I’m 42 now and this year has seen one of the best things ever happen. I’m of course talking in the sense of literature, rather than general life, but literature has been and will continue to be an integral part of my life, and that’s something I can be proud of.
Back in 1989 I picked up a dense hardback book called “The Dragonbone Chair” by a chap called Tad Williams. It was high fantasy and wasn’t my first foray into that genre but it was by far and away the best thing I had read at the time.
When I was 7, a few years earlier, I tried to read the Hobbit after playing the adventure game on our home computer. It seemed very twee but I persevered. The Lord of the Rings wasn’t for me at that point though, it seemed too dusty and old fashioned, and it was a couple of years later in 1984 when I finally took the plunge and bought a proper fantasy novel as a direct result of finding a bundle of screwed up notes on the pavement.
£30 in 1984 was, to a nine year old, more of a fortune than you could possibly comprehend. The Beano was 12p, and a Mars Bar less than that. I trundled off to our local bookshop and purchased a copy of Dragons of Autumn Twilight, one of the better Dragonlance Chronicles books. Since this was ten years before the Net Book Agreement was dissolved, I had to pay the publisher set price on the back of the book, which was £2.25 (or 18 copies of the Beano!). View Full Post
On Saturday morning I found myself sitting on a train on my way to the V&A for an exhibition entitled Their Mortal Remains. It isthe first significant retrospective of Pink Floyd and their work that a museum has undertaken and as a die in the wool fan for over twenty years, I would have kicked myself if I’d missed it.
As I rode the Thameslink service into Blackfriars I listened to Dark Side of the Moon and Wish You Were Here on my headphones, filled with a mixture of nostalgia and melancholia. I still listen to both albums regularly; probably more than anything else I’ve heard in the years since I weighed up spending my hard earned cash on an album with only 5 songs on it. View Full Post
Kicking back with a buddy a couple of weeks ago with a few ales and my good friend Alexa, we devised a new game called ‘30 something‘. It’s not a complicated game but in our defence, it was about half past midnight and we had progressed to the 7% beer (at the beginning of the evening, we arranged the bottles in order of increasing strength). Basically you pick a famous child actor or actress and say, “Alexa, how old is this person?” and whoever gets closest to 35 wins that round.
Things went well until my chum progressed to being so drunk that Alexa could no longer recognise his voice and just simply ignored him. In that sense I figured AI had actually become more impressive than I realised- here was a female voiced AI basically ignoring a drunkards attempts at conversation. Good show Alexa.
Meanwhile, in a bit of non sequitur, I managed to tweet this:
Just think of it as a Mitchell & Webb tribute tweet.
Although we had horrible hailstorms the other day, and I’ve woken up to a ground frost outside on more than one occasion this week, I can safely say from a personal perspective I like April/May quite a lot. It’s the profusion of bank holidays that does it for me; two and Easter and two book ending May. Coupled with the clocks going forwards, and more daylight anyway, it really seems that we’ve told winter to sod off and things are getting better.
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The Fates colluded yesterday to leave me the house to myself in the evening. The lady wife was off in Birmingham at an overnight course and the kids were having a sleepover as I had been invited to Amazon’s Summer BBQ. As the hailstones fall as I’m writing this, I’m smirking at the idea of a summer BBQ but it was good fun and it’s always nice to get out occasionally.
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As I blogged the other day, I’m struggling to transition my son from my PSN profile to a family sub account I’ve set up for him. The main reason for this struggle is he has played Overwatch a lot on my profile. He’s up to level 103(?), which shows a fairly heavy time investment as generally perceived wisdom reckons it takes an hour and a half of actual play to go up a level from level 30 onwards (actual play time will be longer as you wait for games to become available, and go through menus etc).
Considering I started playing on his profile on Saturday at level one and finished yesterday on level 9, I didn’t think I was doing too badly.
If you’ve never heard of Overwatch, let me fill you in. It’s what’s called a first person shooter (FPS). That means you see the world through the characters eyes (in first person), unlike a game like Tomb Raider, where you can see the character on screen (this is called third person, it’s a bit like an out of body experience). Lots of FPS are aimed at adults, are full of blood, swearing, and overt violence. Overwatch is primarily aimed at kids (it’s certified 12), has bright colourful graphics, no blood, dismemberment or bloody corpses. The only swearing is provided by the players over voice chat, which can be hilarious as plenty of sub tens appear to play and their idea of “big manning it” seems to be calling each other silly bums. View Full Post
King Crimson’s In the Court of the Crimson King
I love music. Properly love it. I’ve always had a wide and varied interest in different genres of music, as you may have read about already. I’ve been itching to get on the vinyl revival that’s been going on for a few years now but the cost has put me off. I don’t think splashing out £100 on an all in one turntable would make economic sense, so that brings us to separates. I’d want some upgrade path so I’d be looking at a couple of hundred pounds for a decent but budget amp (Pioneer or Marantz) and probably as much again for a turntable. So that’s £500 before I start looking at speakers and cabling, which is too much for a hobby purchase when we’ve got three children and a cat. My Amazon wishlist of HiFi parts is so old, the manufacturers have stopped making half the things on it. View Full Post
Not great for dressing up inspiration
Sitting next to me on my desk is a multi-coloured fluffy monstrosity. It’s in a bag fortunately, for if it wasn’t I fear my both my sight and sanity. It is Fifi’s reward for reading an entire chapter book over half term. We love reading and try to encourage our kids to grow their love of it by bribery.
And yet as World Book Day approaches, my Twitter timeline is full of retailers hawking Disney Princess costumes, Darth Vader suits and comic book superhero costumes for the inevitable “school dressing up day” that seems to be what World Book Day has become. View Full Post
The LEGO Batman Movie is out soon and the related LEGO sets have now hit the shelves. We loved the LEGO Movie, and I even went as far as to say it was a remake of the Matrix. But lets get real here, we all love Batman, have played the LEGO Batman videogames, already have tons of superhero LEGO and can’t blimmin’ wait for him to have his own movie!
Set 70905 isn’t our first Batmobile, the Jokerland set (76035) has one and we reviewed that a while ago. This Batmobile is a different beast though, it’s much larger and more of an involved build.
Fifi was tasked building the Batmobile while her older brother got to work on the larger and more complex Scuttler.
She found the build fun and liked the figures that were included with it although I admit the baddies will probably make more sense once we’ve seen the film (which is out on 10 Feb).
The end result is pretty awesome as Fifi can show you:
The LEGO Batmobile is available now from all good retailers, including Amazon, for an RRP of £54.99.
When authors return to a much loved setting many years later it can be as much a cause for alarm as celebration but Tad Williams is doing just that, 24 years after the hardback release of To Green Angel Tower, the final volume in his Memory, Sorrow and Thorn series. The Heart of What Was Lost is Tad Williams long awaited return to the world of Ostern Ard, and I’ve been itching to get my hands on the book since it was announced.
I can still remember reading the original series for the first time. Born in 1975, I turned 18 when To Green Angel Tower came out and remember feeling exceptionally excited for a multitude of reasons, not least just how young Tad Williams was- 36 at the time of publication in 1993- with a whole life time to write wonderful books ahead of him.
Although I have the entire Otherworld series in hardback (a mainstay of Christmas’ and birthdays from ’96 onwards) and absolutely adore The War of the Flowers, it was always the lack of any more Osten Ard that disappointed me slightly. I remember at the time Williams said if he did return to his fictional world, it would probably be for a collection of short stories but that never came about. View Full Post