Friday, 30 September 2011

Hipstomatic marble

We went to the John Soane Museum on another gloriously sunny day here in the UK.  My son's school was having a teacher training day and so we took advantage and spent the day in London.  We also went to the British Museum where I took these photos using the Hipstomatic app on my iPhone.

Wednesday, 14 September 2011

Come with me if you want to live

We watched Terminator 2: Judgment Day recently.  My son had never seen it and I was interested to see how it held up after all these years.  I'm not sure I've watched it all the way through since I went to see it at the cinema on its release in 1991.

And that seems a lifetime ago. 

Another reason for watching it was that the movie was definitely in the back of my mind when I was writing Mister Creecher.  The idea of teaming two misfits - one a teenager, the other a kind of superhuman - certainly had something to do with my memory of Terminator 2.  In particular, the scene where John Connor realises that he can make the terminator do whatever he says.  The glee with which he realises that he has a near-indestructible killing machine at his disposal is immediately tempered by his feeling of responsibility as soon as the terminator starts to act on his orders.  I knew I wanted that tension to exist in my novel - although Billy never actually has control over Mister Creecher in that way.

My story is a lot darker though, and the issue of who the 'monster' is in the book is deliberately blurred.  It is comforting to believe that monsters are something other.  I wanted to deliberately make my humans capable of anything.  That is true to Mary Shelley's novel after all.  The creature in Frankenstein is a blank slate.  He is taught to be a monster by the humans he meets - chief among them his creator, Victor Frankenstein.

There is a continuing confusion in the public mind between Frankenstein and his creature.  Which is ironic in a way - Victor Frankenstein being the true monster of the novel. 

The special effects in Terminator 2 are not the thrill they once were.  They are OK, but those morphing effects are commonplace now.  The actual body-morphing of Linda Hamilton now seems more impressive than the virtual ones of the T-100o terminator.  Although Robert Patrick's performance as the T-1000 is still superb.  He invests the role with far more gravitas than it deserves and it really works.  I love the way he runs.  I like the way Sarah Connor becomes a terminator too.  It reminded me of the way Ripley starts to act like an alien in Alien Resurrection (another movie franchise that owes a debt to Frankenstein)

It was good fun watching T2 again, but I had forgotten quite how cheesy the ending is.  Not only is it shamelessly and inappropriately sentimental in a movie with such a cynical and world-weary view of mankind, but it also harks back to the old horror movie endings.  Arnold Schwarzenegger could almost be Lon Chaney Jnr as he descends into the molten steel, although the garish colour is maybe more Hammer than Universal.

Tuesday, 13 September 2011


My computer died last week.  Admittedly it was over five years old and I had been intending to replace it with a Mac, but even so - it is surprising how disturbing it is to find yourself refused entry to your own computer.  Most things were backed up, but not everything, inevitably.

I do have the use of a laptop, but that laptop has been the source of irritation ever since I bought it.  It has never worked properly and has had just about every component replaced.  It does work well enough to get by on until I figure out which Mac is right for me, but I had never bothered to try and connect it to my printer or scanner.

Actually, that's not true - I did try to connect it to my scanner when I went to help sort out my father's house after he died.  I thought it would be nice to scan in some old family photos.  But though the drivers appeared to install OK, the laptop doggedly refused to 'see' the scanner.

I get disproportionately frustrated by things like this and then pathetically triumphant when - as I did the other day - I finally get the thing to work.  This is what computers have driven us to: we are actually grateful to them for doing the job they are designed to do.

Anyway, after downloading drivers from Epson, I did eventually get my scanner to hook up to my laptop and the printer connected without any problems.  Until I go on a spending spree at the Apple Store, this will have to do.  And Kevin, my IT guy, did at least manage to get the data from the hard drive before gave my old PC the last rites.  I know it was only a boring PC, but I wrote all my recent books on it.  I won't miss it exactly, but it was a faithful old workhorse.  RIP.

All this was made even more difficult by a continuing problem with my internet connection.  Again - I can remember when I did not have the internet and still managed to eat and breath, but now it seems that I cannot function as a human being unless I have a broadband connection.

Hopefully this goes some way to explaining the scarcity of blog entries of late and I shall be doing a bit of back-filling as I complete various half-finished entries from the last month or so.