An Update 24/10/13

A friend of mine has started her own blog (it’s both in Polish and a work in progress). That reminded me of my own little corner of the Internet. So I’ll bring you up to speed, since I know you’ve been dying to know.

Currently I’m working quite a lot as I’ve taken on an additional role at work, along with a number of YL classes. I’m also coming towards the end of my Distance Delta with a lump in my throat. I need to pass this next assignment.

What else… Oh, I’ve started working on a piece of writing that might actually go somewhere long-term. I can best describe it as Noir Urban Elfpunk, I think. Those are three different links, by the way. It’s all thanks to this Youtube video, which inspired me to slide a character who has spent quite a lot of time in my stable into a newish genre for me. It’s working rather well so far, I think. We’ll see.

Anyway, it’s about an “Odd Job Witch” who gets embroiled in some mysterious vampire stuff which opens glimpses into her own past, whilst also working on a personal case for a high-ranking fey. Hopefully it’ll work out. I might post a bit for you when it has taken more shape (or just because I feel like it).

Oh, and I’m looking for a new housemate at the moment. I’ll be taking on the lease and as a result I’ve actually started getting the landlord to do stuff. It’s going to be expensive buying furniture and stuff, but it’ll all work out in the end.

Other than interpersonal dramas and a couple of tumbles of my bike, that’s all, really.

Here’s a picture I like. Have a good one, Mexico.

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Jonathan Abel

Really lacking inspiration at the moment. The writing challenge petered out. The truth is, I thought I had my first novel, but that just turned out to be a bag of tropes. I’m trying to find a project now into which I can pour the same amount of time and passion, but I’m struggling. Here’s me trying to work out who the hell my sci-fi narrator is from here. This serves as a kind of prologue to the following post.

secret_agent1Jonathan Abel “Able Johnny” Reyes was famous, even if that wasn’t his real name. Not “lots of results on the Metanet” famous, but he was famous. Certain circles knew the right number to call to get something done. Indeed, as the human race started to expand out of the atmosphere, his kind were needed more and more.

For more than twenty years he was one of the best. No coup, industrial sabotage or revolution succeeded under his watchful eye. Of course, given the long leash the Human Alliance gave him, Johnny was able to partake in a wide variety of side projects. There wasn’t a gambler, importer or specialist retailer who didn’t know him in one context or another.

Then one day he disappeared. Able Johnny was just no longer on the grid. His comms went to answer services, his holos bounced and his name was irradiated from all records. That same week, though no one made the connection, a man apparently in his mid-thirties took over a grotty bar a mile above the London Gutters. He had cheap cybernetics in the shape of a left hand and walked with a limp a bar owner ought to be able to fix. That was five years ago.

Marcus Rodriguez didn’t like guests from his past. He assumed he didn’t, anyway. Tina was the first.

Living the Life Fantastic

Living on the Earth, living in the sky and living above the sky are three very different states of being. You have no idea.

On Earth

Earth

They don’t do tours of the Ground Floor, as a lot of city-dwellers call it. They can’t afford the insurance on the necessary gas masks. Even the Guttersnipes don’t walk around the Ground Floor without some kind of air filter or mask. The air smells like oil, grease and damp. The secretions of a couple of centuries of oil abuse now coat what we used to call ‘street level’. Even with modern electronic transport and the space fuel the throw down at us, we still can’t clear the filth that’s already here. And of course there are the industries down below who cannot or will not make that great extraterrestrial leap and who still pump their poison into the world. The Toffs have to have their tennis balls after all.

Of course, some ‘Snipes have their implants to keep them safe. Hell, sometimes you see a Joe on the street and he looks more toaster than man. Don’t know how they manage it myself. I like the pink squishy parts of a person myself. Then again, I don’t smuggle, smash or slide to earn my money. Not usually anyway.

Speaking of which, down here you can buy anything. I know that a lot of people say that, but I mean it. I once sat in a bar while a guy scarfed down a brown paper bag full of what looked like eyeballs. All blue. I stuck around though. Good beer in that place.

My advice? Wear a barker on your hip to save any part of you from ending up in a brown paper bag.

In the Sky

Sky

 

Here in the clouds you’ve got your styles and your fashions and whatnot. Up here with the Toffs, you can buy anything fancy. The architecture ranges from glass and steel from historical. None of the Old Earth landmarks are down where they started. A lot of them have been status-locked or reproduced up on Cloud 9.

The fashions are a little unpredictable. “Future of the Past” was a thing for a while; all silver jumpsuits and skin tints. A lot of the sentient gadgets got a boost for a while too. All pug-ugly if you ask me. Although I shagged a green ‘Martian’ fashionista once. That was fun. Couple of months later it was Victoriana chic. You couldn’t swing your cane without knocking off someone’s topper. I like Cloud 9, but it is a silly place.

In Space

SpaceI lived on an Outpost for a couple of years back in the ’20s. Just a small solar mine out near Venus. The funny thing about space and the asteroid quarries is that building this stuff is dirt cheap, so everyone lives in this idyllic Mediterranean community with a simulated sky and simulated sea breezes. The European ones, anyway. They’re also really subcultural. Aphro-3 was made up entirely of Italian Cybergoths and their families. Beautiful to behold but damn strange in their little mock-terracotta houses. Still, the pasta was good.

It’s funny the detail the build into these places though. I remember the fishing being excellent. In space. They were real fish, too. Not like the creepy little robots you get in the Earth resorts. I remember eating an Aphro-Salmon that was absolutely delicious. And not a circuit board in site.

As you can imagine, the night life is a bit niche-y, but an awful lot of fun. If you fancy getting off with a girl with a short skirt and plastic hair then I recommend Aphro-3 immensely. I’d skip Metabilis, though. Those chicks are freaks.

 

Pacific Rim (Titanes del Pacifico)

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A few days ago, I went to see Pacific Rim with a very good friend of mine in between gossip, beers and Hooters. I’m justified though. She’s a girl. From Texas. It was totally her idea. (Hi, Gen!)

Anyway, when was the last time you saw a stupid movie? Not bad – just stupid. With the kind of base concept we might have thought up in the playground. Man of Steel, JumperIron Man… whatever. Now tell me the last movie that knew it had a silly concept. Go ahead. I’ll wait.

I came up with Hancock and My Super Ex Girlfriend. Both parody pastiches of the superhero genre.

Pacific Rim is one of those rare self-aware movies. The central concept is something a small boy might have come up with smashing together his Japanese action figures. Monsters invade the Earth through a portal and the UN is left with two options: a big wall or even bigger robots. Thankfully, they choose big robots followed by a wall which appears to be made from papier mache.

As an homage to any number of B-movies and 80s cartoons, Pacific Rim is a joy to watch for anyone close to 30 years old. It’s almost nostalgic in its nonsense. Beyond that though, it’s an awful lot of fun.

Ron Perlman playing a golden shoe-wearing monster poacher, broad racial stereotypes that are too cartoonish to be offensive (including Torchwood‘s Burn Gorman as a bumbling English scientist), robots that look like a little Rockem Sockem and absolutely mind blowing effects all feed into an overall feeling of fun an fantasy. The dramatic or romantic moments add a little depth, but don’t really linger long enough to spoil the fun.

This movie won’t change your life. What it will do is excite you, entertain you and make you grin like the little kid who wrote the first draft. Just don’t take it too seriously; it’s makers certainly didn’t.

It’s a lesson that a lot of comic book movies should pick up on. Despite Reeves’ contributions, we know men can’t fly. We know 16-wheelers aren’t robots in disguise and we know that a man dressed as a flying mammal doesn’t protect Goth New York. We know these things, and wet we come to watch anyway.

Lighten up, Superman! (but keep the shirt off)

Lighten up, Superman!
(but keep the shirt off)

Writing Challenge Day 11

Day 11: What does your character do on a daily basis? What is their job? Do they have one? Write a scene from a normal day in your characters life.

I was having some real difficulty with Day 10, so I’m going to come back to it later. Is it cheating? Maybe. But I think I can give the blog police the slip if I’m careful.

 

It might surprise you to learn that I do in fact have a nine-to-five job. I do. No, really. It’s part of the Keepers’ Guild, so I can sleep out if needs be, but I really do do it. I work as an archivist at the City Library. I organise things, manage the online systems, direct people to where they need to go… oh, and I co-manage the secret library with a dragonblood.

Yeah, it sounds cool, but he’s always riding my arse about something or other. Despite the fact that Guild give me special dispensation as a “defender of the weak”. I’m not sure if that’s true, but it makes my extra-curricular work that much easier.

Florence the Dragon was waiting for me when I arrived. Yes, Florence. His long white hair was up in a ponytail above his tweed waistcoat and pants. I guess he’d already taken off his jacket and hung it over his scratched oak office chair. His shoes were cleaner and shinier than anything I owned.

He coughed significantly and gestured to a pile of translated Magic Era texts that I’d been avoiding and watched down his pointed noise as I approached. He didn’t say anything. Dragonbloods aren’t the chattiest of beings. When he was satisfied that my hands were getting dirty – quite literally; these books are old – he returned to his desk.

It took a couple of hours for us to get out first customer. By then my.admittedly shabby outfit was covered in dust, woodpolish and whatever other grime an ill-kempt library can accumulate. I shudder to think.

The customer was human, more or less. A warlock by the name of Jackie. Not a spellslinger or anything like that – that stuff isn’t possible in our world. All they can manage is a bit of low-level alchemy. He came in looking for magical viagra for one of his customers. I chuckled from the back shelves. He probably had “defender of the weak” status, too. I just got back to stacking the shelves.

Friends with Benefits (Movie Review)

This is about the movie. If that’s not what you were searching for, I think that room is down the hall.

I was watching for the articles, I swear!

I was watching for the articles, I swear!

Anyway, tonight I watched Friends with Benefits starring Mila Kunis and Justin Timberlake. Yes, you can predict the entire plot of the movie from the poster. I didn’t come to this movie expecting a cinematic revelation and if you did you’re an idiot.

What this movie has, though is a lot of witty dialogue and some genuinely identifiable moments, such as the breakup scenes or moments with Timberlake’s family in Los Angeles.

The characters are two beautiful, successful people with rough histories with relationships. They come to business become good friends… I think you get it.

For all that it was predictable, there is no dull moment, as every second these two characters interact is a delight. They have great on-screen chemistry and the dialogue just bounces along beautifully.

There are two very moving minor roles I’d like to highlight too. Firstly Woody Harrelson as the gay sports reporter. It sounds like a one-note character and for the most part he is, but the small switch of sexuality in an old trope really makes the character come alive. He also gets one of the best scenes that doesn’t include both leads. Overacted wonderfully to create an entirely believable character.

Secondly is Richard JenkinsAlzheimer’s suffering father. The pain he feels over lost love and lost memories is palpable, and I think you can really see the man he was and the man Timberlake’s character looked up to along with the shades of himself he is gradually becoming.

I like Romantic Comedies. They’re uplifting, relatable in a very stylized way (something the movie comments on itself before falling into its own tropes) and sometimes even funny. If you’re like me, then Friends with Benefits is for you. It’s well worth a watch, even if it’s not in my top 5 Rom Coms.

If your tastes don’t run the same way, this is probably one to give a miss, as it doesn’t really push any boundaries or create anything new. That is, if you get bored of looking at Justin and Mila for 90 minutes. If so, then I’m just not sure who you are any more.

Writing Challenge Day 9

Day 9: How was your characters first kiss? Who with? Where was it? How old were they? Write the scene.

Maria Fleming. She was amazing. She was a skinny little blonde thing who could read people’s minds. I didn’t meet her until about a year later – after her granddaughter had taught me a great deal about the Underworld as he rather melodramatically called it.

There was a party for all the ‘folk’ at a dingy little Working Mens’ Club a few miles away. It wasn’t the first time I’d met people like me – Mr. Fleming had introduced me to the community once or twice – but it was always an eye-opener. One time I went, I’d been in a mood because of some adolescent thing I couldn’t remember. I asked a dwarf about Snow White. He didn’t like that much.

Anyway, on this occasion I came out of the school around 5 to meet Mr. Fleming at his little pea green VW. He was leant against the bonnet smoking a handmade cigarette and talking to an angel sent down from heaven. Or at least that’s what my hormone-pickled brain thought at the time.

A bad experience in college taught me that angels don’t exist, just so you know.

Slim, blonde, skirt-wearing and outside (which is worth a lot to a boarding school kid), it was like Cupid’s arrow had hit me right between the eyes.

Cupid does exist. He’s gay and kind of a dick.

“Jamie, what took you so long? This is my granddaughter, Maria. Maria, this is my protege, Jamie.”

“Nice to meet you,” she almost-whispered in my direction. I think I just smiled like an idiot.

We jumped in the car – Maria and I in the cramped back seat ‘to have a chance to get to know each other.’ We didn’t say a word the whole way.

At the Working Men’s Club, the Unity, we quickly got lost in a crowd of handshakes and introductions. Non-humans have a real way about hospitality in my experience. Lovely, but terribly overwhelming when you’re a confused teenager. After a half-troll’s slightly sticky bear hug, I had to sleep away. I told everyone I was going to the bathroom and hid inside the fraying black velvet of the DJ booth. Like I said; classy place.

I had discovered my hidey hole on my last stressful visit to meet everyone. It was pretty spacious, since there wasn’t any built in equipment; just places to plug it in. Nonetheless, it was a bit cramped since it appeared to be full of an angelic blonde girl gripping her knees. I saw for the first time that she was a little younger than me. I pushed my nerves up into what I hoped was a comforting smile and scootched in next to her.
“First time?” I asked with a sudden burst of confidence.
She just nodded, not lifting her forehead from her knees.
“Yeah, they’re kind of intense.”
She nodded again.
“Are you okay?”
Finally she lifted her head.
“It’s just a bit scary.”
“I know. I think that’s why your granddad only comes every other month.”
She giggled. “Maybe. I’ll tell him you asked.”
“No!” I mock-gasped.
She smiled at me while the noise escalates outside our den.
“Thank you, Jamie.” She kissed me on the cheek and crawled out of oír hiding space.

I do have another story of teenage lust where I got my first ‘real’ kiss, but this is the kiss I always go back to: the kiss I earned. That was my first kiss.

To the full list of challenges.