Thursday, December 31, 2009

Looking back, looking forward

Wish I could think of a less pretentious post title. Ho hum.

Three hundred and sixty five days ago I wrote this post in which I uncharacteristically made several specific resolutions s for 2009. Well.....yes. As is often the case, most of them fell by the wayside. Life, depression and anxiety got in the way: my exercise regime slowly died, the house is almost as much of a tip as it ever was (and now we have even more stuff) and the paucity of posts on this blog show how well I managed to keep writing. Money being tight and friends being busy means our monthly "dates" never really happened, and while I do try and play with the Terror as much as I can, I could (and probably should) do more. I did achieve one however - my thesis was finished and submitted after only a short extension. That's always something of an anti-climax though, and with no idea when the viva might be, it feels like the work of the last five years has just slipped into limbo.

Not sure what else I can say about 2009 - it's been a short year. Seriously, I'm not sure where most of it has gone. Eaten up by the thesis, I suppose. We did have a horrible period where two friends and my best friend's father died in the space of a few weeks. The theft of Daddy's 30th birthday present the day after we bought it was another low point. But I suppose on the whole it's not been a bad year. Our closest friends and family are well, despite some troubles, and while the black dog is hounding both of us still, the meds I'm on seem to be helping more than not (for now at least). The Terror is thriving at school. And my beloved came out as bi-gendered, and began to be more relaxed and happier as hirself.

So looking forward to the next year, it's tempting to once again say the usual things: I ought to exercise more, the house needs clearing out, I should start writing again. I really really really need to start looking for work. But after this year's failure, I've learned my lesson. I won't say "never again" because by this time next year I might well have changed my mind, but for 2010 at least I won't be making a list of goals that I will inevitably fail to achieve. I have only one resolution: just keep trying.

I hope that's enough.

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Christmas, and all that

Full of cold, but just about compos mentis enough to blog last few days.

We had a hurriedly arranged trip up to Durham on Christmas Eve to meet friends and exchange gifts. We prepared for the worst, and after a nice lunch and chat, set off home again early in case the roads iced over. Turned out to be a hassle free trip, and we probably could have popped in to see my parents after all, but never mind. We'll be off to see them in a couple of days or so.

Christmas Day itself got off to an early(ish) but relaxed start - the Terror was the most laid-back six year old ever and initially quite happy to just empty stocking and unwrap two presents before saving the rest for when we were at Nana's. As morning went on, he became more and more excited though, culminating in a tantrum once we got there as we didn't drop everything to open all the presents there and then. He calmed down enough to be allowed to open a few more, and while he was pleased enough with the presents from Santa which were mostly exactly what he asked for, it was the look on his face when he opened the Ben 10 Alien Force annual that really made the day for his daddy and me.

Lunch was fantastic, as always (Nana does really good roast dinners) and the boy even discovered he liked Brussels sprouts. Wine, food, more presents - yeah. All good fun. Then came the inevitable building of his Lego Power Miner Mine Mech and Clone Trooper Walker, while I mostly dozed under dual effect of wine and cold. My presents included Moon, Unseen Academicals and hydrophobic sand from my beloved, and the wonderous Grandville by Bryan Talbot, as well as too many other cool stuff to mention. And some chocolate, of course.

Then we all settled down to watch TV. Well, us adults did, the Terror kept playing with his Lego. The much-awaited animated adaption of The Gruffalo as as delightful as it ought to be - beautiful, sedate with flurries of action and simply impeccable voice casting. That was definitely a winner. The much-awaited Christmas special of Doctor Who was, by contrast.....odd. It lacked the bang of the usual specials, which may be no bad thing, but I felt it fell a bit short of the epic build-up it was presumably aiming for. This is not to say there weren't parts that had me squee-ing in delight - Wilf was magnificent as ever, John Simm sold the Master's insanity wonderfully and, well, Timothy Friggin' Dalton, people! The ending was certainly jaw-droppingly over-the-top if nothing else. But as a whole, it just seemed a bit...messy. The pacing felt wrong, the Doctor was too subdued and didn't really do anything, too many questions were asked with not many answers - which might all be attributed to being only the first of a two-parter, but it fills me with dread that next week's finale might also be too rushed and fail to satisfy. I suspect if this had been the penultimate episode of a series, I'd have been quite happy with it, but it actually felt overly long for the story that it did tell. A rewatch might also be in order. As is usual with new Who (and Russell T. Davies' specials in particular) opinion online seems to be heavily divided over whether it was any good or not. Usually, my opinion is "sure, flawed, but it was fun", and I think that was the problem - Wilf and Time Lords aside, it didn't feel fun. Of course that might have been the cold, and maybe if I rewatch it when I'm feeling better I might enjoy it more. Or maybe it just wasn't that good. Now I'm just rambling...

After heading home yesterday, and finally getting boy to bed, I gave parents a quick ring and then huddled down to watch Poirot. Beautiful, and wonderful acting again, but by heck, that was a convoluted plot. I never tire of watching David Suchet as Poirot though - he really is excellent - and John Hannah of course. Even though that, and the desert archaeology, did lead to me thinking of it as "Poirot in The Mummy".

This morning we all slept in, nearly nine o'clock before boy managed to wake me up. Lazed around all day, watching cartoons and reading Grandville - steampunk noir with anthropomorphic animals. "Awesome" doesn't quite do it justice. Plotwise it might be nothing exceptional (detective investigated murder and uncovers high-level conspiracy), but the War on Terror allegories add a nice topical layer that ties in beautifully to the Franco-Anglo antipathy in this alt-history where we lost the Napoleonic wars. Actually, does it count as alt-history if all the characters are animals? Bah - who cares! This book is just bursting with imagination and truly gorgeous visuals. And The Adventures of Tintin as the opium-dreams of washout druggie Snowy? I nearly wept with pleasure.

Built and played another of the Terror's haul from Nana: the Lego game Lava Dragon. The boy was a bit disappointed the dragon didn't really play a part, but it's a neat little game with the wonderful mechanic that you build the dice as you play. Main criticism is that it's a bit too short, and if someone gets ahead then they're likely to win. Both these could be dealt with by building a bigger mountain to play on though....the true joy of these Lego games is the easy customisation!

So that's been my festive season so far. Sorry for the rambly post, trying to work on getting better at reviewing stuff. Hoping to watch Hamlet, not sure if boy will keep quiet for it though. Maybe I'll post a rambling review of that too....

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Time to stop caring and do another blog post

It probably won't be any good. Not least because I drank too much cider last night and am feeling rather ill this morning. Despite having got up at half seven, I'm only just starting to wake up now, at gone ten. Was a good night though, usual suspects plus one for booze and games. I don't think I did or said anything stupid, which is always a bonus, and hopefully didn't bore people too much. I do talk utter garbage when I've been drinking.

Nearly Christmas and shopping for presents is just about done. Need to get a few more for the boy, have given up trying to think of something else for SO. Another week of school and then trying to arrange times to visit friends and family for catching up and exchanging presents. I'm deliberately trying not to stress about it all too much and mostly succeeding. That'll be the apathy showing through then.

Back on antidepressants after visit to doctor. Last few weeks have just been getting worse and worse: even when I've not been actually reduced to tears, I've just been sitting around bored and unable to motivate myself to do anything. Just a general feeling of despair that this (housework, tv, game being highlight of the week) is going to be the rest of my life, along with the usual lack of confidence in myself to do anything better. Oh and the crush thing. Breaking my heart on a daily basis. No amount of telling myself not to be stupid will make it go away, but that doesn't stop me from trying. Bah. Stupid emotions. Making life complicated. Suppose I can only hope that the meds help enough for me to find motivation to do things and slowly sort stuff out. Of course, with me being depressed, hope is pretty hard to find, but I'm trying to keep things in perspective.

So there, a blog post. Sure I had more to say. Will probably regret saying what I have. But this time I'm not going to delete it, I'm going to publish it. Like so.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Song Fu

Been lazing around, being a bit ill, not really up to much. The usual but with added coughing. Anyway, after I accidentally gave all you loyal readers false hope by not realising re-setting up Twitterfeed would probably repost my latest blog post to Twitter, I thought I'd better do an actual blog post. See? I do think about you. Just not in a creepy way. Honest.


Anyways....let me tell you about Song Fu. This is a music competition arranged by Quick Stop Entertainment that I first became aware of a year ago when a friend (of the "larp friend" variety, i.e. someone I've probably never actually spoken to because I'm so gorram shy) called Joe Lamb begged people for votes. (Joe's stuff is quite good, you can listen to a bunch of it here.) The idea is to promote and inspire creativity in under-recognised musicians by challenging them to write and record a song on a specific idea (last time included "using only ten words" and "happiness" as challenges) in a week and visitors to the website vote for their favourites. (I'm rubbish at explaining stuff, I hope that vaguely made sense and wasn't too inaccurate.)

So, if you like quirky independent music then you should definitely go along and listen to the latest offerings. Voting is now open on Round 2, which is all about numbers, and while obviously I'd encourage you to vote for Joe "Covenant" Lamb's song "2", I'll also point out Jason Morris's geektastic "Natural 18" and Edric Haleen's "Zero Point Nine (Ad Infinitum)" which tackles a misunderstood issue close to my mathematical heart (although the pedant in me winces at the use of the word "paradox"). Lex Vader's offering is all about The Prisoner - what's not to love about that? So go, listen, vote and tell all your friends to do the same.

Now I have to go find some way to stop my toes freezing off. Be seeing you.