Monday, November 21, 2005

My initial reaction to Infinite Crisis #1


Friday, November 18, 2005

And then he came back

I haven't disintegrated just yet. I've just been out in the wilderness beyond internet-land, in a corner of Germany where the locals speak a form of Cardassian. Nine days of attempting to decipher four or five in-laws pushing out 180 words a minute in a who can put on the thickest accent? competition has left me a little bewildered. Even the sound of the world's worst estuary accent left me wanting to kiss Stansted airport's tarmac. But has anyone else noticed that Germany is actually a great country? Rather better, I suspect, than Britain.

Anyway, while I've been away, my oldest and fiercest critic, anonymous, has with some accuracy accused me of writing stupid posts and neglecting to review comic books.

Well, "Blogger writes stupid post" isn't going to make the headlines on News 24, but I'll nevertheless plead guilty to that charge. Not that there's nothing necessarily wrong with stupid. And what branches grow out of this stony rubbish? I would write more comic reviews, but this whole House of Infinite Identity Crisis Disassembled crossover malarkey has drained the enthusiasm out of me like so much sump oil. I haven't even finished last month's comics yet, and this month's are about to plop uninterestingly onto my doormat.

But let's be honest, it's not as if there's any shortage of comic book blogs out there, is it?

Still, my brain abhors a vacuum, and I've chewed my way through two novels, Peter F Hamilton's bloated Judas Unchained and Neil Gaiman's classy American Gods. I'm tempted to review the former, if only to give away the ending to an America where it isn't (I think) released until February, giving me a perfectly formed revenge on all those reviewers who get their comics two months before me.

Gaiman, meanwhile, provided me with my daily ration of smugness by dropping in a quote from The Waste Land. We poetry readers, hated and feared by a world which doesn't understand us, use TS Eliot quotes as a form of mutual self-identification in the same way the Crips and Blood flick gang signs - although I admit the LAPD probably don't have the same interest in our activities.

In the meantime, I still have twenty-one thousand words of novel to knock off in the next twelve days, so I'll have to delay the publication of my master thesis a little while longer: I have proof that John Byrne's unpleasant and grouchy internet persona is actually a creation of arch-schemer Chris Claremont, the Magneto to Byrne's Xavier. Byrne in real life is a lovely wee bloke who lives up in the Saskatchewan mountains bashing out unpublished Uncanny X-Men scripts on his Imperial typewriter.

In the meantime, here's a musical interlude.

Friday, November 04, 2005

What happened to all the memes?

When I started blogging a few months ago, everybody seemed to be passing around those meme jobbies. The only problem is that they're too easy, being questions like What's your birthday? or When did your favourite household pet last contract scabies? So I've decided to introduce my own infuriating version, which I'm sure will soon be flashing its way around the internet.

Mister Fish's Difficult Meme

1) Identify five elements of classical Hellenistic storytelling in the Gospel of St Mark. Comment on the effect these have on our understanding of the Gospels as historical documents.

2) "Econometrics has failed to grasp the importance of non-linear systems." Discuss.

3) Whither architecture?

4 a) Discuss the extent to which the lack of evidence for dark matter affects string theory.
b) Design an experiment to search for evidence of either dark matter or gravity waves. Give costings.

5) "The disaster of the Black Death led directly to the end of serfdom in mediaeval England."

Give counter-examples, using evidence from either Hampshire or Kent and four from Leicestershire, Warwickshire, East Sussex, Suffolk, Northamptonshire, County Durham and Cornwall (except that you must not include both Warwickshire and County Durham if you have chosen to include two from Suffolk, Leicestershire and East Sussex).

If you have time left over, have a look at the Isle of Wight as well.

6) Freedom and equality: comrades or combatants?

7) Choose your favourite part of the periodic table. Justify, using laboratory experiments.

8) "Shakespeare: sexist, racist, and rude to children."

Deconstruct, quoting liberally from chain-smoking French intellectuals.

9) Give five examples of poor programming practice. Resist the temptation to include goto.

10) Design an eco-system for a simple geodesic dome. Observe its development over fifty years. Now introduce a destructive pathogen. How upset does it make you feel?

Thursday, November 03, 2005

Spider-Man facts of the day

1) The real-life father of typecast ubergeek Tobey Maguire was sent to Chokey for bank robbery. Isn't it ironic, dontcha think?

This fact was brought to you courtesy of TMF, the television station commonly known as Freeview Channel 21, which I only watch in bursts during the interminably long adverts which blight Lost

2) Slinky actress Kirsten Dunst is far too personable and attractive to play the vapid, monstrous Mary Jane Watson. Only a mercurial talent like our very own Lady Tottington of the Bronx, Madonna, could take this role, displaying as she does her own inimitable mix of self-absorption and vanity.

Other possible candidates might be Ann Widdecombe MP, Geoffrey 'two runs an hour' Boycott or Hurley from Lost.

Novel writing, and Germans viewed as space aliens

It turns out this Nanowrimo novel writing gig isn't so tough. Just over two days in, and my word count is a shade under 12000. It turns out to be possible to grind out five or six thousands words a day if you just tell your fingers to keep typing. I'm glad I've got detailed chapter outlines, though, as I don't have to worry about the plot.

I shan't be putting it up on my blog, even though I'm sure you'd all love to read a story about love and insurrection in a spaceship graveyard. The problem is that I'm a fussy writer. I can't bear putting work out without piles of editing - I usually have two or three editing runs on each blog post, and that's just after I've posted. And then I angst about whether I should delete it.

Nanowrimo is the exact opposite of fussy writing, where you're expected to guiltlessly push out endless substandard pages. It's all good fun, but I couldn't bring myself to let others see it in the state it's in.

I know it's all a bit ridiculous worrying, given nobody expects a blog to be a work of literature and, anyway, I've got more aliases than Sean Combs. Sorry, and all that.

There is also the point that, should the novel turn out to be publishable (not a great danger at this stage, I must say), if you've already blogged it, then that counts as prior publication, and book publishers wouldn't touch it. If I can find a passage I'm not utterly ashamed of, I'll stick it here.

Next week, I shall be flying off to Germany to stay in an overcrowded house in the Swabian Albs with a group of strange beings known as "in-laws". They're actually pleasant people, though their loud voices regularly flip my migraine switch to agonising, and are all completely immune to my native English eloquence, consisting as it does of equals measures of sarcasm, self-pity and bile. They regard me with the same attitude that space aliens have towards their captives - disinterest, compassion and a desire to work out if you can be classified as "sentient".

God, I hope Mrs Clone never reads this post.