The Witty Retort #8

Day 58. 149 pages, 72,449 words.

the witty retort #22

the witty retort #23

the witty retort #24

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Season finale, Who 8

Day 57. 146 pages, 71,055 words.

The closing double-episode of the latest Doctor Who season finally crossed my television screen on Tuesday, thanks to the inestimable Hawkinses[1], and so we got to sit down and watch it. And here is my review. I have used spoiler tags.

[1] And I must also publicly credit Mr. H with a brilliant little punking that failed through no fault of his own and still deserves applause. For the past couple of seasons of Doctor Who, I have been complaining at the end of every episode when the “Next Week On” teaser drops spoilers suddenly, unexpectedly and thoroughly right before the end credits of the episode, never giving you enough time to turn the TV off. I resorted to covering my eyes and ears and going “lalalalalala” in order to avoid finding out every last detail of what was going to happen in the next episode, even if we were just about to watch it. Mr. H decided to edit together the second-last episode (which ended on a “To Be Continued”) with a “Next Week On” screen followed by a “Man Up, Hatboy” screen. It would have been a magnificent zinger and I feel it deserves full points even though that edited copy of the episode did not play thanks to a missing audio codec on our machine. Cosmically unfair and so here I am, giving the points.

I’m not entirely sure what to think about this season. Overall, I loved it. I love the new Doctor (of course) and think his character and interactions with humanity are perfect. Capaldi can stay. Coleman is amusing and tough, and if her character is a bit under-utilised and her wishy-washy love triangle with the Doctor and Danny Pink is a bit all-over-the-place, then I can still tolerate it because at least we’re moving past the Doctor’s-Companion-Falling-In-Romantic-Love-With-The-Doctor phase, which I always found a bit creepy.

Yes, the season was good and I liked most of the episodes, for all that I think I will need to watch the whole lot again because I’ve missed a lot of the dialogue and finer points of detail. What with crying babies, chattering co-viewers, and having to keep my kids fed and entertained, I just haven’t been able to give the episodes the attention I like to. I’ll have to get the DVDs and give them all another watch, in actual peace and quiet. But I got most of it.

And these final episodes were certainly fun to watch. Lots of stuff going on, lots of excitement and uncertainty and cool scenery, plenty of BSTs and technology and amusing one-liners. It was beautiful to see the Brigadier, in a sense, return to kick arse and take names just like in the good old days, and I got something in my eye when the Doctor saluted him.

But.

I didn’t care for the Missy “twist”. And let me say it’s absolutely not because they turned the Master into a female. That was cool. I don’t think they need to over-explain why we have never really seen a regeneration-gender swap before (I am calling it ‘regenderation’ until told to stop), it’s just a thing and evidently if the Doctor’s not fazed by it, then that’s that. And once she revealed herself and started sinking into the character, she did a great job at “creepy manic genius”, very nice. And she also managed to blend a little of the old, classic, calculating-and-murderous Master into it as well, effectively moving the character on past the wacky young John Simm version and into line with the new Doctor and the old school feel of the series. And her Mary Poppins was truly creepy.

Mary Poppins is a Time Lord.

Especially since the Internet apparently already knows Mary Poppins was a Time Lord.

So what was not to like?

I don’t know. I guess once the Time War was dealt with and we started to see this extensive setup of Gallifreyan technology and plotting, I was ready for it to be another Time Lord. The Master was good, and I’m sure he / she would have been awesome to see again in later seasons, but right now it’s just too soon. Too repetitive. Let’s have Romana back, or the Rani, or even Rassilon if you want to hold onto the gender-swap. Heck, you want to make it really interesting, Missy could have been a new incarnation of the Valeyard since the Great Intelligence already hinted at the Doctor encountering / becoming that again.

Missy being the Master wasn’t just surplus to requirements, the entire plot was just too convoluted. I know this is what the Master is sort of famous for, but this really was crazy. Given the apparent tools at her disposal, this was what she came up with to do? At least his last plan, taking all those people from the very end of time and making them into Toclafane, was pretty impressive and utilised the given technology (ie. the Doctor’s route-locked TARDIS) to good effect.

The Master

And it was funny. I know, this screencap is from his slightly stupider plan, but this is the screencap he gets.

From the hints we started getting right from the start of the season, with assorted people being hand-picked and ending up in the Nethersphere, it seemed like there was something really amazing going on. And I know, put your fan expectations in the palm of one hand and the fucks given by the creators of the show in the other, and then smack yourself in the face from both sides … but it seemed like Missy was up to something more personal.

Missy was collecting the dead from all over the universe, and all through history. Even robots. The episodes where characters were dying, they were all over the place. They could have made far more of the idea that Missy had been collecting ‘souls’ from people who had died because of the Doctor. As it happened, she was just doing it with everyone. And everything. Forever. I mean, wow. And this was the result? What a dog’s breakfast.

Even the part with the dead continuing to feel, after death, obviously because of Missy’s storage of their consciousness … it just seemed like that alone would have made a cool idea for a double-episode (the Three Words alone were beautifully creepy, yet horribly under-used and poorly-delivered), and they were just trying to cram too much together and make it all work. And that whole plan with the Cybermen, no. What was that? The Master would know better than to try to conquer anything using Cybermen, wouldn’t he? And how was it supposed to work? Thing dies, consciousness is stored, body buried (or whatever, cremation was apparently a threat to this but dying ten million years in the past or the future wasn’t?), body upgraded, consciousness re-uploaded? What? And then end result, Cybermen out of the graves like zombies? Where did the rest of the Cyberman components come from? Nano-engineered out of the soil and / or morgue refrigerator drawers by the ‘rain’? And what was the point of saving all the dead, when it was only the ones with carcasses in 2014 Earth (a tiny fraction of the whole, surely) that would make viable Cybermen)? WHAT?

The Master’s last plan – conquering Earth using the Toclafane – he had to use a Paradox Machine to do that! Things from the future can’t kill their progenitors without one, it’s Made-Up Rule #272 in the handbook, go look it up. If Missy had been doing the same all up and down history and all over the universe and then used the Cybermen to conquer 2014-ish Earth (or to hand the entire army over to the Doctor to conquer the universe, or whatever her weird plan was), wouldn’t she have needed one this time too? It was basically sorta-kinda the same exact plan, wasn’t it?

Was that where her TARDIS was? I’d ask where she suddenly got a TARDIS from, but I assume there’s a Gallifrey-related answer, she has actually been there to get hold of all this tech or she is a reset version of the Master and has all the Master’s old toys. Don’t know.

And it was all over too fast. Given the build-up, and the nerdon-inducing references to the Gallifreyan hard drive and the Master’s TARDIS, I expected far more to happen. Instead there was just some baloney about Danny Pink being able to withstand Cyberman tech (Rose’s mum did it better), and then Missy got disintegrated. Screw you very much.

I sure hope the next season finds its shit again, because it really seemed to lose the fuck out of it here.

So. Now the Doctor has exorcised his Gallifreyan demons and fixed the Time War and is therefore safe to actually want to go back to Gallifrey. I suppose that’s what he’s going to do next time. Missy obviously knew more about Gallifrey than she was letting on, but that was a dead end, at least for now. The final scene, or second-to-final, was poignant – both parties lying to one another about their own situations in order to let the other go. I have no doubt this will come back to bite them both in the next season, particularly with the “no more lies” theme running through the show.

And the Doctor’s violent despair and frustration when he found out that Gallifrey wasn’t there, that was tough to watch. Especially since we know that the TARDIS is a living thing, perhaps an even more intimate lover than River Song was, and there he is beating the tar out of her.

Can I get any of you cunts a drink?

And then Father Christmas, as played by Nick Frost, shows up.

Okay, Christmas Special. Expect wacky fun.

But then, find your shit again please.

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The Tramp, now on social media

Day 56. 142 pages, 69,244 words. Shit, didn’t get anything written yesterday because I was messing around with marketing. And, you know, work.

Anyway, I consider it totally worthwhile, because I made a little marketing agreement with the Indie Author crowd (watch this space next week, they’re starting promotion), and I also played around with variations on the Facebook ‘Like’ icon for a couple of my characters. There are a few of these around, for various popular TV shows and books. Or in this case, both:

Inferior examples.

Examples.

So I decided to go all out and make a few for my Eejit characters, using the latest in the ever-changing series of Facebook icons.

First up, Decay. Simple and classic:

GMD(A)

Blaran anatomy makes it fun.

Then we have Glomulus Cratch, another distinctive one and – I’m quite proud of this – one I felt would be better as an animated .gif:

GC

This is why I have no time.

Finally, I had a think about how I might best portray Controversial-To-The-End in terms of Facebook ‘Like’ icons, and ended up just going surreal:

CTTE

Still quite pleased.

So that was what I did yesterday, as well as being flu-ey and sleeping in way too late (can you imagine, it was almost 08:00 when I got into the office?). We watched the last couple of episodes of the latest Doctor Who series on Tuesday night though, so I might have to chat about that.

Anyway, better get on with it.

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I’ll just leave these here

Day 55. 142 pages, 69,244 words.

Because today, it’s all about cheering myself up.

Fuck you

Yes.

DANCE OFF!

Dance! Dance, monkey, dance!

No, fuck you, seriously.

Oh yeah, and fuck you!

Dance monkey dance!

And dance!

You heard me, go fuck yourself.

YES!

Dance!

FUUUUUUUUCK YOUUUUU!

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Crap

Day 54. 140 pages, 68,412 words.

So it’s approaching ten in the morning, well past the time I usually get my crap together and post my blog entry and get busy with my actual work (and I have, I’ve started, I’m just switching windows from time to time between top-secret worky-type activities, this is just the way it has to be), but I haven’t posted and I haven’t got anything to add.

ASLE!

So I shall throw this down, from my Facebook wall in September.

There’s a lot going on, of course. Lots of work to do, lots of bad shit happening at the office and in the world in general and on the Internet (as distinct from the world), but that’s okay. And I’m writing as much as I can, which is grand. And I just received a fantastic little piece of music written and performed specifically for me, so I can make a trailer video for the book series, which should be coming soon. And that is absolutely brilliant.

But we’ve all been sick – well, Wump and Toop have been and are still down with this nasty chest cold, and I’ve got a dose of it too, and Mrs. Hatboy is therefore exhausted with looking after us all and sitting up all night with the girls even if he teacher’s constitution has stopped her from being actually sick – and that makes everything that little bit more run-down and difficult. I slept in until seven this morning, which is another reason I’m running so late and only just now starting to get warmed up. But ten hours’ sleep – albeit broken sleep – was just what the proverbial doctor ordered.

Okay, nothing more to see here. I’m back to work. You should be too.

Work hard, be productive, contribute to the economy, as an old friend of mine likes to say.

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The Obscure T-Shirt-Producing Planet Known as Earth

Day 53. 137 pages, 66,730 words.

This is insanely trivial and stupid, the quintessential Someone Is Wrong On The Internet, but it really browned me out for about half a day before I realised basically everyone I knew was being sane about it and thus the universe righted itself.

I guess most of you will have heard about the brilliant Rosetta mission and its successful landing of a probe on a comet fucking hundreds of millions of kilometres away. Sadly, many of you will also have seen that one of the big cheeses involved was wearing a loud rockabilly-inspired pin-up-girl shirt during an interview.

And apparently it was not only grossly misogynist, it was a sign of why more women don’t get into science, and it undermined the entire Rosetta mission, and it was bad enough to earn the whole thing the tagline “one small step for man, three steps back for humankind,” and you know what?

I think I just found my line.

Yes, this is where I stop the feminism bus and get the fuck off. Anyone who thinks this shirt needs any attention at all while we are putting a brilliant little machine onto a comet and checking out what’s up there, you’re an idiot and you need a slap.

And you know the worst part of this? This took up attention, attention of mine, that I wanted to put into the cool-as-fuck comet landing thing. It succeeded in undermining the mission, because of these loudmouthed fucking morons and the bandwidth their fucking moronity had been granted by enough people to bring it to my attention. And for a brief period, it enraged and depressed me in equal measure as I realised that this is what will kill our species.

And no, it’s not women. It’s not sexism, or feminism, or its dark cousin the feminazi movement.

It’s fucking morons.

Seriously, these guys

And to answer Bridget’s question here: YEEEEEES.

The shirt was designed by a female friend of his. But fuck it, must be sexist. It’s a God damn tragedy that I know more about this freaking shirt than I do about the mission. Well, not really, because I’ve been reading and surfing for some time about this … but this is what gets shared? And I know, here I am, making it worse in my own insignificant way.

But come on. Fuck that.

A few years ago, I read a book by Ben Elton, High Society. It was a clever and yet depressing book about a politician who was trying to legalise drugs in order to neuter the criminals responsible for so much pain and slavery and death. In the end (spoilers), he was right on the verge of winning the game when the whole thing was unravelled by a stupid, inglorious, tawdry little sex scandal.

A considerable number of years before High Society, I read Arthur C Clarke’s book 3001. I don’t remember much about it, but there was a mission to Halley’s Comet.

Can you imagine if Ben Elton wrote a version of that triumphant science fiction story, and made it end with the whole thing being unravelled because of a shirt that one of the mission control guys was wearing in a TV interview? Nobody would believe it! Not even Ben Elton, prince of dark cynicism and devourer of faith in humanity, would stoop to such ludicrous depths of satire.

And the poor bastard had to make a tearful apology, for wearing a shirt designed by a woman. A shirt, in fact, that was designed by a friend of his, and given to him for good luck with the mission. Fucking good for him for wearing it, okay? But try telling certain other people what they are and are not allowed to wear. See what that gets you.

Was it the most dignified shirt he could have put on for an important historical occasion like this? No. Was any part of the response to said shirt even remotely sane? No. Well, maybe the part that went “haha, funny shirt, now tell us about the probe’s findings.”

Well, that shit happened. It fucking happened, and fuck every fucking moron involved. Just fuck you.

But then sanity, as ever, prevailed. Sanity in the form of Mrs. Hatboy, who told me this was the work of maybe one or two pointless whining cunts who then got attention from sensationalist jackasses and then the whole thing was allowed to be propagated … and that I was guilty of being a vector in that propagation.

And she was right.

She also promised to wear one of her Manowar shirts, with the oiled bloke on it, if she ever landed a probe on a comet.

I also found that the shirt had since sold out.

So after that, and after this rant, I felt a little better.

I’d like to dedicate some attention this week to the Rosetta mission and what it means for our chances of escaping this planet, for our imaginations and for science in general. I’ll be keeping an eye on http://sci.esa.int/rosetta/ and waiting for more findings. It was briefly sad to see that Philae looked like it was going to lose power a little ahead of schedule, but the data was amazing. And according to the Rosetta website, they did get back in contact in enough time to get all the last information they needed, completing the primary experiments before Philae went into hibernation.

It will return to a 20 km orbit on 6 December and continue its mission to study the body in great detail as the comet becomes more active, en route to its closest encounter with the Sun on 13 August next year.

So. Moving on.

Here’s to hoping that the next time we see Philae, it has become a colossal world-killer named P-la and comes back and destroys us all.

 

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Technical writing and creativity

Day 52. 135 pages, 65,895 words.

Okay, so look. Just bear with me a little bit here, okay? And hear me out.

I work as hard as emotional strength and motivation and the hours in the day allow me to work. Am I a slacker sometimes? Of course! But I also do my best to do the job in front of me – the job I am told to do, how I am told to do it (if a clearly-better alternative doesn’t turn out to be easier), and delivering when I am told to deliver.

That’s the job.

But, as this blog hopefully proves even if you haven’t gone out and bought my book yet, I am a creative writer not only by education, but by lifelong, demented, scary-intense, all-consuming passion. Don’t even get me started. I did already mention that writing is a very, very close second in the Life-Fulfilling Joy category – second only to having a wife and children – right? I did mention that and there’s no possibility of misunderstanding on this score.

Right. So there’s that. And – usually at the start of a project with a customer, or when meeting and getting to know new co-workers – there’s usually a point at which I am asked “so isn’t it a bit stifling, to be a technical writer when you want to write creatively?”

Well. Okay, technical writing by definition is not all that creative. The thing is what it is and there’s no real way around that. You document what’s there and spend no effort in telling tales of things that never were. There are occasional opportunities, but they usually involve marketing – which is just technical writing to a different, usually annoyingly condescending, set of specifications.

Obviously, in my spare time (and by “spare time” I mean “time I really should be sleeping”) I write mass quantities of book and blog and assorted other stuff, which gives me a satisfying creative outlet. But sometimes that isn’t enough. Sometimes, mid-job, it’s just important to unleash a bit of reckless, unbridled creativity and silliness, just to keep myself alive.

Not in actual documentation or in databases where it’s going to show up one day, for all that that’s tempting sometimes. But … well, here’s an example. I was learning a new documentation tool, and how to create an assortment of different texts and insert figures using the tool. So in order to put my training to practical use (I find that this is the best way to cement information in my head, because writing notes and reading instructions is just a big fat waste of this old man’s precious time), I created a mini document.

Baby's first document (1)

Example.

And this is the result.

Baby's first document (2)

Baby’s First Document, or How To Be Professional And Unprofessional At The Same Time.

Of course, shortly after this the entire document creation process and tool set changed, the figures all changed, and I had to learn a whole new thing and at that point there was no time to make an adorable test document. But oh well. Done is done.

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