Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Taking the plunge

So tomorrow is February 1st, and more importantly to me, it's 'write your long-awaited novel in a month, month.'

I decided to set myself this challenge back at the tail end of November as Dinah was getting toward the final straight of her novel-writing contest; back then February seemed like a long, long, loooooong way off, but what d'ya know: it's tomorrow.


I'd be lying if I didn't admit to mixed feelings about the coming month. On one hand I'm looking forward to the challenge, to broadening my skills as a writer, and hopefully proving something to myself. On the other hand, what if I fail miserably? Wouldn't that be awful? I mean, seriously, if I can't do it, if I stumble early on, that's my dream of, ooo, many years over in an instant. I'd have to slap myself - several times.

I think you could sum up my current feelings in this way: have you ever meet your genuine honest-to-god hero? If your answer to that is yes, then you'll know what I mean - will they live up to your expectations and be every bit as amazing in real-life as you dreamt they'd be, or will they be a disappointment, will it be an encounter that shatters every fibre of your being? I met William Shatner very, very briefly at a signing last year, and I sort of feared then that he might be a disappointment. OK, it's not like I spoke to him for any length of time - I congratulated him on his Emmy win, and he quickly turned and said "thank you" in that distinctive … Shatner … way, but he oozed the Shatneriffic qualities I expected him to, and that made my day. Or life, even.

I'm hoping that writing this book will be equally Shatneriffic.


Whenever I write anything, be it comic book or short story, I always try to immerse myself in things that remind me of the general flavour I want to bring to the story; for example, The Nightlies story you can look at by clicking the 'Sparky and Grum's comics' link in the column to the right (yep, there!) had me listening to lots of dark, omnious movie soundtracks (Batman, Star Trek VI), David Bowie's Outside album, and Nine Inch Nails' latest CD.

The novel (or novella, to be more truthful to my intent) has had me doing the same thing, but because I've been thinking about it for the best part of a year, the spectrum of influences has been much wider.

I'm thinking Jaime and Gilbert Hernandez's Love and Rockets comic book for language and style; the gorgeous soundtrack and scenary from Brokeback Mountain for the aching feeling of utter bleakness; the rich colours and textures of Smallville and The OC; the music of Sufjan Stevens and Willy Mason; a hint of Mark Poirier's Modern Ranch Living for the honesty of its characters…

Mix them all up and you've got a taste of what I'm aiming for…

Oh, and one of these features quite prominently.

Nice, innit? Yeah, 'cept the one in my story is rusty and a bit buggered.

Right then, wish me luck … God 'elp me, I'll probably need it!

Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Exactly who is having more fun...?

I went for a run with Sweatband last night - a short one, mind, because I'd done one the previous night, and I'm still easing myself back into this thing called exercise after that thing called extreme illness. Oh, and Sweatband had done 13 miles on Sunday because she's training for the marathon and because she's a complete nutter (she's even suggested that I should do the 13 mile course with her sometime - er, yeeeeeeaaaah...!).

So anyway, I get round to her place, and Jude the dude was sitting there looking pretty damned miserable. I know cats don't have the most expressive faces in the animal kingdom, but goddamn he looked pissed off. And he ignored me, which is:

a) Unheard of.


b) Rude, just rude!

Anyway, off we jog, and when we get back Jude's clearly had a little bit of time to think about his behaviour because he was all sweetness and light then; rubbing around me, wanting to be stroked, etc.

And then Sweatband introduced me to the new toys she recently bought Jude. First up was a new scratching post because he'd decimated the old one; this new version is furry, and coordinates awesomely with Sweatband's sofa. Then there was the stringy thingy, which is basically a bit of string with a couple of feathers on the end. Now, I know from experience that cats love stringy thingies. Case in point: Little Kitty who lives a couple of doors up from Sparky Ma and Pa likes nothing more than to chase string around the garden.

So Sweatband hands me the stringy thingy while she makes a cuppa, and I'm dangling it in front of Jude and I'm laughing and he's laughing (inside, I'm sure). But after a couple of minutes I'm still giggling like a special and Jude's just looking at me and half-heartedly batting the feathers on the end of the stringy thing with his paw. And as time stretches on he apparently gets more bored by the second; oh, and he starts frowning at me in that way that only cats can - that patented feline withering stare.

Did I get the message? Did I hell. I just kept dangling it in front of his little cynical face.

And that's when he grabbed the stringy thing, yanked it, attacked it on the floor, ripped the feathers off the end, and then walked off, flashing a disdainful look in my direction.

I, of course, just stood there holding the remnents of the stringy thing, and feeling a bit stupid.

"Tea's ready," said Sweatband.

"Just as well," I replied. "I think Jude's a bit pissed off again. God knows why…"

Monday, January 29, 2007

Social niceties

Reaching for something you've already put in the wash can be a dangerous thing. For example, before heading over to Sweatband's for a run I decided to dig a hoody out of the washing machine rather than pull a fresh one from the wardrobe. On the drive there, I suddenly realised that things in the washing machine can get inexplicably mixed up.

What would be the chances, I wondered, of a pair of worn undercrackers getting snagged in the hood?

This is not a question I ask myself on a regular basis, but it is one of those things that once you've thought about it for even a brief instant you're suddenly convinced could actually happen. And then, of course, you have the mental image of pulling off the hoody, and watching as a pair of pants fall to the floor.

However you play it, I'm not sure there's a good honest way of explaining that one away without at the very least succumbing to a little bit of embarrasment.

I think the nearest I can get to a good excuse would be by exclaiming with mock surprise "Ooo! How did THEY get there?" Before scooping them up, dabbing my forehead with them, and adding "it has been a tad mild today, hasn't it?"

It's either that or just pick them up and both pretend nothing untoward happened.

It's funny how the mind can play tricks when you get an inane thought, hey?

Fortunately it didn't happen!


I sent a couple of mates in Skillz's direction today to check out his awesome monkey post. And what do I get back? An email from comics pal Graham:

"I don't think I've ever seen your stomach, but why have you had a monkey tattoo'd on it?"

I replied:

"I have not had a monkey tattoo'd on my stomach, and I'm offended you think that's me; my stomach is far more toned than that."



Thank god Celebrity Big Brother has finished. I'd been watching too much of Big Mouth, and had begun to assume Russell Brand-esque habits. Several people have noted my exaggerated physical gestures, excessive use of the words "SWINE!" and constant demands for attention by shouting "LADS! Come an' have a look at this!"

For those unfamiliar with Russell Brand, take a look at this.

Fortunately, I have yet to stand in the office and shout "I pulled down my trousers and pants…!"


I love Family Guy. And I think we all know I love Star Trek. In the words of Russell Brand - regarde!

Sunday, January 28, 2007

A tale of two willies

Having bought some Josh Pyke tickets recently, I've slipped into the old 'need to go to some gigs' mood. I'm even thinking about picking up some Fall Out Boy tickets for their show at the Hammersmith Apollo in April (having missed the chance to get tickets for their Hammersmith Palais show on Monday, and for Sean Lennon at the Bush Hall); I don't really know why, as I only really like their new single - but hey-ho. The other day, however, something piqued my interest in the seetickets mail-out. And I instantly picked up my phone.

'Willy Mason is playing the Shepherds Bush Empire in May - shall we go?' I texted Yaz.

'Willy Mason?! Tell me about him later!' She replied.

Now I know Yaz knows who Willy Mason is, because I remember talking about how much we both liked his song 'So Long' a couple of years back. So I reminded her of that, but it just made her head hurt. So I reminded her again, this time texting how the song goes: da daa, da daaaa, da da da da daaa da daaaaa, da da, da da da da, da daa daaaa da daaaaa.

But still nothing.

So upon meeting up for coffee I tried to rattle her brain again.

"Willy Nelson?" She asked.

No, not Willy Nelson. Though truth be told, I'd actually quite like to see the old stoner play sometime.

Yaz still had that puzzled look on her face.

"Oh, do you mean-"

"No, I don't mean Perry Mason either."

"Oh. That's a shame, because an evening of that theme tune might be quite nice."

I frowned at her.

And then the neurons fired up.

"You don't mean that guy with the album called 'Where the Humans Eat,' do you?"

"Yes. Him."

"Oh. I like him!"

So, end of story - I'll be buying some Willy Nelson, I mean Perry Mason - DAMN - WILLY MASON tickets when they go on sale!

Saturday, January 27, 2007

A little groan of appreciation

Having moaned incessently about the state of my hair recently, I actually booked an appointment the other day. I say booked, because it's been about seven years since I've been to an old-school walk-in barbers for a haircut; quite frankly I got a bit fed up with them only using an electric razor to cut my hair, and they'd always leave this big clump on top that made it look like I was wearing a toupee. OK, so I might pay a little bit more to get my hair done in a salon, but it's full of hotties so I'll cope.

Anyway, so I booked an appointment for next Sunday, but during the week they called me up and asked me if I could come in today. Hell yeah, I replied, quitely thanking the gods of Toni and Guy because my hair has really been looking pretty cack recently. And then today, about two hours before my appointment while I'm walking around Kingston shopping centre they call me up again and tell me the sooner I can get there the better because they've got some spare time; they'd clearly caught sight of me on the centre security cameras and realised I was in the midst of a hair-mergency. I could be wrong, but I reckon sirens probably rang somewhere.

The thing I really like about getting my haircut is the preliminary shampoo and conditioner stage. There's something slightly orgasmic about having someone else shampoo your hair, and ohmygod-that-bit- where-they-massage-your-scalp-is-worth-the-price-of-admission-on- it's-own. Several times I've almost drifted off to sleep while they're working the shampoo in. I think I enjoy it a little bit too much, to be honest, because I've gotten quite close to letting out a little groan of appreciation on several occasions. Not a squeal; a proper man-groan.

I'm not quite sure how that would go down with the shampoo lady, though. Even I would admit that it's not the most obvious noise to make mid-'poo, but on the flip reverse maybe she'd view it as it's intended – a sign of extreme appreciation.

"How's that for you?"


"Jolly good!"

Shampoo over and I settled into the chair of hair destiny.

"What are we doing?" said my regular hairdresser, spinning her scissors like a cowboy spins a six-shooter.

"Short, scruffy, and awesome." I replied.

And short, scruffy, and awesome is what I got.



While walking around Kingston I encountered a ghost from the past - my old geography teacher - although we didn't acknowledge each other. You see, in my first year of sixth form, this guy, who had previously taught me for about four years, lied to me to get me to sign up to the geography A-level. Upon finding out about his deception I subsequently ditched the course, and he subsequently went on to blank me for the remaining two years I was there. Which is, I think you'll agree, very mature behaviour for a teacher.

And in an equally mature fashion I delighted in greeting him at every possible turn throughout those two years with a broad grin and a full-on "WHY HELLO MR-"

I almost did it today for shits and giggles.


You can't see this, thankfully, but I'm super-blushing right now (and I don't have sufficient hair to hide behind now). The reason?

Tara has nominated this 'Tim Appreciation Day!' Bless 'er cotton socks!

I don't know what I've done to have such an honour bestowed upon me, but I'm very grateful. In fact, it's the topping on what's been quite an amazing couple of days.

So, by way of thanks, I'm going to show my appreciation in the only way I know how:


Friday, January 26, 2007

Foxy friday

There's several things you expect NOT to see while chilling (literally!) with a coffee outside Starbucks.

A fox in a cage is probably one of them.

And yet there it is.

According to the RSPCA lady who was lugging it down Hammersmith Road, this poor little bugger had slipped into the basement of an office block and needed a bit of a hand to get out. He looked kinda relaxed watching the world go by, and as I wasn't the only person who was asking to take his picture I think he was enjoying the attention. Whore.

What was surprising, however, was that this was the healthiest fox I've ever seen in my life. He was a young one, healthily chubby, and with a rich, red fur coat. Which makes a change to the usual foxes you see around London - thin and vermin-ridden, or smeared across two lanes of a dual carriageway.


Today hasn't all been foxes and fun, however. No, because last night I got a puncture on my car. On one hand it wasn't as bad as it could be, because I've got runflat tyres on my car so I merrily kept driving it around with a massive nail sticking out of it; on the other hand, the replacement was 160 quid. And for any overseas readers not familiar with the current exchange rate, that equates to: Ouch!

Still, have faith in the Earl 'do good things and good things will happen to you' mantra. It definitely works.


Did anyone watch the new gritty teen drama Skins on E4 last night? I did. Ish. And by 'ish' I mean that I watched the first, ooo, five minutes or so. I read an interview with the show's creator the other week, and he basically said it was something along the lines of 'the anti-O.C.' Something that wasn't quite so glossy and stylised, and was a bit more "gritty."


I'm coming to the realisation that british TV is a bit rubbish at "gritty," because when the Doctor Who producers announced Torchwood they assured us it would be gritty and it just meant boobs and swearing. And Skins is exactly the same - boobs and swearing (no unrealistic CGI monsters though). That, my friends, is the unimaginative way of doing things. I can swear. I can flash my man nips. It doesn't make me gritty, it just looks like something's amiss with Teddy Ruxpin.

What really turned me against Skins, though, was that however glossy and stylised The O.C. may be, at it's heart it uses characters we grow to empathise with and enjoy watching week after week. And that's where Skins fell flat on its face, because I couldn't give an effing damn about a group of cocky, horny and, quite frankly, horrifically unlikeable teenagers.

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Waking to a winter wonderland

We've already ascertained that I'm not the most coherent person first thing in the morning, and today was no different. To be honest, though, I'm especially incoherent and lazy in the winter months, and this extends to not bothering to pull back the curtains first thing in the morning; I figure it's dark when I leave the house, and it's dark when I get back, so I might as well save myself the effort.

That being the case, I'm sure you'll understand how I got the shock of my life this morning when unsuspecting ol' me opened the front door to find that it had snowed during the night. And not just a little snow. A lot of snow. When I lived with Sparky Ma and Pa, mum would wake me to tell me if it had snowed, and my eyes would spring open and I'd press my cherubic little face to the window in utter disbelief. Then I'd run downstairs in my jim-jams all excited. But living alone means this doesn't happen anymore, and thus results in a bit of an early morning double take where I sort of wonder if I'm being set up by a TV show and it's all a big gag. It wasn't.

To be honest, the weather forecasters had hinted it might snow, but they always say that sort of thing and it never comes true. Well, slap my ass with a snowball - they were right.

Amd the Sparky Mobile was covered.

Excuse the poor photography, but it was dark (I photoshopped it to make it look brighter), and cold, and I'm not David Bailey.

Anyway, being in a bit of a rush, I did what any boy does in such instances, meaning I just cleared the windows and lights of snow, and then carved a snow mohawk on the roof. And off to work I drove.

The journey, truth be told, was quite lovely. Everything was delightfully crisp and picture perfect, rather like an awesome Christmas card four weeks too late. I even saw some council workers snowballing each other*, and some kids making a snowman, though truth be told they were making it on a patch of park where I've seen dog's crap so it was probably a combination snow-turd man.

And when I got stuck in traffic I wound down my window and pushed the snow off the top of my wing mirror, an act I regretted when I was cut up by an Autoglass van; if I'd had any snow left I would've made a snowball and lobbed it at him.


Television! Teacher, mother, secret lover, as Homer Simpson once said. If TV has taught me anything (and, let's face it, we all know it's taught me lots of things), it's that if you 'do good things, then good things will happen to you.'

(Thanks My Name is Earl)

Case in point!

I wander down to Sexy Starbucks today, get in line to buy my grande misto, and some rude woman pushes in in front of me. I thought about saying something along the lines of "oi, wench - you and yer sandwich get to the back of the line," but I was in a good mood, and I was OK with letting a couple of extra seconds slide. I felt bad for the lovely barista, though, when said woman was a bit obnoxious to her, and did that really annoying thing of reaching over the till and tearing off her own receipt.

And it was as she moved off and headed out of the store and I got to the till that I noticed the wench had left her credit card in the machine...

Lovely barista followed my glance and she too noticed the card. She called out, but ding-dong, the wench was gone. Our eyes locked. "Give it here," I said in the same sort of way that Superman bids farewell to Lois when he jumps out the seaplane to go sort Lex Luthor out in Superman Returns. I took the card and, running past the long queue of customers, shot out of the shop. I just know lovely barista clutched her hands to her bosum and fluttered her eyelids.

I stormed down the road (the wench had very long legs and had traveled a surprising distance), and when I was within reach I called out "excuse me!" She turned round.

I briefly considered flinging it Odd-job stylee into her head to teach her a lesson for her rudeness, but instead settled on a Superman-esque quote with a hint of sarcasm: "You'll be needing this."

She gasped, and in a surprising move even thanked me! I gave her a wink and a little salute, before heading back to Starbucks.

And here's where we get back to the 'do good things...' bit. You see, I'd already ordered my coffee, and rather than queue up again or jump in to pay, lovely barista told me to pay later. So I grabbed my misto, sat down, iPodded up, and started writing. Five minutes later there was a tap on my shoulder. It was lovely barista. "Don't worry about paying - this one is free."

"Eh?" I replied.

"Your coffee today - it's free."

"Wha...?" I said.

By now she was probably thinking I was a bit special. Adorable and suave, but special nonetheless. She touched my mug. "This coffee?"

I nodded like a suave, adorable special.

"Is free. Today. As a thank-you for taking that lady her card."

I grinned and replied with a torrent of "thank-yous" and "are you sures?" And she was. It was free!

Do good things and good things will happen to you. Amen to that!

*Which means something entirely different if you're an afficionado of Kevin Smith films. I don't mean that!

Tuesday, January 23, 2007


I think I've drunk too much coffee today. And I'm not talking about that crappy decaf instant stuff, I'm talking the quality s**t, know what I'm saying?

And I'm blaming all the baristas in Secret Starbucks. Which I'm seriously thinking about renaming Sexy Starbucks because there's at least a handful of lovely lady baristas in there that I'd gladly marry in an instant. Let's face it, they've already ground my beans on several occasions.

Anyway, yes, too much coffee. Why am I blaming them? Well, in addition to my regular lunchtime grande misto, they gave me a free bag of house blend, thus forcing me to go back to the office and brew up a cafetiere full. I pretty much drank the entire thing on my own, leading to a lack of concentration, and severe coffee jitters. If you could see me now you probably wouldn't be able to focus on me because I'm vibrating so much. I'm like Tweek in South Park (And you wouldn't believe the amount of typos I've put in this post, and had to go back to correct. On the plus side I've written it in about half the time it usually takes...).


I've been Xboxing online quite a bit recently, and had an amazing evening of quality intermaweb Star Trek Legacy battles on Sunday. The dude I was playing against actually mailed me through Xbox Live to say that I was "really good" which is possibly the nicest thing anyone has said to me in a long time. It certainly makes up for that bitter little arseface who rated me 100% unsporting because I clipped his car when he swerved infront of me in Project Gotham Racing.

So anyway, I got that mail through and it melted my stony, stony heart for an instant. But the captain of a starship can't allow himself to show too much emotion, so I turned my ship around and blew the crap out of him again.

It's true - in space no one can hear you scream (unless you're wearing your Xbox headset).


Excitement a-go-go: following T-Bird and Dora's advice last year to checkout Josh Pyke's tunes, I've only gone and gotten tickets for his London show at the tiny tiny Borderline!

Now, I'm sure it'll be a great evening - in fact, it bloomin' well better be: I even friended him on Myspace...


Awesome big-ups to Dinah for finding the M&M character generation thingy. Here's my artistic rendering.

Notice how I've tried to make it as authentic as possible, from my super-powerful robot arms right down to the triceratops and phone box that just shout 'Londinium.' Keeping it real, people, keeping it real...

Monday, January 22, 2007


We were supposed to have a company lunch today, but it was postponed. Which was a good thing, because I'm STILL feeling a bit rough, so I decided to wander down to Hammersmith, grab a coffee in Starbucks, and swing by Sainsburys to buy some Lemsip. The thing is, because I thought we were having a company lunch I decided to leave my iPod at home, which meant I had to walk to Hammersmith listening to the midday soundtrack of West London, and by 'soundtrack of West London' I mean police sirens, roadworks, and crazy people.

There's one resident crazy person who always stumbles towards me with her crazy person eyes, wonky teeth, and shocking afro with weird bits in asking for a cigarette (to be honest, if she explored her 'fro she'd probably find 20 Marlboro lights and a box of matches). I'd tell her I don't smoke, but I think it's something primal within her - an animal instinct. It would be like politely asking a dog not to shat on the carpet. Awesomely, however, that did not stop some woman lecturing her in the middle of the high street. The only snippet I heard coming from the dumpy middle-aged lecturee was "I know life is tough but we must all just press on!"

Press on indeed.

So I went to Sainsburys and picked up some Lemsip MAX STRENGTH and some butter to put on my bagel. Then I walked upto the till. Now, I know till monkeys aren't necessarily the most clued up people on the planet, but this one looked at me, and said in the most cheerful voice ever "alright, how are you today?"

Now, the sheer fact that I was buying MAX STRENGTH Lemsip probably should've given the game away. I felt like picking up the box, rattling it in his face, and saying "how the hell do you think I'm feeling, you donkey?"

But instead I just said "not bad." Which was unenthusiastic, and a lie - but hey, at least I didn't need to engage him in unnecessary conversation! I hate it when random shop assistants talk to you like you're their best mate. I feel like putting my hand over their mouths and saying something along the lines of "shush until I speak to you, OK?" But I never do; I just answer politely, because I was brought up proper.

(A sports hall assistant tried talking to me like we were old war buddies on Friday when I went to play Badminton. "How are you? Good? Good!" He was emo-ish as well, so he was actually giving me two good reasons to slap him. I didn't... but just wait until NEXT TIME...!)

So, all that aside, I was thinking about the missed lunch. We always go to a pub round the corner from the office - a gastro-pub, if you will. Which just means that they charge twice as much, give you half as much, and take twice as long to serve it as a regular pub. And a couple of years back a test in the Daily Mail found that their ice was contaminated with - get this - wee. They always look at me funny when we go in there and I ask for a "coke - WITH NO ICE!!!!"

All in all, it must be said that I think I was more in the mood for my wander rather than a company lunch; I enjoyed my Lemsip MAX STRENGTH more than I think I would've enjoyed a wee-tainted coke, even if it is only a placebo effect that is giving me this temporary high. And I'd probably be feeling slightly better if I'd had my iPod, because quite frankly at the moment I think it's only coffee and Panic! At the Disco that's keeping me going...

Sunday, January 21, 2007

A-Z of life (but not as we know it)

I was thinking I'd not posted for a while, due mainly to lack of inspiration, then Inexplicable Device tags me and suddenly I've got something to write about!

So, here you are - it's all about me!

A - available/single? Available - for weddings, christenings, and bar mitzvahs. Call me!

B - best friend? Too many to choose from, and I could never pick just one. They each have their different uses, you see - a bit like the Justice League.

C - Cookie, fave cookie? Starbucks chocolate chunk. Awesome, and reasonably priced too! Other than that, some sort of oaty thing.

D - drink of choice? Depends on the time of day! Earl Grey first thing, Starbucks' coffee at lunchtime... Loving Sainsburys' cranberry and raspberry juice too.

E - essential item you use everyday? Um, my car, my computer... clothes? Ooo-ooo-ooo - my iPod - must have music!!

F - favourite colour? Red, mostly. But I like black, too. Not in a goth way, though. I just like it for its versatility.

G - gummi bears or worms? I hate all gelatinous sweets. Basically, if I wanted something of that consistancy I'd eat my bogeys. They're free!

H - hometown? Bedfont in Middlesex. It's right by the airport don't ya know! oh, hang on - I don't live there anymore. Does that count?

I - indulgence? Books. I luuuuurve books. Must have books.

J - January or February? Um, February, probably? It's short. January just seems like the tail end of Christmas... the looming finality of having to go back to work...

K - kids & their names? Well, I don't have any, and I'm not going to name imaginary ones just for the hell of it.

L - life is incomplete without? Friends, family, good times. And Xbox 360. Star Trek...

M - marriage date? I'm not married, and I'm sure any potential date would need to be discussed with the imaginary future Mrs Sparky before I named it. I would also take the same opportunity to ask the fictional missus about our fictional children's names too!

N - number of siblings? Uno - Simon!

O - orange or apple? Terry's Chocolate Orange.

P - phobias/fears? Strangely, flying. Not in a Superman fashion, I should add, but in a plane-way.

Q - favourite quote? Something from Star Trek. Probably THIS. I also like Shatner's "FIRE!" from the end of Star Trek VI.

R - reason to smile? It gives your face something to do.

S - season? Season Four of Star Trek: Enterprise was awesome, and then they went and axed it anywa- Oh. Um... Used to be a winter person, no veering towards summer. Autumn and spring just make me confused about what I should be wearing...

T - tag 4 to 5 People? IDV did 'em all! How's about Skillz...? Tara? Anyone, in fact!

U - unknown fact about me? I don't know... I yabber on so much I don't think there's anything left to say...

V - vegetable you don't like? Pretty much all of them. Except the potato. I likes potatoes!

W - worst habit? Biting the inside of my mouth. Alot.

X - X-ray you've had? Ooo - I had this huge barium scan when I was about 10 'cos they thought one of my kidneys had shut down. They injected me with some sort of radiation, and I had to lie still for about 30 minutes. I thought I'd turn into the Incredible Hulk after. Strangely, never ... got the ... results ... EEK! KIDNEY ... SHUTTING ... DOWN ... GAK!

Y - your favourite food? Um... My Mum cooks the best chips EVAH.

Z - zodiac sign? Sc-sc-sc-scorpio!

That's all folks!

Thursday, January 18, 2007

A mighty wind blew

And it wasn't because everyone had beans for dinner, either.

Good grief! The weather over the last couple of days has been insane!! Yesterday I actually got completely drenched walking from my car to the office, which as you probably didn't know unless you stalk me each morning isn't really that far; I looked like I was about to take part in a wet t-shirt competition and had doused my trousers just for the hell of it.

And then today it's been four-million mile per hour winds. Seriously, I walked down to Starbucks at lunchtime and felt like I was being aerodynamically-tested in a wind tunnel (official scientific data reveals I'm 'lithe'). That said, it was quite funny sitting in Starbucks watching people go flying down the road while I drank coffee and laughed at them; one woman saw me laugh at her, but I was totally like shrugging at her, as if to say 'what are you going to do about it?' Anyway, if the situation had been reversed I just know she would've been giggling into her decaf soy latte with a shot of hazelnut as I was blown past the window.

There have only been two really annoying things from my point of view - firstly, it's been playing havoc with my hair (the wind, not laughing at pedestrians, I should say), which has led me to the realization that it really needs a cut. I'm not too sure in what stylistic direction to go, but I'm erring towards the old school (skool?) short 'n ruffled look. Whatever I decide I need to act quick, because I've just hit that length where I get the sort of flick-ups that are only sported by four year-olds and mentalists and seem to be resistant to whatever product I slap on. (Stylistic suggestions gratefully received)

The second annoyance is that the office door seems to be sticking open about yay much (and by yay much I mean about 10 centimeters). This is annoying because the breeze gets in and I get chilly legs - which was particularly distressing yesterday when I had wet trousers. Unfortunately, no one else seems to have noticed, leaving me having to get up every few minutes to shut it. At one point I even combined my latest musical obsession for Panic! At the Disco with an attempt to make others aware by singing "haven't you people ever heard of closing the god-damn door?" but this failed on several counts, most noticeably that the song coming on the radio didn't necessarily coincide with the door being opened, and when it did everyone just came to the conclusion that I was simply a jolly little fellow singing along to the radio in the corner.

My final attempt to raise awareness for my plight came in the form of a politely-worded email, but again no one seems to be paying much attention, possibly, I fear, because in my haste to tap it out I misspelt 'draught' as 'draft.'

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Hopes and dreams

I'm so excited. *So excited*. So excited, in fact, that I might just let a little bit of wee out.



OK, maybe not that excited.

So why am I excited, you might ask? I'll tell you why: because I've just got back from a summit meeting with comics pal Graham about our future artistic direction. Ohmygod! So many ideas! So much potential! Are you excited yet?!

First of all, we spoke about Grenwald the Great, which if it really was that good you'll recall that I posted the prologue here a short while back. We discussed its creative direction, plot points, characters, and all that jazz; did you know that I've always wanted to write a science-fiction story set on a planet called Chlamydia IV? Well that dream is going to be realised, my friends!

Graham showed me some of the concept art he's done for Grenwald, and he's nailed the look and feel of Grenwald as a dapper vintage action-adventurer in one! I seriously meant to take a photo of it, but was so giddy I completely forgot. His work always looks great, but I really think he's moved his style forward a bit. I hope my writing is equal to the task of Graham's stunning art.

Next up we talked about my February book project, for which I want some detailed little black 'n white illustrations done once I finish the story. The more I talk about the idea, and write up specific scenes at lunchtimes, the more excited and eager to begin I get. And I think I've got a title; I've recently taken to calling it by the name of the fictional town it's set in, but now I think I'm just going to call it what it is - Picture Novella.

Oh, and Graham also threw some thumbnail sketches my way and asked if I could come up with a story to go around it. Can I? Hell yeah! In fact, I began writing a rather epic script for a graphic novel based on, of all things, David Bowie songs a couple of years back, but abandoned it because I thought it was turning into a bit of a monster, and it'd probably be nigh on impossible to get the rights to it. But here I figure I can strip out one of the storylines and mould it into something new...

So all in all, exciting times for two fledgling comics creators...!


Perhaps the only downside to going up town to meet Graham was the fact that I had to walk down Oxford Street during rush hour. I lost count of the amount of times I felt compelled to wave my arms around like a maniac in an effort to get stupid pedestrians out of my way.

And, goddamn, those frikkin' free newspaper vendors!! Geez, the amount of London Lites and TheLondonPapers I was offered tonight was off the scale - if I'd've taken one every time one was offered I would've been weighed down in seconds! The vendors are like damn parasites! At first I kept giving them the ol' Obi Wan style "these are not the droids you're looking for..." thing, but like the Borg they seemed to adapt to that and were soon immune. I almost resorted to taking a paper and whacking said vendor over the head with it until he collapsed to the floor and adopted the foetus position while screaming like a baby.

Next time, my friends, next time...

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Waking up is hard to do

Let's get this straight: I don't like getting up in the morning. I can do it, but I don't like it. And during the week is especially difficult because I can work flexi-time, so the earlier I get in the earlier I can leave. Good eh? You'd think so!

What that does mean, though, is that I generally try to get up at about 6:30 every morning, so I'm in work by about eight, maybe a tad before, and can leave around four in the afternoon, thus giving me a nice long evening in which to do my thaaaang. The thing is, there's something in my brain, some devious litte bugger of a neuron, that tries to disrupt my well-planned, er, plans.

Initially this meant that like millions of others around the world I'd be woken up by my alarm clock, hit snooze, and have another five minutes or so. But over the years this has ... mutated, I think you could say, to the point where I've developed the amazing ability to actually turn off my alarm clock in my sleep. How the hell do I do that? I don't know!

So now I've resorted to putting the alarm clock out of arm's reach, so when it goes off I've actually got to get out of bed in order to turn it off (all the while stifling yawns and resisting the opportunity to then clamber back into bed for "another five minutes," because you know it's the most tempting thing to do on a cold morning).

Mind you, don't think that's solved all the problems - no word of a lie, I woke up one morning with my feet in bed, and the rest of my body supported on one arm while the other was clutching the alarm clock. You'd think I was doing one armed press-ups in my sleep, which would've been impressive because I can't do them when I'm awake.

To combat this I've since resorted to also setting the alarm on my phone, bacause I'd be really impressed if I could turn two clocks off at the same time while asleep, and in the process master the no-armed press-up - or levitation as it's also known.

Wouldn't that be funny?

Yes, funny. So laugh this up.

I woke up this morning sitting upright on the edge of the bed with vague knowledge that I was holding the alarm clock in my left hand. And as my eyes fluttered open and I yawned adorably like a little new-born kitten, I involuntarily threw it against the bed frame, which is wooden. And then I reached over, picked up my phone that was by now beeping like a heart-rate monitor, and promptly dropped that on the floor.

On the plus side, whacking the clock against the bed did shake me fully conscious, and made me think "bugger - I bet I've broken it," which was quite an effective way of waking myself properly (though not particularly cost effective on a day-to-day basis). And dropping the phone made me think "bugger - I bet I've broken that too."

Still, no harm done - they both still work. There's always tomorrow, I suppose...

(Personally, I'm blaming my new GOSA BLINKAS - sorry, pillows - they're so damn comfortable that they don't particularly encourage early rising!)


Favourite sight while out running last night - a car with a number plate on which the first four figures were KN06.

It looked like it said 'knob!'

Monday, January 15, 2007

I'm the captain of this ship

To quote My Chemical Romance...
"When I was a young boy, My mother took me into the city to see Star Trek III. She said, "Son when you grow up, will you be the editor of a Star Trek magazine?"
And I looked at her with the youthful exuberance of a seven year-old, winked, and replied "you betcha Sparky Ma!"

So yes, I can exclusively reveal here that it was Sparky Ma, way back in 1984, who took her youngest child and created this ... this monster of utter nerdiness. She has no one to blame but herself, bless 'er.

Skip forward to 2007. I'm feeling very captainly today, it must be said; in fact, I feel like I've been imbued by the spirit of Captain Kirk. You might ask how, or you might not care. For those who don't care, well I'm ploughing on regardless. At work I felt restless and fidgety, rather like Kirk at the beginning of Star Trek Generations when he wants to take control of the Enterprise-B from the inexperienced new captain in order to save 240 people on those two passenger ships stuck in the Nexus. Although it might have something to do with the fact that I've started running again and it's made me feel a bit energetic.

It might also have something to do with the fact that I put my captainly skills to good use to complete Star Trek Legacy on the Xbox 360. Just over three weeks - how good is that? I whupped the Borg, then I went online and whupped some kid. And he had a more powerful ship than me. It's all about the tactical skills, y'see.

But it might have something to do with my desire to start a new secret club. I probably shouldn't tell you, but I'm going to anyway.

(looks suspiciously in both directions)

It's Captain Kirk Fight Club (but you can't talk about it, understand).

There's several reasons why Captain Kirk is my favourite Star Trek captain. First of all, he's simply the coolest dude ever. Add to that the fact that he got all the (green-skinned) girls, had the coolest ship ever, and possibly the best form of hand-to-hand combat know to man or best. Ever.

(There's also the fact that my initials are TJ, which was a remarkable piece of foresight on the part of my parents by naming me after another of Shatner's characters, TJ Hooker, seven years before the series started. Shame they never followed through with the deed poll forms to change our surname. For years I kept telling all and sundry that I wanted to be a Hooker.)

So let's review the fighting style.

Step 1:

After walking nonchalently up to his rifle-carrying adversary, note how Kirk applies his palm to the face of the unfortunate hooded alien. Why use a phaser when you can break someone's nose and shove it into their brain?

Step 2.

As if the hooded alien wasn't stunned and humilated enough by having his face wrecked by a middle-aged dude in a sweater with elbow patches, Kirk then takes the somewhat unnecessary, but nonetheless impressive step of bitch-slapping the little punk with the back of his hand. Ouch!

As you can see, there's a definite style here, and one that I think would be served well by a Captain Kirk Fight Club. And to push the point even further, my pal Jo came into possession of a Sci-Fi Channel press kit that she thought would suit me down to the ground. because included within is a piece of wood. But it's not just any piece of wood! It's a special piece of wood.

I'm going to show you my wood now:

Now what's so special about Tim's wood, you might ask? And why does it say 'chop here?'

Well let me tell you. It's special wood, wood that ties in with another unique Kirk-style attack. I quote from the attached Sci-Fi Channel documentation:

"The Kirk shoulder chop. Only get the wood out after you've practised on something softer first."
By that I think they mean someone's face.

So anyway, I'm definitely in training for Captain Kirk Fight Club; I've got the palm attack, the bitch-slap, and the shoulder chop. I'm literally tearing my shirt at the shoulder in anticipation of a bumpy-headed opponent whose name sounds like the sort of noise you make when you're throwing up. As Kirk might say: "Bring... it... ON!"


And for any bloody pacifists out there wanting to get in on the Captain Kirk Fight Club action, the Sci-Fi Channel kit has something for you too.

It's a squeezy ball on which to practise your Vulcan nerve pinch, you friggin' hippy.

Saturday, January 13, 2007

IKEA lovefest 2007

With just over 24 hours to go before the IKEA sale ended, Jo and I hit the store for some last minute AMAZING bargains! Well... we tried, but truth be told the IKEA sale was a bit rubbish - there was nothing that I wanted in the sale, because I've already got a sofa and a bed. And some shelves. And stuff.

But fun nevertheless ensued!

I was once again tempted by the untold beauty of the red LACK, but as reasonable as it is at just £7.99, I can't think why I would need one or where I would put it.

So I just pointed at it a bit.

I also noticed that the toys in IKEA are dirty. Not filthy dirty, pervy dirty. Look - I found two little dogs that were connected top 'n tails for some unknown reason!

They were at it on the floor as well!

And just don't get me started on the polar bears...

So did I buy anything? Hell yeah! I got a little clip-top glass container to put sugar in, and two new pillows. So in IKEA-talk that would be a SLOM and two GOSA BLINKAS then.


Today's been a rather lovely day actually; very relaxing. Watched the DVD of the Foo Fighters' Hyde Park gig I went to last year, and played a little Xbox.

Somebody shot up my Enterprise.

Drove Darth Vader around a starship in a little white truck.

Friday, January 12, 2007

Panic attack

Earlier this week, on the recommendation of Marsha from Xfm who rated it her second best album of 2006*, I finally relented and picked up a copy of the Panic! At the Disco album A Fever You Can't Sweat Out.

Oh. My. God.

Why the hell have I hesitated for so long? What an amazing album! I can only guess that the reason I hesitated for so long was that I feared they were either:

a) a one-hit wonder; I Write Sins Not Tragedies is an amazing song, and surely they couldn't match that across an entire album, right?
b) an emo-fied version of Maroon 5.

How wrong I could be - it's a balls to the wall machiavellian pop-rock opera! There's a richness to their sound that I love; layered, orchestral, vaudevillian... I love it! Emo or not, Panic! At the Disco just joined Sufjan Stevens on the list of people I definitely want to catch live at some point.

And the best thing about it? It was in the HMV sale AND I had a bit of cash left on a HMV gift card - I got it for £3.95.



Something for the weekend...?

An advert on the radio tells me that the IKEA sale MUST end Sunday, so Jo and I have decided to go along on Saturday night to check out some last-minute bargains (IKEA on a Saturday night is definitely the new hang-out place for all us hip young things). Hell, knowing what their prices are like without a sale I'll probably be able to empty the place with just a fiver.

Amyway, japes will ensue - mainly because Jo and I always forget the route on the way there and end up miles away! Throw your hands in the air and shout "Hurrah!"

*Marsha writes an awesome weekly mailout listing, among other things, new gigs and album recommendations that she posts on her myspace page - if you're not on myspace though, email her your address HERE and she'll add ya and you'll get it via email! Do it!!

Thursday, January 11, 2007

Fashion, turn to the left…

…Fashion, turn to the right, Oooooooo - FASHION!

Said David Bowie. And as they say on Battlestar Galactica: "SO SAY WE ALL!"

I'm a tad perplexed by fashion these days, I must say. In years gone by I've veered from doing my utmost to adhere to the latest fashion, to sticking to established classics regardless of what everyone else is donning - white t-shirts never go out of style, right?

But now I seem to be willfully disregarding what the media tells me I should be wearing, mainly because I consider 'this season's trends' to be, well, a little bit dorky. That either says something about my particular style (which I seem to have settled into nicely, and may, I'm beginning to wonder, be my dress-code for life from here on in), or that I'm getting old; I'm not sure which is more worrying...

One of the latest trends is, as I'm sure you've noticed, the emo-look (not the little red giggly thing from Sesame Street, I hasten to add). Walk down any high street and the vast majority of men's retailers seem to be pushing the same sort of emo-uniform consisting of sprayed-on jeans and a form of rank cardigan I wouldn't even consider wearing when I'm drawing my pension. As for the spray-on jeans, well, how difficult would they be to pull on in the dark at seven o'clock in the morning when you're rushing to get out the door? Not very, I suspect.

In addition to that, I don't think I've got the figure for skinny jeans; it's not that I'm fat - on the contrary, years of gymming and, of course, the lasting effects of last year's running have given me rather, um, defined thighs that would just look plain weird in skin-tight denim. To quote my favourite line from Serenity: "My muscular buttocks."

(I don't think I'd feel particularly comfortable about every passing stranger making a mental note of 'which side I dress to' either)

So no, fashion retailers of the British high street, I shall not be succumbing to your dictated trends this year. And if my regular uniform of comfortably-fitted, ever-so-slighty baggy jeans matched with a witty-sloganed t-shirt offend you, so be it!

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Weird science

A while back - the tail end of last year - I had the most unusual conversation with a barista in Starbucks. In fact, I've been meaning to post about it for a while now, but it's taken this long for my brain to try to comprehend the content of the discussion.

Basically, I was enjoying my grande misto, as I am wont to do, when one of the baristas wandered over to say hello. "Hello," I replied as way of a response. He then asked me when I was finishing work for Christmas, and I said something along the lines of "just a matter of days."

Conversation then turned to the subject of what I do for a living (it would've been very stupid to ask him what he did for a living bearing in mind he'd just served me a coffee). Now, in these instances, I usually respond by giving the very general answer of "I work in publishing," because the words "I edit some Star Trek magazines" often leads to people nodding sagely then scurrying away, particularly if they are pretty girls. That said, "I work in publishing" often leads to the response "oh yeah - porn is it?" followed by a Sid James-style guffaw.

Anyway, chappy responded with "really? What?" and, quite eager to get rid of him and return to staring aimlessly out the window, I just said "Star Trek magazines."

He looked at me with a bit of a blank expression for what seemed like an uncomfortably long few seconds, then smiled and said "aaaah, Spock..." and tried to do a Vulcan salute. "Yeah - Spock," I replied. Now I know how William Shatner must feel when he's approached on the street.

So from that point the conversation took what I can only describe to be a rather unusual and highly unexpected handbrake turn. Because chappy began to describe to me his thoughts on space travel. Initially it was all kind of normal - he basically said that with our current technology we don't have the ability to travel to other planets. Fair enough, and quite true. Then he noted that space travel is impossible because the Van Allen Belt would vapourise anyone who tried to pass through it. "Hang on," I said, "what about the moon landings?"

He looked conspiratorially around, lent in closer, and mouthed the word "faked."

Then he said possibly the most bizarre thing I've ever heard.

"Do you know the only way we can travel to other planets?" I shook my dumbstruck little head.

"We have to wait for another planet to pass by the Earth - then we jump across!"

Now, I'm not a scientist, and 99% of all the science I know was taught to me by Star Trek, but that's ... well, it's totally insane. So what did I do? I nodded in agreement, possibly because I was still painting the picture with my imagination brush of some dude hopping onto another planet and waving goodbye to his family as he disappeared off into the night. That brave little planet-hopping dude!

Returning to my senses, I knocked back the last of my coffee, and began to back slowly away. And as I did, I kept one hand on my phaser - because, mark my words, one sudden move and I was gonna drop that nutter to the floor and run...

Tuesday, January 09, 2007

You asked for it

Crikey, that title sounds a bit threatening, doesn't it? Don't worry - I'm not going to have you knee-capped just yet (we'll save that for your reactions...).

So here it is - the premise for a new comic book series I came up with. Now, please bear in mind that this is merely a prologue to what the series would be, and as such not too much really happens. Think of it as the pre-credits teaser at the beginning of a TV show. Also, as this is usually the sort of thing I only share with Grum, it might be a bit rough around the edges and not as descriptive as a piece of prose normally would be, or probably should be.

So having bigged it up so much, ladies and gentlemen, may I present to you The Prologue of 'Grenwald the Great'.


Grenwald woke early on the day he would die. With some assistance from two nurses he first ate a little breakfast, then bathed in a half full, lukewarm bath.
At around nine-thirty, some two and a half hours after his fitful sleep ended, he asked an orderly to push him to his small desk, the one by the window where the morning sun streamed in, where his vintage typewriter waited for him, a blank sheet of paper already inserted in it.
Grenwald stared at the empty page for several minutes, as if he were waiting for the words he had put off writing for so long to appear as if by magic. Suffice to say, they did not, so he laid his hands, misshapen through arthritis, on the keys.
He took a deep breath, exhaled slowly, and began, with a little effort, to type.
It was immediately after he had typed the last letter of his title – Grenwald the Great: An Autobiography – that the first spasm of overwhelming pain raced through his body.
He did not know where to put his hands – on his chest, or clasp them to the edge of the desk, as if squeezing it might ease the inhuman ferocity of the pain. He gasped for breath, but none came; instead, he heard himself utter a short, sharp squeak. Any other time he might have found the noise amusing.
Strange, thought Grenwald the Great as he began to loose consciousness, that in this, his dying moments, he felt more alive than he had in years…

Grenwald was found, by coincidence, just a few minutes after suffering the immense coronary that would ultimately claim his life, by a young orderly barely out of her teens, pushing a cart loaded with jugs of water and a variety of fruit juices. Knocking gently on the door and entering without waiting to be invited, the inexperienced young girl was ill prepared to deal with what she found. Panicking, she turned on her heel and ran down the hallway shrieking loudly – an effective, if somewhat unprofessional means of raising the alarm.

Grenwald’s body – or rather Grenwald, as their remained at this point in time a small flicker of life within the withered old body – was quickly transferred to the medical ward of the care home, and placed on a cold, sterile bed with an uncomfortably firm mattress. There, Doctors Billingsley and Kellan began to do their utmost to bring him back to life.

And it was at this time, as he lay there surrounded by masked figures plunging all manner of needles and tubes into his tired old body, that Grenwald’s remarkable life, the life he had struggled for years to capture on paper, began to flash before his eyes…

The wheel of fortune

Regular readers will know that I verge on being almost obsessive about supermarkets - the products they stock, the class divide between, say, Lidl (chavvy) and Marks and Spencers Simply Food (posh), and the overall food purchasing experience.

And lately, of course, we obese-obsessed Britlanders have been presented with a new supermarket-based level of entertainment: the health information!

No longer can the fatties just pull whatever they want from the shelves with their pudgy little fingers! No! Now every item must show how healthy it is - or not, as the case may be! There's a variety of systems in use across the different stores, my particular favourite (which I've mentioned before) being the Sainsbury's wheel of health.

This is just genius, because however you look at it, if there's red, it's screaming "FATTY" at you, or at the very least "NOT QUITE AS GOOD FOR YOU AS YOU'D LIKE IT TO BE!"

Imagine my surprise today, then, when I took a closer look at the nice big chocolate truffle bar I bought a while back.

Now, I know chocolate isn't exactly a green-leaf salad, but that, my friends, as if you couldn't see, is an almost totally red wheel of health. Almost unprecedented...

On the plus side, it's green on 'salt,' so I kinda feel it balances out somewhere along the line.

Dinner tonight is a chicken breast wrapped in bacon, which registers four oranges and a green. If I'm not dead by the next time I go to Sainsbury's, I'm definitely going to make it my lifes work to seek out something that's got a completely red wheel. That would be off-the-scale-awesome...

Monday, January 08, 2007


...Back with a bang!

Actually, that's a bit of a lie, it's just that I sort of feel like I haven't written anything in a while and I wanted to say "awwwwright" in a Mick Jagger fashion.




To be honest I've not been up to too much. Truth be told this cold-thing is still lurking around, and my ears are still bunged up by it. I'm not trying to illicit any sympathy (because gawd knows you've all been kind enough to wish me well so far), I just want to shake it.

Or strangle it.

Maybe crush it?

On the plus side I did cough into an envelope that I then sent to my Nemesis, so hopefully that'll do something amazing.

I did go for a run with Sweatband yesterday - five miles up Richmond Hill, then along the river. I must be freakin' nuts, because Sweatband has kicked up to insane-mode in preparation for her marathon training, and seeing as this was my first run in about three weeks and I'm still not feeling 100% she was a spot in the distance within about five minutes. A hardcore, sweary spot in the distance. Fortunately the pay-off was a cup of tea and some time with Jude the dude later.

I've also been playing a lot of Xbox, and by 'playing a lot of Xbox' I actually mean 'living out my long-held Captain Kirk fantasy scenario of controlling the Enterprise and blowing other people's ships up.' It's crazy, I know, but at least it stops me from zooming my model Enterprise around the bedroom while making "whooshing" noises. Erm... if I, um, zoomed my model... er, Enterprise... around...


So anyway, Star Trek: Legacy is a blast, particularly as I'm getting quite adept at shooting people's warp nacelles off and leaving them adrift in space - muwahahahaha!!!

Another *good thing* is the fact that I'm writing like a man possessed. Every lunchtime since my return to work has been spent sketching out the plot of my forthcoming novel, or to be more precise, writing specific scenes that will be pretty pivotal to the plot; that way, I can type them up and make minor rewrites as I go - hurrah!

In related news... Grum's pondering the action-adventure premise that I wrote last week with a view to doing some character sketches - maybe something I'll whack up on my comicspace page? And I've been thinking about posting the premise up here, because it's reasonably short... anyone interested?

Friday, January 05, 2007

Confused and upset

So the first working week of the new year is over, and how was it?

Well, to tell you the truth it went reasonably smoothly against all expectations. I thought I'd be rushed off my little feet, but I wasn't massively so, and everything's been... OK!

(On the otherhand, I wouldn't say no to a couple more weeks of telly, Xbox, and, well, presents, but you can't have it all, can you?)

On the downside, my Nemesis did call me at the end of play today, adopting his annoying chirpy and happy voice, but I was quite cold and distant and managed to get rid of him before he wanted to end the conversation. He does go on, you see; the sort of conversation that you or I could have in about two minutes he stretches out to about 15. I honestly don't think he's got any friends, and he thinks I'm some sort of substitute. Kind of like when a dog adopts an orphaned lamb. I'm not a dog, however. Think of me more like the farmer about to bang a metal pipe on the lamb's head, cut it up, wrap it in clingfilm, and pop it on a shelf in Tesco.

Where was I? Oh yes. Perhaps the only troubling thing about work this week is that, having started back on Tuesday I'm convinced that today is Thursday, and am worried I'll be on my way to the office at 7am tomorrow. And I'm not even sure 7am even exists on a Saturday. It's things like this that lead to looting and rioting, and before we know it the Earth has plunged into the fiery depths of the Sun.


So that's the confused bit covered - how about the upset.

The upset?

Yes, the upset. THEY. CANCELLED. THE. OC.


To be honest, it pretty much looked like it was on the cards, so it wasn't too much of a shock. Hell, I was braced for Star Trek: Enterprise to be cancelled in the second season, and that went on to four, just as The OC has. The final series starts on E4 next week, so expect an emotional OC retrospective in about 16 weeks - at, I expect, about the same time everyone stops reading this...


Sainsbury's have been telling me to 'try something different' for a long time now, so I finally took their advice.

I went to Waitross instead.


I did a bit of a double take on the drive home tonight. I went past a shoe shop and was convinced they'd branched out into a new market - cosmetic surgery for the ladies, to be precise. Silly me, though, the sign actually said 'boots reduced!'

Wednesday, January 03, 2007

First thoughts on Celebrity Big Brother 2007

Forget the celebrities - why the hell was Davina McCall dressed like a combination of Batman and Sue White from Green Wing?

Writing is fun!

Continuing my enthusiastic return to the world of writing for fun, I did, in fact, write up what I said I was going to write up last night, and also read back over the start to the novel that I wrote sometime last year. Surprisingly, I'm quite pleased with this initial chapter, although I will say that in my haste to get things out of my brain and onto the computer I sometimes tend to rush them and they end up a lot shorter than they actually should be. Hence the reason that that my first chapter is about a side and a half of A4.

But hell, that's what re-writing is for, huh? The only downside is that, historically, I hate re-writing my own text. Although as I've had to re-write and edit text I've written quite a lot in recent months at work (to fit the page, not because it was crap), maybe I've grown a bit more accustomed to it. We'll have to wait and see post-February, I suppose.

And in related news, I spontaneously signed up to ComicSpace last night (link over there - in the, um, link bar-thingy). As if you couldn't guess, this site is like MySpace - but for comics! They're promising that you'll soon be able to host your own comics on the site, which is great, and yet another incentive to throw myself back into the writing like Dawn French throwing herself into a ball-pit full of Terry's chocolate oranges.

So, still looking and sounding chipper on the writing front - tomorrow's lunchtime will be spent beginning to plot a coherent roadmap of the narrative, so that come February 1st I can just dive right in like the aforementioned Ms French. Paint me excited!


Today also marks exactly eight days since I remarked that I hadn't been ill at all in 2006, and exactly a week since I was struck down by the evil ailment I'm still suffering from now. Fortunately, it also seems that I've turned the corner and am feeling much better, and am getting some quality snot action going.

Of course, there are several downsides to being ill, not least the fact that when you live on your own there's no one to complain to in order to get some quality sympathy. Texting your mum 'Dnt feel well bttr nt come round l8r' doesn't generate quite the same response as actually standing in front of her in all your shivering, snotty glory and asking for a hug. And posting about it on the blog doesn't quite work either, because no matter which font I use (even if it is in italics) you couldn't tell that I'd lost my voice.

It's not all doom and gloom though; while I may not have had the chance to get out for any post Christmas/New Year exercise, the constant coughing is proving to be quite the workout for my abdominal muscles.

Abs of steel!


Why don't they rename E4 the Friends channel? I'm sure they finished showing the final season last week, and yet they now appear to be showing them ALL OVER AGAIN. Can't they show 15 episodes of Scrubs per day instead?

Don't get me wrong, I used to love Friends. But now it's kind of lost its appeal; the early episodes look horrifically dated, and I'm growing to loathe the characters. Monica? Obsessive-compulsive wench. Chandler? Unfunny. Ross? Annoying, ya-huh?

And if any of my neighbours just strolled into my home and raided the fridge while dispensing a carefully-scripted witicism I'd subject them to my punch-punch, overhead kick combo.

I always prefered Frasier, anyway...

Marcosy and I were chatting about sitcoms the other week, and he made the controversial statement that the traditional sitcom is dead. And truth be told, he's probably right. Look at something like My Name is Earl. It's shot like a normal drama, and dispenses with the hackneyed laughter track that's blighted sitcoms since one caveman bopped another one on the head with a club.

That's not to say that a traditional sitcom is doomed to fail these days - it's just that the game has moved on a bit.

And as if to prove Marcosy's theory, some Hollywood exec mirrored his comments in the paper at the weekend. Quick - someone ask him this week's lottery numbers!

Tuesday, January 02, 2007

A year on my own and not yet dead

The title says it all really - it's a year since I moved out of Ma and Pa's and into Sparky Towers, and the beginning of a new life as a real, proper, grown-up homeowner. And in that time I've been successful in not killing myself.

How awesome is that?

Y'see, I half expected to do something resulting in personal injury at some point. I was awfully pleased when I found out that Sparky Towers doesn't have gas, as I feared that would lead me to blowing myself up. I've also successfully dealt with washing clothes and dishes, hoovering and other assorted household chores, and matching up my socks properly (they're all predominantly black you see, and YOU CAN tell when they're not correctly paired).

I've also neither gained nor lost a disproportionate amount of weight, do not live on a diet of ice cream and crisps, and nothing in the fridge is on the verge of developing intelligence and rudimentary motor skills.

So all in all I've rather proud of myself. And there's only 29 years left to go on the mortgage - hurrah!


Today was also the first day back to work after the Christmas break (which went by far too quickly, I should add). Still suffering from the bizarre ailment that struck me down last week, I briefly considered taking the day off sick, but there were two reasonably decent reasons not to:

1. There's actually a fair bit of work to do.
2. Can you imagine trying to convince people that I actually was ill upon my return, and that I wasn't just 'chucking a sicky' like the rest of London apparently did.

Instead I stumbled into work, coughed and sneezed and lot, and snotted in my hand once. I think that's the convincing part sorted.


A plus side of 'the first day back' was that I shuffled down to Secret Starbucks at lunchtime with my old writing pad of story ideas. Reading back through some of my ideas from last year was quite an eye-opening experience, because, I'm amazed to say, some of them are actually kinda good (if I do say so myself), or at the very least worthy of taking a second look at. Of course, there's the novel outline I plan to expand upon in February, but there's also a couple of micro-stories that I wrote (but didn't submit) for the micro-story competition last year. What stood out the most, however, was a premise I wrote for an action-adventure character I came up with. I genuinely liked what I'd written, which makes a change.

That being the case, I'm going to spend a bit of time this evening typing and tidying it up. This is the year, my friends, this is the year; as Denny Crane would say: "lock and load!"