Archive for July, 2009

Uhoh, it’s PERSONAL stuff…

July 31, 2009


I bet you’ve been thinking it’s about time I did some proper blogging. Y’know, wistful relationship posts and lamenting and stuff? Yeah, me neither. But hey, it might be more interesting than reading about ‘Alex’s stupid thought of the week’, the possibility is there… 😉

The lament cannons are loaded… aimed… fired.

There’s this girl.

There’s always a girl, they say.  Well, this is the story of one of them. An important one, as far as my own life goes. I went out with, oh let’s refer to her as Liv Tyler, (Why not eh? 😉 ) for six awesome months back in the summer of 2004. And awesome it was; a nigh-on perfect summer. She was my first real relationship, someone I just clicked with, like a headphone-jack slipping into a socket, and you can take that imagery however you like.

It was the kind of relationship where we could just riff on about anything for hours, it was great. She’s my kinda crazy. But I was going off to university in September, and she called it off after that, which was sad but fair enough, seeing as she would be all the way back in my home city anyway. For the next year or so though we’d keep in touch, and everytime we did meet up in the holidays, would end up getting together, wondering afterwards where that had just come from, but knowing, really. Generally then, we carried happily on as good friends with benefits.

Cutting a long story down to size, however, she ended up seducing one of my two very best mates, and one day I found out they’d become a couple.

”What the fucknuts?’ Quoth me.

‘It just sort of happened!’ Quoth she.

‘Erm…’ Quoth the mate.

Although we weren’t going out any more, with the prolonged-fling nature of our relationship all sorts of feelings were battling it out in my stomach for dominion. Betrayal, confusion, annoyance, paradoxical happiness (because I was glad that my friend, at least, had gotten a girlfriend) and god knows what else all went at each other as I tried to figure out how I felt about it all.

At the end of the day though, I had a girlfriend myself who I was busy falling in love with, and eventually I stopped worrying about it. I distanced myself from Liv as much as possible. We had a moment before I left to go live in France for a year though, and the old sparks were still there. I have a weakness when it comes to her that bewilders me, and is probably the reason I’m spilling all this out like an angsty teenager. I knew it wasn’t going to lead anywhere but trouble at that time, that was for sure, so I made a vow to myself to just maintain a wall of silence from then on.

Liv and my mate broke up just after I went off to France at any rate, him and I reconciled all the tension that had been lingering, and I didn’t reply to any of her emails or texts for about two years. “This is working well,” thought I, pleased at my inflicted willpower. But then came a new site called facebook. Ahh facebook.

She sent me a really nice message about catching up, wondering how I was, and hoping to be friends, at least on facebook if nowhere else. I replied. I wanted to tell her that the most important thing out of all this was the relationship between me and the friend, and I didn’t want anything to jeapordise that again so to call it at that and maybe at some point in the future, but not now. So that’s what I did tell her, which she took well.

A year to the day (yesterday), she has sent me another message asking again if we could break the hiatus. Her optimism is infectious, I have to say, this time. It makes me wonder if I’ve been a bit of a dick that she’s kept on trying all this time while I’ve just blanked her.

It has been years, and important years too; the late teens to early twenties period in which people change alot so I’m thinking well, we were all young, making mistakes, all that stuff, why not respond and say ‘Yeah, it’d be great to catch up and have a natter’? It’s just all the tension and drama in the past… puts me off a bit.

I know there’s not much point to all this, but I suppose I wanted to get it out there and muse it over a bit, and I think it’s actually helped. By the way; good work on your part if you’ve gotten this far too. Seriously; give yourself a cookie or three 🙂


Of Mice And M (&M’s)

July 29, 2009

I’ve just read that the blue dye in M&M’s can be used to reduce damage caused in spinal injuries! Well, the amount that I consume, just call me Alex ‘Ironspine’ Masterson… 😉

Take the above critter, for example; one of many who were suffering from a spinal injury. After being injected with the compound, which is called ‘Brilliant Blue G’, their ability to walk returned and they could potter about once again with a slight limp the only sign of  their previous disability. The side effect being, as you can see, that it turned them blue for a while!

What we can learn from this is that if you ever feel your back going,  or suffer a spinal injury, forgo that expensive medical treatment nonsense safe in the knowledge that you can just knock back a bag or two of M&M’s. Problem solved!

MNU – Spreading Lies, Or Keeping Us Safe?

July 29, 2009

District 9

Nocturn Update

July 27, 2009


Today, I felt like I wanted to throw all subtlety to the wind and just pile a load of wild, fantastical ideas into Nocturn. That’s what comes from jumping ahead to less linear settings I suppose, as I did last week, writing a whole load from a story that leads on from the events in the Nocturn books. See, while the city and forest are – in my humble opinion of course – very rich environments in themselves, they are, by necessity in plot and theme, inwardly focussed and constricting. The story is about what happens to them – any ‘outside world’ is not explored. Which means that I’m always getting interesting, cool ideas that I can’t use because they don’t fit the setting yet.

While I feel like using them right away, I force myself to write them down in a seperate document, and put them aside. Their years will come!

The Nocturn editing’s still coming along, although it’s taking a lot longer than I thought – underestimated the amount of stuff that needed changing and polishing. The ending is still an incomprehensible mess, and I’m having difficulty decided exactly where to stop the novel; how much snuggling to do after the climax, if you will…

My aim was to have it ready to send to people to read by the beginning of August, and it’s looking less and less likely that it will happen. Not to worry though, it’s all necessary polish!

Also, I knocked up an abstract-y picture of Srin and the city that’s got a few meaningful strokes to it. What kinds of meanings? Well… that would be telling!

Times like this I wish I had a Wacom tablet for digital drawing, all I’ve got is me trusty mouse, which makes for pretty shaky pics. One day, when Nocturn has made me a wealthy man… 😉

Con Artists

July 25, 2009


My favourite artist Dan Luvisi has officially launched his Last Man Standing project, and has been at Comic-Con promoting. The website for it is wicked, mirroring the project’s retro candy-junkie videogame cool:

Last.Man.Standing Site

And sticking with that same retro-videogame theme for a bit, one of the biggest pleasant surprises from the Con seems to have been TRON 2. A massive viral experience has been getting people excited about the upcoming sequel, and they have an actual lightcycle there. Sweeet. This is the concept art:


And here’s the actual thing:


Pretty cool eh? The footage they’ve released to promote the film is also worth a watch, and you can do so here.

Slightly less interesting, but still worthy of note, is that…


Pirates of the Caribbean 4 starts filming next year, supposedly the first of a new trilogy with a plot that has been scaled right down from the ridiculousness that was the final part of the last one. And Gary Oldman has mentioned that the next Batman film will also begin filming next year, though Nolan hasn’t said that he’ll be directing it again yet, so who knows what could happen there…

Anticipating Avatar…

July 23, 2009



So, Avatar, a brief introduction:

Fourteen years since its original conception, and four years in the making, it’s the latest film from the director of Terminator 1+2, Aliens, The Abyss, True Lies and Titanic. A sci-fi, the plot is set around a war between humans and the Na’vi, the native inhabitants of a planet called Pandora. Who happen to be blue, and ten feet tall.

In order to better their chances in the conflict, the humans come up with a way of transferring the mind of a human into a Na’vi ‘vessel’ body (thus creating the avatars the title refers to). The main character undergoes this process and is sent down to the planet, where he becomes entangled with the Na’vi people and their culture. That’s about all I know, as I’m intentionally staying away from further details from now on.

As I’ve mentioned before, what’s really got people excited is the supposedly mind-blowing 3D technology and CGI, that makes you feel as if you’re actually in the fictional world itself. A few people have described watching the film as similar to tripping, in that it’s impossible to tell what’s real and what isn’t.

And daaamn, the first ever footage is being shown over at the Comic-Con right now.

Waiting for updates on the IMDB forums…

Yep, I really am a bit too excited about this 😀


Edit 1 : Been following a live update from Stephen Johnson, one of the people in the crowd:

Stephen Johnson:  They’re going to show nearly a half hour of footage, here, people! Amazing!
Stephen Johnson:  But sadly, there won’t be live blogging. Screen must be closed. Sorry. be back soon.
Stephen Johnson:  Back… Wow.
Stephen Johnson:  Okay. I just became one of the first 6000 or so people on earth to have seen part of Avatar. I’m still sort of soaking it in, but I’ll give you my fresh-off-the-dome impressions:
Stephen Johnson:  First off: This is like no other movie you have ever seen. It’s ambitious, and entirely original, full of digital effects, flawless executed, in an entirely imaginative world.



Alex Billington from

“Just finished watching a full 25 minutes and holy shit it was phenomenal, just amazing. It does indeed look like nothing you’ve ever seen, it is groundbreaking, it looks incredible. Every single second in this looked real. And most of it was a completely CGI created universe that does not at all look CGI. It is truly amazing!”


It’s a kind of special awesome that amongst all the copycat comedies, sequels and book/film adaptations these days, an original vision can still come along and just have everyone all over the world buzzing 😀

Edit 2 : Woah there… From the Q&A session with director James Cameron:

Q: Do you have any projects in mind for Arnold [Schwarzenegger] when he’s out of office?

A: Well Arnold and I have discussed the possibility of him returning to action, I wouldn’t rule that out.” But he’ll let him do the announcing.

My face, once again = 😮


Fanboy mode disengaged.  The next thing I find out (intentionally, at any rate 😉 ) about Avatar will be when I’m sitting in an Imax cinema and the film is starting, on the 18th of December!

Official Avatar Website


July 22, 2009

Added my mock-analysis of the first page of the sci-fi ‘epic’ Moon People (oh, you’ve never heard of it?) into the Imaginarium, which you might enjoy if you’re in need of a chuckle, a writer, a sci-fi reader, or anyone who appreciates a bit of satire on their cornflakes:


Also, just read that Sam Raimi will be directing a World of Warcraft film after he finishes Spider-Man 4… crikey! Something to keep an eye on, that. [/geekout]

In the here and now, the 2009 Comic-Con festival is about to begin over in San Diego! While comics don’t do much for me, it spans into all sorts of things; film, TV, games, arty stuff, etc, and the main thing I’m looking forward to this year is the first footage of James Cameron’s ‘Avatar’, which, after a lot of exciting-sounding feedback from industry insiders and directors,  I’m hoping is going to be something absolutely incredible. He’s using some supposedly ‘revolutionary’ filming technique that could ‘change cinema’. Skepticism goggles firmly on, of course, but if anyone can pull something like that off, it might well be Cameron.

What won’t be blowing minds any time soon, by the way, (because I know everyone’s interested) is the new Universal Soldier film, with Jean-Claude Van Damme and Dolph Lundgren back in their cloned boots as a couple of reanimated army experiments. I saw some footage today, and oh. Oh dear… don’t think it could even be redeemed if they chucked someone in a combine harvester again. Which is saying something.

I’ll be keeping up to date with the various things going on at Comic-Con, so I’ll make a few posts over the next few days on the interesting stuff going on over there in an attempt to curb my bitterness at being on the wrong continent.

Edit: The trailer for Tim Burton’s Alice In Wonderland has been released:

Click Me

I see Johnny Depp’s branching out his acting technique… Hard to sum up much from rest of the brief snatches of scenes but it has promise. Tweedle-Dum and Tweedle-Dee look great!

Metaphoric Digitalisation

July 21, 2009

Al's Avatar

It’s me as a little computer dude! As part of Microsoft’s ‘New Xbox Experience’, similar to the Nintendo Wii and upcoming Playstation ‘Home’, you create a 3D avatar that you use in all your interactions and games etc as a representation of yourself.

So, we live in a time when not only do we create abstract digital ‘presences’ through blogging, posts on forums etc, but actually can create visual manifestations of ourselves that act as a ‘physical’ entity in cyberspace. Amazing really…What does it actually mean to exist in this day and age? (Oo-er, here we go) As a species we have extended ourselves beyond the physical state, and are creating an ever-expanding universe for these alternate representations of ourselves to live in. Where does it end? Brainwave patterns digitalised into electronic consciousness? Transcending biology altogether?

Eventually, I reckon so.

This is such a fantastic time to be alive 😀 If a genie were to turn up and give me the choice of either living in a land of magic, or staying in the here and now, I think I would prefer to stay here. How about you? Friends and loved ones notwithstanding – say you could take them with you – what would you choose?

Time Flies Like The Swine Flu Virus

July 19, 2009

Blimey; has it been that long since the last entry? It’s been a busy week, but a good one, spent with my cousin Indi and aunt Den dodging swine flu, although now I’m back in Leicester for how much longer that will continue I’m not sure, seeing as I live next to a hospital and two universities… Although when you look at the statistics that normal flu actually kills more people a year than swine flu has, it kinda lessens the impact of catching it. Apart from for those who have died from it, of course, who would no doubt tell me to shove those statistics somewhere unpleasant.

Moving on from the viral outbreak of the year, yesterday the Farndale household was merry with all the excitement that comes from getting a new games console; my housemate (the infamous capnscar) got an Xbox 360 and I bought the game Left 4 Dead for it, so the day was spent doing some wholesome zombie shootin’ and completely and utterly failing at the driving challenges in Burnout. Great stuff!

Oh, went to see The Half-Blood Prince this week as well. In a word: brilliant.

In more than a word: while people who haven’t read the book would probably find the plot development choppy and slightly lacking, the cinematography was stunning. I’ve not enjoyed just ‘watching’ a film as much in ages, there’s so much going on in each shot. The humour and heart of the film is fantastic too, warming up a gloomy and foreboding film that the director has clearly structured as a ‘set-up’ for the grand two-film finale of The Deathly Hallows. The removal of a large fight scene at the end suggests that he’s gearing up for a massive one in those films, which is something to look forward to. And to be honest, a battle scene would have been out of place in this film; it’s a lot more of a low-key, character focussed film. Not to say that there aren’t epic and exciting scenes in it, but the overall mood is one of the gloomy calm before a storm

There was also a fair bit in the film that was not in the book at all, which personally I enjoyed. In an adaption from a source that I know very well, it was nice to be surprised and given something new. The whole ‘Half-Blood Prince’ aspect of the story was barely focussed on, which made it a bit strained when a certain ‘announcement’ is made from one of the characters at the end.

Looking forward to seeing it again on Wednesday and catching more of the ace little details going on in the background.


Meat and (Re)Source

July 14, 2009

Barbeque ribs… are amazing. Thank the gods for meat, and for bestowing upon us the wisdom of sauce.

So, today was a pretty enjoyable day getting to roll about like a happy puppy around the school’s modern languages resource department pretending I was someone important, and as a side effect it was also extremely useful. How’s about that?!