Posts

  • In criticism of the Labour Party

    Alan Johnson wrote in the Times this week that [moderate Labour] must “recapture this party again otherwise it’s dead and finished and gone.”

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  • Server migration to GitHub/Jekyll!

    I finally bit the bullet and migrated from BlueHost/WordPress to GitHub/Jekyll. This made this site literally ten times faster to load.

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  • Brexit: Political Roundup II

    I fear for our country.  The sudden surge in xenophobic crime is not something I recognise.  I’ve donated to those affected but I fear I’m staying within the narrative of metropolitan elite helping the Other before the British working class.  The likely next PM (Theresa May) will steady the boat but do nothing for our class divisions.

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  • How can I fight Brexit?

    I’m sick of losing.  I’ve lost every political fight since 2010.  The AV referendum: lost.  The 2015 election: lost.  The Brexit referendum: lost.  I only ‘won’ in 2010 because I love coalitions.

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  • Brexit: Political round-up

    Summary: the UK is in deep trouble.  Let’s take it section by section.

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  • Did London just catch up to Seattle and Paris?

    London is less horrible than it was three weeks ago.  It’s still crowded.  It’s still expensive.  It’s still full of people — myself included — who could be nicer on the Tube.

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  • Precinct 11, 10:28pm — and more stories to come

    New story: Precinct 11, 10:28pm

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  • Planning on Cycling in London

    About 14 people die each year cycling in London.  I don’t like exercise, and I don’t like commuting, but I do like cycling, so later this year I’m planning on starting cycling to work in the morning, and I would like my commute to be as safe as is possible.  If I had a fold up, say, I could cycle to work in the mornings and carry it home.  Today, to test out this plan, I cycled down Cycle Superhighway 2 in East London.

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  • New vignette: Orwell’s Eyes

    I’ve written up a new short vignette (circa 500 words) in the style of Orwell’s observational fiction, based on my local pub.  There’s a bizarre effect whereby an author who has authored one of the classic novels of a century has the rest of their novels promoted by association — not to the same status of a classic, but to the sort of status where the BBC will make an adaptation of one of them at least once every three years.  I’m also having mild writers block for my serial, Broadcast In Heaven, so anything I can write at the moment is a big plus.

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  • Numeric Navel Gazing

    I’m still fiddling with my website, trying to get my bounce rate down so people read my stories.  Here it is rate again after adding caching to WordPress, cutting down my blurb, and making my advert more direct, all on the 6th of December:

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  • Bounce, write, wiggle, wiggle

    “I want to be a writer”

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  • Writing a blurb: Broadcast From Heaven

    I’d like to understand how to attract more people to reading my fiction.  SilverWood Books recommend taking a few books from your shelf in the appropriate genre and rewriting them to be about your story.   They stress you can’t use these blurbs — that would be plagiarism — but they are amazingly fun to read, and the exercise has shown me just how exciting and important a well-written blurb is.  So here is one of the results of that exercise:

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  • Broadcast From Heaven chapter three

    I’ve finished chapter three of Broadcast From Heaven, my story about psychic hackers learning Portuguese.  Chapter Three is set in Madrid, in 1996, and follows Dr. Maria Pilar Etxarte.  This chapter took longer because large chunks of the fundamentals of the world revealed themselves by trial and error — I’d write a little and then vaguely cast ahead to the world that needs to happen and find it was just a big smooshy mess of poorly-demarcated psychics all winning the lottery constantly.  So I’d backtrack a little and try again.  I know understand the world a lot better.

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  • Two new stories: Snowdrops and Cafe Undelighet

    What do I want to do with my life?  There’s been a post making the rounds that “you already know your passion, it’s the thing you can’t do without”, which is horseshit.  My muse wanders.  Sometimes I’m staying up till 2AM sewing waistcoats, sometimes I’m writing until I can sleep because the stories cling to me until I scrape them onto the page, sometimes I’m doing five nights of improv a week.

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  • New story: Wigner’s Friend

    Hullo, new short story up: Wigner’s Friend.  This one is short, and very silly, and based entirely on solid hard Science and is not stupid at all.

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  • Finally, a Labour leader the Tories respect

    David Cameron claims Jeremy Corbyn is a ‘threat to national security’.  Beautiful.  Perfect!  How long has it been since a leader of either political party has admitted that their opponent was a credible threat and has real differences of opinion with them?  Miliband was always referred to as part of ‘Labour’, with a sneer on the part of whichever Tory minister was speaking at the time, and before that the last election was when Brown, Clegg and Cameron all shuffled about onstage and looked like sacks of cannonballs, feathers and potatoes respectively.  When Blair and Brown were in power the Tory leader was always a joke, either a vampire, the Quiet Man Who Turned Up The Volume, or that other one I can’t even remember.  William Hague.  I had to go look it up.

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  • Broadcast From Heaven, and writing in general

    Writing bores me.  A few thousand words in and I feel like I’ve explored pretty much everything to do with a situation, a feeling I’ve probably learned from years of 3-minute improv scenes.  I want to get around this, because I love writing and I want to work on larger pieces, but I firmly believe that short stories should be fun and playful and emotionally cheap.  I very much like Ursula Le Guin, but I cannot read her short stories because I find them exhausting — every one I finish and I feel I have burned away a little part of my life energy because they are so rich, so alive that I cannot read more than one a week even if I am making a concerted effort.  I can read and adore Borges because his short stories, even the ones about murder and war, are all quite silly.  So I cannot spend time trying to ‘perfect’ my short stories because perfection in short stories means that the stories are no longer cheap, are no longer playful.

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  • I shall vote for Corbyn

    I have registered as a Labour Supporter to gain the ability to vote in their leadership election happening soon.  The four choices for leader are Andy Burnham, Yvette Cooper, Liz Kendall and Jeremy Corbyn.  I shall be voting for Corbyn, and I’d like to explain why.

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  • Christian Capozzoli improv notes up

    A long delay after I was travelling to meet my remote colleagues, but now my notes with Christian Capozzoli are all up and ready for reading.  L from Game Face was there too and it was nice to learn with a team-mate.

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  • “Why do you like the Tories?” – three real and complex replies

    I am centre-left politically, and I would have preferred a different result from the recent election.  On Facebook, a post caught my eye:

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  • New section: Fae stories

    I grew up on those ‘mythology for children’ books, that told the stories of Norse mythology in all their gory details (except for that bit where Loki ties his figs to a goat), and Wayland the Smith.  I loved Songs of Earth and Power by Greg Bear, far superior to his science fiction, all about the Sidhe and the Urges and the Humans.  More recently, the Sookie Stackhouse novels reminded me of how much I love the stories of these violent, brutal and beautiful races.

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  • Picking who to vote for

    I live in West Ham, which fivethirtyeight.com predicts as having a 67% Labour vote share.  My vote in this election does not matter at all, so I can vote for who I like without any fear of my action influencing the nation at all.

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  • Review: “Harvey” at Haymarket with Maureen Lipman and James Dreyfus

    I love Harvey, and I enjoyed this adaptation of it. Harvey (the 1950s film), if you’ve never seen it, is the kind of film that’s on every Christmas. James Stewart plays Elwood P. Dowd, a man who has an invisible 6′ 3 1/2” rabbit for his best friend, and his family can’t cope. It’s a nice film about how, actually, what’s in people’s hearts is more important than what’s in their heads, and how people work out how to be good to each other.

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  • Short story: Hot Jupiter, Cold Earth

    Walking home from her grandmother’s house, Maria trod on a snow-egg.

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  • Daydream: Marooned on the other side of the Galaxy

    Let’s imagine you drop me on the other side of the Galaxy with a well-equipped starship. It can travel faster than light, even! What should I do?  The ship is well equipped with food-dispensers and oxygen and scientific equipment, but nothing intelligent – no ship’s computer that will understand the command “Take us out of orbit, computer”, no snazzy visualisations.  You drop me off with a pamphlet that explains this paragraph and nothing else.

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  • Writing the best code of my life

    I started a new job at $_COMPANY few months ago. It’s amazing. I’m working closely with people who are much better than me at developing software; this week three people on my team were paring my API down to the bone and reminding me of that scene from 1984 (Chapter V).

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  • Dumb detective stories: SIGKILL Handler

    (Another story fragment that’s been trapped in my head for a while.)

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  • Rambles and sentences I am enjoying

    I now have a job that is fulfilling in creative ways and a reasonable work-life balance.  My improv is progressing (Game Face are performing twice this week).  I have cats!

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  • UCB in London 2015 (John Murray/Anthony Atamaniuk)

    I attended some UCB workshops organised by C3Something.  My write-up is here.

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  • Grey Goo: Review

    I saw the trailer for Grey Goo, a real-time strategy game, and bought it.  It’s excellent.  An innovative re-imagining of the genre coupled with an excellent storyline.

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  • I am not Charlie Hebdo.

    On 7 January, 2015, two gunmen attacked the Charlie Hebdo offices in Paris and killed twelve people. The gunmen identified themselves as members of Al-Qaeda. In response to the attack upon free speech many, many media outlets and individuals took up the slogan “je suis Charlie”. I have a big problem with this.

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  • Found art: “Wiser In The Garden It Tree’d”.

    I found a copy of Obelisk Magazine at the bottom of one of my memory boxes.  It’s on cheap non-glossy paper in black and white, with no images, with a sugar-paper cover dated March 1941.  It is written entirely in an Arabic script with the exception of the final page.  I have no memory of buying this magazine – I have never been to any country in which Arabic script is dominant – and no idea why it was important enough to me to story in one of my memory boxes.

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  • Finding a voice

    I started improv in 2006, but I will remember 2014 as the year I started taking improv classes. It’s not accurate — my first teaching experience was with Tara DiFrancisco in October 2013, which I can honestly was a ray of sunshine forcefully elbowing its way through some stressful clouds — but it’s the first year where I took a lot of classes: two more short iO intensives and four levels of Monkey Toast, plus a TJ and Dave workshop.

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  • Story scraps

    I don’t have the energy to write right now.

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  • Musical Improv Troupe debut, and thoughts on the Armando

    Last night was M.I.T‘s debut performance of our new format Time Turner – and whoo, it was good.

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  • Hazy Days: Game and Emotional Truth

    This will be a bit of a hodgepodge: I’m starting to understand, I think, how Game can coexist with Emotional Truth.  So I’m happy.

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  • Bike-fu++

    I’ve always had a bit of a mental block when it came to bikes, and radios. One of those things where you say to yourself “No, I will do that wrong, for I do not have that talent”, and while with radios this is not too hard – every six months I would turn an analogue radio on and twiddle the knobs to different frequencies, quietly and desperately wishing that the numbers available online corresponded to the channels that they promised in real life – with bicycles I always had the memory in the back of my head when my brother looked over my attempt at bike repair, shook his head and said “This is a deathtrap.”.

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  • L’don Korean Film Festival 2014/Bitter, Sweet, Seoul – review

    Today I attended part of the London Korean Film Festival in Covent Garden and saw Bitter, Sweet, Seoul, an intriuging documentary about the city of Seoul.  The conceit of the film is that it is composed almost entirely of film clips submitted by the public, which have been cut, arranged and set to music by the director, Chan-kyong Park, and his brother, Chan-wook Park.  Together they form ‘PARKing CHANce‘, so called because it is very difficult to park in Seoul.  The film was followed by a Q&A led by Katie Taylor and with a translator providing the English for Chan-kyong Park’s responses.  Around half of the audience had been to Seoul before.

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  • NaNo 2014 – Novel writing

    NaNo, National Novel Writers Month, is an exercise in writing as much of a novel as you possibly can in one month. The aim is 50,000 words.

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  • TJ and Dave in London, workshop notes

    TJ and Dave, improvisers so skilled they have a documentary about them, are going around Europe with Stefan Pagels Andersen, doing shows and teaching workshops.  Tickets for their show were sold out when I tried to buy, but I got a workshop place.  My notes are here.

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  • Coding parody of “Santa Claus is coming to town”

    You’d better watch out

    You’d better code DRY

    You’d better not pout

    I’m telling you why

    The head of Ops is making the rounds

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  • Improv Koan

    I’ve been reading The Codeless Code, a collection of software koans named after The Gateless Gate with lovely illustrations and commentaries and poems which are very fun to read – I’ve also been reading the Collection of Stone and Sand, a collection of Zen koans.  Here is a well-known koan, redecorated to be about improv.

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  • English 0.15 (the addition of gendered nouns)

    So, most languages have gendered nouns.  La table in French, der Wagen in German, dziecko in Polish.  English is missing out!  But we can’t just add in gendered nouns – that would introduce all kinds of back-compatibility issues.  Therefore, I invoke the use-mention distinction – the difference between the sofa I’m sitting on, and the “sofa”, one of the two words meaning a soft seat in English that have Arabic origin (the other being “divan”).

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  • Quantum Leap and the Aerodynamics of Yes

    I met ED (private persona: initials) at Duck Duck Goose two or three months ago, and she immediately promised to give me a book; she lives in the States.  This Sunday I received that book: the Aerodynamics of Yes by Christian Capozzoli.  I am still a little stunned by the level of generosity.

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  • Taking notes and improv

    I used to be a lazy little sod, who would drink all night and sleep through all of her lectures.  My first year of university was basically one big hangover.  It was great.  Second year I learned to sit in the front row rather than the back row (but still slept), and in third year I learned I took things in a lot more if I colour-coded my notes on the fly – one black pen, one red pen, one blue pen, one green pen.  Blue for theorem headings, green for definitions, red for warnings or important points – the clack-clack-clack of me changing pens every sentence made a nice rhythm.

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  • Running From Alcohol

    I just ran 7.5k, the furthest I have ever run, and I am so proud of myself.

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  • Dream Patterns

    This is a ramble; I’ve borrowed a long book to read on the Tube and so my urge to write (which I’ve been sating with pen and paper) can once more be expressed through blogging.

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  • My Honest Feelings About UKIP

    (I’ve found that since I’ve started using Toadworld rather than my my old blog, which was not attached to my full name, I’ve found it much harder to write here without worrying about possible repercussions. This is the strongest response to that I can think of.)

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  • Break Out of Dying Games: Reading Meisner

    I’ve been doing improv a long while, but only relatively recently started paying for tuition.  That means I’m suddenly getting a lot more abstract understanding of tags and sweeps.

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  • Being Healthy, Being New

    I’m a lot healthier in a very simple set of ways than I was at the start of 2013.

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  • Improv: “I will give you my best”

    This week  I attended Duck Duck Goose in Stockwell on Monday, had a practise on Wednesday, and a Monkey Toast class on Thursday.  I’ve been trying to apply the character work Jet Eveleth taught me in Copenhagen: Neutral stance, throw body part out of alignment (and let that propagate through the rest of your body), find a vocalisation that gives you a point of view.  Then, during the scene, I’ve been trying to find a Want for my character.

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  • One Stop Theatre!

    These past two weeks have been crazy great.  Saw the Manic Street Preachers, got taught improv and clowning by Jet Eveleth in Copenhagen as part of the CPH impro Festival.  Got back, attended a jam, saw James McAspeney’s new show Sitting Up For Michael, an improv practise, an improv lesson, Friday night in, Saturday…

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  • Migrating servers…

    Migrating from my home box to bluehost.  Content to appear shortly.

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