Monthly Archives: December 2015

Happy New Year

Christmas has come and gone for another year – and soon it will be a new year.  Which means many of us will be making new year’s resolutions. And most of us will abandon them before February. I would give you advice on how to keep them if I had any to give.

I think Michael Mcintyre sums up Christmas quite well. For me it was very much like this.

… I was working on Boxing day.

There are many people who have to work on Christmas day itself. In my view this should be limited to essential services only. This doesn’t include a corner shop but there is a shop I know of that is open on Christmas day. I’m just glad I don’t work there.

For me Christmas isn’t important for religious reasons. I like it for the family time, the food, and the presents – giving and receiving. Its lovely to see someone smile as they receive their gift. I know that sounds a little hokey  but its true. Nothing beats a smile.

While I’ve got you I’d just like to say there is no offence in saying Merry Christmas. I’m not a Christian but why would this offend me? Someone is wishing me well. Christmas is just the name for the thing. If anything I’m more offended by the ‘merry’ rather than the ‘Christmas’.

I protest I am not a merry man!

Worf (Qpid)

The time between Christmas and New Year is quite strange. Today was a bank holiday in the UK.  Then we have two days of normality then it’s the end of the year. Then back to normality again.

dscn1086 Since I didn’t do so well with resolutions last year I probably won’t be making them officially this year.

Having said that I did get a shinny new notebook for Christmas, which will become my diary, so it would be good to have something to write on the first page.

I actually think the thing that would do me the most good is to try and relax a bit more. I set myself targets, mostly for writing, and feel guilty for not meeting them. Which is just silly as its only me that’s disappointed.

For New Year’s Eve I’ll be at mum and dad’s along with my brother and his wife – so a nice family gathering culminating in a countdown where nothing happens.

Happy New Year everyone. See you next year.

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I just wanted to say that I have checked this post. I really have. Unfortunately my particular combination of dyslexia and dyspraxia makes it really hard for me to spot typos. Please enjoy and I’ll try not to make too many errors.

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Star Wars: The Force Awakens

The pictures below have nothing to do with Star Wars. I’m placing them here to create a buffer so you can’t catch sight of anything below. I hate spoilers!

Nevertheless I am going to keep this spoiler free and try to only talk about things in broad terms.

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Its bloody brilliant! I was very happy as I left the cinema. The prequels were a big disappointment but this film gives me high hopes for this knew trilogy.

Now that some time has passed, not yet four hours, I have slightly changed my mind. Its pretty damn good.

It’s really too early to form a proper opinion. At this moment I would say it is certainly better than the prequels – which is no great achievement – however it might even be better than the originals.

Maybe…

Was it flawless?

Hell no.

There is no such thing as a flawless film. Although I might give that to The Princess Bride – though as I right this I can think of a flaw.

To put my conclusion in simple terms I’ll say this:

The prequels failed because the characters seemed stupid. Rather than the Jedi being manipulated by an evil Sith, which was surely the intention, it feels more like they were stupid and didn’t follow a logical path to solve the problem.

In The Force Awakens the characters really pop. There is more chemistry here, I won’t say between which characters, than in all of the Anikin and Padma scenes. The characters follow a logical path but some of it feels a little contrived…

However it mostly stays on the good side of contrived – by that I mean coincidences and luck, or I suppose bad luck, are used to get characters into trouble more than they’re used to get them out of trouble.

I will post a full review of this at some point. That may have to wait for the DVD release so I can pause and make notes.

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I just wanted to say that I have checked this post. I really have. Unfortunately my particular combination of dyslexia and dyspraxia makes it really hard for me to spot typos. Please enjoy and I’ll try not to make too many errors.

 

 

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I Have a […] Feeling About This

At the time this post goes live I’ll be sitting in the cinema ready to see Star Wars: The Force Awakens. I’m not putting a link as I don’t want to risk some muppet posting spoilers on Wikipedia.

I’ll be watching closely and saying, under my breath…

Please be good!

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War Speech- DOCTOR WHO

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The Raven, The Castle, and Gallifrey

Doctor Who Series 9, or 35 if counting from the beginning, has now reached its conclusion. I’d planned to get this up before Hell Bent was broadcast but… oops.

There will be spoilers here for: Face the Raven, Heaven Sent, and Hell Bent.

CIMG0032 Face the Raven

This episode saw the death of Clara.

I liked Clara but I feel that killing a companion now and again is a good idea.

Doctor Who has a fairly high body count so, from a writing point of view, it makes sense that sometimes they die. However in this instance I feel it was mishandled.

Face the Rave seems contrived to make sure Clara dies. Mayor Me says, at the end, that she never had any intention of letting Rigsy die. This begs the question:  Why she gave him the real tattoo?

All that was needed was to set a trap for the Doctor. I would have thought that a tattoo counting down would be enough of a mystery. Put another way you can rob a shop with an unloaded gun – you only need for the other person to believe it is loaded. Yet Me, saying she meant no harm, gave Rigsy a real death mark.

Also when It came to the end of the episode I don’t feel like it was adequately explained why she couldn’t remove the mark from Clara. It sounded like it was a contract – i.e it was rules preventing it rather than it being impossible. I did however think that Clara starting to think of herself as being the Doctor was a good development for the character. When I first heard that Jenna Coleman was leaving I felt fairly sure Clara would die. Clara has been traveling with the Doctor on a part time bases. She frequently went back to her life. The only reason that would end was that she died.

When I first saw the opening of the episode I knew she was dead. I may even have said to myself ‘She is so dead.’ Clara and the Doctor were so happy in that opening scene. That seems to be a common thing in episodes where a character dies. I can think of three other examples where, in the episode where they die, a character is very happy about something. I’m sure you can think of some as well. I don’t want to give spoilers beyond Doctor Who.

The real problems with this episode is only visible in hindsight. We find out in Heaven Sent that it was the Time Lords that set the trap. However it all seems rather badly thought out. The Time Lords could’ve trapped the Doctor anywhere and any when – all they seem to have needed was to get a transport bracelet on him. Couldn’t they have just hired a couple of goons to restrain him?

Clara’s final words to the Doctor were very effective. However it was rather contrived that she died in such a way as to allow for final words in this manner.

Overall the ideas in this story could’ve worked but it was lacking in what actually happened. Clara was far too accepting of her death – she did take the tattoo believing she was invulnerable after all. Any normal person would have been swearing and angry – obviously there is a limit to what they can do in this regard on a family show.

(This episode was also a little funny for someone from Cardiff. At the beginning of the episode it’s very important to find a trap street in London. All I could think was ‘It might help if you actually went to London.’ I know Cardiff like the back of my hand. [Walks into low beam.])

Heaven Sent

This was a much better episode than its predecessor. I’ve long been interested in bottle shows and more broadly shows that do something different with the expected format. A clip show is the scourge of television drama and shows like Heaven Sent show what can be do with a good production team and an extremely capable actor – Capaldi is wonderful in this episode.

Bute Park

My one tiny nitpick is this: ‘Why doesn’t the wall reset?’ Also, in case you were wondering, breaking through a wall like that is possible. Give enough time you could probably destroy a small mountain.

One other problem is the question of the Hybrid. Maybe I’ve just not been paying enough attention but the question of the hybrid seems to have been so far in the background that I’ve almost not noticed it.

Hell Bent

This is a difficult episode to judge. This post is getting rather long so I’ll try and be succinct.

As I said above I don’t have a problem killing characters, although killing my own can be difficult, it seems though that Moffat does have a problem killing them.

Now Clara has ‘died’ before but, if I understood that story correctly, it was more a case of Clara fulfilling her mission to save the Doctor, in each incarnation, and the moving on. Maybe…

Wibbly wobbly timey wimey and all that.

This to me is certainly the case with Rory and why I feel that that story worked. Also I really liked the relationship between him and Amy but I’m getting off topic.

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This episode didn’t say that Clara was brought through time the instant before her death it said that she was dead. Which doesn’t really work for me.

When I saw Clara plucked through time it made me even more annoyed by Face the Raven. I believe Clara’s death would’ve worked better with instant death. She was given a death sentence, by the writers I mean, so that she could have a last good by.

Imagine this though. Clara dies. It is sudden and heartbreaking. Then, in Hell Bent, she is plucked through time. This causes an imbalance in the time line and she the returns to that moment to save the universe. That way you get to have it both ways. You get the shocking death and the final goodbye.

Obviously that would only work the first time round but that’s always going to be the case. You can’t experience again, for instance, Darth Vader’s Bespin revelation.

However as it stands Clara is dead, or at least pulse-less, and is now traveling. So why was she killed anyway? (Again from a writing point of view) Why not just have it that she chooses to travel with Me instead of the Doctor? I’m sure there are many ways that that could work.

I liked the closing image of the diner and the police box heading away from each other. Although I do wonder at the designer of the chameleon circuit – another one broken. I think people are going to notice a diner a lot more than a police box.

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Was it really necessary to shoot the General?

The Doctor has used guns before but not in this way. And yes he says that it doesn’t really count as murder but surely the General is still loosing several years of life – perhaps decades.

I think that Moffat wanted to show that ideas of race and gender are irrelevant where Time Lords are concerned. That is a good idea but maybe not by having the Doctor shoot someone.

I wonder will the next Doctor will be a woman?

Why was it necessary to wipe the Doctor’s mind?

Maybe I need to watch the episode again but I really don’t understand the need, or benefit, of him forgetting Clara’s face.

These three episodes had their problems certainly but over all I enjoyed them. I saw one review that was very angry with Hell Bent in particular. While I can’t depute what is being said I don’t think it detracts from enjoyment. When it comes to stuff like Star Trek I’ve very interested in continuity but in Doctor Who not so much. It jumps about all over the place it would be nearly impossible to keep it all straight so I tend to view the episodes on their own merits.

Season 9 has been a very solid season over all. Sleep No More was my least favorite episode. It could have been great but sleep monsters were a little too far for me.

What did you think of season 9?

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I just wanted to say that I have checked this post. I really have. Unfortunately my particular combination of dyslexia and dyspraxia makes it really hard for me to spot typos. Please enjoy and I’ll try not to make too many errors.

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Nanowrimo is Over

Nanowrimo has now finished. There are now 50,000 words, 50,027 if you want to be pedantic, that didn’t exist before.

So what did I learn from this? Here are seven things.

one

Never Again!

This is the same ‘never again’ that some people seem to experience with alcohol. They go out, drink, get a hangover, and declare it to be the last time. That declaration doesn’t survive contact with the next weekend. I vary rarely drink, perversely only when at my parents,  and have therefore never experienced a hangover.

The point is that at the moment I’m thinking I wouldn’t want to embark on something like nanowrimo again soon. On the plus side it was my November excuse for not going to the gym.

Two

Plan it to Within an Inch of its Life!

I did some planning but the planning didn’t survive contact with the enemy. I’m terrible for getting drawn into research and knew I couldn’t do that this time so I changed it from a fantasy setting to a science fiction one.

This made it just a little easier. At least it was easier when writing on the fly. I didn’t have to work stuff out. You have to make sure that you have historical accuracy if the story has any connection to the world we know.

If the story takes place on many planets, instead of islands, then I don’t need to know just how far, or how fast, a one sail ship would travel for instance.

Beyond that though if I am doing it again I’d make sure I had a long plan.

Three

It Came Down to the Wire

I might have more time to write than most. I mostly work six hour shifts so there is time. Nevertheless I was writing everyday. I needed all 30 days so if I’m working more next year this could be a problem. Although that might indicate more planning was needed. QED – I think that’s the right use of that phrase.

Four

Write Something! Write Anything!

When it came down to the end I realised I’d made a bit of a cockup. I had two characters expressing their feelings for one another but no buildup to it. To fix it I’d have needed to read over the previous chapters and make sure that idea flowed naturally – no time for that in Nanowrimo.

Instead I wrote something completely different. Something that I didn’t know where it was going – and not in a good way.

Which leads me to point five…

Five

Fix it in Post

I said this before I embarked on this ridiculous project. Don’t worry about it making sense.

My ending was bad. It was essentially had a deaus ex machine.

Do you remember the DS9 episode A Time to Stand? Minimal story points a-coming.  In this episode Sisko takes a captured Dominion ship behind enemy lines. The ship they used had been established in a previous episode called  The Ship – so it was continuity.

Continuity is good.

If they’d just had the Federation randomly having the vessel. It might have been seen as a cop-out. Even though Starfleet has other ships – well allegedly – they always seem to be on a tea break when someone is invading.

The point is that I had structured my story so it looked like the ending came out of nowhere. Technically it worked. The solution came in the form of classified information which the protagonist become privy too. It could have worked but I decided to go with the Chekhov’s Gun, or Chekhov’s starship approach.

Six

<Science to Come>

I realise all these points are similar but that is what I’ve learned.

If you’ve ever seen behind the scenes stuff for The Big Bang Theory you may have seen the phrase <science to come> written in the scripts. This is used as a place holder for the writers.

i.e: They can have Sheldon condescendingly saying that a theory is wrong but the specifics are filled in later. That is what I need to learn how to do.  Instead I’ll sit and stare at the screen.

Seven

In Conclusion

This was a most useful experience and, despite what I said at the beginning, probably is something I would attempt again.

The novel now needs finishing and editing, editing, and more editing. When will it be done? Give that I have another novel that has been in draft for a decade it could be a while.

Actually the nanowrimo novel is, after only a month, far closer to being finished than the other one. This is because it had few characters and all in the same place and time.

Maybe that is what I take from nanowrimo – I should not attempt to write stories set in different places and different times… at least without some plan for how the individual timelines match up.

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On a completely unrelated note my next post will talk about Doctor Who.

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I just wanted to say that I have checked this post. I really have. Unfortunately my particular combination of dyslexia and dyspraxia makes it really hard for me to spot typos. Please enjoy and I’ll try not to make too many errors.

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