Saturday, 8 June 2013

Good News and a Glass Half Full

Okay, so this is the week that I got my last mark for my MA - I only did two modules this year, next year I'll do three, probably Screenwriting as my final option and then I'm into the compulsory modules of Reading Into Writing and the Dissertation, which I'm planning to do about fear and it's power.

For my Fiction mark I got a 62. It's dependent on the exam board but it means that I've got two marks in the 60s - so two commendations. As a result I'm starting to put very tentative feelers out about doing a PhD in English - I know what I'd want to do it on and I'm starting to think that I'd be quite good at it. I should be able to get fee waivers, so as long as I can line up work to pay the bills I think it's possible.

I'm hoping to hear good news on that front soon.

Today I've sent three stories off to see if I can get them published. Crows has gone to Corvus magazine (who published the Letter last year). I've sent Six Circlets to a magazine called Fantasy Short Stories, I hope the post apocalyptic flavour to the proceedings doesn't put them off. Lastly I've sent Whispers in the Flame to a magazine called New Myths. So I have my fingers and toes crossed that they'll all get published. A lot of my afternoon was spent reformatting Whispers and retouching some of the writing so hopefully I've made it into a stronger piece.

Friday, 7 June 2013

Friday Music Thing: A Monstrous Regiment

Sorry for the quietness on the blog front, I've been feeling low and frankly I've either been too tired or too pissed off to do any blogging.

Fuck it though, its Friday, I have perry, pizza and I'm listening to Youtube (is that the right term, I'm never sure). Also I've just read Phonogram volume 2, the Single's Club which is set at an Indie Night that only plays music by bands that have female singers.

Let's talk about female singers and bands, particularly on the Goth scene (because, you know, Gothical).

1) Siouxsie and the Banshees: Spellbound

The first Banshees song I can remember really paying attention to, probably because of Eve, Spellbound makes me so happy. Siouxsie Sioux's voice is like a wall of sound, it's everywhere, dominating the song. The lyrics bring back those terrible nights when anything could happen; when the dark wasn't your friend.

2) All About Eve: Outshine the Sun

Taken from the 4th album, the much maligned Ultraviolet, which is actually my favourite, this song takes me back to reading and playing Mage the Ascension; something about the song captures that game perfectly. The lyrics are beautiful, and have a tarnished hippy quality to them, perhaps proof that the death of counter culture was a long, ugly one rather than just a sudden unravelling in 1994. The Eves always seem quite good for this, taking beautiful images and then casting them through a glass darkly into Goth's domain.

3) Curve: Recovery

I must confess that I didn't like Curve the first time I heard them, it took a few years for me to get to grips with them and start liking them - their appearance in Razor Blade Smile certainly helped with that. This track really pushes my buttons, not only are the lyrics poignant but they have a twisted quality that appeals to me. It's a love song but not the stuff you get in the charts, instead they're tacking through a sea of desperation and need. The music is just discordant enough to set my nerves on edge, but not enough to drive me away. Really, it makes me want to dance.

4) Garbage: The Queerest of the Queer

Part of the Doom Generation, a sort of 90s dark subculture that could have been Goth, but for somehow wasn't, Garbage tacked the edges of that period, in a sort of Rock, sort of Goth kind of way. This track is from their first album, and really the chorus sums up how I feel so much of the time.

5) March Violets: Snake Dance

Another track I love, we saw this band last year when they toured for the first time in... well forever. The highlight of the night, apart from the music, was probably Rosie Lugosi's banter when the drum machine broke down. Again, this song makes me want to dance.

6) Die Laughing: Safe Little World

Okay, you get extra tonight, because I like you... (you might want to run). Cara introduced me to this band, but I only remember this track from the '90s. It wasn't until we saw them supporting the Violets that I really got how cool they are. This song really sums up so much about... everything (its like so deep, man)

Sunday, 2 June 2013

7 Wonders

I grabbed this game yesterday on the recommendation of Mavis Cruet of Stormy Port Games and played a couple of games of it last night with Eve and Emma.

We set the game up and started to play, only pausing to watch a Youtube video when we were stumped by the commerce section of the game. Other than that it seemed quite an easy play with only a few areas where the things weren't clear. That said the rules weren't very well translated in places, that's why we went looking for the Youtube video in the first place.

The goal of the game is to build an ancient civilisation. You select a, or draw, a wonder to build, which varies in difficulty. The pyramids of Giza are more difficult to construct than the Lighthouse at Alexandria for instance, but you're rewarded with more points when you complete the wonder if it's harder to build. The game can function without trying to build a wonder though - in the second game we played Emma didn't even try to build her's and focused on building her city and army up. Whilst she didn't win (I managed to pip her to the post thanks to a couple of cards I played late in the game), she scored about 37 points that way which doesn't seem to sloppy.

Game play is interesting, the idea that you play a card and then pass your hand left or right is interesting because it means you never know what's going to come your way and you don't really have time to plan - everything has to be done on the spur of the moment. That doesn't mean that tactical play is impossible, I think all of us found ourselves either devoting cards to our wonders or discarding them in return for coins because we didn't want them in the game; my gut feeling is that there's quite a few levels of play from the simple building to a level where you're actively working to screw the other players.

All in all I very much enjoyed playing the game and I'm looking forward to playing it again, hopefully soon.

Saturday, 1 June 2013

Lazy Friday erm Saturday: Songs that Mean Something

We all have these, songs that mean something to us, that bring back memories of good times or bad times, or that we use in certain ways. I don't know if I'm odd in that I listen to darker music when I feel low to the stuff I'll put on when I'm happy. The alternative just doesn't work for me at all.

I'll chuck these songs into two camps, emotional and chronological. The two are linked of course...

Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds: Lime Tree Arbour

This is the song we had played at our wedding and I think it really encapsulates a sort of grown up love, which is something Nick Cave's very good at. One of the reason's I like his work is that it's very far away from the juvenile posturing you used to see on Top of the Pops (yes that dates me, so what?). This song is very simple, but it really defines how I feel about my beloved.

The Mission: Wasteland

When we first started going out Eve gave me a mix tape of Goth songs: 'Goths are better with dreams than children' ran down its spine. We'd recently played Mage: the Ascension and the songs were all based around the idea for the plot. This is the song that stood out the most and the opening, Wayne Hussey's voice 'I still believe in God but God no longer believes in me' still gives me chills. It reminds me of that sudden first flush of love, the careless days that frame the start of most relationships (excluding ones where you have to sneak about and fear being caught).

All About Eve: Shelter from the Rain

This song hits me on many levels. It's another song I heard soon after Eve and I started dating and there's a stately, mournful air that's always seemed to suit both of us. That's entirely subjective, so take it as you will; she'd probably have quite a different answer. The lyric 'I'll shelter you if you shelter me again', really resonates with me; if songs convey the meaning of love, then that seems to be it (it sort of echoes the Nick Cave lyric of 'there is a hand that protects me and I do love her so' but it's the first time that's occured to me).

Foo Fighters: The Pretender

Another of those defiance songs (I love songs that sound defiant, that spit and scratch and say 'fuck you we won't just take this lying down') and possibly the healthiest. The lyrics here just soar, full of venom but light as the breeze. It's energetic, it makes me want to do things, to defeat my foes and get the best sort of triumph.

Abney Park: Chronofax/Letters Between a Little Boy and Himself as an Adult

This song is one I have a love/hate relationship with. It really chokes me up and its one of the few songs I avoid when I'm feeling bad because it doesn't make me want to go on. Instead it hits me in the fear pocket - encapsulating my worry that I've achieved nothing with my life (after all, I am a Thursday's Child, I have far to go).

Voltaire: The Beast of Pirate's Bay

Lastly, let's have something happy. I've already talked a little about my love of  Voltaire. This is one of the tracks that makes me happy, just the right mix of happy, sinister and ridiculous with a tune that just keeps me going.