The Graveyard

The Lair Of Gary James

Archive for March, 2010

Some Thoughts, Part One – Story

Posted by BigWords on March 30, 2010

Having abortively started this post three times, it is clear that a good entry point doesn’t exist. Not a problem, as I’ll get around to covering nearly all my thoughts on the narrative / story / package / promotion conundrum which I’ll be picking apart. The question arises from the things in the previous two posts, and will continue until I have worked this out of my system, so I’ll drop in a handy index in the first preface when there are enough points covered to warrant it. Having stumbled through two posts where fragmented pieces of what is to come have been seeded in your mind, I’ll kick off with the earliest point at which a burgeoning novel (or any other work) can be strengthened for a multimedia world – the idea itself.

The notion that a novel exists in and of itself has been bent, twisted and broken by the way other media appropriate concepts for their audience. I am not simply writing a novel when I set myself in front of the computer, I am writing an outline for a film, a walk-through for a computer game, a proposal for a television series, a comic-book or a radio show… The list of things which could potentially be spun off from anything (long form prose or otherwise) has greatly increased in the last decade, and most of the adaptations fall short because there is a gap between what was originally created in the mind of an author and what eventually arrives in another format. It is the most modern of problems, and one I should be addressing. This is where I get the feeling that I am standing alone, mapping out the multiple ways in which any individual scene can play out for the maximum benefit of any media. This has managed to open up scenes which I have been struggling with. But for this kind of departure of traditional thought regarding the creation of story points, I really need to hit you with an example:

In the middle of writing a scene in which nothing really happens, yet the two main characters travel from one location to another, I took the opportunity to give them some dialogue which progressed the story. I could have used this dialogue anywhere, but I really liked the fact than an otherwise unmemorable journey suddenly attains a more important role. The more I thought of this scene, the more I realized something – something elusive and yet right in front of me – was missing, though pinning down exactly what I could add to the mix was frustratingly vague. It soon dawned on me that I was thinking in “novel mode” rather than the “story mode” I have been trying to nurture. A conversation is fine, but what the scene really needed was some kick to it… A bit of life… Something which I had been missing in an attempt to keep from letting the story return to an unwieldy, sprawling mess (again), and which I desperately needed. Turns out that I knew what happened all along, but my brain refused to accept it.

In the scene immediately following the conversation, one of the MC’s is rubbing his jaw. I added in the line (as I do with most things of this nature) to hint at the passing of other, unseen, adventures they have along the way. It became clear to me that there must not have been enough time for much else to have occurred in the interval between the first scene and the next, so it offered a perfect place to slip in an extra bit of business. I’ve been trying to think of “story” as everything that happens in the novel, but there isn’t any reason to suppose I’m telling the whole story in the novel. Spelling everything out is a bad habit, and it is one that I can’t seem to grasp in the works of others. Not a criticism, guys, just my opinion. The missing interval would, if the novel contained everything, have been a fist fight with opposing agents in the train, but I don’t need to use that in the novel. It is irrelevant to the flow, and it topples the fine balance of ambiguity and clarity which appeals to me. It’ll appear in other media if that bridge is to be crossed at some point, but at least I know what happens.

In another, earlier, scene – the “revelation” moment, when Thomas’ eyes are opened to the possibility that larger powers are at work – I fudged most of the details. He enters a museum, walks around a bit, has his vision, then exits a changed man. It was clunky and uninspired, and yet I needed a way for him to do a 180 from his previous position. I won’t bore you with the details, but I realized that this scene could only be played out in film. And there is another scene which cries out to be a cartoon sequence. My work, and the world I am creating, isn’t limited to one media. This has made me look at each and every scene to see where I can expand on the basic notes, the first draft and the sketches I have made, fleshing out the things which will not be in the finished novel, but which will remain at hand to use for any movement into another media. I know how a game would look, and how I would frame a particular scene if I shot it. This level of concentration on details secondary (and even irrelevant) to the novel is opening up so many new and fresh ideas.

Story, as defined by Merriam-Webster, is “an account of incidents or events” – that may be fine for a dry, clinical definition, but it doesn’t answer anything for me. I define story as “everything that happens to the characters from a set time to another set time (not necessarily produced for an audience in the right order),” or, simply “stuff.” I can’t, however much I want to, lock events into whatever happens in the novel and nothing else, because that doesn’t answer so many other questions which get raised. There are too many interesting and weird things which I can’t give the full attention they deserve in words alone. So… The point having been raised, and served up at some length, I think I’m safe enough leaving this for now.

Comments are appreciated.

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Preface To Some Thoughts, Part II

Posted by BigWords on March 30, 2010

I keep feeling that there is something missing in the overall thought process which has led to the next post (where I’ll start to properly tear current thinking apart so as to start again), and the only missing piece seems to be a primer of sorts. This could count, seeing as it should make clear the subtle and numerous irks and quibbles which mar the use of the internet – not the underlying framework, nor the vocabulary, nor the lack of imagination from some quarters, but a mixture of these – and more – which merely serves to undermine the experience.

Web 2.0

The biggest lie sold to people since “unlimited downloads” were trotted out by cynical service providers. There is no 2.0, and there certainly isn’t a 3.0 on the way – primarily because the internet doesn’t push forwards in unison, unveiling new and improved features from a certain date onwards. The introduction of Javascript support is generally held to be the point at which the 2.0 misnomer begins (though the phrase has been around since the late nineties), though many of the features wouldn’t be seen for several months on some sites now held to be at the forefront of this minor shift. A brief inspection of the internet will reveal that there are plenty of sites doing quite well, thankyouverymuch, without flashy interfaces and distracting ‘enhancements.’

Hell, if Tim Berners-Lee thinks the term is bullshit (my word, not his) then you have to question the motives of people using it .

Heirarchy

If you have ventured onto Wikipedia, you will have encountered this hilarious example of misunderstanding the very concept of the internet. I quote from Wikipedia itself:

References to blogs, personal websites and MySpace don’t count – we need reliable sources.

This undermines the importance of the majority of the internet in favor of ‘journalistic sources’ such as newspapers. I’m not convinced that there exists strata of verifiable information on the internet, with certain outlets more “reliable” than others. A way of looking at this problem brings up a long-held misconception about UseNet – re. “upstream” and “downstream” being used to describe the flow of information. It wasn’t the case then, and it isn’t the case now. I’ve watched some spectacular abuses of power play out where newspapers and televised news are concerned, looking on in disbelief as half-truths, myths and downright lies were paraded for a sensation-hungry audience. I tend to ignore any news source which doesn’t back up its’ reports with numerous references. There are benefits to be had from going straight to the source, so I make sure to see what blog posts by those involved in a story contain.

The most important piece of yet-to-be-created software is an answer to the frustration of having so many accounts in so many places. I have dashboards for WordPress, Blogger, Facebook, Twitter, not to mention PayPal, Amazon Associates and other essential locations I need to check every once in a while. This, as anyone who spends time on the internet will know, is annoying. I want a page from which I can access all of these services and more, posting to places without leaving my main source of rolling, real-time information. And this is the kind of thinking which had been dominating the way I look at the world – find something which would make life immeasurably better, then expand on the core concept until you hit the absolute limit of technology. It is a world-view which not enough people have, because the world obviously doesn’t operate at maximum efficiency. We need to, as a species, look at our technology and see where we can lend evolution a hand here and there.

Scary, I know; change isn’t easy, but we have to push past the fear.

I’ve started with the problems inherent in the current state of the internet, so I may as well address some of the things which will crop up when I get into full swing. While I am going to use some technical terms over the course of my forthcoming Thoughts posts, I’ll try and keep the use of certain formats vague enough so as to apply across the board. I have my favorite formats, but it would limit discussion (and creativity) to set certain formats as being better than others in the minds of those who happen upon this.

I like using lossless audio and video files, but there is nothing to say that they have benefits across all categories, especially since they take up so much extra room on hard drives. The problems some people bring up in regards to size, though, is greatly overstated. Size is irrelevant. So that those who cannot conceive of e-books being anything other than in .pdf format are made aware of the existence of alternatives, there are much more interesting ways of wrapping digital multimedia books than you think.

Okay, I need to slip quietly away from that specific topic before I divulge too much, spoiling what is to come. Needless to say that a dictionary, or glossary, of geekabulary would be handy before you start reading the Thoughts in proper, but there shouldn’t be too many words I don’t explain – and if I, somehow, neglect to give proper context to something, feel free to call me out on it. This stuff is too important to me to be willfully obscure. I want people to start thinking about the ways in which they, under their own steam and by their own initiative, can start making things which truly live up to (and hopefully exceed) the standards and guidelines laid down by people who came before. The internet was never “designed” (another idea which some still hold dear), and the standards which were set down at various points were mostly people making shit up as they went along. General conventions and guidelines were only ever intended to make websites viewable by all, not as some rule which could never be broken.

One quick metaphor before I begin in earnest, because things have the potential to get very ugly very quickly unless I issue a statement up front about the meaning of the ideas which comprise this mini-serial of connected thoughts: There is enough room for everyone to do their own thing. I ain’t sayin’ this ‘n’ that is better than some other stuff, because – really and truly, I don’t see how that kind of thinking could benefit anyone. All of the stuff which follows is to be viewed as alternatives, variations, flavors, or whatever your description of choice may be.

Think of things described in the next few posts in the same way as, uh… Ice cream, yeah. The introduction of triple-chocolate ice cream didn’t kill off vanilla, and that’s as good an analogy as any. My thoughts are the triple chocolate, which – good as they may be – don’t negate, diminish or supercede any of the things which you may enjoy. Don’t worry. I dig that vanilla stuff just as much as anyone, and advances will never remove it entirely.

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Preface To Some Thoughts

Posted by BigWords on March 29, 2010

Back in October of last year I began, in earnest, collecting data for a story idea which hadn’t yet fully formed in my mind. Amid the usual nuggets of near-future optimism I uncovered were concepts which were to shift my focus from the then-brewing story, much as I wanted to focus on plot. The world-building was as interesting as the story (for me) because I was able to apply everything which already exists (in some form) to the reality which limits our day to day existence. Building a future from current technology is a game which many (better) writers have played, but setting out a stall where those ideas can be openly discussed has always had limits – at any point in a forum discussion where feasible technological solutions play a major role, someone will always jump in with the stock SF variety answer. Not that there is anything wrong with unbridled optimism, but I like to play with things in SF which (to me) are possible – not necessarily probable, but possible all the same. The way the world ought to appear was really inconsequential to me, but the underlying society became very important.

My first goal was to interpret the media surrounding individuals in, say, a hundred years or so. How the characters in the story would approach the mass communication of the era played a vital role in determining their reaction to events unfolding in the city around them. I had a hard time trying to figure out the ways in which the internet and television would (and could) co-exist until I realized that I was taking a modern view and trying to attach it to a futuristic world. The origination of the next few posts lies in my eventual realization that the nascent media groupings of modern multimedia will, at some point, reach a generational shift into a fully cohesive form which will supersede such modern ideas as ‘internet’ and ‘television.’ Televisions are already on the market which are able to browse the internet, but most (if not all) require the viewer to shift away from one function to utilize another. This, to me anyway, seems a makeshift feature, neither wholly separated nor wholly integrated. I thought about the ideas which became the basis for the world I had created more, and slowly realized that there were bigger questions.

Backtracking a moment, to my long-standing WIP regarding a group of secret agents: There are thirteen (possibly fourteen, if the abortive drafts are to be considered) plots which are completely incompatible with one another, but which are equally solid tales. I like all of the variations, and to pick one (which will then define those characters in the eyes of readers) is damnably difficult. The truth is this – I don’t want to pick just one path through the story… Add to that my insistence on doing things out of sequence in the first place, and you have a good reason why the tale has notched up so many variations. The differences aren’t merely changes to motivation, or tone, but completely different goals and settings wherein the same basic threat is tackled by similar means, resulting in a similar goal. The only major connection which holds the versions together is at the start of the narrative, wherein several elements are slowly revealed to form a pattern for the heroes to investigate. The puzzles are important, and have (in these last few months) taken on even greater importance for me.

Flashback done with, I’ll get back to a semblance of continuity of thought. The research on SF stories, and the world-building involved in getting them to hold together with some degree of stability, drove me to some strange corners of the net, following (Hänsel and Grethel-like) bread crumb after bread crumb of tantalizingly vague links. Quickly moving past the corporations promoting their current gadgets, I looked at the pages where ‘what if’s’ were discussed, and through them to the sites where cutting-edge technologies were being paraded. The breadcrumbs never did reach any useful gather-all sites, but I did soak up enough information along the way to decide that I was going to start paying closer attention to a few of the ideas which had, by and large, been ignored by the mainstream. I’m not sure if any of the concepts have been attempted, mostly because any searches for specific instances served merely to turn up material out of my area of interest, but there are probably a few brave pioneers out there embracing the fullest potential of the multimedia landscape which I am now obsessing over.

The mutimedia stuff? Don’t worry, I’ll be posting about that soon enough. In the meantime, while I’m busy refining thoughts, collecting links, and sorting out the impossible from the improbable, I’ll leave you with several thoughts which have been the source of much personal consternation for me over the last months:

  • I’m reading fewer new comics than ever before. It isn’t that DC and Marvel hold zero appeal, it’s merely the fact that the older material I have been buying (Gold Key, Dell, Whitman, and an array of Alan Class titles) seem to have better value for money. The stories (quick, to the point, and never outstaying their welcome) make me think more about their storytelling techniques than most of the current releases I have flicked through.
  • The games I have bought has almost universally contained mini-games, or are themselves collections of simple arcade games – not to say that I am turning away from the more complex releases altogether (because GTA‘s pool game is addictive), but I feel that I need something which isn’t dictated by an arbitrary script, whose ending was written before I even bought the game. I want to contribute something towards the story.
  • I have been buying more short story collections than I have been buying novels. This has had the unexpected benefit of introducing me to the work of hitherto-unknown authors, but has caused me to think upon the rampant verbosity I am capable of when let loose on a subject. How do people manage to cram so much into such a short space?
  • My new television has sat idle for nearly a month. The earache and overwork made the beginning of this sabbatical from the idiot box a necessity, but now that I have no reason to avoid the output of British television I realize that there is nothing I can be bothered to watch. When Doctor Who returns (next week) I will tune in for the first episode of the new series, but other than that… I really can’t summon up the strength to sit through one more episode of Law & Order. Ever.
  • DVDs are, increasingly, taking the place of my other pastimes. I like the way the more complex examples are put together, and their construction has been fueling some of my thoughts on where I want to take my writing. I really like the ‘Follow The Rabbit’ bits in The Matrix, and a lot of the extras in the 3-disk Hellboy edition are giving me things to think about.

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Interview With My MC – Bellamy

Posted by BigWords on March 24, 2010

With apologies to Query Tracker

C’mere. I have to ask you a few questions, and – well, I know you’re busy defending the world and everything, but could you please sit still for a few minutes while I run through this list of questions? This wasn’t my idea, but I need you to play along, okay? It’ll only take a minute or two, I swear. You can go beat someone up, or open a doorway to a parallel universe, or have sex with an alien, or whatever, just as soon as we’re done here… I really need you cooperation right now.
Firstly, how old are you?

Bellamy: Older than the hills, dear boy. Delicious, isn’t it – the final line of defense for our great nation, and I need to run off to take a piss every five minutes. That new chap in the big chair – well, it needs to be rather large to accommodate his girth, doesn’t it – jolly old boy tried to close down our little neck of the woods. I remember Heath trying the same thing. You do know that he was killed and replaced with a fapper from Broadmoor, don’t you. Bloody good days. I’ve been around so long that the fresh intakes all call me Mother for some reason, cheeky little scamps that they are. There was a Yank, back in the seventies, who had been cut out to dry by his agency… Always called me the old man, even back then. They found his suitcase, the only possession he had, floating in the Thames in ’82 or ’83 I think.

If the house burned down, what one thing would you want to take with you?

Bellamy: Oh, that is a splendid question. What would I take? I suppose I should say my medals, but those are all hush-hush, so it wouldn’t matter to anyone if they vanished forever. There wasn’t even a ceremony. The one thing I would miss more than any other would be the rhino-horn dildo which the lovely Mr. Chirac gave me for preventing France from being overrun by those damnable… Oh, but I have said too much already. Occupational hazard, old boy. Other than that delicious item, I would probably take my Walther PPK. I took that firearm off a MI6 agent whom I beat him senseless. Brund? Bland? His name doesn’t matter any more I suppose, not after that incident with the Sheik.

Describe your hands.

Bellamy: My hands? Oh, you’re a finger man… (Bellamy slips off his gloves) These have been in more people than I care to mention. I try to take care of them, moisturizer, lubricant, the occasional nail varnish, but saving the world takes a terribly toll on personal grooming. Ectoplasm plays havoc with the pores, same with the temporal ah… timey-wimey stuff. A friend tried to explain the reason, but that disappeared in that ridiculous blue confabulation of his before he told me where he gets his grooming products from. His arse is the smoothest I have ever seen on a grown man – human or not.

Describe your nightstand, dresser, or bathroom counter. What’s on top of it? In it?

Bellamy: Well, on my nightstand is the usual accouterments of a well-to-heel gentleman about town, I suppose. Along with my personal firearm, a few compromising photographs of minor royals, my mobile telephone. Bernie sent me a scale model from the British Rocket Group, one of their more phallic designs. Chap knows how to keep his friends amused.

What is your favorite food?

Bellamy: Now, now… Choosing one delicacy over another is unthinkable. I indulge in all hedonistic pleasures. Oysters and shrimps, my dear, oysters and shrimps. (grins as he wipes his mouth with a handkerchief) One meal which stands out above all others was a night in Litchfield… I was there tasked with securing the remains of the angel buried beneath, but such trifles are irrelevant… I shared a meal with delectable Miss Knight. The taste of heaven upon my lips. And hers, later on, I like to imagine.

Describe your economic/political status.

Bellamy: Economics and politics is subjective, so I tend to manipulate whatever movements are beneficial to the greater picture. I must admit to my share of missteps, first and foremost being the conflagration with the EU. I didn’t realize my small steps would bankrupt Iceland, or cause such terrible, terrible harm to Greece. Whenever people describe the world in such solid terms, as they are wont to do in the case of currency and politics, there is the undeniable feeling that grand plans are utterly ignored in favor of simplicity. There are more things in Devon and Okell, as they say. I favor the notion that reality is what we make it. For some that is literally true, but I keep clear of the queerer chaps and chapesses. Ex-men indeed.

Where do you have a scar or birthmark? Describe circumstances surrounding your scars.

Bellamy: I am a tapestry of pain, dear child, a tapestry of pain. I don’t intend to bore you with the details…

What is the last book you read? What did you think of it?

Bellamy: The most recent manuscript to fall into my possession was Bertie’s diary. Such a sad and sordid tale, chronicling his fall from power, and that Wallis woman… If I didn’t know better, I would have sworn that his tales of black magic and ceremonies were the scribblings of a madman. He gets some details wrong – It wasn’t, for instance, Rasputin who opened the Westminster seal, but a mediocre magician named Malvoisin. So useless he trapped himself in a mirror, or at least that’s how the story goes. I wouldn’t be surprised if he turned himself into a eunuch with those gibberings of his… But back to the point at hand – Bertie’s penmanship was beyond question, especially in the paragraphs where he elucidated on his nocturnal emissions.

Do you have an embarrassing habit?

Bellamy: Don’t we all?

Give one vivid memory of a parent or parental figure.

Bellamy: I can only remember fragments of my life outside boarding school. It was home for me. The hand-around’s and morning toast are a thing of legend for very good reasons.

What is a dream (in sleep) you often have?

Bellamy: In my dreams I am running. I am always running. Chased, I should say. That is my life, and I would chose no other. Sometimes I think of settling down, then I remember what happened to Beatrice, and to Clarence, and even – rest his soul – old Larson. Sometimes I still hear his voice. At night. In the dark. His screams still haunt me, following behind me as I run.

Do you have a lifelong dream or aspiration?

Bellamy: There are few things I wish for myself, due mostly to my position, but I would so dearly love for there to be a more open dialogue about those behind invisible doors. We are so sheltered by official secretdom that it has become impossible to investigate occurrences without bumping into at least one or two drifters from the dimensions – and for all the evidence which exists, they are still considered fairy tales for the masses. I’ve been to the dazzling beyond, my boy, and seen what blazes there. There is no question in my mind and there should be none in yours. I dream that one day we will accept the Dreaming

How do you go to sleep, and how do you wake up? (i.e. position in bed, etc.)

Bellamy: Sleep is a luxury, and I tend to catch forty winks when I can. Truth be told, it’s more like thirty winks, but length isn’t important, it’s the quality which matters. Or so I’ve been told. (Bellamy grins)

What is the last thing you wrote?

Bellamy: I filed a report for the Bletchley boys yesterday, outlining the problems with our constant surveillance of the Brussels interlopers on our shores. The trio of agents they have interfering with British matters is troublesome, especially given their ability to discern things which no normal person could possibly discover. One of their number is British, but the woman is from French stock I believe… She certainly qualifies as a threat to national security regardless. The American seems familiar also.

What grosses you out?

Bellamy: (Bellamy laughs) There is little in this realm which could force me to lose such a carefully crafted veneer of casual bemusement. I was, however, most disturbed by a town in Maine… Hobbs… The people there, and the things which will not leave my mind… But your phraseology…To be disgusted is to not understand, and it is my role to understand those things which cannot be understood.

Who is the person you like the least? Why?

Bellamy: (Bellamy shifts uncomfortably) The Directive. A more despicable trio of malcontents there never has been. I will say no more.

Tell me about the last time you cried.

Bellamy: I cry every day. And I dance every day. To cry and to dance is to feel alive. A tether to the breathing, hurting world around us is so important when dealing with the encroaching darkness. (Bellamy lights a cigarette)

What is something you feel guilty about?

Bellamy: Larson. I regret letting Larson die. He was a private investigator I hired off the books. His partner, Lamont, and he were to watch over an individual I suspected of being involved in a conspiracy to hand more power over to the EU. He was killed in a hit and run so-called accident, but evidence pointing to the involvement of outside agencies was clear. He died because of me. Because of my recklessness, and my arrogance. I regret that the most, of everything I have done. And I have done so, so much to be ashamed of…

Describe what you do when you look in a mirror.

Bellamy: Through the looking glass lies the truth, and all lies. I can see the past, the present, and the future – all in a sliver of silver-backed glass, reflecting the universe back to me. Mirror mirror, on the wall… It is one thing to see yourself, another entirely to see everything. To see the universes so clearly.

Describe yourself sitting in your favorite spot.

Bellamy: There is a stone arch bridge, over a stream and surrounded by fields, near Bletchley. I cannot reveal the exact location for obvious reasons, but that bridge has always been a special place… Has always held special memories. I remember standing on the bridge in my first years in this crazy business, hoping to find answers in the ripples of the water, asking the refracting light what I should do, and listening to the wind whisper secrets to me. I learned so much on that bridge.

Tell me about a very treasured item.

Bellamy: (Bellamy thinks for a moment, taking long breaths from his cigarette) Possessions, on the whole, are replaceable. I’ve lost so many friends that I treasure those who remain. (the cigarette is stubbed out on an ashtray) Aside from my essential belongings, I try not to become too attached to items, fond as I am of them.

Do you have a nervous tic or habit?

Bellamy: I smoke rather too frequently to be considered the model of health. (a pause) My resorting to magiks is also troublesome, given my disdain for those who proliferate in the use of arcane methods. And I sleep with too many people whom common sense would preclude from any meaningful association.

Tell me about your siblings…if you have them.

Bellamy: Alas, I was an only child. An unwanted one at that.

What is your favorite sound?

Bellamy: The sound of waves crashing against the shore of this world from beyond, and the song of eternity ringing in my ears. There is beauty in all music, but I have a certain fondness for Berlioz – his music reminds me of the things which exist just out of sight yet not out of mind. There is magic in those notes.

What is your favorite smell?

Bellamy: That, dear boy, is most certainly classified.

Thank you for taking the time out from, uh… Whatever. I really don’t want to know the details.

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Home – At Last

Posted by BigWords on March 22, 2010

I’m back from the hospital. Actually, I’ve been back from the hospital for about an hour and a half, but the strain of trying to think – never mind answer questions while in pain, and without the fallback of painkillers (as they screw up the diagnosis) – has exhausted me. So… This is the first I’ve managed to pull myself together enough to post anything which doesn’t degenerate into incoherent mumbling, non-sequiturs, head-scratching references to things which I may have made up on the spot, and roundabout logic.

The waiting was the worst part. If you have watched Michael Moore’s Sicko, and noticed how our glorious health service has been lauded in other places around the world, you would be forgiven for thinking that things work brilliantly. My appointment was set for 9am, but I had to hang around (in a non-emergency area, there wasn’t anyone jumping in for major procedures) for a total of six hours. Six hours in which I wasn’t allowed to pop any painkillers, and I couldn’t even walk off the pain, because leaving would mean I might have missed my turn.

The docs – there was at least six people who took turns sticking things in my ear to see what was going on – asked so many questions before doing anything that I may have lost my temper once or twice. I’m hazy on the specifics, but the questions were mostly the standard, run of the mill stuff. Spellcheck. I have to keep using spellcheck because my brain isn’t passing along information to my fingers. I’m sure I wrote another sentence here, but it’s slipped away from me.

Umm… So, I’m officially dehydrated, and I’ve got high blood pressure. Tell me something new. Pfft. I was told to drink more, but they meant water, and I don’t like the taste of water. Red Bull is now verboten, which I kinda guessed I would be told. All of this was skirting around the fact my fucking ear was on fire and nobody seems to want to do anything about it. The pressure which had been building at the side (just to the back) of my ear was due to an infection which had gathered some liquid, or blood, or pus, or somedamnthing. The gunk was drained away, my ear cleaned out, and I got the news I had been expecting. The inside of my ear is all scratched to hell.

I’ve used in-ear headphones for as long as I can remember, mostly because those large ones that cover the entire ear feel clunky and are hard to use whilst doing the 1001 things I need to do. So, yeah… No surprise. The disorientation feelings, the loss of fine balance and the pain of the last couple of weeks have tought me a lesson – playing music through the speakers is waaay easier than making my ears worse. The nausea as well – I had to stop the taxi halfway home because I thought I was gonna puke, but it was the not-really-but-ya-better-check-anyway nausea. Upchucking in a taxi is fine if you’re eight or nine years old (or very, very drunk), but otherwise… Nope.

I’ve got a stash of painkillers which should last me at least eight weeks (even at my current usage), a bunch of antibiotics, vitamins (which the doc says I have to keep buying for a while), and three lists I should follow unless I want to be back in a hospital anytime soon. The screen feels weird to look at right now, and I’m not sure if the flickering is because of the monitor or my eyes. My cheeks and forehead feel like the skin is pulled so tight, and my forehead has a thin line of owie running across it. I keep imagining there’s something there, like the gold band Monkey wore. Tightening around my head and making the… Um… Somethingsomethingsomething.

My head doesn’t hurt as much as it did yesterday, but I’ve been left with a headache that isn’t shifting. I was going to write more, but trying to concentrate on the my fingers, the keyboard, and the damn flickering monitor is making things worse. I’ll be back online when I work out the right balance between tolerable pain and numb uselessness. Don’t hold your breath.

I smelled strawberries when they were mucking around with my ear. Not sure if it was some weird medication, a pain-induced hallucination, or synaesthesia kicking in, but it was so strong I could have tasted those fuckers. My brain hates me.

Every time I turn my head I feel like I’m going to fall over. This may be interesting.

I’ll conjure up more material from the hard drives and stuff when I can look at the screen without feeling like I’m about to pass out, and I have a drawing I did for my father’s birthday I did last week which I have to scan for my records. Gah, work never ceases…

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Lost, Huh?

Posted by BigWords on March 19, 2010

They named the show well, because it certainly lost the plot. Okay, so maybe that’s being mean, but it ain’t exactly the most sensible show on the planet. Ah, but therein lies the nub of my theory which states that the series is, in fact, little more than a sequel to Harsh Realm. Think about it – Santiago (or whatever he was called) has his mind and personality submerged to avoid capture, resulting in him taking on the personality of Locke… And the massive computer simulation which formed the basis of Harsh Realm explains all the weird shit in Lost.

I’m a fucking genius.

*cough* Anyways, one of the things which has bugged me (for quite some time now) is why, if the island is so magical, Locke is still bald? Terry O’Quinn should be rockin’ a massive ‘fro.

I don’t really care anyway, because this is all just an excuse to ridicule the show in pictures…

All of which makes more sense than the last two seasons of the show combined.

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“The Ant” Typeface – Unused Originals

Posted by BigWords on March 15, 2010

As often happens, sometimes I work on something which gets stuck at some point – nothing wrong with the idea, nothing wrong with the story, characters of format, but the parts simply don’t add up to the whole. The following font was for a pulp character which was intended as a counterpoint to the ‘lone hero’ stories of the thirties and forties, making a point about how difficult it is to fight crime in isolation. The character of The Ant was to change in every story, with the secret organization (roughly) following the social strata of real ants. The idea of “the collective good” seemed a tad too close to an espousal of Communist ideals for some, and the project never really got off the ground.

There are character designs kicking around somewhere, but as I’ve only just discovered the font I created for the story I’ll start there. It’s based on a few Art Deco designs, and was laboriously rendered in Adobe Photoshop – there are approximately thirty layers for the colored, finished lettering, but these are the B&W originals which (until now) have never been seen by anyone. I never got around to creating the other letters, but I only really needed six anyway.

And the original design for the header in full:

The actual ant logo in the center was going to be handed off to someone who could design a more appealing (and more era-accurate) rendition, but it gets across the 1940s vibe well enough. I can’t remember what was going to be inside the arch at the top of the box, though I have a feeling it was a design element lifted from a from a book of copyright-free designs to save time (and money).

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Some Kind Of Update

Posted by BigWords on March 9, 2010

Thwock, thwock, thwock, thwock, thwock…

The sound reverberates around my head, a constant reminder that I’m too damn stubborn to relax. This is all my fault, and I can’t help feeling that I deserve the pain. Ah, but you’re wondering why I dropped off the face of the planet – or, at least, the internet, which these days is pretty much one and the same thing… I have managed to get online to check out some stuff, but anything requiring concentration has eluded my abilities, the worst moment being Sunday afternoon, when the browser seemed to be scrolling down in a constant movement. It wasn’t the browser, and it took me a couple of minutes to realize that the problem lay not within the bowels of the infernal machine, but within my eyes. It’s the strangest feeling to have something I rely on so much (my eyesight) betray me in such a way.
Inside my right eye, under the bottom lid, is some kind of a spot or something, a little white blemish against the bright pink flesh, which has been furiously scratching at my eyeball every time I blink. And there is the noise…

Thwock, thwock, thwock, thwock, thwock…

Damnable noise. The earache is back, and it sounds for all the world as if a Chinook is trying (unsuccessfully) to take off in my head. The inside of my ear feels like it has swollen to three times its normal size, and the entire left side of my head is throbbing in sympathy pains. Couture damnations, indeed. I knew that there would be a Karmic penalty for the constant activity which has driven me from everything I had lined up, but I didn’t realize it would be so blunt, so sudden and so terribly debilitating. Maybe it has something to do with the limited amount of sleep I have had over the past few weeks, ’cause the last time I felt this shitty was when I found it impossible to sleep.

So sleep, huh. yeah, the most I have had recently is two hours at a stretch, with the average being about an hour. I’ve tried all of the so-called remedies, but they are – more or less – a complete waste of time. The drugs which claim to give uninterrupted sleep used to work, but I was taking double the recommended dosage every time I used them, and even then I only hit about five hours of decent sleep. The damn earache has been waking me up as soon as I can get shut-eye, so that only exacerbates the problem. The thumping, ricocheting noise which threatens sanity and destroys the ability to develop any level of concentration continues, beyond the reach of painkillers and meditation techniques alike – the demon which will not be satisfied until something snaps.

Thwock, thwock, thwock, thwock, thwock…

I’ll share a little something here, just because there seems to be a misunderstanding amongst folks who can sleep normally, and I expect you to be paying attention – there is no fun to be had with this shit. Seriously, whenever there is a film or TV show where a main character has insomnia it rapidly flows into the realms of fantasy… I’ve lost count of the number of times I’ve had to switch off a DVD or change channels because of the idiocy of the script. There are levels to insomnia, and there are different types (subtle differences to doctors, perhaps – the end effects are still the same), but never have I experienced the kinds of stuff you see in films. No hallucinations which feel real, and certainly no conversations with imaginary people. No fun aural hallucinations either. I do get time displacement, which is rarely given any consideration in media representations of the affliction.

Time displacement is weirdness squared. I generally manage pretty well, but on the odd occasion where I get hit hard… Not the best time to try and make sense of anything I say or do. When I arrived home on Sunday night I dropped my bag in the hall, made myself a coffee, then worked out a schedule which would be the best use of my time (hitting the right connections) for Monday’s travels. I then grabbed my bag, checked my watch, and discovered that I was late for the train – a full six hours before I actually needed to catch the train. This is typical of being awake for so long – days kinda bleed into one another, and only the darkening of the sky is any indication of days passing by. Lost time is similar to time displacement, but altogether more scary. I black out for short periods of time, less than a couple of minutes mostly, while I continue to perform whatever it was I was doing when I black out. When walking along a busy road this can be life-endangering. Still think insomnia is fun and games?

And my eyes… The rawness has (mostly) disappeared, but my eyes still hurt. I think I may be dehydrated, but I can never remember if I have drunk anything – or, for that matter, if I have had anything to eat. Trying to keep an eye on how much weight I may be losing isn’t really possible when I don’t know for sure which day it is, so the best I have managed to come up with is an alarm on my ‘phone which beeps every eight hours reminding me that it is a good idea to get some nourishment. Better than starving to death I guess. Is it unusual for a person not to feel hungry? Or thirsty? No idea. The times during which my sleep patterns have leveled off seem so distant now that it’s hard to recall exactly when the last time I felt ‘normal’ was.

I’ll try to post more regularly, but at the moment it seems that there is too much to deal with. Thank Cthulhu for codeine (the best over-the-counter pain relief ) and Jack Daniels… If I can hold together enough of my limited attention span together I may be able to write something worth reading soon.

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Is It Time For Gordon Brown To Grow A Pair?

Posted by BigWords on March 1, 2010

Paul and Rachel Chandler have now been held by Somali pirates since October, and there seems to be no aid forthcoming from the British government – is this really the reaction we should be getting from a political party supposedly courting votes for a forthcoming election? As if the threats of rape Rachel Chandler has received weren’t enough to buoy the Labour stuffed shirts into action, there is now a ticking clock on Mr. Chandler’s health… There is enough medical reason to intervene in the prolonged fiasco engineered by FO (the mandarins so incompetent that the government keeps them busy on foreign waters), with doctors stating that the kidnapped man’s eyesight will be permanently damaged in as little as a few weeks.

Is this the true face of the Labour Party? I can barely imagine voting for them in the looming madness which election fever will surely bring, but the cold and brutal way in which Brown has turned his back on British citizens whose lives are hanging on the line completely beggars belief. If they were soldiers captured by the Taliban there would be national outcry, military intervention and cynical, stage manipulated photo opportunities for the grinning one-eyed politico. Because the Chandlers are civilians, and are in a situation which affords the Prime minister no gains, they are treated as if they were lepers – at the moment. As soon as their deaths are announced Wee Gordy will be on the evening news, with his dour face on, wringing his hands and gnashing his teeth, he’ll spit out some words of condolence.

But before things get to that stage, and before the Foreign Office has a chance to cock things up to a greater extent than they already have, we should see something being done. Some action, however small, would show that there is a heart beating in Brown’s chest – a diseased, malformed heart, but a heart nevertheless.

Okay, another take on this – What if it had been a celebrity who was captured by pirates? Would there be a political urgency to get things resolved as quickly as possible? Of course there would. Perhaps not for Bono, or Gwyneth Paltrow, but I’m sure that the public would want certain famous people saved. If it was Stephen Fry being held captive, I’d climb in a rowboat and set off to rescue him myself… But Paul and Rachel Chandler haven’t lived in the spotlight, so the politicians who could arrange safe passage home under the protection of a special military detachment (if they deemed fit to do so), simply couldn’t care less. And this, you must remember, is during a period in which the responsibilities of the average citizen is being hammered home by our unenlightened overseers.

Can you spell ‘hypocrisy’ Mr Brown?

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