Monthly Archives: June 2011

Writing Boom

Social_Network

Thanks to Andrew McKiernan, I’m finding my way back to the writing world, putting my words on file without the constant distraction of the net and my own failure to switch off my self-editing mentality.

This has been accomplished by Dark Room, (which I’m typing on now) after Andrew’s recommendation for TextRoom. Yes, they are different programs but they do very similar things, as they are writing tools, designed to get you writing. They have no grammar checks, spell checks, interesting little extras, etc., etc.

I like both programs but Dark Room is just that more suited to me (in the way that TextRoom is more suited to Andrew). I don’t believe either of them are better, just different, a bit like PCs and Macs…erm…wait a second there…

So, the order of the day has been to switch the laptop on, turn off the net and get Dark Room cranked up. It’s working like a charm, as you can tell from this short post, getting me to concentrate on what I’m writing and not what may well be happening elsewhere on the computer.

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My school reports had a recurring comment on them, which was "easily distracted" and not much has changed since. At least two of the staff at Morrigan Books have called me ‘magpie’ and that’s a nickname not unwarranted.

I am in love and awe of the shiny, this is true and there is much to interest me on these machines, especially with me having a late introduction to the whole scene.

Apart from gaming machines (as that’s what we used them for) such as: Spectrum, Atari and Amiga, my first serious use of computers was as late as 2000, with me only getting my first e-mail address (Hotmail) in 1999 but then not really using it until I started teaching in Sweden, September 2000.

In fact the first PC I owned was a cranky old desktop, donated by Etina’s parents when we moved in together 2002 and it wasn’t until 2004 when we bought this laptop (as you can see me typing of course) that the interest really started.

Nowadays I’m helping quite a few people out with software problems, hints, tips, installations and recommending programs for various usage.

I’m still not anywhere near where I’d like to be in terms of the art side but considering where I am on most of the other areas, I am sure, with some serious commitment and study, I’ll be up to speed there too.

On my beloved desktop (in the other room), there will be lots of flashing and beeping going on right now, as I have my Outlook open (which is my company e-mail client, containing all of Morrigan’s various e-mail accounts), Thunderbird open (the client for all my personal e-mail accounts), Facebook (for Morrigan Books), Skype (for business and to chat to family) and Word Press, to make sure all my blogs are ready to be updated.

In terms of the social network and blogging sites, today I am a member of:

LinkedIn (Morrigan Books and Personal)
Facebook (Morrigan Books, Gilgamesh Press and Personal)
Orkut (Personal)
MySpace (Personal)
Skype (Personal) (markdeniz)
Twitter (Morrigan Books, Gilgamesh Press and Personal)
Word Press (Personal, Fae Awareness Month and others) Beyond Fiction (Reviewing site))
Live Journal (Morrigan Books, Gilgamesh Press and Personal)
Blogger (Personal)
Dreamwidth (Personal)
Insane Journal (Personal)
Tumblr (Personal)
Posterous (Personal)
Digg (Personal)
Last.fm (Personal)
Flickr (Personal)

My aim is to try and keep this all updated and so this post should be appearing on all those, from Dark Room to Semagic and Live Writer to the various blogs and twitter accounts. Wish me luck, as I might need a lie down after this.

Oh and be sure to tweet, Digg, StumbleUpon and like this…Winking smile

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You ready for a Sucker Punch?

Being as I want to get myself back into reviewing books, music, TV and film on a more regularly basis and due to a close friend’s hatred for this particular film, I thought it a good place to start.

My friend and I expressed shock in equal measures at certain TV programs being missed: for me it was his admission that he had not heard of Justified, let alone seen it and his was that I was not really interested in Band of Brothers, one of his favourite TV series. Yes, I am a convert, I have now seen seven of the eleven episodes and consider episode six (Bastogne) one of the best episodes of any series I have ever watched (but that’s for a later review).

Anyway, there wasn’t much said about why my friend hated Sucker Punch so much that he considered that it is possibly the worst film he has ever seen, as he was aware I was very keen on seeing it. We promised to return to the discussion once I had.

We agree on Band of Brothers’ greatness but there’s no way we are going to agree on Sucker Punch, as I was pretty much drawn in from the opening scene and remained fully engrossed throughout. I’ve become much more of a TV series follower than a film viewer of late, more interested in the characterisation and development of key figures, especially now that a lot of the respected film actors are taking key roles in TV series but Sucker Punch reminded me of things I love about film too.

I have to say I’m a fan of both Zack Snyder as a film director and of Tyler Bates as a composer/arranger, as I thoroughly enjoyed the 2004 remake of the Romero classic Dawn of the Dead and I was pleasantly surprised by 300, having heard quite a bit of negativity about it beforehand.

Of Sucker Punch I knew nothing, except for several posters doing the rounds on the net being as I am a fan of watching a film when knowing little to nothing about it beforehand. From the poster the only thing I had gathered/assumed is that there was some Steampunk element to the film and that it would be action-based.

Well I got that but I got a hell of a lot more, as Sucker Punch’s soundtrack is one of the most innovative and punchy around. I was very impressed by Kick-Ass’ music when I watched that earlier this year for similar reasons but I think Sucker Punch takes it to a whole new level, as the film starts with two great covers, one of them possibly my favourite The Smiths song, Asleep. The soundtrack continues to move the film along and for me becomes a key character in the plot (for all the right reasons) with tracks chosen for not only their musical quality but for their lyrics too (think Baby Doll’s first dance track – Army of Me by Björk – very appropriate and Asleep with its message of suicide).

But the music is only a portion of the film, albeit a very successful one, with Snyder engaging direction seen already in Dawn of the Dead but much more in 300. Sucker Punch shares with 300 the comic book adaptation elements transferred to celluloid. It’s colourful, vibrant, over the top, unrealistic and total eye-candy, I just wanted more scenes, more action, more Sucker Punch.

The film is light on plot, the opening scene tragic and dark in contrast to much of what follows and then jumps into the aforementioned blockbuster action sequences, before ending with a predictable but not too disappointing conclusion. If you’re looking for something with a bit more depth and substance to it, you’ve probably been mislead somewhere along the way.

I haven’t seen anything written or discussed about the film yet, although my plan is to do that after my review is posted but I’m expecting there may well be a discussion about the favourite of the five heroines in the film.

Mine is ‘Sweet Pea’, by a country mile.

Oh and my last point: clockwork Germans in World War II = class!


Midsummer?

midsommar1

And now I’m feeling all disjointed like something out of a Katherine Kerr novel or a Doctor Who episode, as I’m here wanting to further extol the virtues of a software program that I haven’t actually praised yet. Well I have, just that the post itself took a lot more work than originally thought and so…

Oh yes, Midsummer, that’s why you’re here, yes…

Well you know, today was the first Midsummer I’ve been involved in as an official Swede (papers came through in November and the council celebrated it early June) and you’d think I might have gotten the hang of the whole thing, you know it’s only the second most popular Swedish holiday after Christmas (and if you speak to some Swedes, they even rate it higher).

So gone are the days of painting my father-in-law’s house, clearing off to another country and the like. Now is time for real celebrations, you know I have my children to think of, my own Swedishness – these things have gotten a whole lot more serious!

(Not helped here by the fact the wife, who has been here considerably longer than I, is away in Madrid for five days, starting yesterday.)

Started the day then with a late breakfast of cheese and bread (70% of Swedes start their day this way) and so all going well so far before sitting down with the kids to give them their first ever viewing of Ice Age (Sweden was part of the ice age you know…). I know I should maybe have gone for Pippi but…

iceage

So semi-failure ignored, I made sure to get the laundry out the machine (argh, laundry at Midsummer – no wonder the room was free, it’s like going down to wash at Christmas you numpty…) and got the kids ready for the Midsummer dance around the maypole at the in-laws’ (major Swede points coming up here!).

Upon arrival at the maypole, the kids express an interest in getting on the swings and playing in the den house within sight of the jumping, singing, clapping Swedes, leaving me taking photos of English/Assyrian children on swings, rather than the obligatory round the maypole shot…

20100627174257!Midsommar_på_Årsnäs

(real Swedes showing us how it’s done)

Never mind, off we go back to the allotment to get stuck into some sill and potatoes pasta and mushroom omelette…oh god the point drop, the point drop.

What was that father-in-law, you want me to help you put up the small marquee tent you’ve bought for the allotment? Why ever not, I can’t think of a better day to do that.

And so readying for home, under the protests of the youngest, happy as she is at the allotment, we leave her there and the heir and I return home, where tucking into bread and jam (think we might be giving up here) we settle down to watch Ice Age 2 (I think we have given up now).

The boy, sated and excited about big fish and sabre-tooth tigers, journeys to bed and I settle down to a bout of Talking Heads (why couldn’t I have gone for Stina Nordenstam?) and plan to watch either Sucker Punch or a couple of episodes of Band of Brothers later on.

I’m not Swedified yet am I?

So honourary Swedes and real Swedes and Swede wannabees, what have you been up to today?