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Monthly Archives: December 2011

Short Story: Ascent

ADVENT DAY TWENTY-FOUR: To celebrate advent, I’ll be adding new content to this blog every day in the countdown to Christmas; reviews, opinion pieces, short stories… that sort of thing! So make sure you pop back in between shopping, packing presents and nursing a headache.

To mark Christmas Eve – and the final day of the Blog Advent! – here’s a short Christmas story I wrote on the bus up to Bristol to finish festive shopping! Even though advent’s at an end, I’ll still be updating as much as possible. Have a very Merry Christmas, everyone, and thanks, as ever, for looking at my blog.

His moment is coming.

He can hear the crowd screaming for him, adrenaline and excitement coursing through their veins. He can feel it too, but knows it’s not his time.

In fact, he shouldn’t even be here. In this position of power. With so many watching his every move.

As a child, Peter didn’t like being looked at. Sure, he had a lot of friends and they always wanted to be around him, but he never felt the centre of attention. If he were honest, and really tried to remember those days, he was the focal point of numerous groups of friends on numerous occasions. But there were also times that they all splintered away and he was just a satellite to their activities. And he never craved for them to all come back to him; he didn’t have that thirst.

He was an ‘only child,’ as the saying goes, so he never had to compete for the affections of his parents. His Dad wasn’t an alcoholic, and his Mum never left them. They didn’t follow him around all the time – neither physically nor metaphorically – or leave him to find his own dinner at night. They were just normal.

Peter wished for that normality now as someone looked at him and said, “they’re expecting you in five, four…”

Peter had moved into a bigger school, and withdrew from the world further. Everyone was big and loud and accusing. He’d never felt so out-of-place. He could count the amount of mates he had on one hand.

“Three…”

Peter’s hand was shaking.

Even the teachers were intimidating, used to the boisterousness of the class. He used to get home as fast as he could; back to a world where he was the centre of it. But slowly, he adapted. Changed.

He hated those years.

“Two…”

Peter drew in a gulp of piercing air, his chest rising, like he was so proud of himself; defying his feelings.

He still hated those years.

He had to step up. Be somebody. And suddenly, he hungered for attention, almost blind to what he got from home.

His mates lapped it up. He hasn’t seen them since he left education.

Peter would show off. He knew more than the teachers and spent much of his time outside the class; by his own design, whether he knew it or not. But standing, while the rest were sat down… he was superior.

“One…”

He didn’t think he could stand much longer. He stepped forward, regardless.

Then his ascension came, and he found it wasn’t all it was meant to be. Everyone thought he was in charge – that he held the power – but the strings belonged to someone else.

He didn’t want that attention any more. Cut at it. Take it away.

He stepped out. The crowd went on forever. All eyes on him.

He had practised his speech in front of his wife. Twice, then once for luck. Then the mirror and finally to the crowd.

Pitch perfect. They lapped it up. And the moment of truth: he pressed down and the lights on the Christmas tree to his left made the town glow.

The crowd gasped and rose up with them and the arcs of LEDs sparked into life above them.

“Merry Christmas!” Peter yelled into the microphone and reminded them all that he had a new DVD out.

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Doctor Who Series 6 Quiz Answers!

ADVENT DAY TWENTY-THREE: To celebrate advent, I’ll be adding new content to this blog every day in the countdown to Christmas; reviews, opinion pieces, short stories… that sort of thing! So make sure you pop back in between shopping, packing presents and nursing a headache.

A couple of days ago, I posted a Doctor Who series six quiz. If you missed it, you can find it here.

I won’t leave you in suspense any longer; here are all the answers…

1. What type of alien was Nephew?

An Ood.

2. What’s the name of the orphanage in which Amy and Canton found the Silence and the spacesuit?

Greystark Hall Orphanage.

3. Where did Lorna Bucket come from?

Gamma Forests.

4. What buttons were there to choose from at the Two Streams Facility?

Green anchor and Red Waterfall.

5. The Minotaur in The God Complex was a distant cousin of what creature from Classic Who?

The Nimon.

6. Daniel Mays played Alex, George’s dad, in Night Terrors. But who did he play in series three of Ashes to Ashes?

DCI Jim Keats.

7. Closing Time is the sequel to which series 5 episode?

The Lodger.

8. What natural phenomenon caused the Gangers to gain sentience?

A Solar Tsunami/ Solar storm.

9. The Curse of the Black Spot scribe, Steve Thompson, has worked with showrunner, Steven Moffat and fellow writer, Mark Gatiss on which other hit series?

Sherlock.

10. What was the name of the pyramid which housed the Silence in The Wedding of River Song?

Area 52.

Bonus question:

Who directed a new series record of five Doctor Who episodes in a row, from 2010’s The Pandorica Opens to series 6’s Day of the Moon?

Toby Haynes.

There we go! Let me know how you did, if you enjoyed taking part, and if you want to see more in the comments section below. Thanks!

 
 

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Ultimate Spider-man Omnibus announced

ADVENT DAY TWENTY-TWO: To celebrate advent, I’ll be adding new content to this blog every day in the countdown to Christmas; reviews, opinion pieces, short stories… that sort of thing! So make sure you pop back in between shopping, packing presents and nursing a headache.

Marvel’s March solicitations have been released, featuring a nice surprise for the middle of 2012.

In June (and no, I don’t know why it’s in March’s solicits, either), Ultimate Spider-man is released, collecting the first 39 issues of Brian Michael Bendis and Mark Bagley’s critically-acclaimed run.

I’ve been looking for the USM HCs for a while now, so this is certainly a welcome addition to the range.

Here’s the full synopsis:

In 2000, Marvel launched the Ultimate Universe, reinventing Spider-Man for a new millennium. Now, the first three years of Brian Michael Bendis and Mark Bagley’s fan-favourite, award-winning take on the web-slinger are collected in one oversized volume! Relive Peter Parker’s early days as Spider-Man, learning to fight crime by trial and error as he struggles to balance his new life with the demands of high school: puberty, homework and dating!

Even with the help of his best friend and confidante, Mary Jane Watson, Peter has a heavy load to bear. But the neophyte Spider-Man is making enemies left and right — including the Green Goblin, the Kingpin of Crime, Dr. Octopus, Kraven the Hunter and the maniacal Venom — and unless he can rise to the occasion, he may not survive until prom! Collecting Ultimate Spider-Man (2000) #1-39 and #1/2, written by Brian Michael Bendis, pencilled by Mark Bagley, with alternate covers by Joe Quesada & Mark Bagley.

Marvel, hardback, 1000 pages, published June 2012

Remember to check out my other blog, Make Mine A Marvel Omnibus, (marvelomnibus.wordpress.com) for more news on the range… and some amazing deals on Forbiddenplanet!

 
 

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Doctor Who Series 6 Quiz!

ADVENT DAY TWENTY-ONE: To celebrate advent, I’ll be adding new content to this blog every day in the countdown to Christmas; reviews, opinion pieces, short stories… that sort of thing! So make sure you pop back in between shopping, packing presents and nursing a headache.

2011 has been a good year for Doctor Who, with one of the strongest series so far. Ratings have remained at their usual high standard (despite what the papers say), and we finally found out the truth about River Song… possibly.

To celebrate, here are ten questions for the Who fan in us all. It’s just for fun though – no prizes, or whatnot – and the answers will follow in a few days time. And remember to pick up this month’s Doctor Who Magazine for their annual quiz; even I’ll admit it’s sooooo difficult.

  1. What type of alien was Nephew?
  2. What’s the name of the orphanage in which Amy and Canton found the Silence and the spacesuit?
  3. Where did Lorna Bucket come from?
  4. What buttons were there to choose from at the Two Streams Facility?
  5. The Minotaur in The God Complex was a distant cousin of what creature from Classic Who?
  6. Daniel Mays played Alex, George’s dad, in Night Terrors. But who did he play in series three of Ashes to Ashes?
  7. Closing Time is the sequel to which series 5 episode?
  8. What natural phenomenon caused the Gangers to gain sentience?
  9. The Curse of the Black Spot scribe, Steve Thompson, has worked with showrunner, Steven Moffat and fellow writer, Mark Gatiss on which other hit series?
  10. What was the name of the pyramid which housed the Silence in The Wedding of River Song?

Bonus question:

Who directed a new series record of five Doctor Who episodes in a row, from 2010’s The Pandorica Opens to series 6’s Day of the Moon?

 
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Posted by on December 21, 2011 in Blog Advent - 2011, Unpublished work

 

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10 phrases the King James Bible gave to us!

The King James Bible was first printed in 1611 – 400 years ago! – and, to quote this month’s National Geographic, “no other book has given more to the English-speaking world.”

It introduced 18 phrases into our language, and made 240 more famous, after earlier English translations.

Thanks once more to National Geographic, here’s a list of some of the more well-known phrases that it originated or popularised:

“As a lamb to the slaughter” (Isaiah 53:7);

“Pour out your heart” (Psalms 62:8);

“Stand in awe” (Psalms 4:4);

“Fell flat on his face” (Numbers 22:31);

“Suffer little children” (Luke 18:16);

“A man after his own heart” (1 Samuel 13:14);

“Put words in his mouth” (Exodus 415);

“From time to time” (Ezekiel 4:10);

“The skin of my teeth” (Job 19:20);

“Be horribly afraid” (Jeremiah 2:12).

National Geographic Vol. 220, No. 6.

You can find more about the King James Bible and how it enriched the English language by purchasing the latest issue of National Geographic, priced £4.99, or look here.

 
 

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Short Story: Yucatan

ADVENT DAY NINETEEN: To celebrate advent, I’ll be adding new content to this blog every day in the countdown to Christmas; reviews, opinion pieces, short stories… that sort of thing! So make sure you pop back in between shopping, packing presents and nursing a headache.

Today, the result of a challenge to write about a place I’ve never been to. So, inspired by An Idiot Abroad, here’s my short story, Yucatan. Obviously, some facts might not be 100% correct, but I’ve tried my best… and I’d like to go there someday. (Karl Pilkington liked Mexico more than any other place he’s been to on the show – surely that’s a huge accolade!) And in case you were wondering, the person who set me the challenge enjoyed the story. Thankfully.

"El Castillo"

Nothing happens here. Yucatan is a very boring place.

We live far out from the town, but we are happy this way, and we don’t go there very often. It has a bad vibra. We are happy in our house. It is made of grey blocks, stacked one on top of another with cement filling in the gaps. We haven’t painted it like some others in the village; we tell them it is because we don’t need yellow and orange and green as we have trees for that, but really, it is because paint is expensive and heavy to carry.

We have room for our dogs and our family, and we can go over the road for food, as there’s a line of trees there with wasp nests. We have a stick to chop down the nests and the wasps go after us. That is fine. We are strong and can run fast and the wasp larvae are worth it. Sometimes, we run out of food and tequila, so we have to go to town.

Last week, we decided to go a pincel, walking alongside the road. It is dusty, but some roads are flat and covered in tarmac. The cars, they fly past, but it is not needed. The side of the road is perfectly fine, as there are Ki to hide from the sun and we can visit friends along the way. Sometimes, we have to dodge accidents where the car has gone off the road and through a house. Sometimes, we see the people who have died and have dirtied the road, but someone is usually there to clean up.

The town has been painted in yellow and orange and green. But there are good trees here too, and so this is just decoration for decoration’s sake. The skulls are fun though, and there are usually new ones each time we go. Some cars are even decorated with number plates with pictures on them. Chichen Itza, it is mostly.

We shouldn’t have gone to town that close to the Day of the Dead. People are crazy; they go to the antro, but that is up to them.

After we left, we heard some fulano got hit in the face. It was just some man, who was collecting food for his family, and a firework went into his eye.  An ambulance took him away and the papers blamed pinche kids on it. Probably borracho from too many tequilas. The man is fine now. His eye is no longer there, so he is fine.

Nothing happens here. Yucatan is a very boring place.

KEY:

Antro: Club.

A Pinchel: On foot.

Borracho: drunk.

Fulano: Guy.

Ki: Type of plant.

Pinche: Damn.

Vibra: Vibe.

 
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Posted by on December 19, 2011 in Blog Advent - 2011, Unpublished work

 

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Drama of the Day: Lost Christmas

ADVENT DAY EIGHTEEN: To celebrate advent, I’ll be adding new content to this blog every day in the countdown to Christmas; reviews, opinion pieces, short stories… that sort of thing! So make sure you pop back in between shopping, packing presents and nursing a headache.

I first saw the book for this in WHSmiths a few weeks ago, and thought it looked fantastic. Unfortunately, insufficient funds mean I haven’t picked it up yet.

But today, its adaptation with Eddie Izzard, Larry Mills and Jason Flemyng hits BBCOne… and I’ll definitely be watching!

Here’s the official synopsis:

‘Goose’ is a 10 year old boy who, on Christmas Eve, not thinking about his actions, hides his father’s car keys in the hope that he won’t leave to attend an urgent emergency rescue. This is a decision Goose will always regret. As his mother gets her keys and drives his dad to work, Goose doesn’t realize that this is the last time he will see his parents as ten minutes later his mother and father are killed in a car crash.

Flash forward a year and its Christmas Eve once again, we see Goose is no longer the bright, energetic ten-year-old boy he once was, and is now a streetwise kid who is supporting his Nan through petty crime. Enter ‘Anthony’, a mysterious enigmatic man who appears, seemingly out of nowhere, on Manchester’s snowy streets. ‘Anthony’ seems to have no recollection of who he is, where he came from nor where he’s supposed to go but he seems to know things. Find things that are lost and make lives whole again.

Everything starts with a lost bangle. This is where ‘Anthony’ discovers his ability to see what has happened to a person prior to losing what they seek and how they’ve lost what they desire. He touches a person’s hand and sees in his mind their story leading up to the loss of what they are seeking. Despite being lost himself, he has the compulsion and ability to find the lost, uncovering truths that will eventually transform the life of ’Goose’ and those affected by his decision. But is ‘Anthony’s’ ability to heal real, or just an illusion?

Lost Christmas is a magical story about self sacrifice and destiny, brimming with emotion and humour; this beautifully modern fairytale has all the ingredients of a classic Christmas film.

Lost Christmas is on BBCOne at 5.30pm.

 
 

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