Harry Potter in Space

I’m intrigued by high concepts. Especially in film. I don’t understand the film industry but in my mind there’s corridors of suited execs at Warner Bros, Fox etc babbling away in an extremely clipped vocabulary all of their own.

I also want to imagine that they are similar to the waxy haired execs in American Psycho. All chisel-featured and clad neck to toe in Armani. Referring to one another by their surname and proudly brandishing their latest business cards.

Tossers, in any other language.

Thoroughly uncreative, bean-counting tossers who can only process their corporate life by way of their adopted language rich with its buzzwords and bullshit.

A typical executive corridor at Warner Bros

“Hey, Jenson. Did you hear the latest?”
“Hey, Bradowski. Which latest is that?”
“They took a new concept in late last night.”
“I heard, what was it again? Had a late one at Brown’s last night. My head’s a little west right now.”
“Harry Potter…. in SPACE!”
“Jesus, that rocks. Who’ve they got earmarked for that one?”
“Well, funny you should mention it but they put my name forward…”

It’s as sickening to read as it is to write.

So after watching the short but highly satisfying Lights Out the other evening, I thought about high concepts that are purely in video form.

Lights Out was originally conceived as a short film. A concept piece. Just a few minutes long and pretty creepy. Everything you’d want to see in the full length film was portrayed right there.

And here it is.

http://villains.wikia.com/wiki/File:Lights_Out_2013

Easily the creepiest 3 minutes I’ve seen in a long time.

If you were to present this to a studio I’m pretty sure you’d be met by a couple of distinct reactions.

  1. That’s pretty awesome
  2. How in hell am I gonna stand in the corridor and talk to other suits about this?

I like the concept a lot. It inspires me to think differently about a story. It also encourages me to go back and look at stories that I’ve enjoyed to see if I can condense them into 3 minutes of film.

There’s more to the Lights Out movie than just flicking the light on and off. But not much more. It’s wrapped up in backstory of mental health and experimentation-gone-wrong. But essentially it’s all about keeping the lights on at all costs. I find that very attractive as a writer.

How To Relax And Stay Sane With Writing

I am utterly hopeless at relaxation.

There is always something right there in the back of my mind to chip and chip and dig away at me. I’ve tried everything, except class A drugs. Still, I’m haunted by this spectre of anxiety.

Part of the problem is that I both need and reject routine.
Routine works in that it helps to achieve the basic task of completing the day.
But I hate it. I hate predictable.

The turmoil that this presents to me is unimaginable.

Something that I used to enjoy was the early morning routine of waking, coffee and writing. That is one routine that I found rewarding and cathartic. I’d often wake with an idea for something; a seed. Something that I could run with for an hour. I could easily write a couple of pages of rough copy.

If I had a plan for a story I could write pretty clean copy. If I had the characters well defined in my mind I could sail through the hour and resent having to shower and leave the house.

So, for me, sanity and relaxation comes in the form of being constructive with my creativity. Art and drawing work but they aren’t nearly as rewarding to me as writing.

There are things that I can ‘say’ with such condensed writing that I’d struggle to get down with a drawing.

So, with my head geared toward making some subtle life changes, I intend to write more. I am a huge fan of journaling; the merits of which are well documented. Writing both deeply personal and more expressive copy are to be a welcome (re)addition to my daily schedule.

The fact that I then shower, dress and leave to work as a web developer for 6 hours is a minor annoyance. But having had that moment to write and reflect my thoughts before the sun rises is valuable to me. No distractions, just words.

I’ve kept a journal for a couple of years. I write everything in there. It’s private and contains things that are a spewing of my emotions. There’s anger, love, frustration and creativity in there. There’s a ton of stuff in there. I just write it out.

Every once in a while I re-read certain elements of it. But I never delete it.

Some days there’s little to discern the personal journal from the prose I’m attempting to write.

So my morning routine, such that it is, will now be wake, coffee, write, bathroom, work.

The ‘write’ part is key to establishing my mood for the day.

I will ask myself the question ‘how do I feel?’

The answer to this will most likely be another question – ‘what do I want to achieve today?’, ‘what did I achieve yesterday?’, ‘how can I be amazing today?’

What I don’t want to focus on is the misery, the anger, the frustration.

 

The Anti-Trump Crowd And Protesting Via Social Media

Social media is rife with anti-Trump headlines. It’s also rife with pro-Trump banners and memes.

It’s interesting to me to see that the ‘anti’ crowd seem to write their disdain in lengthy posts whereas the ‘pro’ crowd prefer to reflect their support in anti-anti graphics. At least, they do on my own social timelines.

Right now I’m bored of the whole thing. Any discussion with friends on the topic of democracy, misogyny, sexism, the Nazis, anti-Muslim(ism) seems to wind up in a mess of foul language and table thumping.

My own view here is that Donald Trump won the vote and is now the president of the US. It’s up to him to prove to those of us who didn’t vote (or wouldn’t have voted) for him, wrong.

That said I do believe in the freedom to protest. Great things have come from protests in recent history. When people unite to stand against an aggressor there’s every chance that it will have some effect if the methods are legal and the campaign sustained. Displacing a head of state or government official is harder, of course it it. But where there is enough pressure there has to be hope. Rebellions are built upon hope after all. (Thanks, Star Wars!)

There are some similarities to the Trump campaign for presidency and the imagery and rhetoric used by Hitler. But to compare Donald Trump to Hitler is absurd.

Just thinking of Star Wars again, the imagery used by the First Order in The Force Awakens is stark and startling. Clearly designed to draw visual comparison to Hitler’s visions of a new Germany – a New Order.

It’s powerful, emotive and indelible. It also requires an orator of some distinction to deliver the message.

General Hux in the Star Wars world is such a man. Praise the script writers!
Adolf Hitler in the real world was such a man. And lethal as a consequence.
Donald Trump? Not really. Impassioned, yes. Articulate? No.

I see a lot of Trump vs Hitler comparison banded about the internet and media. It sickens me, really. Undesirable he may be but he has a long, long way to go to rank alongside the most vile man the world has ever known.

Just my own ‘back of the napkin’ thoughts.

Serendipity?

So yesterday was a cool day.

I’d woken early and full of gusto for the day ahead. As it goes I had no plans for the day. A very rare ‘clear’ day where I could focus on my own projects.

As I showered and sipped those wonderful first sips of early morning coffee, I thought to myself, ‘hm, I wonder if I could make any money today..’

I fired up the Mac and started to organise my morning in terms of my own writing projects. Moments later an email dropped into my inbox requesting some bespoke cartoon clip art.

A couple of emails later and I’m enjoying crafting some fun cartoons. We agreed the price for each and by the end of a day’s work I was several £££ better off.

One of the clip art pieces created yesterday (without the colour)

Happenstance? Happy accident? Fate? Cosmic alignment?

I don’t know. But I was certainly happy to shelve my own projects for paid work for the day.

Dreaming of Rachel

I’m sure my dreams are becoming more surreal.

Last night I dreamed I was dating Rachel Khoo. There’s nothing at all wrong or unusual in that, she’s gorgeous. But it’s how we dated that has struck me as odd in the cold light of day.

I was wearing a black suit and tried very hard to carry myself much like Al Pacino did in The Godfather. That is to say, with an air of arrogance. Quietly spoken and painfully aloof.

Rachel was dressed in her signature vibrant style of 1950’s style dresses.

We rode around in my Lamborghini concept car but rather than sitting inside it we sat on the roof. I somehow steered the thing by using a wooden stick!

For our date we pitched up at Rick Stein’s restaurant somewhere well off the beaten track. Not his Seafood Restaurant in Cornwall but some odd, medieval themed joint with beaten up old oak tables and a fire pit in the centre of the room.

We parked the Lamborghini right alongside the table and asked the waitress for raw capers. The waitress pitched up with the capers and some pencils and paper. Great! We both like to draw so sat there drawing while our lobster was being prepared.

This is actually something of a dream scenario for me. To be sat in the company of a beautiful lady in a posh restaurant both enjoying a passion of ours. We talked about France a heck of a lot and argued. But arguing with Rachel is a lot of fun, it seems, as she likes to kiss and make up.

We ended up getting booted out of the restaurant but not without having to cover the £200 bill for the lobster and wine.

So I woke this morning with this fresh in my mind and took a visit to her website to discover more about this enchanting lady that I’d pretend dated in the most bizarre and fantastical circumstances.

Dreams must mean something, surely. But what on earth does that mean? And why Rachel? Heaven knows but I am secretly hoping for another date tonight.

 

Star Wars – Who Are The Last Jedi?

I’m thrilled by the announcement of the latest Star Wars film, The Last Jedi.

Since childhood this saga has held me captive. As a young boy in primary school myself and my friends waited eagerly for the release of The Empire Strikes Back. We’d devoured the first film, then simply referred to as Star Wars, and couldn’t wait for the follow up.

At the time the rumour mill had suggested there would be 9 films in the series of which Star Wars was the 4th.

The prequel trilogy was fun to watch but didn’t much feel like Star Wars, for me. A little too polished perhaps. But with The Force Awakens I leaped right back to my childhood and relished every moment. Strong characters, fantastic action sequences and the promise of some wonderful story-telling with the characters that I’d grown up with.

Whether the last Jedi refers to a single or plural Jedi is mouth wateringly enticing. It’s probably a little too obvious that Rey or Luke should be portrayed as the last of their kind. Perhaps also a little too obvious that Finn should emerge as being force sensitive and play a pivotal Jedi role. I don’t know.

I’d like to think that Kylo Ren’s character mellows somewhat. They went to great lengths to reveal his identity in The Force Awakens and show a vulnerability that is uncharacteristic in ‘bad guys’.

Rey, on the other hand, was a tough cookie throughout. Little is known of her history and this intrigues me. She may just be somebody who has a particular axe to grind with the Jedi and could fall under the dark spell of the mysterious Snoke. Is Snoke Sith? I’m really not clued up enough on this to offer any thoughts. I’m sure there’s a dedicated forum or twenty out there with plenty of insightful speculation.

So roll on December and the next instalment of the Skywalker Saga.

The image of Rey against the sunset was created using Photoshop.

Football. Saturday evening. Wine.

It’s Saturday evening and I’m drinking wine with my feet up watching City take on Spurs at home.

Something I told myself at the end of last year was that I wouldn’t let football sway my mood so much in the coming months. But it’s already gone out of the window. I’ve loved Man City for as long as I can remember and in recent years they’ve become more thrilling to follow.

But a bad performance or a bad result and I’m rocked to the point where I just can’t see the wood for the trees for at least a couple of hours. A bad result and a good performance I can stomach. But a bad performance and no points and I’m livid. It’s crazy. I’m twice the age of these players. Why on earth should I care so much. I guess it’s a cultural thing. We English guys love our football.

The wine is good. A Chianti from the Co-op. £8.99 and worth every penny.

Earlier today I spent some time planning a story that I started last year. The details are a little vague just now but the outline is working very well.

I’m keen to create something for a young adult audience in a similar vein to Tim Burton or Neil Gaiman. Something dark yet fun and whimsical. I love Gaiman’s use of dialogue in particular. He has a neat way of pushing the story forward with the most efficient conversation. Something he no doubt borrows from and admires in Hemingway. As do I.

City have enjoyed a good half hour and are now labouring a little. Spurs are back in the game. Neither side look in control but crucially we still look like the home side. There’s nothing worse than a team coming to the Etihad and taking control. The stats are with us (7 shots to Spurs’ 1, 65% possession) but the goals are still evading both sides.

I watched Coraline yesterday. It’s been on my list for a long time and finally got to sit and watch it. I didn’t much care for the visual style of the film but the story was superb. I take a lot of inspiration from that. Gaiman has a wonderful sense of story in him that I find is delivered in a classic way. There’s excellent setup with truly satisfying payoffs. More importantly for me, we always understand exactly what the protagonist wants.

This to me is a wonderful thing to read and absorb. I don’t know who the quote is attributed to but somebody once said, ‘if you want to write well, figure what your lead character wants and just follow them.’ Wise sentiment.

City have scored twice in quick succession and Spurs have somehow pulled one back. This one’s heading for a grandstand finish. Typical City. Comfortably two up and suddenly facing the prospect of 0 points.

 

 

Slash Says It Right

I’m a big fan of Slash and the original GnR lineup. The soundtrack to my late teens and early twenties was written largely by Slash and co.
I’m thrilled that this year I will once again get to see Guns ‘N Roses perform in London. The last time was at Wembley Stadium around 1992. A cracking day that I’ll never forget.

So I found this cool picture and quote from Slash that pretty much captures my mood just now.

New Year 2017

The new year presents an opportunity to think differently. It does, of course, also present the opportunity to behave differently.
I’ve never been a fan of the frenzy of new year’s eve. It ultimately boils down to a flick of a number. A bumping of a number by one. That in itself is enough to render the associated frenzy ludicrous in my book.

But circumstances have gone against me in recent years and I’ve jumped on the opportunity to make a mark in the sand and step over it.

Since I was diagnosed with a degenerative condition that affects my mobility, everything has gone slowly downhill. I divorced my wife and have spent the last few years living alone. I stepped off the property ladder to rent whilst I figure out my next steps.

The last few years have flown by.
In May 2015 I quit my full time job to ‘go it alone’. The best move I ever made. My income has reduced but my quality of life is far superior to when I was chained to a desk in a mundane office job.

This year, 2017, I want to step things up a bit.

I’ve enjoyed the freedom to write and freelance my web skills and all in all it’s been hugely rewarding. But I want to complete, if you will, the circle of interests by rekindling my love for developing arcade games.

I write games using open web technologies that currently centre around HTML5, JavaScript and CSS3. These games (which you can see at my arcade playstar.mobi) have been reasonably lucrative for me over the last few years but in recent months they’ve become a little stale.
So it’s time to breath some life into them and create some new and exciting games.

I also want to write more. This blog is sadly rather neglected and it’s the first thing I want to change.

I know, I know, we all say this don’t we. It’s true that we see January 1st as the ‘I’m gonna change’ day, but for me there’s an opportunity to write rather than read here that I need to seize upon.

I spend most of my idle time reading social media. Mainly Facebook.

I don’t mind Facebook but it’s far too much of an automatic / knee jerk thing to dive into. There are far better sources of information out there than catching up on what my acquaintances have had for dinner.

I want to read quality journalism some more and browse sites like Wikipedia. I want to take random prompts to research cool stuff.

To that end I’ve signed up to The Guardian (I’m a closet lefty at heart) to catch my global news. I’ve also reignited my Pinterest account. Yes it’s all pictures but those pictures can lead to some pretty cool websites.

For a long time I’ve relied on the BBC website for news and information but in recent years it’s really become an amateur’s resource. The journalism is poor and often badly presented. More of a quick-social-fix than trusted resource these days. Well, it is for me.

I’ve cranked up Flipboard once again. It was always an interested app to flick through once I’d filtered out the overly American content. Not that I’m anti-American, not at all, I just don’t always know what the stories are talking about.

So happy new year to me and here goes for trying to evolve rather than change. Not so much a new me as a progressive me.

The Millennial Problem

I enjoy listening to Simon Sinek talk. His TED talks on ‘Starting with Why’ and the effective leadership are hugely inspiring. It’s not just the content of his talks but the delivery that wins me over. An inspiring guy for sure.

A few things in his talk here (it’s on Facebook so you may need an account to view) resonate with me. Not least the concept of winning simply by participating. Something I’ve long taken issue with.

I heartily recommend taking the quarter of an hour to listen to him speak here.