Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Lighten the Fuck Up

I survived the night.

Thank you for all the support and stuff what worked manifestly so.

Like the man declared the most influential, popular, sexy, best-dressed, widely-skilled human being in the whole of history ever, I am humbled. And so was he.

Well, at least until the next trigger of insanity comes, anyway...

BTW, I am retroactively assuring my sanity by pretending I've done music vids for each episode. If you can be arsed, see if you can spot them. Hide is already there, I think...

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Potentially Final Post

"Are you ok?" asked the mysterious Kylee today.

Since she's just a spam email promoting online dating, I feel comfortable enough in her present to say "no, I most distinctly fucking am not". Kylee nods sagely, being a producted of my own stunted (un) imagination, and then goes off to butter some parsnips with some fine words.

Three years of diagnosed depression, and the last two weeks have pushed me from the "aw crap life sucks" phase to gibbering, eye-clawing despair. Nothing particularly disastrous has occured, indeed there's some good news to be found if you look hard. But, as it happened three years and three months ago, I've come to the end of my rope. I can no longer suck it up and keep buggering on. After 28 long years, I think it might be fair to think my "suck it up" tanks are at full capacity, and keep buggering on - doing what? Going where?

I've got nothing going for me.

True, roof over head, loving parents, furry animals, count yourself lucky, etc, etc. But I have no useful skills, no recognized talent. My career so far has consisted of dressing up as fictional characters and trying not to scare children. That's right, the only job I've been good at is not being me or anything to do with me. And even then I've managed to screw it up. Even with nepotism my artwork was too crap to be published for free. The handful of strangers who have seen any of my work and been impressed can be counted on the hand of something without a hand. Once I aimed high and failed spectacularly. Now I can't even aim low and get something to show for it. What have I to offer to the world or anyone in it? Apart from a length list entitled "what NOT to do", of course?

I'm just so tired. Too fucking tired.

I've been fighting this uphill battle and it feels like I've just twigged I'm actually on a flat surface. Things are not going to improve. They are not going to get better. There is no happy ending to be found. And a significant volume of people I know seem much happier when I have no part in their lives - and quite right, too. What is there to go on for? A few TV shows and books? Getting another year older and having nothing to show for it, not even contentedness? They say there are only three goals in life - power, material possession and spiritual enlightment. I'm fucked on all three. I genuinely cannot believe the world had in any way been improved by me living in it, and it'll take a brighter mind than mine to spot a future that can be any better with me as part of it.

You know, once I went for a job interview and I did a questionaire that showed I had surprisingly low self-confidence and esteem. So they told me that. And that I handn't got the job. And, hell, I was almost relieved, preferring the existentialist rut of unemployed stasis to working for a living. I'm trapped by my own personality flaws, unable and unwilling to break free. Because, to be honest, what is the point in doing either? I'm tired and useless and alone, entirely by my own fault. I can't ask for pity or sympathy, and fuck knows I would be hard pressed to find anyone willing to provide it.

I've wasted my life, yet I'm not sure it could have been used anyway.

The cracks are spreading. The life goals conversations, the "what do you want to do with your life?" questions are striking again and again. I have no answer. I just want to stop this hurting, but there's no escape left. I can't parody a BF story, write a YOA script or even make a shitty youtube video to put up on the blog. My efforts come to naught. The feeble illusions I have of achievement can't distract me from the truth.

I shouldn't have rung for that ambulance.

I don't know what death is like, but I know what it feels to lose consciousness from blood loss. Imagine your thoughts, your mind, are beads on an abacus gradually getting further and further apart. No pain or doubt or frustration, because consciousness is spread too thin. And I have reached the point I am craving that peaceful oblivion more and more. Every hour awake feels like torture in comparison.

Yeah, maybe I'm turning into a self-pitying emo who should cowboy the fuck up. But I can't - I don't have the strength to even try.

I'm running on empty. I have reached the end of my wit's tether.

The pros column is empty and the cons column needs extra paper.

I don't want to hurt any more, I'm not strong enough to bear the pain.

And, I dunno. Maybe a good night's sleep and some proper food might make me fit and dandy, but I doubt it. Giving $200 to a homeless scrounger gave me no pleasure, no smug sense of righteousness, it didn't even make me feel any less guilty. I don't feel like I've made the world a better place. And I don't think saying no to him would have helped either. I can't do anything right, and I can't stop the hurt.

Stop the world. I want to get off.

So sorry for the inconvenience.

Sunday, May 19, 2013

Doctor Who: Not In My Name!


video

Full of spoilers - and all of them meaningless out of context. BWAHAHAHAHA!

Seriously, though. Didn't see that one coming.

Saturday, May 11, 2013

Doctor Who: Friendly Neighborhood Cyberman

video

Hmph. I could have done that. Maybe. Possibly. In some vague sense. Dammit.

Sunday, May 5, 2013

Lucifer Rising

OK.

Lucifer, the plot. I'll go linear, since the book - like A Terrible Aspect - is split into four separate continuties.

Gauda Prime. Blake lies dead at Avon's feet, as do everyone else (but fear not, gentle reader, we never get reminded of their identities, they're just corpses to be dumped). As the Federation troopers close in... a bunch of dissheveled gun-totting nutters arrive, lead by a piss-poor Groucho Marx expy, chewing cigars and dispensing second-class witticisms. Groucho (or "Serge Collon" as he likes to be known, no doubt because he's full of shit) and army of inbred family members have arrived on GP to capture Blake and Avon, selling them to Servalan for the bounty. Of course, now Blake's dead, that plan is stuffed and Avon offers to buy Servalan out with some gold. Collon and his ramshackle team take Avon captive and flee GP at ludicrous speed... pausing only to dump the bodies of the Scorpio crew in a river, cause, shit, who cares about them, anyway?

Certainly not Avon, who is too busy indulging in beating up cripples - ala Man of Iron. In fairness, said cripple was having a go at him with a knife, but I wonder if Paul Darrow had a bad incident with some Little-Britain-style paraplegic and has never been the same since. No, wait it appears that wheelchair-bound Hector has some kind of history-blood-fued that invovles torture, betrayal and killing a woman. How novel. Turns out Hector was one of Sula's troopers in Rumors of Death, and he wasn't pleased when he found out who actually killed her... though how he found that out escapes me at present. Anyway, Collon's ship Miranda (named after his creepiest of goth daughters) is bushwhacked by a Federation cruiser NOT sent by Servalan to deal with any loose ends. Avon easily takes over Miranda, defeats the cruiser and they all high-tail it to the independant world of Gaius 6, ruled by a corrupt warlord called Rufus Pearl. Oh, he sounds butch!

Turns out that Pearl was the one who found out Blake was on GP, and saw Scorpio being shot down... somehow... and rang up President Servalan (the Commissioner Sleer thing seems to have been forgotten entirely) while sending Collon and his family there, knowing whatever happened he'd get a cash reward for capturing Blake and Avon. As you can imagine, this backstabbing doublecrossing bastard with delusions of grandeur is a positive goldmine for Avon - like Blackadder III getting a job as Prince George's butler - and he decides to make Pearl the most powerful warlord in the galaxy, fighting both Servalan and whoever it was who sent the cruiser. Never let it be said that Kerr Avon isn't goal-oriented. By my reckoning it's about four hours since "HAVE YOU BETRAYED ME?!??" and he's conned an entirely new position in society (getting constant reminders about killing Anna, which never cheers him up). Still, if it's choice between this an Kaston "I'm a psychopath!" Iago, I know what I choose.

But Pearl is more than that camp name suggests. Not only is he on very good terms with Servalan, HE was the one who sent the attack cruiser! PLUS he is not even a human being, but one of the "Alien Greys", a highly-evolved race of mysterious origins who... well, if you've seen The X-Files, you're up to speed. The Greys come from Gaius 6, which means that this superior race in the universe includes Collon. So, not entirely the supreme being in the universe, methinks. Once Avon realizes he surrounded by Greys even stupider than Tarrant first thing on a Monday morning he... well, escapes with less effort than me typing this out. He steals the Miranda with its deadpan flight computer Swan, but doesn't kill anyone in the effort. Whether this is because he is a changed man after killing Blake, or because the Greys could not pose a threat to a dead wombat, remains to be seen.

(Note: he IS happy to shoot, maim, beat up and pistol-whip them. Just not kill them.)

Pearl finally returns home and discovers his moronic people have let Avon escape, alerted him to the scheme, steal one of their ships, kill his Federation agents, and all for an IOU of gold that Greys don't actually need. Pearl vents his frustration by machine-gunning Hector the cripple to death, then cuts the ear off Blake's corpse, shoots Blake's head to pieces, and skips away with a spring in his step before blowing up Gaius 6 and all the morons who live there. I know who Kaldor City writers will be rooting for for the rest of this story...

Avon meanwhile is getting used to Miranda, and the quirks of Swan who seems to be impersonating Zen, Orac and Slave for the lulz. It turns out that arrogant sonofabitch Dancer Collon is aboard the ship but, since he's lost absolutely everything in the last paragraph, sucks it up and agrees to be the replacement Tarrant in this new franchise. Returning to GP to collect Orac, they discover Pearl is waiting there with his Federation buds, so Avon tries the whole "crash into GP" plan that worked so well for Scorpio. Guess what happens this time.

Pearl finds Avon chilling out in the woods, believing he is alone and Miranda is a wreck - both aren't true. With mock politeness they start haggling for Orac, and Pearl whines that Avon has single-handedly fucked up Pearl's scheme for universal domination in less than an hour without even know he was doing it. Avon replies, "You'll get over it," and immediately... an army of Federation-era Triads, lead by a Cantonese bloke called Li Kang arrive, sent by Servalan to collect Avon. Coz she's not as dumb as Pearl assumed. Pearl storms off in a huff for, even in the New Calendar of the Terran Federation, "the Chinese are not to be underestimated."

Li Kang decides to dump Avon and Dancer on Gaius 7 - that's the "floating island" on the cover, apparently unaffected in any way by the neighboring planet exploding - where he can mingle with the criminal elements. Li Kang will tell the Federation Avon is dead, thus weakening the position of Servalan and the other powers there. Pretty much the moment they leave the ship, they are attacked by nutters with crossbows. Not that Avon is willing to put up with this shit any more. Of course, the first female criminal he beats the shit out of will end up being his love interest - this IS Blake's 7.

Cut to twenty years in the future.

It seems that the Federation tried to take over the border systems in Warlord, and the rebel alliance fought back and all but destroyed the empire. The new Federation that emerges from the chaos is run by the Quartet, a gang of four shadowy bastards - the evil lady scientist and Servalan's BFF, Dr. Pandora Ess, who runs the banks with the evil economist and homosexual Professor Claude Witt; and Gregor Steiner and Rafael de Horn, who run the military police force known as the Iron Guards (which seems to be different to the Iron Guard singular - it's the whole Union Jack/Flag thing all over again). The Quartet collect the survivors of the old regime and, for a price, put them into protective custody on the moon which is renamed "Hebe" for some reason. The Quartet then decide to base themselves in, er, the Base - a bizarrely-named warship that patrols the edge of Federation space.

The Base has its own problems; its stupidly-named scoutship Icarus has crashed on Gaius 7 (can you see where this is going?) and its crew, fatally distracted by Dancer doing naked gymnastics, have been killed the moment they stepped out of the ship. The recovery ship Plough arrives, shoots Dancer and napalms the surrounding countryside in retaliation. I love the smell of napalm on a Mormon, don't you?

When the smoke clears, Avon and his squeeze Magda emerge from hiding, having put a bomb on the Icarus which they intend to detonate once it re-docks with the Base. Meanwhile, Dr. Ess has arrived to inspect the place. If she's creeped out by the decadent orgiastic sex used as social control and the army of deaf-dumb-eunuchs, then she hides it very well. Dr. Ess and Commandant Gabriella (daughter of a bloke called Travis! Could that be important?!?) are also BFFs and are just about to do a deal when the Icarus blows up. All the evidence is that Avon is alive, on Gaius 7 and with bombs, so Dr. Ess leaves suggesting they recruit him.

Yes, the Apocalypse Now vibe continues. Gabriella sends a squad into the jungle to capture Avon, who has spent the last twenty years strapping bombs to things for just this sort of occasion. He's going for "the wow factor", apparently. Meanwhile, like his father before him, Avon has to live with his mother-in-common-law, Magda's mum Cassandra and, like Avon's grandmother, is a beacon of sanity and common sense in a world from the mind of the chik-chik-boom girl from Channel 9. Quite simply, Cassandra knows that even IF Avon doesn't go batshit insane and murder Magda, she'll just end up like all the unnamed comrades who perished alongside him. But Magda, like Avon's mother, is too in love to give a crap. Actually, I dunno if this is deliberately meant to evoke history repeating or, like Terry Nation, Darrow is deliberately recycling his own stuff and hoping no one notices. I hope it's the former, because it's the only thing stopping this sequence being so thin it collapses in on its own lack of gravity.

What's DEFINITELY deliberate is when Gabriella's forces catch up with Avon they gasp, "You're him, aren't you?!?" and if I need to explain that reference, you are clearly not the expected audience of this blog. After finding out what happned in the 20 years of backstory, Avon and Magda go on a generally nasty killing spree - slaughtering even non-combatants, so Avon's definitely got over his "compassion" after he killed Blake (an event he shows absolutely no guilt, shame or even interest it, BTW - "If I hadn't killed him, someone else would have...").

Since it's only a matter of time before Servalan hears he's alive and comes to torture the location of Orac out of him - Orac, btw, stands for Original Random Advanced Computer, we really needed that factoid - Avon determines to find the fishtank of knowledge first! Once he has access to a shuttle, Avon intends off alone, leaving Magda behind for her own safety. Of course, given that Gaius 7 is on a collision course with a nearby sun, "safety" is a rather relative term.

Meanwhile, on Iphegnia (a hitherto unmentioned paradise planet in the Solar System hidden from Earth) the Quartet are doing their evil work. Like gardening. And reading the Financial Times. And arguing about the benefits of vegetarianism. Yes, this shadowy council for interplanetary progress are nothing more than the cast for The Last of the Summer Wine, living boring and uncomplicated lives except more eunuchs being tortured instead of riding bathtubs down hills. Talk about the banality of evil! The Quartet make the Young Ones look like the cast of Watchmen in terms of badassary and widespread impact! Do these idiots actually rule the universe or are they like that senile dictator who just got TOLD he was in charge to keep him happy?

In fact, it seems the Quartet needs a spring-clean and Dr. Ess wants the new gang to consist of General Li Lim of the Chinese Empire that runs what's left of Earth; Gabriella herself (on the condition she becomes Lim's fuckbuddy); and, of course Servalan. Who gets Gabriella onside by revealing that... AVON KILLED HER FATHER! DU-DU-ANNNHHH!!! And then they blow up Li Lim and his spaceship. For the evulz, obviously.

So, by now, not only is Gabriella out for blood but so is everyone else on the Base - as they all seem to be related, Avon's killing spree means he has hundred of people swearing vengeance. Sheesh. The guy never learns. As the Earth plunges into revolution yet again, Servalan becomes more determined than ever to get that little Original Random Advanced Computer! Especially as the rest of the Quartet, eager not to lose their cross-stitching and flower arranging of ultimate power, have turned against her.

Meanwhile, some other Cantonese bloke called Fu Ti arrives on Gaius 7 to meet Avon - Fu Ti served with Li Kang and the others what dumped him here in the first place. Having killed Li Lim has meant that the Chinese have turned against Servalan, so Fu Ti gives Avon a rocket launcher to blow up Gabrielle's troops when they come knocking. Why Avon wants to hang around on Gaius 7 nuking opponents when he's going on and on about how he really should go and collect Orac, well, it escapes me.

Servalan decides to chat with the natives - ala Sherrif Vasey of Notthingham - and have them turn on Avon, but it turns out that Cassandra was actually BFFs with Avalon, remember her? No? Oh, never mind, she's dead now anyway, and who cares about her? The bad guys head off into the jungle where Avon effortlessly Die Hards them all to death. (Guy to Servalan: "Is it him?" Avon shoots guy. Servalan: "It's him.") An ominous thunderstorm begins, and that non-waterproof rocket launcher proves useless! Stupid Chinese shit, it never works!

Servalan confronts Avon.

They have a traditional flirty confontation.

Then Madga turns up out of nowhere and shoots the Bitch in White through the spine with a crossbow.

Avon heads off alone while the rest of Gabriella's forces decide they've had enough of this shit and leg it. The Quartet abandon their efforts to track Avon and instead focus all their efforts trying to fight the Asian Menace that now rules Earth. Meanwhile, Avon finally recovers Orac (played by Graham Norton as himself, it seems) who basically shouts, "You took your time, you bastard?!?" and reveals that the Asians have bugged his stolen ship, so, yeah, he's pretty much screwed. Damn those Oriental bastards.

The End.

Depressingly, Servalan is better characterized than Avon, and the entire plot basically consists of Paul Darrow in a jungle, shooting people. Who gives a crap? Where is the new generation of freedom fighters? Avon's early pitch at running Pearl's regime is as easily fogotten as Pearl himself. What's this crap about aliens running mankind? Why hasn't Orac been found in twenty years, given he was hidden just outside Blake's base on a planet about to be redeveloped? Why do Cassandra and Magda choose to stay on a planet going to burn to ashes?

...

...

...no.

No fist, I'm afraid.

No fist at all.

Touchy-Feely-Reviewy-Guff

I've just got my grubby little protruberances on Lucifer, the latest novel of Blake's 7 from Big Finish. For those keeping count, the previous three were The Forgotten (meh) Archangel (wha?) and Warship the novelization (heh).


Ok, before I go on, I'll just do an impromptu lecture on the end of Blake's 7. This is my blog and anyone trying to use this new format will totally understand a) why I've been limiting myself to posting music videos and b) anything else has really been preying on my mind.

So, in 1980, the Controller of the BBC watches Terminal, loves it, and recomissions the show right away for one more season. This means that Blake's 7 will now run for 52 episodes, perfect for syndication overseas - and thus, the chances of a series beyond that number are very low. Chris Boucher and Vere Lorrimer decide the only way to do this is plan for another "last" year. The final episode is decided to be Attack, where Avon links up with Blake (who isn't dead) and they turn the tide of the war against the Federation. One problem, Gareth Thomas wants Blake to be killed off, properly, for good. The uplifting ending won't work now? Paul Darrow suggests Avon kill Blake in a failure to communicate. The final episode now ends, Western-style, with a shootout. Terry Nation, unhappy at the downer ending, nonetheless gives his blessing - he's worked out five different plots to restart the show by the end of that conversation, after all. Blake goes to studios, but that pesky Controller says that the thing is turning up to be way too graphic - blood spurting everywhere, horrible screams, dying visions... Director Mary Ridge agrees and the shoot-out is now shown sans screams, edited to be dream-like, etc. She even edits the last burst of gunfire to show that Avon survives.

Unsurprisingly, Blake's 7 is not renewed right away. For a year it hangs in limbo, a rough plot in existence of Avon waking up in a cell, meeting Vila and discovering the shootout wasn't what it appeared. Tony Attwood adapts the idea in Afterlife, and then adds his own continuation - but the stuff set at the start on Gauda Prime is given the approval of Nation and Boucher, and will be adapted if the show goes on. As for the cast, well, Paul Darrow's up for coming back but the others? Stephen Pacey and Josette Simon are firmly out, Michael Keating's on the cusp and Glynis Barber would lunge for it unless she gets a huge role in Dempsey and Makepiece. Which she does.

After failing to interest Michael Grade in a spin-off series about Avon and Vila, Blake's 7 is declared dead. Nonetheless, Terry Nation and Paul Darrow are great mates and plot a kind of backdoor movie pilot - a TV movie that ends Blake's 7 but also kicks off a relaunch, kind of like A Call to Arms did with Babylon 5. Alas, Nation dies and Blake's 7 Enterprises (still awaiting the arrival of Ben Aaronovitch and his reboot, because nothing less is acceptable) tell Darrow to go hang. The TV movie aint made.

And then Big Finish finally arrive. And Darrow turns the movie script into a novel, Lucifer.

Which is where we are now. Having read Darrow's previous work, Avon: A Terrible Aspect and Man of Iron, the guy clearly has a decent grasp on the show and characters, albeit with his strange fetish for pump-action-shotguns-blowing-up-helicopters and his bizarre take on the Federation as a Roman Court who name bits of the galaxy "the Great Beyond" instead of Delta 734 and planets "Raphaelex" rather than Atrix Minor. You get the feeling one quick edit would strip away these bizarre quirks, the same way Nation needed to be told not to kill Vila or Robert Holmes warned about doing the "teleport gonad" joke.

Basically, had this been a TV show, I think I would have been far more open-minded at the casual dismissal of the end of Blake where all our beloved characters were murdered. To put it in context, Logic of Empire had Avon more respectful and bereaved over the loss of his pals. Blake is the only one mentioned, and Avon doesn't even think of Vila in the sense of "I need another talented thief". On TV, of course, we could easily imagine Avon is thinking such things, but the prose looks right inside Avon's head and there ain't that much there.

Just saying, unlike Warship, I have no gut instinct that this is canon. None whatsoever.

(On the other hand, I don't buy Unbounds as canon - it doesn't mean Lucifer is crap, is it? Is it?)

TO BE CONTINUED!