Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Back on the wagon

Yep, quiet blog month from me.

I've read a few books but nothing screamed for a post. I'll probably try a catch-all summary if anything. Other personal things are keeping me busy.

The writing wagon. Get back on it.
Part of that busy-ness is writing. Specifically, establishing a daily writing habit. I know the lack of a daily writing habit is my Achilles' heel. I've finally leveraged my cat's help.

Yes, seriously.

She wakes us up way before the morning alarm, now that the days start early. Instead of being tired, grumpy and half-sleeping my way until the alarm rings, I've decided to leverage the issue in my favor.

I am now writing in the morning, first thing (after I feed the cats) before my regular day starts. I write for 40-60 minutes, with a daily session goal of 750 words. I never thought of myself as a 'morning person' but the fact is, waiting until evening is real hit-or-miss. Half the time I can't motivate myself to write.

The morning slot is working. I output an average of 700 words or so nearly every morning last week. I finished a rough draft short story in that time.

My motivational coach
If I go to bed an hour earlier now, so what? It's generally not an hour I used for writing. Most of that hour is just spent online or watching news, anyway. No loss there.

The other neat thing is that once I've done 750 words, I don't feel guilty if I can't get anything more out in the evening. On the other hand, after you've done 750 words 300 doesn't seem so hard and on some nights, I can push to that goal and have a 1000 words for the entire day.

And, if I can't reach the 750 in the morning, I can get some portion done and it seems much more manageable and believable that I will complete at least the 750 by bedtime.

I also know that I probably need outlines to do this. Part of my initial success was knowing what a scene needed to do. That early in the morning, I do need that.

Once the days grow shorter, and the cat stops her morning obnoxiousness, I will switch to using the alarm. By then I hope to have my habit firmly established.

A daily habit will be the only way to get novel(s) done, and I know I need to get there.

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

recent read; The Monster Club

One of my favorite horror movies filed under "far from a classic - campy - but I like it anyway" is the anthology flick, The Monster Club. Despite its goofy tongue-in-cheek framing device, it contains one of my favorite all-time creepy tales. The story involves a stranger driving into a lost village which he eventually comes to realize is populated by ghouls.

I finally read the book by R. Chetwynd-Hayes. As with collections spawned movies, only two tales from The Monster Club book (and the framing device) were used in the movie. Other material came from other Chetwynd-Hayes tales from other sources. Fortunately, the ghouls story was one of the stories included in The Monster Club collection. It goes by the title "The Humgoo" which is unfortunate - it is much better than the title. The title comes from the half-breed girl in the story, a human/ghoul. In fact, all the stories in The Monster Club deal with cross-bred monsters and their strange powers.

R. Chetwynd-Hayes includes more than a bit of humor in his tales, and some of his stories are played for laughs. Some are played straight with humorous moments. Either way, he still manages to convey some good chills even in the more humorous stories.

Thanks to yet another informative introduction by Stephen Jones, I now know that there is another movie of Chetwynd-Hayes tales, From Beyond the Grave. I'll be seeking it out, along with more Chetwynd-Hayes story collections. Right now, the only two in print are The Monster Club and Looking for Something to Suck (I just ordered the last Amazon print copy yesterday!) R. Chetwynd-Hayes appears in a few (or more) Mammoth Book of horror anthologies, too.

Sunday, March 22, 2015

Blues Pills & "classic rock"

When I was growing up in the early 1980s, I was (no surprise) a bit of an odd duck. I did not listen to the pop or rock of the day. I was entrenched in blues and what we now call “classic rock” of the 1960s & 1970s. Except for surviving holdovers (The Rolling Stones, The Kinks, The Who, etc.,) very few bands were doing that style of rock'n'roll. So, in my defense, that was what I liked and that is what I sought out.

Along came The Black Crowes and I realized I wasn't entirely alone.

Now, if you want to talk about being out of your expected of time-stream, there is a whole 'nother generation of “kids” out there, harkening back like I did – Grace Potter & the Nocturnals, London Souls, Saint Jude, Rival Sons, the Sheepdogs and my newest discovery, Blues Pills.

It's great that nowadays “doing your own music thing” is even more prevalent. In Europe there is a large fanbase for “classic rock.” But, not the same old tired FM radio anthems, but new bands performing & writing with classic rock influence. It's a genre, just like “classical” music is. They've been doing festivals and award shows for a while now, and this year (or 2014) America finally held its first “classic rock” awards show which includes awards for new music in that style.

's all good!

Check out this live Blues Pills show, and check out the absolutely rockin' song, “Gypsy.” 

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

recent viewing; Quatermass and the Pit (original t.v. serial)

Caught up on my Quatermass television history and finally watched Quatermass and the Pit.

It is a thrilling scifi tale with solid horror edge. At an archaeological dig, human "missing link" skulls are found, soon after the remains of a spaceship are found, and it is five million years old. The ship itself begins to exert an influence on people, and Quatermass soon learns that Hob's Lane has long been the center of "hauntings" anytime there has been a disturbance in the area. Quatermass butts heads with the military colonel on site, who insists the spaceship must be a German bomb from WWII, and refuses to change his view. Eventually the ship hull is breached, and the alien pilots are revealed. Quatermass soon believes the aliens are ancient Martians, who came to collect early man, experiment on them, and release them back on Earth. And their malevolent influence is still tangible.

As far as the actors who played Quatermass on television, I have to go with Andre Morell. He infused the presence and the humanity needed.

If you've seen the Hammer movie adaptation with Andrew Keir, they are very similar. Mostly, a newsreporter subplot from the television serial was dropped to tighten up the length. Everything else is in there.

This was definitely my favorite of the first three original television serials. It is worth watching, especially for its history if you enjoyed the Hammer adaptation.

(p.s. - the writer/creator of Quatermass, Nigel Keane, is the subject of a book coming later this year, We Are The Martians.)

Thursday, March 12, 2015

Saint Padraig's Day

So, this little poem jumped out of my brain this morning;


Saint Patrick's Day comes 'round,
Folks see shamrocks and leprechauns
Music and drink
I see ancestors
Green landscapes of unforgiving rock
Gods and fighting men
Gaels swinging bloodied swords
Music and drink


Partially inspired by finding this painting on a google search;

"Irish Gael attack a viking raiding party. Painting by Angus McBride"

Wednesday, March 4, 2015

recent listen; Doctor Who - UNIT: Dominion

Big Finish synopsis;

The universe stands on the brink of a dimensional crisis – and the Doctor and Raine are pulled into the very epicentre of it.

Meanwhile, on Earth, UNIT scientific advisor Dr Elizabeth Klein and an incarnation of the Doctor she's never encountered before are tested to the limit by a series of bizarre, alien invasions.

At the heart of it all is a terrible secret, almost as old as the Time Lords themselves. Reality is beginning to unravel and two Doctors, Klein, Raine and all of UNIT must use all their strength and guile to prevent the whole of creation being torn apart.

As you can see from the photo, UNIT: Dominion is a bit of an epic tale spanning four CDs (the fifth CD is behind-the-scenes interview content.)

This was epic, but it kept my attention all through. Plenty of setups and payoffs. In addition to Sylvester McCoy as the (7th) Doctor, the supporting characters were well done.

Elisabeth Klein continues to be one of the best, most interesting supporting characters Big Finish have created. This time around, she's been slightly reinvented. Integrated back into the proper historical timeline, she is now an efficient scientist and the Scientific Advisor of UNIT (the Doctor's old gig.) But, the Doctor has been keeping tabs on her, to ensure her Nazi previous personality doesn't reassert itself. Unfortunately, his plan has backfired and she has become almost paranoid & obsessed with "the Umbrella Man" - the Doctor.

Alex Macqueen was a real treat as the “Other Doctor.” Now that the story has been out for a few years, the spoiler can be mentioned here. The Other Doctor is, in fact, the Master; the Doctor's arch-villain. Big Finish have created their own incarnation of the Master here. Macqueen does a great job, too. Though, he is only revealed as the Master in the last episode, so we only get a taste of the Master in this story. But, it highlights how similar the Doctor and the Master truly are – two sides of the same coin.

I really enjoyed this one. I look forward to listening to both the next Klein trilogy, as well as Alex Macqueen's continuing performance as the Master in the Dark Eyes series.

Sunday, March 1, 2015

recent listen; Doctor Who - Masters of Earth

Big Finish synopsis;

The year is 2163. Ten years since the Daleks invaded the Earth. One year until the Doctor, in his first incarnation, will help bring the occupation to an end. But for now, their reign of terror goes on.

The TARDIS brings the Doctor and Peri to Scotland – enslaved, like everywhere else on the planet.

When the Doctor falls in with an unlikely group of freedom fighters making that dangerous journey to Orkney, he finds himself trapped – but not only by the Daleks, their robotised henchmen and their human collaborators.

By history.

Because history shows that for another year, resistance is useless...

Masters of Earth brings the Doctor dangerously close to changing his own past. In Doctor Who, this is referred to as the Web of Time. Yes, the Doctor can mess about history & future, but he must be very careful not to change his own past. If the Daleks capture him, interrogate him, they will be prepared for his first incarnation's involvement in future. Not to mention, they will learn of the Doctor and perhaps Time Lords decades or even centuries before they should.

Of course, the Doctor's own attitude & character and events plunge the Doctor into the middle of the muddle, anyway. Along the way there are prison breaks, Slythers, Vargaplants, Daleks and Robomen. All the classic 1960s Dalek elements are sharply realized through very experienced use of soundscapes plus the listener's imagination.

Colin Baker really shines in these audio-plays. He gets to work his Doctor they way he never could on television, and by-&-large, he has had far better material to work with. Hearing him battle classic Daleks is a treat.