Monday, December 31, 2012
On this blog, at any rate. It's technically been some months since I was a student at Warwick, but I'm waiting until tomorrow to move to a new blog address, for the sake of coinciding with a new year. Might even have a section in it for those TV reviews that Phil has been hounding me to start doing. Plenty of shows have already been axed, but it's one of those odd years when the networks have committed in most cases to airing the complete initial 13-episode order, so it'll still make sense for me to be dissecting them. I'm almost certainly moving to WordPress, and I'll put up a final post here tomorrow with the link. Managed to read a fair amount of Bernie Hafeli's Bear Season, which is the latest novella that I'm providing a blurb for. Eunoia Review is also ending 2012 in style, having clocked new records for total monthly and average weekly views, despite it being December and hence the holiday season. Here's to publishing more great work and getting more eyeballs on it in 2013!
Sunday, December 30, 2012
CZ12 is apparently going to be Jackie Chan's last major action movie. It's also been critically panned, by Asian and Western reviewers alike. I actually happen to kind of like it, but that's because five minutes in, I decided that the film was a huge farce and had to be enjoyed for what it was, intentionally or otherwise. There's no point in trying to summarise the plot, except to say that it's vaguely political in a non-threatening way. Does the average person really get riled up about their country's 'national treasures' having been stolen in the past and being auctioned off for obscene amounts of money in he present? Maybe, but only if there's someone to tell them to get angry first, in my opinion. Where CZ12 amuses though, is largely in its random multilingualism. This provides some comedic exchanges to punctuate all those action sequences. Let's be honest with ourselves, okay? There's something vaguely ridiculous about a Jackie Chan action movie anyway, let alone viewed from the perspective of 2012. I suspect CZ12 was trying its best to own that silliness, and so for the most part, it played like a screwball dramedy. Think the casual danger of Covert Affairs crossed with any of the lowbrow comedies that Hollywood pumps out annually. It's formulaic, sure, but in a world where The Twilight Saga is a multimillion-dollar franchise, I don't think we get to say that there are all that many films so terrible that they can't conceivably be taken with a pinch of salt and enjoyed.
Saturday, December 29, 2012
Two book reviews and one blurb that definitely need to happen by mid-January. I think I can definitely get it all done though, and then some. I've realised that with my laptop gone and only having the spare one to work from, there's a lot less reason to just switch it on and waste time doing things like refreshing Facebook, for example. If I didn't need a laptop of my own for NIE stuff (and to set up a new iTunes library), I could actually live with this state of affairs. I feel like it could be really productive when it comes to my own reading and writing. (That having been said, I've been doing a lot of reading but far less writing. Last thing I wrote was ironically just before my laptop died, a 250-word flash fiction for Kenny.) I suppose I could even just take over the spare laptop since it's speedy enough for me, and either reformat it or just clean up its electronic clutter to my satisfaction. Only issue is that it doesn't have a full version of Microsoft Office loaded, although I might be able to install that from one of the DVDs that came with my old laptop, years ago.
Friday, December 28, 2012
Back from staycation and my laptop still won't work. Ah well, it was always a long short. I've booted from the Windows Vista installation DVD, and the laptop's now stuck at what looks like some sort of intermediate loading screen, so I'm just going to leave it running for a day or two, and we'll see what happens. This is really the only course of action left, since attempting to launch Startup Repair just sends the laptop into the same BSOD sequence. Randomly, I found myself in the Isetan 'private sale' today, and the place was packed with way more people than would be in there on a regular day, which I find kind of ridiculous. Ended up fleeing the store for the comparative calm of Kinokuniya, but I didn't have time to go and sign up for a membership, so I guess I'll just do it online. Anyway, I was pleased to discover that the new series of Miranda has started up, beginning with a Christmas special! I don't normally go in much for physical comedy, but Miranda Hart does such a really good job of poking fun at herself. The BBC commissioned this third series back in 2011, but it's taken until the end of 2012 for it to see the light of day!
Thursday, December 27, 2012
Had a bit of a wander around Kinokuniya earlier and discovered quite a lot of science fiction books that I want to get. Didn't actually get anything in the end, as the books were either considerably cheaper on The Book Depository (and I'm still holding out for a 10% discount promotion to happen on the site!) or in the case of those UK paperbacks that have been priced in line with the current exchange rate (finally!), I'm waiting until Kinokuniya does its usual 20% discount for members. Of course, this entails getting a new membership, years after letting my previous one lapse. Hadn't realised just how many paperback releases had happened while I wasn't keeping track, especially considering some are from authors whose work I've been following, like Adam Nevill and Christopher Priest. Ah well, simply means I know where my first month's pay is going! Besides on a bunch of literary magazine and small press subscriptions, I mean. Have read hardly anything that I planned to during this staycation at Goodwood Park Hotel, but I have begun reading The Alpine Review, which feels like a less pretentious version of Monocle.
Wednesday, December 26, 2012
One after another, I've watched the series finale of Merlin, plus the Downton Abbey and Doctor Who Christmas specials. Didn't like how Merlin ended, apart from the completely pointless snippet of 'old' Merlin in a contemporary setting. That would've been a nice touch, if the show had been going to leap forward in time and reinvent itself as a contemporary fantasy. Alas, that wasn't to be its destiny. As for Downton Abbey, I've long since accepted that it's a show that demands total suspension of disbelief, so I was quite happy with everything that happened in the Christmas special this year. Of course, it's sad to see Dan Stevens go, but maybe it'll give Allen Leech a chance to step up to the fore among the 'upstairs' bunch. Will be interesting to see how the show handles the fallout of Matthew Crawley's death when it returns for Series 4. Typically, the show's accelerated passage of time between and within episodes doesn't leave much space for grieving, but given how Matthew and Mary have been sold as the show's epic love story since its inception, I'd expect some dwelling on his death. Really loved the Doctor Who Christmas special, which was a wonderful way to reacquaint us with Jenna-Louise Coleman. Am interested to see what the deal is with her character when the second half of the series returns next year!
Tuesday, December 25, 2012
Laptop looks like it's finally broken. All that's really been lost are a bunch of MP3s that I almost certainly won't realise I'm missing (partly because I've probably never listened to them). My documents have been backed up on a thumbdrive ever since the laptop hard drive started showing signs of failing. Anything not backed up exists as an e-mail attachment. So all things considered, this isn't the catastrophic loss of data it might have been. It's a shame though, that the laptop couldn't have lasted a few weeks more until I bought a new one for NIE. I still think there might be hope of resurrecting it, but I'm just not sure how yet. All signs so far suggest the fault on this occasion is logical rather than mechanical, so there probably is a way to fix it up. Just a question of whether it's within my means to do so. Not sure if it's worth the hassle though, to be perfectly honest, especially given that there are other things I need to/would rather do! There's a spare laptop lying around anyway, so it's not like I can't work on that. My laptop is ridiculously slow anyway, so it's high time for a change. Now to start thinking what kind of laptop I want to get...
Monday, December 24, 2012
Went to return some library books today, and as usual, ended up browsing to see if I could find anything of interest. Picked a pair of science fiction anthologies, just out of curiosity, as well as an anthology inspired by Clive Barker's The Hellbound Heart. Also found a pair of books by Steve Lowe and Alan McArthur, charmingly titled Is It Just Me Or Is Everything Shit? I do like some good old-fashioned British grumpiness. The book I spent the afternoon and evening reading, however, was Keigo Higashino's The Devotion Of Suspect X. I was persuaded by the blurbs to borrow it, which probably should have been a warning flag for me. Came to the end, and felt like it was kind of flat. Maybe it's really great in the original Japanese, but the twist ending didn't seem that great a surprise to me. Would've worked fine as an episode of say, Elementary, but on the page, it was just okay. The novel, which has spawned a film adaptation, is actually part of Higashino's Detective Galileo series, which itself has been adapted as a TV drama, so the plots obviously translate well into other media. I do kind of wish now that I hadn't spent the day reading this particular book though...
Sunday, December 23, 2012
The combination of one week off the air and not much else to watch over the Christmas holidays makes this week's episode of Underemployed feel worse than it usually seems. I mean, it's generally considered difficult to make a show about the post-college years that audiences want to watch, so there's something kind of valiant about MTV's attempt. Still, maybe the channel would be better off sticking to high school shenanigans along the lines of Awkward and Teen Wolf in future? Either that, or get some better writers to write for the shows that they want to design to be older-skewing. Underemployed has already been relocated to Saturday nights for the rest of its season, which suggests MTV is just burning off the remaining episodes. I would say it's a shame, but almost all of the cast is attractive enough to book a gig on a CW drama, so as long as they've got hardworking agents, they'll pop up on our screens again soon enough. (Speaking of which, Charlie Weber, who recurs as Todd on the show, already booked a recurring spot on 90210.)
Saturday, December 22, 2012
Have been reading the first issue of The Alarmist, and it appears that my editorial tastes have some overlap with those of its editors. The issue opens with a piece by Adam Rabasca, whom I published in April (Eunoia Review actually gets a mention in his contributor biography in the issue), and also includes work from past and upcoming Eunoia Review contributors like J. Bradley, Kevin Ridgeway, and John Tustin. They've launched a Kickstarter campaign to help them pay their contributors (among other things), but with only half a month to go, it doesn't seem to have gained much traction. Have shared the link a couple of times, both on my personal profile and on the Eunoia Review page, although I haven't pledged any money yet myself, being kind of broke until 2013. Definitely plan to pledge something before the 15 days are past, just haven't decided what level of contribution I want to make. It's getting harder and harder to run a print magazine these days, so I really hope these guys can keep doing what they're doing!