Monday, 30 November 2015

I Love It When A Best-Laid Plan Comes Together...

...Albeit very much not how I'd anticipated. In particular, I had no idea that the third of Heri's stories (second in the running order) would become a novella in itself, nor that it would be, after 21000 words, still going.  It's not even very good.

But a win's a win. Even though I fucking hate that title.

Wednesday, 25 November 2015

No Apologies For The Infinite Radness 1.1.6 - "Grazed Knees" (Snow Patrol)

Some songs are night songs.

There is no daytime equivalent. A day song simply doesn't exist. Who could possibly want a day song?  Night songs, though, are something wonderful. These are the songs that sound perfectly respectable when the sun is up, but somehow faded, muffled like they're being played in the next room.  But by night, they bloom. They seem closer. Or maybe it's that everything else seems further away.

"Grazed Knees" is our first night song. In daylight it feels sparse and faint; pretty, sure, but inconsequential. After sundown, though, the sparseness suggests expanse, an echoing off distant hills. The track becomes not just a song, but a place.  Some songs always remind you of a person. Others remind you of what you were doing when you first heard them. This one, though, waits patiently for you to be in the place and time that it needs from you before it blossoms, anchoring itself there indefinitely.

Doubtless this is a feeling strengthened by my own circumstances; I bought this album in the autumn of 2003. I listened to it driving across the high moors through low clouds (maybe it was fog; out there there's never any way to tell), on the way to a rendezvous with my old friends in a pub beside Rosedale. The Lion Inn is on the highest point of the North Yorkshire Moors National Park. Sound works differently up there. It was night when I did it, but then it was Christmas, night was really all that was available. The desolation fitted the beginning stages of the song perfectly; the chiming, echoing guitar an expanse for Lightbody's vocals (employing his standard trick of earnest simplicity) to fill. A giant leap, as he puts it. The moors of Yorkshire and Scotland, talking to each other from very far away.

Even once other elements swim upward to break the surface (lush strings, a second guitar, restrained but insistent drumming), this feeling of minimalism is maintained, which is no mean feat. In part this is down to the structure of Lightbody's vocal track. The verses are slight, but the chorus is almost absent - twelve syllables in two lines, making this feel more haiku than pop song.  The chorus doesn't even create weight through repetition; there's not a single word used twice in the choruses until after the middle eight, and even then it's just "just".

The result is a song that doesn't show interest in building itself into a solid structure. It doesn't lay foundations, it sketches shapes in the mist. It pays for its fragility in the end, collapsing after just 161 seconds into a repeating string sample skipping like a literal broken record. The song doesn't end, it breaks down. As though it were someone who had leaped a great distance, and not been caught, and found itself broken and cold out on the moors, where there is no-one around to fix you.

Monday, 23 November 2015

The Best Laid Plans: Redux Squared

Nope, still not given up. The problem now is after writing a combined total of ten or eleven thousand words on story two and the Heri/Ryarn follow-up, and being some way into the editing them, I realised there needed to be a story that went in-between it and "The Eight-Pointed Star." I'm probably just past the halfway point of that replacement second story, but I'm not sure how long it'll be until it's up.

But the actual word-count is coming along pretty nicely. At the time of writing this I'm about to hit thirty-four thousand, which has me behind, but only by a day and a half or so.  It's going to be tight, since I've got so much on this weekend (mainly going to the Birmingham Christmas Market and recovering from going to the Birmingham Christmas Market, though we're headed to a castle too), but if I don't let anything distract me, I should be able to win my first NaNoWrimo since 2008.

So, obviously; I'm going to go write a "No Apologies..." post. Because fuck you, Squid's muse.

Monday, 16 November 2015

II. Initiation

Heri stood, walked to the table, and took a long drink of water.

"What did you think?" she asked, pouring herself more and returning to her seat.

Ryarn considered for a moment.

"It was pleasant enough, I grant you. Or unpleasant enough, should that be? I like the stories that take us to dark places. I like a page smeared with blood. When did all this happen? When was it supposed to have happened, I mean?""

"Oh long, long ago."

"Did they really talk like that?"

She smiled deeply. "Once upon a time."

Saturday, 14 November 2015

1. The Eight-Pointed Star

Sandra Yana looked out over the grave-site and smiled. She did what she always did at this point, and imagined all the treats she could buy herself now she was about to be in the money. And this time, it was real money, this was the job that finally promised to make her fabulously wealthy. All the things she could have! A new ship, that went without saying. A tailored spacesuit, so she could stomp around asteroids whilst looking for tombs to rob and not have to worry about chafing. Indeed, she’d have so much money she wouldn’t have to do any asteroid stomping at all if she didn’t want to, though she could see herself keeping up with it, just as a hobby.

"Oh for fuck's sake!" Corrin bellowed from below the escarpment. "What have you done now?"

Better employees were also high on the list.

Friday, 13 November 2015

Best Laid Plans Redux

Well, this isn't working out the way I'd (barely) planned it. Not in the sense that I'm not writing, but in the sense that the story prompt that I used intending to get a thousand word story out of has resulted in something currently pushing past nine thousand.  I'll put that up tomorrow once the editing (very light touch, with time such a factor) is done.

I've also finished the second link, which needs its own polish before it can go up (maybe Sunday), and then I can get back to my second story prompt, which is working out very well, assuming you like horrifically cynical political stories with dashes of stupid humour.

Enough informing; back to work!

Wednesday, 4 November 2015

A Tale Of Cocktails #57

Blue Hawaiian


2oz white rum
1oz blue curacao
2oz pineapple juice
1oz coconut cream

Taste: 6
Look: 7
Cost: 8
Name: 6
Prep: 6
Alcohol: 5
Overall: 6.5

Preparation:  Add crushed ice to ingredients and put it through a blender. Add cherry and pineapple garnish and serve.

General Comments: What a difference a shade makes.

Obviously, this should be called Aunt Beru's Blue Milk.  No wonder Luke was so tetchy on Tatooine; the poor bastard must have been constantly hungover. But you can see why she was so into it; this is fairly tasty. It's much sweeter than its Casablanca cousin, which helps the pineapple settle in with the coconut cream. The thickness now feels much more reasonable too; it really does taste like a shake now, rather than some abominable "health" drink designed to suck your will to have fun. The only way this is a step down from its predecessor is it's slightly less interesting name, though I can hardly deny its appropriateness, at least at the stereotypical level which is all I have the knowledge to consider.

Anyway, tasty, even if I suspect that were I actually in Hawaii, this might be too thick of a drink to really cool me down.

Tuesday, 3 November 2015

Who's There?

I'd been itching to read Jack Graham's (spoilery) post on The Babadook ever since he put it up, but I managed to resist until after I'd seen the film myself, which I did - surprise! - on Halloween.  My discussion of Jack's opinion is no less spoilerising than Jack's piece itself, so consider yourself warned.

I. Arrival

Fullprince-In-Splendour Ryarn Callican, Duke of Radox Sound, Keeper of the Seven Worlds, seventy-ninth of his line and heir apparent to the entire Eternal New Sol Empire, sat forward in his seat and contemplated how unfair life was.

He smiled tightly at the absurdity of the thought. It was delicious, but thick, like the heavy cream his mother favoured on her sweet courses. His people, his subjects to be, would howl with outrage at the idea that the Emperor-Of-All's eldest child could have the slightest cause for complaint in his charmed life. He was, after all, by any objective measure among the galaxy's safest and well-treated inhabitants. No war would ever touch him; a hundred worlds could fall before he need even bother to ask whether their palace had defences. Hunger was a word he knew only by definition. The slightest cough or variation in internal temperature would be responded to almost instantly by the most talented physicians and medicomps the human race still had access to.

But that was only one half of the story. It seemed to Ryarn that the price of such safety through scrutiny was the loss of something simple and yet fundamental: freedom. Yes, no human being had been so protected and pampered since the Second Fall of Vega. Yes, his every view was breathtaking, his every meal delicious, and his every lover astonishing to behold and desperate to please. But despite, or even because of all that, he felt like one of the crude track-bound locomotive engines of steel-tech worlds and the holdings of the Neo-Luddites. No matter how picturesque the scenery, the route was essentially unchangeable.