Almost two months since my last post...wow. Things have been busy; perhaps a little bit too busy for my liking. So here's a quick summary of the most important things that have happened since I last started typing here.
Ray Meredith, James's father, unfortunately died from a heart attack in February aged 83. A lovely man who I had known for almost 20 years, he will be sadly missed.
Bushido: it looks like my hip is fine, so it's lots of painful stretching that is needed in order for me to kick higher. I went to a weapons seminar last weekend and did 4 hours of bo staff training which was good fun, although my left leg decided it didn't want to work too well for the next couple of days. I've got two weeks until my orange belt grading, and I think I should be OK, but lots of practice and stretching will be needed.
My car cost £250 to get through the MOT. But it's still alive, thankfully. I really can't afford another car at present. I may even get round to washing it sometime. After 3 years without a soap sud near it, even the birds are giving it a wide berth.
Gilly is appearing in Iolanthe at Portsmouth's New Theatre Royal on the 15th-18th March. I'll be there for the final night. Go and see it (if only to see the costume she's being forced to wear...) ! :o)
Oh yeah, I guess there was the small matter of my birthday in January too. I went up to Castleford to check out Neil's new house with almost a dozen other Miltonites and we went for bowling and a curry in XScape. It's a pretty cool place, there's a bar overlooking an indoor ski slope so you can watch people falling over as you drink your pint. Marvellous.
Wayne and I are both trying to brush up on our writing skills, so I cunningly came up with a writing "challenge" where one person would pick a topic, and we would both then write something around that topic. I chose "Thief" to start with, and you can see my effort by clicking here. It wasn't a bad first attempt, the overall setting could have used some more atmosphere as it basically could have been set anywhere. Wayne chose "The Pilot" as the next topic, and I opted for something a little different. This will probably mean nothing to those of you that don't visit the DVD Forums but I've added it for the sake of inclusivity. This month's topic is "Fairy Tales", and I've got something even more interesting planned. Whether I can pull it off effectively or not is a different matter.
Speaking of writing, I've worked my way through a few books recently. I didn't mention finishing The Dumas Club but it was a good read, and far, far better than the film that was based on it - The Ninth Gate. Since then I've read Northern Lights by Phillip Pullman, and am now onto book 2: The Subtle Knife. I also finally got round to finishing A Feast for Crows, which was a little bit more padded out than George R R Martin's other books, but very enjoyable nonetheless. I assume book 5 will be similar, as it will be building up the story of the other half of the cast which didn't feature in this book. Then hopefully books 6 and 7 will round things off with a bang (when they're published in the year 2020, or something). There was even time to squeeze in The Rule of Four which was little more than a clone of The Da Vinci Code but without the exciting parts. The ending was limp too, but then so was Dan Brown's book. So in that respect at least, it was a successful replica.
From time to time, I even manage to dip into The Complete Calvin and Hobbes which my lovely girlfriend bought me for my birthday. Cartoons never get old. I say "dip", because this collection contains every single cartoon that was published in syndication; 10 years worth of material exquisitely bound into three huge volumes (450+ pages each) and stored in a sturdy illustrated box. Absolutely fantastic - thank you Gilly :o)
On to television...here's the rundown:
24 - Wow. This season kicked off with a stormer of an opening episode, perhaps the most intense yet, and the pace has certainly kept its momentum through the 12 episodes shown so far. Last week's double header (in the US) ended with a jaw-dropper, and nicely set up the remaining half of the series. Ignore the fact that Jack has a pocket teleporter, and enjoy the most exciting series on TV at the minute.
House - After watching the first couple, the show got me hooked. I devoured the first series in the space of a week, and I've now caught up to the current series. As expected, the rest of the cast were developed nicely and there's usually an interesting twist each episode with regards to the personal lives of the staff to keep things bubbling.
The Thick of It - Only seen one episode of this political comedy and the satire was bone dry, unsurprising since it was penned by Armando Iannucci. It's less immediately accessible than Absolute Power but I think, like a good wine, it will mature nicely to give a more rounded flavour in the end.
The IT Crowd - Slated by critics, Channel 4's new geek comedy had me in stitches through the first two episodes but the third and fourth were pretty awful. When you have lines delivered by Chris Morris such as: "That's the kind of place this is, Jen. Lots of people not doing much, and having affairs." then it's hard not to laugh. It's just a shame he's hardly in it.
Lost - Finally getting its act together and realising that back story, whilst necessary, can't actually divert the viewer away from the fact that people are stranded on an island. You can only ignore it for so long. I hope the end of the series actualy gives us something of interest to make up for all the filler.
Alias and Commander-In-Chief are out till April, Prison Break is back on the 20th, Everwood returns next week, and The West Wing resumes tonight, so there's lots to look forward to. Bones is still trundling along in the category of "drama that's worth watching if there's nothing else on", and Joey really needs to get canned as soon as possible. If it makes it to a 3rd series, it will be a disgrace, especially when Firefly didn't even get the benefit of a full run.
Which leads nicely on to Serenity - the DVD sales of which have pushed the film into the black, and made up for its (relatively) poor theatrical release. Good news? Possibly. Fox still own the rights to Firefly so a new series is unlikely. But I don't think fans will want another film if there is any sort of chance of a new series. So I guess it will depend if Fox and Universal discussions take place, which will most likely depend on how Joss's next films (including Wonder Woman) turn out cash-wise.
A few films I've seen recently:
Robots - amusing animation, pretty much carried by Robin Williams, but good fun for a night in.
The I Inside - Decent psychological/time-travel flick in the same mould as The Jacket, but actually better even if it does star Ryan Phillippe, and it has an ending that makes you go back and re-evaluate the little clues that were left for you to find. Well worth watching.
Bushido grading is in two weeks time, so I suppose I better go and get practicing.