Monthly Archives: June 2015

The Crystal Maze

With the news of the The Crystal Maze returning, sort of, I’ve been watching it on you tube. I’m feeling a little guilty for spending time watching it rather than doing something constructive. However if I talk about it here I can claim it was for research purposes. You’re not buying that are you?

The Crystal Maze ran from 1990-1995. It was a wonderful show with an excellent theme tune.

I have only vague memories of watching the show at the time but they are certainly fond ones.

In the show the contestants had to solve a variety of games. These were divided into metal, physical, a skill and a mystery. Also there were four time zones: Aztec, Future, Medieval, and Industrial (later ocean). When a game was completed they won a crystal. This gave them time in the crystal dome. In the dome they had to collect gold credits and if they got over 100 they won a prize. Though if they got silver that many gold were deducted.

The show sounds ridiculous when described here but it really was fun and interesting. Today there are shows like it, Total Wipeout for instant, but the vast majority of game shows are just answering questions in various different ways.

I hope that The Crystal Maze returns as a proper series. I certainly sense that there would be demand for it. Watching it back now it is very 90s. I’m not even sure what that means it just has a quality about it.

If you haven’t seen it I suggest you check it out. You’ll love the quirkiness, the contestants that fail at basic tasks, (Have you ever seen a woman try to dig with a metal detector?) … and you’ll probably find yourself shouting at the screen!

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Father’s Day

Today is Father’s Day in the UK and many other countries. For me it means giving my father a substantial quantity of alcohol. Alcohol is one of my go to gifts for birthdays and other events. The other go to items are: cosmetics and chocolate. This trio can’t lead you far wrong. Unless you know someone who is teetotal, on a diet, and works at Lush. They would probably have all the cosmetics they could want – lucky people.

As you read this I will be at my parents house enjoying a lovely meal. Dad will have opened his present so I’m not giving anything away by putting it here.

As time goes by I find people increasingly difficult to buy for. I also find it difficult thinking up things for my own wish list. I don’t find I want that much. I’ve got enough books to last me 18 years. Probably much longer as I don’t read as fast as I think I do, there are more books than that calculation is based on, and I’m still accumulating more. I also have  enough DVDs to last, if played back to back: 34 Days, 23 Hours, and 3 minutes.

Yes. I did just do calculations on that.

No, they’re not completely accurate.

Yes, I’m aware this calculating is making me seem neurotic.

No, I’m not going to tell you that I just spent a good half hour or more working this out.

When it comes to Dad’s presents  he does have hobbies. However since he knows more about them than I do attempting to buy a hobby related present would be like trying to buy the Pope a birthday present and ending up with Catholicism for Dummies.

Incidentally I was going to write that as a joke. Turns out that book does exist.

So what have we learned?

I’m neurotic?

Well besides that…

Alcohol is the solution.

… said he who only really likes cider.

and the …For Dummies people have quite the range.

What, no seconds?
I have discovered, sir, a certain level of impatience when I calculate a lengthy time interval to the nearest second. However, if you wish…
No, no. Minutes is fine.

Data and Riker – (TNG – The Loss)

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The Writing Nemisis

Did you know that the blank screen is the greatest nemesis for a writer? It’s true. I have found that when it comes to writing a story never arrives fully formed there is always a part that its illusive.

Stories are broadly broken down in to three parts or tercios.

  1. The Beginning
  2. The Middle
  3. The End

This is probably not a revelation.

Consider a superhero: Tyrannosaurus-Woman. The middle of the story seems obvious a woman who fights crime by becoming a massive dinosaur. It could be good. You can’t have a superhero with out an origin story but hasn’t it all been done? We all know several superhero origins: radiation, botched science experiments, or just being an alien. So Its unlikely that Tyrannosaurus-Woman could offer anything knew in that regard. The beginning is the issue. How does a superhero story end? The bad guys are defeated but you need a pretty good bad guy to stand up to a tyrannosaurus.

Consider a space opera: Trek War. The beginning is easy. An ensemble on a starship: the warrior, the fearless leader, the faithful second, the brilliant engineer, the doctor, the annoying character, and the one who’s job is to die. The end is again easy they return triumphant – unless you ask Ensign Ricky’s parents. What about the middle? I don’t want another science fiction film of an alien invasion. So it’s a challenge to find something new.

Consider a fantasy novel. I’m working on a fantasy novel. The beginning is easy. A young woman discovers she has magical powers. She is excited by the prospect. The middle of the story is okay. She hones her power and discovers what she is capable of. She has to have challenges so there will be a bad guy. That’s not too difficult. The end is difficult. Well not the very end. I’m pretty sure I know what the last line of the novel is going to be. How the story actually wraps up is very evasive.

Some people think, as I’ve said before, that an idea is the most important thing in writing. Ideas are easy for me its the bridging. I can imagine my protagonist as an ordinary woman.

Her name is Stacy Tanner. She is studying journalism. She also works at the university as a note taker for children with dyslexia and other learning difficulties. She enjoys science fiction and knows taekwondo. She has a boyfriend, Jake MacNiell, and her best friend is Tina Hilton.

Later she discovers her magic. I know how she will be with her new powers, no spoilers, but how do I get her their? That is the problem with my novel. The bridging. I know the stages of Stacy’s life. I don’t know how to get her to each new reality.

I’m not giving up. This novel will be finished… at some point. Some authors speak of their work almost like it was a vision. Its like they can see what their characters are doing. Stacy is forthcoming about somethings but doesn’t want to tell me the whole story.

Writing is a battle ground. I hope to win the war soon.

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Writing Exercises

Over the years I’ve accumulated many writing guides. I’ve only read a handful of them. Some can be useful and others are really not. One thing these guides tend to have in common is writing exercises. Writing exercises can be useful as they take you to somewhere you might not have gone otherwise.  More than that though by looking at a picture, sentence, or having to include three specific items in a story, it can help to create fresh ideas.

I’m currently reading Wonderbook. This will take a while as it is big and beautiful and I’m not going to risk taking out of the house. I usually read on the train and this book is a bit too big for that. Anyway it has little writing exercise throughout. These I will bring to you from time to time.

As for book books I recently finished Divergent. I listened to the audio book version and it was most enjoyable. I’m now listening to the squeal. The final book I’m reading is Dragon’s Egg – so yes three books on the go at once.

Finally I found a new you tube channel called Geography Now. It talks about all countries in the world, or it will do, in alphabetical order. I never really enjoyed geography in school but this channel is interesting. I’m curious to hear what he has to say about where I live. However since I live in Wales in the United Kingdom and he’s on ‘B’ it could take quite a while.

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