28 September 2011

Finding something brand new to read

A little while back, NPR published its top 100 fantasy and science fiction books. I don't know about you, but I just went "that's nice" and clicked off. As cool as a list of 100 fantasy/ sci-fi books is, I didn't want to have to trawl through all of them to find something new to read. I'm that level of lazy.

Thankfully, SFSignal has responded to that like a literary bat-signal and come up with a little something that's more my cup of tea. (If the image here is still too small - stupid image compression, then take a look at the original image.)

Just follow the flow chart and find the book that's right for you. In some cases, you can refuse their first offering and it'll recommend something else. When I did it (following the fantasy line, of course) it recommended The Crystal Cave by Mary Stewart. It's had some pretty amazing ratings so that'll go on my TBR pile. Just for funsies I decided to go along on the sci-fi path, since I don't often read any sci-fi at all. The chart pointed me at The Doomsday Book by Connie Willis. I'm a fan of time travel, so I may be tempted to give this one a shot. It'll be interesting to see everyone's choices and recommendations.

Give it a try. What fantasy/sci-fi book was recommended to you? Will you actually read it?

26 September 2011

Real-life Hobbit hole built in Welsh hillside

Source: www.simondale.net
I thought that it was just me reading Lord of the Rings a little too much recently, but there is a Hobbit hole that has been built into a hillside in Wales. The whole thing took 4 months to build from scratch, and apparently only cost the family £4000 to build. The best thing is that they didn't intent it to turn into a Hobbit hole, it just sort of turned out that way.

Freelance photographer Simon Dale and his wife decided to move to the country to bring up their first child, but weren't able to afford the mortgages that were on offer. So instead they were able to get a piece of land in the Welsh countryside and, armed with scavenged materials and friends to pitch in and help, they created a completely self designed, self made and self sustainable house.

Source: www.simondale.net
The Hobbit hole has straw bale insulation, solar panels and collects water from a nearby spring. This means that the house will be cheap to run as well as looking fantastic. It's kind of funny that it turned out having a distinctly 'Shire' feel to it - maybe Tokien knew more than a little something about eco-friendly housing?

If I was any kind of architect/builder, this would definitely be my kind of house.

Source: www.simondale.net via www.metro.co.uk

24 September 2011

The Fellowship of the Ring (part 3) group read

Welcome to part 3 of The Lord of the Rings group read that I'm happy to be a part of (take a look at part 1 and part 2 for more Tolkien-y goodness). This is the home stretch of the first part of the epic journey that is Lord of the Rings, and it's been ten years in the reading for me. So, let's get on with the discussion! These discussion points were provided by Little Red Reviewer.

Gandalf and the Balrog, just Wow.  Just a short scene, but oh so intense!  With their mentor gone, how will the group go on?  Even when they do reach Lothlorien, no one seems to know how to get where they are going.  They had been dependent on Gandalf making the decisions, and now he is gone.

I found is surprising how lost they all were without him. He was an important part of the group, yes, but they had a complete lack of direction after he had gone. What also shocked me was that, given Gandalf's importance in both The Hobbit and thus far in Fellowship, his sudden departure was surprising. Of course now we all know it turns out for the best (damn you, awesome movies!) but it was still shocking to read.

Galadriel and her Ring. She knows the Ring of power must be destroyed, but with it's destruction comes the de-powering (is that a word?) of her Ring as well. The Elves must leave Middle Earth or forget who and what they are. For her, this is a no win situation. Frodo's success effectively means the banishment of the Elves in Middle Earth. I wonder if that makes him more likely to do everything in his power to succeed, or less?
That was something that didn't come across in the movies, and I liked that 'catch-22' situation that Frodo's been put in. What makes it worse is that the elves are actively helping him to destroy the Ring, effectively speeding up their own unmaking. It's a hell of a tough situation to be in, but as a great doctor once said (warning, sci-fi reference coming up), "the needs of the many outweight the needs of the few, or the one".

Boromir - I didn't trust from way back at the Council at Rivendell. His conversation with Frodo at the end of Fellowship made him look like a know-it-all with a world view of colonialism and imperialism. Is this Tolkien taking a shot at the old fashioned British world view, or am I reading way, way too much into it?  

He was a shifty character from the get-go. Never trust someone who tries to use the tools of the enemy against them. As for the colonialism angle, I never thought about it. I don't know enough about Tolkien himself to really comment, but I'd imagine if he did put in some kind of 'message' here, it would have reflected the sentiments of the time rather than his personal feelings. I'm just stabbing in the dark here, so feel free to correct me.

After spending some time in Lothlorien, Sam realizes the Elves aren’t quite as scary or as strange as he first thought. I wonder if when he gets back to the Shire if he’ll realize the Hobbits in the next town aren’t quite as strange as he once thought.  I really don’t think this is an overt “message” story, but I do wonder if Tolkien didn't mind throwing in a little message of “those folks in the next valley aren’t as different as you think”.   

It sounds probable, especially with regards to Sam, who has a very insular and 'local' view of things that could sometimes border on xenophobic. I don't think that Tolkien put it deliberately, but rather it would have been a natural part of the journey itself. In being so far from home and seeing so many different races and cultures, there's little chance you'd be able to hold onto such introspective views for long.

I only stared reading fantasy a few years ago, and I keep running into this undercurrent of choice.  Bilbo has to choose to give up the Ring.  Frodo has to choose to take on the quest and be the Ring bearer. Even Boromir is choosing how he feels about the Ring and what it could bring him.  In the end, this is all coming down to how we choose to live our lives from moment to moment.
Choice and temptation are two of the biggest themes that I picked up on, and an emphasis on how the right thing to do is always so much harder than the easy (wrong) thing. Granted in some cases the characters aren't given very much of a choice, but they do make a decision one way or the other. I think in fantasy its the choices that will define a lot about a character, and have the ability to throw the quest in a completely new direction.

And the obligatory: what was your favorite part of this section? 

My favourite in this section was the time that the Company spent in Lothlorien. I quite liked the tension with Gollum stalking them, as well as the interaction between Legolas and Gimli. The scene with the mirror of Galadriel had a good mix of history and character. Plus, Lothlorien as a place is written brilliantly.


So there we have it. The end of The Fellowship of the Ring. I've finally finished it - after ten years of it collecting dust on my shelf, with a ripped bookmark at somewhere around page 70, I can finally say that I've read the first part of The Lord of the Rings. Don't forget to check out the reviews from the rest of the group:

The Little Red Reviewer
Geeky Daddy
Stainless Steel Droppings
All Booked Up
The Written World
The Blue Fairy's Bookshelf

23 September 2011

Zombie Fitness Friday - Hiatus

Not exactly like this, but you get the idea.

Zombie Fitness Fridays is taking a break this week while I reassess my goals and board up the windows in preparation for the mass of shuffling undead. Until then, fellow survivors, but in the meantime, get your zombified maws around this from Epic Meal Time.

21 September 2011

CLiNT magazine - a year in view

It's been just over a year since I last posted about the inaugral issue of CLiNT magazine, created by Kick-Ass creator Mark Millar, where I heralded the dawn of a new age for British comics,

"It's an awesome concept and, like the its predecessors, combines much of the elements are prevalent in our social mindset and presents them in comic form" -- I actually said that.

So a year has gone by, but has CLiNT delivered on its promises?

CLiNT has broke new ground, certainly. Its mixture of more adult-themed comics and geek-culture features mark it out as somethig different, but that also has the drawback of stores not knowing where it belongs. In the three different places I usually get my copy, there have been issues of CLiNT nestled amongst comic books, sci-fi/ movie magazines and copies of Gay Times (the last one was kind of an odd placement, and always got me a few looks when I got to the till).

The magazine has also been riddled with delays. In the 12 months that the magazine has been standing, only ten issues have been released (as opposed to thirteen). the delays were such that each issue was about a month behind its proposed release date (meaning that each issue was released more or less when the next issue was due). Fans have since been assured of a steady, six-week schedule by Millar (who cites flagship comic Kick-Ass 2 as the main reason for the delays) but a number of fans have given up on the series altogether.

The content of the magazine itself is excellent. The comic has evolved to include more comics than features, but regular spots (such as Badass cinema) have begun to emerge. Of the comics, by far the best are Kick-Ass 2, Turf, The Pro and American Jesus. the worst by a long shot was Rex Royd by Frankie Boyle, which focussed more on confusing the readers than entertaining them (something Boyle admitted to in a later interview with CLiNT). Thankfully, this comic is on hiatus so the magazine can focus on better quality issues.

So has CLiNT become 'the comic for the 21st Century'? Not really. But it has a hell of a lot of potential and, if it can learn from its past mistakes, it will definitely become a lot more popular.

19 September 2011

The worst movies ever blogfest!

Here's my entry for the Worst Movies Ever Blogfest, hosted by our favourite neighbourhood ninja captain Alex J Cavanaugh. Here you'll find ten of the worse movies to invade our cinemas and DVD players. Be sure to hop on over to Alex's blog and sign up!

The Wicker Man (remake)

This bad movies was made even worse seeing as it's based on a classic horror movie. Why did they even bother considering it? The Wicker Man can boast Nicholas Cage kicking a woman whilst dressed as a bear and screaming 'Not the bees! Not the bees! They're in my eyes!". Nicholas Cage is usually hit and miss with his movies, and this one is definitely a miss.

Planet of the Apes (Tim Burton remake)

Again, tampering with a classic always ends in tears. I'm not a fan of Mark Whalberg to begin with, so to have him trapsing around playing the hero gets my dander right up. The problem in this was that Burton insisted on a 'reimagining'  - a straight remake I could have handles, and a new story based on the Apes' canon (like Rise of the Planet of the Apes) had potential to be awesome. This, though? The less said about it the better.

Dungeons and Dragons

This movie almost made me completely loathe Jeremy Irons. For a while I couldn't stand the sight of anything he was in. Luckily, my opinion has completely changed. This sorry excuse for a movie is unforgivable, though. Having Scary Movie's Marlon Wayans as the 'comedic sidekick' was a terrible move, as was the blue lipstick on the bald evil henchmen.


I saw this movie when I was twelve, and I have yet to watch it again. I have a rule that I never walk out of a movie in the cinema, no matter how bad, but this one came close. I was so bored that, when a fight broke out at the front of the screen, I watched that instead.

Batman and Robin

A movie so bad, George Clooney said that if you told him that you paid to see it, he would instantly refund you. Whatever they were thinking when they made this, it's at odds with the rest of the world. I might have been a 'lets get as many big names in as we can'. Lot of good that did. If you have an unhealthy obsession with bad ice puns, though, Arnie's performance is stellar.

10,000 BC

One of those movies that seems to have all of one hook and then does nothing about the important things (like writing, acting etc.). I couldn't bear to watch this the whole way through, it was mind-numbingly boring

The Flintstones in Viva Rock Vegas

This is probably the worst prequel I've ever seen. The original movie had a kind of charm (the whole 'bringing a cartoon into live action' thing) and I thought it was fun. This is complete drivel. They took the idea of having modern ideas and showhorning them into a stone age setting to a bad extreme.


Yup, that's right, I went there. Many, many people have rose tinted blinkers on when it comes to Twilight. It has no redeeming features that I can see. Robert Pattinson had potential for greatness, and yet he will forever be remembered as the 100-odd year old stalker with a very lazy approach to his own hairstyle.

The Time Machine (remake)

I'm a huge fan of the original 1960 version, and this one annoyed me a lot. The motivation for the MC to travel in time in the first place is to save the life of the woman he loves, and yet within a few days worth of time travel he falls for someone else. This is a very dumbed down version of the original too, and doesn't have much of the 'wibbly-wobbly, timey-wimey' ness that the classic had.

 Every movie John Malkovich has ever made

I have an irrational hatred of John Malcovich. I don't know why, but everything about him irritates me. It took a lot of willpower not to choke on my own rage when I saw him in an added scene of The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy. Whenever I see him in a movie, I instantly want to stop watching. I don't know where it's come from. It's kind of odd, to be honest.

So those are my choices! Any disagreements? Do you have an actor/actress who you have an irrational hatred for?

18 September 2011

The Fellowship of the Ring (part 2) group read

This is the second installment in the Lord of the Rings group read that I'm taking part in. This couldn't have come at a better time, since Tolkien's epic is the one thing I can never finish. Thankfully, this group read has given me the impetus to actually read through the damn thing.

This week's post focuses on Chapters 9 through 15. Comments and further discussion is welcome as always.


1. What was your initial thoughts of Strider/Aragorn when Hobbits met up with him in The Prancing Pony? Did you think that he was linked with the Riders?

He seemed a little dubious, for certain. I was in two minds about what his intentions were, seeing as everything pointed to him being an 'outsider'. Unfortunately, having watched the movies 10 years ago and having read up to this point on my last attempt at reading LotR, Strider's allegiance didn't surprise me.

2.What was the biggest surprise to you during this section of the Fellowship of the Ring?

Learning that Sauron was active as the Necromancer in the time of The Hobbit. The fact that the world's greatest evil was going about, gaining power while they were off looking for treasure was a little disconcerting. They could have marched onto Mordor then and there and snuffed him rather than waiting 60-odd years or whatever it was.

3.Do you like that Tolkien goes in depth and tells the readers of the history events of the war that is upon the Fellowship? 

I do, but it makes for difficult reading. I don't know if it's because I'm used to reading long, in depth history as academic texts, so it's hard to 'get into' the enjoyment of it. This read along, though, is helping me with that. The history that was revealed at the council of Elrond was fascinating, made all the more so because it filled in so many gaps from the movie.

4. How far do you think you would have lasted if you were Frodo and nearly becoming a Rider?

Not very long. It's well established that men have a complete lack of willpower in this, even the strongest and most selfless. I can't really muster up enough willpower to get out of my pajamas most days, so I'd have succumbed to the Rider's blade within minutes.

5. As dangerous quest unfold to become, the other hobbits want to stick by Frodo til the end. Would you sacrifice yourself and stick with Frodo til the end?

I think in the case of Merry and Pippin, it's less sticking by Frodo till the end and more of not wanting to miss out on anything! I'd like to think that I'd be the kind of friend to walk into the jaws of death with someone if they were doing something so important. I wouldn't be happy about it, but I'd go with them.


I'll be reading along with the others over the next few weeks, answering questions each week to form the discussion. If you're on Twitter, keep updated using the hashtag #LOTRreadalong. Also, check out the other participants in the read-along:

The Little Red Reviewer
Geeky Daddy
Stainless Steel Droppings
All Booked Up
The Written World
The Blue Fairy's Bookshelf

16 September 2011

Zombie Fitness Friday - Week 4 (postpone the apocalypse)

This week I received two rather distressing pieces of news that have thrown me slightly off course for this week:

1. The Carmarthen Zombie Apocalypse has been cancelled this year due to low ticket sales, which seriously puts into doubt the prospect of one next year.
2. It turns out that the scales I use to check my weight each week are broken, and have been showing me as being at least 10lbs lighter than I should be. Two different scales that I've used since has confirmed this. 

The combination of these two whammies in quick succession has meant that this week has been a very demotivated zombie fitness week. I only did one gym session, but I still managed my 5k. Dietwise I've been shockingly bad. On the plus side, the fact that my scales are all messed up means that I have no idea how good/bad I've done this week. This week is also the first week I've put my own playlist into my phone whilst working out, and it's really helped to improve my stamina.

Not to worry, though. Despite this minor setback, I plan to throw myself into the regime with renewed vigour from next week. Consider the past four weeks to have been a trial run. Now the zombie apocalypse begins for real. I take some consolation in that, despite my scales being consistently wrong each week, I still lost weight, which is good. I just need to lose more than I thought in order to not be zombie chow.

Thanks for your suggestions for weapons too. My favourite method of zombie killing comes from Matthew MacNish,

"My zompoc weapon of choice would be a kayak paddle, with a chainsaw duct taped to either end. You could take off a lot of heads with that thing."

What would be at the top of your 'zombie slaying' playlist?


Just a heads up too that I won't be around this week, though I'll still try to schedule in my usual posts. I'm going to GAMEfest tomorrow (so expect many photos and videos of Assassin's Creed: Revelations and Elder Scrolls: Skyrim) and for the entire next week I shall be without a laptop. This will mean I'll have about 10 days of posts to catch up on commenting, so bear with me.

14 September 2011

Blogfest - If I could be anyone, I'd be ...

Today is the launch day of Watching Willow Watts by Talli Roland! The story surrounds Willow Watts, a girl with an ordinary, boring life until her impression of Marylin Monroe hits the Internet and turns her into a viral sensation.

To celebrate the launch of Watching Willow Watts, we've come together to say 'If I could be anyone, I'd be ...'. If you want to join in, take a look at the sign up page on Talli Roland's blog.

Watching Willow Watts is available in eBook format [UK | USA]


And so, without further ado, if I could be anyone, I'd be ....

Leonardo da Vinci

My first choice was Ezio Auditore da Firenze from Assassin's Creed II and Assassin's Creed: Brotherhood, but I figured I best stick to real life characters. Da Vinci features in both games, though, so he's a close second.

Leonardo da Vinci (1452 - 1519) is considered by most to be a 'polymath' - someone who excels at everything that they do, and someone whose expertise covers many broad areas. Da Vinci was so much more than the painter that gives him world-wide renown. Here's a very small list of some of his acehivements:

  • Created two of the most iconic paintings in history (The Mona Lisa and The Last Supper)
  • Invented the first tank
  • Invented the first helicopter (though only a sketched prototype)
  • Completed studies on both human and animal anatomy, and published many journals on the subject
  • Perfected mirror writing in his personal notes to keep them immediately secret
The main message that people like da Vinci put across is that if you're doing to do something, be the damn best that you can at it. Da Vinci had no formal schooling in Latin or mathematics, and yet became one of the greatest minds in history. He's a hell of a man to aspire to, and someone I'd definitely want to be.

If you could be anyone, who would you be?

12 September 2011

Book trailer - Daughter of Smoke and Bone by Laini Taylor


I have to hand it to the guys at Hodder & Stoughton; they know how to make a damn good book trailer. The series of trailers that have been released for Daughter of Smoke and Bone by Laini Taylor so far have offered tantalising glimpses into some of the characters within the story. I'm not normally one for YA fiction, but this has a touch of darkness to it that appeals to me. A quick perusal around the blog-o-sphere has revealed some glowing reviews of it too. I'll be keeping a close eye on this one. Take a look at the other two trailers below.

Anyone read this book yet? What did you think of it?

11 September 2011

The Fellowship of the Ring (part 1) group read

I might have mentioned this before. I have the utmost respect for Tolkien and his works. His creation of Middle Earth is a masterpiece. His mastery of both language and culture means that his world could be mistaken for real. However, despite this, I am never, ever able to read through his magnum opus, The Lord of the Rings. I get so bogged down with the intricate detail of it all that I always give up halfway through The Fellowship of the Ring. I get bored because it's done too well.

I have a chance to rectify that, though. The Little Red Reviewer has invited me to take part in a Lord of the Rings group read, forming a discussion on parts of the book as we go along. I jumped at the chance - maybe I'll actually finish the damn thing now! So without further ado, here is part 1 of the group read of The Fellowship of the Ring (chapters 1 to 8).


1. Hobbits seem to have songs for everything!  I didn't realize this was a musical. . . . how are you liking all the songs?
So long as I read them with a rhythm and a meter, I can handle them. I have to read them as actual songs in order to get through them - if I treat it as simple prose, it gets very boring. I just wish there wasn't so damn many! It does enrich the cultural side of things - the songs that the Hobbits sing show a little of their folklore, their history, that you wouldn't get from straight info-dumps. 

2. I love that we learn about Gollum and his past so early on. It gives a dark and foreboding (dare I say, perilous?) feeling to the whole thing. Were you surprised that the story took a dive towards the dark and scary so quickly?
I really enjoyed it. It puts everything into context for later on in the book. I can see why they waited until much later in the movies - they wanted to preserve the 'is Gollum really evil or can he be saved?' feeling. Having this dark section so early on lets you know how tormented Gollum is, and just how sinister and dangerous the Ring truly is. 

3. Tom Bombadil!  what and who is he???  If you met him in a forest, would you trust him?
I'm of the group that neither likes nor trusts Bombadil. He reminds me of Hector the Halfling from the cartoon TV series of Dungeons and Dragons. He seems all eccentric and good willing, but there's something awfully sinister lurking beneath the surface. It wouldn't surprise me that Bombadil was one of the original elves that were given a Ring of Power, and it had driven him a bit mad, so he lives in a self imposed exile because he knows how dangerous he is. He's that kind of shady. 

4. What did you think when Pippin, Merry and Sam told Frodo about their "conspiracy", and that they pretty much knew what he was planning from the beginning?
I really enjoyed the revelation, especially with Frodo doing his best to cover his true intentions, all for naught. I think it's a great testament to the personality of Hobbits - even though they're knowing walking into the jaws of danger, they'll stick by their own through thick and thin. 

5. What's your favorite part of the book so far?
By far, it's the sinister back story of the Ring, and Gandalf shows Frodo the gravity of the situation in which he's found himself. Right off the bat you know that this isn't a simple quest with a magical object. It's an object of immense evil and immeasurable power, and it has the power to twist and corrupt everyone. That's a hell of a burden to be placing on a young Hobbit. 


I'll be reading along with the others over the next few weeks, answering questions each week to form the discussion. If you're on Twitter, keep updated using the hashtag #LOTRreadalong. Also, check out the other participants in the read-along:

The Little Red Reviewer
Geeky Daddy
Stainless Steel Droppings
All Booked Up
The Written World
The Blue Fairy's Bookshelf

9 September 2011

Zombie Fitness Friday: Week 3 (weapon of choice)

Poster by Kate Derrick
Here we are in week 3 of my new fitness regime to become fit and healthy before the impending zombie apocalypse. I tried something a little different this week, and though it hasn't paid off that well, it has potential.

Rather than do two days hitting the treadmill as I've done in previous weeks, I decided to do one day in the gym and another day playing squash with some friends. Turns out I have no hand-eye coordination in sports whatsoever, and I rarely managed to hit the ball. Still, I think I got a decent workout from it so I'll probably make it a weekly thing. Besides, smacking a ball against a wall with as much force as I can will put me in good stead for bashing in zombie heads when the time comes. Hey, it worked for Shaun and his cricket bat, it can work for me - though I'd probably substitute a squash racket for something with a little bit more punch.

My session in the gym saw me completing my traditional 5km (with a total 1km sprint) in under 30 minutes. I'm going to try and up the ante next week and go for 6.5km (a quarter of a marathon). I've not done any other exercise this week, so I'm going to dedicate the weekends to some light jogging to keep me going.

The diet is improving but not much (from morning till about 6pm my meals are coffee and fruit) so that's something to look at next week too.

Still, despite only one proper gym session, I managed to drop another 2lbs, taking me to 203lbs. Next week I want to break beneath the 200lb mark (in the first time in what seems like forever).

If (read: when) the zombie apocalypse hits, what would be your weapon of choice?

EDIT: I forgot to add in the best comment from last week. This little piece of (de)motivation comes from Sarah Pearson,

"Sod the training. Find a shopping mall, barricade the doors and hide in the soft furnishings department of a department store." -- genius.

7 September 2011

Struggling with originality - Insecure Writer's Support Group

This is my first post as part of Alex J. Cavanaugh's Insecure Writer's Support Group. This is an awesome new idea that gets us writers talking about our fears and anxieties, and so we can support each other on the scary road to publication.

My biggest challenge at the moment is originality. I know the old saying that 'no ideas are original anymore' and ultimately everything is based on something that came before it. In the case of fantasy, we have Tolkien to thank for most of our fantasy tropes, which in turn were influenced by European folk tales. This I can deal with.

What gets me is when I get an idea and then I find out that more or less the exact same idea has been done before. A case in point was an idea I had for an epic fantasy a few years back. The basic premise was that technology across the globe ceased to function at the exact same moment in time, causing panic and general chaos for years. The story itself would be set 400 years after the event, where society has regressed to a pseudo-Celtic society without technology, and it is at this point that magic begins to bleed into the world. The big twist of the first story (it was planned to be a series) was that the MC would discover that their ancestors were far more advanced than they were, in a Planet of the Apes style revelation.

Then I find out from an episode of Geek's Guide to the Galaxy that a book had been written years ago that more or less dealt with the exact same thing. More than that, there's an 80s cartoon called Visionaries: Knights of the Magical Light, that more or less had this concept. I remember watching the show as a kid so I assume that I had taken the idea from that without realising it.

What do I do? Do I carry on regardless, knowing that my idea isn't original at all? I might have slipped in a couple of bits into the story that may have been my own (in particular a race of humanoids called the Traek who ruled the forests of the world) but would it be worth it?  
Should I just cut my losses and come up with something else?


Thanks for reading, and any advice would be appreciated. Don't forget to take a look at the other participants and give some support too. The blog-hop list is below.

5 September 2011

Mithril Wisdom gets social!

It's been a busy couple of weeks for the blog. I'm going back through my old posts and re-categorising everything so that it'll be easier to search through the blog. No more weird labels clogging up the pages!

For anyone who's missed it too, I've also got a Twitter Feed so you can keep track on my comings and goings on a minute by minute basis. To top it off, I've succumbed to the lure of Google+, and if that's not enough I've got a profile on Goodreads too.

So that's my little stint of self promotion. If you're on any of those sites, look me up! Oh, one more thing. That little picture up there is my blog button. If you're the type to put picture links on your blog, you can use that little critter up there. Let me know if you've got one and want to do some blog-button swapping.

4 September 2011

TV review - Night Terrors (Doctor Who)

The second episode of part 2 of season 6 (that's a bit of a mind bender to begin with) sees the Doctor and the Ponds making a 'house call' to a very frightened child somewhere in present-day England. The boy's parents are concerned, as the child is 'scared of absolutely everything'. However, The Doctor soon discovers that the child has good reason to be afraid, as the monsters that lurk within his bedroom are very real indeed.

This episode takes a break from the whole 'search for Melody Pond' plotline that I feared would dominate this half of the season. While it seemed a little out of place that Melody's parents - Amy and Rory - were so blasé about not looking for their daughter, it gave us a welcome respite so that we could get into a more insular story.

The real star of Night Terrors is writer Mark Gatiss, who gives the episode a brilliant sense of tension and suspense, as well as great 'villains' in the form of the dolls. Their look is pretty creepy, and their lack of expression, persistence and child-like voices are reminiscent of the episode The Empty Child. Matt Smith continues to cement his role as The Doctor, his performance in this season a lot more confident and comfortable in his role. Daniel Mays, who plays the child's father, was pretty stale, and his performance didn't seem to differ from his role as Cass in BBC's Outcasts i.e. constantly surprised and looking as if he'd just been crying.

My main criticism of Night Terrors was the ending, which seemed a lot less 'Who-ey' than other episodes this season, and a lot more emotional and, dare I say it, mushy. There was a lot less emphasis on the high concept sciencey jargon that The Doctor is famed for, and the episode seemed to end on an anticlimax.

Still, the episode as a whole was tense and very well shot, giving us a healthy dose of creepy into what is becoming an increasingly more 'kid friendly' series. I hope for a lot more of the same in the episodes to come.

2 September 2011

Zombie Fitness Friday: Week 2 (Free range zombie bait)

This guy has the right idea ...
This is my second week of training, and I'm starting to feel the strain of continuous exercise after living such a sedentary lifestyle (go to work, sit on office chair all day, come home, sit on sofa all night, go to bed, repeat). Like last week, I did two stints at the gym, where I did a 5km jog, including two 400m sprints. My body didn't like me doing this and rebelled by giving me some wicked back pain.

I realised this week that I may have slightly underestimated my work out. My research into fitness regimes against the undead has revealed that I should in fact run 8km per day. This means that I'm doing just over half of what I should. This isn't a problem, since I'm taking baby steps, and it's a definite fitness goal to work towards.

Again, I didn't focus on my diet (though my lunches consist of gorging on the free fruit they hand out at work), but I still managed to drop another 3lbs, bringing that number down to 205lbs.

Next week, I plan to make an effort at a proper diet, and take jogs in the park during the days that I don't hit the gym. Again, thanks for all of your support and comment from last week. I promise that I will watch Zombieland soon! My favourite comment from last week goes to Karen Peterson, who gave a good tip about training against potentially fast zombies,

"I think I'd prepare for 28 Days Later and hope for The Walking Dead"

Looks like the consensus from you guys was that zombies are shufflers, not sprinters. I agree with you, but in the spirit of the zombie survival game I hope to take part in, the training demands for sprinters.

Apart from Zombieland, what zombie/post-apocalyptic movies should I watch to prepare myself for the coming apocalypse?