Monday, 25 July 2011

Misspelled Magazine

Happy Monday!

Okay, I hate Mondays, but today I have good news. Although I've had said good news since last Tuesday, I just haven't had the chance to update. Or I forgot. But being busy is a lot better than forgetting to do something. I had a point.

Oh, yes, my friend Sara and I (if you recall, I shamelessly plugged her blog a few weeks ago, scroll down and you'll find the post) are starting our own online literary magazine, "Misspelled Magazine" which naturally we're very excited about. We haven't released our first issue yet, so please feel free to check out our submissions page and send us your stuff, but the website's up for people to have a look at. I'll update here whenever we have something to update with.

http://misspelledmagazine.moonfruit.com/

Sunday, 24 July 2011

News Coverage

I wasn't going to comment on the death of Amy Winehouse, because I've never been a fan and I've never met her, so I consider myself to be basically unaffected by her death. Sure, it's always sad when someone dies, but it happens. However, I've been quite horrified by the amount of coverage her death is receiving given what has happened in Norway. Why does the (let's face it) probable overdose of a known drug addict warrant more coverage and greater tribute than a horrific massacre that has led to the deaths of over 90 young people? I've come up with two potential reasons, the first is that there is a lot more footage of Amy that people can show, and more celebrities that they can talk to about her, because she's been tabloid fodder for years now. My other possible explanation is that she's British, and the young people killed in Norway were not. Make of that what you will.

That's all I had to say, really.

Wednesday, 20 July 2011

X-MEN: FIRST CLASS

Okay, so after weeks of saying that I would not go and see this film purely because they offended me by casting James McAvoy in one of the lead roles, I finally went to see "X-Men: First Class."

And, I have to say, I'm glad I did.

It's brilliant. I really, really enjoyed it. Sure, it's a little bit long, there are a few sections where I'd have trimmed it, but there was nothing majorly wrong with it. Actually, yes, there is one thing majorly wrong with it, and it is this thing that keeps it from being the best of the series. The first four films feature rather a lot of the wonderful Hugh Jackman, and that is this instalment's only downside. Plus, it has James McAvoy in it, an unforgiveable casting decision (I won't go into it, it's a long story and I'm not sure I could explain it in a way that anybody would understand) but he didn't ruin the film. That's the best I can say for him.

So, this story goes back to the beginning of the X-Men. It's worth noting that originally it was supposed to be an "X-Men: Origins" film, featuring Magneto almost exclusively. I think this is a much better idea. Don't get me wrong, Magneto/Erik was excellent (where has Michael Fassbender been hiding?) but I don't think they could have built an entire film around his background. And if they did, I can't help thinking that it would be incredibly traumatic.

Speaking of which, I wasn't overly impressed with Kevin Bacon's Sebastian Shaw. He started off brilliantly, perfectly sinister, but when he switched from speaking German to speaking English, he lost a lot of his menace, I think. At times, he was a bit of a camp villain, and didn't exude the same darkness as Michael Fassbender, which is a bit of a shame, considering he was supposed to be the big bad guy. I did see on IMDB, however, that they had also considered Colin Firth for the role, and I just can't even picture that. (For future reference, I can't stand Colin Firth, either.)

The film is epic in scale and impressive to watch, and it really is difficult for me to find anything bad to say about it. Those of you that know me will appreciate how rare that is for me, I seem to be able to find fault everywhere, but I really did enjoy this film. I was a little disappointed, though, that there was nothing after the credits.

Saturday, 16 July 2011

HARRY POTTER AND THE DEATHLY HALLOWS - PART 2

Well, that's it - my childhood is officially over. On Thursday night, I went to see "Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows - Part Two" at my local Vue (do NOT get me started on their crappy customer service team who told me that there would be no 2D screening when there actually was one) because I just had to see it as soon as it came out. Because it was the end of an era. And I was so ready to be completely devastated.

But weirdly, I wasn't.

"Deathly Hallows" is not my favourite of the books. In fact, I find the first half of the book really quite boring, so I was impressed by the first half of the film. I didn't come out of the cinema bitching about everything they'd done wrong, which was a first. The second half, on the other hand, didn't meet with the same reaction.

It started brilliantly (don't worry, I'm going to avoid spoilers as much as I can. I might refer to things from the book, but I'll try not to give them away to anyone who hasn't read them. Also, if you haven't read the books, read them.) The scenes in Gringotts are wonderful, they're beautifully done and I was very impressed. I wanted to cry when I saw the dragon, that was how involved I was within, say, ten minutes. I was also quite impressed with the way they handled Harry finding the Horcruxes (I won't tell you, but you'll remember that Dumbledore didn't give him enough information in "Half-Blood Prince" to be able to do it.)

So, the film's going along nicely, I'm completely engrossed, and then it hits my favourite part of the books. The part that upset me more than anything else. For those of you who are wondering, it's the part where a pivotal character dies and their history revealed. And it's amazing. It really is, I loved it. I wept. I was trying to cry quietly, because there were only five other people in the room and I was very conscious of how noisy I was being. It's easily the best part of the film. And that's the problem, in my opinion.

After that, nothing comes close to being as upsetting. And I know, it doesn't need to be upsetting, but I thought it would be. And a part of me wanted to come out of the cinema in floods of tears (I can't explain it, I'm afraid.) But after that point, it was...fine. There's a surprising amount of humour, which keeps it from becoming too dark, even when beloved characters are being slaughtered left, right and centre. And as in the book, the scene in King's Cross Station (the one that isn't the epilogue) is an annoying break away from the story, though, mercifully, it has been shortened significantly in the film.

Of course, they've changed things. We knew that from the trailer - "let's finish this the way we started, together" by jumping off a cliff - but, actually, instead of making me furious, I felt the changes worked. Now, I haven't read the book in a long time, but I seem to recall that the climax basically involved Harry walking around in a circle and explaining things. Which, let's face it, would have been pretty dull to watch. The changes they've made have improved the film, they add drama, and I can't complain about them.

This brings us to the epilogue. The epilogue that, if I remember correctly, they went back and reshot because it looked ridiculous. I dread to think what it was like before - it is unintentionally hilarious, and instead of being sad or proud or whatever else I might have felt, I was trying so hard not to laugh. [OKAY, THIS MIGHT BE A SPOILER IF YOU HAVEN'T READ THE BOOK, ALTHOUGH I HIGHLY DOUBT ANYONE IN THE WORLD DOESN'T KNOW HOW IT ENDS. EXCEPT MY DAD. I TOLD HIM HARRY DIED AND HE GOT MAD. OOPS. ANYWAY, POTENTIAL SPOILER ALERT] The four main characters (I'm counting Ginny in that) don't look any older, clearly they've had their hair done and then put on grown-up-clothes. Draco Malfoy (who I love, who is my favourite character after Snape) looks absolutely ridiculous. But you only see him for a moment, long enough for your brain to register that he looks ridiculous and make you start laughing, but not long enough to figure out why it is. So if anyone's seen it and knows what it might be about him that looks so stupud, please let me know.

So, that's it. The end of an era. The end of the most successful film series of all time ("Deathly Hallows - Part Two" took a record-breaking $95 million on its first day of release alone.) The end of my childhood. And, honestly, the actual ending was a little disappointing. If only those brilliant scenes had been a bit closer to the end of the film, rather than coming in the middle and marking the difference between the first and second halves so clearly.

Friday, 15 July 2011

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows - Part 2

I went to a midnight showing last night, and didn't get home until 3am, so this won't be a full review. I'll do one when I'm less tired and crabby, probably Sunday.

I just wanted to express my utter delight that I was able to see the film in 2D. Despite being told ny Vue customer service that under no circumstances would they be showing the film in 2D at midnight, I arrived and saw it on the board. A quick word with manager Natalie and we had a full refund, two 2D tickets, the best seats possible and an almost empty screening room. I think I was more excited about that than I was about the film, and I was pretty damn excited about the film.

Wednesday, 13 July 2011

Don't laugh at me but...

...I write about vampires, mostly. Yes, people normally laugh at me about that. Right to my face, in fact. And I don't really understand why. Well, actually. I do.

Edward Cullen has ruined vampires. Okay, that's a bit unfair. I actually like the Twilight books, I think they've got good stories even though the writing is appalling. I've read all four, plus the novella, because the story's pretty good. In my opinion. And this is something that seems to divide people. Twilight is the new Marmite.

It's been incredibly successful, which has led to the market being absolutely flooded with vampire stuff, be it books, films or tv shows. Vampires are popular right now, Twilight's success has made other series popular, like the Charlaine Harris novels. They've been around for years, but only now have they been picked up and turned into the brilliant series "True Blood." You can't walk into a bookshop without being faced with a "dark romance" section.

But, at the same time, vampires have never been less cool. I don't know why it is, since I'm someone who's embraced the current craze, but if you tell people that you write or read about vampires, they automatically label you in a certain way. You're a Twi-hard (a name I object to generally, and don't think I deserve because I'm not actually obsessed with it) and that's it. People will laugh in your face, and you have to defend yourself. So, here goes.

I've been writing about vampires for five, almost six, years now. I started my first vampire novel three whole years before I'd even heard of Twilight (I have been genuinely asked on more than one occasion "Oh, is it based on Twilight?" when I've told someone I write about vampires) and have now written sixteen vampire novels. Which is 94% of the novels I've written (I wrote one sci-fi one about a parasite, but the less said about that the better.)

But why? I think about that a lot, mainly because people ask. They ask lots of stupid questions, don't they? Okay, that's unfair. But I do get asked why I write about vampires, especially since I've written so many now. And the reason I give is that it's like writing about people, except there are no limits. You don't have to worry about what's realistic, what would happen in the real world, how a normal person would react to something. You can create your own mythology, you can set the rules. I think of those things, the not having to know how a real person would react is probably the most important to me. This sounds like attention-seeking, but I'm fairly abnormal. I often find myself unable to understand why the people around me say and do certain things, even when everyone else seems to get it. So I worry that, if I write about normal people in a normal world, it just won't work. Vampires, on the other hand...well, I choose how they would react to things. I have total control, I can do whatever I want. And I love that.

So next time someone tells you that they write about vampires, or they like to read about them, don't judge. Don't laugh. They'll have their reasons. And if you're still unconvinced, I'm sure there was a vampire in Harry Potter. I do believe his name was Sanguini, and he appeared on page 374 of the "Half-Blood Prince."

Saturday, 9 July 2011

Illegal Television Downloading/Streaming

Just a quick one today, following an article I read today that didn't have an option to comment on it. Basically, illegal film downloading is up by 33% (which is appalling) but illegal television downloading is up significantly as well. Dr. Price, who led the research, says:

"But we often have to wait one month or two months for those shows to be shown legitimately in the UK,"

which is bollocks. I waited a YEAR for True Blood, and several months for the Big Bang Theory. I honestly don't think people would mind so much if it was just a month or so, but it's not. It's ridiculous. And I don't see why we should have to wait so long to watch on TV content that we can get online. It's all free, isn't it? Not like watching films.

Oh, the article is here, if anyone's interested:
www.bbc.co.uk/newsbeat/140229865

Tuesday, 5 July 2011

Doing the sums

Since you're supposed to learn something every day, I thought I'd share with the world what I learned today:

Doing the sums is bad. It will only make you miserable.

So, as you may or may not know, I'm a student at the moment. I'm also unemployed. And paying rent. And already £800 into my overdraft. I've been worrying about money recently, mainly because nowhere is hiring, and when I do find somewhere hiring, they don't want to hire me. (I know this is supposed to be a blog about writing, but while I'm this down, I can't seem to write, so it's totally relevant.)

And so, I thought, since I was worrying so much, it would be a good idea to sit down and do the sums, work out exactly how much I'm going to spend this year and how much, given the fact that I survive solely on my pitifully low student loan, I'm going be in debt by this time next year. It turned out to not be such a good idea.

As it stands, I will have -£1.364.41 in my account by next July. And this doesn't even take into account my living expenses. This is simply current balance, minus rent, plus student loan. Which is not good. I mean, unless I give up the luxury of eating (which might not be a good idea, given the size of me), I'm screwed. I think I preferred it when I didn't know how bad things were going to be next year.



But hey, you don't care. It's not your problem. Something good...I get to see Harry Potter next week, and I actually can't wait. It is in fact the only thing in the forseeable future that I have to look forward to, especially since I'm also going to have give up going to the cinema. Even if it wasn't ridiculously expensive, I'm sure I couldn't afford it.

You may have noticed that I haven't written anything about the book I'm writing in weeks. I've decided to put Outsiders on the back-burner for now. I can't seem to make any headway with it, I haven't even looked at it in over three weeks. The problem seems to be that I'm very conscious that it's aimed at teenagers. Before, I've always just sat down, written a book and never even thought about who might like to read it. So it's being officially put on hiatus for a while. I'm thinking about re-writing one of my other novels from scratch. I've made three serious edits to it (it lost fifty thousand words in a single edit, then gained twenty thousand, then lost another twelve) and I still can't seem to get the damn thing right. So I think I'm going to make a completely fresh start on it, and try not to think about my target audience. Because if I do, I'm not sure it'll ever get written.

Monday, 4 July 2011

Make me a cuppa ...??

Today I would like to shamelessly plug my friend Sara's blog. She's also studying Creative Writing at the University of Winchester, but she's combining it with something else (I don't know what, I'm a bad friend.) She started her blog for the same reason I did, and has decided to carry on with it. It's very interesting, although her obsessions with drinking tea and Emma Thompson are a bit weird. But I guess weird is good.

You can find her blog here:
http://makemeacuppa.blogspot.com/

Friday, 1 July 2011

GREEN LANTERN

So, yesterday I went to see "Green Lantern", the latest DC comics superhero movie, starring Ryan Reynolds in the lead role, with Blake Lively as his Lois Lane (although she does seem remarkably more intelligent than Lois Lane did, but I've only ever seen the Superman tv show with Dean Cain and Teri Hatcher, and I hate Teri Hatcher).

Now, I don't want anyone reading this to think I just hate all films, but...no, wait, I wrote nice things about "Bridesmaids." I think. Anyway, I don't hate all films, but I was pretty unimpressed with "Green Lantern." No, unimpressed is the wrong word. I was bored. Really bored. I couldn't even enjoy the 'exciting' action sequences because the rest of it had bored me so deeply. And I like superhero movies, I do. Christopher Nolan's Batman series (not technically a superhero, but whatever), "Iron Man," "Spiderman," and even...well, I can't think of any others off the top of my head, but I don't hate the genre. I missed "Thor" but fully intend to see it on DVD, and I'm even going to see "Captain America" (although that may be entirely due to the presence of Richard Armitage.) X-MEN! That's the other series I like, even if they're mutants rather than superheroes.

"Green Lantern" is different to these in a very specific way, which I identified while staring blankly at the screen while a voiceover told me lots of things I couldn't care less about. "Spiderman" begins when Peter Parker gets bitten by the radioactive spider, "Iron Man" begins when Tony Stark is taken captive and builds the special suit, "Batman" begins when Bruce Wayne realises he has lots of money to burn and even more time on his hands. What I'm saying is that the stories in these films starts with the characters' introduction to this new world/idea/whatever. "Green Lantern" doesn't. It has several millenia of backstory to trawl through before Hal Jordan gets a magic ring, and, quite frankly, it is unessential to the story and utterly boring to sit through. My brother disagrees, he thought the film was brilliant and he knew all the backstory crap before he went in (so he should have been even more bored than I was.)

What's interesting, though, is that in direct contrast to the info-dump of superhero-alien-backstory, there is a distinct lack of backstory concerning the human characters in the film, the ones to whom we are presumably supposed to relate. Sure, everyone picked up on the fact that the two leads slept together at some unspecified time in the past, but how did they meet? They keep saying they've known each other since they were children, but how? Why? (Thinking back, Hal's father may have been the star pilot for Lois Lane's dad's plane company, but I don't think it was said outright.) And then they introduce the mini-villain (who is being controlled by the mega-villain), and claim that he's known them both since childhood as well! And at the beginning, Hal goes to his nephew's birthday party, and engages in conversation with three adults who are presumably family members, though they are never identified.

I'm not a Ryan Reynolds fan either. I decided that yesterday. I liked him in "The Proposal," but I think Sandra Bullock's genius must have been rubbing off on him, because I wasn't overly impressed with this one. I also don't believe that those muscles he has when the aliens are studying him (though funnily enough they let him keep his underwear on) are his. I just don't.

I didn't enjoy the film. I think a sequel (which is already being discussed despite a poor box office performance) would be better, because it wouldn't be bogged down with so much unnecessary detail and could really get into the story, although of course they'll have to recap it constantly, so maybe it will be just as bad. It was just...ugh, it was just so dull. I can't even think about it anymore.

No, actually, one more thing. The special effects were pretty good, I actually thought the mega-villain creeping over the city was incredibly good. Very impressive. What I don't understand is how they can do something as brilliant as that, but they can't make it look like Ryan Reynolds and Blake Lively are actually standing on a rooftop. Seriously, the green screen at that point was so bad, I'm assuming they'd blown the budget and had to make a hash of that scene.