19 November 2013

Writing for yourself

In the words of George Takei, 'Oh My...!' - I've fallen off the wagon - the consistency of blog post writing wagon that is.

I've been rather overtaken by my fiction writing of late, so have no fear, reader, it's not like I've not been writing. That's all I've been doing. That and finding myself watching 'Charmed' as it re-airs on E4 each morning? (Why?!)

The project that has been at the forefront of my writing endeavours has been a new story set in Ancient Greece. Because, of course. And yes, I started it before 'Atlantis' aired. I had it in my head that I would not work on anything else until my final revision of my fantasy novel manuscript would be complete. I was being as disciplined as I could be, methodically revising each chapter. Alas, though, the path does not stay true - or rather it does, just not straight.

What I mean to say is that, though I've been diverted, it's not a diversion. No writing ever is. I have my sis to thank for the proverbial kick up the backside/impetus needed to write this new tale. And I am happy to report that the process of writing it has been the very antithesis of writing the fantasy novel.  I just got the idea and ran with it, sans a) writing for a market/audience, b) analysing 'what am I trying to say'?, c) charting out pace and rhythm, d) wondering if my characters work. I wrote it for me. And by gods, if it isn't enjoyable. I'm quite taken and I don't want to leave this world I'm inhabiting.

Current location: Ancient Greece
I never left since the last blog post -
not when they have juice smoothies!

That doesn't mean I haven't jotted down thoughts and ruminations that could otherwise be blogged about. I just haven't set aside the space to write them up (see above note about not wanting to leave the setting of my new story's world). On that note, though, I did jot something down that I wouldn't mind sharing - it's a thought I imagine one of my characters from my (somewhat eastern inspired) fantasy novel would say but it sprang up in response to watching a video about the sadness of impermanence. Sadness - what sadness? Life only changes form.
The whole universal knowledge of existence can be known if man were to acknowledge and know the Tree - her truth, her actuality.
Do you think the tree weeps when winter's chill comes upon her? No, for she knows that she will be beautiful again come spring. And again. Eternally so.
And if she is uprooted, she does not weep then, not with sorrowful tears. Rather she has wept her seeds, which have gone on and spread afar - and so the tree will be renewed in numerous new places, ones she could not even dream of, once again to grow tall and beautiful.  
I guess in this way, the tree never dies. And if a time were to come when there is no such time for trees even, well who would be there to 'record' and 'lament'? -  concepts that likely will have neither place nor meaning.

8 October 2013

Letter to the BBC: hands off Ancient Greece!

Where I belongs, reader
Dear BBC - specifically to those in Drama Development,

I had not really been aware of your latest drama that occupies the Saturday primetime spot, Atlantis. Despite the show's content being Ancient Greece, it had not really registered. I happened upon the opening episode when it aired last week.

I am sorry to say that disappointment doesn't really adequately describe the feeling attributed to watching this show. My emotional arc can be summed up thus: eager anticipation, bemusement and then outrage.

Yes, outrage, which might seem a little of an overreaction to fiction. But here is my issue or gripe, as it were: Ancient Greek history and mythology (any mythology, for that matter) is a trove of immense storytelling. Most of it is nuts and that's why it's so enjoyable. But I believe BBC, you have handled this material with little regard and decency. It was so, so poor and I do not think it unreasonable to expect a little more from your institution. Though perhaps this is my error - I should not expect so much, I should resign myself to the fact that a whole load of nonsense comes out of your shows. However, that's not entirely true - you've got Sherlock, among other fine dramas. I understand Saturday evening is a 'fun time' slot and has been inhabited by equally silly but somewhat 'fun' shows like Robin Hood and Merlin.

I just don't understand the need to do away with a little authenticity in favour of cheap thrills. It's one thing to have poor writing and poor acting, quite another to trample over quality source material. Mythology and Ancient Greek is a bit of fun but can we at least get some simple details right, so that young people (any people) are at least educated a wee bit as well? Alas, I did not watch the entirety of the show - after 15 minutes or so, I was crying out at the TV screen, which is never good for one's blood pressure, so to ease it, I switched off. I quite literally cannot judge the rest of the episode but I can say that watching that much alone has induced quite a reaction in me.

I am not going to mention the predominant Anglo-Saxon ethnicity of the casting - Robin Hood and Merlin were authentic in that sense but are we still stuck in the 1960s? There are no shortage of talent you could employ. Instead, for reasons I know not why, Mark Addy, the kind of portly man who you'd have a pint with, seems to get noble and warrior-like roles, such as King Robert in Games of Thrones. Here, you have him as Hercules, despite his utter lack of warrior-ness. Bemusing. Worse still, he's got a Roman name. Is it so immensely difficult to have him referred to as 'Heracles', as that is Greek after all. And let's get one thing sorted right away - Heracles would not, WOULD NOT, be afraid of the Minotaur. That is woefully poor on the writer's part, woefully. It would have worked if the Heracles in question was in fact a young man, as yet to take part in his trials and so was not a schooled warrior.

WHAT THE HAY?! moment:
Wait, what? This guy is the infamous Hercules?!! But he's scared of the Minotaur...*SIGH*
That brings me to the depiction of 'the oracle'. There was little or no mysticism around this ridiculous character. An oracle is not a person but rather the person - woman rather - is a vessel for the oracle. She is also not someone who just answers random questions. As such, the writers leeched any real suspense (or coolness) around that scene where the protag visits her.

Of course, these are by the by, one could argue. I would argue it just comes off as embarrassing. I would also state that the reason I get so irate watching something on this subject is because I know that I would have created something of better quality. I do not believe I am coming from an arrogant, deluded position here; I absolutely adore Ancient Greece and her mythology and I am dying and so unbelievably keen to get my hands on something that I can then work with and bring to life (of course, I am writing my own material that will adequately reflect what I mean). I don't get overly excited about much but if anyone comes to me and mentions Ancient Greece, I'm there with bells on.

I can also tell you, there is nothing mutually exclusive about being true to their culture and stories AND being fresh and bringing something exciting to the audience. We've got it in our heads that people won't like it if it sticks too much to a traditional approach. You can be as creative and mad with a story that still holds true to the original setting or tales that come from that story (Scott's Gladiator is a fab example). In fact, that is the only way you can add true value, true meaning to a new telling. I could in fact forgive more if it was a modern adaptation/set in a more modern era. But if you are going to set it in Ancient Greece, goodness, do justice to that at least! Or step aside and let those who will do it worthily.

Lastly Ancient Greece is the home to drama, the kind of drama that we love and still sustains us. There is no end to the ridiculous high stakes situations and scenarios that run through their tales. So it's still mind boggling and immensely frustrating that anyone/group of people can fail to do it right, when it's already there - very richly so!

I highly doubt you'll care much that lil' ole me is not going to be a viewer of Atlantis. But if you'd done it even a little decently, you would have had an AVID viewer and advocate. Now, I'll just seek comfort in the saying, 'If you don't like the way it's done, see if you can do it better.' I shall sirs and madams, I shall indeed.

3 September 2013

A fast and slow learner: disappointment, proactive, gut instinct and take heart.

I'm thinking about 'disappointment' - the word, what it feels like, all the stuff relating to and around the this state. I know within myself that I've probably sat in this state and thought on it too long for my own good, so apologies, this is one of those posts that is more to do with 'getting it off my chest', as it were.

I'm reading the 'Etymologican' by Mark Forsyth, a brilliant read on, yup, you guessed it, etymology of words and phrases. Tis a fascinating read indeed. So when I pinpointed my recent morose state as being grounded in 'disappointment', I wanted to understand the word's structure. Without needing to run to the internet or an actual book dictionary, I could surmise that it was a state of 'non-appointment', or opposite to 'appoint' in some way. And golly, did that strike a chord. Because it's only in that small crack of illumination around the word's construction that it resonated more in terms of reflecting my inner-goings on. Anyhow, so in confirmation of my basic pondering around the word:
Disappoint is traced to the Middle English disappointen by way of the Old French desapointer. In literal meaning, it is to remove from office.[5] Its use in the sense of general frustration traces to the late 15th century, and it first appears recorded in English as an emotional state of dejection in the middle 18th century.
I'm beginning to think disappointment is one of the heaviest and most crushing states. Depending on when it flares up, one can shrug it off. 'Oh, they didn't have the ice-cream flavour I wanted.' Not the end of the world. Sure. But we humans seem to have a 'cumulative' emotion meter. It adds up over time, nay?

It's all come to the fore much more when I happened to be at my folks' place the other day and was clearing out a big ole storage box of stuff that had all work from high school. Among my trove of wonders, I found loads of cards my friends and I had written to each other at birthdays and more generally - and man did we gush about each other! I was genuinely touched to read over some of the messages and it shocked me to realise that version of myself had existed and that I'd forgotten those thoughts. Now, I for one, adored high school.  It was an all girls school and a lot of people immediately think 'oh no, it must have been bitchy and nasty.' It really wasn't for me. School was there to nurture me, it had possibilities and because I had that attitude, it did. It's evident in my friends' messages too - we had this constant back and forth of 'lifting each other up.' Lastly, having flicked through my old AD work at uni, I could see how proficient I was at a job I didn't even get officially trained for. I taught myself; it's a pattern of mine - more on that later.
Courtesy of http://www.loveandlaundry.com/

Why do I recount my reminiscing? Because we forget. We forget really easily - how fired up we could be, how fearless we could be, how nice we could be, how wonderful we are. I know this sounds like self-help do-da but having that inherent knowledge, that inherent reassurance that doesn't need to be pushed and pulled forth from murky depths, allows one to just go forth, strike out and do things - achieve things - without a second thought. It does away with the umming and aaahing, the hesitation, the procrastination, the fear of failure and so there is an efficiency to life, there is an immediacy.

So, we then also forget the inherent lessons silently wrapped up in those past experiences. Or rather, I forget. It takes me a long, long time to a) work out why I feel 'off', b) remind myself that I can switch that around and that I was once (am) confident without thought c) remind myself that I've been through a decent amount of experiences that have allowed me to overcome a great deal (failing to achieve in one's career should be child's play compared to overcoming severe health problems and breaking free from a poisonous home environment) d) get excited and fearless and e) ACT ON IT. In fact I can get through a to d rather swiftly. It's the gap between the D and E. There should be no gap whatsoever. D should roll into E seamlessly.

That brings one to the popular and much used word, 'proactive.'
 The author, Austrian existential neuropsychiatrist Dr. Viktor Frankl, used the word to describe a person who took responsibility for his or her life, rather than looking for causes in outside circumstances or other people. Frankl stressed the importance of courage, perseverance, individual responsibility and awareness of the existence of choices, regardless of the situation or context.[4]
I think that's the catapult, the voltage between D and E. All the other stuff is 'analysis', the mind's work. The next part requires the body, essentially yes, the heart. Hence the phrase, 'take heart.' And also 'gut instinct.' I think I need to be aware of those a LOT more. It's weird though. I applied this all in terms of my journey to health. I did away with the usual thinking and methodologies around medicine, the stuff that's just assumed, just taken for granted and so would have left me with 'making do.' I questioned everything and then my gut and heart told me, 'there's another way!' It was a whisper at first and then it became a yell. 'How dare you make do?' So I acted on that inherent listening. And success and triumph followed.

So, I'm sitting here, having written this all and wondering, why do I fall short of applying this to the world of work? I should be fearless here. I should be able to sever all ties to 'maybe this might happen', 'maybe that'...blah blah. The mind is NOT my friend in this scenario. If I know that 'making do' was never my mantra, never my truth, then hell, what's the hold up? I'm writing this from my flat that I live in with my sister, a place I couldn't even begin to imagine living in this time last year. But I'm here.

So what I can understand from all this over-thinking? That only you can make stuff happen. Sure, with the flat, I had my sister's support and family's. Ditto with the health stuff. Yet at the heart of it all, it was also just me. The alternative is 'relying on others'.

This weekend I was involved in the a short film being made. I work for the director and had come on board having done film at uni, ready to make...well, films. He told me about his film ideas. I was happy to get a job. Six months went by and I'm filling in all manner of roles because it's a startup. A year later and we're only doing corporate work because that's what 'pays the bills'. I've racked up  skills as video presenter, voice over narrator, in website customisation, all just to facilitate and I was happy to get thrown in and do it. It continued that way for three years. Finally, we start to get the film made and that hopeful young woman who wanted to make films was happy. Then disappointment reared its head. In this scenario, it was 'relying on others' that did it: waiting for some people to get their stuff in order, waiting for them to recognise your worth, how much you've helped, how much you've supported them when the chips were waaaay down, even stepping back and allowing them to grow in the hopes that you'll be in the frontline when they finally do work that means something to them. Just being there. And then annoyed because you didn't fight more, you didn't yell like your heart and your gut were yelling at you. You got sidelined.

Hence, disappointment is crushing - because when all is said and done, at the heart of it, you're angry with yourself. And disappointing yourself is like nothing else. You can't project it onto objects, i.e. someone, a situation, a scene (I mean you can for awhile but's all fallacy). While disappointing others is never good, I can bear it. I can even bear it when others disappoint me but more often than not, it's my issue and not theirs. I cannot bear disappointing myself.

26 August 2013

Post for Urban Times on Earth 2 Hub is up!

I'm rather chuffed to announce that I had the great opportunity of writing for Urban Times on Earth 2 Hub's continuing development and exciting new work.

I'm on the front page, you guys! Though I'm totes envious of Mr. Mill's title...

The article is here - and I must say, it was a pleasure and super easy to get the post written via Urban Times platform. While writing, you even get the chance to pick out 'pull out quotes', like so:

I know this might seem really unexciting but my serotonin levels spiked when I realised I could do it, that I had that kind of control. So there. And Urban Times gets major kudos for being super accessible and inclusive. I look forward to penning more stuff for them. I encourage writers to check it out, there's all manner of cool content on there.

Anyway, it was a good to get back to catching up with all things E2Hub, especially they are setting up some fab partnerships and working with the likes of Jason Silva and Dr. Rachel Armstrong, who is part of the team leading on 'Project Persephone' which is about designing a 'living' world-ship. Officially: Project Persephone is charged with the design and implementation of a giant natural computer that will form the ‘living’ interior to the Icarus Interstellar worldship, which constitutes a kind of ‘space’ Nature.' Oh my, how cool is that? Something reminiscent of a sci-fi film fo'sho! And of course, with names like Icarus and Persephone, I'm already loving it. Though I get the reference to Icarus, I'm intrigued by the selection of Persephone.

Anyhow, do feel free to check out the post, like and share if you feel so compelled, merci!

8 August 2013

My Reading So Far and Moment-by-moment of 'City of Bones'

I can't say that I've been reading extensively of late (and I don't think listening to audio books by Deepak Chopra counts all that much).

Books that I've picked up recently:
- Kraken
- Game of Thrones
- Clash of Kings
- Stormbringers

I've not got very far into Kraken and it's still just sitting there...I don't know why but I can't say I've warmed up to it, mostly in part because of the protag and the 'voice'. I read to the end of Book 2 of A Song of Ice and Fire and decided I don't think I can take more of this kind of killing, this 'no-place-to -hide-in-something-sanctimonious-or-even-half-decent', ambling plot. (SPOILERS?!) I'd rather skip to when George RR Martin decides to throw the world of fire (dragons) and ice together (nightwalkers).
I have yet to read Stormbringers.

BUT, seeing as there's a host of kids/YA fantasy film adaptations about to hit the ole big screen, I thought I would recount the emotional journey I had when I leafed through 'City of Bones', the Mortal Instruments book by Cassandra Clare. I know reader, you are thinking, 'why, why?' I don't know, I don't know why I pick up these woefully lacklustre tales that adorn the YA shelves at bookshops, my 12 year old self lured in by something that might, *might* be intriguing. Perhaps it's some residual left over feelings from when I would day dream that I'd find other worlds and so I could escape from Physics or Maths class. Whatever. (And being lured in also by a female lead: 'Ooh, she's gotta be cool, right?...Right?' Oh how I kid myself, reader, how. I. kid.)

You're now entering the domain of **Spoiler Alert** Sam!

MOMENT 1: should have known when I read the blurb and saw 'sexy demon hunters'

MOMENT 2: should have known better when it's revealed that the antag's name begins with 'V' and was once a powerful whatsit but had ideas about 'purging' the race and so turned bad.

MOMENT 3: should have known more so when I realised the protag was a self deprecating, klutz. Paraphrased from the book:  "I'm short so I'm always called 'cute', never pretty, always 'cute.'" (First world problems, B****!!)

MOMENT 4: should have known more more so (huh, sounds like 'mimosa' if you say it fast enough) when the protag thinks 'He called me beautiful. No one had called my beautiful before.' (Sweet mercy, I'm crying it's so heart-wrenchingly vomit-inducing!)

WHAT THE HAY? MOMENT: I would say around 75% of the book's content. 

But I still read the book, reader, all of it. I am ashamed. Yet I shall not being going to see this tripe plastered over our screens. Oh no. Alas, there are, like, more books in this stupid-ass series. 

Something 'emo', I'd imagine, something touching on some forbidden love nonsense.

1 August 2013

Not another Kickstarter post!

Hello reader! Before you click away with the thought that 'goodness, this one is always banging on about Kickstarter projects', well, I would like to say that the post is in line with all things mythic related (I does like me myths, reader, I does). Plus, it's first day of the month, so the promise of intriguing prospects are in the air.

I'm once again really thrilled to say that fellow writer and all around amazing creator, Chris Carter, has launched a campaign for his second book in the 'Camp Myth' series. I had backed the campaign for the first book last year and it's easily been the most fun and involving campaign I've had the pleasure of being a part of to date (I wrote about it in past post). So no pressure in having to live up to that, Chris!  

Chris has been a busy guy - there's been a Camp Myth app for iOS and a table top RPG, so the world is really building around the series. And so, we backers of the original book patiently waited for the release of the second book.

This time Chris is offering cooler rewards, aka 'swag'. Yours truly is looking doubly forward to the book because I won the chance to create a character that will feature in Book 2: Kraken Fishing. That's what I mean with this particular campaign - Chris has achieved a great way to make it so inclusive and drum up a sense of community around it all - hey, just like camp :) (I assume, I never went to camp, it's a North American thing which I think, has only just recently been imported here).

I'll next be updating you about Camp Myth when I get my rewards, no doubt but if in the mean time, your interest has been even mildly piqued by the whole thing, then do head on over to the Kickstarter page and get-to-backing! You're bound to have fun - hey, just like camp! (see above bracketed comment).    

Also, in other news, I'm also more directly involved in another campaign, this one for a short film. It's one that a colleague of mine has been wanting to make for awhile and so we're all getting behind it to make it happen and it's a chance to finally take part in making a film. It's been awhile! This particular film is rather dark and suspenseful, one of those ones that really builds up to a final reveal. Again, if that sounds like your bag, then head over to the page for 'Not Ever - a short film by Ben Mourra'. Roger O'Donnell from 'The Cure' is going to be involved with the soundtrack and there's a well-known British actress coming on for the lead - very exciting developments. It's just going to be awesome to finally get it made, so if you're a person who loves to back arts and such, then do check it out and share. Merci, merci indeed. 

On that note, I disembark from the Kickstarter train. 

Oh, what the dragons, I shall recommend 'The Cure - Friday, I'm in Love'

30 July 2013

Have a good chortle with Po on her travels

One of my dearest friends, Po, headed off to South America mid-month for some travel fun over a period of four months (NB* That's 'Po' is in short for Pauline, not the Telly-tubby whatsit or Kung Fu Panda Po). She's wanted to do this for awhile, reader, so I applaud her courage and initiative because I say a lot of things I want to do and well...well, see my last post, *sniff*

Anyhow, she's only gone and started a travel blog of her wondrous accounts and it's good fun. You'll begin to get to know my mate without even meeting her, as it were, well because she writes so vividly in her own voice. It's like Po is sitting next to me, recounting all at our many get togethers in Giraffe. Don't ask, somehow we always manage to gravitate to Giraffe - we even have the 'table' we always sit at. If you happen to go there, I highly recommend the Sunshine Coast Iced Tea. Oh my, I just saw that they have a Falafel burger on the menu - that sounds divine. Must sample that next time. Oh, Po, I shan't be waiting until you come back, I'm afraid!

What is that?! Read her blog and find out: http://gadaboutwithpo.wordpress.com/
The blog is good fun, it's got that chortle-esque quality, not dissimilar to to our Miranda Hart. I don't know what Po's itinerary is and whether she'll soon be striking out into areas where there's no wi-fi but I can assure you that she updates more regularly than I do! I hope the whole adventure will be fulfilling for her and that we'll continue to hear all about it. Good show.

28 July 2013

'Stick it out and be grateful' vs 'I want something more'

I wish I had something of interest to recount here to you reader. Alas, I've sort of fallen out of routine with writing of late - and of other things as well.

I've sort of been rotating around this idea of 'stick it out and be grateful' vs 'I want out and I need something more'. Over the last few years, I've invested heavily in the first line of thinking - actually the second part of the first, i.e. just be grateful. Find things you love about work and the stuff happening in the everyday. But sometimes that feels like effort and that small inner voice that responds 'well it could be worse' does not help, does it? You're not standing on a relatively spectrum everyday, making sure you're in the acceptable 'green middle' and skipping happily along when you realise you are.
No one wants that face. No one.
And even if you are doing that for the majority of the month or year, there are times when you're kind of just thinking 'I am here, I'm not there.' There's still that gap. And you can shrink it with your attitude but gods know that more often that not, I haven't been able to diminish it entirely. And then of course, impatience rears it head, you get overcome with this will to move, to accelerate.

The thing with the submitting to 'stick it out' or 'keep your head down and work hard, stuff will happen for you' ideology is that time can fritter away before you realise this path is leading to Nowhere Town. For me, the mundanity of the corporate video world used to be offset by the chance to do presenting in front of the camera - it meant leaving the godawful desk and that tunnel vision you get around your monitor, your noise-cancelling headphones. I think when you 'fall into' something and realise it's enjoyable and effortless for you, heck, it's something worth pursuing, even if you'd never realised this was something you could see yourself doing. Isn't that a hundred times more worth it than tapping away at a computer all day - when you sure as hell didn't see yourself doing that either (and by that I mean work at the office, editing videos or googling 'how to' this or 'how to' that, rather than writing).

I think some things are coming a to a head for me because it's past the half way mark in terms of this calendar year. Mostly, I do away with time as a concept as this indicator on some scale of accomplishment of achievement. Mostly.

I don't really know where I'm going with this post, to be honest. I only know that I have to constantly, constantly remind myself to push through doubt and fear.  So yesterday I pushed out some of my writing (the real stuff :P) into the world and started sharing it. You might be thinking, whoa, didn't she say she wants to be a published writer?!, isn't that exceptionally overdue?  Absolutely and absolutely not.

22 June 2013

That's early for Mykonos, Is it Just Me? (Yes!) and The Great Gatsby

A little bit of a gap since me last post, in which a trip to Greece and a viewing of The Great Gatsby happened.

It's not riveting stuff to report, reader, as half of my mental processes are being consumed by an anxiety of losing one's lovely tan, a tan acquired with hours basking in the Greek sun - I was lounging on a lovely beach in Mykonos this week. And so, since returning, in which cloudy skies persist, I am of course, despairing. You see, reader, I was truly made for the sunny climes, as one's skin does look so much more radiant; it does suit one so. I didn't have good reading material on the beach, reader. I rather foolishly forgot to consider it and so had to make the best of what was available at Gatwick's south terminal. Here were my chosen options: 

And in response to Miranda's question posed in her title, 'Yes, yes, it is just you.' (really a rather ridiculous read but humorous, nevertheless). I have not tackled the Philippa Gregory book yet. 

Courtesy of www.thesaint-online.com. Also, can't help thinking of  when
Michael Buckley (What the Buck?) said how he thought 'blonde on blonde' action was weird...!
But it's Leo, so it's cool...!
With regards to watching 'The Great Gatsby', I went with low expectations for I couldn't be sure Baz Luhrmann could quite please. Somewhat poetically though, the trailers screened before the movie included the upcoming 'Romeo and Juliet', which looks abysmal by the way - and why show the whole story arc in the trailer? We all know it! (Tis poetic reader, because Mr. Luhrmann became known to me only after viewing his film, 'Romeo + Juliet' which was the reason I considered getting into film-making at all: I was overcome with joy that one could bring literature - even Shakespeare - to the silver screen in such a cool, modernly-adapted way?! And it still make sense...?! Daaaamnn!)

Back to Gatsby though - kudos back to Mr. Baz because I enjoyed it so. Yes, there were times it was over the top, as expected, but it was not nearly as OTT as I thought it might be. My main concern was that it would detract from the essential heart of the story and main character but no, it did not. That was still wonderfully conveyed. All the cast were brill. It re-affirmed my belief that Luhrmann really does do a good adaptation. He takes liberties and always gives it his own flavour but doesn't detract from the essential story, the heart of what is driving the narrative and characters. His license is never at the expense of what makes the story, well, the story. Good show. And it did look beautiful, as it should rightly so. I was also concerned that it would drag but there again, I did not find myself sighing with the conscious awareness of passing minutes. I thought it was neatly paced, just so. 

VERDICT: 8/10 

26 May 2013

Kickstarter Campaign: Earth 2 Hub App

Hello reader, I hope you don't mind me mentioning this but I've recently got involved with an amazing group of people - namely the team at Earth 2 Hub which is all about giving a platform to new/futurist science and tech, which explores ways to bring nature and humanity back into harmony.

They've just launched a Kickstarter campaign for the development of their new app, which looks amazing. I helped to do some of the filming for the video and am really looking forward to seeing how the campaign comes along. If it takes your fancy, or you're interested, please do check it out here.
There are some really awesome rewards in it for backers, and having backed a few Kickstarter campaigns already, I can honestly say the rewards really work here in terms of giving back in kind. While campaigns offer up 'thank you, you're amazing, you get a digital copy of xx', (which I'm not knocking by the way, each to their own capabilities), as a backer, we kind of want cool, worthy stuff in return and this campaign won't disappoint. Major kudos always goes to Frank and Melissa, the co-founders behind E2Hub and Mark Raimondeau who never ceases to amaze with all the visuals and graphics around E2Hub.

Ok, so on a less 'selfish' note:
At the moment, Earth 2 Hub are generating some amazing content but the whole platform - and the entire vision of bringing earth and humanity together through sustainable means - is produced entirely voluntarily. I've had the pleasure of writing for them and attending some exciting, futurist events. What's more, they embrace new tech entirely and I think it's such an amazing space to be in. It would be great to back such thoughtful  and inspiring ventures - and yes, I essentially write all this because the whole concept behind it all is very dear to me.

Also the APP looks like it's going to be a real corker - while the details won't be finalised or known yet as it's yet to be developed, you can definitely see that it's being thoroughly thought out. (You only have to visit the E2Hub website to see how good it looks and how much it's followed). As an Android phone owner myself, E2Hub can surpass the initial funding so we mere mortals that do not own an iPhone can enjoy it. But for now, it'll be great for the target goal to be reached! Lastly, there's hardly any futurist apps out there, so it will be cool to get behind something so unique and pioneering and that will fill the gap.

21 May 2013

...Whoops and Stumbled On...Plot and Logic get the finger in Star Trek: Into Darkness

Egads, reader, it's been awhile since my last post (typically then, I posted 3 times in 1 week - what up wid dat?) So alas, I did not keep the momentum up, as they say. 

Anyhow, the main reason is that all writing time (the precious hours one hoards when one gets back from work) has been dedicated to polishing off me manuscript! And I don't want to break THAT momentum. So yeah, apologies. 
'My mistress picks me over a social life!'
Also, on a lamer another point, I'm not sure what my next post should be on. So of course, reader, I do what any respectable blogger does and hijack another's post and link to it for your perusal

It be about the new Star Trek film which I must say I enjoyed but found it farcical in terms of plot and sense. And of course, the amazecakes peeps at i09 have documented the EXACT monologue that went on in my head during and after watching the movie: *headscratching* 
Kudos goes to http://thesnowolf.com for posting this
uber cute and distracting pic! Taaaw!

Some choice bites that made me laugh out loud, I mean LOL, several times (tried to pick ones that wouldn't reveal too much but, just in case...):
**You're now entering the domain of SPOILER ALERT Sam**

[Taken from Star Trek Into Darkness: The Spoiler FAQ]
*I have an English accent for no clear reason!*

Look, I know Star Trek is science fiction, but hasn’t Trek always at least nominally tried to get science right? Shouldn’t a Star Trek movie give the tiniest shit about such things?
One might presume.
Yeah. You know how the first movie was all about Kirk’s journey from a rebellious kid to a more mature leader of men?
Well, we’re doing that again!
I think it’s nice that in this day and age, a white male can still be cast as an Indian played by a Mexican. White men really have come a long way!
— Spock —
— Spock yells —

So yeah, that's my excuse for not writing a proper review on the film! (Also, aside addressed to J.J. Abrams himself, DUDE, enough of the light flares?!!) Peace out.

Star Trek: Into Darkness OST - Opening Track

3 May 2013

Sci-Fi London Opening Night: Screening of Byzantium

I was most graciously invited to the opening night of Sci-Fi London 2013 by Frank of E2Hub fame to see Byzantium. I'd been holed up for the last few weeks making sure I was writing everyday after work, so I guess I didn't mind breaking the routine. So I dragged myself out to remedy my deprived social quota (like when you play The Sims  and your sim's social meter is in the red?)

I have good hair* and also I'm having fun...right?
(*colour tones may differ from actual hair colour)
Obligatory Storm Troopers at a Sci-Fi event
So, about the movie: Byzantium. It's brought to us by the director of 'Interview with a Vampire' which I can't really remember, other than realising that little girl in there was Kristen Dunst. Byzantium benefits from having a strong cast, (if you disregard how utterly ridiculous our Gemma Arterton was in Prince of Persia) but alas, the union of good director and cast does not a strong film make.

Obligatory Red Riding Hood hood needed to denote alternative gothicness
Courtesy of http://theartsyfilmblog.com/

You are now entering the domain of *SPOILER ALERTS* Sam

1. I appreciate that it was a completely different take on the vampire story and mythos and it focused on a mother-daughter dynamic. So, it's not what you expect at all, which is so refreshing because let's face it, vamp stuff is so overdone right now; we're continually force-fed blackened and charred fodder and forced to nod our heads. (Also, it wasn't what I would call your typical sci-fi - if it hadn't been screened at the Sci-Fi London, I wouldn't have tagged it sci-fi. But then the genre is hard to pin, sort of gothic-esque? - good or no? Not sure...)
2. The opening chase scene was pretty riveting - this wasn't Daniel Craig leaping about doing parkour shit or whatever but a prozzie running through buildings, in her trainers! +10 points. 
3. The cast - everyone played their parts very solidly. 
4. Pretty scenery and sets - I know I should elaborate here also but yeh...

1. It was tres slow and lacked any real sense of pacing. It was as if the movie was a dying a slow death after that one chase scene. There were too many lingering shots of Saoirse Ronan - she's got that interessant face but please, there's only so much of her vacant stares you can handle.
2. Confusing jumps between times - this essentially just makes you realise it's a movie about unveiling the origin of our MCs' predicament, slowly and achingly drip fed. It did relay the sense of elongated time as vampires who now live 'forever' - unless someone machetes your head off with a Byzantium blade - or wire/floss?
3. Over cooked moments - the blood waterfalls for example and the 'telling' of how becoming a vamp gives you a new vision through new eyes but not really showing that? I think the filmmakers thought mystery and prolonged anticipation (and heavy handed voice over) makes up for lack of clear story and motivations of characters.
4. General plot or character choices... leading to:

What the hay..?! moment:
Why, if you were a prozzie all your 'mortal' life til the point of near death, would you choose to remain in said profession after being given the gift of eternal life? Really, truly, there has to be a better way.

Why I'll never get vamp flicks:
When are people, sorry badly written characters going to GET over themselves? The end, in which lanky dying boy is taken to Isla de Muerta (I've named it that because so many questions are just gleaned over in the movie) to become a 'sucrient' - why does everyone relinquish humanity?!! You're going to need to drink blood - one drink, one drink - for the rest of endless time. Reconsider my friend, reconsider. (sure I get it's like drinking water after an insane thirst but still...after 100 years, it'll get old...) Also, think about your parents!
And why don't modern vampires just raid some blood banks? Or do they need it warm, 'fresh'? They can warm it up themselves, non? Have mulled blood? *shudder* Just got an image of a flamboyant vamp swirling a wine glass filled with blood, sniffing it. "Vintage blood from the Bordeaux region? Excellent."Or perhaps to break from the mundanity of how he consumes his 'aqua vitae', he makes a blood sorbet?


Lesson to be learned: Don't go out to fill up your social quota, chose writing every time :P

So not appropriate but what the hay! The Sims 3 Music

1 May 2013

Stumbled on...Genius GIFs to celebrate 'Mean Girls' Anniversary

Screen Crush have posted a wonderful piece on 'Mean Girls' which is SUCH an iconic film for me and definitely one of my all time faves because the script is so funny and timeless and it brought Tina Fey to my attention (one woman who I kind of aspire to like but unless I inherit some sort of witty/funny gene, I dunno...I may fall short of the mark).

Anyhow, the fine people at Screen Crush have geniusly put together a whole load of GIFs, capturing some of the best moment/lines of the movie. I've gone ahead and selected a few of my faves.

All time fave moment!

To see the full post with the amazing GIFs, clickety click here

Alas they forget one of the best moments, 'You can't sit with us!': 

Thank you, Tina Fey, thank you!

30 April 2013

Camp Myth - now as an iPad app!

This is a plug for a writer friend, reader but bear with! Said writer is the fabulous Chris Lewis Carter, author of the Camp Myth series, of which the first book is out to buy from Amazon either in paperback or e-book (- and yes I'll be yawn-somely predictable and recommend you purchase the paperback - the wait for delivery is worth it, if only to see the fabulous cover art and illustrations in their print form). I wrote about when the first book got published as I was a happy backer of the Kickstarter project.

Anyhoo, Chris has worked with developers and in the trend of all things digital tech, he gives us the shiny app - a visual novel which works very much like a story-led game on the DS, not unlike Phoenix Wright or Hotel Dusk (see my post on Phoenix Wright mashup with My Little Pony - oh yes, reader, it exists and it is better than your imagination can conceive).

The Camp Myth app is available for iOS, so boo, not for Android but it's ok, I downloaded it on my sister's iPad. The story follows the main characters you're introduced to in the book series - adventurous fae, Felix, the nerdy cyclops, Argee and the feisty kitsune, Moxie. We follow their shenanigans during their time spent at a summer camp for mythological beasties, earning merit badges by doing some pretty dangerous tasks. Oh yes, you read right, reader. It is tres jolie/amusee -?? Gah, forgotten my French. The lack of proper protection for these kids embarking on fatal missions is reminiscent of the Harry Potter series.

 The look and feel is very nicely done and it's cool to see the character coming along as we're treated to seeing more of the Camp Myth world and more of Felix, Argee, Moxie et co - and their witty repartee. As the story goes along you get to make some choices but as you should know by now, reader, everything comes back to the story. It's engaging and sweet and I want to read more. Either you can unlock the next parts of the story by purchasing them for a small fee or wait for the release date. I'm going old school and throwing faith in the 'anticipation makes the experience sweeter.' I love the series feel and appreciate the drip feed approach - consider me hooked!

For a superior, legit review, click over to what Tapscape had to say. 

To recreate the cutesy video game style music with a flash of adventure, for your ears: Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time - Hyrule Field

23 April 2013

You need something to hold in your hands: the brain's connections to writing and reading

This post is technically a write up of one of my entries in my Morning Pages diary. Don't know what 'Morning Pages' are, reader? For shame! You need to look it up in the seminal The Artist's Way by Julia Cameron (of which I've only read two chapters but yeah, that's my problem, not yours).

The need to post up what I ended up writing (splurge of the 'waking' brain) was propelled by a brilliant online article about the brain and the written word, vis a vis reading on paper/page as opposed to reading on screen. The subject began churning in my mind after watching a video that displayed how a school in the US still put high priority on the children learning cursive writing and not just using tablets. The video also showed a professor of linguistics arguing that nostalgia alone is not a good enough reason for children being made to write with pen and paper.

Image provided by http://www.aotearoaeditorial.com
I've always had the notion that there is something integral about the act of writing out by hand with a pen on paper. When I really want to arrange my thoughts and get serious about forming a structure, I revert (sorry, wrong choice of word), I gravitate to paper and pen. And I know it has little to do with the notion that it is some sort of fanciful, wholesome craft, it's something natural, obvious and the brain likes it (backed up by the article I reference below - 80% of students of University of Mexico 'preferred to read text on paper as opposed to on a screen in order to "understand it with clarity".') 

Anyhow, here's what I penned in said diary on the issue (somewhat fragmented and not quite polished, which I think better illustrates how ideas and language 'flow' - a word my English teacher forbade us from ever using - from one to other, an effortless continuity) :

Do not forget the importance of brain, hand, pen and paper, a seamless line of action, one that is a low energy act with a high satisfaction rate; little or next to no resources are needed - no draining of electricity, no charging, no Wi-Fi, no pulling at any source of physical energy. All that is needed is the simplest of tools in hand. Scientists should recognise the importance of acts and crafts, so many activities, that work or require a tool in the hand - sculpting, cutting, sewing, cooking, surgery, drawing, engineering, gardening, carpentry, fishing, archery - anything that requires an implement to create and form something, fundamental to our brain waves, to the unfolding of a creative vision. How many times do we find it so hard to get something down on the screen? No one computer tool does it all perfectly. You have to chop and change. But the tool in hand, the paper, the tangible material, eliminates that initial halt/barrier, it begs that the activity happen right away; the unfashioned parts of wood that need assembling, the allure of the blank page, the sketchbook that is clean and ready for your drawn expressions, experiments, developments.  
I enjoy going to graduate shows and picking up the sketchbooks to see how they develop; the penmanship itself is like the map lines of the artist's mind and expression. None of that can come across quite so vividly and immediately on the digital screen. Sure, there are many amazing digital creations, digital paintings etc, but they don't give you a glimpse into the 'workings out'. For my own coherency, I have all my notes that I've written on pages in the digital space. Anyone, in theory, could view them. But there would be no fun that way because they are alone arranged for me. You would switch off from this somewhat blah display of digital notemaking, revisions etc. However, if I were to put on an exhibition, where my sketchbooks, illustrations and notebooks were on display, my 'workings out', it would be a story in itself, it would have meaning. It would give you a sense into the process, into the madness of the craft. Like with maths, you may get the end answer but everyone knows the accomplishment comes from the 'working out of it all', the language of the brains' processes and comprehensions, making those connections between this and that, elements strung together so that you align x with y. (I definitely feel dumber since leaving uni and I definitely don't connect up knowledge quite like I used to because there's little sense of an actual 'space' in which this happens).  
So please give students this indelible craft, this necessary act that gets the brain warmed up. Don't deny them the joy of how their brain truly works, how they truly tick. That way they'll have material, a retrospective that allows them to realise their own improvements, their evolution. You simply cannot track that through digital means. You cannot lay it all out and really see
After writing all of this, I was struck by the idea that reading is an actual physical activity, it's not just creating images in our minds, it goes beyond. And lo, I found this article from Scientific American, via one of my fave blogs, Forever Young Adult.
'...evidence from laboratory experiments, polls and consumer reports indicates that modern screens and e-readers fail to adequately recreate certain tactile experiences of reading on paper that many people miss and, more importantly, prevent people from navigating long texts in an intuitive and satisfying way. In turn, such navigational difficulties may subtly inhibit reading comprehension. Compared with paper, screens may also drain more of our mental resources while we are reading and make it a little harder to remember what we read when we are done. A parallel line of research focuses on people's attitudes toward different kinds of media. Whether they realize it or not, many people approach computers and tablets with a state of mind less conducive to learning than the one they bring to paper. 
"There is physicality in reading," says developmental psychologist and cognitive scientist Maryanne Wolf of Tufts University, "maybe even more than we want to think about as we lurch into digital reading...

Understanding how reading on paper is different from reading on screens requires some explanation of how the brain interprets written language. We often think of reading as a cerebral activity concerned with the abstract—with thoughts and ideas, tone and themes, metaphors and motifs. As far as our brains are concerned, however, text is a tangible part of the physical world we inhabit. In fact, the brain essentially regards letters as physical objects because it does not really have another way of understanding them.

12 April 2013

Poetry to plug the holes

I'm not really one for poetry, I kind of skated around it for years, thinking it required some other kind of intelligence to pen. Now it's what I do when I can't think of anything else, an ice-breaker in the otherwise awkward catch-up meeting I have with my on-going writing projects, projects which just sort of stare of me and ask "Soooo..."

(HAD to include this image I found when I typed in 'poetry is hard')

I was flipping back through one of my notebooks (has a pretty cover but not too pretty that I can't bring myself to write in it) to see how long I've been jotting my morning pages when I stumbled on this crude little creation:


With complete faith
I take this step, 
I make this leap,
I strike out in a sea of mist. 

No beacons light the way;
I become my own light, 
Shining bright enough to make day. 

In complete faith I am guided
By my own words and will, 
Running, no fear of standing still.

In complete faith, 
I take this step,
I make this leap, 
Even though the ground
Has ceased to be,
I now float or fly 
As is meant to be.

I don't actually have a good one for this, (I was shocked to realise my last two posts didn't even include them! Oversight!) So instead I'll fix on whatever I was listening to as I wrote this: 'Our House Below' - Cecile Corbel from 'The Secret World of Arrietty' Soundtrack
Our House Below - Instrumental Version by Cecile Corbel on Grooveshark