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Last Week, Sunday 9 February 2020

Midweek Confusion

OK, so this next week thing has slightly got away from me. As ever, by this point in a new week my recollection of the seven days past is blurring… Since my Google calendar stopped syncing with Facebook, even that once reliable tracker of things I expressed zero interest in has faded in its utility. Alas, I’ll have to go by memory; apologies in advance. 
Alright, I’m genuinely stumped for the first couple of days, as far as the evenings go. I went back to the doctor’s – as I’ve been doing with frightful regularity since last July when we accidentally discovered that I have horrifically high blood pressure. My general understanding based on video games is that a high score is good, but apparently this does not follow in medicine. In order to prevent me from spontaneously stroking out (apparently a genuine risk even at my sprightly forty-one years) I’m being loaded up with various ACE and calcium channel blockers, but to counterbalance their potential for good, the ACE blockers offered a chance of trashing my kidneys, prompting fortnightly blood tests to make sure they hadn’t dissolved and begun circulating. They aren’t! Huzzah. But the ramipril didn’t do much on its own, other than not kill my organs, so now I’ve also got amlodipine (I may or may not verify these spellings… ) to work its mysterious way through the calcium channels. It’s all really quite interesting, to me at least since this is my frail puff-paste meat sack I live in. No more blood tests, and at a much higher dose is bringing my blood pressure down into merely prehypertension range, instead of the top end of stage 2 hypertension (down from my max of 180/109 to 140/90). Win. Plus, I’m now taking a proper Smarties assortment of pills, so that’s nice. Looks like it has a genetic cause, since I’m really quite healthy with my daily cycling and swimming routine, and my cholesterol is fine. In your face three kilos of Quality Streets and another three of cheese in December. Drugs for life – which is cool since I’ve been on asthma meds since an unknowably young age.
For those uninterested in such health wranglings, tough: your body will begin to fail shortly, as I push these pins into this charming mannequin with a crude rendering of your features. But that can’t be all I did last week, right? Indeed, no. 

Building: Lego

I have advanced a little with my pretty golden gates. I’ve expanded upwards, in adding mostly extra gold pieces. That’s a minor challenge because, as an inveterate hoarder, I feel like I should use them very sparingly and not deplete my stores. This is idiotic. The whole reason I’ve got the damn things is to use them! And that they look very pretty and they live in a box, and that makes me happy… As you can see I also greebled the fuck out of the walls, and gone way too far. I’ll find pics next week, but I’ve dismantled them in an attempt to make plainer walls which won’t detract so much from the magnificent pearlescent gold. 



Watching: October Faction

We finished up watching the second-latest comic book adaptation to slide onto Netflix’s new releases bar (before Locke & Key, which unfortunately looks exactly the same but in Miss Peregrine’s Miserable House of Whatever instead – I’m sure it’s somehow different, and we’re bound to watch it eventually). Best described as Grimm crossed with Mean Girls, October Faction follows a family of monster hunters as they, um, hunt monsters and learn DARK secrets. Pretty chipper performances and casting made this a lot of fun, despite the incredibly predictable plot (not all monsters are monsters, your monster-killing organisation is surprisingly not all that chill). The high school stuff with a pair of twins trying to fit into the new town their parents have dragged them to works well, at least until they discover their own powers and the rest of the story unfurls. Very sexuality positive stuff too, which is always satisfying. Look, it’s not amazing, and the ending is a bit unsatisfying, but it’s a fun watch while you’re eating tea. I guess that’s a recommendation… 


Watching: Birds of Prey, or the Film with a Whimsical Title about a Murderer (And the Fantabulous Emancipation of One Harley Quinn)

I know, I know. It’s a DC movie, why do we even try to enjoy them any more. This is about Harley Quinn, Joker’s recent ex (I mean, literally at the start of this film} and how everyone hates her and wants to kill her, because she is, as I think they say, “just awful”. In the process of people trying to kill her she makes some friends, including a fairly amusing child pickpocket and somewhere in here there’s a story about a massive diamond with encrypted passwords carved in it. There’s several different people’s back stories in here, and they all weave together quite ineptly, constantly tripping the film up. We meet Huntress, who has no character other than being a crossbow wielding lady sad that she saw her parents get murdered (it’s OK, they were mobsters – there’s no reason why you should care at all) by another gang of mobsters, under the instruction of Ewan McGregor, who plays some twat who wears a mask for the final action scenes. I should mention that this might be a career worst performance for McGregor, even counting the Star Wars prequels. Fuck knows what his character is supposed to be. And that’s the tone really, none of the characters have any consistency or make sense (except possibly the pickpocket girl). We veer from snarky comic stuff with Harley, to McGregor’s minion slicing off people’s faces. Everything happens fast, or in pointless time-skipping. Jurnee Smollett-Bell’s Black Canary is pretty cool, except that her having superpowers seems totally irrelevant until she knocks some folks down in the finale. Rosie Perez’ Renee Montoya is described as speaking in cop cliches, and that’s what they give her in lieu of a character. Margot Robbie’s Harley Quinn gets to do some genuinely splendid action scenes, and it’s the fighting throughout that makes this mess of a film endurable. Lots of people seem excited by the glitter and beanbag gun scene on entering the police station, but it’s the fight as they leave which is truly splendid. Oh, Arkham looks good – suitably grim and filled with ridiculous architecture and funfairs. I’d rank this as the third best DC movie (of the recent crop, barring Wonderwoman none of their films are even as enjoyable as Batman Forever), after Wonderwoman and Shazam (smoky grey CGI baddies are so Green Lantern) but some steps ahead of fucking Aquaman with it’s ghastly rubbery Sea World. I’m perplexed by this film all round. It grows clearer and clearer that I have no grasp of DC properties at all. In fairness, it’s about as good a grasp as Warner Bros’… 

Doing: Creative Mentoring

Every month, for the last seven years (I think), I’ve spent a few hours with my delightful creativity client. We write stories, play improv and inspiration games, all with the aim of simply being mentally and creatively stimulating. And because it’s fun. Not too much to report on this occasion, other than to note (and remind myself) that’s always a genuine highlight of my week. I deeply enjoy the time I spend with Rebecca, and find it inspires me creatively too. What lovely reciprocity!

Doing: the Glowstick Trials at National Justice Museum

After a number of rehearsals we finally got to play for real! Seven improvised courtoom dramas, back to back last Friday evening. The chaps directing it this time around (Richard and Ben) rejigged it very smartly from our previous version, putting it much more opportunity to freely extemporise in our various roles of Judge, Defendant, Prosecution, Defence and Witness 1 & 2. A small tight cast, with lots of quasi-legal nonsense. I was lucky enough to end up playing most roles, not least because of the hideous traffic jams that marred the whole of Nottingham for hours, delaying a third of our team. It might have had some effect on audiences too, as we saw far fewer folks in the streets that in previous years. Ho hum. I had an absolutely marvellous time. Hearing Judge Duncan screaming away behind closed doors, myself mounting a vigorous defence (against Marilyn’s thorny prosecution) for poor Alistair accused of thinking about stealing birdseed (he couldn’t possibly have done – he never thinks!), waxing lyrical as a defendant in my maudlin teenage diary, and countless things I’ve forgotten. It was a blast, and I really want to do it again, somewhere, soon… Any offers? 

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