Saturday, July 30, 2005

Poop poop!

I debated whether I should really be blogging the fact that I've got a new car because, clearly, you all are going to care even less about this than anything else so far.

It means nothing to anyone but me. Well, it means £1000 to Chris because that's how much I gave him for it. A bright red Peugeot 306. Am I excited about it? Hell, yes. Is that relevant? Not especially.

I bought it from him because for the last two years or so he's been romancing my sister while posted at RAF Croughton. Now that he's done his time, he's gone home to the States and taken my sister with him. Bon voyage - but I expect them both to be back in a matter of months, as there is more for him here than there ever was there.

He's not getting the car back though.

My old car was a heap of crap even before my late night run-in with a young deer: no music, a broken heater, cracked headlamps, and at least three attempts to get it moving every morning. For the last six months I've been driving around with a severely buckled right hand side and no driver's mirror, courtesy of British wildlife. It's only a modest trade-up but I feel a certain pride in my new status, and not one ounce of remorse about my Astra's final drive to the scrapyard this morning. Let her rot in peace.

Now, why the aforementioned debate? I'm conscious that in order to motivate myself into writing something of lasting value - my long planned but rarely attempted screenplay, for instance - I need to get into the habit of writing something every day. Occasionally it's going to be some unremarkable piece of tedium from my hum-drum daily life.

Can't be helped, really.

Category: Meatspace

Friday, July 29, 2005

Dealing with blog depression

It may be that just about everyone has read this by now, linked to it themselves and is sick of the sight of it. But I don't care. It's a great pastiche of public service leaflets about how to deal with disillusionment (and I'm amazed my spellchecker didn't pick that up - "disillusionment" - a word couldn't sound more fake if tried) with the blogosphere.

It's witty and it's wise, and it'll remind you not to channel too much of your self-esteem into the internet. It's actually much nicer outdoors after all.

Category: Computing and Web

Thursday, July 28, 2005

No entry today

Not to speak of anyway, as I'm too busy catching up on Charlie Jade.

However, if you really, absolutely must have your daily dose, you can read some of the comments I've left in other people's blogs today.

Don't forget to check out the rest of their blogs too.

Assistant Atlas

Complications Ensue

Category: Computing and Web

Wednesday, July 27, 2005


Mid-week. Over the crest of the hill, starting to approach the weekend. I can't sleep this week. I can't get up in the mornings either. I need the week to end.

After two weeks of thirty degree relaxation, I went back to work on Monday in the pouring rain. E-mails everywhere, stuff left undone in my absence, it was lucky some retard had taken my phone off the hook so that there were no voice mails to trawl through.

But. BUT. Two bright rays of sunshine in an otherwise damp and gloomy week.

Number one: we're all getting bikes! We're not being paid enough but there's no money to pay us more. What to do? Why, placate us all with benefits of course. We're being offered our choice of bikes from The Edinburgh Bicycle Co-op's own brand Revolution range, which I understand is extremely well regarded. Best of all for the society, as long as they're mainly used for travel to and from work, they're tax free.

So I needn't have bothered buffing up my old piece of junk at all.

Number two: Yvette's quit. That sounds much crueller than it should. I like the crazy Welsh bitch, and I completely understand why she's leaving and hope it makes her happier. It's occasions like this that make me wonder why I didn't decide to write anonymously. Yvette has very strong ideas about how things ought to be done, which will get her far in another setting. One that's not a rural, hippy, comms and internet co-operative. I wish her well.

It's sunny because if I play this well, I could be in line for a nice raise in a month or six. And that's always good.

Category: Meatspace

Tuesday, July 26, 2005

Writing, shame and self-deceit

"How's the writing? Published anything yet?"

Shit, and no. When will you people understand that I've written nothing, NOTHING, in five years? Although I may have claimed to be at some point in the distant, hazy past, I am not a writer. I'm not anything.

Friends and family always assumed I was going to be a writer because I was forever making up stories, poems and plays, and I was good at it. I let them decide for me. I didn't know what I wanted, unlike like friends of mine who are now doctors and musicians and producers; they knew what they wanted, went for it and did it. I'm not a going for it kind of person. I like to settle for shit. You've read my profile, right? I'm far too lazy even to check out the path of least resistance. People always told me that I was going to be a writer, it was easy enough to believe them.

Of course it was going to take more than belief to make anything happen. Once I'd decided I was going to be a respected and wealthy writer, I set about the single minded pursuit of this goal by smoking weed and watching videos. I knew I had it in me, therefore what did I have to prove? I know that I'm a kick-ass writer, thank you very much, why should I have to actually do any to satisfy the rest of the world?

Good attitude, huh?

What the hell do I want? This is my fucking life, after all.

I think about writing all the time. I think about the kind of writing I'd like to be doing. I can't help it, it's in my head. I get drawn into a TV show and I see where the act breaks are. I notice how long a scene is, how many in an episode, how they're distributed, how many words in a speech, how many primary, secondary, tertiary characters, A plots, B plots, C plots, how they all have something to say and comment on one another.

I can see this. I think I can do it.

The nearest I got was five years ago. I'd been out of uni for a bit, my best friend had just left drama school. He was going to be the major actor of his generation, a great British hope, one of The Times' Rising Stars in the Arts Firmament. We were going to set up a production company and rock the world. Mark was a magnificent Raskolnikoff and a great friend, until the psychosis got him.

While we were working together I banged out a stage script which, in the hope of showing I'm not a complete fantasist, you can read here, if you like. I was twenty-three when I wrote it; it's a pretty spiteful play about me and a girl I knew. It's immature, it's petty, and to be honest I think it's the shame of having written it in the first place that's been stopping me from taking something else up. I'm like that. I find it hard to let go of things. Especially ideas. Particularly the poisonous ones. It has its faults, but people who are paid by Britain's biggest theatres to read these things had the following to say at the time:

"confidently written and well observed"..."interesting themes"..."complex ideas"..."structure is even and precise"..."characters are believable and inhabit a very real world"..."good ear for dialogue...some great lines."

They all rejected it though, but it's good for a laugh.

Since 2001 there's been fuck all. I've had a couple of good ideas but all they've ever come to is a folder each of half-arsed research and pages and pages of false starts and then I quit. I'm allergic to the actual doing of anything that involves work. In my mind I manage to achieve everything I've ever wanted through the medium of montage. Writing a script takes five minutes: there I am scribbling on the wall, surrounded by sheets from a flip pad, shuffling index cards into order, typing typing typing, staring at the screen, argh frustration, pacing and pulling at my hair, a-ha! solution and big relief, typing typing typing, printing out the finished thing, cigar and a single malt. It's a piece of cake! I could produce fifty scripts a day yet I haven't managed one in half a decade.

Because I'm too much of a coward to admit I want that wealth and respect. Because I never learnt to accept people make bad choices and move on. Because it's difficult to admit that I've led a pretty worthless and directionless life for the last decade. Because even though I've got nothing, I'll fight myself to hold onto it and be fucked and damned into the bargain.

I don't want to look into a blank screen and see myself looking back, because I'm so disappointed in that reflection. I'd rather get lost in mediocrity.

It's not just the writing. I'm a coward, full stop.

There was a bit more drama there than I really intended but fuck it. No-one's reading this any damn way.

To sum up: I've got no idea what I'm doing, or where to go from here. I hope you're prepared to watch me make a public spectacle of myself because I've got a feeling it's way past time.

Category: Writing

Monday, July 25, 2005

Candles and cake

Today is my one month Blogger anniversary. I'm surprised how much I've enjoyed both the technical process of getting the blog set up, and the creative process of actually writing the posts. I was sitting at work today and I honestly couldn't wait to get home and start posting.


And if anyone's actually reading this, and the stats tell me that 95% of you visitors are not, you hard to please fly-by-nighters, I hope you're getting a modicum of enjoyment out of it so far.

I actually have plans for this page, you know, so keep reading.


Category: Meta

Best. Trailer. Ever. Shame about the show.

Channel Four are about to air Lost in the UK. Big fucking deal is the verdict from my broadband and bittorrent supported vantage.

Idiot characters; boring, pointless flashbacks; storylines that take forever to go nowhere; nail-biting anticlimaxes - following the admittedly breathtaking pilot, look forward to a further twenty-two episodes of cock-tease. That bitter taste in your mouth? That's all the excitement, adrenaline and goodwill generated in the first two hours rapidly draining away.

My suggestion to any potential viewer gulled by C4s million quid ad campaign is to watch the fantastic trailer they've commissioned and then forget all about it. In one 60 second spot, the ad, directed by Brett Foraker and David La Chapelle reveals more about the characters and their relationships with one another than the whole of the meandering, improvised and ball-less first season. An even better, voice-over free version of the ad has been aired several times on telly, but that's unfortunately not available on-line.

I'm serious. Don't even bother. And if you think I sound bitter, try this, and this (beware, you will find spoilers).

In far more joyful TV news, Doctor Who has a new outfit!

Also, expect Season Two, or Twenty-Eight if you prefer, to feature the return of Sarah-Jane Smith and Harriet Jones, MP for Flydale North; an appearance by Anthony Steward-Head and scripts from Stephen Fry.

I so can't wait!

Category: Movies and TV

Appealing to their basest needs

I saw a show on TV last night about a scientific study into the psychology of male and female attractiveness.

Essentially, their thesis was this: that no matter how much a woman claims to be looking for her soulmate - someone to make her laugh and feel like a natural woman - all they are really ever psychologically evaluating is the size of our packets and cut of our cloth.

Duplicitous little foxes.

So all those years I've spent lying on my pillow with tears in my ears because I can't find the woman of my dreams are all down to me not dressing for success.

I'm nearly thirty and can't go around looking like a scruff any more, and even though my salary isn't even enough to impress a strung-out middle-aged crack-whore, I can at least attempt to fake it till I make it.

Out go my Etnes and trips to Cult Clothing; hello shiny shoes and the finest tailored threads.

This was all on the BBC, so it must be true.

Category: Movies and TV

Sunday, July 24, 2005

Booklist: River of Gods

Just finished Ian McDonald's River of Gods, and damn, that was some good reading.

It's a kind of sci-fi Short Cuts, where ten characters try to live their lives in India, AD2047, with war and revolution and big dumb alien objects pulling them up short.

The novel has an extraordinary grasp on its main theme, which I took to be humanity's responsibility to and for its creations, and how we seek to shirk that responsibility at every turn by blaming fate, circumstances, gender, society or any one of a million targets to explain away our failings. Mr Nandha, the Krishna cop, with his obsessive dedication to his job at the cost of his new marriage is only one example. As beautiful a portrait as McDonald draws of Nandha's wife, we never get the impression that she is any more than a trophy to him. As he tries to keep her more and more isolated from what he regards as a deformed society, her entire world becomes her rooftop garden and India's favourite soap opera. Eventually, her life begins more and more to resemble the drama which obsesses her, until in desperation, she runs off with her gardener.

Many of the characters - savage journalist Najia, ungendered "nute" Tal, street-thug Shiv, repressed civil servant Shaheen Badoor Khan, world weary physics genius Thomas Lull and his savant companion Aj, all of whom are quite psychologically convincing - share Nandha's flaw. They consider themselves the only truly self-aware person they know, when all they are really doing is defining themselves through what they are not; rejecting and snobbishly evaluating their fellows. Blinded by the perceived flaws of others, they are strangers to themselves.

In McDonald's reckoning there is nothing, no part of our selves, history or culture that is not an artifact of one kind or another. We create where we come from as a people through our creation myths of gods and divinities. We filter who we are as persons through the agglomeration of our memories; we are the sum of what we remember, and depend upon our memories, those we leave out or repress as much as those we can actually recall, to form our personalities. In the world of the novel, we've moved beyond living vicariously through the antics of frail, flesh and blood celebrities, and take our cues for the ideal life from CGI characters in a soap opera played by AI actors.

Artificial, or emergent, intelligences represent the pinnacle of mankind's jones for continual self-improvement through external factors, and also the greatest perceived threat to its existence. Human beings have potentially created their successors, and terrified of being exterminated or enslaved (surely a reflection, an unconscious judgement of themselves) now do all they can to limit their growth, seeking out and destroying any they consider too advanced. But these creations, distributed intelligences that they are, are alien. They are not like us, they do not want the same things as us, except to survive, and with this goal in mind, many of River of Gods' characters are the unwitting puppets of the so-called "Generation Three" aeais. In their struggles for survival these persecuted sentiences offer our characters their greatest chance at some kind of redemption, or the possibility of a final damnation.

Now I'm aware that I've made the novel sound hugely nihilistic, but it's not at all. In the tradition of Grant Morrison's The Invisibles, all the strife, and suffering and cruelty of River of Gods should be considered no more than temporary birthing pains, the final nativity being the creation of a new race of gods and their gifts to mankind.

Ian McDonald is one of my very favourite authors but, as with another of my favourites, the mighty Christopher Priest, his novels never remain in print for very long. Why this should be so I have no idea. Both McDonald and Priest have proven, distinguished careers, with much love and many awards showered on both of them. With that in mind, I expect this book to be unobtainable within a year, so go out and read it now.

Category: Books and Comics

Saturday, July 23, 2005

Galactica hands-on

I really, really recommend anyone who loves the new Battlestar Galactica as much as I do listen to Ron Moore's podcasts.

Although not the most slickly produced of commentaries - Moore smokes his way through the episodes, attempting to make himself heard over gardeners, traffic and wild animals, battling the acoustics of his living room - his deconstructions of his baby only hours after it first airs are an excellent resource. Offering insights on all aspects of the show's production (usually with particular focus on the writing) the 'casts are informative, analytical, slightly spoilerific and not too gushing.

And the best thing is you don't have to wait for the DVDs or spend extra money to listen to them. In fact, coupled with David Eick's behind-the-scenes videoblog of the show's genesis, sci-fi are basically offering a free TV Production 101 to anyone who's interested. You should subscribe immediately.

Category: Movies and TV

Fake Blogger Categories

Two weeks ago I knew nothing of FTP and HTML and, frankly, guess I still don't. However, through the miracle of cut and paste I have managed to cobble together a rudimentary method of grouping my posts into categories and I couldn't be more chuffed.

In the sidebar, underneath the Archives, where I dream my dreams away, you'll see a listing of category topics. Click one, go on. As this is a very young blog, with few posts, I suggest "Movies and TV."

Look at that, it works!

I suppose I could get into trouble for this, as in order to get it done I had to use this page's source code, customise it in TextEdit and then upload it to a different host. When you click on one of the categories in the sidebar, you're being taken to an external page which is as identical as practical to my main blog page, displaying a list of my entries as sorted by me, that then links back to my blog. I don't know how Google feel about use of their IP in this way, but I'm only using it to extend the site's functionality and it's not as if most people clicking the links will know the difference.

The downside is going to be maintenance. Every time I write a new post, I have to open my HTML file, paste in the post's permanent link, and then upload again. But then we're talking about what, two minutes? Hardly a huge chunk of my day.

So this is what I did:

        1. pasted the source code of my main page into TextEdit.
        2. deleted all but the first post.
        3. decided on my categories and overwrote the existing post with their headings, giving each heading an internal page link: ie <a name="cat1">Allotment</a>
        4. edited the footer to delete the comments and trackback, and changed the permanent link - in this case to the address I was planning to host the page at.
        5. opened my blog and copied the permanent link of every entry (this is why it's good there aren't many of them yet!), and then pasted them under the appropriate category heading in TextEdit.
        6. removed from the sidebar all dynamic content: ie the list of recent posts, archives and image links. Other links that I don't anticipate changing often can stay for the sake of consistency.
        7. opened my Blogger template and added links to each of the category headings on my new page.
        8. cut and paste the changes to my template to TextEdit, again for consistency.
        9. saved my template changes and republished my blog.
        10. wrote this entry!
        11. added this entry to the "Meta" category, and uploaded my new page.

It was a very educational experience. I know categories can be faked by setting up multiple blogs with identical templates to your main Blogger page, but I imagine this takes even more faff than my method to maintain.

I like what I've done. If anyone can improve it, or knows other methods of using categories in Blogger, please leave a comment.

Category: Meta

Friday, July 22, 2005


When I got home from the Phone Co-op prison camp the other Sunday, it wasn't too much of a surprise to find that eating three hot meals a day can do nasty things to a man's waistline. I've had to throw several pairs of trousers away recently, and on my return from Stoke I was tipping the scales at 12 stone 7 (175 pounds, or half an American.*). This may not seem like much to most, but as I didn't see ten stone (140lb) until I was twenty-five, regardless of how epically I stuffed my face, I find it quite horrifying. So I'm fasting. And the results are encouraging. Eating one small meal at around 4pm every day, I've managed to lose roughly a pound a day, which isn't bad. I seem to have hit a wall now. Deprivation has its limits, it's going to take exertion to finish the job. Perhaps I should renew my gym membership. I've been a bit lax about it really, as it expired on June 6th.

Alright, June 6th 2004.

*sorry, cheap shot. The average weight for a white American male aged 30-39 (I'm 29, so near enough) is 179lb.

Category: Meatspace

Thursday, July 21, 2005

Why Farmer Giles never deals with middlemen.

So I got my allotment by asking a guy's wife how her husband got his. Jim (the husband) told me I should give Wally a bell. Wally tells me he thinks there might be one available, but that he needs to talk to Sid, the guy who runs them all, and he'll let Jim know the answer.

Word comes back from Indra that Jim says Wally says everything's cool, and off I go with my brute strength and cutting tools and start sweating my bollocks off.

A week later, after I've cleared half the plot ready for digging, I run into Sid and he's all "who the fuck are you, this is Mike's plot, what the hell are you doing, you bugger?" Well I tell him what I know and he wants to know who I am, so I give him my whole family tree down to my great-grandparents and we establish that he used to go out boozing with my great-uncle and my uncle took him to a Greek Street strip-club one time and that therefore I am local and to be trusted and not someone who just weirdly spends days chopping down other people's brambles for a treat.

Sid tells me he'll call Mike, who's done fuck all with the land for two years, and'll let me know if I can keep it. He calls me up later that day: Mike says he wants to hold on to the plot, so Sid's very sorry, says he'll find me another one.

I go up this morning to collect my tools, run into Mike who says Sid never called him at all, he's got no problem if I want to take over since he only pays rent on the plot so he can park his car there, but that frankly, there are better plots available and I should hold on until I hear from Sid again.

This is ridiculous. Why am I spending time on this instead of going out and trying to get laid?

Category: Meatspace

Wednesday, July 20, 2005

The new farmer Giles

A couple of weeks ago I made enquiries into securing an allotment. Understand this was not due to any great desire to grow my own produce, as I've never done any gardening beyond lawn mowing, and I always manage to get tangled in flex every time I do that, but only to get myself a little privacy, and a shed to enjoy it in.

Living at home is not at all bad, and although I have my own room and privacy, I don't have any space I can really consider mine. Well, now I do. And fuck me if it's not the most misguided, dumb-assed, ill-considered thing I've ever done. The plot hasn't been cultivated for about two years and is a fucking jungle. Luckily it doesn't look like too many of the weeds are of truly evil varieties, and that cutting and digging will get rid of most of them, but three hundred square metres is an undeniable shit-load of digging. I'm taking a four stage approach to the clearance. First, sickle away as much growth as possible; then get the secateurs out on the brambles; when all the really woody growth is down to ground level, break out the strimmer. Finally dig, fork and rake over. It's far too late to plant anything this year, but with all the work I'm not going to have a sowable plot until January anyway. Fortunately, there are already some pretty mature apple and plum trees, as well as tons of rasp, black and gooseberries, but the most amazing discovery recently was of a fucking pond in the middle of it all, completely obscured by wild growth. This discovery was, most fortuitously, made with only one leg and my sock has dried nicely. I haven't got the first idea of what I'm doing, but it's good, honest, hard work and I'm getting a hell of a tan.

And some fucker's done padlocked my shed.

Category: Meatspace

Raison d'blog

No question, I have chosen the finest fortnight to take off work - it's been utterly glorious. How have I chosen to spend this time? Not in the usual way, that's for god damn sure. Ordinarily, my life is so empty that any time off work involves me sitting down and seeing how many TV season DVD boxsets I can get through - episodes, features and commentaries. The record for one week stands at two Wires, an Alias and a Farscape. Plainly, that sucks. It is the type of behaviour not to be owned up to, or at least once revealed, never repeated. And it's one of my reasons for starting this blog - so that I would never be able to waste time like that again.

I have written a personal journal for many, many years, and what I have found lately is that the frequency of entries has dwindled to become worse than erratic, and those either trivial in the extreme or reiterations of the same never realised sentiments and desires; a clear display of the absolute lack of personal and social progress I've made in the last half decade. In the two thousand or so pages I must have scribbled in the last fourteen years , I don't think I can really look back on any of them with any pride. My diary has always been a place for me to vent, and sulk, and whinge. Unscientifically, I would expect to find that 90% of private journals are overwrought, full of demeaning observations about family, friends and colleagues that, if only they weren't written down, there in front of your face, you would never believe you had made them. There is nothing so dishonest as a journal meant only for the one writing it.

Maybe, in that case, it's better to be public about your feelings and goals. Because maybe, if you knew other people were going to see them, you'd probably give them a little bit more consideration and effort. Maybe you'd put a bit more effort into your life, become more of an exhibitionist; at least less shut-in. I am sick of making repeated statements of intent that never come to anything and not being called on them. Doing it all in public makes it more real somehow. Where smack-downs are called for, I hereby invite them.

I also need to force myself to write things down more often. Nothing looks lamer than a blog with only one entry every couple of weeks. I need to counter-act a habit I've developed of taking index cards and writing down things to write about, then not taking the time to actually make the entry and letting the list grow for about two weeks; the result of this procrastination being a long messy catalogue of abbreviated subjects and cryptic statements that I can't even understand anymore, let alone write sensibly about. I don't want future data archaeologists to discover my only internet presence was a half-assed blog that I couldn't be bothered to update. Yes, I am that vain. Conceited. Self-conscious. Whatever.

Category: Meta

Google's latest launch

From -

"In honor of the first manned Moon landing, which took place on July 20, 1969, we've added some NASA imagery to the Google Maps interface to help you pay your own visit to our celestial neighbor."

Unfortunately, a full Selenic directory won't be available until 2069, for now content yourselves with zooming as close as you can to the Apollo landing sites. Check out that surface detail!

Category: Computing and Web

Tuesday, July 19, 2005

Watch it: The Shield

UK license payers who are patient enough to wait for the best US shows to air domestically; who know better than to risk the wrath of the MPAA (ha, right) by procuring them through other, quasi-legal methods, are advised to tune into Channel Five on Saturday night for Season Four of The Shield, one of my top five TV shows (see the sidebar for the other four).

If you've never seen the show before, it's continuity driven, but don't let that put you off. It focuses on bad, bad detective Vic Mackey, a man so venal and corrupt he'd kill a cop to protect his "retirement fund," but won't let go of his illusions that he's actually one of the good guys.

Season Three covered the fallout of Vic and his team's hold-up of a truck-load of Armenian drug money. By the end of the season Vic, Shane, Lem and the taciturn Ronnie had all turned on one another, the money had been destroyed and Vic had found out his youngest daughter shared his son's autism. Other characters had it just as tough. Detectives Wagenbach and Wyms are on the DA's shit-list for exposing a junkie prosecutor. Their Captain, David Aceveda, is finally seeing his ambition of moving to City Hall fulfilled, but remains traumatised by a sexual assault he was forced to endure during a raid that went fully tits-up.

That's all you need to know before the weekend. Sit back on Saturday and enjoy the most tightly scripted, perfectly cast, subtly scored, excitingly shot, morally compromised and, looking towards the end of the season, doom laden show on the box.

As good as The Wire? Hell yeah, but then you've probably missed out on that too.

Category: Movies and TV

Link pimpage

Finally got around to adding all the various links and disclaimers to my sidebar today. There are some really cool sites referenced there; in particular you should check out Orisinal for idyllic, timewasting web-based videogaming; the sci-fi library for a terrific repository of new and classic short science fiction; and seriously, take a look at The Picasso Conspiracy, a mind bending attempt to out the former century's foremost painter as a gnostic, shamanic alchemist. Awesome.

The blog links are predominantly to those of screenwriters. John Rogers is responsible for penning the meme of the moment: the Global Frequency pilot. Based on a comic book by Warren Ellis, I had no hope of the show being any good whatsoever, as I maintain that Ellis hasn't written anything worth shit since around issue forty of Transmetropolitan. Probably because he's let his personality overwhelm his writing but, shit, I should be having half so much fun. The pilot, I am happy to report, is surprisingly good, and should still be floating around on numerous trackers, if you know what I'm saying.

John Gruber is, for my money, the best Apple pundit on the net right now, and his Daring Fireball columns are always a fascinating read.

Merlin Mann is a GTD and Quicksilver fanboy; and his blog, 43folders is packed with handy productivity tips to keep you working at peak efficiency. If you're using a Mac and have not yet, for whatever incomprehensible reason, downloaded Quicksilver, get over there and take a look at his collection of posts. It's an app I couldn't live without - follow Mann's advice, and you'll be hooked as quick as I was.

Why the emphasis on screenwriting and TV when the subject hasn't even come up before? Well, that's for another time.


Category: Computing and Web

Sunday, July 17, 2005


Following the discovery of some old White Dwarfs and a set of troops during a housemove, my friend Dave has taken up wargaming again, after a lengthy hiatus. Infected by his enthusiasm, I popped into a nearby Games Workshop the other day while waiting for Batman Begins to start ("why go late, when the movies are cheaper during the day?"). It hadn't changed at all since 1990. Sure the staff were different, though I was distressed to find one of them, a sci-fi keen gamer, had never heard of Philip K Dick; then relieved to find the other, a middle-aged lady, ready to warn me of the need to search out white-worm before planting anything on my allotment. Truly, it could be my new home from home!

The only thing that worried me was, in common with comic book/videogame store staff, they quite possibly have mild cases of Down's syndrome. A more charitable man might simply say that they were enthused to be torchbearers for their obsession. I say they're ever so slightly gimpy.

They were, however, effective enough that although I didn't have time to take up the offer of a trial battle, I let slip that I'd always been more interested in painting anyway, so ended up walking out with a handful of paints and an Empire militia to apply them to.

Damn them. Don't they realise my time is precious?

Category: Gaming

Monday, July 11, 2005

You never forget

The weather is glorious and I've got two weeks off work, so I thought I'd get the old bike out for a spot of healthy pedalling about the borough. Sold on the virtues of cycling by the two gurus of the past-time, Flann O'Brian and Robert Rankin, I lugged the old mistress from the corner of the garage in which she's gone unloved these last fifteen years, buried under buckets and old mantlepieces, straightened the handlebars, hosed away the dust and cobwebs, brushed off the rust, polished and waxed her frame till she gleamed, greased the chain and bearings, tightened the brakes and pumped up the tires.

I'm fucking exhausted. What's on TV?

Category: Category: Meatspace

Sunday, July 10, 2005

I've been away

Trapped by my bosses for three days in Stoke-on-Trent.

I have no hesistation in recommending Keele as an attractive rural campus, but as with all conference centres at universities, the rooms sucked. Air conditioning fans whine all night at a maddeningly irritational pitch just within the range of human hearing. The bed was all of two feet wide, the mattress almost as many inches thick and totally solid. I lay awake all the first night trying to think if this was the worst night's sleep I had ever had. Eventually I decided it ranked no better than third. Sleeping rough at Prague station harrassed by tramps and their flies was pretty bad, and being kicked in the face by booted Italian peons while trying to kip in the exposed corridor of a night train to Bari sounds more romantic than it was refreshing. Also, I've had more invigorating showers in ex-communist student accomodation, though only partly due to differentials in water pressure. But that's a tale I vowed never to tell again.

I will fall silent and allow your imaginations to do their work.

Category: Meatspace

Thursday, July 07, 2005

I just want you to know...

I used to have friends in London. We lost touch when I moved out of that poisonous hellhole, or rather I felt too sorry for myself to pick up the phone now and again, but I've never forgotten any of them. And I've been thinking about them all today. So Louise, Pete, Lindsay, Alex, Alice, Tim, Mark (if you're out of hospital), Dom, Annie, Clive (if you're out of prison), Amy, Suki, Lucy, Anthony, and everyone at Sadler's Wells; even though we haven't spoken in years and most likely never will again, if you're still in town, I hope to Christ you're well.

Category: Meatspace

Friday, July 01, 2005

No more funerals this year, please.

I hate the cocksuckers. I doubt that makes me in anyway remarkable. I'd be surprised if there were anyone out there who couldn't get enough of the fuckers, but that was a tough one today. Over five hundred people turned up at the church this morning, and out of a town of five thousand, that's a pretty good showing.

Personally, I didn't really know what I was doing there. I knew Emma well enough to stop on the street and pass the time of day with, but we weren't friends. Still, sometimes shit happens that, for no reason you can interpret or even express, fucks with your head. All you can do is gather with as many other people who feel the same way and channel it and hope that can help you work it out. As it happened I realised what I was doing there as soon as the reverend started with the sermon. He laid it out pretty quickly; he knew what we were all doing there. Yes, we'd gone to say goodbye, to support one another, et cetera; but also we'd gone to church to gang up on God for doing this to us. Even those of us who don't believe, we nevertheless wanted to know why. That's right: I, for one, went there looking for answers from a God I don't believe exists. What was I expecting?

I went along in grief, and confusion, and anger looking for some kind of answers and what did I get?

All I learnt today, staring at a coffin containing nothing but the inanimate flesh of an eighteen year old girl, was that I wish I had known her better. And if it happened tomorrow that I suddenly needed to make some account of my life I'd only be able to admit to the missed opportunities rather than the seized ones.

Category: Meatspace