Archive for July, 2014

With Comic Con giving us all plenty to salivate over, Avengers: Age of Ultron, Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, The Hobbit: Battle of Five Armies, and so many more, I thought I would take some time to talk about why I am excited to be a geek, what has got me itching to see and read. But, where to start?

Firstly, books! With George RR Martin procrastinating and essentially stringing out the next chapter in the Game of Thrones series I predict now what will happen, people will have sex and people will die! There, that’s out the way! All credit to Mr Martin, he hit a niche in the market and exploited it superbly. As you can probably tell I am not the biggest fan. It’s enjoyable but as I have said before it is not quite there, not enough fantasy to be fantasy. Still, credit where it is due! So what has got me champing at the bit, the upcoming release I am most looking forward to? Ben Arronovich’s next instalment of his Peter Grant series, Foxglove Summer, due for release in September I cannot wait. Mr Arronovich has created a wonderful urban fantasy that shows a deeper and magical side to London. (I am aware that some of my readers have not read it, so I am taking due care not to add any spoilers). The series follows Peter Grant, policeman with the Metropolitan Police, he accidentally winds up being apprenticed to a branch of the Police that deals with ‘unusual and unspoken’ crimes. It really is a gripping read. Once one has adjusted to the vernacular and style it envelops you! It is a geek heaven of in-jokes and quotes across the sci-fi/fantasy world, from Aliens to Games Workshop, from Tolkein to Harry Potter and with a massive helping of Monty Python thrown in. I am genuinely looking forward to this!

Stephen King is to release yet another in November, and as a fan and collector of his work I will buy the special limited edition first, read it and file it on the bookshelf. Anne Rice has a new offering in the Vampire Chronicles, but mostly I shall be looking out for new authors, debuts in the genre. We shall see what the bookshops have to offer over the next few months.

Television seems to e the medium of choice, en vogue for the release of nerdy and geeky programmes. We have, Walking Dead season 5, Game of Thrones season 5, Falling Skies Season 4 ( which I have only recently managed to catch and very much enjoying it!). Big it is the new shows that have peaked my interest and in particular, Constantine! I think that Constantine, the damned demon hunter from Hellblazer/DC, is one of the best and likeable characters in comics today. sure, he has problems, issues you might say. As a child and a teenager he was plagued by visions of demons that drove him insane to the extent he takes his own life. He was saved but his soul was dammed. He knows where he is going when he does and is trying to buy his way to heaven by vanquishing the armies of hell. So brief recap there. Firstly let us forget the movie version, I liked the film, just not loved it like the source material. I have seen a few promo shots and leaked set shots of the eponymous hero, and I am liking what I see. Although am slightly disturbed by the news that he won’t be allowed to smoke ( a pivotal character trait), but nonetheless I am excited to see it, and I am rather hoping for an alliance and regular appearance of a certain magical companion, Zatanna!!

I can’t really talk about upcoming TV shows without mentioning Doctor Who. We have a new Dr in Peter Capaldi, we are promises a darker edge to the show. Matt Smith to me was a clown Dr, we have had them before, Patrick Troughton, Jon Pertwee and, to some extent, Sylvester McCoy, and for the show to move forward, to endure it needs the darker edge! So, we are promised Daleks, Cybermen and a plethora of others. Let’s hope it is good! I’m sure it will be, the stories haw been well written, but the rally exciting news is, and I hope this happens, is that Mr Middle Earth himself, Sir Peter Jackson (he needs to get a knighthood!) is to direct an episode!!!!! Please let that be true!!!!

That leaves movies…and you know, I am not going to discuss them here at this time. I am excited to be a geek, looking forward to all the stories coming out, looking forward to Christopher Nolan’s Interstellar, even if the story is so similar to my book thy I stopped writing it, Nolan is a visionary and an IMAGINEER of the highest order and I love his work! But mostly we are looking at sequels, prequels, reboots, re-reboots, ideas are I. Short supply and Hollywood is rehashing cash machines, guaranteed returns! Can you imagine films such as 2001: A Space Odyssey or Blade Runner being made today? Risky, innovative by unknowns? Nah! So heed my advice Hollywood, in the words that sparked the A.I. war ‘Take a Risk!’

So, it is a great time to be a geek, plenty to get excited over, then disappointed, then get disgruntled and annoyed and take to the internet to moan about it!

As always I invite you to have your say!

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A pleasant surprise!!!!!

Posted: July 22, 2014 in Geek
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For months I have resisted the urge to watch Zack Snyder’s Man of Steel, not because I dislike him as a director, not that I dislike his films, quite the opposite! I think Watchmen was a faithful and visual wonder, I know it has been slammed, but it really is good! And Sucker Punch, wow! An incredibly complex layered story, takes some thinking about but after a second watch, once you get the story and untangle the levels of reality then it is an amazing exploration of the human psyche! (And the scantily clad girls help!). No, the reason I had avoided Man of Steel was out of trepidation. I got very excited about Superman Returns! The teaser trailers using the John Williams score, slightly altered, peaked my attention and then, like so many others, massive disappointment! Then came Indiana Jones 4, Wanted, and others that got me salivating with excitement only to be let down. Hollywood had systematically destroyed my faith! So, I waited, didn’t bother with it at the cinema, didn’t buy it on DVD, I waited!

I went to the library, saw Man of Steel for rental and thought, I at least have to see it, just to see how bad it was. And oh my was I wrong!!!! In Snyder’s hands the mythology of our Kryptonian survivor has been born anew. My trepidation beforehand, over some of the casting, was unwarranted! Russell Crowe as Jor El was spot on! He uses his Maximus tone to be a commanding dominant figure! Kevin Costner (I really don’t like him) was fantastic as Jonathan Kent and his death, a pivotal event in the young Clark Kent’s Life was moving, emotionally charged and perfectly filmed! I shed a tear….superb!!!

The story line has some changes to it, altering some of the basic principles of the canon, but you know what? I like he changes, it worked! The style of storytelling, the use of flashback moved the story along brilliantly. The non linear storytelling mode, showing relevant histories when required to support the present day scene was fantastic!

Well, you can tell I liked it, I did not think I would, I felt I would be let down once again by the money grabbers at Hollywood, but every now and then a surprise, Inception, Kick Ass, Dark Knight and now Man of Steel! I now I am asking for a big hurt by saying that I am excited for Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, but you know what, If any director can do it Justice (pun intended) then it is Snyder! Bravo good sir, bravo!

As always if you agree disagree, then I invite you to comment!

Spiral!

Posted: July 9, 2014 in writing
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*Disclaimer*
I am writing this post, not to upset, not to worry people or to get attention. I am writing it because of a sense of catharsis. To explain how I am doing as I cannot often express myself very well beyond the written word. This is not a cry for help I just want people to understand.

SPIRAL

For nearly 10 years I have battled against depression. It really is a battle and it strikes me down, I keep saying that if you strike me down I will become more powerful than I can possibly imagine, but often it waits in the dark recesses waiting, watching, whittling away the defences until a breach in the wall is open then it floods in and attacks. People like me build defences, coping mechanisms that often work. My primary one was alcohol. This was the worst one to be honest, I had a very unhealthy relationship with booze and it was destructive! As a result I have very few friends. My drinking was a crutch, a way to deal with the everyday. But that changed. 3 years ago I stopped that destructive lifestyle before I did real damage. I still drink occasionally but not for a very long time, and certainly not in the quantity I once did.

I have always been very introverted! I am a shy, reticent character with very poor social skills. I upset and often people easily, often because I don’t know I am doing it. Part of my problem is I can’t express myself very well, and hence I am laying my thought down here for all to see, who knows maybe someone out there knows what I am talking about. I don’t know that I am spiralling down until I look up and realise, how did I get here! I am at work today, and I looked up, and realise I am slipping down. I am tearful, but hiding it, I am tired, I have a fog in my he’d that is difficult to see through let alone think through. I am shying away from people, colleagues who are nice to me I am being deliberately remote. I can’t look people on the eye. I am sliding down, spiralling, spinning and just can’t stop!

As I said at the start, I find it difficult to talk about this and you, dear reader, don’t know how difficult it is to write this all down. But, if I don’t then it Tay within me, it, not unlike a volcano, builds pressure. The pressure gets worse and worse until it pops! I struggle to find the words to say, “I’m sorry, I need help” or “Please, I don’t mean it! I can’t help it!” I end up bubbling and boiling and becoming snippy for no reason, I hurt, inadvertently and never physically, the ones closest to me. I don’t even know I’m doing it! I can’t work if out I have a skewed view of events. It is my fault, all my fault and I don’t know I’m doing it. This makes me angry so Ido it again and again and again. I spiral!

The problem when you get into this state of mind is you use coping mechanisms to deal with it. Now the drink is not in the picture I use food, food is my friend, food make me happy, but the issue with that is you wake up one day, like today, and see yourself, see your guy hanging over your trousers, your back aching because your not jut carrying a fee extra pounds your carrying the equivalent of an extra person. I saw myself and was repulsed! If I was repulsed what must others think of me? I get called fat, fatty, big every day. It has got to me now. Self worth, self esteem self image is at an all time low.

I have a wonderful family, 2 gorgeous boys whom I love with all my heart and a phenomenally wonderful partner who is doing an amazing job raising out sons. Yet, I struggle, I struggle to feel valued, I struggle to feel wanted. THIS IS MY PROBLEM! It is nothing she has done, it is nothing the boys have done. It is a chemical imbalance in my head that makes it like this. When your looking up you see that the grass is greener and you are standing in dust. I know this is not true but life goes on all around and you get envious, you envy the guy on benefits driving the brand new BMW, you are envious of those that spend loads of time with their families and still have money and time to go out for a pint or to the cinema. Your envious of everything. Everything seems fro when it is not, it seems unhappy when it is not. It is not that things are bad, it’s just my head feeling like they are.

When you get to this stage something else happens. Firstly, your concentration goes. You can’t focus on a book or a film, you become uneasy, putting down your book, doing something else, loosing focus. But, your brain does not stop, it spirals, goes round and round and round. It starts seeing things that aren’t there, you add 2+2 = Biscuits. And this is she the paranoia hits. You wonder, you push the people closest to you away then think that they are distant because of some other reason. They are distant because you have pushed them out! Not because they have run into the arms of someone better (although that has happened long ago). This is my own fault, my dammed head! I can’t stop it, i want to stop it, bug I can’t, so I get angry, I snap at people who don’t deserve it and I use good to overcome the feeling! If there is something in my mouth I can’t say something stupid!

Now the nightmares have come. Not nightmares with ghouls or demons, nightmares of the mundane. I have two recurring nightmares I have them twice a night that I know off and I have them so often I can remember them. The first is connected to the previous paragraph, I come home from work to find my partner in a passionate embrace and they laugh at me! Suddenly I am awake. The second is one I hate most, it scares me. I am climbing a ladder, it so so high, I can see buildings below me, people like ants milling about below. Suddenly, an inexplicably I am hanging on to the edge with my fingertips. I am desperate to hold on, maybe someone will come to help me, stop me from falling, but no one comes my fingers get sweaty and I slip and fall! And I am awake! So, I have such a broken night sleep that when I awake in the morning I am already tired. Because I am tired I get short tempered, so I eat, and I get angry so I eat. Constantly in a spiral!

I fight this with every fibre of my being. My mind works against me! This is how I feel right this minute, I am shaking, I can feel adrenaline coursing through me as I am in a panic. My legs don’t wang to hold me up and all I want to do is hide under my desk, hide myself away, disappear from view. I feel sick to the pit of my stomach. I feel the tears well up and I wipe them away before anyone can see. No matter what I do, no matter what I try I can’t stop. Sometimes, some days I bounce with enthusiasm and energy, and in a single minute I can change and just want to run away. Previous experience with this has given me the insight that the Verve was right ‘the drugs don’t work, they just make it worse’. No matter what I have tried it fails miserably, it gives and it takes away.

So, that’s me today! Spiralling out of sanity, trying to cling to the ledge and hoping I don’t fall. No one is at fault, no one to blame, it’s me! It is my head, it is my battle, maybe getting it out on here might help, I hope so, if not, it may explain to those closest to me what is happening because I can’t tell them.

As always I welcome comments!

This week’s blog is very introspective. I have been thinking a lot recently about life, the universe and everything. I have been thinking about how I got where I am, what the future holds for me, my family and everybody in general. And I have found myself feeling very depressed. It’s a strange thought process that I have been going through. I have been greatly affected by what I have been reading and it has set my mind on fire with possibly the worst question we, as human beings, can get stuck on, and that question is ‘What if?’

I love my family and love my home life, it is the one thing that keeps me going! So what is it that is bothering me? Well, I wish to highlight the fact I am well educated, very well educated, with degrees in History and Jewish History and Culture, A-levels to a high grade and few GCSE’s that are worth mentioning. So, what if I had worked harder at school? To be honest I probably would still be where i am today. School for me was not so much about learning English or Physics, it was about learning about life! How we interact with each other, how to cope with disappointment and how to stand up for oneself! University was about learning for me, and I did so with gusto! I worked so hard, rarely drank or socialised, save for the odd occasion. I was studious, committed and produced some rather phenomenal work. Since University I have pottered from meaningless job to meaningless job. To where I am now.

I work as a Security Guard, that’s right, a post graduate Security Guard! I do what I do because it pays the bills, well nearly pays the bills! Regretfully I can’t earn enough, we are covered but not quite comfortable, there certainly is nothing left over at the end of the month. But that is life, my biggest problem with my job is the conditions. Everyone seems to think I have it easy, I don’t! When I am required to intervene in a situation I put myself in grave danger! In the past Two months I have had to disarm a violent, paranoid ex-criminal, it specifically asked that I take all hidden weapons from him. Ok I handled the situation well, disarmed him, but I was in a room alone with him, just think what if he had taken offence and attacked, I would have had no chance. Which brings me to my biggest fear, what is that does happen? Firstly, I am on a zero hour contract, if you don’t know about them then your lucky! Zero hour contracts do not gut enter employment, do not afford luxuries like sick pay, you simply get paid what you work, and that is it!

So why stay? Believe me it is not by choice, I would be out of my current position like a shot if I could find suitable employment. But I can’t! I have applied for everything under the sun, all jobs that I can happily do competently and very well, problem is no one will hire me because they read the top line of my most recent employment and that is it! I am so frustrated with the job market! What if! What if! What if someone would take a chance I could do something sensational, I could do something extraordinary!

That is why I write, I write fiction so I can try to find a way out of my predicament! It is a cut throat world out there, the creative industries are awash with hopefuls all wanting the six figure deal! Well it would be nice! But, the pragmatist in me is quelling my creative side, preventing me from thinking straight. I am a man of limited thinking power, if my mind is occupied elsewhere, say job hunting? I struggle to compose fiction. It’s not writers block or procrastination it is simply I don’t have the capacity to concentrate. What if? What if? What if?

I recently read Stephen Kings most recent offering, Mr Mercedes, absolutely loved it, it really was a great book, but it had affected me and I am very close to cracking up over all the what ifs! The book opens with a random act of mass murder, it was not the murders that got to me big rather the randomness of it. I keep thinking what if someone hits me in the car? What if someone stabs me at work (not as unlikely as it might sound) what if tomorrow I’m struck with a long term illness, what if for whatever reason I just can’t get up in the morning? What happens then. I wish I could say that it would be ok! But then what if it isn’t?

Life boils down to a survival instinct and maybe ‘what if’ is just part of that survival instinct to make us more cautious, but, what happens when what if becomes all consuming! Well it eats you up inside, you verbs on becoming agriphrobic, your instinct is to run and hide and never come out.

I am trying so hard nog to let it all get to me, and my biggest problem is I have 10 hours of a working day where I don’t speak to anyone, I sit facing a wall until needed, and all I have is my thoughts. My work don’t like me to be distracted so they have stopped me from writing, I am to sit, I am to wait, I am to think. That is all I am to do. My work life is not even as good as a half life. It is sedentary, isolated, and is slowly driving me quite, quite mad!!!! I am seriously thinking of bringing Mr Flibble to keep me company!

Well, that’s my little rant for the morning, perhaps if you have an opinion you would like to comment, after all, it would keep me company! I will be back to my unique view on all things geeky next week, but, what if I don’t? What if…….?