Doing Stuff, Y'Know

Oooh, so it’s been a little while since I posted anything. I’ve been a little busy, or busier than I used to be. So, along with my friends and family I have been neglecting you too. I am sorry.

Change Is Inexorable

Big life stuff has happened! Big for me anyway. Despite by loathing of change, I finally abandoned my long time place of work back in July. I have waved farewell to being a Performance Analyst (and many other things) and to the Probation Service, just as the country has done in privatising it, or rather to the Derbyshire, Leicestershire, Nottinghamshire and Rutland Community Rehabilitation Company (slick name). Goodbye ethics, quality and a hundred years of chaotic but generally pretty good work (it’s worth looking up the fuckadaisical nightmare that’s emerging). I do miss my colleagues, as for a long time they were the people for whom I went to work and felt deeply comfortable spending my days with. Over the last year or so though, as the various meaty lumps of Probation were tossed to the wolves, the blundering fuckwittedness of private enterprise has torn us apart and left the business bleeding under a bush, I wasn’t really with those people much anymore; many of them had been ejected, left, run away and so on. I’d also dropped to part time (which was brilliant) and so spent even less time with the gang I’d known for years. Eventually even more idiotic re-structuring appeared (we all know you can stitch a carcass back together) , with the threat of abysmal management and possibly working in Birmingham (to which we say “fuck no” as a chorus) and a mate just happened to post a job opportunity on Facebook…
angry-robotI’ve never thought much about what I want to do in life; I have few dreams or ambitions. I don’t know if that’s terribly sad, or that I’m simply content with my fairly quiet life. Ho hum. Anyway, I applied, got an interview, had a lot of fun babbling in that interview and was then offered the job. That gave me the whole floating incandescent sensation of change and possibility – at once nauseating and exciting. I went for it. Kind of on a whim, I’ll admit. But don’t it sound fancy: Editorial Assistant at Angry Robot? Yup, I find myself in publishing – back to full time employment in a whole new field!

Angry Robot

We publish sci-fi and fantasy books! They’re my favourite things, and all of our books I’ve read so far are great! I have access to hundreds of books – my ‘to read’ heap is now insurmountable. On the one hand the world of publishing is very new and scary (see above about not liking change…), and it’s new people and new stuff, but on the other I’m also doing a lot of data work – online, files, summaries and playing with new systems and a range of familiar IT-ish things. It does involve some things I would not normally consider work – going to conventions. I’ve been to Nine Worlds (August, London), but had much more fun with the whole UK team at FantasyCon by the Sea (September, Scarborough). I got to swim in the sea each morning, meet book people, see authors read, meet more cool people, and go out drinking with even more fabulous people.
bfs-award-penny-and-nickBrilliantly, on attending my first ever big con with my workmates we won an award – the British Fantasy Society – Best Independent Press, which I went to collect with our awesome Publicity Manager Penny! Here is a picture of how pleased we were.
I’m settling in I think, and although all new things involve vast waves of anxiety, I feel my rocky beach is resisting and growing… water-repellent? I think that metaphor has vanished up itself.


So yeah, mostly I’ve been getting used to a new job, and being too overloaded to think about anything else. Sorry. There’s been lots of improv as ever, many reading, not enough Legoing, and lots and lots of adoring our kitten Geiger. Obligatory Geiger photographs are the only pictures I take now… I’m gonna get back to bloggery, partly because I’ve got a tonne of wicked books (not just Angry Robot, I promise), films, TV shows and things to share, and also because I’d forgotten that I enjoy it. And – NaNoWriMo is right around the goddamn corner, waiting to pounce. I’m back in, though I have no idea for it, not one… See ya.

He is a crazy little dude

He is an arboreal pussy cat. That’s the tree he eats.

He’s just had his first birthday – look how much he’s grown!

Last Week – Sunday 16 October 2016

He’s A Little Monster

All of the usual stuff, getting up, going to work, coming home and tending to an increasingly insane kitten, they all happened last week. Poor little Geigy has been rather unwell, but his course of antibiotics has now come to an end and we’re thinking about unleashing him on the unsuspecting world again. He’s reached back into his early kittenhood, in that he’s been a bit of a prick again. He’s taken to using my legs as scratching posts, and I regularly get him pulling himself up to my waist via the convenient clawholds of my buttocks. The endless wah-wah-ing as he tries to get outside have become frantic. He’s a beast who needs his trees. I’ve been taking him for walks on his lead again with limited success – he can’t get high enough in the tree to satisfy his arboreal nature, and the lead isn’t long enough for him to go frog hunting properly. Poor baby. He’ll be terrorising the other cats with friendship soon…

Weeknight Unfreedom

Marilyn’s currently teaching our MissImp Level 1 (beginners) improv comedy course on Monday evenings and has Rhymes Against Humanity rehearsals on Tuesdays, so I’m left to my own devices more than usual. I am of course, using that time with wisdom and for self-improvement.
I have been playing with Lego and consuming the TV show Dark Matter. I’m most of the way through season 2 and its been very entertaining. It’s a pretty low budget thing, where they start off having lost their memories, discover that they used to be terrible people and choose to lead their new lives, but are constantly drawn into crime and conflict with big bad corporations. It’s fun, and the characters have spun out into interesting and intriguing directions. Well played Syfy!
Except last Monday of course – I went out for a work thing in the evening. One of our guys, Rod Duncan (author of The Bullet-Catcher’s Daughter and the other books in the Gas-Lit Empire series) had been invited to a SF panel at the very top of the Nottingham Waterstones. Since that’s actually in our backyard, we all went along. I think Rod is the seventh of our authors I’ve met (I’m not keeping count terribly well) and he is entirely lovely. He and the rest of the panel had many interesting things to say about scifi and creating their universes. I resisted buying any books, which I still feel guilty about, but Rod’s books are firmly on my to be read mountain/treacherous slag heap.

L-R (Andrew Bannister, Mike Brooks, Deborah Install,Rod Duncan
(L-R) Andrew Bannister, Mike Brooks, Deborah Install,Rod Duncan

Improv Time

Thursday brought the monthly delight of Gorilla Burger – Improv Comedy Carnage. It’s a show I deeply enjoy compering, full as it is of madness, hysteria and very funny scenes. It’s the third one we’ve done at The Ned Ludd, who have been pleasantly accommodating folk. A really good turn out as well, with a bunch of completely new people and even some genuine audience members. I’m very pleased that a narrative game variation on the ‘Village of the Damned/Because That Scene Happened, This Scene Happens’ games turned out so well. Since improv seems to have lots of long tedious names for forms I’m calling it Consequences. It’s dead simple – 5 performer in a line on stage do two scenes, one with the person on their left, and one with the person on their right (the two at the ends have a scene together), and they retain the same character in each scene. The only note is that each scene is somehow the result (the consequences!) of the scene that has just happened. It played out remarkably smoothly despite my explanation… A fine night with tonnes of super short scenes to allow the 23 people in the hat to get enough playtime.

Saturday gifted us with both my manwife David and another evening onstage. Consenting Partners (as Lloydie is quick to remind me) is the UK’s longest running dedicated two-prov night, in which mere pairs of performers take to the stage giving sets between 15-30 minutes long. It’s a very different challenge to playing with 5 or 6 other people, or just playing a single scene. First up Ben Macpherson and Liam Webber teamed up for the first time with SHAMAI (Super Hyper Awesome Manga Anime Improv), their rendering of the experience of watching manga/anime into a live performance. Jesus Christ. From the quasi-Japanese gibberish, robots, fungus headed beasts and introductory title song Fabulous Fungus Team it was quite a delight of silliness. I’m keen to see the rest of the series. Since it was Lloydie’s ‘Birthday Edition’, he got in a quick set with former Bagging Area team-mate, Martin Dewey-Findell. It’s always lovely to see them on stage together (I love playing with them both) and Saturday was no exception.

Atomic Budgerigar
Atomic Budgerigar

Finally it was our turn – Marilyn and I returned as Atomic Budgerigar. It’s our third outing together and I think we got to a less distressing and traumatic experience for us and the audience than before. This time we hit the big stuff: religion (it depends on the number of legs the animals you consume have), truth, tiny horses, mortality, and finally how horrible ducks are. We very much enjoyed ourselves, and it’s great to know we can put on a good show without having a massive row beforehand… The finale was, of course, Lloydie and his Two Seats, Four Cheeks partner, Jen Rowe (from The Maydays) – as smooth and funny as expected. We’ll have to book in another one before Christmas I think.

Finally, To The Cinema

We finally got around to watching Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children, whose name I’ve had to look up three times because it’s so similar to other things. It’s enjoyable, but is very slow and oddly paced. Pretty much nothing happens until the last twenty minutes when a lot happens all of a sudden. I think it was worth it for the final battle on Blackpool pier, and their resurrected ocean cruiser, and Harryhausen skeleton warrior tribute. It was great to not see Eva Green’s breasts; her pipe was a refreshing change.
I’d forgotten – last week was quite busy…

Last Week – Sunday 30th October 2016

Panic, Terror, Fear

Last week was dominated by our darling kitten going missing. He disappeared late afternoon on Sunday and we pretty much freaked out. We printed hundreds of flyers, annoyed lots of people at the door and shone torches into gardens and hedges for streets around. Many people were very lovely and kept an eye out for the tyke. I finally found him on Wednesday evening, after someone threatened to call the police on me (too much torch in garden action), I was yelling and heard a rather desperate crying from m’boy. I was incredibly relieved when I saw his fuzzy little self anxiously striding up and down the back fence of someone’s garden. They were nice enough to let me through and grab him – my heroes! He then clawed me most of the way home and promptly tried to leave through the cat flap again. The bastard. He is now confined to barracks and is back to being taken for a walk on his lead… We are now looking into GPS trackers to keep an eye on the mental little fluff cake.

I’m not sure what else happened last week – it’s a bit of a sleep deprived blur really.

NaNoWriMo 2016

open-boxes_coverTomorrow is the beginning of this year’s national novel writing month! Last year went pretty well, so I’d be a fool not to blow that success and fuck it up entirely this year. I’ve given it perhaps even less thought than last year, which will probably not stand me in good stead…
Still, I’ve got a title: Open Boxes and I’ve made myself a cover, which will hopefully inspire me somewhat and distract me from my lack of ideas. Well, my idea is this: there are boxes. Yup, that’s it so far. I’ll be posting it every day right here on le blog, once I’ve swiftly (and badly) spell checked it. Yessir, right here you can see unplanned gibberish unravel before your very eyes in serial fashion.
If you’d like to read last year’s story – Watchers – you can find it all right here.

Stuff We Saw

Storks – far, far funnier than I’d expected a film about storks who swapped baby delivery for (effectively) running Plus, Orphan Tulip is almost identical to my work buddy @penelopebabs. Worth watching for transforming wolves, insensitivity, management ambitions and timely comic delivery.

Dr Strange – very much a film where House MD has eaten all of the magic mushrooms. The Inceptionesque revolving sets and acid kaleidoscope architecture, along with the wonderful costume design and trademark Marvel humour made for a lovely entry into the MCU. Plus it’s Benedict Cumberbatch. As always, stay to end of the credits.

Next Week

Kinda busy (never mind NaNoWriMo!) – it’s the Nottingham Comedy Festival and we have two shows and many friends with shows. There is a lot to see, the stuff I’m running is right here:

Monday 7th November 2016
Pub Poetry – Open Mic Comic Lit Karaoke

Pub Poetry 2016 banner_sm
Nottingham Comedy Festival presents: a fun, free and informal night of lighthearted and downright comic spoken word and poetry in pubs with Real Ale: without beer, literature is nothing.
Bring your own poems, short stories, songs – whatever you have, as long as it involves words and might be funny. If you don’t want to read your own, bring someone else’s. Or you can just come and listen, have a drink and a giggle and meet some new folk.
Canalhouse Bar
48-52 Canal Street
8.00pm – FREE
Join the Facebook event

Thursday 10th November 2016
Gorilla Burger – Improv Comedy Carnage

Nottingham Comedy Festival and Furthest From The Sea present our regular monthly show where we invite anyone to take part, simply by putting your name in a hat. Scenes, games, fun and weird stuff on stage follows.
Take a chance and have a great time. We encourage drinking throughout.
The Malt Cross
16 St James’s Street
7.30pm – tickets on the door £5/£3
Join the Facebook event