concepts for a buntiful world
Thursday, January 25
Well hello commentless folk

Firstly, I'd like to kick things off by having a moan about how shit blogger beta is. It's not beta, it's wurs. I like to keep my blog seperate from my work and from various parts of my web presence, and blogger has managed to take away just a little bit more of our privacy with blogger beta - I have a gmail account. I love my gmail account, it's big, it's friendly, and it doesn't touch me in places that make me uncomfortable, and yes, I let it rest it's cookie on my tired hard drive, because it feels good, and then I don't have to sign in every time I access my email from home - so now, when I try and blog - it tries to sign me in using my gmail access, because both parties are pwned by google (not a typo) they are obviously information sharing, and while I will put up with some History Boys cookie fondling, I won't take two, there just isn't room in this town for the both of them, so every time I want to blog I have to go to blogger, click to sign in, wait until it's signed me into an account I'm not going to use, which takes much longer than it used to on old blogger, then sign out and go through the process of deleting my details from the boxes and putting them back in again. It's just annoying, it's not going to kill me, it's just going to piss me off. Frankly, my dear, they're fuckwits.

If anyone has any creative solutions other than bombing the google offices, please let me know. Maybe you've encountered this very same problem.

Right - onwards, and upwards, in tone if not in style.

The Brunette recently bought an xbox. Yup. This is why I love her so much. She hasn't actually played on it much yet I don't think, although that's not my fault in any way. I was encouraged by this purchase and bought Halo 2.

I've heard a lot about the Halo games, I have only ever played PC games, unless you count some rounds of duckshoot at a friend's house when I was a kid, and being inexplicably good at Sonic at the same friend's house. I had a deprived childhood, I didn't have a tv, and I didn't have a console. That's why I'm a genius and you're not. (That doesn't apply to all my readers, Mum, I know you're there somewhere.)

So I played the first text adventures on the PC, and Digger, and a crazy typing game where letters were going to fall on your head if you didn't type them, and then I discovered piracy. Sensible amounts of pocket money = can't afford to buy Doom = borrow it off a mate and copy it.

Wolfenstein, Doom, Rise of the Triads I played, Quake was always a bit advanced, and had copy protection, so I never got that. And then I forgot about First Person Shooters until I discovered Unreal Tournament in my third year of University. That's why I got a 2:2 and you got a 2:1 or better. (I have a highly edumacated readership)

Unreal rocks, but you still play it on a PC.

Halo 2 rocks harder, although I haven't played Xbox live, (I don't want to pay for something I can get for free...on my PC)

Basically all this spiel about never having played console games is leading up to an excuse. I played the game through on 'easy' first. Controlling an FPS using a pad is very difficult for me, I'm still having trouble and I'm halfway through on 'normal.'

I hold my hands up, 'easy' is easy... really easy... I only died a handful of times, and most of those times were because I walked off the edge of something without looking properly first. The rest of them were fighting hunters, because those bastards are immune to everything.

Halo 2 is the best FPS I have ever played, despite the fact that half the time I end up running away trying desperately to stop looking at the floor or the ceiling because I have forgotton how to control my view. The movement is wonderful, the graphics are superb, the AI is better than any I have ever seen. They hide, they scatter if you take out there leader. You can even listen to them giving orders to their troops and then use tactics to nullify the advantage they think they've given themselves.

I've pasted myself into a corner timewise now. I have to go to work very soon.

I have one grumble about Halo 2, and that is with the ending, which has no videos to wrap things up and tidy things away, nothing to really make you feel like you've completed the game, it feels like a breakpoint in the game, with a few chapters still to go. I know Halo 3 is out soon, and I am interested to see how that ends, although I may well not get the chance, but I thought you should get some payback when you complete.

Having said that, Halo 2 is not a game you play for the videos, it's a game you play for the game.
- posted by Buntifer @ 1/25/2007 11:50:00 am
Friday, January 12
Mr Churchill

I've owed this to Gregorian Ranting for a very long time. I apologise if it is not the most polished piece of writing in the world. Despite having had it half finished on my hard drive for at least a year I haven't been making it gradually better, it was simply sitting pretty. Any comments please go ahead. It's 2.5k words, just so I let you know before you start reading.

Mr Churchill

It was the end of the season, all the girls that were going to get married had been found a match, and those few left had resigned themselves to another year of waiting when the whispers started to run through the town.

Mothers began to buy their daughters dresses, the social circle began to effervesce one last time. One final ball was planned. It was thrown in one man’s honour. It had been conceived in the silence after a single sentence.

“Mr Churchill is coming to town.”

This fateful sentence had been uttered by none other than Mrs Caltrop, a small, sharp woman, who was nevertheless always to be found underfoot wherever everybody who was anybody was drinking. She had had no news all season, and this piece of dynamite had rocked everyone back on her heels and put her very much on top for the season finale. Everybody knew Mr Churchill, he was rich, eligible and very very witty.

Murmurs began to spread, his epigrams, his jests, his anecdotes...

“...but in the morning I will be sober.”

“He stayed up all night playing poker with tarot cards, he got a full house, and four people died...”

“... there was nothing, and then the Lord said ‘Let there be light’ and then there was nothing, only now you could see it.”

The date was set, the ball was ordered, the lucky daughters who hadn’t quite made the cut the first time round were practising their lines.

“My My, Mr Churchill, oh, may I call you Alphonse? Why thank you, charmed I’m sure. I am Greta, Mr Churchill...”

The fathers took to muttering, running their best jokes out from the closet and dusting them off, some took to reading the papers in the hope of an anecdote or quip that Mr Churchill might not have heard.

The lady to whom the honour of hosting the ball had gone was a Mrs Malcustard, a former teacher, who had nonetheless risen to the heights of society once her husband had died. He had left her a fortune in property, and she had, once unencumbered by his lack of taste, quickly doubled and doubled again her worth. She was now owed money to by almost all the best people, and this made her a lady whose presence anywhere was very much in demand.

She had cleared one of her townhouses for the purpose, a building with a vast garden, into which she was planning to fit a marquee she had hired in from Holland at great expense. A spiegeltent, a luxurious tent with stained glass windows, a stage upon which cabaret could be performed, and in which heating was possible, to take the edge off the cold evenings this time of year often provided.

The house itself was being gutted to provide catering facilities and enough snug corners and crannies into which after dinner conversations might take themselves and provide comfort for every gentleman invited who proved not to be Mr Churchill’s equal at repartee.

Mrs Malcustard became fond of talking about the amount of project management she was having to do herself.

“Not that I would usually admit to being any good with this sort of thing, but I seem to have a knack. The workmen are putty in my hands. Once I even took them out tea myself. They were struck dumb. Even dumber, I mean.

“But Mrs Malcustard, surely this sort of thing is man’s work really.” Mrs Caltrop, who was struggling to remain at the top, was determined to undermine the future host’s credibility as a lady of taste.

“My dear Edenza, of course had I still a husband,” Mrs Malcustard was quick to point out Mrs Caltrop’s tastelessness in bringing this subject up, “Then I would have been forced into leaving the matters of practicality in his hands, however, I have been blessed with enough common sense to realise that this would not be a useful course of action in my current situation, and so I have taken over. I am sure he doesn’t mind. I am determined that this little gathering be a success, and I am sure that the application of my mind to the problem will only make matters better.”

More than anything, Mrs Malcustard wished it to be known that it would be her triumph, her success which would shine around Mr Churchill as if he were a perfectly cut diamond, and she the jeweller who had excelled at setting such a piece.

“After all, the work on the designs and the little things are things at which I excel, and I enjoy making sure that our eminent guest to be feels that we have done him justice.” Mrs Malcustard was a graceful enough winner to know when to throw a bone to her defeated rivals. Mrs Caltrop was hungry enough to bite quick and fast when she had the chance.

“Mr Churchill, apparently, is conducting a political tour celebrating his recent victory in the local elections. I understand he won with a vast majority. My cousin voted for him, you know.”

The gathered women nodded wisely. They did not know where he had been elected, they just wished they had had the honour of being able to vote for him. Each one gently tried to imagine how pleasant life would be with Mr Churchill as a son-in-law, except for Mrs St-John Parsons, who had six sons, and very rarely said anything at these little meetings. She tended to doze in the corner, and nobody blamed her. It would have exhausted anyone. Many of them cursed the proposals they had so eagerly urged their daughters to accept earlier in the year, and wondered if there was any way of escaping the bounds of verbally contractual obligations without casting everlasting shame upon their daughters.

“So, Mrs Malcustard.” Mrs Peasbuttock enquired, “When will we be getting a tour of the planned festivities?”

It was customary for whoever was throwing the party to give tours to various small groups of the women who would be attending the party. With a little disinformation, some hints as to what might be occurring in various places and some impressive drawings to show the ladies, as well as some well oiled builders, the party could be made to be a success in everybody’s minds before it actually occurred. It also allowed them to plan the plans of attack they would press upon their daughters, ready for the evening where the rest of their daughter’s lives could be decided.

“No, Marjoram, I will not be touring. I am far too busy, and there are some dangerous installations. I’m afraid it would simply be too dangerous and too time consuming.”

With one sentence Mrs Malcustard had dispensed with the touring custom. Were tours even necessary when there were ‘dangerous installations’ to be gossiped about?

The weeks passed and the gossip intensified. Marjoram Peasbuttock claimed to have accidentally wandered into the building while preparations were ongoing and seen no dangerous installations, but this was written off as sour grapes at having been snubbed in her request for a tour. Mrs Smish-Bluthroe was unceremoniously thrown from the property having been found snooping round late one night. She had been desperate to find a husband for her intelligent and bookish daughter, Martha, and had hoped that if she could find an appropriate way to introduce her daughter, that Martha might win Mr Churchill round with her wit. It was Mrs Smish-Bluthroe’s hope that an intelligent man might treasure Martha for her quick wit and intelligent conversation, despite her having been pulled through the ugly hedge backwards at a young age.

Eventually the day came. Every stylist with any sort of reputation was booked solid from six in the morning, and some of the pushier mothers deliberately tried to detain stylists once they had finished with their offspring. Some of the stylists allowed themselves to be detained by various offers, with varying results. One received a message after having taken full advantage of their eager hosts pantry to the effect that Fnoozie, their beloved poodle was in danger of being dropped into the Thames with a brick attached to its collar if they did not appear at their next clients house within five minutes. Another over imbibed at lunch and butchered two coiffures before being stopped and impounded. To my knowledge he was last seen opening a hairdressers in Shepton Mallet, specialising in hair for the recently released.

A hundred daughters picked nervously at their light lunches, memorising their quips and practising their laughs. Martha Smish-Bluthroe finished a particularly good novel and began composing a letter to the Times regarding her utter boredom with this evening’s planned activities.

Mr Churchill arrived on a train into Paddington, where he was met by Mrs Malcustard, and noticeably only Mrs Malcustard. Other women had been warned away, and had stayed away, fearing being seen as ‘too keen’ above all. He looked nothing special, and seemed surprised to see even Mrs Malcustard.

“Good day. I was expecting no reception, it is so kind of you to come.” His hair was dark brown and glossy, his eyes sparkled with invitation, his dress sense was impeccable, and as he bent slightly to kiss Mrs Malcustard’s cheek, he wafted a cloud of knee weakeningly masculine cologne past her.

Mrs Malcustard flushed, “It is no bother, Mr Churchill. I have the honour of being your host for this evening. If you don’t mind, I thought we could retire to one of my smaller townhouses, and you may have this afternoon to prepare yourself.”

Mrs Malcustard had no daughters, she was throwing the party simply for her own benefit. She neither wanted nor needed another husband, she simply desired to claw her way to the top of the social ladder and stay there, and her plan was working.

“Well, that is very kind of you. I was planning on visiting Edenza. Mrs Caltrop.”

Edenza Caltrop’s standing had never been surer. Mrs Malcustard blushed, “I will invite her to spend the afternoon with us. I had no idea you knew her. She never mentioned it.”

Mr Churchill chuckled. His voice was rich with promise, lilting rumbles gave his words tones they were not designed to have, and created effects Mrs Malcustard could feel even through three decades and her self-erected social wall. “Of course I know her. She is my aunt.”

Edenza could not have hoped for more. Mrs Malcustard almost choked as she climbed up next to Mr Churchill. “Well I am sure she will accept my invitation then. Really, she should have told us.”

Their journey was mercifully swift, and as Mr Churchill investigated the rooms Mrs Malcustard had put aside for him. They were far plusher than he had anticipated, but he smiled to himself as he realised his aunt must pull more weight than he had imagined.

Mrs Malcustard, meanwhile, had sent a messenger for Mrs Caltrop, and was conducting some research of her own into Mr Churchill’s origin. He looked the part, he sounded the part, but she was sure that the Mr Churchill they had been so eagerly anticipating was no relation of Edenza Caltrop’s. Nobody could have an aunt that socially vituperative and be the man they had all believed him to be. Of course, if her suspicions were correct there was nothing she could do at this stage, she was as deep in as Edenza, and stood to lose a great deal if Mr Churchill did not deliver.

When Mrs Caltrop arrived, she was sent up to Mr Churchill’s rooms and remained within until Mrs Malcustard felt it necessary to drag her out for a ‘little chat.’

They arrived at the party as a trilogy.

“Mrs Malcustard, our erstwhile host.” The assembled clapped and cheered as Mrs Malcustard began nervously mingling. The ‘dangerous installation’ which had turned out to be a full size Trevy Fountain carved from ice was a great hit, and already she could sense the glares being directed her way turning into plans as to how to outdo her at next season’s opening party. She knew it would take some doing, and had some ideas herself, provided she could make it through the evening.

“Mrs Caltrop, aunt of Mr Churchill.” This time the assembled fell silent in a moment of respect as they realised there was more to Mrs Caltrop than a painful sensation occasionally incurred in various reception rooms. She swept in, clad in a dark gold silk dress, a gift, they surmised, from the long awaited Mr Churchill.

Mr Churchill waited nervously outside. He had been instructed to keep out of sight by his aunt and the battleship who had accosted him at the station. Never had he felt quite so apprehensive about entering a party, even the one where he had planned and successfully executed the plan to divert his wife’s chaperone and propose to her. He smoked a cigarette while he waited. It was not a habit he approved of, nor one of which he partook often, but sometimes a little nerve calmer was necessary, and he had seen ample examples of the fact that alcohol was not the correct route to take if performance was expected of one.

He had been briefed by the two women. Mrs Malcustard had, by dint of banging Mrs Caltrop’s head against the wall repeatedly, extracted a confession from his aunt. She had misled everyone by allowing them to understand that the Mr Churchill that was coming to town was the tremendously witty and erudite rake who bore the same surname as her nephew, whose first name was not ‘Alphonse’ at all, but was instead ‘Geraint.’ Mrs Malcustard had gone to great trouble and expense creating a party in his honour, and the party was to go ahead, whether he liked it or not. He was to pretend to be the Mr Churchill everybody thought he was, and not let slip that he was in fact member of parliament for Rogerstone in Wales. He was indeed known for his speech making, but more for his revolutionary policies and fervour than for any rapier sharp commentary.

Once he had finished his cigar he breathed deeply and rounded the corner, facing the door to the house he brushed himself down in preparation and began the march towards his ordeal. He mounted the stairs into the house and scuttled down a corridor where a servant in livery fielded him.

“You are?”

Geraint looked at the man in horror for his own predicament, “Mr Churchill.”

The footman bolted upright and saluted in confusion, “I’ll have you announced.”

The man waved towards a doorway and disappeared before Mr Churchill had a chance to ask him not to. After a moment he heard a swell in noise and a sudden hush. His entrance was upon him.

He turned to the door the man had indicated and pushed it open. Inside was a partially melted ice statue of grotesque proportion and a crowd of people looking more impressed than any of his political crowds had ever done him the service of appearing. He stepped into the room.

As he cleared his throat to greet the throng a voice piped up from the back of the room.

“You’re not that Mr Churchill. Not the one we’ve been expecting. You’re the MP for somewhere in Wales.”

Hubbub broke out. Geraint spied Mrs Malcustard shushing people while fighting her way back towards the troublemaker. He could see Mrs Caltrop making her way out of a side entrance. It had not been her voice.

Someone else called out, “Go on then. If she’s not right then tell us she’s not.”

Geraint looked out over the crowd and realised that Mrs Malcustard was currently being hustled into the bowl of the fountain by two rowdy youths. He could see the troublemaker clearly now, a young girl in glasses. She piped up again.

“I saw your picture in the paper a couple of weeks ago, didn’t you get married recently?”

Mr Churchill, who was known for his quick wit, looked down in dismay and remarked 'Bugger.'

- posted by Buntifer @ 1/12/2007 03:05:00 pm
Friday, January 5
New Year - same old shit.

I've sent my novel off to a few agents in the hope that one of them might like it. I seem to have lost weight over Christmas, and I'm bored and almost looking forward to going back to work.

I also joined a new writer's forum, which looks interesting - I had to submit something and be approved before I was let in, so it might have better writers in than most of them out there, and they are certainly more active than many of the groups out there. I joined Zokutou once, and I think my post upon joining was probably the last thing in their forum.

I have to take issue with something I read in the forums however. Someone was comparing writers to concert pianists, pointing out that concert pianists (at the peak of their careers) practice four or more hours a day.

Fair enough. A fact is a fact. But then to exhort writers to do the same is wrong, plain and simple. If I were a concert typist, someone who typed great works of literature so that people could read them as they came up on a a big screen, or so that a Stephen Hawking type voice could read them out as I typed them, then it might be a fair comparison. If I took care to pause in the appropriate places so that the big voice in the sky paused with me, to add drama or weight to a moment, then it might work. If I learnt great pieces of literature off by heart so that I could 'perform' them without having to read them as I typed, it would be a remarkably good comparison. But I don't, because I'm not a typist, I'm a writer. I have news for you. Any writer who considers themself in the same area of the ballpark as a concert pianist is not a writer, they are a typist.

I'm a writer - a writer is the composer, not the performer. I don't have stats for how many hours a day a composer 'practices' while at the peak of their career - I don't know. I suspect they are like writers, when they are on a roll they can write for eight or ten hours a day, getting up only to put [insert foodstuff/stimulant here] in one end and dispose of the remnants later, when they're not they might be 'refilling their artistic well' or thinking of new ideas, new characters, new plots, rather then honing their typing skills.

It's a false simile. A writer invents, creates and documents. One of the wonderful things about books is that there is no concert pianist, there is no middleman putting their own swing on the creators ideas, no musician who has their own concepts of what the piece is about. The worst you'll get is someone choosing a dodgy font, otherwise the communion is between author and reader, about as close to mind to mind we can get without state of the art electronic equipment.

As a reader I get to take words that have come straight out of someone else's mind and put them directly into my own, as a writer I get to take words out of my mind and put them straight into other people's minds. That's what it's about. Meme transfer on the most essential level you can get. The only art form I can think of which gets closer is visual art, and I'm talking non commissioned artworks created by their conceptualiser, so film, tv, animation (unless animated by its creator) etc are out. That gets closer with the loss of semantic clarity. A picture speaks a thousand words, but those words are different for each person depending on background. A writer who expresses themselves clearly should be able to put the same words in everybody's minds, or close to.

It's like the mind doesn't have a macro lens. You get too close, you lose clarity. In fact, it is more of a fixed focus lens, to close, lose clarity, too far away, lose clarity. A writer should be able to land in focus.
- posted by Buntifer @ 1/05/2007 11:47:00 am

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