Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Thinking: Star Wars: The Empire Consolidates its Investments

So, Disney have bought LucasFilm, and everything contained within it except George Lucas himself. The internet has resounded to the sound of knees jerking, especially with the news that a new movie is planned for 2015, and so on every few years after. But what does it mean? Will Star Wars now become a soul-less, over-commercialized merchandising platform, with beloved characters hawked out to sell Washing Machines and Mobile Phone contracts?

Oh, wait.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Box Set Blues: Community, Series 2

I've come to realise that the key to my enjoyment of a lot of series over the last few years - not just TV, but books, comics, all sorts of things - is a sense that I simply enjoy spending time in the company of the universe that the series creates. It doesn't have to be a fun, unicorns-and-rainbows universe, just a well drawn one with engaging characters whose fates I can care about. I think this is why I bounced off The Walking Dead; I just don't care about its tedious zombie fodder bickering among themselves, but a show like Justified can make it's lowest and least competent villain a rounded individual whose fate I can have an opinion on. This brings me to my ever expanding love of Community, a show that for it's metatextual cleverness is, at it's heart, about a bunch of characters you can put in nearly any situation and just enjoy spending the time with.

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Thinking: Writer?

There is an old joke that seems to around social media sites every few months - or at least, old by the standards of social media - that whereas in the past being a Writer was a calling borne of study, graft and innate talent, these days its a simple update to your profile and *poomf*, done. Like most wit on the internet it is overstating the point but there is kernel of truth to it - it is certainly easier to self identify as a writer, and certainly easier to setup a blog and post up what you've written. God knows I did the latter, but I remain wary of labeling myself the former.

The thing is though - I write. I do reviews, here and over at Geek Syndicate. I write rambling, brain-storm posts like this one. I even write prose - short stories mainly, I even finish some and I've a little folder in my email for the rejection emails I get when I submit them. But I don't list "writer" as a hobby in the same way I list "podcaster". But I've got folders of notes and half-written prose, and even about a third of a novel stashed away somewhere, all needing time, love and inspiration.

Part of it is clearly the rejection thing. The moment some editor has a fit of charity and actually picks up something for publication I'm sure I'll stick "writer" over everything I can find, because I guess we all need a little bit of external validation now and again. I've no real evidence that anything I've ever written has been any good at all, and rejection letters remain bland and neutral; something I understand but is no less frustrating for it. Is this story actually good, but just not the right fit? Or is it badly written drivel not fit to ever see the light of day? Who knows?

But then again, is being a writer about quality anyway? The success of a number of terrible writers over the years suggests not, so waiting for an objective standard seems hollow. If it's about time invested, success or not, then that's wonderfully romantic - emaciated scribblers in their bohemian garrets is a great image - but you don't have to venture far into writers websites to find some talent-light, time-rich epics. Those guys are clearly writers though - they write, they publish (and be damned) and good on them for that.

So I guess I don't produce enough material to qualify, nor have I produced anything anyone seems to want. But I write, dammit, just to get the ideas out of my head. So it's back to editing up my next submission for me then. 

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Games Review: Black Mesa

"They're waiting for you Gordon. In the Test Chamber."

I remember playing Half-Life way back in the day, which probably dates me alarmingly. I remember that, pretty much like everyone else, this was one of the games that fulfilled the early promise of the First Person Shooter as a narrative experience as well as run-and-gun thrills, a game crafted with an eye on changes to the gameplay and pacing as the game went through, a game that really did define what a shooter could aspire to be. When you look at the huge presence of Steam as an online marketplace, thats because Valve were able to leverage it onto millions of PCs on the release of Half-Life 2. When you play one of those lumbering military themed shooters that seem to dominate the genre at the moment, they trace a lineage to the story and set-piece design of the your trek through the Black Mesa Complex. 

Friday, October 5, 2012

Movie Review: Paranorman

I'm starting to worry that I'm going to soon hit a tipping point where I see more movies with Ewan than I do with Z. This year we've seen six films at the cinema, and I've taken Ewan to see three (including Avengers, which I saw twice, one with each!) and with Ewan now perfectly old enough to watch most 12A output his demands to go to the pictures are increasing. It may also be to do with a weekend afternoon away from his little brother too! Anyway, last weekend we went to see Paranorman, a CG Horror-comedy-drama for kids.

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

TV Review: Doctor Who: Series 7a

Only half a series of Doctor Who this year, what a shame. I mean, I understand the logic - shifting to the autumn probably means better viewing figures from the darker and colder nights, more production from the split run, and the fact that they can be on next autumn for the big 50th Anniversary. But 5 episodes doesn't seem a lot, even though they were the build up to the leaving of the Ponds, companions that I've become quite attached to over the last couple of years. It was also supposed to mark a move away from the more serialised plotlines of last season, into more stand alone episodes, which always had the danger of being a somewhat double edged decision. So how did it get along with that then?