and I had my eye on several other illustrations. In indecision I looked up FP001. It’s the first story they published and features Mulligan Smith chasing a guy into an alley. Perfect. The story is pretty evocative while giving relatively little description of the location to either limit or draw upon.
Turns out this system is ideal for me! I’m getting to build things I would never normally get round to and filling all the details in is working well. I’ve now illustrated the first three episodes, which is great except when I note that they’re now up to FP452. I may never catch up. Hell, I know I won’t – I’m hitting about one every three weeks they post at least two a week… It’s also nice to be building for a specific audience – the Flash Mob.
We’ve been consuming whole seasons of television again. We’ve paused watching the superb Daredevil for now. It is fantastic, but right now just too brutal to enjoy. Lots of well deserved praise is being heaped on the cast, choreographers and everyone else involved for making the first really good TV superhero show (since The New Adventures of Superman, obviously).
Instead we tried out Arrow. It’s terrible: wooden, inane and nonsensical (and I’m saying the original Batman series was better). About a third of each episode is spent watching our hero shirtless doing pull ups. While he does them in a suitably hardcore way it’s not that impressive after twenty episodes. Often that’s the best that the show gets. His disguise is just a streak of black makeup and a hood. The villain is everybody’s favourite West End grinning alien-humper, John Barrowman, unfortunately menace is just outside his range. Some of the episodes bobble along alright, but the tone is variable, fights adequate and plot stupid. I can only imagine the makers of Daredevil watched Arrow and correctly decided not to do any of that.
Dark and Light
I’m struggling to remember what else we saw… oh yeah: we watched season 1 of Constantine which was a lot of fun. Listening to John Constantine’s Welsh actor veering in and out of Scouse was amusing too. It’s got some good darkness, with a pace and cast that kept us watching. The wheelchair guy from Oz (Harold Perrineau) as a guardian angel? Yes please. We also saw the first season of Sleepy Hollow, which has a similar vibe to Grimm, dark occult nonsense with a likeable cast and a sense of menace from the villains. We’ve also started to catch up on Castle, which continues the fun of ‘police+random consultant from any walk of life = better detective work’. Then we watched the first season of Ripper Street which I enjoyed a lot more than I thought I would. The Victorian era looks suitably grimy and the cast are grim and focussed.
I’ve been mainlining Prison Break and finished season 4 last week. It’s a deeply daft show with a surprising number of hooks that have kept me very entertained. He tattoos his whole body to break his brother out of prison, he wears long-sleeved t-shirts for the next two series because those tattoos are useless but take ages to draw on. They break out of another prison, they break into a vault, and into yet another prison. The cast are very likeable and the story winds them through impressive character arcs, redeeming villains, crushing heroes, forging bonds and friendships. I was particularly fond of the vicious murderer and rapist Theodore Bagwell who plays one of the real bad guys with relish, his lovely Southern drawl enabling him to say things like “I’ll be right back, lickety-split” without being laughable. His end is very satisfying, and as inevitable as the others’. I realised quite close to the end why I liked the show – it’s basically Mission Impossible, the good one – y’know, without Tom Cruise. I hear they’re talking about bringing it back. I’m up for that, though they’ll need to unkill at least one main character (not that they didn’t do that all the way through the show anyway).
Couldn’t Be Arsed To Continue
We tried out, but gave up on: Defiance, which looked worse than Starship Troopers 3 and was less credible than Space Precinct. The 100, which is just The Tribe in a forest (but at least Will and Jayden Smith aren’t in it), Black Sails, which I was really up for but left me wanting story, Transparent in which all the characters were hateful and unwatchable, Bloodline which ends the pilot with “we killed our brother, but we had reasons” – yup, we believe you and don’t need to see it, Houdini, wow – awful.
Currently On Our Box
Right now we’re watching Marco Polo, which looks lovely and has us gripped in its alien politics, ambiguous characters and action. Alongside that we’re re-watching Hyperdrive, which is much better and funnier than I remember. I think it got a lot of grief because it wasn’t Red Dwarf, though of course a lot of Dwarf ain’t the Dwarf we want either. I’m watching and hugely enjoying the reboot of Thundercats which is a lot sharper, darker and more interesting than the original merch-fest.
I bought a new game and played it on the Wii for the first time in two years! It’s not a new game (obviously) – it’s Lego Lord of The Rings and it’s enormously satisfying. I’d been disappointed by Lego Indiana Jones and the first Batman game and this seems like a delightful return to fun gameplay and a world you can explore without being completely lost. You do have to change the brightness on your TV though – Mordor’s quite dark.