Humanity liked to imagine they’d known evil during their brief time on the Earth. They’d written about it, made movies about it, glorified it and, for many, endeavoured to become it. They thought they’d seen iniquity in the eyes of murderers, cultists, witches and foolish youths labouring to be something they knew nothing about. The world of vampires and werewolves had become pop culture, little more than adolescents with hairless chests hissing, growling and flaring their nostrils. Folklore had been driven into despondency, etching what was once dark possibility into now clear and discernible signposts, which pointed towards shadows that held the hands of those who mocked what once remained unseen and unknowable. The world had grown weak and its residents weaker still. Maturity had bred fools and followers rather than those who might lead, and those who pretended to lead merely made fools of their followers. The world and its denizens had little left to do now but wait for something they still knew nothing about. Pompous, conceited and as hollow as the caves from which they’d crawled, Jabez had once wept at the very thought of spending another unwanted moment breathless with despair amongst them. They thought they held the universe in their palms; in truth they still owned the hands of children...
Thursday, 19 January 2017
She entered a cold, dark but generously furnished room. Edna spared no expense for her guests since her husband had left her very much provided for. A double bed for each of her three bedrooms, thick shag pile carpeting, Gabbeh rugs, acanthus lincrusta wallpaper and pitch pine double wardrobes.
The window was half open as always and the light had been turned off. Mr Dresner, it seemed, had an aversion to any form of light and quite possibly owned a severe case of hyperthermia. He stood motionless before the window, as was his wont. This was a custom he had upheld since his arrival at the guest house. Quiet but courteous was his way, but this was not even half way towards meeting Edna's needs. She was a people person, and Mr Dresner was currently the closest thing she had to instant human interaction. Edna needed to talk.
He stood with his right palm resting upon the top of his left hand. This was another custom of his. Edna had spent the better part of three weeks learning his habits simply because she needed a project, something to take her mind away from the lacerations that had been left in the world. She had subtly interrogated and remained observant and, in doing so, had ascertained the following:
- He was a retired accountant and also a widower.
- He had a daughter with whom he had not spoken for nearly twenty years. He was in the process of finding her.
- He would come down to breakfast at 9am and dinner at 6pm whereupon he would mostly eat silently, speaking only when spoken to. His answers were succinct and were delivered calmly and congenially.
- He had a poor appetite, leaving at least a quarter of what was given to him each time.
- He seemed persistently distracted and his brow was consistently beaded with sweat. He checked his watch regularly and his eyes were forever flitting from left to right. As a result he seldom smiled, but when he did she felt it was genuine.
- He left the house each night at 10pm to "take the air".
- He was left handed, owned three suits, disliked dogs and parsnips and was completely bald by the time he had reached the age of thirty.
Aside from these facts and minor deductions Edna knew little more about her inhibited but nevertheless oddly pleasant guest.
The first thing she wanted to do after setting the tea tray down upon the bedside table was to close the window. She wrapped her arms tightly around her waist, inhaled a winter's breath and thawed it in her lungs before releasing a vaporous stream back into the air. Mr Dresner appeared, as always, fixed to the vista beyond, watching, listening or whatever it was he did. Only once had he turned his head slightly to hear her enter the room before returning his attentions to the surrounding forest and the distant but discernible glow, the corona of which roofed the woods and spat shards of light from within. The unsettling and unending synthetic sun still managed to cast its apocalyptic saffron blaze over the horizon, smearing the line and raping nature until everything that once was beautiful seemed now so false and trifling; they were mere aimless wanderers amidst darker climes. London had been razed to the ground...
Friday, 30 December 2016
Thursday, 15 December 2016
For me there is an inherent problem with writing a novel that's so damn large it keeps you enclosed in your own secluded head space and away from everybody. The result? People believe you're no longer writing at all, and this problem is made worse when it's someone like me writing it; you see, I like to take my time. I began writing Eventide about three years ago and, as a result, lost contact with many of the people I used to converse with on a daily or weekly basis. This is my fault. I've never really been the type of person to 'keep in touch', as they say, and I've never really considered myself a person of interest for people to seek out online. I'm just some guy who makes up stuff. Don't get me wrong, I'm absolutely bursting with charisma and I have enough confidence to land a boot in Captain America's nuts any day of the week. I suppose I'm just simply more of a private person... unless Captain America criticises anything I write.
Eventide was simply going to be a brief side project before I continued with the writing/editing phase of my Gothic saga, 'Words to the Wise', but things haven't turned out the way I planned. Eventide was once called 'Chainstorm'. It was a novella I originally wrote several years ago and it was my intention to re-edit it before releasing it. I did so in my own inimitable style, of course, by rewriting the entire wretched thing, changing the story completely, adding new characters, subplots and everything else that rendered it completely unrecognisable in relation to the original. What, therefore, began as a novella soon turned into a really large novel, and then what became a really large novel turned into a really really large novel that's now close to 290,000 words... and I'm still not done. Consequently I will be releasing it in three parts, most probably a week or month apart so as to at least give people a chance to digest each book individually.
With Eventide I decided to go for a modern day approach as oppose to the eighteenth/nineteenth century tongue I employed in the saga. This means Eventide comprises modern day vernacular and also a little modern day swearing accompanied by a few explosions and misdemeanors here and there. Eventide isn't merely about the possibility of the world ending, though. It's about people, normal people doing normal things before being thrust into this dark and dire reality, which also has a touch of ancient myth and some rather startlingly unearthly discoveries that I hope will raise the hairs on the nape of every reader.
Anyway, I decided to post this just to let people know I'm still out there hammering away and that I intend to post updates a little more regularly than I have been. In other words I shall now be posting updates.
Tuesday, 13 December 2016
This is a film primarily about buggers, absolute buggers. The plot's as thin as an undernourished man who's seriously let himself go. Set in the aftermath of Superman's death after he took an enormous one in the chest, the world is apparently lacking any military defences and/or world leaders; at least that's how it seems. No good bugger can do bugger all against any ruthless bugger. It's because of this somewhat lack of skills from any military leader type buggers that an intelligence officer, who is herself a completely callous bugger devoid of smiles, deems it a great idea to form Team X - an expendable band of misfits - to undertake high risk missions for the United States government. Of course this said band of misfits aren't too happy since they're forced into their new unwanted roles with the assistance of explosive charges injected into their necks, which can be activated remotely by another bugger, namely a stone-faced guy with a bad attitude who takes charge of the Suicide Squad. Now, it seems that one of these would-be recruits happens to be possessed by a right bugger of a witch. When this witch suddenly decides to take over her host's body completely and, in turn, tries to take over the world with her recently resurrected ancient superpowered bugger brother, bad stuff happens. The Squad is brought in and, well, etc etc...
So how does it all play out? It isn't terrible and it isn't great. It could've been a lot better. The majority of the characters are unfortunately thinly sketched. One appears too late in the day to make any impact at all and hardly owns a line in the film, while another is dispatched so early on it makes your teeth ache. Numerous, menacing and varied they might be, but the characters' sometimes brief back-stories unfortunately amount to an abundance of interrupting scenes that kill the flow rather than accentuate the narrative. Will Smith's 'Deadshot' and Margot Robbie's 'Harley Quinn' definitely steal the show here adding both empathy and humour to progress their characters, and yet they still seem to edge things forward only mere inches rather than help catapulting us through what should've been a barrage of character driven fun amidst impressive set pieces; and what about those set pieces? Well, I shan't bore you into bleeding from every orifice with talk of special effects. In this day and age the majority of AAA movies have great effects, and quite why people still go on about them in regards to major releases is beyond me. They should look good; these films cost millions! There are some exceptions to the rule, of course, but I'm not reviewing those exceptions at this time, not yet anyway. That aside, set pieces are scattered throughout and they're well directed with quick fire camera work and two second shots that fuel the action, and yet still I couldn't help but think I've seen it all before somewhere, or rather everywhere. This was a film that I believe should've been based more on character interaction than on action. The writers had everything at their disposal and nearly every box was ticked, actually too many boxes were ticked. A band of misfits that don't get along? Check. A band of misfits coming together for the greater good? Check. A band of misfits whose exploits will most probably lead to a film franchise? Check. But there was a box that should've been left empty, an impervious and utterly tickless box. Actually the box shouldn't have existed at all. This is the point where I may come under fire from some when I state that The Joker shouldn't have been in the damn film until the end. This was a story revolving around lesser known characters in the DC universe and, for me, The Joker really didn't have a place in it. His reputation alone precedes him and yet here he takes a back seat in order to flesh out Harley Quinn's back(love/obsession)story. I say thrust the big wisecracking painted profligate into the next film when all the characters are firmly established.
This review has gone on for longer than expected and I can't say I'm entirely pleased about that, and I've even left stuff out namely because I didn't want it to become longwinded, which unfortunately it has become. I'll work on that. So, in short, did I enjoy it? You'd think: "NO!" Oddly enough the answer is yes, but it could've been so much more by giving us so much less. Less joker, more judiciously placed back stories, a villain that actually speaks a hell of a lot more, a villainess who can actually stand still without appearing as though she's recently soiled herself, oh and not so much walking around. There seemed to be far too much of the latter without much occurring both in plot progression or character development. For a city that was supposedly under siege by powerful entities there was an innumerable amount of quiet moments in which more reflection and character building should've been at the forefront. My advice there would've been to use that time to flesh out the characters a little more beyond mere flashbacks and do it while blowing stuff up in the background! Blowing stuff up, or indeed buggers, in the background always adds to the ambience; it's a tried and tested formula that been generously passed down from one generation of film maker buggers to the next. Damn those quiet moments without any major character development and their arresting flashbacks at inconvenient times. Damn them, I say! Bugger this, I'm off.
Monday, 12 December 2016
Ladies and gentleman, it's about time I began actually using the blog instead of leaving it to fester. There must and shall be content, and content must and shall arrive in the form of, well, other stuff. Aside from updates and excerpts from whatever it is I'm working on at the moment (in this case Eventide) I will also be covering extra 'fun' related content, and I'm not necessarily being sarcastic when I highlight the word 'fun'. I do fun. I watch films! I'm a PC gamer! So, I thought why not occasionally pop in and review something that I've seen or enjoyed playing? Why not indeed? That's the intention... let's see how it pans out. What I won't be doing is venturing beyond the shallow depths of critique. I shall write a no-bullshit approach when reviewing these things and tell you how it is, since that's really all that most of us care about. Anyway... things to do. I watched 'Suicide Squad' recently, so I'll soon tell you 'How It Is'.
Tuesday, 12 July 2016
"Now that's one ugly bastard," Phil announced as he stopped next to an old portrait of an even older looking man with balding white hair and spectacles sitting before a large desk in a large study. "Why the hell do they always have to be sitting in front of book shelves?" he asked in an infuriated whisper. "They always seem to think it makes them look intelligent if they're sitting down with an entire library of books behind them."
"Perhaps he's read all of them," Hal suggested.
"And what if he has? Anyone who can read can go ahead and read a book. That doesn't make them any more intelligent than the man who prefers to observe the world."
"Is that what you do, then, observe the world?"
"I look at it with indifference," Phil answered as he continued scrutinising the painting. The low lighting of Longchester House forced him to squint and strain his eyes. "You can look at the world without observing it just as much as you can sit before a library's worth of books without ever having read them. This man was probably illiterate. He has the look of a lout."
"He seems to have a lazy eye," Hal added. "I wonder why he'd want that depicted in there? If he had a lazy eye in real life then he could've asked the artist to omit it in the portrait. Those books look suspect as well. Look at the spines. Not one of them is thicker than my finger."
"Children's books at best," Phil concurred. "Although the inclusion of his lazy eye in a portrait may show a degree of pride. It shows that he's not ashamed of who he is or what he looks like. Unfortunately for him, though, he just looks like a gammy eyed prick."
"Agreed," Hal said as they both moved further up the stairs.
"Anyway," Phil continued as he chose his steps diligently, not wishing to step upon anything that creaked or grumbled beneath his feet, "this tale at the end of the book. It was a soul searching thing for Longchester, who was in fact as mad as a carton of bollocks. He believed there existed worlds beyond this one."
"Hardly an original idea," Hal submitted.
"It is when you believe that each of those worlds is accessible through a piece of furniture," Phil returned. "Apparently there was once a hole punched in time and space a few hundred years ago through which things poured, all kinds of things, artefacts, furniture and all sorts that came from these neighbouring dimensions, and when the hole was mended..."
"Mended by who?"
"How should I know? A wormhole repair man, an oddjobber, someone passing by who happened to have a wrench on him? So when this hole was repaired," Phil continued, "all the things that had come through remained here in this world or dimension. When these things were touched by certain people, who themselves were most likely touched, they could see into the universe whence it came."
"Whence it came?"
"Yes, that's the proper lingo for it," Phil replied, "'whence' is a good word. It's this way," he added after looking from left to right down a barely lit corridor. "Her room is on the right."
The corridors of Longchester House were of the imposing and closing type, the kind that appeared always to narrow the further one navigated. The older and more frangible residents had taken lodgings downstairs due to an increasing number of accidents in the night due to poor lighting conditions. Upstairs was forever in the throes of dusk, while downstairs the magnificent bay windows ingested much of the daylight and a great many moonbeams at night. Ultimately Longchester House was still a product of its time, a time when candlelight and oil lamps would fraternise with the shadows rather than subdue them. Now occasional electric lamps surrounded by thick crimson shades on tables too wide for the narrow passageways did their best to alleviate the sense of unending palms of twilight, which pressed constantly against the all-too-small leaded windows that dotted the north passageway. Longchester House did indeed own a sense of character, but it was one that thrived too much on mystery for Phil.
"Mind the candle holders," Phil whispered as he brushed past one of the many unused brass holders that jutted from both sides of the wall. "Hit one of these full on with your shoulder and you'll have a mark for weeks."
Hal navigated himself slowly past the ornate brass wall sconces, each one meticulously crafted into mythological beasts all owning claws, talons or open palms into which had been carved niches just large enough for a single resting candle to spend its slowly dissolving existence.
"I thought Longchester was found dead in his chair," Hal whispered after a moment's deliberation.
"He was," Phil returned, "but it was how he was found that wasn't disclosed to the community at the time."
"And how was that?"
"Mouth wide open," Phil said after turning around to face Hal, "and eyes wider than wide with drying blood trailing from the sockets to the cheeks. It seemed as though something was trying to get out of him; either that or it actually succeeded."
"Like what?" Hal asked while wishing for at least a miniscule amount of daylight at that moment.
"The soul, Hal," Phil said. "When I speak you must listen. I already told you about Longchester's theory. In his mind he saw something, another place in another time, and his soul left the body and travelled to that wondrous place."
Hal fell silent. With each possibility trampling upon the next, he suddenly felt a little nauseous, uncomfortable and desperate to vacate Longchester House with as much speed as his limbs would permit.
"Look at you, you're like a schoolboy. It's all bollocks," Phil assured him. "I could tell you that my arse is haunted and you'd be checking me out for weeks afterwards."
"Not very likely," Hal disagreed as he released a breath.
"Longchester was a lunatic who drank too much, believed too much and did too little to snap himself out of it. It was a good bedtime story, though, wasn't it?"
"Campfire stuff," Hal agreed. "You should've shone a torch in your face while you told it. Do we have a torch?"
"Well that's kind of the point, isn't it?" Phil began. "I've never understood the mentality of a burglar who breaks into a house during the dead of night under cover of darkness only then to switch on a torch. Where's the logic? The first thing anyone is going to see from the outside is someone walking around a dark house shining a torch. Look at this wallpaper," he added as he brushed his hand against the thin floral patterned wall. "I bet this hasn't been changed in centuries."
"Did they have wallpaper back then?"
"Of course they had wallpaper. Has the adult Hal suddenly stepped out of his body and fucked off? Are you having an out-of-common-sense experience?" Phil enquired with both palms held out.
"There's someone at the other end of the corridor," Hal announced suddenly in a frantic whisper as he pressed his back up against the wall.
"What the hell is the matter with you?" Phil asked. "I asked you here for a bit of support in what's fast becoming quite an important moment in my life and you're acting as though you've just parted ways with your balls."
"Christ, it's like being in an Abbott and Costello movie! It's a fucking full length mirror, Hal!" Phil whispered close to Hal's face.
"Is it?" Hal asked. "So it is," he added as he passed a hand in front of his face and observed his reflection in the mirror.
"I don't know who thought of putting a full length mirror at the end of a dark narrow passageway anyway," Phil mused. "I swear they're trying to kill off the residents. They have glints in their eyes."
"The staff," Phil confirmed as he walked forward slowly and stopped short of the third door along. "The residents should sleep with one eye open."
"No, it's just an expression, Hal. And when did Popeye ever sleep with one eye open?"
"When did Popeye ever have both eyes open?"
"He didn't. That's the way he was drawn. His character...," Phil stopped himself. "Why the fuck am I standing here discussing Popeye?! I never liked him anyway. I've never trusted anyone who has one eye constantly closed; there's always something sinister being planned behind the lid."
"Have you met many people who've had one eye constantly closed?"
"I've met a few," Phil nodded slowly, "scheming bastards the lot of them."