Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Something Old

First things first, hello to all the new followers who have been popping up over the past few weeks. I know, I’ve pretty much been ignoring you. I tend to do that.

Second things second, there are ads on the blog now. Well, an ad. I’ve put them in the sidebar to keep them out of the way, but they are there. I could write a big long spiel explaining why it is I’ve decided to monetize, but just know that it’s happened. If you want to unfollow me or hate me or whatever, that’s fine. The income is going to be bordering on nil, but it’s much-needed income.

Third newsbit: Seeing as I swear a lot, I’m trying to cut back on my swearing in July. Originally I’d thought no swearing at all (bar instances of severe pain, etc) but no way could I ever achieve that. So, you know, if you see me doing my usual swearing up a storm, tell me off or something. It’s a bad habit I never should’ve picked up in the first place.

And with that out of the way, let’s get on with the reason we’re here.

A long while back I had asked here and on Facebook and a few other places for people to ask me just about any questions they fancied. I’d meant to post the replies around a week after telling people they could ask me shazbot, but I never really got round to it. So now, a good two or three months after the fact, I’ve gone digging back through everything and plucked out those questions that I didn’t lose track of, if I lost track of any at all. Anyhow, I’ve spent enough time dillying and more than enough time dallying. On with the answers.

Do you walk around speaking with a British accent in real life?

I tend to, yeah, although it’s usually not region-specific. I mean it tends to be Northern, but it’s kind of a hodge-podge of Northerners. Some words come out Scouse, some Manc, it tends to just be different accents put on different words, and I admit every now and again I slip up and end up sounding like I’m from Norfolk for a word or two, but y’know, no one here even really notices the differences.

Can you recommend a good restaurant on the beach?

Oh God, it’s been forever since I’ve been to the beach. I hate beaches. I don’t even know what restaurants are in what beach towns any more. Last time I was in New Jersey was…five years ago? Six, maybe? Last time I went to a beach was last summer, but I remained firmly in the Freelander while my friends went to the beach. I went bumming it around in Bournemouth.

What annoys you?

A lot of things. More than probably should annoy me.

Do you remember what your first kiss was like?

Oh, haha, let’s pretend this question never existed…

If you couldn’t write, what would you do?

Well when I had that really long case of writer’s block, I turned my attention to voice acting (which actually prolonged it, because I lost interest in writing in favor of voice acting). So I guess I would try for that first, and if that fell through, I don’t know. I’m not really very good at a whole lot. Maybe I would buy a boat and claim Redonda for myself.

How many watches do you own? I swear I see you with a different one every time I see you.

I own a lot. Only the Nautica works anymore, but I have that, a gold one, a Hamilton, five pocket watches, a Timex, some cheap one I bought in an airport, and a black Seiko. So I have eleven but one works. I need to get my other watches fixed. New batteries.

Do you have any autographs? Have you given any?

I have a couple of actors’ autographs, but not a lot. I wish I had more, but I’m a shy person really. And no I haven’t given any. What kind of question is that? I’m not famous.

What kind of car do you drive?

I am the proud owner of two pasty feet in brown adidas. My own car broke down and my sister’s car is both dying and in a sorry state, because she has no idea how to take care of a car. If I absolutely need to go somewhere I will take that one, but I try to avoid driving it. I’m always afraid it’s going to explode or something. Right now I’m looking into getting my M Class, so maybe soon I’ll have a motorcycle.

Ninjas or Pirates?

Pirate. Always pirate. Ninja don’t stand a chance. (And, fyi, the plural of ninja is ninja, not ninjas, and actually the proper term is shinobi) Don’t get me wrong, shinobi are coolsville, but any pirate worth his salt would wreck them.

Have you ever been to Spain?

Once, to Barcelona. I want to go to Madrid at some point, but that’s more to watch Real Madrid in person than it is about vacation. Spain is a nice place though. I would certainly go again.

Facebook or Twitter?

Twitter all the way. It’s so much better. Really I’m waiting on Diaspora (comes out in September I think) and Google’s social networking thing and anything else to get a judge of what they’re like and also I’m going to see where people are going. Right now Diaspora is the winner amongst new networkers though. It’s open source, which is good, and it’s decentralized so you don’t have Facebook’s pathetic brand of privacy. The only reason I haven’t left Facebook is that, especially now that we’ve graduated, it’s the only means I have of keeping in touch with a lot of friends. Still, Twitter wins out over all of them.

When do you like to write?

The morning, usually. It’s my favorite time of day for a lot of reasons, mostly just because of the way it feels, but it’s when I tend to be best at writing. I usually have my ideas in the afternoon or evening, but typically I only have the words to express them between six and eleven fifty-nine.

What newspaper do you read?

Right now, none. The school year’s over so I finally have the time to buy them in the morning again, but the World Cup is on and I don’t want to miss a minute of coverage, whether that be discussion or game. Here in America, I read the New York Times. When I’m in Britain, I read the Telegraph. I prefer the Telegraph, but there’s really no getting it over on this side of the Atlantic.

What’s the last TV series you’ve become addicted to?

The West Wing. I’m much more addicted to Doctor Who, but the West Wing is the latest addiction.

Where do you want to see yourself in five years?

Hopefully in the United Kingdom and having transferred from a post-study work visa to a skilled worker visa so I can start my five years of living in the UK so I can obtain citizenship. Immigration is a scary long process yo.


Dude totally!

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Does this mean I should fear cats now?

Day 06 - Whatever tickles your fancy

Friday, June 25, 2010

Day Five

"…even in the Army if I had a job to do – even if it was scrubbing the floor – I wanted my floor to be cleaner than yours. If everyone thinks along these lines and does all the small jobs to the best of their ability, that’s honesty. So what we want is hard work." - Bill Shankly (2 September 1913 – 29 September 1981)

Shanks really is just an utter treasure trove of great quotes. Look the man up sometime.

Day 05 - Your Favorite Quote

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Asking a bibliophile this is just ridiculous

Day 04 - Your Favourite Book

I really don't have a favourite book. At all. I just either like a book or dislike a book. Same for authors. Can't really pick a favorite book or author. So instead, here's the first three books I pulled off my shelf:

From left to right:
The Eight Doctors by Terrance Dicks
Vampire Science by Johnathan Blum & Kate Orman
Thrilling Citites by Ian Fleming

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Where do you think you're going?

Day 03 - Your Favorite Television Program

Tuesday, June 22, 2010


Day 02 - Your Favorite Movie

Monday, June 21, 2010

No rhyme or any reason

Day 01 - Your Favourite Song

So, I don't really have a favourite song, per se. I mean I do, but it tends to change based upon a variety of factors. Often times it's just whatever song I happen to be listening to at the moment I am asked. But for the past couple of weeks, it has very much been an old-ish Starsailor song that has long been one of my favorites when considering their output.

Or if you would rather just the music video, click here. And for the very close second (and sometimes tied) song, see here.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

A Month of Me!

So whilst I was digging about for stuff, I found this thing:

Day 01 — Your favorite song
Day 02 — Your favorite movie
Day 03 — Your favorite television program
Day 04 — Your favorite book
Day 05 — Your favorite quote
Day 06 — Whatever tickles your fancy
Day 07 — A photo that makes you happy
Day 08 — A photo that makes you angry/sad
Day 09 — A photo you took
Day 10 — A photo of you taken over ten years ago
Day 11 — A photo of you taken recently
Day 12 — Whatever tickles your fancy
Day 13 — A fictional book
Day 14 — A non-fictional book
Day 15 — A fanfic
Day 16 — A song that makes you cry (or nearly)
Day 17 — An art piece (painting, drawing, sculpture, etc.)
Day 18 — Whatever tickles your fancy
Day 19 — A talent of yours
Day 20 — A hobby of yours
Day 21 — A recipe
Day 22 — A website
Day 23 — A YouTube video
Day 24 — Whatever tickles your fancy
Day 25 — Your day, in great detail
Day 26 — Your week, in great detail
Day 27 — This month, in great detail
Day 28 — This year, in great detail
Day 29 — Hopes, dreams and plans for the next 365 days
Day 30 — Whatever tickles your fancy

And I figured, "Hey, why not?" So, starting tomorrow, this shall be my posting schedule for the next thirty days. Feel free to join in on your own blog if you fancy, or just have fun watching the wave, or totally ignore the wave too. Whatever tickles your fancy.

P.S. What do they mean by fictional book? See, that taxonomy, to my mind, means a book that does not exist. But I think they mean a work of fiction. So I'm rocking with the latter.

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Late Night Narm

I’d forgotten what an amazing place outside can be. Well, it’s not so much forgotten, I guess. I can cast my mind back to the various summers I’ve spent in Scotland, or that last week I spent in Nice with my now ex-girlfriend, or any of the other places I’ve been and just utterly loved. I had, however, forgotten how amazing a place my own hometown can be.

Tonight, everyone has been leaving for the Jersey Shore for Senior Week. I’ve opted to stay behind because a. I hate the Jersey Shore, b. Senior week shall consist of getting plastered and high; the former I do not enjoy and the latter I have no intention of trying, c. I hate the Jersey Shore. If friends were going to Bermuda, or OBX, or somewhere, I would consider coming along and just putting up with their festivities. But it’s Jersey Shore or bust, and the Jersey Shore sucks (plus I’m not the biggest fan of beaches).

To alleviate my boredom, at around 10.30 I decided to crawl out my window into my front yard and just sort of walk around town until I got bored or tired. And like I said, I’d forgotten just how amazing my hometown can be. Hundreds, maybe millions, of fireflies everywhere. The largest clusters were gathered right up against the trees that line our property and our neighbor’s property. More fireflies than I can recall ever having seen in my life. It was sort of like a forest of Christmas trees, with clusters of Empty Child-style nanites floating around briefly. I really wish I had pictures, or video, or something to share with you, but none of the cameras I own could capture it – they were always pitch black.

And yet even as I revel in the memory of it, my mind can’t resist adding just that touch of jade to my glasses. This was – is – the sort of thing that used to set my mind racing. I remember three, maybe four years ago, I was mucking stalls at the barn in the middle of November, and there was a dying tree right beside the entrance to the barn, and just the look of it, the shape of it, set my imagination off. I came home and I wrote six chapters of a novel I would never finish; but I still wrote them.

Still, I’m glad I went outside. The simple beauty of that moment is one of the highlights of my year so far, if not the highlight. It gets even better when I think about what everyone else is doing. Right now, most of my friends have just gotten on the turnpike, or are about to pass right by my home to hop on the turnpike, and make the trek out to the home they’ve rented for the next seven to ten days. Those who aren’t on the road now are asleep and will be waking up in about two or three hours to get on the road. All to maximize the time they can spend in Jersey smoking up and chugging and…other things.

Me? I got to watch a million million fireflies turn my neighborhood into an outstanding sight.

Yeah, England played like crap and are in danger of not advancing. Yeah, the United States was disallowed a perfectly valid goal that would have won them their game. Yeah, I’m one of the few not going to the beach.

But I got to see the fucking fireflies.

Utterly, totally, made my day.

Made my week.

Sunday, June 13, 2010

TOTES another GUEST post for SUNDAY: Worth the Wait

I burnt my tongue today. 

As I sat in the kitchen waiting for my lunch to be ready already, bouncing my legs and watching the cars scoot by the window little did I know today would be the day I obliterate my taste buds once more in the name of hunger. Well, more impatience.

To really hone the point with this, we're going to have to scoot back a week ago or so when I was stood in the grocery shop mulling over my options in terms of food and what not. I always have difficulty with food, I'm so fickle. 

So as I stood there, not quite sure what I really felt like a jar caught my eye. A shiny beautiful jar of OMG yummy pasta sauce, something I rarely treat myself to. So very rarely. Stroking my chin I list off all the reasons absolutely not to buy the sauce, to go without because I never normally go with. Eventually my sudden longing wins out and I pick up the object and sprint off to the tills before I change my mind again. I'm proud of my decision. I will save this for later.
(from b's profile at www.flickr.com)

Now we can rush back to me, sitting on the blue couch, watching cars narrowly avoid collisions as I wait for the pasta to boil. I'm hungry, but it's more than that. Today I get to use the sauce, today finally after all the waiting I get to treat myself. It's weird but I'm actually excited at the thought.

Sighing, OBVs, because I've got that action down to a fine art now, I hop off the couch and skip over to the pan. It's been about five minutes or so, that's a generous estimation. I don't care. Boldly selecting my utensil of choice (a fork) I stab an unsuspecting pasta shell, blow on it and then pop it in my mouth. 

Um, I find out that it's still pretty hot, like BURNING HAVE TO SPIT INTO THE SINK OUCH AHHHHH hot. That hot.

I know, stupid. Unthinking. What did I think would happen? So after I yelp and cry a little and then decide I'm too hungry to wait until it actually cooks properly anyway and now I'm in severe pain, I stir in the sauce and resolve to enjoy it anyway. I have been holding out for this.

So, uh, it turns out that the ZOMG THIS IS SO DELICIOUS sauce doesn't taste so nice when you've just completely burnt your tongue. At all.

Of course, initially, I took this as a sign that the day was just going to go badly and moved on. I shook a fist at the sky and shrugged it off. But now I'm not so sure. As I sit here, glancing in the mirror and sticking my tongue out occasionally, because it feels like I've torn off the skin too, I realise the true reason for my pain now. I spoilt something great with my impatience again.

                        (from k's profile at www.flickr.com)
I just want to say one thing as I sit here sucking on an ice cube and cursing the fact this does nothing for my klutzified reputation and I probably have just earned myself at least minus a gazillion Coolville's points, never do that.

Don't ever let your longing for something so great, something so pure, as (for example) being published get in the way of actually enjoying the ride, of calmly surfing the wave instead of exhausting yourself paddling ahead (and, quite possibly, burning your tongue). Take it from somebody who now knows, impatience will be the ruin of you.

It's difficult, of course it's difficult, who said it'd be easy? But I guess we must all learn (myself included) that sometimes in order for things to be worth the wait you first have to hold out for a really long time. You've got to learn to enjoy the wait, they journey. 

Patience is one of the best virtues out there. Take it from somebody who now will have to explain to her parents, brothers, grandmother and extended family this weekend that she can't actually eat that right now and ZOMG can she please have some ice because she only wants ice as she burnt herself yet again, take it from somebody with a pretty cheerful temperament, that impatience, the incessant counting until tomorrow, It'll kill you if you let it.

(from n's profile at www.flickr.com)

So don't ever let it.

p.s. By the time you read this several days will have passed since SAID incident, hopefully everything will be A ok 

p.p.s It's not, I still had to explain my constant need of ice and cold food 

p.p.p.s PLEASE don't start thinking I clearly need help, I do not. Yea I am clumsy but I AM NOT DEAD YET. 

p.p.p.p.s Don't go all EDWARD OMG YOU WILL DIE on me after this either, it's fine. I survive.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Temper, Temper

As I mentioned in the blogfest post, lately Sarah and I have been doing nothing but shouting at one another. I was growing frustrated because I hadn’t written a word of fiction since mid-April, and whenever I came to Sarah, I got a rather biting rejection or, on the two good days, glimpses of a new heroine and her city and the sorts of things she does for fun, but still no real information.

And as I said in that last post, I pinned the blame on Sarah. That I did not know the heroine’s name was her fault. It was her job to give me that helping hand so I could run with the story. My lack of inspiration was her fault.

And I lashed out in response to the lack of information.

I knew nothing, friends. I still know nothing. I don’t know her name or the name of her city, or her occupation, or even what kind of story I am writing.

How was I supposed to work with that?

I assumed Sarah wasn’t talking because she’s a cold-hearted ice queen. As a result, I flew into a rage, and the shouting matches followed suit.

Then, in the midst of an all-nighter, I came to a realization. Our Muses do not know everything.

If your Muse is silent, it isn’t because they don’t want you to work, it’s because they don’t know anything. Sarah wasn’t telling me new heroine’s name because she did not know; still doesn’t know, even, as she now has given me two much unrelated names. Yelling and screaming wouldn’t solve anything. Of course it wouldn’t. I am very, very bad at maths. If you put a trigonometric equation in front of me odds are good I will screw it up big time, but getting angry with me won’t make me be right next time. Rather, I’ll just get upset and be unable to focus, and therefore do worse on the next problem.

So if your Muse is quiet, let it be quiet. Obviously you should talk to it, but don’t try to pressure them into offering up anything, because it just won’t come, or if it does come, it will be very scant and only drive you further up the wall. But if you sit back and build a genuine relationship with your Muse, they will give you what you need once they know it.

Earlier a friend found my ramblings scribbled by hand and he said he failed to understand why we had to be nice to our Muse instead of make it work for us. At first I laughed because he hasn’t written in a thing in about a year, but then I went on to explain my all-nighter-induced viewpoint.

Of course we are the ones who ultimately write the story. It is up to us to take what we are given and craft it into a story, but how many of you can make a good story from nothing? We all need that spark of inspiration, somewhere, somehow.

In my case, I think I set myself up the wrong way when I came to write crime fiction. In the past, I would plan ahead a little bit, but for the most part everything was just whatever came to mind, right from the get-go. Then of course with crime fiction, some extra planning is necessary. You have to know the criminal and crime from the get-go. From this, I started planning characters way more in depth and such, and it kind of became a hindrance.

I needed to know more about this city. I needed to know more about this woman.

Knowledge is power. Lack of knowledge meant lack of ability to write.

However, Sarah and I have made peace, at least for the time being. Yeah, I don’t know anything at all about this story. I don’t even know the genre or the basic plotline, let alone names of people and places, and you know what? I love it.

It’s been years since I’ve written anything like this. These little experiments I’m writing now are very, very bad, but they’re a great way to introduce myself to the young lady. Rather than deciding where she’s from and what her (at least origin) personality will be, I’m actually letting myself get familiar with her and her city, even if it is at a much slower pace than both of us would wish.

It’s exciting. I look forward to the end of my day so I can just plunk down in my thinking chair, close my eyes, and let myself be carried to that place across the sea. In the case of Llanwerth, I knew whole the textbook history of the place, from the Great Depression to 2011, the year in which the book was set. Yes, I could close my eyes and watch that city grow in real time, but it was just a setting. Window dressing. The city was of no consequence to that story; it was fictional only to give myself more control.

New City, on the other hand, I know very little about. I’ve seen some of the major places and glanced down a couple of side streets. I can tell you basically where in the world it is (like new heroine’s name, it’s a toss-up between two places, although this time they’re kind of close), but that’s about it. I don’t know when it was founded, or what happened even just a few weeks ago. All I know is what I’ve seen.

I like that. Not knowing is the best thing to have ever happened to my writing.

So the next time your Muse only gives you only a sentence or the name of a character, don’t complain about having writer’s block. Don’t scream and demand it give you more information.

Instead, go to your favorite place to write, kick up your feet, and run with that spark your Muse has given you. It’s your job to turn that spark into a roaring fire, not theirs. And who knows? Maybe that little spark will be the best thing ever to have happened to your writing, too.

P.S. My shirt today is really yellow. It looked regular yellow in the store, but when I put it on this morning it was like WHOA yellow. Just thought you all should know.

Sunday, June 6, 2010

Hey, look! It's one of them things...

I've seen a lot of Blogfests floating about the interwebs amongst fellow writerlies in the past few months (mostly because Mia is addicted to them and joins every single one) and even considered joining a few, but never did. In some cases this was because life got ZOMGWTFAUXBBQSAUCEWENTTOHELLINAHANDBASKETLIKEAZOMBIEINATUTUSINGINGSKIPTOMYLUONTHEFOURTHOFJULYWHILETHECRIMEANWARISFOUGHTINASEWER busy. In most cases, though, it was simply because I do not respond well to prompts. At all. I was once given the assignment to write a story that involved a turtle, and I was so anti-turtle I wrote a 30 page short story that had a very fleeting mention of turtle stew buried in it. So buried, no one even noticed until I pointed it out.

Lately, however, Sarah has been totally non-cooperative and I haven't written a word of fiction since mid-April. It has steadily been driving me up the wall to the point where I just kind of want to hurtle my typewriter, laptop, notepads, and pens into a supernova. Or at the very least an incredibly active volcano. The solution my brain cooked up to this problem was to force Sarah to talk, and I figured a Blogfest ought to do the trick since it's all about writing...except I couldn't think of anything.

The point of this probably long ramble-full intro is that you all have Mia to thank for this one, since she cooked up the idea but didn't want to host it and (sort of) prodded me into hosting duties. So, to shut myself up now, let's get on with the actual details of the blogfest.

Weather Blogfest

This baby is tentatively being set for Saturday, August 14th. May move it to the next day, but probably won't. Anyway the date doesn't matter much. Entries a day or two late are no big deal, just, like, don't add yourself a week or two after the date, y'know?

Some Rules
1. Obviously given the theme/nature of this thing your piece must feature the weather in some way. And I mean feature. It doesn't have to be exclusively about the weather, but no doing to the weather what I did with turtle stew. If you do I will hunt you down with red shells.
2. Like I said, date of entry doesn't matter too much as long as you don't go whoa overboard, but it would be nice if you could sign up by the date.
3. Equally, I don't really care about the length of the entry. I trust you all to have the good sense to not write a piece that's a sentence long or the length of a novel, but really so long as you can strike some sort of middle ground, your word count doesn't matter to me. It's the writing itself I care about.
4. Link back to here because I'm an attention who...I mean, so people can use the handy dandy list to hop around to other entries. Yep, let's roll with that one.
5. Enjoy yourselves (or I will sick Will Munny on you)

At the moment, there are no prizes, folks. I am a poor unemployed teenager. Unless you can find something that will not exceed $2, I have no money with which to finance anything. At present. This may change in the future, so will make effort to notify you peeps. So until then, you guys win the prize of my admiration.

That's all folks. Go out there and have fun.

And just in case anyone hasn't figured it out already, Sarah is my soon-to-be ex Muse. Lately we've been doing nothing but shouting at one another, and it's to the point where I'm going to write Management demanding a new, more cooperative Muse.

This episode wins forever

To begin with, I just want to point something out. Fairly early in the episode, when Vincent is (apparently) strung out on coffee, he mentions being able to hear the colors. This leapt out at me immediately. Maybe it was added after the fact, or maybe Richard Curtis genuinely believes van Gogh may have had synesthesia. Just in case you haven’t clicked the link, synesthesia is a rather interesting condition where the mind confuses which senses go where. (In fact, I only heard of it because of an episode of House that was on the other day; really recommend it, actually, and I don’t even like House)

Now, from the get-go I was ecstatic about this episode. Way back last year when stuff was leaking about this season, the mention of a Richard Curtis episode had me giddy. Sure, I was a little wary, but I generally enjoy Curtis’ work and it was entirely possible it would be one of the lighter episodes they throw in there that has little to no mention of the series arc. Then we heard in an interview with Curtis that his episode featured van Gogh stabbing a yellow monster, and my excitement only mounted. A great writer writing about my favorite painter for my favorite show? What could possibly go wrong?

And I’m quite happy to say that did not tempt fate.

Vincent and the Doctor is by far the best standalone episode of this season. I haven’t watched the Time of Angels/Flesh and Stone in a while, so I don’t feel comfortable saying it’s better or worse than that, so for now we’ll say the two stories occupy the same space at the top of the list.

Since coming back, the New Series has been much more about grand adventures and monsters of the week than about character pieces. Even the more character driven pieces, like Paul Cornell’s two-part adaptation of his own novel, Human Nature, were much on the side of grand adventure and monsters of the week than the great character piece of the book (which, by the way, is free to read on the BBC website; another highly recommended). Vincent and the Doctor, however, really is more about Vincent van Gogh than monsters or adventure. That isn’t to say the monsters don’t exist, but the monster of this piece plays little into the story, yet at the same time plays a pivotal role.

Initially I had said I thought they only included the Krafayis because it was a requirement of the New Series, but on second viewing something occurred to me, something I’m surprised I missed the first time out. The Krafayis operates as a double metaphor. On the one hand, the Krafayis is a depiction of his madness. A beast only he can see, and only he reacts to. But then on the other hand, it’s a mirror for Vincent himself. Perhaps because it was blind, the Krafayis was abandoned on Earth by its pack whilst they ran off into the stars to go find new grounds to hunt. Vincent himself was an outcast throughout his life, in part because of his madness. (And of course, in the episode, we get the lovely line, “He’s drunk, he’s mad, and he never pays his bills”.) The one that really should have set off my senses to the Krafayis-as-Vincent bit is a little line after they return to Vincent’s home where the artist tells the Doctor that he fears he may not be able to defeat his own monsters without the Doctor’s assistance.

In one of the previews for this episode – I believe it may have been SFX’s or Digital Spy’s – this episode was called a love letter to van Gogh. I can think of no words better to describe this episode, and as a love letter, it works beautifully.

It’s also quite easy to see just why van Gogh would be chosen for a love letter of an episode. Indeed, van Gogh has gone on to become one of the most popular painters, if not the most popular (I dare you to show me someone who hasn’t at least seen some of his works), but van Gogh really was a pioneer of the art world. Prior to Vincent van Gogh, art was beautiful, but at the same time dull. For centuries, art was religious, or depicted life, or a blend of the two. Some movements, such as Romanticism (my personal favorite), are undoubtedly beautiful to look at, but they still adhere to fairly realistically portrayed things in realistic color schemes, and when there is a metaphor in the work, it’s often made fairly obvious. At around the same time van Gogh was alive, artists in Paris began to play around with how they portrayed things and thus came Impressionism (the most famous impressionist being Claude Monet). Vincent van Gogh, however, was one of history’s earliest post-impressionists. Post-impressionism, simply, is Impressionism which rejects the limitations of the form (compare a Monet to a van Gogh and you will plainly see what I mean). Couple that with what was summed up beautifully in Nighy’s speech at the end of the episode, and it’s hard to think why van Gogh wouldn’t have been chosen as the artist of choice (so many other artists, after all, have had mental issues).

Sure, this episode is not without its cheese. The end, from when the Doctor takes van Gogh to 2010 to the painting which reads “For Amy”, is one big cheese-fest. It’s a good kind of cheese though. It’s the kind of cheese that makes you smile and feel all fuzzy inside. (One thing does continue to perplex me, though. Both Irises and the third repetition of Vase with Twelve Sunflowers are in the Musee d’Orsay, while the former is in the Getty Museum and the latter is in the Philadelphia Museum of Art, unless it was supposed to be a special exhibition.)

One of the nice narrative touches to this episode comes at the end, with the revelation that the Doctor can’t always save everyone. In the past, this was touched upon from time to time – such as in Warriors of the Deep, where the humans, Silurians, and Sea Devils eradicate one another – but really, in the New Series, especially over the course of Tennant’s tenure, we came to focus more and more on how the Doctor could inspire people to become something better. Even in last week’s episode we got that. And yes, the notion that the Doctor cannot always save everyone was touched upon in Amy’s Choice, but only touched upon. Here, it plays a central role, as in that earlier Peter Davison serial. That moment when Amy hurries back to the Musee d’Orsay expecting to hear van Gogh lead a long and fruitful life, expecting to see hundreds of new paintings, and then finding things exactly as they were, only not quite exactly, works beautifully.

The whole episode is peppered with nice touches. The palette of the episode looks as if it was ripped from van Gogh himself, and Confidential reveals that Campbell and his staff deliberately did everything in van Gogh colors, right down to the costumes of everyone but the Doctor and Amy. One touch I really loved, however, was van Gogh’s introduction to the TARDIS. Everything about that. For one, the Doctor finds the TARDIS covered in posters and what does he do? Create enough of a rip to open the door and carries on as is, allowing the posters to burn off in the time vortex. That’s grand. But you know what I loved even more? van Gogh’s reaction to the TARDIS. Think about it. We sort of got the “bigger on the inside” deal with Meera Syal’s character, but it never had the chance to really soak in, because it was into the TARDIS and down we go. Here, van Gogh does the usual routine, and it just made me beam. Don’t get me wrong, I like it when characters aren’t surprised by it (my favorite is still when Grace enters the Eighth Doctor’s TARDIS and immediately recognizes it as dimensionally transcendental), but like the Doctor, I do enjoy the occasional “it’s bigger on the inside”.

Of course, I would very much have loved it if they had pulled an Aztecs or a Marco Polo and made it a straight historical piece, with the Doctor and Amy just going back in time and encountering van Gogh in the final months of his life. Oh, that would just be brilliant, wouldn’t it? Of course they could never go into too much detail about certain subjects, pre- or post-watershed, given the nature of the programme, but it still would have been marvelous. That said, what we received here was equally marvelous, and much as I would have loved a straight historical piece, I wouldn’t trade this episode for the world.

I can carry on, and on, and on with the praise, friends, but I think you get the point. Vincent and the Doctor is a beautiful, brilliant episode of Doctor Who. Without a doubt, one of the must-watches for the New Series, and maybe even for the show overall.

Saturday, June 5, 2010

In which we ramble

I come bearing a gift for all of you! Download it from Megaupload, Rapidshare, or File Dropper.

After nearly four hours of editing things, I have come to hate my voice even more. So yeah, sorry if it makes your ears bleed any. Also, Mia, your voice is fine. Seriously. In terms of editing, I mostly only cut the long periods of us just making background noises. A couple of questions hit the floor, but most of them were jokes that would never have made it in. A very slim few questions asked seriously did go kaput, because I decided I didn't like them after all (also there may have been some that got lost in the seas of silence). Also I'm considering compiling all of the more amusing bits that were spliced into one thing, so keep an out for that. And finally, you have no idea how evil it was to make this thing. Skype died like twenty times. And a fire alarm went off. Pure. Chaos.

I think everything is fine. If I accidentally put a question between two halves of answer, I apologize, but again, I'm pretty sure it's clean. So, there you go lads. Enjoy it. Oh, and look out for the special treat at the end.

And yes, the interview is bad. I tried my best to make it sound not bad, but it is bad. Even ignoring the various wrecks we encountered along the way, it's bad. You have been warned.

So far as I can tell the mp3 file now works, so I've uploaded it and provided some mirrors, in case one of the sites, for whatever reason, does not work for you.

If anyone's curious, here there be samples of the painter's works, and here be his website.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010


It seems like one of the hardest things for people to do is to call themselves a writer. (There's even a whole discussion about it on the Bransforums)

This is understandable. Saying you're a writer when you're unpublished is bound to get puzzled looks and the odd sneer. Saying you're a writer when you've only had a couple of small things published is bound to be met in the same way. To a lot of the world, you're not a writer if you aren't at the Stephenie Meyer sales level.

I like to look at it in a different way.

I look at writing like being a trannie.

A transgender is someone who identifies with the opposite gender. Gender, you see, is a state of mind; your personality. If it is dominated by predominantly masculine traits, you are said to be a boy, for example. By contrast, a transexual is someone who has had their sex — the physical bits that identify them as male v female — altered.

Sex is what you are. Gender is what you identify with.

The next time someone asks you what you do: Pause and think.

You could tell them you're a professor. But are you really a professor?

Are you a writer?