Regarding Resurrection – First 1000 words

*If you arrived here from my “5 by 5” vlog on YouTube, you’ll know all of this already, but, in the extraordinarily likely event that you arrived here by accident whilst looking for something infinitely more interesting… Below are the opening 1000 words (ish) of my first novel, “Regarding Resurrection”. I plan to share this book online, chapter by chapter, once I have a sufficiently large following to make it worthwhile.*

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Prologue

Walter climbed the last of the worn wooden steps and pleaded with the portly chap by the lever, one last time.

‘Nobody likes to be hanged, Mr Lewis. But it’s what we do here.’

This response was of no help to Walter whatsoever, and he shuffled over to the trapdoor.

The Hessian bag being placed over his head was itchy, and stank of sweat and bad breath, which may well have been his own. The biting freshness of toothpaste and the slippery caress of soap had long been absent from his life. The only caress he could look forward to these days was that of “Gums” Jensen; who had recently taken to “snuggling” Walter in the mornings, caring little for his objections.

‘That comfortable, Mr. Lewis?’

The voice came from outside the sweaty bag, as the rope was placed over Walter’s head and the knot tightened behind his right ear. It was an absurd question under the circumstances, but answering in the negative would only buy him a few seconds and Walter just wanted the whole thing over with now. He nodded his head slowly.

It was very quiet in this room. Never like the sort of executions you might see in a film about some eighteenth century folk hero, stepping bravely up to the gallows to the mournful cries of big-breasted women and admiring men. Walter was no hero. And the only person in here with large breasts was the guy in the apron who pulled the lever.

No-one would call at the last minute to stop the execution. No screams of “How will I ever live without you?” emanated from the crowd. There were only three people in the room besides Walter, and one of those was his executioner. The other two could just be heard in the corner, discussing their dissatisfaction with the vending machine in the lunch room.

Walter heard the creak of the large wooden lever that would release the trapdoor, and had just enough time to draw one last breath, before the floor fell away from him. He inhaled deeply – filling his nose with the aroma of stale sweat – and the rope tightened around his neck, marking the end of his short fall with an almost imperceptible, muffled snap. And then it was dark.

He awoke, as always, with his head in a barrel of cold, but very dirty, water before being pulled out by his hair. He looked at the hangman through blurry eyes, and rubbed the back of his neck.

That’s gonna hurt tonight.

The hangman made a tick on his clipboard, ‘Same time next week then, Mr Lewis?’

Walter really hated Fridays.

 

The walk back to General Population was a long one, but Walter didn’t mind. It was the only time he had to be alone with his thoughts, most of which involved escape. Today though, he walked even more slowly than usual.

Today had been his 1299th date with the hangman and, although not normally superstitious, it seemed to Walter that 1300 was a fairly unlucky number when it came to executions. What had been his crime after all? He was no angel, but he didn’t consider himself up there with murderers and rapists.

Right on cue, he heard the unmistakable sound of “Gums” Jensen, whistling “Dancing Queen”, on his way down the corridor to receive his own weekly punishment.

Walter began to hyperventilate; something he had done sporadically since his teens. It was an unpleasant, panicky sensation which he managed to come to terms with if it happened to strike whilst strolling in the park, thinking about the plummeting price of his shares. But, in an atmosphere where every breath filled your lungs with fire and your nasal passages with the stench of rotting flesh, it was never ideal to be taking more of them than you really needed to.

He ducked into one of the many rooms that lined the dark and rusty steel corridor, and leant against the sticky wall to steady his breathing. Almost immediately, he began to wish he had taken his chances with “Gums”.

An altogether more terrifying, and even more familiar, voice was approaching the door of the room in which Walter had foolishly chosen to hide. Without thinking, he flung open one of the rusty cupboards on the opposite side of the room and jumped inside; closing the door behind him.

Walter’s plans had gone like this his whole life, and seemed destined to do so for his whole death. During his senior year in high school, he had planned to get together with some of his friends and place a firecracker into one of the pans in the girls’ toilets; somehow detonating it at the moment when Alice Gardner, who had refused to sleep with him the previous week, entered and sat down. That he found himself in the faculty toilets, with absolutely no plan at all – and for that matter, no firecracker – was most likely the main reason for his being caught. The reason none of his friends had been caught was partly because everyone knew that this sort of feeble-minded prank was typical of Walter; but mostly because he had no school friends, largely on account of this very annoying habit.

Walter’s impulsive, ill-conceived ideas in school, and later in college, had not left a sufficiently deep impression on his mind or his bank account to dissuade him from doing exactly this sort of thing once he left school. He was determined to succeed in business, by whatever means necessary. He did have an eye for what would make money, but lacked the talent to pursue it. His only friend wisely refused to go along with any of these ideas, and Walter had ultimately looked to someone else for help.

It was exactly that someone, whose voice Walter had correctly identified before ducking into his cupboard full of…

Fluffy toys? Walter examined one that had been digging into his back. It was a weird thing to find in this of all places, but he was more concerned with the arrival of his former business partner.

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Kingdom Come: Deliverance – Ultimate Review (after 500+ Hours)

Yes, yes, yes… let’s not get bogged down with all that tedious “Where the f**k have you been for the last 9 months? We all thought you were dead!” business. Didn’t you see the number of hours I have spent in this game?

Okay, so a number of things have happened, but most of them involve husband and wife, both trying to run businesses from home, whilst passing a bored toddler back and forth between them.

Most recently though, in an effort to keep some content on YouTube when I have neither camera nor crew, I turned back to gaming videos, and started a new YT channel, devoted entirely to gaming, game reviews, game news etc. And, the game which launched this new venture, was Warhorse Studios debut title: Kingdom Come: Deliverance. It is this game that has lured me back to the pages of this long-neglected blog.

So, strap yourselves in because it’s going to be a long one. Remember the Elite: Dangerous preview? Yeah… that long.

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Kingdom Come: Deliverance (hereafter referred to as KCD, because life is too short to keep typing that), for those of you who might not know, is an open-world, medieval RPG that starts you on the bottom rung, in a way I don’t think I’ve experienced since learning to read and write my own name. Which comes to mind because one of the many skills you must spend in-game time learning in KCD is reading. Yup. Your character cannot read when the game begins.

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Warhorse have gone for a whole new level of realism in the medieval RPG genre, and what’s more real than a common blacksmith’s son, whom no-one outside his tiny village either knows or cares about? 300px-KingdomCome_HenryNo golden child, no beam of light overhead, no legendary Witcher, dragon hunter or forgotten young wizard-under-the-stairs… Henry of Skalitz is just an ordinary young boy who can barely even lift the sword his father has just finished making for a local nobleman, much less swing it, when the game begins. He would probably have lived out the rest of his, presumably fairly short, life in complete obscurity, in the same little village where he was born, if history hadn’t just ridden through it with 1000 of its angriest soldiers, and burned it to the ground.

I say history because this game is steeped in it. Its places are real places, many of its characters were real people (or in some cases, loosely based on real people), and many of the events you will live through as Henry of Skalitz, were taken right out of the pages of the Czech Republic’s long and brutal history. Silver Skalitz (Stříbrná Skalice), where the game begins, really was burned to the ground by the invading forces of King Sigismund of Hungary, on March 23rd, 1403 (a Wednesday… in case you were wondering). Unfortunately, that is the very day Warhorse Studios give you control of the luckless Henry, and his unremarkable frame.DY-EsTwW0AAa79K

 

Skalitz Burning

So, your village is burning, your parents and friends have been murdered and those same murderers are making their way up the hill towards you. Henry can’t read, knows nothing of warfare, can barely lift a sword or stay on a horse… which is precisely why the first real mission in this game is called “Run!”

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If I’m being completely honest, Henry is so useless at this early stage, that it took me three attempts to even run away without getting killed.

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So, you can believe me when I tell you that even basic skills in this game really feel earned. Swords really feel… sort of… heavy, until you get the hang of them (after intensive training); arrows you fire will nosedive after a few feet at first… not that it matters because there is no aiming reticle for archery, so you’ll be lucky to hit a bunny with an arrow even if you get close enough to push them through its fluffy little face (Don’t believe me? Check out this video of me trying to hunt hares, on day 3 of my first playthrough).

Even Henry’s speech options are noticeably poorer at the beginning; lacking the finesse, in the early stages, to respond to tough questions with anything more witty than “Yeah? … well… you smell… so there!”   I’m hesitant to say “it feels like learning to walk”, for fear that Warhorse Studios will make you learn to do that in their next game. It honestly wouldn’t surprise me if psychologists, 10 years from now, are prescribing medication for those of us console players who were emotionally scarred by KCD’s early lock-picking mechanic, and were never really the same again.

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One of the very early patches for this game, tweaked the console lock-pick problem juuust enough to keep you from losing your mind completely, but even the improved version squeezed you so hard against the fragile glass wall of sanity that you could hear it cracking, and your first, fevered instinct was to lick it better.

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Maybe that last part was just me, but the fact remains; if you weren’t a die-hard RPG fanatic, an OCD sufferer, or just so damned stubborn you were determined to get your £50 worth if it killed you and everyone else in your building, you might have given up at this point. FPS players probably tuned out the moment they found out that they wouldn’t get to kill anything for at least an hour. The pick-pocketing mechanic was confusing and difficult; sneaking without getting caught, virtually impossible in the early stages… the list goes on. Suffice it to say, KCD does NOT hold your hand. Many things you just have to figure out for yourself. I spent more time IN jail than out of it during the first few days, because no-one mentioned that I had to have a torch lit when walking around towns at night. I honestly didn’t realise that a skill-tree existed, for the first 3 days of play. But the elation I felt once I figured out there were perk points to spend on improving your skills, was almost like the day I passed my driving test.

What all of this staggering around in the dark does for you is to help you really become Henry; to identify with this lost and bewildered character, in a way I have never before experienced in a video-game. Your hunger levels rise slowly, and you have to figure out how to feed yourself without stealing (or at least without getting caught stealing). Your become tired, and your stamina and health levels begin to drop unless you can find somewhere to sleep (I was also thrown in jail for sleeping in the wrong place, fairly early on in the game). You even need to wash yourself and have your clothes laundered from time to time, so that people don’t turn their noses up at you in dialogue.

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As the game progresses, these things that seemed overwhelming at first, become second nature, like so many things in real life, and you feel like a real part of this living, breathing, beautiful world that Warhorse have created in such incredible detail. Occasionally, their attempts at natural behaviour in NPCs are inconsistent, and miss the mark by some way. In the video below, I was attacked with a sword for forgetting to return a holy relic, and only moments later the same guard put away his sword and said “God be with you.”, before answering all my questions about who lived in the house he was guarding.

But, these moments are as nothing when compared with the brilliance of some of the relationships that develop between characters in the game. I can’t mention most of them for fear of story-spoilers, but there is one which begins to develop early on in the game, between Henry and spoiled young nobleman, Sir Hans Capon.

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When we first meet young Sir Hans, he is the archetypal young medieval lord; arrogant; spoiled; selfish; intolerant of anyone “beneath” him… You immediately dislike him, and are sure he is going to meet his end at the point of your sword. But KCD often swerves around tired video-game tropes at the last second, and veers off into the woodland of unpredictability; watching hedgehogs bounce off the windscreen and into your dust like the uncomfortable, spiky, curled-up clichés that they are…

Yes, I know… I took that metaphor waaay too far. The point is that this game does not always do what is expected, and it feels fresher for it. At an early point in the game, a situation which both you and young Sir Hans have been bullied into by the Lord of Rattay, sparks a chain of events that completely changes how Henry and Hans view one another, and theirs becomes the most natural friendship I think I’ve ever encountered in a video-game. So much so that I was a bit disappointed I couldn’t spend more time hanging out with him than I did. He’s just one of those guys who’s fun to hang out with, but doesn’t always seem to realise when a situation calls for a more grown-up response.

Other revelations are at hand later in this game, but if you pay attention to dialogue, achievement lists, and the behaviour of certain characters they may not always take you completely by surprise.

For all my raving about the wonders of this game, though, it is certainly not without its problems.

KCD, like so many sprawling open-world RPGs was plagued by bugs upon release, and odd problems persist, but nowhere more so than on consoles, and, if my limited research into the resolution for these problems is anything to go by, no console was more problematic than the Xbox One; the most asthmatic of the platforms mentioned, and, unfortunately, the only one available to me at the time of release.

This is not to say that the others didn’t suffer, but it seems to me that after all the patches came in, the Xbox One players were the ones most commonly complaining about persistent difficulties. Some of these were mild annoyances, like NPCs walking through objects, and each other; some were downright hilarious; like Henry suddenly shooting into the air whilst at an alchemy bench, whereupon he just keeps on going up and up, as though being abducted by Jesus. But the worst of them by far was the infamous “Halberd Bug”, shown briefly in the video below. Halberds were never implemented properly in this game, from the very start. I picked one up from a bandit early on in my first playthrough, because the menu showed it was worth 1000 Groshen, but once picked up, you can’t put it away, you can’t sell it, you can’t put it on your horse, and everywhere you go, people complain or just scream and run because you’re carrying a very large and completely useless pointy pole.

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The Halberd Bug I’m speaking of though, caused Halberds to randomly spawn in places where guards had been. But then they never de-spawned, and the game seemed to keep track of them at all times, causing an insanely glitchy/juddering play experience. And even after the latest patch (1.4.3 at time of writing *EDIT* Patch 1.5 has now been released, and fixes many of these issues), many of us were advised by Warhorse, that, if you got the problem before the patch release, then the only way to get rid of it was to go back to a save point before it started happening. Well… firstly… when the f**k was that? I didn’t go around counting Halberds in the dirt, in case of later difficulties! And, secondly… that’s not so easy when the problem arises 40+ hours into your YouTube walkthrough series, which already takes pretty much all of your free time, and YouTube are breathing down your neck to maintain a regular schedule.

What was most upsetting though, was that console players seemed to be marginalised in the whole patch debacle, and it seemed as though we were regarded as less important than PC players. I might be being slightly unfair to Warhorse here, because I know there are ridiculous certification problems and hoops that people like Microsoft make you jump through when releasing a patch for a game like this, but the amount of times we were told “It’s coming next week… we promise”, loong after the PC players had been patched and sent on their merry, sword-swinging way, got to be more than a little frustrating, even for more patient gamers.

On top of this, it really seems to me as though this game should never have been released on the Xbox One. And that’s quite an indictment, considering how much I have loved this game, and that the Xbox One is currently my only way to play and record video-games… so I would never have had the pleasure of Henry’s company, had it not been available to Xbox One players. But, it seems to me as though the old Xbox One was just not up the job. Even after all the patches and delays, and more patches… texture maps often seemed to load with all the haste of an overweight snail, crossing a field of broken glass, to keep a particularly painful dentist appointment, in the heart of song-thrush territory. KCD is a game offering a rich and diverse landscape, steeped in history, with truly believable characters, and sold on the back of its attention to realistic detail. So when you regularly encounter scenes like headless thugs and men with see-through torsos, demanding money whilst standing on an invisible drawbridge, in front of castle that looks like it was drawn on a cereal box in crayon… it really is not doing what it said on the tin.

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The textures catch up eventually, but you have to go through all the stages of loading… including the bit where their head appears, but looks like Odo from Deep Space Nine, and by the time they start to look like normal people, you’ve either moved on to the next shop or stabbed them in their invisible faces and taken all their textureless clothes.

Kingdom Come: Deliverance is the first game from developer, Warhorse Studios. They have some experienced players on their team but it is a brand new company, trying to do something genuinely fresh and new. We gamers appreciate that sort of thing, so there was a lot of goodwill and forgiveness, for mistakes that must be easy to make on your first lap around the block. God knows I wouldn’t want to try doing what they just did. And the fact that they came so close to providing a perfect, truly-immersive role-playing experience has given a lot of us real hope for the potential future of this new company. But delays; animations that would have looked dated in a 90s game, and bugs and glitches that would make even Bethesda blush, have used up almost their entire currency reserve, as far as goodwill is concerned, and RPG gamers expect them to do a lot better next time.

When all the talk of textureless trees and embarrassingly clunky animation is forgotten for a moment though… what Warhorse have produced here is a thing of real beauty.

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I’m in my 40s now, and I’ve been an avid gamer since the days of Jet Set Willy, Frogger, and Hungry Horace. But my love of movies is hard to beat, and only when I had completed Rockstar’s Red Dead: Redemption, in 2010, did I first say… “Wow! Immersive video games with music, story and character that good, really could, some day hammer the nails into the coffin-lid of the movie industry.”

Since then, I have seen other games come close, but none quite so close as Kingdom Come: Deliverance. For an RPG series to live long, it must be built on a solid foundation. It doesn’t matter if the doors are falling off the hinges, and the roof leaks. All those things can be fixed as long as it has a strong heart… and Kingdom Come: Deliverance has the heart of a Rhino! Warhorse have done a stellar job, in my opinion, concentrating on those things that go overlooked by too many RPG games in favour of flawless graphics, and a game-map the size of a small moon. I have been a writer, a reader, a movie-fan, and a gamer all my life. When people who know me well are asked what word sums up all my aspirations, they often say “Storyteller”. A really well told tale makes all life’s woes a little easier to deal with I think. I am a professional voiceover artist nowadays; reading for a living and indulging myself with stories in all forms when I have free time… So I’m pretty confident that I know a good storyteller when I see one, and Kingdom Come: Deliverance Director and Lead writer, Daniel Vávra is just such a person.

Four things tie you into a game, a movie, or a TV series, more than anything else. It’s a short list, but pixel-resolution and special-effects aren’t on it.
They are, in my opinion:

  1. Story. I don’t think I really need to elaborate on my reasons for that one. And, if you think I do, please go home and rethink your life.
  2. Performance. Not as important as numbers 1 and 4, but try to imagine the line “That’s no Moon, it’s a Space station!” delivered by Steven Segal instead of Sir Alec Guiness, and I think you’ll see the point.
  3. Music. I have often been mocked for suggesting this, but think of the most iconic movies of the past 50 years, and I bet you can hum some of the music from almost all of them. Worse still… try watching a Spielberg movie (or pretty much ANY movie for that matter) with all the music removed.
  4. Character. I taught a single class in college about how to write character, in which I paraphrased writer, Michael Legat, who said: “If you think character isn’t important to a story, consider the following headline: Tom, Construction Worker, 61 years old,  killed in drive-by shooting. So what? It’s tragic, and shouldn’t we do something about gun control and gang violence… etc. but ultimately you’ve probably forgotten about him by the end of breakfast. Poor Tom.
    Now, change the headline to Tom Hanks, Actor, 61 years old, killed in drive-by shooting. You’d be talking about that at work for weeks. Conspiracy theorists would crawl out of their dimly-lit bedrooms and ask their mums if they were allowed to go back on Twitter yet.

KCD hits all these points with precision. The story is fantastic and often takes you in a different direction than that you might have been expecting. The Voice-Acting, for the most part, is brilliant. There are a few hiccups here and there (Lady Stephanie of Talmberg is a prime example), but the principal players deliver well within the confines of their character. Take it from me, it’s no easy thing to step into a box and jump into a character, when there is often no-one else in the room to react to.

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The Music… aaah, the music. A fantastic score by Jan Valta and Adam Sporka really adds that extra rise and fall to moments of importance. Almost made you forget that Hanush’s solid plate armour was bending like rubber as he talked, or that Captain Bernard’s face was missing as he ordered an attack.

But lastly… character. I spoke at length about Henry and Hans Capon earlier, but Henry really is the linchpin in all of this. Without him, the whole thing just falls apart. And Henry of Skalitz is the most interesting character I’ve ever played as, I think.

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And it precisely his ordinariness that makes him so likeable; so relatable. He is not heralded as the greatest archer or swordsman in the land. Nobody knows his name. His reputation does NOT precede him. He isn’t ruggedly handsome, or drop-dead gorgeous. He isn’t some jaded dragon-slayer or sorcerer coming out of retirement for one last mission. He doesn’t have rippling abs or biceps you’re afraid to get too close to, for fear they might explode in your face. And… he has a perfectly ordinary, midlands accent. A little odd to find in 15th century Bohemia, along with Yorkshiremen, Aussies, and Americans… all speaking English, of course, but not all that unusual for Tom McKay (the voice behind Henry), who comes from Solihull. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been put off a main character (*cough* Geralt of Rivia *cough*) because he opens his mouth and out comes the voice of batman. Please stop doing this, game developers!

I thoroughly enjoyed becoming Henry of Skalitz, and was genuinely sad when the game came to an end. But that end was a very Empire Strikes Back, Mass Effect 2 style ending, and Warhorse have left us in very little doubt that Henry’s story is far from over. I for one cannot wait to see what’s next from this young game studio, but wherever they take us next, let’s just hope it’s fully rendered.

You can see all my videos at my new Game-Dedicated YouTube channel Knight’s Arcade, here.

 

The Final Countdown – Zero

Well… that’s it. I’m leavin on a jet plane, and all that other Jonny Denver type stuff. As they say where I come from: “It’s all over bar the shoutin'” Of course, in this particular case, “the shoutin” involves packing my few remaining possessions; dragging 50kg of luggage (each) in 3 seperate cases (each), through the deep snow to the subway station; catching a train, then a bus, then a plane; being picked up from the airport, and living under someone else’s roof for the next week or so until my wife and I find somewhere to live. So if we’re gonna stick with the fighting analogies, I haven’t even spilled the other bloke’s drink yet. But it’s all over as far as the blog posts about my moving are concerned. I am writing this post on Monday the 26th, and it is scheduled for release at the exact minute we are due to land in the UK. Plane landing by sunrise So… once again, you must endure the anguish of my absence. At least for a little while. What will I be blogging about when I return? Your guess is as good as mine. Well… I suppose I could make a slightly more educated guess than you guys and say that it’s likely to be about my new house, and my new job (back to being self-employed now). I do have one or two things in the pipeline to keep you occupied until next we meet, and they have been a very long time coming. So, I will see you again soon. If you don’t believe me… take a look at this video. And the next time someone hears me say “Hmmm… I think I’ll kill myself off in this weeks video. I just want to try out this new effect!” STOP ME and say: “Jimbot… don’t do it. The storyteller in you is a perfectionist monster, and you know where this will lead.” Normally I sign off by saying goodbye, but on this occasion I will just say those 3 little words I have been desperately waiting to say for almost 3 years: I’m back baby!!

Staring at Goats

I started writing this blog as a record of my attempt to get my novel published whilst creating a successful YouTube channel at the same time. There was a very clear line of thinking behind the reasons for writing here.

  1. Writing a weekly blog will make my efforts public, and so urge me to keep my promises, and keep up with the submissions and videos.
  2. I may find some followers for the YouTube channel.
  3. It will keep me writing, even when I have nothing to write about.
  4. Prospective agents/publishers will have a wealth of my writing at their fingertips, should they wish to investigate.
  5. If, after a year or two, I have still not found a publisher… by that time I should have a sufficiently large YouTube audience to help increase sales of my book, should I opt to self-publish.

…On February 17th, it will have been 3 years since that moment.

I set up Sleepless Knight accounts on twitter, facebook and YouTube on the same day I started this blog. 3 weeks later I checked the stats… I checked them again today.

Followers

It’s fair to say that I got a little sidetracked.

As a direct result of writing here on WordPress, I met the woman of my dreams, and we are now very happily married… so it is tempting to say that this blog doesn’t owe me anything, and walk away from it. But I’m still convinced that I can make this whole thing work for me, and if there’s one thing my wife will tell you about me, it’s that I once I get an idea into my head it is impossible to shift it.

But that’s not really a good thing is it. I mean, it’s one thing to convince yourself that you can run through the wall into the next room because atoms are mostly empty space… but, as the very level-headed Dr. Ben Goldacre would no doubt have said to the poor, deluded Major General Stubblebine and his broken nose: I think you’ll find it’s a bit more complicated than that.

It’s no good repeatedly saying “I’b dot givig ub!” through your mashed and bleeding hooter, as you bounce off the wall for the 30th time in a month. Sooner or later, you either have to start using the door, or accept confinement by the men in white coats, in a room where the walls can’t hurt you any more.

There are many reasons why the plan I outlined above has failed. Some of them are no doubt still a mystery to me, but the more obvious ones are:

  1. You cannot hope to gain followers on twitter if you never use it!
  2. You cannot hope to gain followers on YouTube if you never use it!
  3. You cannot hope to gain followers on WordPress if you never use it!

Once again; it’s a bit more complicated than that. The twitter thing is no more complicated than that. I simply keep forgetting it’s there. The YouTube thing is firstly a result of my monumental over-ambition when it comes to making videos; where I come up with extremely simple ideas and then over-complicate the crap out of them. And secondly because my circumstances keep changing every 5 minutes, which makes it difficult to film things. It’s tough to make and upload YouTube videos when you’re computer blows up OR you have no access to the internet OR you have no camera because you sold it in order to eat OR your crew live in another country, because you left them behind for 3 years!

So now let’s address the WordPress thing, because if you’re reading this, the chances are fairly high that you have at least a passing interest in reading blog posts.

There have been more agency submissions since those first ones, and there have been more videos since that first one… but the one glaring problem with my blogging above all others, is that I don’t find one subject and stick with it.

Without doubt, the blogs that get the most visitors (and WordPress do tell you this when you first start blogging here) are the ones which have a specific focus. If you have one subject about which you write, and you write about it regularly, then half the work is already done. So, if I know that, what’s the problem?

Well once again, the problem is me. All my life I have deeply envied people who have one passion; one area of their life which dominates all others and decides the direction of their life as a whole. My problem, as I have stated again and again, is that despite many, many efforts to narrow my focus to one specific area… Storyteller is the best I can do. That is as narrow as I can make it. I love telling stories. I want to tell my stories and there are many! I can’t put the required amount of exclamation marks after the word many, because you would think I had fallen asleep on my keyboard, and I can’t make the word big enough without writing it on something much larger than the state of Texas. I have many, many stories which I want to tell; from the things that happen in my daily life (which has been much more interesting than you might think) to the many, many hundreds of story ideas which have been filling my brain, and dozens upon dozens of notebooks and scraps of paper, since I was a very young boy, and are still doing so on a daily basis.

The problem is that storytelling covers a lot of sins: Books, Films, Short Stories, TV Series, Plays, Screenplays, Stage-acting, Screen-acting, Voice-acting, Game production, Animation, Poetry, Blogging… there’s a lot of scope to it. The other problem with telling stories, is that unless you first have people’s attention, no-one really cares what you have to say. So I need to get back on track here, and start growing my audience, because I have made a decision to keep trying to find an agent for my book until I return permanently to the UK next year. If, in that time, I have not found a representative, then I will self-publish my book and let the chips fall where they may.

So I need your help. I realise I’m probably going to make myself look really stupid here, since no-one ever comments on this blog, but I’m going to ask anyway, in the hope that one or two kind souls have suggestions for me, and actually tell me what they are in a helpful way… in the comments section [It’s easy to find – Just click the speech bubble at the top of this post and you will be directed to the comments section].

This blog needs a permanent focus. Something very specific that I can blog about on a weekly basis, and then if I want to tell you other things, I can do so in a different section.

  • Movies – I love the movies. I always have done, and I still almost always end every day with a film. (but there are too many sites doing movie reviews already. Needs to be something new, or at least something that everyone and their grannies aren’t already doing)
  • Film-making – My biggest passion by far. This is my world, and the people who do this are my people. I love everything about it, and I do every single job on a movie myself, but my main areas of interest are:- visual effects, miniatures/modelling, sound design, film scores, set/prop design.
  • Writing – I have done this for a very long time, and I don’t think I could stop if I tried – check this post, to get a brief idea of my writing career –  but I don’t think the internet needs another website about writing. Everything that can be said has been, and by better writers than myself.
  • Bad Science and the proliferation of – It has become a bit of an obsession with me to fight back against the constant stream of bullshit which is posted, and reposted as fact on social-networking sites. The internet is a wonderful thing but it does let pretty much anyone state pretty much anything as fact, because the majority of us are too stupid or lazy to check the facts. The problem with this idea is a) Ben Goldacre and others are already doing it better, and b) I fear that my lack of medical/technical knowledge might actually do harm to the kind of intelligent professional debate run by much better qualified people than myself.
  • Astronomy & Space Travel – Another passion of mine since I was a very, very small boy. I am probably one of the only people in the world sad enough to have read the entire Apollo 8 mission transcripts (that’s everything that was said in the capsule for 4 days), when they didn’t have to. I love everything about the universe outside our little planet, but once again, I fear I am not really well-read or qualified enough to contribute anything of any value to a wealth of on-line information about… the universe.

I will leave you with those for the time being, since I fully expect to get no responses whatsoever that did not come from inside this apartment.

Web Success

See you soon.

2014 Movie Preview: Pt III

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All the best things come in threes, so I’d better make sure that I don’t drag this out over yet another post this week. Also, since the movies I’m previewing are getting further and further away (these ones start in October 2014) as we go down the list, it is getting much more difficult to find images relating to the production… so I may start improvising a little now.

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Dracula Re-named

Dracula Untold  –
October 17th

So, Dracula, became Dracula: Year Zero, and now Dracula Untold. But is it? Haven’t we been told this story before? I seem to recall that no-one really much liked what Francis Ford Coppola had to say on the subject. Well, if a Hollywood giant like Coppola can’t get it right, what else is there to do but give the project to a man who has previously only directed commercials.

Gary Shore is not really treading entirely new ground; drawing on the widely held belief that Bram Stoker based the character of Dracula on real-life 15th century overlord, Vlad Tepes. From interviews I’ve seen however, it does sound like Shore is telling a much more interesting story than Coppola, who pretty much tried to tell us that Dracula wasn’t all that bad before he fell out with God and developed a bit of an O+ habit. The truth of the matter, if the stories of the inspiration for Dracula are to be believed, is that Stoker took Vlad III and toned him down a bit.

For those of us who remember vampires before they went all glittery and pouting, the thought of having your blood drained by an immortal bastard while we slept was a fairly horrifying prospect… but that is a peaceful, dizzying drift into a warm (if rather too permanent) bath, compared with what Vlad tended to do with people who didn’t laugh at his jokes. I’m not going to go too deeply into it here (as much as I am tempted to), but as many of you will be aware, Vlad III, Prince of Wallachia, is usually referred to by the much more evocative epithet, Vlad the Impaler. In case you were wondering: No, this was not just a clever 15th century nickname for a well-endowed gentleman. He was so called because he is rumoured to have used over 40,000 people as life-sized pencil toppers… holding their legs apart and oiling a large stake, which was then… I think you get the picture. I’m sorry if you were eating a hot-dog or something while you read that. I should have put a disclaimer, or a spoiler-alert or something at the top of this post. Anyway, Vlad used to arrange these impaled people in concentric circles outside cities he planned to attack, or as a deterrent to his enemies (I don’t know about you, but this tactic would deter the fuck out of me), and the story goes that this lovely fella was the inspiration for Dracula; hence the stake through the heart, I would imagine.

Okay, maybe I did go too deeply into it, but if you wish to know more about the charming Vlad, check this out.

As far as the movie goes, it should be worth a watch. Just, maybe go without snacks for this one, eh?

The things some guys will do to get a date with Megan Fox...

The things some guys will do to get a date with Megan Fox…

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles –
October 17th

Once again, Megan Fox finds employment in a franchise based on a cartoon. Turtles are mutated by toxic stuff that we flushed; someone makes a movie about it; we flush that, and so goes the never-ending life-cycle of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle.

It shouldn’t be hard to discern my feelings about this film. If you can only see one film this week, make it the one with the stakes up the bottom. Unless you have kids. In which case… cover their eyes when it gets to that bit.

I have to admit, that looks like a hell of a maze.

That looks amazing… c’mon, someone had to say it!

The Maze Runner –
October 24th

Nope. This is not leaked CCTV footage of a thief who took a wrong turn after nicking a novelty tankard from the Hampton Court Palace gift shop, but the latest adaptation of dystopian fiction, this time from author, James Dashner.

A young boy with no memory wakes up in a community of 50 teenage boys, surrounded by a deadly maze. A day later, the first ever girl arrives.

Well, you certainly couldn’t ask for a situation with more tension. Throw in a box containing only one After-Eight mint and I think most cinema patrons would need chain-mail gloves to save their fingernails.

This will be the directorial début of Wes Ball, so it’s a very difficult one to call, but I think it would be difficult to mess up such an idea, so I’m gonna risk saying: Hit

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Interstellar –
November 7th

Those who are superstitious leave now. Especially if, like me, you are a fan of Christopher Nolan.

For me, this is the big one of 2014. I simply cannot wait to see this movie. And not necessarily because I think it will be an instant hit, but because I think Chris Nolan is one of the most talented directors working right now… and I’m kinda wondering when this ride is going to end.
You see, in my opinion (and I need to stress that not everyone agrees with this), Chris Nolan has never made a bad move as director or writer, but let me explain the problem with expecting too much from this movie:

The film revolves around a group of explorers and scientists from a resource-depleted Earth, poking their heads through a newly discovered wormhole to see what’s on the other side. All very good so far. Then, in an unsurprising move from Nolan, it stars Michael Caine. Excellent; no problems there. Anne Hathaway also joins the very interesting cast list, along with John Lithgow and Wes Bentley; all of whom are watchable and usually dependable. Sounds great. Then the first teaser trailer combines images of historical, pioneering moments in human history, with a beautifully written monologue which goes directly to the very heart of everything I feel most passionately, about human-beings and this little planet we inhabit, in a single line of dialogue I would love to have written myself “…our greatest accomplishments cannot be behind us, because our destiny lies above us.” And the monologue is read by….  Matthew McConaughey.

Oh…

I’m being tremendously unfair to poor Matthew here, I know. It’s a very, very minor point in an otherwise perfect-sounding premise. I just get so nervous whenever a new Chris Nolan movie comes out, because I have come to expect so much from him.

I suppose if there is one thing I should have learned by now, it’s this: When a fantastic cook tells you they are making a mouth-watering dish, but they’re going to use an ingredient you don’t ordinarily like… trust them to know what they’re doing.

Will this be a hit? Absolutely!

paddington-movie-poster1

Paddington –
November 28th

Paul King directs Colin Firth and Nicole Kidman in this big-screen outing for Michael Bond’s beloved bear.

Paddington bear arrives at Paddington station from darkest Peru, where he is found and adopted by the Brown family. He is politeness in a little duffle-coat, and loves marmalade sandwiches; which he presumably eats from exactly the kind of paper-bag that Nicole Kidman couldn’t act her way out of!!

Paul King: Paddington was found with a note attached to his duffle-coat, which read “Please look after this bear. Thank you.” and you let Nicole Kidman onto the cast… Shame on you, Paul King… Shame on you. You just better pray my sister doesn’t find out.

Home2014

Home –
December 5th

Adapted from a children’s book entitled The True Meaning of Smekday. An alien race called the Boov have invaded Earth and renamed it Smekland. Whilst being relocated to Florida, teenager, Tip (so nicknamed because her first name is Gratuity) befriends one of the aliens, and adventurous stuff happens.

The Wikipedia plot summary for this book left me more confused than a vacuum-sealed horse, so I went over to the website for the book, at smekday.com (set up by the book’s author, Adam Rex), and was more confused than I was to start with, but at least I was confused and laughing. I recommend a visit.

Having visited the website, I am certainly tempted to buy the book… er… for my daughter, and with a plot as mental as this I believe the movie will be a hit; even with a cast which includes both Rhianna and J.Lo (coincidentally also the name of the alien befriended by Tip in the book).

I will definitely go and see this movie… with my daughter.

Also: Steve Martin as captain Smek? Where the hell did you find Steve Martin?

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That looks nothing like me! You are un-fucking-believable! What’s your name?

Exodus –
December 12th

Yep. From the book of the same name. I told you this was going to be a year of biblical epics, and with Ridley Scott in the director’s chair, it certainly will be epic. Captain serious has become the modern day David Lean, when it comes to epic movie-making… hardly surprising, since the briefest glance through Scott’s movies is enough to tell you that he set out to be exactly that. Kingdom of Heaven is so obviously his Lawrence of Arabia, it’s a wonder he didn’t call it Balian of Jerusalem.

Anyway, with one big ego in the director’s chair and another in the lead role, I’m surprised there hasn’t been an on-set explosion already… seriously, Christian Bale as Moses? If that isn’t like using plutonium fire-lighters I don’t know what is. I mean the man went bat-shit (see what I did there?) playing John Connor, and you give him Moses!! What’s gonna happen when he stands atop Mt. Sinai, screaming at God for interrupting him while he was writing “adultery”?

As I said in part one of this preview; Atheists appreciate a ripping yarn just as much anybody else, and I am quite a fan of biblical epics. A biblical epic directed by Scott? I’m there.

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Dumb and Dumber To – (Check the movie title out before you write and correct my spelling)
December 19th

I like both Jim Carrey and Jeff Daniels. And the Farrely brothers have made me laugh in the past, but I’m afraid the original movie did nothing for me. If you liked it, by all means go and see this one… but The Hobbit: There and Back Again gets it’s UK release on the same day…

just sayin.

the-hobbit-there-and-back-again poster

The Hobbit: There and Back Again –
December 19th

What did I just say?

Thegiverjeffbridges

The Giver –
Release TBC

Hold the sniggering at the back there, you childish imp, the title refers to a giver of memories – specifically history – played by Jeff Bridges. The receiver, Brenton Thwaites, is selected to hold all the past memories of the time before Sameness, but is conflicted about his future within The Community after learning what the giver has to tell him.

Yet another adaptation about a seemingly idyllic community on the verge of discovering just how isolated they are from reality. The children’s novel, by Lois Lowry, upon which this film is based, has received a fair amount of criticism because of concerns about its suitability for young children, but that hasn’t stopped it selling over 5 million copies, or winning several literary awards.

Director, Phillip Noyce hardly has what you might call a golden touch, but Jeff Bridges has been one of my favourite actors since I first watched Tron, back in 1982, so on this occasion I have to agree with Empire, who said:

“We’d go see Bridges and Streep sit and stare at the floor for two hours, so this would have to be pretty terrible to skip it.”

However, my wife said:

“Then again… it’s got Taylor Swift in it.”

She raises a good point.

black-sea-jude-law-gold

Black Sea –
Release TBC

Jude Law plays a freelance submarine captain (there are such things?) who searches… you guessed it… the Black Sea, for a submarine full of… NAZI GOLD!!

Sorry, since watching Bill Bailey do a sketch about UBS, I can’t write or say the words NAZI GOLD!! without doing that. You can imagine how this has hampered my lifestyle.

So… this Jude Law movie then. Whaddaya think then?

I’m going to reveal a decidedly weird and freaky fact about myself here, previously known only to my wife and one or two others: I watch submarine films when I’m poorly!

There. I said it.

I have no idea why this is, although, since I also tend to enjoy movies where the action is mainly confined to the inside of a spacecraft at such times, I suspect it’s because I’m a bit of a claustrophile. For the hard of thinking, that just means that I feel more secure in confined spaces. You might say I’m a closet claustrophile if you wanted to make a really bad pun (turns out I also like making really bad puns), but all this really means for the movie is that I’m very likely to watch it whilst coughing through a duvet. Since this is hardly the sort of endorsement that directors and production companies like to see on the backs of their DVD cases, I suppose I’ll have to say something like… This movie will get a 6.5 out of 10 with most audiences. Once again, Jude Law is another one of those actors who is worth watching in most things.

—————————————————————-

Well, as a certain speech-impaired, porcine thespian was fond of saying: That’s all folks. Regular blogging on slightly more varied subjects will resume within the week. I don’t know how long it will continue, since I have another film to edit over the next month, but I’ll try to get ahead with my posts, so that I can at least release one-a-week for… a couple of weeks.

I will certainly keep you updated about Sleepless Knight’s entry into the Empire: Done in 60 Seconds awards. If you want to find it in the meantime, and you live in the UK, go to jamesonempirediss.com and look for The Lord of the Rings – In 60 seconds –  by James Moors (that’s me, in case you’re one of the 3 people reading this blog who doesn’t know me personally). If you don’t live in the UK, just go to the same link and pretend to be from the UK.

Take care.

Get over the rainbow

It’s not very often I get the chance to bash religion, homophobia and politics all at the same time, so I will join other bloggers, journalists and newsreaders around the UK in thanking the great and powerful Wizard of Oz (or whatever your particular religion calls him) for Councillor David Silvester of the UK Independence Party.

I consider myself thankful for David Silvester for two reasons:

  1. He gave me something more interesting to write about than the 007/Harry Potter fusion dream that I had last night.
  2. Because of the joy I felt in seeing virtually the whole of the United Kingdom, join together in mocking Mr. Silvester for being a bigoted, God-bothering, lunatic.

Before anyone reacts to my wording there, I use the term God-bothering because I am quite certain that if, against all suggestion of common sense, it turns out there actually is a God… I am quietly confident that he would be just as embarrassed by Mr. Silvester’s comments as was the leader of UKIP, Nigel Farage.

For the enlightenment of those readers of this blog, living outside the United Kingdom: floods are a fairly common thing in our country these days. It used to be that the only people over the age of five who wore wellies in the supermarket, were people with horse-boxes attached to the backs of their Land Rovers. Then, in July of 2007, Britain suffered its worst floods in 60 years… followed, a couple of years later, by the worst floods in… well, 2 years. After that it seemed to become a regular thing, and a pretty good reason not to live in Cornwall, in case you didn’t have a good one already.
Anyway, it seems that not all UK residents are convinced that Global Warming is behind the recent surge in flooding incidents. Councillor Silvester is entirely convinced that we would need far fewer umbrellas and inflatable rafts, were it not for the Prime Minister’s decision to legalise gay marriage.

For those of you not living in Texas, I’ll let the shocking 16th century-ness of that statement sink in for a moment.

Yes, you read it correctly; Councillor Silvester believes that God is punishing the United Kingdom for legalising same sex marriages. In a letter to his local paper The Henley Standard, Councillor Silvester said

“The scriptures make it abundantly clear that a Christian nation that abandons its faith and acts contrary to the Gospel (and in naked breach of a coronation oath) will be beset by natural disasters such as storms, disease, pestilence and war.”

He claimed to have warned the Prime Minister about such an unchristian move, and blamed him for the floods… saying

“…the lesson surely to be learned is that no man, or men, however powerful, can mess with almighty God with impunity and get away with it.”

Apparently “…everything a nation does is weighed on the scales of divine approval or disapproval…” which makes me wonder how we weren’t buried under an avalanche of fire and brimstone during the reign of Britain’s Got Talent, but I guess even The Almighty finds it difficult to take Simon Cowell seriously.

So, how does Councillor Silvester respond to allegations of homophobia, following this public denouncement of the Government’s decision?

Well, he told BBC Radio Berkshire in a recent interview, which can be found here, that he loves gay people enough to pray for them to be healed.

Once again… I think we’ll have a moment of silence while the monumental bigotry of that comment sinks in. Feel free to break something if you like. I’ll play some elevator music until you come back…

..*$??!!&*£?%!!**….

Are you ready to continue? It’s almost over.

The reason this blog post has only just been published; several days after Witchfinder Gene Councillor Silvester made himself look so very stupid, is that (as regular readers will know) I usually try to make some sort of cartoon to accompany my blog posts…

The problem with making memes/cartoons about bigoted stupidity of this magnitude, is…

Emergency

It’s so very, very easy.

Brokeback

And once I got started…

Birdcage

I found it hard to stop…

Moses

I had 2 or 3 more, but if I had carried on much longer, no-one would even have remembered David Silvester’s name by the time I got this blog post finished. So I suppose I’ll leave it there and allow you to stew over all that has been said.

In other news, Sleepless Knight’s entry into the 2014 Empire Done in 60 Seconds competition is now up on Empire’s website. You can find it HERE… If you live outside the UK, you may have to visit the jamesonempirediss.com FIRST, and claim to be from the UK by selecting it from the drop-down menu. Then either click this link again, or simply find The Lord of the Rings – Done in 60 Seconds (by James Moors), on the webpage. If ALL these thing fail, do not fear, I will post a straightforward YouTube link to it, as soon as it is up on the jamesonempirediss YouTube site.

Next time I will post about something much more fun. Until then… it occurs to me, that without the original context in which it was said, my customary farewell might always have seemed rather odd to my readers, and with that in mind I shall stop using it from today onwards. So, for the very last time: Whatever you do David Silvester… don’t bend over for the soap.

Back very soon.

Voices from the Sky

Once again I have upset both of my regular readers by abandoning them for weeks… or in this case almost 2 months. So this will be more of an update than the usual exciting posts (y’know, the ones that have you running for the telephone to share my wisdom with your friends and relatives).

Life has slowed right down here since my summer work dried up, and Amki has returned to University, so our roles have now reversed again for the time being.

Of course, life is never without its little shocks and surprises… We feared dying in a plane crash on the way back from England a couple of weeks ago, as the pilot missed the runway TWICE in thick, low cloud, before eventually deciding that it would be best for our friends and families, the airline, the terrified motorists we almost landed on, and all the poor trembling and bewildered wildlife, clinging desperately to the trees that we almost snapped the tops off, if we simply landed at another airport.

Squirrels last words

A couple of days after arriving back home in Sweden, and less than 12 hours after signing up on an extras/acting website, I was called and asked if I would like to be in a new Volkswagen commercial. I agreed. Amki came with me to watch but was then also offered a part in the commercial, and so we spent a day in the freezing cold centre of Stockholm, trying to look pleasantly surprised while a Volkswagen (or an assistant director, waving his arms around and pretending to be a Volkswagen), drove past. Despite the bitter cold, lunch was supplied and we were both paid for the day.

I am still trying to work out what skills I posses that people would be willing to pay for, and am sorry to say I’m coming up short. I’m sure that will have come as a shock to most of you, so I’ll give you a second to come to terms with it. Sit down (in the highly unlikely event that you were not already doing so), make yourself a warm drink, grab a paper bag if you’re worried about hyperventilating or vomiting, and just return to these pages when you feel strong enough to continue…

…are you ok? Shall we go on?

Now, there are actually a few things that I can do, and several possibilities I am looking at but don’t want to talk too much about until I know whether or not they are viable, but I am also still trying to figure out a way to retrieve all the files from the computer (may it rest in peace), that selfishly and stupidly, and without a moments warning (bless its poor little circuits), blew up… leaving me with nothing but a pile of scrap metal (I shall miss it) and the smirking glances of “sensible” people, who warned me to buy a hard-drive on which to back up my files in case of disaster. To all those people I say: Nobody likes a smartarse!

Video-making will more than likely not resume until I figure out a way to do that, but once I do you will be the first (or possibly about the 11th) to know.

I am also ashamed (or proud, depending on who’s reading this) to say that I have returned to the world of video-gaming for the first time in over 2 years, and was unprepared for just how much I had missed it. Skyrim is almost everything I hoped it would be… AND I am overjoyed (like… literally, I had trouble calming down for a day or so) to say that, finally, thanks to a Kickstarter campaign, and a lot of enthusiasm (not to mention money) from the general public, a game I have waited almost 30 years for is due to hit the shelves in 2014. Elite: Dangerous is the sequel to the highly successful Elite franchise that started in the early 1980s, and completely captured my imagination as a young boy (and then later as an adult). You can check out the progress of the new game here.

This recent bout of leisure though, has led me to the conclusion that there is a lot of work out there in the world of video-gaming. Particularly in that of RPGs. Skyrim, for example, has  hundreds of books and little notes throughout its sprawling fantasy world, as well as dialogue and general storylines; all of which have to be written by someone. Not to mention the voice-acting.

Now, if you don’t play video-games often, take my word for it; some of the voice-acting is absolutely terrible. In Skyrim for example, there is a mage in a place called Dragonsreach who is voiced by the single worst actor I have ever heard in my life. I’m not kidding… this guy makes bit-part actors in 1960s “Doctor Who” episodes look like Laurence Olivier, and someone PAID him to do THIS (watch from 0:26 for full, gut-wrenching effect):

I don’t know whose sensitive areas this chap so delicately tickled to get this job, but if he isn’t the perfect 6ft 5inch specimen of a chiselled god , with the sexual prowess of a Stepford Husband, programmed by Eros himself… then I want to know who is making the decisions over at Bethesda!!

I’m serious now; video-gaming is becoming a real threat to the world of cinema. Some of the stories in games these days are really well written. And try to bear in mind that you spend maybe 2 hours watching a movie. Video-games create the potential for attachment to the central character/characters which goes far beyond that you could ever hope to get from a movie or TV character… and yet at this stage it still seems to attract the sort of actors that would be out of their depth in a school pantomime. These games are getting more and more immersive, but you can still be pulled right out of the game when a guy says “Off to Bleak Falls Barrow with you…” as though he’s reading the ingredients off a cereal packet, whilst trying to cook a three-course meal, having just stubbed his toe!

How do I get into this line of work? Reading character dialogue… writing those unimportant “journal entries” which you find all over games like these… Helping to write the story-lines for the latest immersive RPG??? If anyone has any idea, please let me know.

Some of the more observant readers will have noticed that the blog has a new look. Sleepless Knight has a new identity, in preparation for becoming an actual business at some point, and our new mascot can be seen at the top of the page. He can only be seen in silhouetted profile at the moment, but if I ever manage to render him in 3D I will post better images for him here. He needs a name, so if you can think of a good one LEAVE A COMMENT.

Now, since I seem to have wandered from mildly amusing to “bring back the cereal packet guy!”, I will leave you with this thought: ……

Did you get it? Or do I have to go back and reprogram this fucking telepathic broadcasting device yet again?

Oh well. Don’t bend over for the soap… but for crying out loud use some before I return! Who knows how long that might be.

It’s all started now, baby blue…

In the last 3 weeks, there have been 2 marriages and 2 brand-new, bouncing babies, in the whirlwind world which surrounds my own, making all the dried-up little leaves of my life leap to whatever tune it chooses… and occasionally spitting out a week of watching television with a cup of tea.

OK… a lot of that alliterative list was littered with… STOP IT!!!!

*Deep breaths*

So I got a little carried away there, but I am extremely tired. I will now try to write like a normal person, albeit a normal person with one arm tied behind his back and a complete insensitivity to the conventions of blogging (whatever those are).

The bit about the babies and the brides was completely true though. One of the weddings was my own… here is a picture to prove it.

Sleepless Knight & The Swedish Flowerpot tie the knot, 2 and a half years after meeting on WordPress

Sleepless Knight & The Swedish Flowerpot tie the knot, 2 and a half years after meeting on WordPress

Yes; long after our first meeting, here on WordPress, The Swedish Flowerpot and I were married… to each other! More pictures from our wedding can be found on my Best Man’s own blog, here.

But, no sooner had I acquired a brother-in-law, than he goes and gets married himself, giving me an extra sister-in-law, as well as the one (or possibly two) that I already had. Confused? You will be! Some of these relationships confuse me, so if you can make sense of them from my dis-jointed, clumsy, unrefined blog posts… please contact NASA immediately; they’ll want to hear from you.

In between these two weddings, a little baby boy was born. Actually, since 2 weeks elapsed between the weddings, I wouldn’t be at all surprised if several babies were born, but the one I am talking about belongs to the long-haired bloke with the glasses in THIS VIDEO:

I know… it doesn’t bear thinking about really does it? Fortunately he has a lovely wife to make sure he doesn’t turn this kid into a Red-Bull-fuelled engine of orc-slaying, beat-em-up-playing nerdiness, with a strange affinity for squirrels and a use of the words “meh” and “boobies” with a frequency that would almost qualify the boy as bilingual.

The father of this brand new person was once my son… To clarify: He was once my step-son. He was then supposed to be my best man, but the imminent arrival of junior meant that my best man was my best woman. Are you following all this?

I drew a picture which should make things clearer…

I was going to go into more detail, and add some of the other important people in the story, but I thought it better to keep it simple

I was going to go into more detail, and add some of the other important people in the story, but I thought it better to keep it simple

If that image helped you in any way at all… you’re much sicker than you originally thought.

  1. Open a new browser window.
  2. Find your nearest psychiatric hospital.
  3. Call and ask for a car to the opera and a stylish jacket with extra long sleeves.
  4. Find any mirrors that you didn’t smash in your futile attempts to stop seeing the “little people”
  5. Wipe the drool off your face and wait for your escorts to arrive.
  6. If they have not arrived after one hour, make a cup of tea, call back and tell them you just caught Tom Cruise in a spring-trap.

The second new baby belongs to a young lady I am unfamiliar with. But a new baby is always worth a mention. I only really added it because it makes my life seem busy and exciting.

In truth, the only reason for this blog-post was to say: Two people who met right here on WordPress are now married. The wedding was a roaring success. Richard is still alive and well, and is now a father. Some other people you don’t know are now married, and yet another person you don’t know is now a mother.

Now the real adventure begins. In the next few months, I must discover what service I can legally offer people in return for money, so that when Amki and myself return to England in a couple of years, we won’t have to start looking for work all over again… I will start submitting the novel to agents yet again (NO “flogging a dead horse” cracks here please)… IF I can get a decent video camera from somewhere, I will try breathing life back into the YT channel again (I really do miss it intensely), and I will find a way to recover the data on my old computer, so that I can start editing the 3 videos I already have in the queue.

Apologies if this post made even less sense than my usual ones… but I really am very tired indeed.

Next time: Back to plain-old blog posts that have nothing to do with weddings or babies (unless a baby gets married between now and then, because I think that would be worth a mention).

Until then… Don’t bend over for the soap.

Falling to Earth

Irony, far from being an impulse to remove creases from things, is one of life’s little blessings. It can make us laugh and smile; many sitcoms could not exist without it, and for the most part it’s fairly harmless. Sure, Dyslexia is difficult to spell and stutter has 3 Ts in it, but even the fact that Ben Affleck chose actor for a profession is nothing more than a mild annoyance in the annals of irony. Sometimes though, irony wakes up on the wrong side of bed and decides, in a very Carrie kind of way, that we will all pay dearly for daring to laugh at it.

A couple of days ago, while astronomers were watching the skies and marvelling at how closely the Earth had been missed by Asteroid 2012 DA14, a different rock, measuring approximately 15 metres across and weighing around 7,000 metric tonnes, entered the atmosphere and exploded over Chelyabinsk, Russia. Now, I firmly believe astronomers’ claims that one big rock had absolutely nothing to do with the other – the shattered teeth of anyone who has ever dared to suggest to me that the Apollo Moon landings were faked should be testimony enough that I have very little patience with conspiracy theory, or the paranoid, squishy-minded ignorance of the groupies who wear its t-shirts – but I shudder to think of the tsunami of drool that a coincidence of this magnitude must surely have caused at the headquarters of Lone Gunmen. Other than a shadowy association of Masonic, Russian glaziers, or a highly organised union of reinforced umbrella manufacturers (I figured an Enemy Mine reference just there might be a little too obscure even for this blog, but here is a link to my favourite “Zirky proof” scene anyway) I struggle to think who might benefit from such a conspiracy, but the odds of the closest asteroid miss in living memory coming just hours after the most catastrophic meteor strike in over 100 years would have made an overnight Howard Hughes out of even the poorest gambler.

Asteroid

Coming on the heels of my December post (which was rather scathing in its mockery of apocalyptic prophecy), and taken together with a rather nasty bout of Glandular Fever, which confined me to a bed for the better part of January, it would be tempting to think that the universe was giving me a hefty kick in the hairier parts of my complacency… but that would assume a level of importance that I fear I could not even achieve if the constellations rearranged themselves above my head, to read “There he is! Get him!” And, while I’m sure a more narcissistic blogger would have run straight out into the morning air, waved their fist at the skies and yelled “You missed!”, I need only WordPress to remind me of my significance; which, judging by my latest blog statistics, is roughly equivalent to that of a quality control inspector at a factory that makes novelty vomit.*

And that breathtakingly clumsy segue brings me tumbling like a tripped rhinoceros into the subject of blog re-design:

I have done this several times before but, if your life is empty enough, you may have noticed that this time I’m taking it slightly more seriously. There are a few reasons for this, chief among which is employment, or more precisely a lack of it. After 5 months of job-hunting in Sweden, it has become fairly clear that it would be easier to make money panning for gold in the sewers beneath the renal ward of my local hospital than it is to convince Stockholm business owners to employ an unpublished English writer to sweep their floors, let alone write for them. To that end, my impending wife, and our flat-mate have been helping me to refine a few things; including the way I define myself, and the way I present myself on the internet. I have started with a logo, and a mascot; both of which I have been threatening to design for the last 2 years. I will (I hope) then move on to designing an actual working website, once I have finally worked out what service I am planning to offer to the poor suc lovely people I will be privileged to call my clients. Having been forced, in the loveliest possible way, by my flat-mate, to write down a list of the 10 things that interest me most in terms of employment and hobbies, the one word that seemed to tie all my interests together was “storyteller”. The most revelatory thing about this discovery was that it should have been no revelation at all, considering I have been describing myself as such for as long as I can remember… but we all lose sight of things from time to time, even if some of us are a great deal more Mr. Magoo in that department than others.

Expect a few more design changes over the coming weeks, as I have not yet finished with my designs for the blog. Ideally I would have waited until things were finished to publish a new blog post, but today is exactly 2 years to the day since my first post, and to ignore the earth-shattering significance of such an event would obviously be a crime.

…that and the meteor thing.

In the coming months I shall also return to my long abandoned YouTube channel. Whether that will be with an entirely new crew or with no crew at all remains to be seen but, since Richard and the former Sleepless Knight crew are separated from me by a considerable amount of land and water, and the length of string needed to connect tin-cans doesn’t bear thinking about, some changes are inevitable.

In other news, the date for my wedding is now set, and a pauper’s ceremony is less than my fiancée deserves, so if you feel like helping in any way at all… spreading the news about this blog and bringing me new readers (and hopefully writing jobs) would be a really good start. I am also planning to bring the wedding to the attention of the folks at WordPress, since this is where we met. It may do no good at all, but it doesn’t hurt to ask for a feature on Freshly Pressed, and I’m sure it couldn’t hurt if you guys put in a good word for me.

In the meantime, keep watching the skies and don’t bend over for the soap.

I’m going now.

*Sleepless Knight apologizes to anyone who actually does this job, and may have been offended by my arrogant assumption that this job is of no importance whatsoever. A job of little apparent significance is still better than no job at all. Please address all complaints to hueyandralph@atleastmyjobkeepsmeoffthegame.net 

It never rains… but it snows!

In a rather surreal turn of events, I’m writing this post from Stockholm, on the computer of my lovely Swedish Flowerpot; who is sitting behind me on the bed, studying for a test. Utterly bizarre when I think about how we met in the first place. But, I have been here almost a week now and the hour draws near when I shall return to England, and to reality, where I shall continue the good work of re-homing helpless, unemployed teenagers who have been crippled by waterfowl.

No… of course not. I have absolutely no knowledge of any adolescents being viciously attacked by Ducks, Swans, or any kind of winged beast. In fact, if I manage to drag my pitiful behind back to Lincoln without kicking small feathery creatures, simply for their ability to fly away whenever the mood takes them, it will be nothing short of a miracle.

It has been a glorious 11 days. No-one died during the Amki/SK Crew meet-up, although Richard is, this very day, in hospital, recovering from surgery to have his broken arm pinned and plated… but I swear that had nothing to do with me. As a matter of fact, I wasn’t even in the same country when it happened. Still, I’m sure you’ll join me in wishing him a swift recovery. My sister-in-law also had a fairly nasty accident, but is thankfully now safe and well. Amongst other weird happenings was missing electricity (don’t ask), an elevator with a mind of its own, 2 strikes which never happened, and a bizarre Hitchcock-like moment, involving all the pigeons in the world!

As regular readers will know, I flew back to Sweden with Amki, following her visit to England last week, and it has been good to be back in Stockholm. On Thursday, I watched Amki made-up by her very talented sister, Anna; studying to be a professional make-up artist (Another surreal coincidence, considering I discovered Amki as direct result of this post on her blog). It’s always impressive to watch a professional at work and Anna is no exception, as you can see…

Amki gets the treatment from her sister, Anna.

 

On Friday night we enjoyed a whisky tasting, where we got a few strange looks as Amki whispered in my ear throughout the whole presentation. Fortunately most of the other guests realised by the end of the evening that she had in fact been translating for me, since my Swedish is not yet nearly good enough to follow more than the odd sentence or two. At any rate they got their revenge at dinner, where I was sandwiched between two large Swedish ladies who were very obviously enjoying their food rather more than is perhaps necessary to express in a family establishment; and orgasmic “yummy-noises” in stereo can detract somewhat from your own enjoyment of a meal. Still… it provided Amki with some amusement from the other side of the table, and if I can’t provide amusement then I really have outlived my usefulness, so we are thankful for small mercies.

On our return from the restaurant, the weather finally caught up with me again and we were treated to an April snow-shower in Stockholm. I’m not usually one to complain About the weather but it does rather seem just lately, as though the weather is determined to bring glorious sunshine to whichever country we are not in at the time. But Stockholm was good to us for an hour or so during my visit.

Stockholm lets the sun through the clouds... just in time for it to go down!

So now… I await the plane home, like a man going to his death! Let it never be said that I don’t know how to round off a good holiday.

I apologise if this has been rather more like a diary than my usual entries. No moral-of-the-story, no life lessons, no revelations or reflections. I haven’t really had the time to reflect on any misfortunes or mistakes this past week or so, because there haven’t really been any…

And perhaps, if there is to be a point, it is precisely that: I have had far too much time to consider things lately and procrastination has set in, like mould on a bowl of fruit that you are almost definitely going to eat at some point, because you bought it to be responsible and health conscious. I have far too many ideas and brilliant, exciting schemes to ever actually do any of them. My writing needs a much tighter focus… the channel needs to be streamlined. Nothing is happening, because our ideas bank is full to the brim, but it’s standing in the way of action. It isn’t going at all in the direction I intended, and things need to change.

I write this here so that the world can see it, and nag me when I inevitably fail to do any of the things I have just promised myself. Keep an eye on this blog, my writing career, and my lifeless channel. If nothing has changed in the next 6 months, you have complete freedom to stand around in a circle and kick self-help links in my face.

For now… Take care of yourselves, and don’t bend over for the soap.

I’m going now.