Movies, games, and a to-do list.

Watched The Hurt Locker last night.  For the most part, it’s very, very good.  Kathryn Bigelow overcomes the majority of her urges to slip back into genre conventions, and the tight focus, both in shooting and script, on the three-man Explosive Ordinance Disposal squad is a decision that pays off consistently throughout the film.

Continue reading “Movies, games, and a to-do list.”

Bullet in the brainpan – squish!

While we were getting some bulk shopping over at Costco yesterday, I started to feel a little bit under the weather.  I have headaches a lot, so I didn’t think a great deal of it.

By the time we got home, I could think of little else.  I was lying on my bed, sheeted in a cold sweat, and alternating between yelling and sobbing from the pain.

Lisa took me in to the hospital, and I spent the night there.  My CT scan came up clear, which was a relief, but I’m now on medication to lower my blood pressure (which was through the roof when I went in, and moderately brushing the rafters when they discharged me).  According to my ECG, I have an enlarged heart (‘how enlarged?’ I asked.  ‘10%?  20%? Is my heart where my lung should be and has my lung become a vestigial lump?’ – for future reference, doctors have zero sense of humour when you are flippant in this manner) and a couple of other ancillary symptoms that point to hypertension as the primary cause of my attack.

Not the most fun way to spend your Saturday, and I don’t imagine Lisa had a great time either.  I think once she comes home I’m going to be told in no uncertain terms that I no longer have permission to scare her like that.

Damned nose!

Been wandering around all day with a head like an angry bear, due to waking up with a headache I’ve been unable to shift.  Always fun.

I kind of flaked out on making dinner last night, and Lisa ended up cooking her own, so to redress things I made a nice lunch today of soba noodles in broth.  I always get a bit frightened cooking Japanese food, as my normal approach to seasoning is the classic student approach of adding enough fistfuls of pepper/garlic/chillies to completely kill every other flavour and claiming that you have created a dish with bold, invigorating flavours.

Since we ran out of instant dashi, I had to make my own stock.  It’s kind of awesome, as it involves boiling kombu and dried, flaked bonito in water and then straining off the resulting liquid.  What you end up with is water with a pale, pale yellow tinge to it, and the slight odour of fish – basically the total opposite of what my cooking instincts would consider suitable stock (maybe with some garlic and chillies, though…).  So I added mirin, salt, sugar and soy sauce, then tasted, then a little more mirin, then tasted, then a little more sugar, then tasted, and then I thought to myself that if I kept on with the tasting and adding, I was going to gallop away from the light, refreshing broth I was meant to be aiming for.  So I stopped, and instead made the noodles.

One of my only real gripes about Wagamama is that they purport to serve a number of soba dishes, but they use the same noodles they use for their ramen and just call it soba.  I did call my server’s attention to the discrepancy once, just to be an awkward little bastard, but it was like telling a termite that its nest is two feet too far to the right of where it should be.  Anyway, I found some actual soba noodles in Sainsbury’s, which led to me deciding to make them for lunch.

I was really tempted to go for the classic cold noodles and cold broth to dip them in, but I know Lisa’s tastes tend towards a hot meal such as ochazuke (rice covered in green tea) or ramen that she can guzzle down.

So, yeah!  Soba noodles in broth, with spring onions on top.  Yum.  I’d have taken a picture but we ate it all up in about a minute flat.

All You Can Eat

Lisa and I went to an all-you-can-eat Indian buffet meal last night with some of her workmates.  On the upside, it was super tasty!  There was a great deal of meat and, as anyone who’s ever met me will agree, I’m a big fan of the meat.

Still, I overdid it a little.  I’m well aware that a restaurant like that makes money on the drinks, and having played Theme Park as a teenager, I understand that if you want people to drink more then you salt the living crap out of everything on the menu.  None of that stopped me from gorging myself to the point where I felt uncomfortable about standing up and walking and as a result I was up twice last night needing a drink.  A big drink.  I reckon I went through about two liters last night and I still felt groggy and dehydrated up until about an hour ago.

That’s about as interesting as it gets.  We had to rearrange the bedroom a bit the other week because the summer morning light has been exacerbating my morning headaches (yes, still getting headaches) and otherwise pretty much I’ve just been writing and thinking about how I’m going to earn some money.  Exciting stuff, I’m sure you’ll agree.

We went to see Coraline, which was pretty good.  Workmanlike would be the word I’d use for the film itself – the story, direction, animation and voice acting are all generally good and effective, but nothing really leapt out at me (insert 3D joke here) as being exceptional.  Had I not been informed by Lisa that all the knitwear was both custom made and hand-knit for the production, I wouldn’t have paid as much attention to the level of crafting in the models and scenery that there was, but nevertheless I didn’t walk out the cinema feeling moved, or excited by the experience.

For yet another day the radio is banging on about MP’s expenses and the shock and horror of it all.  I’m still with Stephen Fry on this one – there are bigger things in the world to worry about and the mass media is hardly a body best suited to pointing fingers about things.  Measles is still on the rise following the scaremongering about MMR, and I’d rather people were being knocked on the head with the realisation that the knock-on effect of all those newspaper sales will be a rise in complication-related deaths such as encephalitis.

You canta have-ah two popes at the samma time*

Lisa and I are thoroughly regretting not changing to the summer duvet early enough.  Last night was the boiling hell of infinite tog ratings, and as an apparent result, i spent most of the morning clutching my head and going “hnngrrrrh” in pain.  Lovely.

In other news, I’m almost finished my copy of Toll the Hounds, by Stephen Erikson.  I quite enjoyed his other books, being as they are full of an enormous sense of scale with its vast warrens – sources of magic – layered on top of the “real” world and a cast of thousands to go with it.  Certainly there is an element of the ever-escalating about it: each successive chapter in some of the books seems set to introduce an ever-more ancient and ever-more powerful being to contest with the crowded muddle of super-powerful races that are already struggling with one another in the name of driving things onward, but it has never got in the way of the more appealing characters in the cast.

Toll the Hounds is a little different.  In attempting to draw some threads together, Erikson pulls a cast together towards a confluence of powers that will result in destruction for some, and resolution for others.  All well and good, but the tone and pacing leave a lot to be desired.  There’s a lot of chaff about Anomander Rake and his servants that is intended to be full of foreboding, but just seems to be there as padding, to remind you that Rake is still there.  There’s a great deal of omniscient narrator moralising, some of which is delivered in the style of the self-narrating Kruppe, and the rest is laid on with the interrogative air of a preacher pitching from the high ground.  I’m not sure if there’s meant to be a lesson buried in there somewhere, but the narrative kind of put me off considering it much further.

I’m sure there are Erikson fans out there who love it.  There’s a lot of story about things long passed and I’m sure anyone interested in cross-referencing the lot would have an absolute field day.  Sadly, I’m not one of those people.  I would have preferred a version with pretty much the entire cast of Tiste Andii excised from the text and all of the focus on the goings on in the city.  Also, the author hasn’t yet learned that he cannot write poetry.  I’ve never read verse so eminently skippable since I came across Tom Bombadil.**

*samma time, and the living is easy – God, Spike Milligan was a funny man.

**the library made me buy a new copy of Fellowship of the Ring.  I jest, of course.

A kilogram a week.

Which is what I’ve gained in the past fortnight, giving me a BMI of 20.  Really I should measure myself at several places (thigh, waist, chest, upper arm, isn’t it?) and track changes that way, but a quick step onto the scales after showering at the gym is enough for me at the moment.  I’m not expecting or attempting radical changes in my body shape so I doubt that all the effort would result in anything spectacular.

Still, I’m feeling noticably fitter (although this morning I have a headache again; this one I blame on sun shining down onto my face while I was trying to sleep).  I did some weight training last night, and while the weights were nothing startling, I found myself able to lift/press/pull/etc a lot more than I was capable of at the start of March.

So what are the goals?  I need to work on that I think.  Unless I have some sort of structure to things, I’m just going to keep meandering round the gym doing this-and-that and find myself plateauing extremely rapidly.  I’ll have to think of something to aim for.

Do you have goals when you exercise?  What are you, dear reader, aiming for?
EDIT: One gym class and some lunchables (scrambled eggs and toast!) later, headache has evaporated.  Thank Christ for that.

Is it quarter to one already?

Jesus wept.

Back in the land of silly headaches once more – woke up with a chunk of horrid sinus pain, which has spread through my head like a hand opening as the day has worn on.  Just, fricking, lovely.

On a writing front, I got some feedback from my brother on the conflict between the brother and sister in the story so far.  He was concerned its a little weak, and I kind of agree with him.  Really what I want is for Vicarion to become more and more powerful as the story wears on, and increasingly unhinged by the power that he gains.  Some part of his character is inspired by a quote from American Psycho:

I have all the characteristics of a human being: blood, flesh, skin, hair; but not a single, clear, identifiable emotion, except for greed and disgust. Something horrible is happening inside of me and I don’t know why. My nightly bloodlust has overflown into my days. I feel lethal, on the verge of frenzy. I think my mask of sanity is about to slip.

Generally speaking, he’s not an easy character to get right straight off.  In this draft, at least, he may come across a little inconsistent as he progresses, but I’m pretty confident once it’s all in one piece, I can go back and sort out how he develops into something terrible, and make that development work as part of the plot.

Worst. Friday. Ever.

Well, maybe that’s an exaggeration.  I got up, had breakfast, read through some news/blogs/comics, went to the 10 am Body Pump class, staggered home, had some lunchables, then Lisa wanted to go to Costco.

Costco is alright.  It’s really intended for the trade market, so we lost out on a lot of good deals simply because of the sheer bulk of packages (48 toilet rolls, for example) would not sit well in the flat.  However, I did manage to get some MEAT for a load of Japanese curry I’m going to make Sunday and eat through the week, and enough Wilkinson sword Titanium razors to se me through doomsday.

Doomsday, now that’s a point.  Come the breakdown of society, I’ll be down there with a dumper truck.  A whole pallet of 60-packs of Chomp: essential for survival.

Needless to say, I had to man up and steadfastly ignore the chocolate aisle.  If I bought in bulk, I’d probably end up acting as if it was some sort of challenge to finish the lot.

So anyway, I had a bit of a headache in Costco.  By the time I got home, it was a lot worse and while I worked on the PC things went downhill to the point where the dialogue from the tv had me spasming in distraction everytime House said something witty or mean.  I crawled into bed and stuck my head under the duvet, only emerging later when Lisa brought me paracetamol and some water.  I got up briefly, but felt so nauseous I had to lie back down straight away.

Later on, about 7.45 pm, I woke up and felt a tiny bit better.  I thought that staying in bed longer would be a bad thing, as I’d never be able to sleep later on, so I got up and made a cup of tea.  One sip of the tea and it was a race: me to the bathroom versus the contents of my stomach to my mouth.  Thankfully, I won.  Back to bed.

Anyway, around 3 am I had to get up and sit at the PC for a few hours browsing random crap until I felt like I could sleep again.  The only thing worth linking to was this clip on io9 which uses a very good clip from Angel (season 5, episode 15, to be exact) to debate the Battlestar Galactica ending.  I did look for an embed code on the various youtube forms of the same clip but the io9 one was better quality and really deserves props for the reference.

The wonderful thing about Tiggers.

When I’m alone in the house working at the PC, I like to keep myself motivated through the use of strong coffee.  A few years ago I treated myself to a Krups espresso machine and, having long lost the glass pot that is meant to catch my brew, I’ve resorted to other means:

A large espresso

So, anyway.  I was complaining of a headache all yesterday and Lisa opined that it was entirely due to my caffeine intake.  I discovered this morning that she was wrong: I blew my nose and a literal handful of yellow-green mucus fizzed out of my right nostril, accompanied the distinctly unusual sensation of my entire head deflating.

As unpleasant as that was – no more headache!  I think that deserves another mug of espresso, in celebration.


Despite using my nasal spray and all the rest, my sinuses feel swollen and full. As a result, I’ve been awake since 3 am. I lay in bed for an hour staring into the dark before I decided to just get up and do some typing.

My brother and I had discussed some plot ideas for stories in the past, and he very kindly sent me some background materials that he had dug up online to flesh them out, so I had a read at those and then hammered out some thoughts on one of the stories.

I think it’s the most promising of the three (that’s a lie – I think one of the others is even more promising as a tale, but requires a lot of research because not only it would be set in an alternate-history Earth but also it is capable of holding far more layers than a much simpler tale).

Anyway, I’m going to take a painkiller and go back to bed, see if I can’t get myself a couple of hours worth of sleep.