Of Musings and Wonderings

{June 25, 2012}   Of Vampires and Duck

Sometimes, weekends are very uneventful. Especially when you have absolutely no money to your name to actually go out and do something. My weekend actually started off sort of all right – had an interview for a job on Friday, the biggest interview I’ve ever had, and due to nerves I possibly bombed it. But then I went to see my gran with my dad, picking up a few cakes and bits and pieces for Saturday. Not that anything was happening Saturday, but Gran had been shopping and, as always happens, brought random things for us, including Chocolate Mini Rolls and Red Onion Chutney. As we do every Friday (at least when I’m around) we got food from the chip shop, and headed home. Pretty standard. Actually, my whole weekend was pretty standard.

Saturday included wishing my dad happy birthday, a visit from Nan and Ban (my mother’s parents) and my aunt, currently visiting from Australia. I did my usual stuff, went on the laptop for a bit, had a nap, ate, and then my parents went out for a meal for my dad’s birthday, leaving money so I could order some food in. Three years in Hull and I never had Indian food as good as what I can get around the corner here. For some reason, every takeaway in Hull insists on doing thin cut chips/fries-style, whereas here, Indians tend to have thicker chips (fries for anyone reading this who is American), which just taste better to me. Anyway, I ordered the food and sat down to watch Fright Night. I’d seen it advertised when it was out in the cinema, and it slipped my mind until I saw adverts for it while browsing Virgin’s On Demand on my parent’s TV. Which, I have to admit, is pretty poor. There’s sod all on. occasionally, they might have one or two decent series’ but I get through them pretty quickly.

Anyway, Fright Night. You know that ‘Faith in Humanity’ meme, the Freddie Mercury one? (And if you don’t know who Freddie Mercury is, please remove yourself from this blog, go to YouTube and search Queen. Listen to all of it. Come back, thank me and

A real vampire.

carry on.) Well, Fright Night did an amazing thing. It restored my faith in vampires. I like sexy, brooding vampires as much as someone who grew up reading Anne Rice can, but the thing I always liked about Lestat was his unflinching immorality. He just didn’t care. He wasn’t ‘suffering’, he wasn’t falling in love with young girls and doing whatever it does those crazy vampires do nowadays. That was Louis’ area. And, hell, I’m pretty

A piss poor imitation. Note: vampires should not sparkle.

sure that’s why I prefer Eric over Bill in True Blood. Bill tries too hard. Eric doesn’t have to. And, yeah, he does fall for Sookie, but it’s done in a much more interesting way than, say, Twilight.

(Which, for the record, I really, really, really hate.)

But Fright Night…well, Jerry could kick Edward’s arse. And Bill’s, most likely. But I can imagine, if you put him into a room with Eric and Lestat, they’d get on brilliantly. They could start their own gentleman’s club. And it would be wonderful. Actually, it’d make a pretty damn good film, too. The three of them would easily be able to woo the world with their good looks and charms, before taking it over. What I’m trying to say here is Fright

Night showed a vampire who was handsome, yes, and charming, in a way, but is soon reduced to an animatistic beast who has no redeeming qualities. He’s not a poor creature suffering under his curse. He’s a man trying to turn everyone in sight into something like him, who grins when people die around him. He’s a proper vampire, and it’s about time we had decent films with proper vampires in again. Plus, well, the main kid in it is the kid from Alpha Dog,but slightly grown up and with his voice broken. I have to admit, I’d like to see him in

Any excuse for a picture of Justin Timberlake.

more. He’s perfect for the role in Fright Night; a geek turned popular, going out with a pretty girl and ignoring his old friends. He played a victim in Alpha Dog, but here, he pretty much kicks arse. And, of course, there’s David Tennant. I love that man. True Love, BBC’s recent ‘improvised drama’ was disappointing, but I’ve loved everything else I’ve seen him in. And with this film…hell, I didn’t realise it was him until he’d been on screen ten minutes. This film has made me really, really excited for the vampire genre as a whole, especially if it returns to the idea of vampires being evil instead of just poor, tortured souls (drink some human blood and grow some balls, for Dracula’s sake!). It’s also made me even more excited for Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter. So, yeah, check it out if you like vampires, more so if you’re fed up of this whole vampire-love story crap. (And this is coming from a girl who, since the age of 15, has been trying to write a vampire story about a girl travelling with a bunch of vampires…)

And then, on Sunday, I tried Duck for the first time. Was nice.

What about you? Any films you’ve seen recently – old or new – that had really made an impact?


{June 23, 2012}   Happy Birthday, Dad!

Talking to my friends last weekend, it seemed that a lot of us have fathers whose birthdays fall close to Father’s Day. A coincidence, of course, but a tad annoying one. Sometimes, it can work out quite well. A few years ago, a friend of my brother was getting rid of a bearded dragon, and my dad had been on for ages about wanting some sort of reptile. As it cost a fair bit between the three of us (me and my two brothers), we gave it to him as a joint Father’s Day/birthday present, though ended up giving it to him over Easter. So, poor Dad, he kind of missed out on getting anything from us at all in June. Last year, trying to get a job close to Uni, I didn’t come home until July, so ended up missing both Father’s Day and his birthday. This year, I haven’t been able to afford to get him anything for today, which really does suck. All I can do is keep my fingers crossed that I get a job soon and just get him something awesome out of that.

I need to get him something awesome because, quite frankly, my dad is awesome. He deserves nothing but the best, and I really can’t wait for the day when he can just chill out, relax, without stressing himself out. (Although, knowing him, he will always find something to stress about.) When I was younger, my mother went to University, teacher training, meaning that during half term, Dad took five days off work to look after

me and my brothers. I loved these holidays. He’d take us on the train to Barry Island, where the rides would always be shut, and we would scramble into the arcades, wasting money on various machines. There was one where, at the back, there was a separate area. The games there gave out tokens, and me and my brothers would work together to get as many as we could, splitting them three ways to get prizes that, well, were crap. What seemed like a lot of tokens weren’t really much when split, but we loved it. All of this happened under the watchful eye of my father.

We eventually reached a point where my brothers were more interested in hanging out with their friends than their dad and little sister. So, these days began to belong to just us two.

Headaches! Headaches for all!

He took me to see Tarzan, still one of my favourite films, and sat there, saying nothing as his head pounded because of the way the characters moved through the jungle.

I should explain something; my dad can be quite intimidating. He’s the kind of guy kids stare at, wide-eyed. They crouch behind their parents when they see him, sometimes. My cousin was nine when she visited from Australia, and she would stare at him, looking scared. My other cousin’s son cried when they tried to bring him in the house, because he knew my father was in there. And yet, he’s the kind of guy who, when we went out for a meal (just my mum, him and me), and there was a baby on the table nearby, he gave the kid a pound coin, for ice cream. He can’t pass someone homeless on the street without giving them money, and is more then generous in all aspects.

He looks like a grizzly, but is actually a teddy bear.

I have my father’s eyes, my father’s feet and his stubborn streak. Both of us rarely back down, and whenever I feel myself knocked back, I can feel that stubbornness kicking in, telling me “No, get back up! You’re better than this.” He has always been there for me, always the person I knew I could turn to when I was upset or hurt. He taught me to ride a bike, insisted I try harder at Maths, and read books to me even though he never reads anything except the newspaper. We have a lot in common. It wasn’t until long after I


decided Southern Comfort was my favourite drink that I found out it was his, too. I urged my parents to watch Once Upon A Time, thinking my mum would enjoy it, but coming back from Uni found out my dad had really got into it. He’s done so much for me, and my family. Ringing home one weekend, Mum told me he was down the workshop, working on a surprise for me. I knew what it was, but when I saw the bookcase sitting outside my room, it was so much better than I could have imagined. He’s always happy to buy a drink for me, and my friends if they’re there, and this year, one of my favourite memories is of getting drunk together at a family christening. (Thankfully, I inherited my father’s drinking ability rather than my mother.)

So, what it all boils down to is…I need to get my dad an awesome birthday present, no matter how late it is.

{June 22, 2012}   Ode to Fictionpress

A lot of people I know are fairly dismissive of Fictionpress, and I can understand why. After all, there is a lot of crap on the site. It can be daunting, going on there and reading something that has no grammar, where every word is spelt wrong and the plot is “OMG this is ME and this is a HAWT guy and WE’RE TOTALLY GONNA FALL IN LOVE!” Or coming across something that’s a rehashing of things already seen a thousand times before. But, the truth is, if you know where to look, there are some amazing stories on there. Stories that stand out as being original, well written, engaging and with characters more three-dimensional than half the people I had the ‘pleasure’ to meet while at Uni.

Plus, on top of all that, there’s some great people on there who are willing to sit and read your work, pointing out any flaws and mistakes you’ve missed. These reviews, and these people who are so willing to take the time to comb through a piece of work, have vastly improved my writing, as well as encouraging me to keep writing for personal reasons, as well as helping increase the quality of the work I completed at University. (Where I did Creative Writing. So, yeah, if I get a decent result, it’ll be in part thanks to the people at FP.)

I can understand why many good writers dislike the site. It’s very, very hard to get reviews at first, and much like Fanfiction.net, some of the best stories get overlooked, whereas some of the worst seem to get high reviews in a short amount of time. But then, digging deeper, you find amazing pieces which have a high number of reviews, detailed feedback and not just “amazing plz conts!” or whatever these crazy kids are saying nowadays.

I’ve learnt, via Fictionpress reviews, that when it comes to dialogue, speech tags need a lowercase and a comma, exclamation or question mark at the end, not a full stop, and that when addressing someone, a comma comes before ([“Hi, Mark,” she said,] rather than [“Hi Mark.” She said.]) For some reason, I’d never noticed or been taught this before, and now, it’s jammed into my head. It may sound small, but it makes a huge difference. I’ve also learnt my strengths (apparently, my dialogue is realistic. Yay!) and weaknesses (but I lack in description). It’s great – it gives me something to work on.

And, like I said, there are some amazing stories on Fictionpress, some writers whose work brings the same joy as reading a full-fledged, edited and published novel. I love reading – always have, and always will. Harry Potter when I was a kid, Anne Rice novels when I was a teenager, Ben Elton and Nick Hornby and, just recently, I devoured The Hunger Games like, well, a Capital citizen watching a bunch of kids kill each other, I guess. But while at University, the main reading I had was for essays or seminars, and except for travelling to and from Uni and home, I barely had time to get stuck into a good book. But I was always on my laptop, always on the internet, and managed to dip in and out of various Fictionpress stories. Now, among the authors and books mentioned above, I have some other favourites. I have stories that I keep a keen out for, authors who, when I get an e-mail telling me they’ve updated a story or added a new one, make me really excited. I see a whole new generation of writers waiting to be discovered, who, quite frankly, deserve success in writing so much more than some of the most famous, wealthy celebrities out there (whether these celebs be writers or not).

So, dismiss Fictionpress all you want, but in doing so, it discounts so much. Yeah, there’s rubbish you have to wade through, and, if you’re a writer yourself, you may struggle to get reviews (at first). But go to the forums; there are some great people there, many of who had a review-for-review policy. I suggest taking advantage of that, especially if you want to improve. Take their criticisms on board, listen to their advice and read their work.

It may just brighten your day.

et cetera