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2015 – My review

2015 – My Review

Hello Dear Reader

Well 2015 has now passed and often people reflect on their year, a personal review you might say. I am no different than millions of others, so beware spoilers ahead. (Well for time travellers at least).

2015 has, just like many other years, been filled with ups and downs across the board. It is often thought that the downs tend to come to the fore at this point and yes there were a few scary moments. It has not been the best of times but things did pick up towards the close. One of the up’s was the pleasure of seeing Michael Palin live talking about his dairies and what he wrote about. It did make me think and yes write a blog about them. Maybe more people need to remember what a dairy is all about. Another odd good moment was a trip down memory lane to the Tower Ballroom at Blackpool and yes sitting watching a lot of people waltzing around the floor. Of course there were many other good moments most of which ended up in a blog or two. I also added to my list of achievements two presentations, one for the Keele Creative writing society which I was extremely proud. Add to this a very interesting trip to Buckingham Palace, one of the afternoon BBC Proms and an evening meal surrounded by most of the cast and writers of Sherlock. Now that was different.

Normally in the past I have reviewed a few good films, so why spoil a good format!

There have been a number of blockbusters yet again and surprisingly the best was saved for last (I am sure you can guess). Here are my top films (in no order whatsoever );

Avengers: Age of Ultron

The Man From U.N.C.L.E

Ant-Man

Jurassic World

Spectre

Minions

Star Wars: The Force Awakens

Of course they are all action based adventure films and the ones I saw at the cinema. There were a few I missed, noticeably Steve Jobs, Mission Impossible: Rogue Nation, The Martian and a few more.  It seemed as if each movie, for me, kept on building towards one of the best kept secrets of 2015. In this day it was surprising to find that there was little real information about Star Wars: The Force Awakens.

The Man from UNCLE started a short series of spy movies this year, along with Bridge of Spies and Spectre. The latest James Bond movie, rounded what was a very well put together story and left at least one person with a dilemma. If you wish to read my review on this film here is the link; Spectre. The Man from UNCLE was good in the sense to tried to explain the origins of the lead characters. Will there be a squeal? Bridge of Spies was one of those films I missed which was a shame, but there is always rental.

In keeping with the past few years, hard to think there was a time before them, we had the latest two Marvel films. Ant-Man introduced us to the smallest of Marvel’s characters, while the Avengers (still no Steed) came back to battle their own demons. Both films gave us more to enjoy in this growing universe, well at least to the non-comic reading part. Again I enjoyed them for differing reasons; Ant-Man was more of a comic feel, the humour fitted well as did the story. It is always difficult to present a 60s or 70s comic version so taking the best from the whole comic range seems Marvels plan. Age of Ultron on the other hand showed that sometimes it is best not to mess about with alien technology. It will lead into a series of films that could tear the audience apart.

Minions, cute, yellow, strangely understandable at times and one of those hits that was not meant to be. Why? Well they were sort of supporting characters (even in animation) that just took off. There first movie and who knows what else will turn up, was funny predictable and ok. Also returning was the Park, Jurassic one, remember that? It was a major hit of the summer and well worth it. It combined the old with new, basically the Park opened as Hammond always wanted and of course someone decided to play God and well guess the rest. Another good escape.

So finally the film of the year. You can’t argue with facts and figures, not these. Even before the film had been shown it was breaking, cinema servers and records. I have not reviewed this film as I don’t want to spoil it for anyone. However I did post just one word after I watched it … Emotional. It was all that everyone has said. It did take me back and yet did not reboot as many thought. It moved forward in a logical fanshion. The sets where real, the characters believable, the effects better, the story fine, yes there might be the odd plot hole but sometimes, just sometimes you have suspend everything. It was one of the few movies I could have just sat through a second time without moving. I did in fact see it twice already and plan to see it again given the chance. Many people tend to want to find problems with any film they see, I myself see plot mistakes – take IronMan 3. However, I don’t believe in just denocensing a film just because it does not explain where character A cane from.

So what else has happened that was memorable? A number of things really including having one of my poems published in the first Keele Creative Writing anthology. Completing my first book, which is due to be published in 2016, was a major achievement. That for me, is a goal I have slowly pushed for. It won’t be to everyone’s taste and I doubt it will gain me anything other than self pride. I will be able to say  not only have I written a book but it’s a published one.

Writing has been one of the more enjoyable outlets over the past few years. I have published more blogs in 2015 than before and branched out into posting photographs and a small video. I do plan on producing another short video in 2016.

To close then. 2015 another year to talk about.

Roll on 2016.

Tagline:’Are we there yet?’

 

Why do writers …

Hello Dear Reader

Write

Over the past few months, well years really, I have written my various thoughts, ideas, stories, and blogs. I have also spent a good portion of my time reading. Although that seems to be staccato at times. By staccato, I mean when I am interested in a book or need to read something or just hankering to remember a good novel, I read. Then I have time away, then back to reading again.

What makes me want to write? I found that my imagination created amazing worlds and characters for me. In my day, there was no internet, computer or to be honest, fancy gadgets. I had books, toys, Lego and more to occupied my mind. I was not content to just play, I needed to write my ideas down. I created my own worlds, most of which vanished sadly. In order to want to write, I needed first to read. I read all sorts, including numerous comics which in themselves helped me to see into certain places.

Others advised me later in life, I was told that the best way to write a book is to read many on the same subject. At first, I thought that would work against me. If I read the latest best seller on crime for example, would I subconsciously be influenced by said book and just rewrite it for myself. Clearly, it can’t be the case otherwise, how would writers know they liked a particular subject? I read a lot of sci-fi and fantasy in my school years. Lots. In fact, I read one book so many times when I was young, I was banned from reading it again in school. Sadly I can’t remember what that book was, which in itself is odd.

Still, the question remains, why do we write? There are of course many reasons; creating others worlds, new characters, differing stories. A single writer can bring joy to millions with just a few words. Imagine the impact that stories such as A Christmas Carol or The Hobbit had on people. Remember also that when some of these books were published they had no social media as we do today. Yet, they had a huge impact on people. You also have to realise the imagination behind the book, which in itself creates an imagination in the reader. Each one of us, I am sure, see’s a character or location just that bit different.

Take the following few lines:

“He sat at a table in the café, trying to think of what to write next. It was noisy to a degree which helped him. His hands hovered over the keyboard. A few more words appeared on the screen. He looked up again. Did the people in café given him inspiration or distraction?”

What does that conjure for you the reader? In truth, it was me as I wrote this, sat in café trying to find the words of why I write. So why do I write? My reason is I want to see if I can tell a good story or create a deep poem or just engage people with these blogs. I have written numerous poems and short stories, one poem has been published. Very soon an article I have written will appear in a magazine. I am quietly excited. Shortly after, my very first book will be published. These days, everyone has the chance of telling their story and publishing it via social media or ebooks. What it means for me, is that I will have reached one of my goals. Should I stop there?

“The writer stopped again for a moment. How to sum everything up without appearing self-centred. Difficult, as writing could be a self-centred art. He considered other forms of art; painting, music or acting.”

You see, writing is an art form, it is self-expression, a desire to interact both with real and imaginary characters. For some writers, it explains sides of their own character they sometimes can’t admit to others. They can express grief, loss or depression in words that are harsh to hear. Words are also actions. Some writers want to show that there is a path forward to others. Some just want that selfish moment in time.

It was odd that I decided to write this without seeing what others said on the subject and a quick interweb search made me smile. There are hundreds of reasons and ‘posts’ on just this subject. There was even a competition. I also write because I can enjoy what I am creating. I joined a local creative writing group to help me better understand what I am trying to write and how to improve myself. It works. There is an element of danger as well. When you write, you think you see what others will read. That can be hard when someone reads what you have written rather than what you have imagined you have written. A single comma can change a line. Do I write just for myself where the only critic is myself? The answer can be both. Sometimes I just want to write and see. In my first book, I want to educate, my second I want to entertain. My third? That could be a little of everything. Everyone should write, even if it’s just a diary, you need to try.

This is why I write. Because I can.

Tagline: “Why the hell did I write that!”

Friday Fun

Hello Dear Reader

Friday Fun.

It is that time of the week, when we look forward to a well deserved break. At least some of us do. That moment in time when you compare the list of jobs against shopping or maybe a trip to the cinema. What about that desire to look at a new car?

For some, the weekend appears to have the ability to time travel and not in a good sense. Others, do take it by the scruff of the neck and just chill. Maybe, just maybe you have that little pocket in mind, Sunday afternoon. That part of the weekend just for lazing in front of an old film on the telly. Actually, falling asleep in front of the telly and claiming later you saw everything.

Others, well its that other list, mow the lawns, paint the kitchen (again), change the lights, remove the dead plants or whatever. Often heard is the saying, ‘I only come to work for a rest’. Some weekends are though magical. Yes you can spend all day in a garden just pottering or walk down those sun-lit lanes (far-fetched I know in the UK) enjoying the fresh air.

Of course, the weather and the seasons play their part in a weekend. A warm summer day against a cold winters afternoon may help you decide what mood you find. Though the warm summer day brings its own nasty surprises, bugs, bites and stings, let alone pollen. So is winter any better? Cold, ice and blocked roads. Maybe not. Autumn, the sweet spot between the two or spring, it’s twin? Both are favourites for me.

But the weekend can be a time to reflect on the week. Did you meet those all important targets or remember that vital appointment? Or maybe start that blog you wanted to write? A sudden urge to escape, to run away to somewhere different that much-needed break. Whatever you do, do it.

Myself, being an archer and writer (spare time) I will stand in a field and try yet again to understand the mysterious way my arrows fly or piece together the next chapter of my book. Do I kill off another character or let them live? Will I feel the effects of the unending time travel? Of course I will as it will soon be Monday morning.

So Friday fun, of course.

Tagline: ‘Friday night, Monday morning … is that a film?’

Writing

Hello Dear Reader

Writing.

It has been a few weeks since I last posted a blog here, however I have not been idle. In fact I have been very busy attempting to finish a rather niche book.

Writing, for me, is a joy, a release of thoughts that after many reads form some sort of jumbled mess. I don’t know about other writers but I often find words will appear on a screen or now a typewriter (more on that later) in a scrambled pattern.

Like now, I am thinking this, reading to my inner self as I write. Will this make sense once I have finished? Only the reader and some cold-hearted grammar checker will know. And why is that? Well most times this blog is just written, spell checked and the glaring mistake corrected. A blog for me is just somewhere to unburden words I might not need. I don’t need to make the sentence ‘nice’ or have it rhythm in haiku fashion. Those works, I work on.

My book, which is in draft, is very unique in what it hopes to discuss and I won’t give anything away here because it’s a surprise. I do have a sc-fi novel written and I have a detective story on the go. But how to get them to a trusted editor to get the best words out. The poems I have on here, I wrote quickly and then refined later. One of them I was very lucky to have published in the first Keele Creative Writing anthology. I was really proud of myself and that finally makes me a published writer.

IMG_0972As for the typewriter I mentioned. You sometimes do what some people call daft things. This was an impulse purchase, just suddenly decided I wanted a typewriter. Well, suddenly was not really correct, sort of slow build-up having seen them dotted about TV shows and eventually I thought ‘Why not?’. There is a perfectly good app, it makes sound, it looks real but it’s not the same. With a typewriter you can feel and hear the letters hitting the page creating words. Don’t get me wrong, once you make a mistake it shows. But its fun. I do have an odd hankering to write a poem and enter it into some sort of art exhibition as  the lost worlds of writing. Daft?

Anyway, this blog has been written during my lunch break, sat in a coffee area listening to the world. It’s fascinating, as Spock would say. I often write at lunch time, it is how I thought of my detective story ( 3 chapters down already). Not that I have any ideas from coffee or do I?

Well it is time to finish this little work, almost 500 words on just nothing much. A rambling blog that might just contain the odd gems. As for my quest to find that editor, it goes on.

Tagline: ‘This blog was written with happy thoughts from 13:24pm to 13:54pm.’

Marvel Reboot

Hello all

In the comic world there are a number of major players, the top two being Marvel and DC. Many of their titles have run for well over 50 or 60 years now. With the rise of new multi-million dollar (not pounds sorry) movies and television shows now appearing, there is a point when the big bosses take a look at what they have. Sometime ago, DC comics entered into what they called a ‘Crisis’ storyline which basically involved merging universes into one and producing a new comic line called ‘The 52s’.

This offered DC the chance to start again or reboot as in the IT term. Now Marvel have announced their version of the ‘Crisis’ story. In some respects, there is only so many ways to tell a story with the same characters. Take Doctor Who for example, they have had the same evil characters throughout the past 50 years. So how do they keep it fresh? I think for them, they sort found their reboot by accident when they introduced the Doctor’s regeneration. That allowed a new actor to face each bad guy in a different story. Has that damaged the Who universe? Not one bit. It has kept going (just about) for 50 years and has no plans to stop, as yet.

However, Doctor Who is just one main character and he always becomes the Doctor after each regeneration. There is the Tardis which sort of regenerates as well yet stays the same on the outside. The odd lick of paint makes it a bit brighter but its the same each time. Sometimes his time travel crosses universes but unlike DC’s merging, the Who universe does not really recreate a character. Yes the Daleks and Cybermen look new but they are just production changes.

The problem for DC and Marvel, any major universe in fact, is how to keep the same while changing and not lose readers or viewers. It’s a very difficult time when you pen the words, ‘and the world exploded killing everyone’. Many writers face the same problem, when to draw a conclusion to their favourite character. Many fans can never understand why a writer would wish to end their favourite character. Why do you have to stop?

Ian Flemming faced that very problem when he decided to kill James Bond after only a short time. There was an out cry and he came back. For some writers, a character or characters take on a life of their own and they can also take over the life of the writer. They invade their thoughts, they almost stalk the writer calling out for new stories. Write me, write more for me, a character might say to his writer. The writer has to decide what is best.

For me, the decision by Marvel to rewrite its own universes into a new one is a bold and maybe dangerous step. DC took that same step and it is still here. Is the new DC universe any better? I don’t know, but the new television series of Arrow and The Flash certainly have made an impact. Marvel movies and their television show has upped the stakes. Marvel comics have a huge fan base, very loyal and very passionate about their universe. There is the problem for any writer of any  long-standing character or universe, the fans.

How do you explain to them that all will be fine as you rip apart what they love? How do you explain that as the writer you can no longer find another version of the same story. That is the tough part.

The Marvel announcement will no doubt cause many posts on many web pages with many points of view. Stan Lee has already commented on the change in a positive way. One idea is to take a trip back in time and start again or bring back old dead characters or rip up all the past of a character and bring them back to something. Whatever happens, whatever the plans are it will upset someone and bring someone new to the universe. Wait and see.

 

Tagline: ‘Hang on, wasn’t the universe a different colour a moment ago?’