Monday, 22 August 2016

Story: 'Wordspace' Phase II, Part IV

(Part III , Part V)

Mystery and Cloud raced back to the Zone of Impenetrable Jargon, and watched the Invader beat futilely on the prison. Yes, that destructive visitor had earnt the name of 'Invader' now, in a way that their gentler visitor Sorpresa never would have.

"¡Boo!"

Cloud shuddered in mid-flight, and Mystery himself almost lost his twiddle at the surprise.

"¡Hola! ¡He vuelto!" It was Sorpresa, and as always his timing was awful.

Mystery pointed at the giant foreign word pounding on the Dome, and tried to convey a sense of occasion upon their visitor.

"¿Que se pasa? ¡Es un desastre!" Sorpresa slumped down up on Cloud's amorphous surface, and looked as bleak as he had ever looked. "Un desastre..."

"Cloud, what can we do to distract that thing over there?"

The usually terse Cloud muttered "Hold on." and suddenly picked up speed. Sorpresa was taken by surprise and rolled a couple of full word-lengths before grabbing hold of some of Cloud's syllabic structure and closing his eyes. Mystery tried to keep his own eyes open, as they began to dive, and examined the interloper. It truly was massive, a gargantuan titan that would have crushed their old town underfoot. Steely great eyes were bent on the attempted destruction. Why attack the Dome so? Was it perhaps after any words that could be hiding inside?

The invaders, this Armageddon, loomed ever closer and Mystery was surprised when he felt a reassuring touch. It was Sorpresa. "Apocalipsis..." He didn't look happy.

"Apocalipsis?"

Cloud interrupted. "Now would be a good time to brace yourselves." They did as she asked, and held on as steamed on directly at the Invader's roots.

"There is hope." Who had said that?

To be continued...

Saturday, 20 August 2016

No Blank Page Left Unfilled

The challenge is met once again, and the battle commences. The blank page is pitted against the hideously dim mind of the seasoned writer of silliness, where only one can win. Yes, there may be a pyrrhic draw, where the results are unsatisfactory to both sides, but that's not what we aim for.

There is a time for planning and a time for improvised nonsense. This is clearly going to be one of the latter, even as a 'Literary Reflections' continues in development. It will need more than two completed books to be satisfying, though! Yes, we must improvise, improvise! It's not too difficult as long as you don't stop for anything. You must type, type and type some more and keep up the rhythm.

I could write about the second season opener of 'Alias', currently playing to the left, but the talk about that show will be for another day. Oh, a pause. A dreadful pause. There can be no pauses. Let's write about something else, not the weather. Never the weather. No-one in the future is ever going to need to know that gales were running and drizzle was falling in Pontyates on the evening of the twentieth of August in 2016.

Oh yes, the reunion, the ten year mini-reunion of the Aberystwyth University mathematics class of 2006! It went surprisingly well, and with only six classmates and hangers-on it was a surprisingly compact picnic and dinner. There was even a possible convert to the card game 'Fluxx', that magnificent time waster. (Note: Version 4 of 'Fluxx' is the best. Creepers for the win!) We can only hope... Also, in recent news, Tess the venerable Old English sheepdog continues to recuperate speedily after her stroke. She can now get up the steps to the garden unaided once again. I suspect her of being an alien imposter, but only the Clomp knows for sure.

That's enough for now. Enough words spun out of nothing, woven in thoughts barely distinct from the random neuronal firings of normal existence. More will follow another day, and it will be a story...

O.

Thursday, 18 August 2016

Television: 'Press Gang: Something Terrible' (1990) (Episodes 2x07 and 2x08)

This could easily have been called 'The Redemption of Colin Matthews' or 'A Very Special Episode', but the former wouldn't have been fitting and the latter could just as easily been used for the first season two-parter 'How To Make A Killing' or the finale of that same season, 'Shouldn't I Be Taller?'. For all that, though it is a very special story, and it does redeem the arch-hustler Colin, this is one of most important story of the whole series.

On the surface, the idea of a young girl (called Cyndi) befriending a confused Colin after learning about his past antics would seem run of the mill, but when it becomes apparent that she has a child abuse problem and that Colin is the one she has tried to connect to for refuge, the whole concept of the conscience-less and capitalistic hustler is turned on its head, and his humanity rises to the surface. The comedy sluices away, and is shunted to Lynda and Spike's attempts to keep their new romance secret. Meanwhile, Colin struggles with the dual problems of his own legacy making him completely uncredible when seeking assistance, and the weight of the soul-destroying knowledge that he has deduced and had tacitly confirmed. How on Earth would a born salesman and con artist convince anyone that the 'something terrible' was happening?

Fortunately, and in unlikely fashion, the tyrannical editor that is his boss Lynda spots that he is troubled when no-one else would and takes him under wing and the two people who are hardest to know dole out the biggest dose of heart via the titular team's junior newspaper. It's all very well done, and of course uncomfortable at times. However, it's never too uncomfortable. It's a good story, and one that is still not out of date. In the last few weeks alone, it has become clear that child abuse is a tragically common occurrence in the United Kingdom. Where are the kids show to make provoking stories for the young people of 2016? Who is going to help the reported one in fourteen young people suffering abuse in this country? Where are the Colins to make these points?

It was a brave show to make in 1990, as was 'How To Make A Killing' in 1989, and very well done. Every mention to Colin's pink rabbit suit interlude in 'A Night In' is welcome, even if made by the suffering Cyndi. Yes, Colin is a hustler, but when motivated he uses his salesman powers for undefeatable good instead of self-interested greed. Points are made, outside of the political sphere of hyperbole and blather. Come on, Britain, we can do better than this. It has been twenty six years since 'Something Terrible' and the redemption of Colin Matthews, after all.

O.


Note: This post produced in place of the umpteenth article on 'Joe Versus The Volcano'. Lovely, lovely film.

Note: Cover post, pre-written to cover for a ten year university reunion of doom. Please send a helicopter with assistance.

Wednesday, 17 August 2016

On The Book Piles III - August 2016

Before vanishing off to Aberystwyth for an untrammelled episode of joy, it's time to expound once again on the books currently making up the reading piles, those piles that change so slowly except for the chosen few that rush by quickly. On the other hand, you could always wait for tomorrow's cover post, which I've already almost completely forgotten about, or go outside and throw apple cores at passing trees. 'What are the trees passing for?', you ask? I'm not sure, but the answer is probably not 'lemon cordial'.

'Groucho, Harpo, Chico and sometimes Zeppo' by Joe Adamson

A fascinating work which concentrates mainly on the movies of the brothers Marx, and their genesis. Sometimes very funny, but it does jump the readers to some conclusions about the latter movies being awful pretty quickly. Extremely well researched, and probably the greatest reference for the movies.

'Joan Of Arc' by Mark Twain

This is surprisingly good, but keeps getting derailed by other books stomping in. Twain really seems to have found a wonderful middle ground here, casting aside his often over-laboured satire for a well researched, funny, and entertaining pseudo-biography of Joan of Arc. Ah, that Paladin is a jolly good chap, isn't he?

'The Illustrated And Complete Brigadier Gerard' by Arthur Conan Doyle

Barely begun, but already my second favourite Doyle stories behind the Sherlocks. Is there anyone more pompous than Gerard? Is there? Answers on a postcard, please. As always, no prize! Supposedly a parody of the French in general, that will have to be proven by reading more, and more, and more...

'Journey To The West' (Volume 2) by Wu Cheng'en

Nothing has changed here since the last 'Book Piles', but the first volume was so lovely that it won't take long to get to it.

'The Voyage Of The Beagle' by Charles Darwin

More non-fiction, and another one that keeps getting pushed aside for things just added. However, it's always interesting, and hopefully I'll get to the Galapagos Islands within the decade. Which decade? Only you can tell.

'Jokes And Their Relation To The Unconscious' by Sigmund Freud

What happened? I was enjoying it so much, and then poof! Put down, only to remain down. I blame the Marx Brothers. It's really good, though, so it will get read before Jung's 'Archetypes and the Collective Unconscious' re-enters the mix. Analysing humour can be very instructive.

'Kidnap In The Caribbean' by Lauren St John

Languishing at the bottom of the pile, this will be brushed up again quickly. I sensed something tedious about to happen, and started to think about almost anything else instead.

'The Woman In White' by Wilkie Collins

A welcome re-read of the classic after the arduous first reading of 'Armadale' and the much nicer first experience with 'No Name'. Will it be as good this time? Only time will tell? 'The Moonstone' will follow.

O.

Monday, 15 August 2016

Reunions

A reunion. Finally, the die roll has come up snake eyes, and it's time to go to a reunion. If anyone would like to pretend to be me, and go in my place, you'll need an expert disguise and the cooperation of my insider agent. Oh well, it's not such a bad thing to go and it will probably be fun. Other people rolling into Aberystwyth for Thursday should be aware that games will be brought, and that I reserve the right to run screaming into the hills if conversation becomes banal or dolphins are sighted off the beach once again. Oooh, there might be dolphins or porpoises... Maybe this will be a pretty good trip after all. I take it all back. We may have to write a group theatrical production about it all after the event, with musical sequences.

A reunion is a funny concept, isn't it? I wonder where it began? Presumably it was with people less dysfunctional than a Mathematics degree year group. In all likelihood, the kids will be the most normal people there. I should remember to take some frisbees and a life-scale replica of Fort Knox for playing purposes, complete with the laser cannon from 'Goldfinger'. (Yes, that was the rare James Bond reference in the Quirky Muffin. Treasure it, as there may never be another!) In many ways, I'm not the right person to go to a reunion, but in this case I could keep a friend company, and play games, so it may work out alright.

Life continues normally, in other arenas. The students seem to progress, and are becoming aware of the new school years looming in just a few weeks time. Mwahahahahaha! New school years, and GCSE exams for some of them. Let the terrors commence, aided by the 'you are doomed' signs put up during all tutoring sessions. It's all good (and obviously untrue) vengeance for taking the Summer holidays off, after all. Holidays? Bah humbug! Moving along, the challenge has been grasped and registration with the Open University initiated. A part-time degree in Language Studies will commence, as well as a period of relative impoverishment. Finally, stories will be written and published somehow! It is pledged! A writer will emerge from the cradle of this blog, and sell literally ones of copies of his works!

How's that for an ambitious agenda? How much of it will work out? Will the reunion ever end or will we all be trapped by some retired lecturer bent on vengeance for our academic crimes? What will be the first thing to be published? Will I make it to the prized C1 level in Spanish? All these questions, or none of them, will be answered in the fullness of time. Beware crocodiles bearing gifts.

O.

Saturday, 13 August 2016

Story: 'Diary of a Laundry Robot', Week IX

( Week VIII , Week X )

Saturday

The problem with being a laundry robot that has been adopted and liberated by the pan-dimensional beings of the Querg Dimension, and asked to take care of their hats, as strange things occur all around you, is that sometimes you get just a little confused. This is one of those times, as Celia (my colleague) and I get to go on a tour to see the Ring of Querg, and someplace called Nardoli's. We set off some time ago, in the jeep that the Quergs kindly provided, and our companion Egbert, a temporarily displaced elephant, has been telling us stories full of egg puns. Now, in a lull, while Celia drives and Egbert dozes, there is finally time to record this diary. After these weeks of Blots, moving to new dimensions, strange elephants and local customs it seems rather boring to write about commonplace events.

I wonder what the Ring of Querg actually is, anyway?

Sunday

Celia has been staring at the Ring for ages. I still find it hard to believe myself. Up above us, in the pinkish blue sky of the Continuum, there hangs a gigantic ring where the Moon would be on Earth, but in some kind of synchronous orbit. Egbert has been confused ever since he saw it there. "It's extraordinary! Marvelous! Inexplicable!" The Querg in the Visitor Centre has been trying to explain, but the eccentric elephant is not inclined to take explanations.

The only blot on the occasion is an actual Blot. It's rather worrying, for a laundry robot to be followed by a 'blot'. The Querg has already reported it in, and we'll start a lengthy and roundabout trip back home to the laundry tomorrow. Celia thinks that it's connected to Egbert. Who can really know?

Monday

A grand journey awaits. Celia, the more agile of us, was planning it yesterday evening with the Querg from the visitor centre. I'm still bemused that the extradimensional guardians of the timelines of the multiverse have visitor centres, but they explain that it's necessary for the numerous people who pop in from neighbouring dimensions and the other Quergs who don't get to see the Ring very often. Apparently, we will see the Plain of the Solitary Boulder, the Gardens of the Guardians, and the Ancestral Hat Factory. A hat factory! How wonderful! As a laundry robot, I've only ever washed things and never seen them made!

Celia is getting rather a smitten look in her sensors when she looks at me. I've not seen her like this since the great sock clearances of ten years ago.

Tuesday

Got married. Apparently Egbert is a registered priest of the Temple of the Great Egg. It sounds made up to me. I was overwhelmed by the splendour of the hat factory.

Thursday

We have returned to the laundry, which is now surrounded by Blots in the most worrying of numbers! Supervisor Querg is deeply concerned, but did give us congratulations on the unexpected events. He says that the mystery of Egbert has been solved, and that we will all be briefed over the weekend. For now, we get back to work. A large number of hats have piled up unexpectedly. Some are even singed! Could any of this be connected to the Blots?

To be continued...

Thursday, 11 August 2016

A Melange

In the wake of our dog having her little stroke, and subsequently beginning to recover, writing this blog did fade in importance for a little while. However, as the beast begins to bark and climb sofas once again, things recede into their normal levels of importance. That's right, everything is equally unimportant again! Woohoo! Meaningless trivia is on the rise, and we all should be happy. No, don't pay attention to the grand stupidities of contemporary politics until the actual elections, and do try to be happy.

Oh, politics is such a mess right now, mainly due to the word 'politics'. Why can't people just try to do the right thing? Why is it acceptable for people to talk about 'the politics of power' as a means to an end? Shouldn't that invalidate those people from any position of authority whatsoever? What on Earth is going on with Trump? How can we address the horrors of Syria, and a ruling ideology here that is so far to the right that moderates look like the far left? It's all very bizarre, and best not talked about, as this space could easily be talked about Batman's bat-spring shoes or the wonders of 'Quincy, ME'. They, at least, have some resolution or sense to them.

The Marx Brothers mini-marathon continues, as I clock through their Paramount movies with much enjoyment. Ah, nobody could make movies like those guys and their deeply subjugated writers and directors. It's hard to imagine any of Groucho's dialogue being written, but some bunch of people managed to put it all together. More on this later, once it has all sunk in. How many people realise that the joke at the beginning of 'Monkey Business' isn't that they're playing cards inside barrels, but that they wouldn't have been able to see anyone else's cards? That is the joke, yes? Well, that and singing 'Adeline'.

Yes, let's get back to trivia and nonsense. I've already initiated experimental freewriting with my English students to see if it improves their fluency. After a certain point, it should work wonders. The power of freewriting is potent indeed, as many of the better posts here do attest. This is a freewriting blog at its core. Planning? Ha! Anyone who reads the stories knows there is no planning!

O.