Friday, October 26, 2012

The name's Bond.

I have a blow up boot thing that means I can walk! A bit! With crutches! I took advantage of this to spend the day at the movies, making the most of my free movies card and my sore crutch hands.

One of the films I saw was Skyfall, at the big screen where I saw Spiderman (well, one of the times I saw Spiderman). Like when I saw Spiderman, they had film problems. Last time it was the coordination of the 3D images. This time everything was pink for a while, which it turns out is very distracting. Everything was back to normal by the time the actual movie started (there were a very, very many ads, ninety percent of which were Bond themed) so I got to witness the Istanbul opening sequence in proper technicolor.

And I had been to many of the places! I recognised the exotic street corners and bits of mosque wall! I realised that the compositing if locations was done with quite a bit if artistic license, because there was no way some scenes could have happened in the real places, unless there was some time-space stretching going on. But what am I talking about? This is a Bond film. They laugh in the face of reality and probable-sequence-of-events.

Bond films can do this, I think. You can see the filmmakers gleefully rubbing the hands as they contemplate different action scenes. What do you mean, it's unlikely there'll be (highlight the spoilers if you want them) a digger and four VW Beatles on a Turkish passenger train? It's all right! It looks awesome! The audience will accept it! The bar of willing suspension of disbelief is higher for Bond. We want to see a fun movie. We don't really care about the little details, like the fact that Circle and District underground trains do not run in deep-level tunnels. We can forgive, if you give us villains using entire (strangely empty) Jubilee line trains as weapons at Embankment Station, where Jubilee trains do not run. Ha! That beats a puny little laser, Goldfinger.

It's a good movie and I really enjoyed it (though I was slightly concerned that the villain was portrayed as gay, considering various 'moral' debates at the moment. Yay for having gay characters on screen and having a more numerically-accurate representation of society, but not so great that it was portrayed negatively. There's already enough negativity around, and it just solidifies prejudices, doesn't it?).

I've been thinking about plotting lots this week, considering I'm doing Nanowrimo next week, and so I went into Skyfall with a particular eye. The movie follows the beats of a story well - problem, try to solve, doesn't work, try to solve, maybe we have, yes we have! Oh... no, screwed up. Badly. Try to solve... Fall back... Try to solve... Maybe... Yes! It was also interesting in that they address Bond's seeming invulnability - a character who has too much skill or power is too easy to get out of situations, so there's much less tension. I have been struggling with this in my Nanowrimo planning - how do you stop a character from becoming unbeatable, especially in fantasy? In Skyfall, you're no longer sure that Bond will be up to the challenges he faces. You're reasonably sure he won't die in the end, but there are lots of things that could happen that don't include him dying... Tension is higher because Bond isn't so perfect anymore.

And, I have to admit, I cried. This is the second time I have cried in a Bond film. The first time was when a car in one of the Pierce Brosnan movies got sliced in half by a helicopter-mounted circular saw. This time also involved the destruction of a car... No, I don't want to talk about it.

So I'm inspired, and back to the plotting! Must figure out how to heighten the tension and maybe think of a few scenes with explosions...

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Nanowrimo and the Broken Foot

The longer I'm on crutches, the grouchier I become. Latest in my tale of woe is the closing of my bus stop - apparently they feel the need to do road works, and this for some reason affects the ability of my bus to stop at the proper place. Ha! Why couldn't they wait until my foot was healed? And the buses do not stop elsewhere along the road, even when I'm late and there's no way I could ever run with crutches without taking a skidding tumble down the hill in a tangle of broken limbs. I'll have bones poking out of me soon.

I am also imagineering (can I borrow that word? I'm pretty sure it's copyrighted. Hmm. Thanks, Disney) a dumb-waiter that could ferry plates, groceries and cups of tea between the kitchen and my room. It would be nice if it could also ferry me. Or maybe some kind of Great Glass Elevator, which could also save on plane fares (thought: is the Great Glass Elevator pressurised? How fast does it travel? Would you have to go through customs, and if so you'd probably have to land near an airport, and if so do you have to worry about air traffic control?)

In other news, I've decided to do Nanowrimo this year. For those who don't know, this involves writing 50,000 words in 30 days, and this year over 300,000 people are doing it in the month of November. I did it three years ago and was amazed at how I could go from absolutely nothing (I had a last-minute change of idea, which meant that my pre-November planning consisted of about half an hour on the evening of October 31st) to an almost-complete first draft. Things just seem to click sometimes as you're writing and plotting, and a story comes through when a month before there was nothing.

This time, I'm going to try planning, and hopefully I won't have to change my idea at the last minute like last time. My commute takes an hour and a half each way at the moment, so I should have a reasonable amount of time to get my 1667 words done each day. I'm still not quite sure about my ending, but i'm confident it'll sort itself out. Eventually. I'm quite excited to get into the writing and see what will happen.

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Two decades of Number One Singles. And a broken foot.

Update on the foot: I have a new shoe thingy that's supposed to take pressure off my toe but I don't think it does. My other foot and knee are feeling the pressure, as well as my hands. Two weeks on crutches is not advisable, for those of you who were thinking you might try it. Four weeks to go, I guess...

I mentioned last week that I'd worked my way through all the number one singles since the year I was born. It was an educational experience. In the first few years, I didn't recognise too many of the songs, and was somewhat horrified by a few (there was actually a number one that included rap and yodelling). I made rules: I was not allowed to skip any if they were terrible, but if I couldn't find a particular song I could listen to a different version or skip it. If a song came up twice, i only had to listen to it once (this was especially good with things like Crazy Frog).

It was interesting to slowly move through the years and come to a point at which I began to recognise a lot of the songs, or be able to link them to a certain event in my life - a dance concert, a school disco, playing cassettes in the car. Music is very good at capturing the feeling of a particular time, and listening was like taking a journey through my life.

I was surprised at how some songs hadn't dated at all, and how others were so clearly from a particular era (eighties/early nineties) that it made me cringe. I found one song that I really like except for one repeated line in the chorus, which marks it as a product of the early nineties. They should rerelease it, without that bit. Am I conditioned to dislike songs that came out before I was properly listening to music, or is the music just bad? I'm not sure.

Closer to the present day, I found myself astonished at how many years had passed since a particular song was number one. Time should not move so quickly. You could also see the rise of particular types of music, and I enjoyed things like listening to Cher's first artistic use of auto tune, and then hearing all the number one songs that have used it in the last ten years.

Some of the music was bad, as number ones sometimes seem to be. Some of it was pretty good. The whole thing took me about a week and a half, and I'm not sure I'd do it again, but it was a good experience. Maybe I'll go through all the number two singles that weren't number ones next, though that might be harder to figure out.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Broken legs in London

I have done many interesting things in the past few weeks. I have catsit, I have listened to all the number one singles from my birth until the present day, I have put up some more photos of my trip to Turkey and also a few more, I have been to see Stomp, and I have broken my foot (I know, I misled you in the title. But the alliteration!!)

This last one happened about a week ago, and involved a moss-green wing armchair viciously kicking my foot. The altercation also involved my flatmate (who I was teasing) and an intended inside hook kick, but it was mostly the chair's fault.

I spent four hours in the A&E the next day, got an X-ray and confirmed that my foot was indeed broken. The doctor seemed quite excited and pronounced it a 'beautiful fracture' (hey, that could be the name of a song). I made my way home and collapsed on my bed for the next two days, moaning about my sore arm muscles (crutches take a lot out of you...) and bruised hands (crutches again. The foot was fine).

I'm back at work again this week, taking a different route on my commute that minimises the amount of walking. I go past large houses that I'm sure are terminator Transformers in disguise, with their Mohawk of chimney pots and chimney pot guns at either side, blank window eyes staring out over the heath. I plead with bus drivers to let me off fifty metres before the actual bus stop, crutch my way over cobble stones and onto the train platform. I work out the shortest distances to everywhere, and walk boldly through a pub to get to my bus stop. Before today, I hadn't used the Underground in more than a week.

People smile at you when you're on crutches, and talk to you and offer to carry things. You get to use the disabled seats on public transport without feeling guilty. I've been getting quite good at my crutches (my arms are stronger now) and I've figured out the fastest technique is to crutch forward, then hop, then crutch forward again. Even without the hop (which I only use on special occasions, like when my bus is almost at the bus stop) I'm already fast enough to get annoyed at the pace of tourists in central London. I dislike moving slowly.

I went on my first escalator today. I didn't realise how difficult it would be until I actually stood in front of it and stared at the steps sliding out, out, out, out and considered where I would put my crutches, when I would hop and how to keep my crutches and hold on to the handrail. It was like being a three year old again, and trying out your very, very first escalator. Getting off was much easier. Hopefully things will improve with practice, and I won't be on crutches too much longer... I will restrict my use of escalators, though.