November 18, 2006

Sci–fi story, Pt. 1

As I arc the vacfighter o’ertop the station, three crimson blips appear in my lower peripheral. These are missiles. “Shit!” I pronounce, “I wonder, do these people play their music on 8-tracks?” Mawhrin’s sophisticated irony circuits make a tinny chortle, and the blips knot closer. But then his brand new intelli-jammer routines send some radio magic out into the vacuum, making the red blips blue. “Bees,” he tells me. I thank him for saving my life in yet another interesting way.

The blue bees will now follow me at a respectful distance, since Maw has capped their velocity. I could shake them with a flare, but I want whoever’s sitting at this station to register my presence. So I continue the arc, but whip back round at the precise moment that Maw drops our radar profile. Bereft of a target, the bees buzz along a straight vector, heading home to the station.

Maw detonates the warheads 50m from the hull, enough to shake the sensors but leave nothing broken. This seems like a superfluous flourish, and so I question his judgement loudly.

“But there may be people on board, Captain!”

“You’re funny,” I reply.

Now someone wants to talk. I park the fighter in a loose and weavey orbit pattern and flick the screen up. A girl!

“Hey-” I begin

She replies: “Station security regrets to inform you that, unless you immediately cease h-”

I claim to be a dodecahedron and threaten to explode with the force of a million suns. This sort of surrealist non sequitur is a good way to tell if you’re speaking to a person or just an AI answerphone. “No games,” she says. She’s not a bot. “Cut power or we retaliate.”

“With more missiles? Go ahead. But I warn you, my robot and I will not show clemency twice.”

Mawhrin is chuckling his spinning robot head off, as he does at times of great excitement.

“This is a civilian vessel,” the girl reproaches.

“Don’t lie! I know full well it’s not, else I wouldn’t be here. Now please throw a rope so we can climb aboard.”

She seems to tut before closing the channel. No dice. I look for my mala beads so I can have a quick think. Mawhrin says, “Er.”

I bring up my HUD. The sky is full of tiny red dots.

November 15, 2006

Thoughts on doing an MA

I wanted to get my thoughts down on doing an MA…

I always find it quite strange plotting things a year ahead… perhaps I’ll think it a good idea now, but who knows how I feel about it when I get down to it.

Basically, I don’t want to just walk into another year at uni simply because of reluctance/fear to enter the world of work. But the reality is I have little clear idea of what I would do career-wise at the moment. My degree (Eng+CW) doesn’t suggest anything clear to me (though it may do to others on the course!) and it would be a worse fate to walk into a job I’m indifferent about.

I’m thinking seriously of applying for the Creative and Media Enterprises [beware PDF] course. My reasoning is that it may give me a better idea of what I’d like to be involved in as a career. Also, transferable knowledge, skills and whatnot.

In honesty I’m interested in the course from a more theoretical perspective. I’ve talked to the person who handles applications for the course and he has said that things like critical theory come heavily into play (this being an MA of course). Combine that with looking at how creative industry works nowadays, incl. things like intellecual property, and my brain is already buzzing.

However, there’s a billion odd reasons not to do another year, foremost of which may turn out to be funding. I don’t have much, errm, capital now (does any undergrad?) and I won’t expect relatives to foot the bill. So I need to ask people about funding and how likely it is I can find sponsorship.

Just thoughts… though comments from people who have done, are doing or might do such a course would be great :)

October 04, 2006

Computer Music – any ideas?

Dear Everyone,

I would like to tap your brains for knowledge. Please help me out.

I would like to set up my computer as a Music Machine. It’s a reasonably modern desktop with a built-in soundcard which runs WinXP and Ubuntu Linux. I’m what you’d call computer literate, but I know little about music software.

Anyway, I would like to do one or any of the following:
  • Use it as a fancified live FX processor for my bass guitar (y’know, delay effects and whatnot)
  • Get a basic synthesiser so as to make strange washes of ambient/electronic noise.
  • Er… drum loops?
My concerns are:
  • What software will I need? I’ve been told you can get VST hosts for free, but is this enough? Ableton Live is often touted… is it worth it? (One could always get a student discount after all)
  • Will I need a special soundcard? An expensive one?

Any help appreciated!

September 28, 2006

Pooh on Inspiration

Poetry and Hums aren’t things which you get, they’re things which get you. And all you can do is go where they can find you.

Also: Was Winnie-the-Pooh a Good Muslim?

September 03, 2006

Cafe Culture

Whenever I’m in an internet cafe, I have a powerful urge to blog. An urge almost reproductive in its amplitude. Therefore, I will rattle out one of those marvellous, content-free ejaculations so common to the blog community, nay blogosphere, sorry Tavner.

I’m in Camden Town. Get me. I only came in here to check the train prices, which are pleasantly affordable, meaning I will take a trip to Leamington this afternoon to have a gander at my new flat[mates].

Coming soon: a comic vignette featuring an inept, wannabe modern-day-samurai. I.e. non-fiction.

In other news, The Mars Volta still rock hard

And the best quote I’ve ever heard about Muse from the Guardian Guide:

Quite simply, Muse give pompous, overblown, pretentious rock music a good name.


September 01, 2006

Shitty matches

I’ve just been lighting cheap matches by a dried-up stream.

Matches so cheap that the flame goes out moments after it is lit. Just a spark, then nothing. How’s that any use?

Before that, I accidentally uninstalled all of my Steam files… leaving an irrevocable 8 gig hole in my C: drive…

I contemplate: the planet is organising itself according to the pattern of human psychology – the “developing world” its unconcious, Western democracy its belligerent ego, the media its hypocritical conscience. The only solution is forced, brutal therapy...

Ex nihilo nuhil fit

August 31, 2006


Plan A – be who you want to be!

Travel the world – if you don’t know where you’re going, any road will take you there!

Realize your potential – learn a martial art – read and write – do it, think it, blog it!

Join a worthy cause – go on a crusade – and change The World!

Run from your shadow.

Plan B – be yourself.

Know yourself. And your limits.

Get paid. Get comfortable. Settle down.

Enjoy games, DVDs and other digital distractions.

(Or perhaps you are an intellectual? Busy your brain, then, with the words of men long dead.)

Get sex if you’re the type. Watch porn if you’re not.

Slow down. Meditate. Get enlightened. Get brainwashed.

SO – you can run from your shadow or distract yourself from it. Choose either strategy to postpone that inevitable, inescapable, final disappointment.

Reality... what do you think of as worthwhile? To some, there’s no point in getting angry if it’s just a game, but OF COURSE you should be angry when your bank statement comes in. That’s reality.

Others want to waggle their fists at buildings and feel sorry for those less well off. The real world, after all, is a world of suffering and oppression. That’s nice. It’s nice to have a cause.

Or perhaps it’s that special someone for whom you live your life; without whom life would be a ghostly imitation of reality. Sure.

The final alternative is to rely only on oneself, to choose one’s own purpose and pleasure. You then realise you are locked inside your own skull and there’s only room for one. All very noble, romantic, etc. However, any given “self” is constructed of repressed self-hate. And in my experienced, self-oriented people are the worst kind of cogs in the machine.

... it’s a game you play with your muscles, and the rules are DNA

Behind your stated objectives, your narratives of progress, humanity and self: Who are you? Why do you wake up and walk and talk the way you do? Whose words are in your mind and in your mouth?

July 23, 2006


He mumbled a name gruffly at the floor.

"Oh really," I turned and said.

"Yeah, really." He looked at me, then past me. "What's it to you, anyway?"

"Oh, don't mind me," I said, "I'm just here for the band."

The band was Slim Jimmy's Swing and Sax Collective, the atmosphere was metallic. Like the foil lid of a coffee jar, or the thin cold film covering the sky on a moonless night.

"Your face is beautiful, like the curve of a Grecian urn," I breathed.

"You want to know why it's so long, then? You ever been in love?

I paused, then nodded.

"You ever seen someone you love walk out on you for the love of a milkman? A milkman?"

I shook my head, but knew inside that I was lying.

He downed his fifth whiskey soda, chuckled and look at me. "Then you don't know what it's like. What it's like when pain and failure are your last two constant companions."

I handed him a smoke with a sultry motion.

"I keep trying," he said gruffly, "but I keep just winding back around and biting myself in the ass."

He mumbled a name gruffly at the floor.

July 18, 2006


Have spacious room
w/ empty white walls
and items placed
in several drawers.

WLTM girl
w/ similar mind,
spacious body
and tidy grey eyes.

July 17, 2006


You are reading Italo Calvino's new novel, If on a winter's night a traveller. You are also eating a salubrious clementine. The first chapter is permeated with the scent of frying onions. This is to be expected, as the novel was borrowed from the library. Eventually you realise that, befitting a novel of such ambition and some might say pretension, that you are bored. Bored to distraction.

You put down Italo Calvino's new novel, If on a winter's night a traveller, and begin considering the nature of boredom. It is the brain's natural, neutral state, you conclude. However, it also gives rise to a certain anxiety – a restless desire to occupy oneself with other things. God, you must be bored. Bored stiff! What do you do?

If you decide to put out the cigarette, get out of bed and go for a walk, then carry on reading (duh).

If you decide to do something else, then stop being a rotter and write your own story.

So you have decided to go for a walk. I'm glad. Far be it from me, the author, to presume anything about your mental state. Indeed, I the author would like to suggest that I'm not your therapist, and I'm honestly disinterested in your mental state, bored or otherwise. In fact, let's change perspective. You are not going for a walk. You are reading about me going for a walk. There, isn't that more sensible.

I venture some way into the campus grounds and find a small pond, at which I smoke a cigarette and feel like a Jedi. I come up with a very profound story about a samurai in the moment before I flick the butt into the water, and then I wonder if the air trapped in the filter will cause the butt to float or perhaps sink more slowly – and in that moment, the story is lost forever.

Inclined to adventure, I decide to head towards the campus lake, which is not in point of fact a lake but a river corridor. This involves traversing a car park and then a short stretch of unlit woodland. Remembering my druid training, I shapeshift into a bear. Doing so gives me a 180% increase in armour class and renders me immune to polymorph effects, two things which prove useless in this case, so I shapeshift back into an English Literature student.

As an interlude, Lord Byron would travel with a bear at all times. Historians have suggested a causal link between this and his club foot. This would make more sense if bears were small, more the size of a large badger or dog.

I enter the realm of the waterfowl, where geese prowl the shitheaped gravel paths looking for violence and a quick fuck. They will not challenge my druidic might, providing that I take care not to enter their threat radius. I walk further along the bank of the lake, sorry river corridor, passing under electric lights until I reach a dark cranny near a bin.

The Night Elven blood in my veins allows me to meld with the shadows, becoming invisible to the gaze of any passing security officer or goose enthusiast. I use this stealthy cover to light up a drugs joint. Dave Brubeck's Take Five plays softly in the background as I pull on the business end, one of the few compositions in the jazz idiom to be set to a 5:4 rhythm.

As I inhale the dope fumes, heat–sensitive nanites stored in the barrel of the device begin to activate, streaming past my lips, into my lungs and throughout my bloodstream, bolstering my considerable bionic abilities. I know that the slightest twitch of my right foot could send me hurling into the night sky, screaming like a demented firecracker.

Eventually, the feeling settles, and I park my cheeks on a bench. I remember fondly how the loss of short–term memory caused by such crazy drugs caused me to believe I had teleported from one riverside bench to another, when in fact I had merely forgotten I had walked between them. Mad days.

Joseph Watson's autobiography Unusual Events is published by Phoenix.

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