Friday, 12 November 2010

October: Hell Month Part 2

Scrabble 'moment' in October...

I’ve been listening to the Braveheart Soundtrack while writing this. Just thought I’d let you know.


Mathematically the worse month in work for performance ever. EVER. Total arse-crap.

University (of the Creative, Open variety)

I started my first month in an Open University course on Creative Writing. I was stoked, prepared, on the boil and ready to show the world just how good I was at writing. It was going oh-so-well, the course work was fun, I was finding it challenging and could even understand the bits about poetry. [Man points -1]. I completed the first assignment, writing short piece of fiction (about the time I was stuck in my car in total darkness on a motorway for five hours cause someone decided to jump off a bridge and kill themselves on Christmas Eve. Nice.). I was confident of an easy pass.

October refused to play ball. I BARELY passed the first assignment. Two points off failure.

Confidence in writing reached lowest ebb for years – not only was my writing not good enough for the job I went for, but it wasn’t up to standard for University also. Gutted.


Here’s the sucker punch to the month. I play field hockey [Man points -1]. It was a derby match near the end of the month and we were determined not to lose against our greatest rivals. I turn up on the day, prepared for battle, ready to win. Then our Goal Keeper doesn’t turn up. How could we win a bloody game of hockey without our keeper? Gutted again.

But this made the team even more determined to win. Imagine beating our rivals without a keeper? So we fought hard. Really hard. Near the end of the match we were impossibly winning 5-4 and I was one on one with their attacker – if he got passed me he would easily score – and was so SURE I could tackle him and get the ball. So I dived in, nay, charged in [Man points +1].

A brain-numbing clash of heads/hockey stick to the body later I collapsed to the ground clutching my head. [Man points -1 (I’m Scottish; I should easily handle a wee head-butting)] Fuzzy Time had begun. But the attacker didn’t get past me and we were still winning. After some abuse from my team mates for being soft I got back up and carried on playing [Man points +1].  We won 6-4. But the October curse had literally hit again.

It took me a few days to realise I needed to go to the Doctors [Man points +1] and was told to take time off as I had concussion. Curse you October, curse you.

Halloween (with added concussion)

Now, when I hosted my Halloween party I did not realise I had concussion. I decided that having a big lump on the side of my face would suit for such a dark night and bruising was a nice touch to boot. I may have had a few beers and fun was had. I think. Can’t really remember much [Man points +1] (note: alcohol and concussion is a deadly mix.), but everyone seemed to enjoy themselves.

We watched Paranormal Activity and I didn’t jump too much this time and with so little of October felt I became at ease, thinking ‘that’s it, no more bad luck or strange goings on!’ Of course, October, being a sneaky bar-steward, had one final thing up its nasty little sleeve.

We checked out the extras on the DVD, and found the home made horror competition winner (check it out if you dare). Now, it’s not the best, nor scary. But, just at the end, the very, very end (around midnight too) I jumped out of my skin and yelped like one of Paris Hiltons’ piddily dogs getting its tail trapped in a door [Man Points -1]. THAT got the biggest laugh of the night. Immediately updates were on Facebook.

Oh, how I will remember you October 2010. Revenge will be mine.

Surviving October 2010

And so that was October. So glad it’s finished.

Many may feel hard done by because of such an, well, interesting month. But, in hindsight, it wasn’t too bad: I’m over the concussion and we won at hockey; I did get some great feedback for my writing from my university tutor and the job application; Gran is doing well; I had a holiday; work is way better and the shenanigans of last month gave me idea’s for writing (where this blog entry clearly came from!). You can wallow in negativity or find opportunity and learn from the experiences. I’m learning and living.

October 2011 – bring it bitch, bring it.

October Man Points overall total: -1. Not bad.

Thursday, 11 November 2010

October 2010: Hell Month Part 1

What a bum-fluff of a month.

And I’ll tell you why. And keep count of the Man Points on this one.

A long time ago in a galaxy not too far away (October 1st) I was looking forward to busy, exciting month. Not only was I starting a new Open University Course, but I was taking a week off to spend time with my lovely lady, applying for a new job and had an autumnal spring in my step – It was gonna be a good month. [Man points a balanced 0].

Kinda didn’t work out the way I had planned.

The Gran

My 94 year old Gran can not only cause trouble in an empty room, but when I hit an ambulance with my old fiesta a decade ago she walked out of the carnage while I was stretchered off to hospital [-1 man point]. She’s made of iron that one. Unfortunately she was seriously ill at the start of the month and almost passed on – kudos to The Dad, who was in the right place at the right time to save her – and so I cancelled the holiday with the Lovely Lady in my life to go see her. Gran recovered overnight and was chirping away to me after my 7 hour drive to see her (no ambulances were hurt on the journey). MADE OF IRON I tell you.

So far October hadn’t started too well, but the worst was over, wasn’t it?

The Holiday

Actually, with some last minute internet searching, me and the Not So Tear Drenched Girlfriend managed a few days away in the lovely Lake Distinct after visiting Iron Gran. Here are some proper good visuals of the holiday...

I taught my lady chess, and beat her at every game [Man Points +1], saw a cool lake and had five course dinners every night. October was looking up.

Job application

I decided to go for a writing job for a change of career and to tick it off the Bucket List. Out of many, many applicants I made to the last 14 and had to do a writing assignment. It was tough but fun. Lots of fun. I learned many things about how to write promotionally and my tiny skill base was tested. I really thought I was going to get an interview at least. I didn’t of course, and the October curse struck again. I cursed right back, but to no avail, and October continued onwards...

Reading Affliction Continues

If you’ve checked out my last blog post ‘Reading Afflictions’ you’ll understand that I suffer from a terrible affliction of reading a few chapters of a novel before buying a new one, then read a few chapters of that book, and buy a new one, etc etc. Meaning I never really finish all the books I buy, creating a large Reading List. It stares at me now, daring me to read. [Man points -1 (come on, BOOKS are staring me down!)]

Reading Affliction continued and I totally blame October.

That's it for part 1, thank the lord, but mosey on back tomorrow for:
University (of the Creative, Open variety)
Halloween (with added concussion)

And of course to find out how many Man Points I finished on after October: Hell Month.

Tuesday, 9 November 2010

Reading Afflictions

Everyone has their habits while reading. For some it may be the time of day the decide to open a book, others it may be what genres they read or sipping a large cup of hot chocolate while digging into their newest novel. I’m fairly flippant in what I buy. Sometimes I’m in the mood for a certain author, or the next book in a series I’m reading comes out, or I feel intellectual and look for some business book, or its payday or a Tuesday, or... and so on. There is always an excuse to add to my collection of novels.
               The older I become and the more I discover about my own ways, I’m realising that I may have formed an affliction of some kind, rather than your normal reading habit. You see, when I buy a book I become fairly excited about the prospect of the new story and immediately want to start reading. Not straight away – buying a book and opening it before I even get handed the receipt in the shop and then walking out bumping into everyone would be a serious issue indeed (and maybe there are people who do it?) – But I certainly start within a day or two of the purchase.

                That’s where the problems begin.

                I never finish enough books to cut down on the ‘Reading List’. I read swiftly through the first few chapters, and then find a new shiny story to start, read a few chapters, and buy another, and so on. Thus, reading list grows. It’s outgrowing the ‘Read’ list these days, and shelves to hold them in the flat. I just get so interested in something new that the old dulls and new brightens. Even though I have much to read I still buy new stories. An affliction I tell you.

                I’ve concluded thusly: Supply X Time X Speed = shit loads of books to read.

There’s a steady supply of novels, books and eBooks overflowing in the ‘Reading List’ and my own reading cannot catch up. I’m fairly certain I’ll die having read much less books than I’ve bought.

This has me wondering: what other afflictions and weirdness is there out in the reading wilderness? I’m sure if we diagnose them early enough something can be done about them...

Wednesday, 8 September 2010

Horus Heresy series

Here's a wee preview of the newest book in my favourite Black Library series...

The First Heretic

Looking forward to an epic read. Here's what the author, Aaron Dembski-Bowden, a decent bloke through and through, thought about a recent review of The First Heretic:

Reviews and why authors hate them

Its all fun and games really! Might not review it here, just in case...

Friday, 3 September 2010

China Mieville's readership expands...

Thought I'd share this pic. All the great writers aim to expand their readership beyond their species!!!

I almost lost a hand getting the book back, you should see the scar...

Thursday, 2 September 2010

Book Review: The Strain

The Strain, by Guillermo del Toro and Chuck Hogan

Vampires don’t just stalk the night. They’re stalking cinemas, TV’s and bookshelves everywhere. In a market full of choice now, it’s time to choose ‘what kind’ to go for. The teen stuff...hmm, nah. The older Stoker stuff... been there. Time to find our new heroes and villains.

At first I didn’t know it was a vampire book – I know, I can be an idiot. I saw some blurb on the book on the net, and latched onto the ‘apocalyptic’ elements, then raced to my local book shop to buy it. I was pleasantly surprised to find the world may end due to a vampire ‘plague’.

The Strain reads like a film in my eyes – you can see del Toro’s’ influence here. It does give the book a fast-paced element which pulls you along for the ride and helps sustain the read. Yet, it’s not all good. About 3/4 of the way in it felt quite episodic and repetitive, and the plot stalled for me slightly, shifting from a taut thriller to a late night monster-fest. Though, the twist at the end brings it back to form.

All-in-all, I enjoyed it, not as epic as The Passage by Justin Cronin, but I’m buying the next book in the series, The Fall, which is out this month.

3 out 5 dried out fangs.

Wednesday, 21 July 2010

Check out this blog!

I was reading A certain Black Library authors blog today, and found this gem: ADB 80s cartoon theme songs check it out if you loved the 80s, man.

Saturday, 24 April 2010

Clash of the Titans Review

I’m one of those people who ‘remember the original’ when it comes to the Clash of the Titans. I think this was one of those films that drove me to SF and Fantasy. But I remember being slightly disappointed by it when I was young – something was missing. I was mesmerised too, don’t get me wrong, but I think I wanted more from the film, even when I was five.

My girlfriend liked it. She hasn’t seen the first one, nor had any preconceptions. This may be key to liking this film: not having any preconceptions. Everyone who enjoyed it that I’ve talked too seemed to go with a blank slate, not having built up the expectations. Like me.

Man Vs the Gods. That’s a proper tagline. Bring it God, do your worst and I’ll still beat you. Very modern in its premise I feel. Religion is in descent while humans’ living their ‘one-life’ to the extreme is on the rise. Popular western society is shunning religion, and this modern film mimics how we feel in the 21st Century.

But there’s something missing. Sam Worthington is great in this, so it’s not him. Liam Neeson is good too. There’s just a thin story that doesn’t use the other characters to full affect. You don’t ‘feel’ for them when they die because of this, resulting in a lack of impact. I didn’t see the reason for most of them being there.

Also, while I’m ranting, I thought the set up of the plot was poor – merely a vehicle for the CGI later on. The first 15/20 mins felt rushed. No character development (apart from Sam Worthington's Perseus however). More depth here would have created an outstanding film.

Now, the effects are good and it was a fun popcorn film. The kraken was brilliant, as was the Pegasus. I just think someone along the way missed a trick with the plot and story.

Enjoyable, but as my GF said: not going to buy it on DVD even if it was fun. I think I built it up too much as I saw the original when I was young. I’ve heard that watching it a second or third time makes it better. I’ll leave that to you.

2 out of 5 Gods of War.