Oosh, where has the time gone? It’s hard to figure out whether it’s the weeks or the weekends that go by faster. Either way, they’re going nuts and I’m waaaay behind on my weekly updates. I’ve noted this for the last couple of weeks, sighed, and discovered that it’s now Thursday or something equally ridiculous. And of course, the longer this goes on, the more I have to write and the more impossible it becomes. I guess I’ll have to draw a line under it… This week you’ll only be seeing the things I gave a damn about from the last couple of weeks because otherwise I’ll never finish!
A Rare Moment of Self-Reflection
What I should do is to think a little about why I’m now struggling to do this. In part it’s because this exercise was great at the beginning of lockdown, and gave me a focus. Now, of course, I have a fucktonne of work to do and things are sort of ramping up in other areas of life, like occasionally seeing people in the flesh and stuff. A number of things have helped me keep it together for the last 129 days (I think) of working at home: work, obviously, is my primary routine and aiming to go for a cycle ride beforehand really frames my day. Every Thursday for ages (forever? Who knows) I’ve been hosting a virtual pub for our MissImp weekly regulars (and folks from further afield too, which has been amazing) which has filled my regular evening out slot nicely. Then there’s been the fortnightly We Are What We Overcome webcasts, and the quick chats we have on the off weeks. That handful of regular activity has been great.
I try to keep these posts going because of something we talked about in one of our podcasts: if I’m depressed, I can’t remember any good things I’ve ever done, and if I’m all perky and up then I don’t care about remembering what I’ve been doing. Right now I’m mostly pretty chipper, largely a consequence of being busy and having acquired lots of LEGO recently, so this doesn’t feel important in the same way it did a few months ago. That’s a tricky place for me to be in, because despite occasional dips into glum days, I think I’ve been upbeat for a while now. The longer I’m upbeat, the less likely it feels that I’ll go down, or that I’ll worry about crashing. And that’s actually a decent indicator that I’m going to have a bit of a crash. Keeping track is the whole damn point! Must make more time.
Anyway… what have I been up to? Well, we’ve seen real live humans on both the last Saturdays, partly in attempt to normalise the new normal, or whatever the pre-second wave era is called, and partly because it turns out that folk want to see us, which is very nice and reassuring. Messing about with my sister and nieces at Highfields Park was a rather fun afternoon, as was eating and drinking at Dovecote Lane park last weekend. That bandstand is perfect, other than it’s brutish tarmac flooring. As I have alluded to earlier, I’m also quite busy at work as we race for the print deadlines for October titles, commission more and more artwork and do general bookstuff. It’s ace really, but is certainly filling my days tightly. We’re not likely to see the office for another month, and that’s OK with me.
I’ve been a rather busy LEGO person too, albeit more “busy” in the sense of “buying” than making much. I did join a LUG though, the Brick Central LEGO User Group. I’ve thought about it a lot over the last couple of years, and though I’m not sure how much time I could feasibly put into big displays and conventions, I’m interested in finding out. Also I got neat printed bricks and bits and pieces when I signed up, so I’m happy with that. I took advantage of the LEGO double VIP points last week to pick up a “few” things, from cute little LEGO Dots and baby dinosaurs to the massive Pirates of Barracuda Bay set. It is all very exciting! I’ve got some random builds I need to take some decent photos of and share them too.
Watching: The Order, season 2
I can’t deny that this is a low-rent Teen Wolf crossed with the Chilling Adventures of Sabrina the Teenage Witch, themselves low-rent versions of Buffy the Vampire Slayer and so many more. I remembered nothing of the previous season, even when we saw the “last time on this thing”, and would have sworn I’d never seen it at all. Nonetheless, this proved to be effective brain chewing entertainment while eating, in the sense of it noticeably degrading one’s braincells. Daft witch academy with neighboring anti-magic werewolves (who turn out to have previously been the witches’ bodyguard or something), but the wolves have all been tricked into being witches, or something. It doesn’t really matter – the entire show is redeemed by the delightful relationship between the four werewolves, which feels very much like how I felt about my university housemates: loving, occasionally fighty and laced with sarcasm and alcohol. Shame the lady werewolf ended up in hell this season. I’m sure I won’t remember this next time either, but if I can be persuaded to watch season 3 I’m sure I’ll enjoy it.
Reading: The Kingdom Beyond the Waves by Stephen Hunt
Continuing the really quite wacky steampunk series set in a far-future with multiple species of human (Craynarbians are splendid shelled folk, for example), steammen, and wild action adventure. I have insufficient time to summarise this one, but it covers an Atlantis-alike ancient city in the sky, infernal plots of genius industrialists to take over government, a frightening Borg-like jungle species, savage feral robots, submarine journeys, and so much more. The whole series is an absolute blast and I’m enjoying re-reading them enormously. Get on it.
Building: LEGO Overwatch Watchpoint: Gibraltar #75975
While I still have almost no idea what Overwatch is (yeah, yeah, I know it’s a game, and my friend Sam has a nice summary on Overwatch here), but I adore the LEGO sets. I’ve had my eye on this one solely because it features a gorilla in a spacesuit. Now that it’s reaching the end of its shelf-life “Watchpoint: Gibraltar” has become more affordable, and on a midnight whim (always the best time to buy LEGO) I ordered…
The minifigs are an utter delight! Check out Pharah (in blue) with that gorgeous gold visor, and Mercy (admittedly with the usual pink-printed-on-black face which never really works that well) with a lovely hair/hat element and lovely printed torso and legs, plus the rather ominous Reaper. I’m guessing he’s the bad guy. The gorilla is apparently named “Winston”. I hadn’t noticed that he’s wearing glasses, but he’s rather charming either way.
The build is pretty straightforward: you make a spaceship, which has a couple of separating sections, and the cool but not very exciting gantry/rocket leaning post thing. The spaceship itself is a satisfyingly sleek affair, with cleverly connected sections and very neat work on making the hatch fit flush. Building it felt like a wonderful flashback to my childhood, making largely flat spaceships that feel a little like this, but much less good.
The whole thing looks very pretty, but is inconveniently tall for anywhere I want to put it…
Watching: Derry Girls, season 2
Just marvelous. I can’t recommend this show enough, and I’m thrilled that there’s a third season on the way. Set in, um, Derry, in the 90s, this teenage sitcom is pretty much perfect. In keeping with non-American TV shows about teenagers, this lot actually look like real teenagers – the scowl game is extraordinary. The relationships and dialogue are brilliant, and you can’t help but love them all a little bit. The parents are savage and equally funny (finding Bill Clinton is a particular joy). The costumes are bang-on 90s-hideous and the soundtrack makes me unusually nostalgic. My only complaint is that there aren’t enough episodes. Not even close. Apparently Netflix screwed up and released this early, so it’s not available any more. Sorry folks!
Building: LEGO Jurassic World Dr Wu’s Lab: Baby Dinosaur Breakout #75939
Jesus Christ, baby dinosaurs! How was I ever supposed to resist? Reader, I did not. Clearly.
Like many of the licensed sets, especially the Jurassic World theme, there isn’t a lot to this. That said, the build is drawn out by the usual agony of applying stickers to transparent elements, and my desire to get them mostly straight had me turning on extra lights and teasing them into place with a scalpel. The egg turning machine is pleasing, and although I was complaining about applying the stickers, this is a set where they really do shine. The details in them are lovely, from the laptop screen to all the heads up displays, they’re adorable, and I’ll have to find more uses for them.
The figures are reliably cool, and I really like the LEGO Friends elements such as the baby feeding bottle sneaking into the mainstream LEGO sets. Dr Wu has the most cunning expression, just like in the movies! But none of this matters – all shall be recycled for parts except for the ADORABLE baby triceratops and even babier ankylosaur. Just so goddamn cute. I couldn’t be happier.
Watching: What We Do in the Shadows, season 2
A show that completely revels in its own stupidity with enormous commitment, we caned this in a single sitting too. Colin, the energy vampire, continues to be my personal favourite, but they’re all pretty great idiots. I’m delighted that the main storyline has turned out to be Guillermo’s, as he learns of his vampire-hunting past and wonders about his future, killing vampires while still being a dedicated familiar. Wonderful nonsense.
Doing: We Are What We Overcome – Fortnightly Mental Health Check-In
We reflected a little on how life has changed with a whole fortnight of being allowed to go to the pub… And here’s the link for next week’s chat.
Watching: Warrior Nun
This is dreadful. OK, that’s not entirely fair, but it’s definitely mostly fair. This is the story of a bunch of nuns who are warriors (duh), fighting demons and stuff. One of the nuns always has an angel’s halo embedded in their back, which makes them a sin-fighting superhero. When a mission goes badly tits up, the warrior nuns rip the halo out of their dead leader and stick it in a recently dead girl… She comes back to life, no longer paraplegic, but certainly perplexed about why she’s alive, why she has superpowers (kinda), and why she should give a shit about the Catholic church. Sounds fun, right. The trailer looks pretty fun too, and there are about 25 minutes of great stuff spread across the entire show, with some fun fights, laughable CGI demons, the one good character (Shotgun Mary) who appears to be in another, much better, show. But the rest of it is bogged down by impossibly tedious exposition where characters literally open books and read endless passages from them, or an agonisingly dull romance, in which the most exciting bits are them sitting on a ferry. The show almost redeems itself with a final heist episode but by that point it’s so laden with cack that I couldn’t bring myself to care. You may enjoy it though.
Doing: MissImp’s Virtual Drop-In – Roberto Lewis
More great and splendid video content right here, on one of my favourite topics — coming in with nothing! (I mean, favourite because I cannot plan…)