Thursday, 16 September 2010

Rambling About Writing

One of the most frustrating parts of being a fan of fiction in all its forms, is the point at which you sit down and attempt to pen your own entry to the art form.

For as long as I can remember, stories and ideas have been constantly invading my thoughts. To the point that some nights I will have to abandon my bed over an hour after first attempting sleep, simply to scrawl down yet another storyline or stanza that will never see the light of day.

For some reason, reading someone else’s words, hearing tales of another writer’s struggles and successes, fills me with this unaccountable need to write something of my own.

Unfortunately, the second I begin to put pen to paper, or to be more accurate, boot up my computer and tap away at a keyboard, I seem to lose sight of all artistic temperament.

Almost as if the blank page is suddenly transformed to Everest.

Recently the frustration has increased due to changes in my social circle. In recent years I have inexplicably found myself surrounded by writers. People who, like me, have a burning need to get their stories out of their heads, and into some public forum or another.

While I adore these people, relish their friendships and the challenging, interesting conversation and inspiration they provide, I am also immensely jealous of them.

Very rarely do I look back and wish I could change things about my life, or myself. The fact is that I feel incredibly fortunate in my life and know that were I to have taken a different path, I may not be as lucky. But more and more lately I find myself wishing. Wishing, to my mind, is a fairly thankless task. Far better to work for the changes you long for.

And yet here I am, wishing almost constantly, for more. Greedy? Perhaps. Pointless? Almost certainly but there it is.

What do I wish for more of?

Time.
Patience.
Will power.
Confidence.

As it is, I still find myself prohibited by the belief that 27 years is proof enough that I am unable to change these things.

I’m not really writing this for encouragement. I know that the biggest obstacle in achieving any goal is oneself.

I guess I just wanted to take the opportunity to write an idea, a view of something I have and will continue to, experience.

Particularly as something as short as this blog post feels far more manageable than the 2 books I’ve been ‘working on’ for 4 years. Who know, In another 4 years, I may even make it to the 5th chapter on each of them!

End Ramble.

The Frustration of Suffering an Inconstant Muse

The melody, a sweet refrain inspires me to try again. To caress the button, which leads to magic, contained in a moderate metal box.

The whirring as each element springs to life, within minutes I feel the nerves rise as a pristine glow appears before me. A few taps and clicks and it’s time to begin. But what will be the result of this whim?

The dream re-emerges, a longing rarely quelled. The safest route to let words flow. To let my creativity be compelled.

But a fear which never abandons its post, prevents the confidence required. As the blank page slowly fills, no true sense of completion shall ever be acquired.

Inspiration is a fickle friend, there until she’s needed. And attempts to mete out the initial burst fail miserably. Until the urge for abandonment is acceded.

Idolatry feels natural and a necessary fragment of artistic stimulation but disillusion and self-doubt rapidly rear a rigidity in prose until fear of failure overcomes and finally the page is closed.

Wednesday, 18 August 2010

Chillax

Frustration inspires exceptional acts
but there's no guarantee they'll be good
It may make you down a whole bottle of Jack
but that certainly don't mean you should.

So when you start to feel that tension rising
You're not sure if you'll curb it in time
The best way that I've found to stick to the ground
Turn what's got you stressed into a rhyme.

Don't just shout
It about
Find some way to block out
All the thoughts that make you feel destructive.

And instead
Use your head
Try to channel that stress
Into something that's far more productive

Monday, 16 August 2010

'The Kiss' - A Freewrite

Cue: Cello Concerto in E Minor by Elgar - this was originally a freewrite, but I played about with it a little.

A withered old man storms into his dark, cold bedsit, attempting to slam the door behind him with his weak frail arms. He hobbles over to the rickety chest of drawers, picks up a photo frame and stares. Slowly he lowers himself into the plain wooden chair next to him, never taking his eyes off of the photo in his hands. And he remembers.

The first time they met was in Georgia. A warm, balmy night at a mansion on the river. Owned by an obnoxious lawyer. He had arrived late and entered, nervously clutching his violin case and hurrying towards the rest of the orchestra. He was worrying over his solo. The final few bars had felt wrong in the last few rehearsals. Something was missing but he couldn’t place it.

He’d been in his seat all of a minute when he saw her. She was only 19 and the most beautiful creature he’d ever laid eyes upon. She was twirling around the ballroom with her skirts flowing as if in slow-motion. A sweet innocence graced her face and when she smiled, all of the lights in the room seemed to focus entirely on her. As the solo approached his eyes never left her.

While she was before him everything seemed perfect. He held his violin with such tenderness as he wished he could hold her. As he reached the final, troubling section, he felt no worries or fear.

While she was before him no note could land wrong, no phrase move too quickly. As the melody peaked, he fell.

He wanted nothing more at that moment than to take her in his arms and profess the love that had just overtaken him so violently. But he was a mere musician with nothing to offer this angel before him. He was no match for the tall, dark foreboding man with whom she was dancing. Covered in fine clothes and brimming with confidence, her partner was possibly the most intimidating man in the room. As he moved gracefully around the floor, the musician watched him. Hated him for everything he was and everything the musician was not.

The old man still felt the anger coursing through his veins, so strongly that it shook him from his trance. He rested one thin, wrinkled finger upon the picture, gave a sad smile and then dragged his failing body out of the seat and over to the kitchenette. After pouring himself a whisky he moved to the bed and sat on the hard mattress. As he supped his drink, he drifted back to that night. To the first time he heard her voice.

It was as soft and gentle as her manner. She had approached him during his break.

“You play beautifully.” She began. “I wish to thank you. For your music made my soul dance.”

He was not confident and had instantly frozen when that peaceful lilting tone first fell upon his ears. He managed to stutter a brief thank you and then stood dumbly, staring at the vision before him as if it were a dream.

“I adore music, I wish that I could hear it played all day long. That it could accompany me throughout my life. It is music that truly makes us feel, do you not think?”

She was still talking to him! The poor, nervous musician went to run his fingers through his thick brown hair, a nervous habit he’d had since childhood, when he remembered that his sister had spent what felt like hours trying to tidy it before his performance. Instead he scratched his neck and returned his shaking hand to his side, gripping his trousers as he tried to reply.

“I..I..I.. a.. agree. M..m..m..music.” He paused, trying desperately to order his thoughts before he spoke. “Music is life.” From the instant that the words left his mouth, he mentally cursed himself for speaking so openly to this goddess. Surely she could not truly care what he thought.

Instead of laughing at him and running back to her rich, cultured friends, as he expected, the woman stayed and her smile grew. “Yes.” She whispered. “It is everything.”

She glanced around the room, before grabbing his free hand and pulling him to the garden.

“Play for me!” She commanded, laughter on her face and joy in her voice at the excitement of hiding from her dull, judgemental, over-privileged friends.

The musician glanced around, making sure that they were far enough away, and that the ball was loud enough, that they would not be discovered. Not once did he consider refusing, for what warm-blooded man could deny this woman anything?

He had played for 20 minutes straight as she twirled and swayed through the trees, down the path, around the benches. By the time she stopped he was sweating from the effort. And then she ran to him, grabbed his violin and gently, carefully placed the instrument on the bench, before dragging the musician to the bench to join her.
He was becoming increasingly aware of how inappropriate this was. If any of the other guests were to see them, her reputation and his job would both be in danger. But as he opened his lips to speak his concerns, she shushed him with one delicate finger rested lightly on his mouth. Pushing her deep mahogany curls behind her, she leaned forward and replaced the finger with her lips.

As the old man remembered that kiss he abandoned his glass to the bedside table, lay down on the bed and closed his eyes, swept up in the perfect memory of the perfect woman. The perfect woman who was no longer his and would never be his, nor anyone’s, ever again.

In his memory the kiss deepened, his breathing faltered.

But unlike the first time, when he’d pulled away to tell her he loved her, now, in the memory, the musician would not let go. Not even for breath.

And as the old musician’s body shut down, and the music faded, the kiss continued, with him for eternity.

'Escape' - A Freewrite

Cue: Adagio for Strings by Samuel Barber

The ocean crashing and a girl looks out. She shivers and wraps a blanket around her, holding back the fear and the loneliness of the place where she has found herself.
No one had ever understood her.

Not really.

And after many attempts, eventually she just gave up and ran.

Most say run for the hills but that was too closed off. She ran for the ocean. Somewhere that was open and somewhat sad and empty, like her. The ocean reminded her of happier days. Days when she would laugh. When she would walk hand in hand with a boy who made her feel care free. But now he was gone. And the crashing of the waves against the rocks lulled her into a memory.

Dark and sorrowful.

The phone call from an older woman she'd never met who had told her, with cracking tones, that he was gone. It was over for her at that moment. She hadn't loved him. She had never loved anyone like that. But that day she accepted her fate.

Safe.

Here she was safe from heartache. From loss. Here she had the sea and she sat on the dark, wet sand and let it slowly wash over her, wrapping her in warmth. The coldness was only felt when the water moved away and left her shivering and crying in pityfulness for the state of her existence.

She screamed at the sea. Then as the water came back and washed over her again she felt the calming gentle feel of the waves. Soothing her. Reminding her that here nothing could touch her. That here she was able to scream, able to cry.

The ocean would never judge her. It would only fold her into it's rippling arms and soothe her. All that she could feel in the sea was peace. Not bliss, not happiness. But peace. Something she had longed for since childhood. She had found a sanctuary away from the cruelty of others.

She was good here.

Updates: Freewriting

So I've been fairly sporadic with updating this blog, but it's not because I haven't been writing, just because I'm rubbish at remembering to actually put stuff up.

As I'm feeling totally crap today and have the day off work I've decided to try and remedy this situation by uploading a number of pieces I've written over the last few months, including some Freewrites.

Freewrites generally come from a number of challenges over at Allpoetry.com (Where I post as DaBill) But the Freewrites aren't saved in a way that allows others to read them from your account, so I'm thinking it's best if I put them up here as well.

The general idea of a Freewrite is pretty much as it sounds. You're given a topic or some kind of cue (could be a photo; a song; a poem etc.) and then you write whatever comes into your head. (Technically you're supposed to write as the words come, without editing - but when I post stuff I HAVE to edit a bit because I hate putting up posts with incorrect spelling or grammar - I know, I'm such a pedant!)

So anyway, that's just a quick explanation for the sudden flurry of posts I'll be putting up today.

Southbank

Under the bridge the city swells

The smoky air filled with happy yells

High brow chat, an artistic song

But then reality hobbles along

I’m sorry, I can’t. Not as rich as I seem.

And liberal capitalism is simply a dream.

Thursday, 29 July 2010

Superman v. The Law of Torts (2010)

Okay, quick disclaimer.

1. I know very little about law. I didn’t know what a tort was until I reached
that chapter in my study text 5 days ago. So apologies for misuse of
terminology.
2. Despite enjoying my comics, I’m not big on DC and *GASP* I’ve never read a
Superman comic / book / graphic novel (whatever term floats your boat).
3. I do watch the ‘monstrosity’ that is Smallville. I even enjoy it.

Right, now that’s out of the way hello to you open-minded people who didn’t click the stumble button as soon as I mentioned ‘Smallville’.

So here’s the thing. I consider myself a slowly evolving geek. It started with film when I was 14. A year later I was introduced to Buffy the Vampire Slayer. Then, through these obsessions (along with my love of classic rock and metal) I met people that helped heighten my interest in Sci Fi, Horror, Comics and Gaming.

But tonight I managed to reach a new level of geekiness.

How? You may ask.

Through my law revision.

I know, I know. Legal principles are about as geeky as watching Sleepless in Seattle.

But whilst I spent 20 minutes staring at the page on Duty of Care, my brain went for a wander. It wandered all the way to Metropolis.

Despite the fact that my only exposure to Superman has been through:

a) A film I saw about 20 years ago
b) A cheesy tv show from the 1st time Teri Hatcher was considered sexy (before
she banged Bond and became anorexic); and
c) The aforementioned Smallville (which is almost universally agreed to be
unacceptable and definitely not canon)

I found myself considering a question so pointless, so random that I now feel very hypocritical for having, only a week ago, mocked the existence of this article:Man of Steel, Woman of Kleenex by Larry Niven.

My query?

Could Superman be sued for negligence? And if so – what action (or non-action) could find him super-speeding round to a lawyer’s?

My study text basically says that a defendant with a particular skill or ability will be expected to exercise that skill in a competent manor.

This may have (and probably has) been covered already, but I’m not sifting through 72 years-worth of comics to find out (I’m not that bad... yet)

So I decided to scribble a couple of hypothetical’s and throw them out to the internet.

Say Superman comes across a building on fire. He blows out the fire, saving the occupants of the building. Yay! Day saved right?

But what about the man driving on the road behind the building at the specific moment Superman blew the fire out? The man who’s car got blown off the road and straight into a petrol/gas station or a brick wall or a shop window etc.

I'm betting you can make a fair bit of cash from suing a person who’s responsible for causing your car to be totalled, putting you in hospital, blowing up your business.

Or,

Say Superman is wandering down thestreet and he sees a woman a block away falling from a 15th story window.

Running a block and catching a person at the bottom of a 15 story fall is not something a 'reasonable man' could be expected to do. No regular guy in Superman's position would be considered in any way negligent for not attempting to save the woman.

But the Man of Steel could certainly manage it.

So would it be negligence if he didn't. If he just kept on walking? (I know, I know. Massively out of character, but this is a hypothetical situation and I'm betting there's been at least one story where Superman decided to quit helping people - there's certainly been enough Smallville eps where Clark Kent screwed up.)

Could the family of the dead woman sue Superman, hold him negligently liable for her death and demand damages?

Now as I said before. I really don’t know all the intricacies of the law, so there may be various defences to these claims.

Would his saving of the people in the burning building outweigh his Duty of Care to the car owner / petrol station owner? If he even has a Duty of Care there.

In the case of the falling woman, would he be held to the same standard as everyone else, or would he have an added layer of expectations due to his abilities? And who could decide just how much should be expected of a superhero? Is this the point that we get into the same territory as Marvel's 'Civil War' series, with various superheros working with the authorities and telling others what they are expected to do and how they should behave?

Is there yet another reason for Superman to keep his real identity a secret?

Because it’s pretty hard to serve a summons to a man who’s faster than a speeding bullet and has no fixed abode or specific place of work.

Friday, 23 July 2010

Returner Review

Returner (2002) Dir. Takashi Yamazaki

I was recommended this film by a friend for the impressive use of CGI on a minimal budget. But what I found was that, while the CGI was pretty impressive for a low budget movie, (although this is based only on heresay as I can't find a reference to the budget online anywhere - if anyone can point me in the right direction it'd be much appreciated) it also had an enjoyable central storyline, which paid tribute to classic sci fi films such as Terminator, ET and the Matrix. The basic premise is that Milly has travelled back from 2084 to 2002 in order to kill the first Daggra (Tibetan for Enemy) to land on Earth. In doing so, she hopes to prevent the war with the Daggra race that has near enough wiped out the world in her time. She enlists an initially unwilling Miyamoto to help her find and destroy the alien.

Of course there are many complications, and Miyamoto's own storyline. He has spent years seeking out the man who kidnapped and killed his best friend, when they were sleeping rough years earlier. This man, Mizoguchi, is (rather conveniently for the story) also after the Daggra, as he wishes to gain the power of its technology (and take control of Japan - man aims high!)

As well as an ejoyable, yet simple story, Returner also provides some wonderful performances from the main cast.

For me the key performance was of Goro Kishitani, who played villain Mizoguchi. Exuding an air of casual indifference, mixed with a rage that resembled that of a spoilt child, Kishitani reminded me in some ways of the (admittedly far superior) performance of Gary Oldman's Stansfield in Leon. Mizoguchi is a perfect villain for this type of movie, as we aren't given any backstory, other than to support the fact that his main concern is power and he will sink to whatever depths required to gain it, no matter how depraved.

Takeshi Kaneshiro plays antihero Miyamoto well, although the characterisation is nothing extraordinary. He ticks all the boxes required of such a character, impoverished childhood; a tragic loss when he is young, caused by the villain; a life spent searching for vengeance; an older benefactor/employer who also plays the role of somewhat detached parental figure; a reliance on only himself; a distrust of everyone. This is nothing new, but the portrayal is good enough that it doesn't feel like you're being hit over the head with these cliches throughout!

Milly is the female protagonist, whose leap through a 'time shifter' (a portal) back 82 years to 2002 is what kicks off the story. Initially, I wondered why exactly Milly was sent. She appears to be nothing more than a scared young woman who has no real plan for saving the future, and rants like a madwoman at Miyamoto. The eventual reveal that she was not chosen, but merely the only one left gives her character more credibility and she does gradually come into her own, displaying a determinedness and courage that allows her to grow on you. By the end I really liked Milly and felt that her growth throughout the movie seemed natural enough.

The fight scenes were well shot, and the use of bullet time did not feel to me to be too excessive, some of which were explained away by a handy little piece of futuristic tech that would really help me out with getting to work in the mornings!

Another thing that really impressed me was the soundtrack. The score by Akihiko Matsumoto is beautifully understated, with a particular lilting, soft phrase running throughout. A sample of it is used in Roni Size's No More feat. Beverley Knight. This is not a song I would usually listen to as I'm not huge on Drum and Bass and R&B but I checked it out whilst writing this and it's not terrible.

The use of this soundtrack really highlighted the noir-ish elements of the films look.

All in all, I found Returner a really enjoyable way to spend a Friday night. It covered all the bases for me - good character interaction, an interesting storyline, familiarity with films I've enjoyed (without feeling like one long rip-off), some good gunplay, a few great fight scenes and your fair share of explosions. And all of this without the gaudiness that comes from Hollywood movies of the same ilk.

I'd definitely recommend this one, provided you like SciFi and aren't looking for something truly original.

(Though if you are? I'd give up now, as in my opinion, there are no truly original stories, only new takes on the same old thing.)

If you could only read one magazine for the rest of your life, which would it be?

Empire - Greatest magazine ever! (in fact, it's pretty much the only magazine I read anyway, excepting DWM and Classic Rock very occasionally)

what is your favourite movie and why?

What's the kindest thing someone has ever done for you?

I really couldn't remember. But yesterday my mum bought me a whole new bed spread set, went round my flat, made up my bed, did some of my washing, cleaned my kitchen and left me dinner in the fridge - just because she wasn't busy. Was very nice surprise!

what is your favourite movie and why?

Tuesday, 25 May 2010

So She Dances

It feels like endless repetition.
Groundhog Day without as many laughs. As Clarissa slowly circles the room filled with sweaty, drunk, lonely people, she is hit by a sense of déjà vu.
It makes sense of course. She has been here many times before. Heard the same songs, drunk the same drinks, met the same kinda guys.
The decor, bouncers and bar staff change, but the experience is always the same.

Sometimes she wonders why she bothers to come. To spend hours getting ready and then pay extortionate prices for watered down drinks. To deal with the inevitable drama that the evening will end in.

Then she feels it. That pounding beat. Her reason. The rhythm filters through her body, her heart speeds up. The melody rises lifting her and she knows exactly why she comes here. She comes for that escape. The feeling of freedom that the music and movement brings.

And so she dances.