Of Thanos and Polymer Clay

I should probably have written this right after I actually saw Avengers: Infinity War, but…I didn’t. But I have seen it and it was fine. Nothing overly special but vastly better than Age of Ultron and Civil War – each tied for worst Marvel film.

The spoilers start here, so if you haven’t seen it, skip to the superman head!

Avengers-Infinity-War-Team-Cap-Banner

I was wrong-ish about who would die, because I completely forgot that there was a second film, originally pitched as Infinity War Part 2. I said Iron Man and Captain America would die. I stand by that, but obviously with a conclusion still on its way, that’s the one where it will happen.

Speaking of dying, we might as well jump straight to that. It was bad. Does anyone actually believe that Spider-Man is dead? Or Black Panther? Or the entirety of the Guardians? Of course not. We know they have their own solo films on the way. Then again, the way Black Panther goes, off-screen, makes me think that the Russos never actually intended for us to believe that these heroes are all dead. Rather, I think we’re just meant to wonder how they’re going to get themselves out of this situation. The answer will sadly probably be alternate timelines or time travel, neither of which I’m fond of. But really, I think the problem is that it’s an issue at all. I know the fact that Thanos actually clicks his fingers is meant to be a shock, because that’s the big finale that the heroes are meant to prevent, but all that death doesn’t make for a sad ending. It’s too much and it’s too obviously temporary. If anything, the very last scene of the film should have been the click. Then cut to black. Leave everyone wondering what it meant and who died.

Otherwise, it was decent. Absurd that right after they find out that their friend is dead, along with an entire race of people, Iron Man and chums are cracking jokes. But that’s just the Marvel way of desperately trying to cram comedy into every gap. There are a lot of heroes to keep up with, and mostly it’s balanced well. Perhaps too much Thor and Vision, perhaps too little Black Panther and Captain America/Nomad, but generally, it was well done. Other than how they chose to make Peter Quill fairly unlikeable and Gamora little more than a token sacrifice.

AIW

Thanos himself was good. I liked the way they made him less bloodthirsty than they might have. He talks to the heroes, rather than monologuing at them. He understands and respects – to a degree – their efforts to fight him. Even when he has defeated one of them, he doesn’t kill them. He knocks out Nomad, but then just steps over him. He reaches down to the defeated Scarlet Witch, but just holds her head in an almost comforting manner. He might be mad, but he’s not 2D, cartoon evil. This is, of course, contradicted by the earlier parts of the film, where he slaughters every last Asgardian and murders both Loki and Heimdall. But still…

And then there’s the after credits scene. Nothing too special, other than A) I don’t think Fury will be one of the ones to come back, and B) She’s coming! I’ve been looking forward to the solo Captain Marvel film since it was announced, and I’m looking forward to seeing her arrive in Avengers 4. The colourful logo on Fury’s pager seemed a little over the top though. I maintain that, rather than the logo, a shiver-inducing, exciting end would have been:

…CONNECTING…

…CONNECTED…

Fury?

I’m coming.

And also that she should be in his contacts as ‘The Other Cap’. But that’s beside the point. It was good, I’ll watch it again, but I hope Avengers 4 will be better.

And now Superman:

Superman head sculpt

I mentioned before that I tried my hand at sculpting in polymer clay, and Superman was the result. I then tried sculpture 2, the main character of the book that I’ve just finished and am now editing.

DSC_0187

It includes this weird, Winston Churchill-looking baby. Better than the original ET-Yoda hybrid look it had before. Alex herself, on the other hand, didn’t turn out so well. Confirmed by the number of times people called her a he.

S7300259

But the finished product turned out well enough. Plenty of issues, as with the Superman head, but I at least have an idea how to avoid those issues next time.

Final-Before

As for the book itself, even when I’ve edited it, I still need to finish writing another book that has to come out before it, so it will still be a while.

Not Dead Yet

You may once again be forgiven for thinking that I might have finally succumbed to the enticing pull of the hereafter. But I haven’t. I just haven’t written anything. Which is different.

After writing about too much Star Wars, I ran out of things to write about. Infinity War? Iron Man and Captain America will die. And Loki. Cyberpunk 2077? We’ll see it at E3. And…done.

If you’re in need of any more Hero’s guides, let me know. God forbid you find yourself out in the deep blue sea, surrounded by super-intelligent sharks that can swim backwards and you haven’t read a guide on how to handle the situation.

In terms of proper writing, I have just crossed the 85,000-word mark of my fifth novel today. Which will, when released be my sixth. And it will be book five of the NEXUS series. Yes.

If you read my books and can count, you may wonder what happened to book four (which should be my fifth novel but will actually be my sixth, except in terms of release, in which case it will indeed be my fifth. Just to clarify). I haven’t written it. My books do have slightly different tones, and some are too different to write from the same mindset. These two, to, have two too different tones. It’s true. So I’ve been unable to get myself in the right mood to write book four, but book five has been going fine. It is, if you are curious, taking a pinch of the noir from my thriller, Acts of Violence, and adding it into the mix. Not so much as to bring it out of the NEXUS series, but enough that I can’t write it and a lighter, more space opera-ish one at the same time (which is entirely in the style of Blades).

Aside from this I have been doing entirely pointless things like painting garden statues. I walked into Homebase just after Christmas and came face to face with a load of Star Wars characters. Naturally, I thought: I should paint those. So I did. Well, I (badly) painted Yoda and R2 and then lost the urge.

Yoda & R2D2 unpainted Yoda & R2 Painted

Then I decided to sculpt stuff out of polymer clay, which is the natural progression of painting polystone garden statues. I made Superman. Kind of. I am now working on a full figure of the main character of my current book. So if it looks wrong…well, it’s you who’s wrong. It’s going okay, except that I have no idea what I’m doing.

 Superman head sculpt   Figure sculpt

I also have a three-legged cat now. His name is Hop.

No doubt Thanos will demand that I return to say I told you so when dust is bitten, but hopefully I’ll think of something to say before then. So…bye. Bye then.

Bye.

Still Alive

You might be forgiven for thinking that perhaps I had died and decided that in this new state of unliving, I would abandon my blog. This is, you will be ecstatic to hear, not the case. I have been busy with a death that doesn’t belong to me, the following despicable family behaviour, a job, a new car (it has GT on the back!), moving house, trying to get internet, and making my beta readers cry.

Yes, finally, the third book in the NEXUS series is (kind of) finished. I started writing it as soon as I finished Temple of the Sixth and set it aside time after time to write Kira, Acts of Violence, and Kira Part II, but at last the most abused book I’ve worked on is nearly ready. It still needs a bit of rewriting and then editing and proofreading, but it’s not too far off now. Hopefully.

Trip To Space

After this stop-start, stop-start, I hope at least the next two books will come quicker and smoother, but thinking about other projects is what got me into this four year crawl in the first place, so let’s ignore that for now.

So, sooner or later I’ll be posting again with a synopsis and release date…or just a cover. Or a rant about another film.

Last Word Proofreading

Fountain Pen

I am now a proofreader! Proofreading hither and thither. Mostly hither.

I’ve been doing bits of proofreading for friends’ businesses for some time – press releases, website articles, comic books, a non-fiction book – and finally realised that I could (and should) make a living of it. I’ve been writing since I was a child, and that writing and editing taught me most of what I needed to know about the English language – even if I don’t always put it to good use. Editing my own work sharpened my eye when it came to other people’s because, as we all know, your own work is the hardest to edit and proofread.

So, driven by the knowledge that I had both the eye to spot errors and most of the language skills necessary, and by a soft spot for telling people they’ve made a mistake, I went to the Society for Editors and Proofreaders to start a handful of grammar and proofreading courses.

I completed the courses with the knowledge that I can proofread anything that’s thrown at me – unless it’s a specialist subject, in which case you can throw it elsewhere. And my last tutor was impressed with my eye for detail, so there!

So now I have a brand new button at the top of the website that leads to my brand new proofreading website with links to my brand new proofreading email address. It isn’t particularly well written, but it is well proofread.

Last Word Proofreading.

A&Me: Another 6 Hours With Death

 

Accident and Emergency

You may – or, more likely, may not – remember that I spent six hours in A&E last September due to passing out twice, hitting my head, tearing/straining a jaw ligament, having a seizure, etc. Those six hours were among the worst of my life. A doctor laughed at me. The receptionist sent us somewhere we weren’t meant to be and then told us off for going there. The other receptionists stood gossiping and ignoring us while I sat in my wheelchair throwing up and being held in so I wouldn’t fall out with the dizziness. The triage nurse was an a******. They all assumed, without basis, that I was drunk.

I vowed never to return to A&E; I’d rather lie on my bedroom floor and die. So, last Tuesday – December 23 – I ventured back to A&E. Not entirely by choice. So here’s my whine story:

For the past 8-10 weeks, I’ve been fairly unwell: weak; dizzy; easily exhausted; I lost 7kg in about 5 of those weeks; I’d wake up with the room spinning and my heart hammering. So after a few weeks of feeling back to normal, last Monday night I woke up with my heart fluttering as though I were nervous about something. I went to the bathroom only to find myself becoming light-headed and tunnel vision creeping in. After discovering that splashing cold water on myself didn’t work, I lay down on the (very cold) floor so that I wouldn’t hit my head this time when I passed out. Luckily, doing so caused all the unpleasant feelings to abate.

The next day I went to the doctor. She decided, after an ECG, that I should go to A&E. I considered not going, but the feelings of the previous night were just the feelings that I’d hoped to avoid by never going to a hospital again, so there didn’t seem much point if it would only happen again.

This time, I had to go to the hospital in Letterkenny, Ireland, because I live in the Republic and therefore am not covered by the NHS even with my UK passport. Ireland’s healthcare is similar to America’s – though not quite so bad – in that you pay through your teeth for everything (including a €100 fee for needing A&E). But thankfully, a few days earlier, my medical card had arrived, meaning that I wouldn’t have to pay.

Letterkenny turned out to be vastly more pleasant – if that term can possibly be used for a hospital visit – than the A&E in Altnagelvin, Derry. The doctors and nurses seemed to care about me and even treated me as though I actually existed! Though the entire thing turned out to last six hours, just like the first time round, it didn’t feel like it. Several nurses asked me questions throughout the wait, and took my blood pressure, and even turned on the TV for us and came around with tea and biscuits. Unfortunately, one also took my blood. That resulted in me lying on a bed with an oxygen mask, shaking violently all over.

Sadly, what they didn’t do was diagnose what’s wrong. Another ECG showed nothing (the GP’s reading, which said something about an anomaly, went missing somewhere between the reception and the triage nurse), the chest x-ray showed nothing, my blood showed nothing (except that my potassium is back to normal). The doctor wondered if it might be TB for a while, but she must have ruled that out because she never mentioned it again.

So, after six hours and another blood-related ordeal, I was given the choice of being kept in over Christmas with a heart monitor, or coming back some time after Christmas to be fitted with one for 48 hours. I chose the latter.

And that is the story of why I’m no longer allowed tea or coffee.

Batman

The Root of Evil: My Attempted Murder

Wednesday. It was a muggy, grey evening. I’d settled down with a home-made juice, hoping to be a little healthier than usual. Before my turkey and chips. I was going to play some Deus Ex and then watch a film. And then my assailant struck! I was covered in red. I was vomiting red everywhere. I was dizzy and light-headed. I was dying!

Beetroot!

That or chard. Or tomato. Or one of the other 5 or so fruits and vegetables in the juice. But I think beetroot. It did, with malice aforethought, enter my person and try to induce anaphylactic shock.

It’s probably just as well it was a juice, as it was thrown back up quickly and easily, and the red colour let me pretend it was very serious. Even so, about 60% of my body became bright red and itchy, parts of my face swelled, I overheated, I threw up, the light-headedness required me to lie down on a nice cold floor, I threw up some more, I had to lie down again before I passed out, then I threw up some more. For just a few seconds, I felt tingling in my tongue and thought it was upgrading to full-blown anaphylaxis, but thankfully it went away and the hospital was unnecessary. I think I’d rather suffocate than go back there anyway.

So raw beetroot appears to be some form of Kryptonite. Sadly, I didn’t sleep well even after that, and wrote about six words in the entirety of the next day. So although I’m perfectly fine again, don’t let that stop you feeling very sorry for me. It makes me extremely glad not to have a peanut allergy, or something like that.

Anyway, I’m a writer, so it’s my duty to write about experiences like this, and if that leads to sympathy and hugs then that’s how it has to be.

The Short Goodbye

It’s the end of an era. It’s the closing chapter. It’s game over, man! Game over! It’s…a really good analogy that makes you feel sad even though you don’t know why yet.

For about…I don’t know, say two years, I’ve shared an office two or three days a week with Uproar Comics, Startacus and Troll Inc. Now we’re being unceremoniously kicked out of said office. Our new room is a dank little hole in the ground with little natural light, and it ain’t big enough for the four of us.

Thus, Uproar and Troll Inc. are departing for greener pastures. Gone will be the geeky cross-room conversations about films, games, TV, and what makes a superhero. Gone will be the awful puns, the amusing arguments, the snort-riddled giggling (leading to more laughing and points on the snort-o-meter). Gone will be my friends.

Through our proximity, I have shared ideas, been inspired, laughed a lot, received work, donated work, helped, been helped, learnt, and been shot at with Nerf guns. Until the end of the day, there are about 25 of us in the office, and I’d like to call a good chunk of them friends. The social anxiety…thing…agoraphobia, whatever, in me knows that’s a lot more than someone like me can generally hope to have. And the fact that I could be in the midst of that many people and not want them to f*** off quickly says more about them than about me.

We’ve known for only couple of weeks that we’re being kicked out of the office, so we haven’t had a lot of time for the fact to sink in, and to prepare. Then again, things don’t tend to mean as much to other people as they do to me, so I’ll wrap this up quickly and get back to writing something worthwhile.

I don’t like change. I didn’t like it when Troll Inc. came in. I didn’t like it when Startacus came in. I didn’t like it when Uproar came in. I liked the quiet. I wished they had found somewhere else to go and left me on my own in the office. Now, in the quiet of an empty office, I wish they’d stay.

But it’s not all gloom. Well, it is, literally speaking, because there’s just one small window at the top of our new office, but Startacus will remain with me in our new little dungeon. So the laughing will continue, just with fewer voices. And no snorts.

So, apart from hauling computers and desks around, there’s only one thing left:

Danny, Gio, Heather, Holly, Jonny, Michael ‘The Beard’, Ruth, Ciaran, Richard, Andrew, Marcus, Jim, Emma, Gavin, Thomas, Ryan, Felix, Tom, Lewis, music one, and the other few I don’t know the names of… Goodbye.

Cam, Eoin, Philip…we need a new coffee machine.