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Last Week: The Chrysalids, Happiness on The Improv Boost, LEGO fun, Agents of SHIELD s3

Last week was very short as I managed to squeeze two days off into it. These have largely been spent outside in my garden office sorting and tidying LEGO. It’s very time consuming and satisfying, but does leave me slightly wondering where the time has gone. With a very warm and sunny Friday and Saturday I moved my watching of Agents of SHIELD outside along with dismantling and washing the LEGO Detective’s Office set. It’s a lovely little thing, but it had become very grubby. I’m now trying to rebuild it with a tray overflowing with parts. Inevitably, it’s becoming a quicker process the more of it I’ve built. Feels kinda exponential, as if by the end it will be assembling itself… Marilyn and I have also finally begun a shared build, the LEGO Brick Bank, which has been languishing on my “to be built” shelf for some years now… It’s pretty ace, and is a fine accompaniment to season two of Elementary.  


In dismantling the Detective’s Office, I re-remembered that I’d built a little half-modular some years ago, but they’ve been joined together for so long I’d somewhat forgotten that it wasn’t part of the set. I snapped a few pics from it before I dismantled it, for posterity, or whatever. The concept was a coffee shop on the ground floor and a bottle shop above. I’d do almost all of it differently now, of course, but I think it did look pretty good. I was very happy to use the Indiana Jones poster tiles to good effect!

We’ve started to enjoy strolling around Beeston late at night. I adore the peace and quiet (I’ve been watching bats in our garden!) and I’m in urgent need of more exercise. I’m looking at you, beer… We’ve met up with a couple of our pussy cats pals too, which has been especially lovely. Given the utter clusterfuck of Bojo’s latest update on the UK’s progress with coronavirus, I suspect I’ll be working from home, getting fat, and taking late night walks for some weeks yet.

Despite the week’s brevity, I seem to have taken part in two podcast recordings and read some books! Victory all round. 

Watching: Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D season 3

Fuck me, I love this show more and more. We’re finally getting into the stuff I remember a little better. It’s getting so hard to summarise… I guess this season is properly focused on the fallout of the Inhuman explosion and on the truly epic and dark history of Hydra! First we have to recover Agent Simmons from the creepy monolith that whisked her away from Fitz’s arms at the end of season two. Turns out its part of an ancient Hydra tradition, who’ve been feeding the terrifying alien entity within on fresh young Hydra enthusiasts for centuries. Their ultimate aim is to unleash the monster on the world! The team do manage to rescue Simmons, but doing so reveals to Hydra that the doorway can indeed be bridged. There are some pretty tense moments, and Daisy/Skye gets to assemble her own team of Secret Warriors, comprised of some of the Inhumans now emerging. The first half of the season focuses on Hydra getting into the alien planet, with former agent Ward becoming the host of the Inhuman ancestor. That’s bad news for everyone… and gives us the second half, in which Ward sets about subsuming other Inhumans and advancing a plan to dominate the whole world. Bad guys with big plans! Mostly though, my heart continues to beat for FitzSimmons, and for Coulson and Agent Mae. Honestly, it’s hard to make any sense of this season if you haven’t seen the previous two, but if you have it really is a gift: long form deepening of relationships, expanding on the major MCU story threads from Civil War, and getting into the backstory of Hydra to a massive extent.


Doing: The Improv Boost “Happiness” podcast

All round lovely fella, David Escobedo, one of our It’s A Trap: The Improvised Star Wars Show cast members, and rabid user of social media for promoting improv in all its forms, invited me to join him and a few friends for a very short podcast talking about things we feel passionate about. The challenge was to narrow it down to a specific thing to expostulate on for eight minutes. LEGO would be too broad, as would Star Wars, so it sent me down a little rabbit hole of figuring out what I do especially enjoy, rather than the general everything of science fiction and stuff. One of my gateways into SF, or at least one that has cast a lengthy shadow, is the work of the great John Wyndham. Picking The Day of the Triffids was an easy next step. That’s why I read both the abridged US edition then the UK/Penguin edition in a week. The latter is about 10% longer, and just has a little more depth. It’s startlingly apt for our current situation, and I’d recommend it for anyone who finds reassurance in someone else’s words managing to neatly sum up existential and ethical crises. Also, triffids are ace, and plainly the ancestor of all zombie fiction. 

Alas, whatever software David was using to stream Zoom into Facebook fucked us over and we lost the last five minutes. Which means you get all of Jac’s enthusing about calculus (whatever the hell that is… :-} ) but lose Vanessa’s final thoughts on our topics which neatly wedded our themes together. Essentially (I think) we’re both talking about aspects of community and how people deal with the situations they find themselves in. Enjoy!

Reading: The Chrysalids by John Wyndham

Having cheerfully chugged down a double dose of The Day of the Triffids I moved straight on to what’s generally regarded as his “best” novel. It’s not my most favourite, but it’s quite a read. Far future post-apocalypse, humanity is struggling to rebuild itself after what appears to be nuclear catastrophe with radioactive fallout causing widespread genetic mutation. As a result, a renewed fervour for purity and the importance of the human (and all other creatures and crops) matching the design laid down by God / government. The consequences of deviation from the norm are severe: death, destruction, banishment to the badlands. None of it’s very appealing.

Our viewpoint is David, a perfectly normal boy: somewhat lazy, chafing a little under the religious intensity of his father and the demands of being in a small farming community in the newly reclaimed lands of Labrador. Only… he’s telepathic, and that makes him a very serious deviation indeed. In the novel we find a lot more of the social awareness and interest in community and individualism that Wyndham show’s in all of his work, and it’s very thought-provoking while being beguiling easy reading. It’s quite a neat trick to cover abominations and socially-mandated murder with such a breezy and familiar writing style. Ultimately, of course, David and his friends have to go on the run from their peers and family. When his younger sister, Petra, who turns out to be an incredibly powerful telepath makes contact with someone in “Zealand”, the whole of David’s world (and ours, since he’s our only view of it) is turned upside down. Moments of bleakness and fear fight with equally delightful epiphanies and hope for true acceptance. It’s great! Read it! 

Doing: We Are What We Overcome podcast Special Episode #3 Self Care

Our fortnightly Facebook Live podcast recordings continue to catch me unawares! Mondays are not a good evening for me to have my brain in gear, but I’m trying. Last week we talked about self-care some more. It’s really important to look after yourself at the moment. Divorced of much meaningful in-person human contact, I think we’re all fraying away at the edges. We talked about some of the things that frustrate the act of self-care, and some of the tools we use to keep ourselves as sorted as we can be.

Doing: MissImp’s Virtual Improv Drop-In: Duncan Carty – Artist’s Eye for the Improv Guy

This week we got a really special and different take on improvisation and creativity from our Duncan Carty, combining artistic expression, y’know, like drawing, with how we take inspiration for our scenes and performances. It’s a very good workshop, and I implore you to get out your crayons and walls and go at it. Phew, that’s the eighth improv workshop Emily has wrangled onto our website, and it looks we’re gonna be providing them for the foreseeable future. Enjoy!  


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