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The Lair Of Gary James

Archive for October, 2010

The Zombiethon Round-Up – Part Three

Posted by BigWords on October 31, 2010

I didn’t make it to fifty films. That isn’t the biggest let-down of the week (you can make an educated guess regarding the previous post as to the nature of the week’s low point), yet the fact that I’ve sat through no less than forty odd films and a couple of television episodes regarding zombies has made me realize a few things. Firstly, I really, really want to be somewhere with an independent supply of water when the apocalypse falls. Can you imagine the smell of undead pieces of flesh hanging off your weaponry, compounded by the fact that no-one has had a shower in weeks? These are the types of questions which have been rattling around my head whilst the filmmakers intentions have been largely ignored. I’ve seen most of the decent films enough to know them off by heart, so the ruminations have been getting free reign.

Despite not setting out to expand my theories about survival post-civilization, there are good tips throughout zombie films, and even suggestions which could be put to use whilst the cities are still standing. Zombieland‘s cardio rule is a very pertinent one in a world where there are a lot of folks too fat to run from the undead. The walking banquets are, in a roundabout way, good for the long term survival of the human race, ’cause while the zombies are feasting on them the rest of us can run like our asses are on fire. And, while I’m thinking of food here (yeah, watching zombies do their stuff make me hungry) there needs to be enough food wherever I am at the beginning of the apocalypse, as there is no chance I’ll survive on junk food alone. Well, not for long anyways…

Even though it isn’t (yet) a required text on zombies, Dead Rising has a perfectly valid argument against trying to hook up with other survivors – there is nothing to say that everyone else hasn’t gone completely and utterly insane with the situation around them. These fuckwits (technical term) will most likely be the death of as many people as zombies, so it makes sense that everyone tries to avoid everyone else. Just in case. Adding to the reasons for avoiding other survivors is the fact that there is always one idiot who denies they have been bitten. Go watch the Dawn Of The Dead remake and you’ll see that even babies aren’t above suspicion… So yeah.

The list, for those of you wishing to replicate this “experiment”:

28 Days Later; 28 Weeks Later; 48 Weeks Later; AAH! Zombies!!; Apocalypse Of The Dead; Beyond Re-Animator; Bio Zombie; Day Of The Dead; Day Of The Dead; Day Of The Dead 2: Contagium; Dead Air; Dead Snow; Diary Of The Dead; Fido; The Ghost Galleon; The Horde; House Of The Dead; I Walked With A Zombie; I Was A Teenage Zombie; King Of The Zombies; The Living Dead At The Manchester Morgue; Living Dead Girl; Mutant; Night Of The Living Dead; Night Of The Living Dead; Night Of The Seagulls; Pet Sematary; The Plague Of The Zombies; Quarantine; Resident Evil; Resident Evil: Apocalypse; Return Of The Blind Dead; Shaun Of The Dead; Survival Of The Dead; Tombs Of The Blind Dead; Trailer Park Of Terror; Versus; White Zombie; Wicked Little Things; Zombie Bloodbath; Zombie Flesh Eaters; Zombieland; Zombies, Zombies, Zombies

There sometimes wasn’t time for me to watch full features, so I threw in a few episodes of Tales From The Crypt as well – the less said about the feature films the better. You may also want to check out a couple of first season episodes of Urban Gothic, which subverts zombies and necromancy seven different ways before the end credits roll. Oh, and while I remember about it – as my brain is quite likely to melt before the next election rolls around – all Brits reading this really need to reconsider their political allegiance when there exists a party which actually makes sense out there. Trust me… When the end of days comes, you will want to have the correct people in charge.

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The Zombiethon Round-Up – Part Two

Posted by BigWords on October 31, 2010

If the first post was “The Good,” then this is The Bad. The films I have avoided mentioning thus far are, without being too mean, worse than eating dogshit whilst having a red hot poker thrust up your anus, as a Hanson album plays on an eternal loop. These are the films even as distinguished a film geek as Quentin Tarantino would be unlikely to admit to watching. I’m possibly overstating just how god-awful they are, but not by  much. I know they are meant to be horror films, but I’m sure inducing horror in viewers at the prospect of watching them again wasn’t exactly the idea. You can go hunt them down if you are sufficiently mentally ill or have a broad and deep masochistic streak, but it would honestly be cheaper paying someone to punch you in the face repeatedly.

The first film to make me question my sanity in a week of zombie films was the comic-book adaptation Trailer Park Of Terror, which sounds like the perfect mix of everything I like, yet managed to disappoint on nearly every level. It’s not that the story is bad (there’s a nice clean line through the film), it’s just awful to look at. If I had watched it in isolation, I would probably have been more favorable to it, yet hot on the heels of some of the classics of the zombie genre it pales into insignificance.There are some nice extras with the main feature, but no matter how much supporting material could be added, it’s just another in a long list of disappointments which would sully those first few hours of flesh-tearing bliss.

The worst offender is – without the shadow of a doubt – Zombies, Zombies, Zombies, a film which any sane film producer would have bought in a heartbeat when they heard the high concept. It’s a twist on the Dawn Of The Dead conceit of hiding somewhere safe, in this instance a strip club. The survivors are, naturally, strippers themselves, yet despite having one of the best-sounding premises, it manages to destroy the idea resoundingly. I wanted to like this for so many reasons… Um. Okay, mainly for the strippers, but the film deserves no time whatsoever spent thinking about it. That I have already typed this much out is a testament to how much it irritates me, and I would rather puke blood than continue. Therefore…

That 48 Weeks Later manages to make those two films look decent by a substantial magnitude beggars belief. It’s so bad that it could feasibly be used as an implement of torture should the US military wish to get quick answers from those detained at Gitmo – trust me, even the most hardened terrorist will beg for a quick death after sitting through the first half hour, and it goes downhill from there. It would have gotten on this page for piggybacking on the success of 28 Days Later alone, but it’s unimaginable badness means it gets a special level of Hell all to itself. The amateurish acting borders on hilarious, so if you want to laugh at production values, awful acting and the kind of direction not seen since The Star Wars Holiday Special then this should suit you perfectly.

While not quite as bad as the above, Apocalypse Of The Dead is so packed full of clichés that it struggles to retain any of the vague interest which the admittedly cool cover art raises. It neither strikes an individual tone nor conforms to any of the established ideas which zombie films should strike for, varying wildly in tone from broad comedy to (allegedly) tense drama in the space of a few scenes. The brief moment late in the film where it seems to take a cue from Stephen King’s Cell is an opening which is never capitalized on, yet the “leader zombie” is probably the most interesting character in the entire film. That doesn’t say much for the leads, but they are as wooden as the stake through Dracula’s chest. If I make it sound disjointed and an awkward addition to the genre, then I am being kind.

It may seem a tad unfair to lump The Living Dead At The Manchester Morgue (or whichever of the hundred odd alternate titles it shows under) with that lot, though I found it to have none of the charm or style which the best of the zombie films display. There are a few exceptional scenes which border on classic, though aside from the bandaged zombie I don’t foresee myself wishing to revisit this any time soon. I’m only being nicer to AAH! Zombies!! as it has a funny idea and a quirky style, but it rapidly outstays it welcome once shifting from its’ early premise into something that is not entirely unlike Stubbs The Zombie. Instead of being mean, I’ll just point out how hot Betsy Beutler is, and quickly change subject.

Beyond Re-Animator is the one film I’m mentioning here which I truly wish wasn’t made, not because of how bad it is, but because it diminishes the first two films in the series. The prison setting is still fresh enough that it holds some interest, yet manages to fumble some excellent set-ups with poorly thought out scares and crappy editing. I really like Jeffrey Combs, and the only reason I can think of him doing this film is that he was trapped into a contract even Harry Houdini couldn’t have gotten out of.

Those were the highlights of the worst. You may want to refrain from thinking too long on what films were so bad as to make me repress the memory of having watched them, but bearing in mind the level of quality here I’ve spent more time wondering how these films get made. The Bill Hicks joke about production meetings (which hangs pretty much on the phrase “Will there be titty?”) doesn’t seem so far fetched after all…

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The Zombiethon Round-Up – Part One

Posted by BigWords on October 31, 2010

Eternal cruise, I feel the fires of madness
Burning holes into my wounds
This Hell on Earth, I feel the power of sadness
No way out I’m marooned.

Lonely this Hell on Earth
Demons screaming in my mind
Wading through debris of life
A thousand souls their graves to find.

Marooned by Running Wild

My grand plan for Halloween wasn’t without some, ah… interesting time management issues, and I am especially proud of the ingenious idea of watching DVD’s on the laptop during my lunch break to keep from falling behind. You’ve probably guessed from the title of the blog post that it has something to do with the undead, but it is much, much madder than anyone could possibly think of, at least without already lining themselves up for a padded room in a nice facility where the jackets are done up from behind.

The plan was to watch fifty zombie films in a week, so I started with the DVDs I knew I would like (not the last mistake I would make during this insane challenge), namely Dawn Of The Dead, Shaun Of The Dead, I Walked With A Zombie and Zombie Flesh Eaters. Calculating the odds of getting through the entire fifty meant that some cheating was in order, so I pulled out the box set of old zombie flicks and watched King Of The Zombies, Revolt Of The Zombies and White Zombie to fulfill my classic quota and to get some shorter features in before the time constraints really began to bite. The picture quality on the newer films was fine, but those older films are really starting to show their age, even on HD-upscaled DVDs.

A minor interlude is called for here, as it seems to me that the DVD quality of White Zombie especially is actually worse than the old video sell-through release. The tonal quality of the footage lightens and darkens mid-scene throughout, and the number of scratches is unbelievable. It wasn’t this bad on video (or, for that matter, on the 16mm version I saw whilst it was circulating in the late-80s), so I can only assume that this isn’t from the same master copy. The film itself has some wonderful moments, and one scene in particular stands out – Karloff’s Legendre is overseeing the removal of Madeleine’s coffin, and it is so much like a shot Kubrick would have engineered that I had to rewind a few moments to see it again. So beautiful…

Tick tock, tick tock… The clock is tight enough as it is, and I’m fucking around by rewinding. The night was filled with the original Night of The Living Dead, then the remake of Day Of The Dead. That is one film, I gotta say, that doesn’t deserve to be connected to George A. Romero in any way. Mena Suvari is so hopelessly miscast as a hard-ass military stock character that the rest of the film can’t help but look ridiculous around her. There are good effects in there, but rather blunted by the fact that she doesn’t get horrifically mutilated within the first half hour by the undead. With dawn closing in on me, and the week about to begin in earnest, I settled on 28 Days Later. Yeah, I know… “It’s not a zombie film.” Well, fuck Danny Boyle and the horse he rode in on. It’s a schlocky zombie flick. End of story.

I’m splitting this into three, so I can cover as much as I can be bothered saying about each of the films I watched. This, unsurprisingly being the first, is where I get to lavish affection on the good stuff, as there really isn’t enough said about the better zombie films. The other two posts will mostly be mockery and insults, so enjoy the relatively good mood on display here:

My opinions on NOTLD, Dawn and (to a lesser degree) Day haven’t changed over the years. Romero, more than any other director, really gets the concept of zombies – or, as he uses in NOTLD , “ghouls,” which is a much better word for his creatures. I love his style and his voice, but even I am not insane enough to class Diary Of The Dead in the same category as his earlier work. It’s a neat idea, but it’s also one which has been driven into the ground since The Last Broadcast – a classic of the POV style. The immediate follow-up to this, Survival Of The Dead is even less notable, save for an amazing final shot – almost worth sitting through the rest of the film for alone. It also breaks a cardinal rule by having identical twins as a major plot point, which indicates the slow deterioration of the “Dead” series as much as the dilution of the danger has.

If you are wondering, I’ll state right now that I skipped the lamentable Land Of The Dead. It’s not that it adds nothing to the mythos – the attraction to fireworks, and an increase in zombie intelligence which will eventually pay off in Survival – are fine, but any explanation as to how the sealed-off city fits in with the other films would require too much back-story. It’s the ugly step-sister of the franchise, desperately trying to look hip and cool while waddling along with too much padding. That’s probably heresy, but I’m beyond caring. I also managed to skip the comedy-horror Return of The Evil Dead, though that was more from luck than anything else – I forgot about it until it was too late to hunt down my copy. It’s probably nestled between Plan 9 From Outer Space and Twilight, along with a host of other B-movies…

Due to a couple of recommendations (here and here), I picked up the Norwegian film Dead Snow, and… Okay, I liked this, but the barrage of Frank Miller references in the credits threw me off slightly, and the shout-out to 300 only compounded the feeling that I was watching a low-budget fan-film. The effects are awesome, and it has a great storyline, yet there are moments where it feels as if it is trying too hard to throw in references to other films for the sake of it. I especially found the stark chiaroscuro of the trees against the snow at the beginning, though the harsher black and white element is lost rapidly as the film moves into a more traditional horror style. The zombies themselves are a major departure, being able to not only run, but also fight the “heroes” – med students, including a comedy character whose inclusion is obvious from the first reference to his phobia.

Another outstanding example of non-traditional zombies comes in the form of The Horde, a French zombie film in the mold of the Dawn Of The Dead remake, though infused with a stylistic angle as expected from a pair of French directors. It’s billed as “Die Hard with zombies,” but it has a lot more in common with computer games than any films which come immediately to mind. The sequence in Max Payne 2 where the building is burning around him is captured in mood, only the danger is zombies running around trying to eat people rather than flames licking at the heroes heels. The fat guy with the fire-axe may be a reference to Resident Evil, though it becomes an indispensable character trait for the unlikely savior of the beleaguered survivors. I’m going to watch this again, it’s that good…

That, sadly, is most of the best stuff. Sturgeon’s Law is fully in effect when it comes to zombie films – perhaps more than in other horror sub-genres – so I’ll leave off this post here without spoiling the mood.

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A Little Halloween Reading…

Posted by BigWords on October 28, 2010

The best part of Halloween, for me, is rediscovering the tales I remember reading from dusty old collections and cheap paperbacks (mostly the Pan Horror collections, but the more recent Peter Haining books could count here as well), and it is one of the benefits of the digital age that most have been preserved online. There are still the odd gap here and there, and a few of the more obscure and hysterical tomes are still missing, but having the mainstays of the horror genre accounted for is enough for now. It’s not unsurprising that the effect of those Pan books especially, replete with skulls glaring out from the covers, have had a lasting impression. When I sat down to do my Halloween post (which will be the report of a week spent immersed in modern horror) I needed to pay some respect to the more traditional and – in my opinion – more lasting horror. The horror neither immediately visceral nor blatant.

I chose fourteen tales, which – by some coincidence not intended – is a fine enough number for a paperback like those I read as a child. These may represent very different styles of horror, but they are connected through a tradition of campfire and torchlit oral tradition… These are the storytellers whose work crawls into your brain, and whose ideas go beyond the mundane and everyday terrors to elicit something grander. You may argue on the inclusion of one or two of my choices (Campbell seems to be a contentious inclusion, though I have my reasons), but you cannot deny the overall strength of the horror story in short form. This is, beyond the excitement of the new, where the restless and uneasy dreams are forged.

Reading through the lists of works now committed to the grand digital libraries is like being a kid again, wide eyed and overjoyed at the way mere words on paper (or, in this case, on the screen) can hold such power. There’s really nothing like a scary story, told in the dark of night, to keep you wondering about the shadows which fall as flickering light fades away and we are left with the ghost of the day.

An Account of Some Strange Disturbances in Aungier Street by Sheridan Le Fanu
The Altar of the Dead by Henry James
The Call Of Cthulhu by H.P. Lovecraft
The Gulf Between by Tom Godwin
The Judge’s House by Bram Stoker
The Lottery by Shirley Jackson
An Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge by Ambrose Bierce
‘Oh, Whistle, and I’ll Come to You My Lad’ by Montague Rhodes James
The Picture Of Dorian Grey by Oscar Wilde
The Screaming Skull by F. Marion Crawford
There Will Come Soft Rains by Ray Bradbury
Transformation by Mary Shelley
Who Goes There? by John W Campbell
The Yellow Wallpaper by Charlotte Perkins Gilman

Further reading:

Baen Free Library
Buzzle.com
Horrormasters
The Literary Gothic

“Sleep, those little slices of death, how I loathe them.” Edgar Allen Poe

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TMI Tuesdays

Posted by BigWords on October 19, 2010

WARNING – this post is going to have material which may make you feel nauseous, grossed out, or potentially make you lose the contents of your stomach all over your computer. Walk away now if you don’t think you can handle the blow-by-blow account of my Monday.

… seriously.

…I’m not joking.

I did warn you.

As I pointed out on Twitter on Sunday evening, I have been busy trying to get as much of the art for my NaNoWriMo comic done as possible. One of the techniques I have been using is pastels and charcoals for background elements, but this requires fixative spray – otherwise the image would get very smudged, very quickly. So here’s something that people don’t often mention when they talk about art, as it tends to put people off the idea of creating – there are some substances used in art which have a negative impact on the user, and can slow down output to a standstill. The use of fixative spay in an enclosed area is one of the things which will completely knock you off your feet if you aren’t careful.

Monday morning.

2am.

The waves of nausea were hitting hard, and it felt as if there was something moving around in my stomach desperately seeking an exit. The bloated, horrible feeling of knowing that something is wrong, but not knowing exactly what. I tried to drink a coffee, but the taste was off – it wasn’t even the rich stuff, so I know that the coffee wasn’t to blame. This was around the time when the headache kicked in, and a fuzzy feeling, as if there was something just out of my peripheral vision. This wasn’t like a hangover – I’ve had plenty of those, and this was entirely different in the level of accompanying confusion.

Oh, and there was a tingling all over my skin which was really weird. My fingertips were numb at this point as well. Not sure why, but I felt as if I was burning up at this point – a feeling which would continue all through the day. I spent the entire day wearing just jeans and a t-shirt, but I really felt as if my temperature had rocketed into the stratosphere.

5am.

Everything that comes next is horrible, though in the interest of being completely honest and open, I’m going to go ahead and lay it out for you. The waves of nausea were kicking in hard, and a certain amount of disorientation and pain was beginning to set in. I’m guessing that the aerosol nature of the chemicals used in the spray were to blame for all my joints feeling as if they were being pulled apart, but this was soon to be forgotten as the back of my throat started burning. The simultaneously bitter and sharp taste of acid hit out of nowhere, then got worse as I staggered to the bathroom, whereupon the previous night’s meal made an unwelcome reappearance.

This was mostly chunks of meat, and the sensation of the small (and some not so small) pieces banging off the top of my mouth was enough to make me nearly choke. See, I did warn you I wasn’t going to hold back. Oh, and while it is still (all too) fresh in my mind, I may as well point out that the thin watery stuff which was simultaneously streaming from my nose stung like hell. This was around the time I started thinking that death would be a merciful release from the seemingly endless torment, but no… There was, much, much worse to come.

6am.

If the chunky stuff was bad, then the liquid ejecta was ten times worse. I pulled a chipmunk face, desperately trying not to release it all over the room, and barely managed to make it into the bathroom before my face gave up any attempt to contain the mess. It felt as if there was liters and liters of the too-warm and too sickly-smelling stuff coming up, wave after wave of it threatening to drown me if I passed out. The ‘cloudy’ feeling, which I can only describe as one of disorientation, managed to completely obliterate my hand-eye coordination at this point, leaving me to try and stabilize myself by holding onto the wall. Aiming my face in the general direction of the bowl wasn’t of utmost concern at this point – staying conscious was.

Oh, and the smell. The chunky stuff earlier in the morning was practically odorless, yet the liquid stank the place out. If I hadn’t already been sick on an epic scale, then that would have driven me to another bout of retching.

For the rest of the day I was completely worn out. It was as if all of my muscles had lost the ability to move. I’m still achy, and the headache hasn’t gone away, though having both art and words together for NaNo seems even remoter than ever.

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Small Wonders And Big Surprises

Posted by BigWords on October 8, 2010

It was only when I was boxing up all my books (again) that I realized there were a few titles I didn’t realize I actually had. This comes as no surprise to anyone who has seen my collection, but it made me think that Goodreads (or something similar) may actually have practical benefits for those of us unable to curb our spending habits. Most of the problem resides in the difficulty getting adequate storage has always proven. Once you hit the critical factor – maybe a thousand or so books – then some will unquestionably slip through the layer of immediate recognition. I’m not saying I have too many books, because a person can never have too many books, but I do need a list of some sort to identify which titles I have already bought, and which I have no need to go buy again. This happens more often than I would really like. All the time, actually.

Sometimes I feel as if I’m buying merely because I need to buy something, rather than buying because something is calling out to me. This, especially with all the numerous other things I desperately need to spend money on, has had a strange effect on what I have been buying. Roger Highfield’s The Science Of Harry Potter and Harry, A History by Melissa Anelli – my two latest purchases – were bought mainly so I could stretch out the Harry Potter section of my non-bookshelf-bookshelf (with everything being in boxes, talk of a physical bookshelf seems redundant at best), and I’ve been pondering ways to use the space I will have when I get the house fixed up. A library seems a good way to go, but all the dedicated book rooms I have seen over the years always strike me as harkening back to a Victorian philosophy of design which doesn’t appeal.

The solution to storage will probably come to me later, but in the meantime I am going through each box in order, and writing down – for the first time ever – which books I have in my collection. There are a lot, so this may take some time. Hopefully this activity will result in me never buying another copy of the Twilight Zone novelization – a perennial problem which I’ve never quite let sink into my brain… Although I did see the Halloween novelization a couple of days ago, and I haven’t come across that particular book yet – maybe there really is no hope for me after all. Just to show how truly random and eccentric my collection is, I thought it would be cool therapeutic to list the contents of one box at random. I wish there were more intellectual titles on display, but the box contains what the box contains, and pretending that the box contains a highbrow range is to defeat the purpose of such lists.

Approaching Oblivion by Harlan Ellison
Black Ajax by George MacDonald Fraser
Bogart by A.M. Sperber & Eric Lax
Brave New World Revisited by Aldous Huxley
Bruce Lee – Fighting Spirit by Bruce Thomas
Chambers XWD – Dictionary Of Crossword Abbreviations by Michael Kindred & Derrick Knight
The Chemistry Of Death by Simon Beckett
The Chinatown Death Cloud Peril by Paul Malmont
The Devil’s Bones by Jefferson Bass
Dirty Harry by Phillip Rock
The Domain Of Devils by Eric Maple
The Encyclopedia Of Japanese Pop Culture by Mark Schilling
Film Facts by Patrick Robertson (both editions, for some reason)
Future Perfect: How Star Trek Conquered The World by Jeff Greenwald
I Shudder At Your Touch edited by Michele Slung
Infected by Scott Sigler
James Stewart – Behing The Scenes Of A Wonderful Life by Lawrence J. Quirk
Love All The People by Bill Hicks
The Man Who Ate The World by Frederik Pohl
The Microsoft Way by Randall E. Strass
The New Science Of Strong Materials by J.E. Gordon
Odd And The Frost Giants by Neil Gaiman
Possible Side Effects by Augusten Burroughs
The State Of The Art by Iain M. Banks
Superhuman by Matt Whyman
Taboo: Sex And Morality Around The World by Armand Denis
Use Of Weapons by Iain M. Banks
Wargames by David Bischoff
Wildwood Road by Christopher Golden
Young Kate by Christopher Andersen

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It’s Gonna Be One Of THOSE Weeks Then…

Posted by BigWords on October 4, 2010

The rain which lashed down upon me over the end of last week and into the weekend kinda worried me, especially since I haven’t had anyone look at the roof yet. In a moment of inspiration, I decided to utilize the roll of plastic sheeting in the shed, originally set aside to line the roof of said shed… My method of keeping the rain out consisted of attaching the sheet to the ceiling of the attic with a staple-gun, which proved to be less than successful. It managed to hold up until early in the morning (until 4am it was fine), but at just after 6am there was a big bang. A really big bang. The kind of noise which means something bad has happened. Yeah. The attic ceiling (with the water-filled sheeting still attached to it) had hit the floor, exposing the timbers.

Normally I would sigh and put it off until I got home, but there was light coming through, and there seemed to be more damage than I had seen before. The only thing I could do was take the day off and round up the troops to see what could be done in the space of a day. A more knowledgeable individual pointed out the strut damage and decided to get a professional eye on the situation, so a quick ‘phone call later, I found myself playing host to all manner of peeps. The roof is, in short, completely fucked. Great news to start the week with. I’ve spent the last ten hours manhandling metal poles to shore up the roof until I can get someone in to fix it properly, but even at basic prices, I’m looking at a hefty expense getting it back to anything resembling safe.

But that isn’t the best part. Oh no. The blisters and cuts from my day of manual labor pale into insignificance with the other main cause of my frustration at this crumbling pile of shit I call home now. The wooden panels in the room directly below the attic had been… Well, I say bulging, but it’s more like they were being warped out of place. One crowbar later, I had managed to pry off the skirting and slide out two of the panels to see what was the cause. It’s most likely just age (the problem kinda slipped my mind when I had put them aside), but more troubling – and proof that the house really was trying to kill me – was the state of the walls. Past the gunk which was used to attach the wooden sheets to the walls – the superglue of its’ day – was this sight awaiting me…

Not exactly a good thing. The bluish-green stuff… Take a wild guess. Uh-uh. It’s asbestos – and I know enough not to start screwing around with stuff like that. I’ve read all about Napoleon, and I’ve studied enough texts on Victorian life to know plenty of people have died because of the damnable stuff. I’ve managed to remove everything of importance from that part of the house, but there’s too many variables in the removal of the asbestos to safely gauge how much disruption getting rid of it will cause. I’ve started calling up every specialist I can think of, and the general consensus is that there is probably layers of it in other parts of the house.

To say I’m incredibly pissed off about this is an understatement.I had a small moment earlier today when I thought that it really would be better to simply take my possessions out and burn the house to the ground, but I resisted.

Deep breaths… Deep breaths… Deep breaths…

As much as it pains me to spend more money, I guess I’m gonna have to bite the bullet on this one. This is going to be a very long week.

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Throwing The Gauntlet Down – A New Writing Challenge

Posted by BigWords on October 2, 2010

There was a time when I thought it would be a good idea to try and write a Lovecraftian musical, using the extended Cthulhu Mythos as a hook on which to create something utterly preposterous and horrible, and which defied any kind of logic. One of the sequences was to be a character alone on a darkened stage, highlighted by a beam of light, with figures in black moving in the shadows around him. This fragment was the best I could manage to convey the weird eeriness, and you can immediately see why I never managed to get it any further than half a dozen songs and a rough outline… Yes, it is as awful as it sounds, but it was one of those “It seemed like a good idea at the time” deals.

Beyond the farthest hill and vale,
Onwards from man’s remotest prevail,
The dark ones still reside in calm
perpetual mystery.
Do you know where I am?

Beyond the wilderness outside the dale,
So lost am I in the cold, so frail,
They are here with me, and yet farm
perpetual mystery.
I don’t know where I am…

Finding this again, residing in the wrong folder, has reminded me that not every idea should be considered too seriously, especially if there are multiple points at which I could screw up horribly. Risking looking like an idiot isn’t a problem – I have no shame, after all – but with a musical there are other people who would take flak for a bad show. Minimizing the pain my awful material causes isn’t just a matter of preventing your eyes bleeding should you stumble upon a particularly wrought sentence, it also involves keeping my writing safely to myself when it could possible have a negative effect on others. In the case of my attempts at writing musicals, I am certain their inactive status is for the best.

This got me thinking about the reasons why I keep all this stuff, as horrible and useless as the pieces may be… Then it hit me – what may very well be the most ridiculous and horrifying prospect imaginable to any author. I have a new challenge I am setting forth right here. Something which will make grown men weep, and prove, once and for all, who can come up with the worst writing without deliberately forcing themselves to write crap. This is something not to be considered lightly. This is the “Worst. Prose. Ever.” Challenge – and quite possibly the worst challenge ever as well…

Share with me your abominations.

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