29 November 2005

A Number of Entirely Disparate Things

My self-enforced caffeine fast is nearly at an end now. Come Thursday I will once again be permitted tea (which I almost certainly won't bother with, in the normal run of things), chocolate (which I most certainly shall) and, of course, coffee, which at present the jury's still out on. If it turns out that I still can't write without the stuff, then obviously it's a necessity. If it turns out that I now can (and I'm going to give it a good try), then I shall reserve it for special occasions, like when I'm having to stay up late or be socially vivacious beyond the call of duty, and subsist for the rest of the time on decaff.

I need, of course, to make the experiment in the first place. So far -- apart from these blog entries, which I realise aren't necessarily evidence of anything -- I've managed an idea and a page-long plot synopsis for a novel. I clearly need to attempt something more substantially creative than that, involving the extensive manufacturing of actual prose. Still, there's no shortage of speculative projects (plus one rather more definite thing) which I've been meaning to get round to for ages now.

One thing I have discovered over the past three months is that ginseng, ginkgo biloba and omega-3 oils, while quite possibly splendid and healthful things in themselves, do not in any capacity substitute for caffeine. The only thing which substitutes for caffeine, so my contact at the local health food shop tells me, is something else with caffeine in it, which isn't a terribly useful piece of information.

This morning I came into work by bus and train, as the Met Office was warning of severely icy roads in, among many, many other places, Bristol. Since being here I've been phoned by our burglar alarm to let me know it's been set off. This is almost certainly the result of a cat fight (as it has been on the previous 20 or 30 times this has happened), but on this occasion I can't moped home to check, which is distressing me at present. Still, never mind.

Had a very pleasant weekend with B., taking advantage of the fact that after her nightmarish November she no longer has to work on Sundays. We scouted out the route of a pub crawl we're thinking of holding around the pub-rich Hotwells district of Bristol. We easily found five hostelries within short walking distance of one another which offer a fine selection of real ales, including The Bag O'Nails which boasts up to seven guest ales (and whose name, fabulously, is supposed to be derived from "bacchanalia"), and Bath Ales's The Merchant's Arms, where I lingered lovingly over a pint of Festivity, their gorgeously flavoursome dark rum porter.

(And from researching those links, I now see that the 2006 Bristol Beer Festival has finally been scheduled. Hurrah. Right, I'm going to get organised about inviting people down for that as well.)

We followed our beer with the Advent Service at St Mary Redcliffe, the church which seems to serve Bristol in the capacity of a cathedral (in terms of being big, popular and resolutely High Anglican) despite the fact that Bristol has a perfectly decent Church of England cathedral at its disposal. My taste in worship is fairly eclectic, but for an Advent service, complete with minor-key hymns and candles against the dark and cold of a winter night, it's difficult to beat high-church Anglicanism. I'm going to make a real effort to go back there for their Nine Lessons and Carols on the 18th.

Meanwhile, I've started -- and, because it's so bloody good, something like nearly finished -- Pattern Recognition, William Gibson's non-SF thriller. It's absolutely enthralling, and also conceptually astonhishing as Gibson's cyberpunk aesthetic -- originally intended as a metaphor for the disorientation and alienation of commodified modern living -- is applied directly, and without imaginative prophylaxis, to the real world.

I'm surprised to see most of the reviews at Amazon being so negative about it (although I suppose it might yet turn out anticlimactic). A full review may well follow at some point, although Anansi Boys is still ahead of it in the queue.

No sign of The History of Christmas as yet.


There is an itch: somewhere on your body, on your skin, a nagging twinge in need of the attention of an abrasive fingernail. It might be on your shoulder, or your hip, or in the pit of your knee. It could be anywhere. It sits in the shadow of your awareness, but as soon as your attention is drawn to it, the knowledge of it becomes inescapable.

Give it a good scratch. That's right. There, that's better, isn't it?


...Except that you have started thinking now about itches, and they never come alone. As soon as one is worried away by scratching, you become conscious of another, somewhere else. Your earlobe, perhaps, your ankle, or your instep. Insteps are the worst. You have to take your foot right out of your shoe to scratch them, and then you have the agony of tickling yourself with every grating nail-stroke.

But this itch, too, is susceptible to easy resolution. Scratch it away. Mm, yes, that's good.


At any time -- at every moment of the day and night -- your skin is sending you these itches from a dozen or more sites across your body: nose, ankle, nipple, wrist, the crevice of your armpit, the small of your back, each with their own unique niggling sensations. They slip beneath the threshold of your consciousness. Sometimes they provoke unaware responses from your fingers, sometimes not. They are no trouble to you at all.

Unless, of course, something calls your particular attention to them.

25 November 2005

Weathering It

I was up at bloody 6:15 am this morning, aware that there'd been some severe weather warnings for nearby counties, and worried (despite the fact that the worst the Met Office had predicted for us here in Bristol was light rain) that there might be overnight snow or ice which would make it distinctly unsafe to take the moped to work.

It's generally a really bad idea to propel yourself along wet, slippery, unstable surfaces at speed on two wheels, and when the weather gets untenable I generally take the 7:01 train from our nearby branchline station to Bristol Temple Meads, then a bus to work. This morning there was no need to do that: when I checked outside the house at 6:50 there was no ice or frost and it clearly hadn't snowed overnight. What's more, the Met Office was now claiming that Bristol could expect happy sunny skies throughout the day.

Hurrah, I thought, aware that this meant I had another twenty-five minutes before I needed to take the bike to work.

Twenty minutes later -- and thus nine minutes after the local train had left -- I stepped out of the house into a bloody snowstorm. The damn stuff was coming down out of the sky in huge weltering blobs, lathering the ground like the runoff from some Olympian shampooing session.

This is England (I thought) for God's sake, not Newfoundland! It doesn't snow in November. Snow threatens to come during the last two weeks of December, actually arrives in the first week of January in time for everyone to say what a shame it was that we didn't have a white Christmas, and then buggers off again for the year apart from two freak flurries in the middle of February.

Now this had happened I didn't know what to think any more.

I had to get the bus into town -- which involved standing in an open-plan bus "shelter" next to a snogging couple and getting fresh snow blown in my face -- and then another bus out to St Brad's -- which involved sitting directly in front of a man who was ranting with disturbing eloquence at his ex-girlfriend over the phone and occasionally thumping the window -- and arrive later than usual at work -- which involved running around and panicking to get everything sorted out in time for the library to open at 8:30.

By that time, of course, the snow had stopped, and the clear and sunny skies which we've been enjoying since then had set in. In fact the adverse weather lasted for precisely the duration of my usual motorcycle journey to work.

I could have got here sooner if I'd just waited for the damn snow-shower to finish, and then left on the bloody moped.

Although admittedly I would have then skidded and died on the recently snow-greased roads, so it mightn't have been such a good plan.

24 November 2005


B. and I have been ludicrously tired recently, B. from her current sustained and hectic stint at work and me from looking after her and picking up the slack at home, so last Saturday was reasonably low-key -- a trip to another nice local café (too local to have a website), a return visit to the deli and a trip to the cinema to see The Libertine in the evening.

Never having seen the play, all we knew about the film was that Johnny Depp was playing the Earl of Rochester, famous among Eng. Lit. undergraduates the world over for writing dead rude poems about shagging and stuff, so we were expecting rather more of an hilarious historical romp than we got. There are indeed some funny bits (notably the musical performance of Rochester's satirical poem "Signior Dildo"), but Depp's portrayal of an individual in the progressively degenerate, humiliating and hideous late stages of syphilis -- reconstructed with enthusiastic realism by the makeup artists -- isn't exactly a barrel of laughs. It goes without saying that Depp's performance is mesmerising, and John Malkovitch as Charles II was pretty bloody good as well... but The Libertine is very much not a cheery film, and individuals fixated on Depp's physical beauty go to see it at their own particular risk.

Oh, and there's an awful lot of swearing, too. What with that and reading Cock and Bull I feel as if I've encountered more incidences of the paired c-words this week than during any equivalent prior period.

I think the review of Anansi Boys may have to wait for a time when I'm not so exhausted -- possibly next week sometime, when B.'s hard stint at work has finally ended. In preparation for the much-anticipated The Christmas Invasion, I may also update the recently quiescent Parrinium Mines with reactions to such events in the Doctor Who world as the 2005 season DVD boxed set, the recent Children in Need special and the sad end of the proper Doctor Who novels.

However, all of this needs to wait until I have the time. We'll be spending most of this weekend recovering -- including meeting up for lunch with our goddaughter and her family at the Tobacco Factory on Saturday -- then on Thursday next week we're off for a long weekend in London, consorting (and possibly, depending on circumstances, cavorting) with sundry sisters-in-law, Doctor Who fans and ex-DougSoc members.

Other than all that (and some mild but hardly conclusive expressions of interest in the pseudonymous pulp novel I was talking about a while ago) not a vast amount's been going on here. I do, however, have intelligence that Short Trips: The History of Christmas is now in release, which is good news. I'm looking forward to getting my copies through the post, and if you've pre-ordered it (and if not, why not?) then so should you be.

21 November 2005

Birthday Presents: Final Roundup

From B.: The Doctor Who "First Series" boxed set, finally out today.

From my little brother and sister-in-law: Battery-operated sonic screwdriver, hurrah.

From B.'s parents: The Writer's Handbook 2006 and Doctor Who: The Shooting Scripts.

From B.'s granny and my aunt-uncle combo: Money and a book token, which I cannily exchanged at Borders for Anansi Boys and V for Vendetta.

From R., M.(1), E. and L.: 300 Beers To Try Before You Die.

From H., M.(2) and C.: A splendid Earth ball.

From my beloved parents: A smart new denim jacket, ideal for my requirements in all particulars save that of having been designed to fit a moderately buxom woman. It's too small for B., so this one's going to have to be exchanged at Christmas.

Last Monday I went to Neil Gaiman's book-signing at Waterstone's, in order for him to sign a copy of Anansi Boys for me and one as a birthday present for M.(1) (which was exchanged on Friday evening for the compendium of beers mentioned above.) Anansi Boys is wonderful and great fun, and ought to be getting its promised writeup on this blog at some point really soon now.

(Gaiman also signed my copy of Good Omens at last, meaning that the Terry Pratchett signature which it acquired some thirteen years ago now finally has company and a punchline. He's a perfectly charming man, and also one who now owns a copy of Of the City of the Saved..., although if he ever gets the time to read it I'll be astonished.)

300 Beers To Try Before You Die is a thing of beauty, laid out according to beer styles, with a description (and usually a photo) of each beer, a flag to tell you which nation it comes from, and space for your own tasting notes. There are even little tick-boxes next to the entries in the index, so that you can tell which ones you've already tried. You can tell it's designed for CAMRA members: it's difficult to imagine how it could be better laid out to please beer geeks. Needless to say, I love it.

By my reckoning I've tried 43 of the beers in question already, and I'm not dead yet. Of course those are mostly the British ones: there are a surprising number from the U.S. and Australia, as well as the more obvious German, Belgian and Czech offerings. Obviously more foreign travel is indicated, if I'm going to live up to my obligations.

18 November 2005


To add to the climatic absurdity, the heating here at work is turned up so excruciatingly high that I'm developing a headache. There doesn't seem to be such a setting as "Keep things at a comfortable room temperature" on the college thermostat: it evidently switches straight from "No seriously, we like it sub-Arctic" to "Braise on a high heat, turning frequently". If I try to put on my cold-weather clothing before I'm physically passing the threshold of the building I risk heatstroke.

The students keep opening windows and allowing icy gusts to blow through the library, withering all they touch. It's non-ideal.


Bloody hell, it's cold today.

If next week isn't any warmer, I'm probably going to have to stop coming into work by moped. The roads are getting icier, and it becomes extremely dodgy to be navigating them on two wheels at any speed.

Also the wind chill factor resulting from driving into freezing cold air at 30mph is considerable. I'm rather fond of the sensation of having fingers, and tend to get unnerved when I lose it.

This means getting up annoyingly even earlier than I do usually and taking a train from near home to Bristol Temple Meads, and then a bus out to the vicinity of St Brad's, which is not fun. But at least I can do it without (much) danger of frostbite.

16 November 2005

Stuff Update

I'm not ignoring you, I've just been busy. Not with anything of any interest, mind you -- just busy. I have a books-related post (or at least, a mental note to write a books-related post) which I'll be putting up after the weekend so that it doesn't inadvertently reveal a friend's birthday present, but in the meantime...

Food: very nice veggie mezze (also available in vegan) from the café attached to the Tobacco Factory theatre -- a place we need to investigate more thoroughly, in a nearby region of Bristol which we also need to investigate more thoroughly. (It also contains, for instance, at least two other interesting-looking eateries, one of which the manager at Casa Caramba recommended to us, and a decent delicatessen which sold us cheese and beer.)

Beer: Bath Ales's organic Wild Hare from the deli, and at the Tobacco Factory some good and very local stuff from the Bristol Beer Factory, which I'd not tasted before. The Golden ale was good, but the one I liked best with the food was the Red, not listed on the site. (I'm developing something of a partiality for red ales, in fact. Mmm, mellow yet flavoursome.)

Books: Cock and Bull by Will Self. I'm alternating between finding it addictively enjoyable and too appallingly self(ho ho)conscious for words. Less compelling than The Quantity Theory of Insanity, although with more creative deployment of rude words. I was amused by the reference to the protagonist's [highlight whitespace to read, but please not if you're easily offended] "cuntal area". I'm also enjoying Simon's Doctor Who book, The Time Travellers.

1. The West Wing Season Six is a distinct improvement on the dreary Season Five, but it has a way to go before it reaches the heights of Seasons One to Four, and is hampered by having to play (presumably partly actor-directed) games of musical chairs with the White House staff and their posts.
2. Just finished Buffy Season Two -- and yes, the conclusion to Becoming is astonishingly moving and effective, but the two-parter's still not flawless. Too much of the climax relies on the staple fantasy plot device of "Look, that's just how it's fated to be, OK?", while Angel[us]'s motivation for wanting to bring on armageddon needs some exploration in light of Spike's sensible aversion to the idea. Plus Kendra is killed off more because the writers have realised she's a bit hopeless and want to introduce Faith instead, than for any proper narrative reason. Still a bloody good story, though.
3. Good grief, Rome's not much cop, is it?

I think that about covers it.

11 November 2005


Ah well, I guess it was inevitable at some point: somebody's syndicated Peculiar Times as a LiveJournal feed.

As far as I can make out, new posts only appear in part, with a link here, so it's probably not going to deprive this site of readers. One thing I would mention, though, is that I often edit posts heavily in the first half hour or so after I post them here, sometimes adding whole paragraphs as afterthoughts. I believe it's the case that an LJ feed only archives the first version of a post... so if you find the extract on the syndicated feed consists of an apparently complete but shorter-than-usual post, then you may wish to check the link anyway, to make sure that hasn't been supplemented with extra juicy text.

10 November 2005

...Because Proper Tea is Theft

More in an attempt to keep my hand in than anything else, I've just sent three mini-pitches in to a company that's launching a range of "well-written [...] pulp" SF and fantasy novels set in a quartet of all-new shared universes[1]. I've been having some fun seeing just how pulpy I could make them and remain convinced that I could produce something good. Obviously I don't know whether the publishers will be interested, but if they are... well, the pay's very decent.

I don't want to end up getting inextricably associated with shared-world writing, though, so I'd probably be writing under a pseudonym. Which means there probably won't be any big announcements here.

On the other hand, if I was writing another novel I don't think I could keep the fact quiet on this blog without completely making things up -- which I don't want to do, as one of its purposes is to let friends I rarely see know how I'm getting on. So, if these publishers do want to commission me (and of course they may well not), expect a certain amount of equivocating and vagueness about what I'm writing at the moment.

I do need to get back into writing properly, though. It's been too long since I did anything creative -- not since I finished "The Long Midwinter" back in June, in fact. Lack of coffee hampers me (and God, I hate hate hate hate HATE mint tea[2]), but I need at least to show willing before once again embracing that particular crutch.

[1] Given a certain understanding of "all-new", that is.

[2] On the other hand, Twinings' orange, mango and cinnamon blend is surprisingly decent. Or possibly I'm just cracking up.

07 November 2005

Mitchell, Priest and Mo[o]re

I've been getting more time to read recently with B. at work in the evenings, which means I've now finished David Mitchell's Cloud Atlas, Christopher Priest's The Glamour and Alan Moore's V for Vendetta as well.

[NB: What follows shall contain spoilers. Not Invented Here and others who don't want to read details about Cloud Atlas may wish to skip this entry.]

Cloud Atlas is a clever, intricate, substantial read, and also thoroughly entertaining. As mentioned previously, it's structured as a series of nested novellas, with multiple connections between and across them; the primary conceit being that the protagonist of each story encounters in some form the story of the previous protagonist. The outermost novella, which starts and closes the book, is therefore the earliest, set in the Pacific islands in the 1840s, whereas the central, undivided narrative is that of the final collapse of what may be civilisation's last remnant, also on a Pacific island hundreds of years hence. The novel's setting thus comes virtually full circle, but only by way of 1930s Belgium, 1970s California, 2000s England and vaguely-2100s Korea.

This allows for some wonderfully effective stylistic pyrotechnics, as each separate narrative is told not only in its own extremely distinctive voice, but also in an identifiable genre: nineteenth-century sea tale, epistolary novel, crime thriller, contemporary satire, futuristic dystopia and finally post-apocalyptic. Each section has its own distinct language and vocabulary, with the two future settings developing their own rich and unique dialects only partially indebted, like the settings themselves, to existing science fiction.

The novel has an indignant and vocal sense of a history where injustice and oppression are rife, from capitalist expoitation by Victorian missionaries, to the enslavement of genetically-engineered "fabricants", to the heartless incarceration of the elderly in contemporary Britain. Mitchell's theme is the urge for power and the self-destructive lengths to which it will drive both individuals and societies -- including, on the largest scale, human civilisation itself. There's a strong suggestion that the individual protagonists are in fact the same reincarnated soul, forging similar relationships and making equivalent choices from one era to another: that said, there's also the suggestion that some of the stories are fictional rather than historical in relation to one another, and in particular that the future segments could be the product of the present-day protagonist's stroke-induced delirium.

It's the kind of book which demands an obsessive (and fannish) nitpicking to tease out the relationships between its stories: what, for instance, is the significance of the comet birthmark? The repeated motif of falls from bridges or balconies? The messy romantic breakups? The Cloud Atlas Quartet? The words "hydra" and "slooshed"? Are characters other than Ewing / Frobisher / Rey / Cavendish / Sonmi / Meronym also reincarnated -- and are those six actually the same person, or is the author playing a trick on us? Who is "fictional" and who is "real"? Is the 1970s crime novel segment deliberately bad, or is this just a product of the voice that Mitchell is pastiching?

Ultimately, the novel functions as a historical thesis drawn from a wide compendium of exploitation and compassion, incarceration and escape -- the contrary urges which underpin all our behaviours, savage and civilised alike. I keep changing my mind as to whether or not it counts as SF.

On which note, The Glamour may have a stab at justifying its central conceit of "naturally invisible" people in terms of hardwired social behaviours, negative hallucination, post-hypnotic suggestion and the like, but in fact it is -- as the climax definitively proves -- a work of magic realism emerging from the SF tradition. Indeed this description seems to cover all the Priest novels I've read so far: The Prestige with its late-Victorian stage magicians using the emergent marvel of electricity to perform the impossibilities it once seemed to promise; The Separation with its dreamlike (and possibly dreamed-into-existence) ambiguities about the true outcome of the Second World War; and A Dream of Wessex with the virtual reality which becomes, thanks to its participants' emotional investment, reality itself.

I also suspect that at some point Mr Priest may have been involved in a love triangle with a nice middle-class young woman and her monstrously manipulative ex-boyfriend, who may just possibly have had the power to bend reality to his will. It's just a hunch.

The novel is compelling and sophisticated, blending the theme of literal invisibility (the "glamour" of the title, with its wide range of potential applications to human social relations) with those of our reconstructed memories of the past, and of our interaction with time and landscape. The final twist, which brings all of these elements together in an unhappy ending which effectively redefines all that we've read so far, is unsettling and beautiful.

All of which was marred for me by the annoyingly half-arsed attempt to bring the text "up to date". The Glamour was published in 1984, yet the copyright page bears the ugly legend "© 1984, 1985, 1996, 2005", suggesting the successive amendments which have managed to turn it into a huge mess. Nominally the characters own computers, spend euros when abroad and have at least heard of mobile phones, but every so often the story's original 1980s reality makes an Ubik-like attempt at reasserting itself with a reference to sending a telegram, or to the "flickering orange digits" on a petrol-pump. More seriously, the characters' actions and decisions take no account of the existence of the internet, mobiles or even answering machines, making a nonsense of, if not the plot, at least many of its constituent events.

This is particularly irritating because it's so utterly unnecessary. Why on earth do the publishers imagine anyone would object to reading a novel set in the '80s?

I see that The Extremes is similarly "© 1998, 2005", which makes me somewhat less eager to read it. At least seven years isn't too huge a gap, but I really hope Gollancz don't do this to all of Priest's older works -- the Soviet-inflected future of A Dream of Wessex, for instance, would end up looking particularly silly.

V for Vendetta is set in 1997-98, and I would really prefer it if that wasn't changed for the forthcoming film version, thank you very much. It's a distinctively Thatcher-era vision of the dystopian future, with a near-miss nuclear apocalypse leading to a fascist takeover of England, where all the gays, blacks and other subversives are neatly expunged in concentration camps, and the barmy neo-christian dictator bears certain startling similarities to Chief Constable James Anderton. (I couldn't help noticing that it had almost exactly the same plot as Frank Miller's supposedly groundbreaking The Dark Knight Returns, as well.)

The book suggests that the only way a society like this can be overturned is to tear it all down and begin again from the beginning: an argument with considerable historical justification, but one which makes for deeply uncomfortable reading, as the terrorist protagonist in his Guy Fawkes costume murders his way through the upper echelons of government, blowing up several London landmarks and psychologically brutalising his young female companion along the way.

V for Vendetta was Moore's earliest attempt at an ongoing series, and compared with the flawless virtuosity of a work like Watchmen, his lack of experience does show. Nevertheless, many of his trademark devices are already present: games with the panel layouts; dialogue with double or triple meanings; echoes of previous images and dialogue; songs both original and found which comment chorically upon the action; and extensive use of poetical quotations. Plus of course an unsettling yet charismatic superantihero.

For anyone who's enjoyed Moore's later work (and frankly who's read it and hasn't?), it is an essential read. I'm certainly glad I got round to it at last.

Four of a Kind

A while ago, a LiveJournal friend pointed out (in a friends-only post, sadly, so I can't link to it here) that there should be crossover slash fiction pairing bisexual time-travelling action-hero Captain Jack from Doctor Who (and forthcoming spinoff Torchwood) with camp eyelinered pirate Captain Jack Sparrow from Pirates of the Carribean.

Inevitably, another friend pointed out almost immediately that there is.

Today's challenge is to locate or write a metatextual coupling between shy, closeted episcopalian Father Jack from Six Feet Under and, erm, Father Jack from Father Ted.

06 November 2005

Fungicidal Urges

Biochemically speaking, fungi are closer to animals than they are to plants. I find the squeaking noises mushrooms make whilst frying indescribably disturbing.

Took advantage of B.'s single day off this week yesterday to go into town together and do some shopping. B. finally got round to spending an Oil and Vinegar token left over from leaving her last job, while my birthday money was used very satisfyingly to purchase Anansi Boys, V for Vendetta and Six Feet Under Season Three, which I'm looking forward to reading and / or watching soon. (Revised Amazon wish list here, for anyone reading this who might be planning to buy me a Christmas present.) A very late lunch at the Boston Tea Party was followed by a trip to see The Curse of the Were-Rabbit, which was almost deserted as nearly everyone else was out watching fireworks.

This classic of lapinthropic terror was highly entertaining, although I felt that stretching a Wallace and Gromit story out to an hour and a half was pushing the limits of the format. (Plus there were rude bits -- belching, nudity and more than one off-colour pun -- which I don't remember from the earlier films in the series.) As ever, the real charm and humour lay in the hugely inventive visual jokes rather than in the dialogue, although there are excellent voice performances from Helena Bonham Carter et al.

(Certainly the film is streets, and arguably whole motorway junctions, ahead of the banal rubbish which the cinema had selected as a supporting feature, presumably on the grounds that people who go to see animated films can't possibly be expected to have any taste.)

Speaking of Six Feet Under...

[OK, hang on, SPOILERS here if you haven't seen it...]

...the final episode, Everyone's Waiting, which aired on E4 last Wednesday, was truly phenomenal right from the opening scene when, instead of the death which has begun every episode so far, we were surprised with a birth. OK, so there's an argument for saying that the story was a little rushed, with the ever-dysfunctional Fisher family sorting out their individual and corporate issues in the space of an hour and a half's screentime, but still... the scene around the family dining-table, where all the surviving Fishers and ex-Fishers, disparate and unconventionally-connected though they are, come together as a family at last to toast the memory of their beloved son / stepson / husband / father / brother / uncle / brother-in-law Nate, moved me more than anything else I've watched for quite a while. And the final montage, where we follow the family into the future, was just phenomenal.

The series has always been about mortality, so it's fitting that it ends by showing us the deaths of all the major characters... but what other mainstream series would finish with tableaux set at various points during the next eighty years, and make a fair stab at appropriately futuristic design-work for all of them, even though most last only a few seconds?

B.'s back at work today, and not expected home till some mad time like 11:30 tonight, so I'm at home frying mushrooms among other things. If you use little enough oil, a huge plateful is only around 50 calories, and the whiny little buggers are delicious.

01 November 2005

Wildthyme on Topic

Well, obviously I chose finishing the web updates over videos and beer. The annotations to my short story "Minions of the Moon" in Wildthyme on Top are now available online, with extensive wittering from me on the subjects of Renaissance alchemy, cosmology and astrology, Elizabethan drama, classical myth, utopian science fiction, transvestitism, nanotechnology and popular music.

As with the annotations to Of the City of the Saved..., they're intended as a bit of fun to flesh out the reading experience, rather than as an essential component of it. As with them, you'll need to beware spoilers if you've not yet read the story itself.


Older Than Jesus...

...Yes, I'm 34 today.

You know you're getting older when the founder of your religion starts looking young. I bet Confucians don't have this problem.

The pre-anniversary meal at Casa Caramba was very nice indeed, although there wasn't the range of veggie food we were used to at Casa Mexicana, and the works of Abba were being played rather more incessantly and indefatigably than we'd ideally have wished. (It turns out that my previous entry was a little misleading: while Casa Caramba was indeed opened by the owners of Casa Mexicana, in much the same way that Cambridge University was founded from Oxford, it seems that both have been under their own management for a few years now.) If you get the chance to try exactly one Mexican restaurant in Bristol, it still has to be the original Casa, I'm afraid.

So far, my birthday has only brought me the present from my parents-in-law, who've very kindly provided the 2006 Writer's Handbook and Doctor Who: The Shooting Scripts. Since B.'s promised me the DVD box set when it comes out, and my own parents' present hasn't reached me yet, and most of the other people I know are too jaded by my own hopeless birthday-remembering skills to get me anything, that's probably the lot for now.

Oh, hang on. I did get an inflatable "earth from space" globe, complete with luminescent cityglow, as an early present from H., M. and C. the other weekend. That was rather fab.

B.'s working late tonight, and indeed most of this month, so it'll probably be beer and videos for me this evening. Or I suppose I could finish working on my web updates.