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Category: Diary (Page 1 of 37)

cosmic command toy

Week 52: The end

(December 24- 31)

It’s the first day of 2019 as I write this, and this will be the last post for 2018. It will also be the last ‘diary style’ post that I do on this blog. I began this slightly crazy project exactly two years ago, with a vague idea in the back of my head that I should document my experiences during 2017. That instinct turned out, absurdly, to be right: 2017 ended up being a pretty crazy year.

Ending these diary posts at this point in my life brings a nice circularity to things. I started 2017 married to someone I thought I was going to spend the rest of my life with. That relationship ended a few short months into the year. Now, I end 2018 in a relationship with someone I met a few short months ago, and who I’m already certain I will be spending the rest of my life with.

But, through the course of the last year–and from these two years of journaling–what have I learned?

Perhaps the most important lesson is that things turn around. Balance will return if you’re patient and tenacious enough–and, most importantly, if you’re lucky enough. 2017 was tumultuous, to say the least. It wasn’t quite a downward spiral, but it was a time when my life was thrown up in the air and I didn’t necessarily end the year finding out how all of those pieces were all going to land.

2018, in contrast, felt more like the recovery. It was purposefully unambitious. Things ambled along steadily and securely. Life carried on. My family and I learned, together, that things could continue working perfectly well. The most important outcome is that my kids are happy, which is one of the best things I could ask for–that’s not just down to me; it’s taken both parents, the rest of the family, and a lot of friends to make that happen, and I’m grateful to everyone who’s had a part in that.

After the events of 2017, I was quite happy with having a relatively unspectacular 2017. For a time the biggest highlight was the Elderbeast getting into the Gifted & Talented program (and he ends this year having graduated from primary school, and ready to start his first year at high school). I did spend a lot of time reflecting on the end of my marriage and my unplanned single status. For the most part I found myself at peace with it all.

Sometime around the middle of the year a friend asked me if I was dating yet. That simple question unearthed a whole cacophony of conflicting thoughts. There was the very real possibility that I might have remained single for the rest of my life, and I was prepared to accept that. Then again, the one thing I was consistently missing was a sense of companionship. Above all else, I assumed I’d already had my shot, and that I had no chance of meeting someone who would be perfectly right for me. I assumed that if I ever did meet someone there would be some element of compromise, and maybe, if that was the case, then it simply wasn’t to be.

After a while, I stopped worrying about it all and figured things would happen if they were meant to happen.

And then I met someone. And she was absolutely perfect.

And that’s all you get about that on this blog 😉

Getting back on point, throughout all of this–the last two years–I’ve learned that journaling has been a big help to me, even when I’ve been at my most vague, or my most trivial. The act of writing all this crap down inevitably moved beyond any irrational need to share the minutiae of my life and has become an essential exercise for me. It’s become a chance to reflect on my recent past and a regular opportunity to clear the cobwebs with a bit of [almost] free writing. It’s a chance to get something written even when I don’t have a story in play.

For those reasons, I won’t be completely abandoning this blog or my journaling habits. One of my not-resolutions for 2019 is to focus a bit more on my writing–I wrote plenty during 2018, but with little corresponding effort towards getting anything published.

I also want to write more about writing than I have done to date; so my blog in 2019 will be some form of writing diary. I’ll probably keep up the watching/reading sections, but my posts will otherwise be an update on what I’ve been writing each week and will, hopefully, include some useful reflections and lessons learned for any other budding writers out there who happen to be reading.

Let’s see how that goes …

pavlova

Week 51: Christmas is coming …

(December 17 – 23)

This week is all about that final run up to Christmas: that day that always lurks right near the end of the year, and then suddenly appears around the corner even when you think you’ve been watching out for it.

This time around I’ve mostly had two things on my mind: have I bought all the presents I need to get? And how long till my Christmas break starts? Preston buying this year has been a fluid and organic process. I’ve mostly been on top of it, but there’s constantly just ‘a few more presents’ to buy. Even when those presents are bought, there’s the wait for the last few deliveries to come. And when all the presents have come, then there’s the wrapping. But it all eventually leads to the giving, which is the really fun part.

Meanwhile, this week is also the last week of work for the year, and I feel more ready for a break than ever. I believe this is mostly because of what the break offers, than for any particular work-related sentiment. Not only do I get a weekend with my New Favourite Person, but I get to catch up with most of my friends, I have the traditional Christmas Eve viewing of Die Hard, I have Christmas Day, and then I have the best part of a week where I don’t have to get up and go to work. It’s one of my favourite weeks of the year; where normal routine is dropped and you can just do whatever you want.

Watching

After failing to keep up with The Good Place for several weeks, I sat down with the Elderbeast at the start of this week to wrap up series three … only to find that we’re still three episodes away from the end. Oh well, it was good to get caught up and I’m constantly impressed at the way the show manages to reinvent and reinterpret its premise.

I’m also continuing to make my way through The Chilling Adventures Of Sabrina which, while filling a Buffy-shaped hole in my life, is very much its own thing and very enjoyable for it. I remain intrigued by the blurry camera effect. All I’ve been able to learn about it so far is that it bugs the hell out of a whole bunch of people on the internet. I don’t mind the effect too much myself, but I’m keen to understand the rationale behind it. It’s most obvious during scenes that involve magic, but then also appears during other, completely everyday scenes.

For Fridate we watched Bird Box (thanks, Netflix). As you’ll see below I also finished the book. Overall I found the film did a better job with the story than the book did. It’s fascinating to compare the two: the plot is broadly the same, a lot of the same beats are in there. However, the film has tweaked a few things, changed characters, moved a few plot points around, and general told a more satisfying story with a lot of the same pieces. Perhaps the most effective change is to add in

Reading

I managed to finish Bird Box this week, as I set out to do. It was a perfectly fine book, but probably not one I’ll be recommending to anyone. While the premise was intriguing, there was an overall lack of substance and the ‘interesting idea’ behind the story remained nothing more than an interesting idea.

lego diner

Week 50: Who?

(December 10 – 16)

I’ve written a huge amount in the ‘Watching’ section this week, so I’ll keep the weekly update to this: how come, when I’ve been buying presents for the last several weeks, I still seem to have so many left to buy? It’s endless …

Watching

The final Doctor Who episode of the new season (“The Battle of Pretentiously Unpronounceable”) landed this week, and it confirms my very mixed feelings about the new series.

Let me start by reaffirming that I love the new Doctor, and I love that the series is, once again, totally different to what it was before (and, yet, still Doctor Who). I say this because it’s increasingly hard to pick between those who have valid criticism of the show, and those who need to be ignored because they can’t handle that the Doctor is a woman now, or that she has companions with non-white skin, or that it’s not ‘their’ show any more. (And let’s also ignore those supposed ‘fans’ who simply love to dump on Doctor Who whatever the era or showrunner—God knows we’ve had enough of them over the last few years).

In almost every way, this season has been exemplary. The show looks and sounds incredible, the acting is top-notch, and the focus on character has added a degree of substance that the show has previously lacked.

That doesn’t, however, mean that it’s been perfect.

My one, solitary, single concern about the new season was that Chris Chibnall has written some of the show’s weakest stories in the past. And, unfortunately, this is exactly where the show has suffered this year. We’ve had one outstanding episode (“Rosa”), no stinkers (for a change), and nine other episodes that have levelled out at merely competent or, perhaps worse, have failed to achieve their potential. In short, this season has been full of episodes that are perfectly good, but almost completely forgettable.

There’s been an occasional tendency to throw enough good ideas at the screen to fill two or three episodes, but then fail to properly develop any of them (“It Takes You Away”). Meanwhile, several episodes have started off strongly, only to introduce alien foes that have largely distracted from the proceedings (“The Witchfinders”). There have been other stories that have been fun on the surface, but on a rewatch prove to be riddled head-scratching inconsistencies (“Arachnids In The UK”)

Overall, the most damning complaint about the new season is that it has been … unexciting.

My impression is of a slight lack of confidence and a desire to play it safe, as if Chris Chibnall has gone all out to make the show his own, but then faltered at the last hurdle and decided that you can’t do a Doctor Who stories without aliens, or that throwing ideas at the screen would mask the routine plot holes or occasional character inconsistencies. This was most apparent during the first half of the season, where we saw a run of episodes work through the main Doctor Who tropes and story settings; while the latter half of the season never really escaped from that to find its own feet, nor did it really escalate or build towards anything (except for, perhaps, Ryan and Graham’s fistbump).

I once read (I think) that being a Doctor Who fan was an exercise in preparing for disappointment. This is largely true. The innate charm of the show is what we tune in for. The times when it manages to bring everything together are the moments we wait for. The show is never unequivocally good; there are always strengths, but there are always concomitant weaknesses. Russell T Davies delivered emotion at the expense of consistency; Stephen Moffat stretched the fictional bounds of the show’s concept at the expense of character; now Chibnall is giving us character at the expense of strong storytelling.

The good news is that the ratings have been good, so there’s clearly a lot that’s right about the show. I truly hope that the fact that team is taking a year off (which still seems a bit rich after just one year in the job) means they’ll have the chance to really focus on the storytelling and deliver some scripts that match the quality of everything else about the show.

In other viewing news, I started watching The Chilling Adventures Of Sabrina on Netflix this week, which I’ve been meaning to do for a while. So far it’s pretty awesome, but I’ll have more to say when I’ve seen more of the series.

I also laughed through a few more episodes of The Haunting Of Hill House, which continues to be excellent but is almost relentlessly grim. I’m equal parts relieved and disappointed that I only have four episodes left.

For Fridate horror we watched Child’s Play—I fancied a classic eighties horror, and realised that I’d never seen this one. It was fun, and I think it was the sense of humour that’s carried it through the years as I found it a bit threadbare otherwise. Even Chris Sarandon, who captivates the screen in Fright Night, comes across as hokey and uncharismatic here.

On Saturday the Elderbeast was at a sleepover, so I was able to choose my own viewing. Accordingly, I picked the superbly violent Indonesian thriller The Night Comes For Us. I was hoping this would be a spiritual successor to The Raid, and I wasn’t disappointed. The plotting and pacing were a bit shambolic, but the action scenes were magnificent, not to mention insanely gruesome in parts. I’m not, by default a fan of violent movies, but there’s a particular art and choreography in doing fight scenes and outrageous violence well, and this movie delivered that in exemplary fashion.

Reading

The movie adaption of Bird Box hits Netflix next week, so I’ve set myself that as a deadline for finishing the book. It’s been easy, relatively enjoyable reading so far—I’ve just not carved out much actual reading time over the last couple of weeks.

I’m approaching halfway though Leviathan Wakes and, again, mostly enjoying it. It’s, perhaps, moving a bit more slowly than I’d like but the characters and scenario are engaging enough to keep me listening.

I’ve got a huge backlog of stuff on my Spotify account. Between the few things I’ve purchased, the two Audible Originals I get each month, and the handful of items I’ve just bought in the end of year sale, I’ve probably got enough to keep me going through next year. I’ll have to work out how to get more listening time in!

Oh, and I’m also finding that I’m missing It, so I’ll probably go back and finish that next, which will take another several weeks …

please don't sign

Week 49: Snake demons not invited

(December 3 – 9)

The big occasion this week was the Elderbeast’s primary school graduation. I’ve been reflecting a lot on this.

On the one hand it’s simply leaving one school and starting another. There are no exams, qualifications, or specific achievements involved. On the other hand, it’s a pretty major life change for the Elderbeast. He’s been at his school for about 7 years now, he’s had several ups and downs, and he’s made a bunch of friends. Now he has to leave all of that behind, go to a completely different place each day and start to make brand new friends. Put it in those terms and it seems like quite a big ask for a 12 year old.

I’ll admit I started to feel a little emotional during the ceremony; thinking about how the Elderbeast is growing up, and thinking about how well he’s come through the various challenges of the last couple of years. It would have been nice to see him get one of the million or so awards and certificates that were given out as the main part of the assembly, but not every achievement can be marked by a piece of paper and I take a lot of satisfaction from knowing that that Elderbeast has, above all, had a happy year.

It was very sweet, after the ceremony, to see all the kids crying and hugging each other. There must have been a whirlwind of emotions for these kids, being placed front and center for the assembly, then realising that this day marks the start of a week that will end with some of them never seeing each other again. It was also good to see the tears quickly replaced by a form of elation, as the kids spent the ensuring morning tea hanging out and getting photos taken with each other.

Watching

The penultimate episode of Doctor Who this week (“It Takes You Away”), and I’m still not completely sure what to make of it. It started off firmly in horror territory—one of the Doctor Who tropes that, I think, the new series hasn’t really tackled yet. However, it then diverted into something closer to dark fantasy, before jumping head first into some sort of cosmic philosophy.

I like that we’ve had at least one episode where they took off the brakes a little and just ran with what they had. However, with at least three different stories going on in this one, I feel that neither was really done justice—and I definitely feel cheated out of a full on horror episode of Doctor Who.

And then (minor spoiler) we also need to talk about the frog …

A significant part of me loves that the show runners decided to represent a sentient alternate universe as a talking frog. However, I’m still wondering what the thinking was behind doing it with a particularly unconvincing frog puppet. It was so obviously bad that there has to be a rationale for it.

I caught up on another few episodes of The Haunting Of Hill House, which is truly excellent but almost overbearingly grim.

Fridate horror this week was a Netflix offering called Yesterday. For a short time I was baffled at its absence on IMDB, until I realised its original title was Yesterday, but it’s more commonly known as the The Blackcoat’s Daughter. It’s helmed by the same director as I Am The Pretty Thing … and has a very similar mood to it. I really enjoyed it, although the soporific tone did nearly send me to sleep!

The weekend also brought repeat viewings of Godzilla, Fright Night and The Shawshank Redemption, all of which are great.

Reading

I’ve been continuing to listen to Leviathan Wakes, and enjoying it. I’ve settled a bit more into the relatively flat narration, and am fully into the story. I’m intrigued by the way I’m getting drawn into it this time, while the TV adaptation left me a bit flat. I will write more on that later.

I’m also catching up with Bird Box when I can. It’s a relatively quick read, and I’m definitely hooked enough to want to see it through. Hopefully I can find time to finish it next week (ideally before the film hits Netflix).

cat on a box

Week 48: Timier and even more wimier

(November 26 – December 2)

I’ve been thinking a bit more about time this week; specifically our perception of it. The passage of time seems particularly erratic to me at the moment. Waiting a week can feel like forever, but I look back over the last month and can’t believe how quickly the time seems to have passed. Yet, I also look back at everything that’s happened in the past month and it feels like it surely took place over several months.

I’ve also been thinking about how we use our time, how we fall into our routines and how easy it is to find that trivial things (like answering emails) end up falling by the wayside. I hadn’t truly realised that I’ve slipped into a comfortable routine over the last year or so.

However, while I maintain that routines are valuable things, I also believe it’s important to break them from time to time. It’s important to value the present, and to make time for occasions that are unique and non-repeatable—such as spending time with friends—over the things that can easily be deferred, such as watching the next episode of a show on Netflix.

Watching

Another perfectly fine episode of Doctor Who this week (“The Witchfinders”), but yet another instance where I found myself disappointed at the unnecessary bolting on of an alien menace. I realise this is Doctor Who, and we expect monsters and aliens, but this is at least the third story where there was enough drama in play without the need for a scary monster to drive things along. Truth be told, if it wasn’t for Alan Cummings’ performance as King James, this episode would probably be entirely forgettable. I wonder if we’ll end up seeing him again …

For Fridate horror we visited The Orphanage, which was not exactly what I expected. There were scares aplenty, but it turned out to be more of a story about a mother and her son—and came with a bizarrely grim/happy ending.

Over the weekend I watched Next Gen on Netflix with the Kinderbesten—it seemed good, but I was too busy getting popcorn, etc, to properly take it in. For Saturday night, the Elderbeast wanted to watch Spider-Man: Homecoming, which we did … only for him to bail on me halfway through and go to bed. Oh well, at least it meant I got to go to bed early.

For Sunday, inspired by a very prominent reference in Spider-Man: Homecoming, we watched Ferris Bueller’s Day Off. This might only be my second or third time watching this film, and it definitely gets better each time. I’m surprised at how late it comes in the John Hughes canon (after The Breakfast Club) but it’s got the perfect balance of comedy and feels. I really enjoyed revisiting this one.

Reading

I formalised my temporary separation from It this week by downloading and starting the audiobook of Leviathan Wakes, the first book in The Expanse series. I’ve had plenty of recommendations for this series over the past few years (even if the TV adaptation left me a bit cold) and it was exciting to have the option of listening to it first time around instead of reading it.

So far it’s good. I’m finding the narration pretty flat compared to my recent listening experiences, but it’s not getting in the way of the story—which is pretty engrossing so far.

I’ve also made a little more headway into Bird Box. Not much has changed in the story so far. I’ll have to make speedier progress or I risk getting bored.

sunset

Week 47: Close

(November 19 – 25)

This week I’m reminded that working with people is very much like sharing a flat. When you’re in constant close quarters with others, it’s the tiniest things that can have the biggest effects. It can make things that you would generally ignore in a casual friendship turn into the hugest millstones around your neck.

It’s remarkable the amount of stress these tiny things can generate as well. It can completely distract from the work itself, and end up becoming the sole focus of your working day.

I guess it’s a good thing that work only takes up a third of the day …

Watching

Episode “I’ve Lost Count” of Doctor Who this week, aka “Kerblam!”

Again, a very decent, but largely unremarkable episode. I appreciate that the denouement wasn’t quite what we might have suspected, but otherwise there were few surprises. I worry that this season is going to end up filled with mostly unmemorable episodes; so far there’s been one highlight (“Rosa”) and a handful of perfectly competent episodes. It’ll be a shame if this is the case, as almost everything else about this season is perfect.

I also managed to dip back into The Haunting Of Hill House—just for episode 3. There was a brief moment when I thought I’d already watched the episode and forgotten about it, but that didn’t end up being the case. At my going rate, I’ll finish this show by next Easter.

Fridate’s horror movie was a superb Netflix offering from Indonesia called May The Devil Take You. It was a touch hokey in parts, but overall it was a tremendous tribute to Sam Raimi filled with plenty of genuine scares to balance out the frequent over-the-top gore. Much fun, and very much recommended.

Other weekend viewing included return visits to Super 8 and Highlander. Super 8 remains the purest of tributes to Steven Spielberg, and is always good to watch when you’ve recently been stuck into Stranger Things. Highlander, meanwhile, is never less than enormous fun.

Reading

I am taking an unofficial break from listening to It. This wasn’t part of the plan for this week, but on the drive to and from work most days I’ve found myself listening to music instead of … It. Clearly, It is no longer gripping me. It might be time for us to take a break from each other.

I’m also continuing to read Bird Box. Not totally sure about this one yet, but the premise is intriguing enough to keep me reading (plus I kinda want to get it read before the film drops).

delicious roasties

Week 46: Timey wimey

(November 12 – 18)

One of the random moments that’s always stuck with me from the Star Wars films is when Yoda accuses Luke of always looking to the future, “…never his mind on where we was, what he was doing…

I’ve been doing a lot of waiting this week, and a lot of reflecting, and it’s made me think about how we continually live our lives across three different time streams (if you’ll forgive me getting a little time-wimey). We always have the promise of the future, distracting us from the present. And we always have the past that we revisit constantly, but can never truly restore to the present. Nostalgia has become a great cultural driver for us, and a great feeder for capitalism—which is surely nothing more than the drive to acquire material assets to (supposedly) make your future better.

But that’s not really my point. My point is, I think, that it’s remarkable that we can function in the third–the present–at all. We spend all our time looking forward to things: that next cup of coffee; the end of the day; seeing someone; planning for tomorrow. And then the experiences we have in the present get filed away as memories of the past which inform our desires (or fears) from the future. They also fill our present. We spend vast swathes of time reliving and sharing those memories: talking about that great movie we saw last night; that delicious meal; that legendary holiday.

It’s a self-sustaining feedback loop in which the present is the briefest flash of our existence: this split second as I write this word and then you read this one. Then it’s gone. We can only act in the present, but the bulk of our consciousness is devoted to either side of that line.

Anyway, that went way deeper than planned, so let’s talk about Doctor Who!

Watching

A little bit underwhelmed by this week’s episode of Doctor Who (“Demons Of The Punjab”), which is a shame as it was excellently made and had all the hallmarks of being a bit of a keeper. I’ll definitely give it a second chance, but I feel like the series is starting to play a lot of the same cards: they’re strong cards, no doubt, but I’m now waiting to see it all come together. The next two look pretty intriguing though.

For Fridate horror we watched an anthology film called Holidays on Netflix. As you might reasonably guess, each short film was based around a particular holiday (St Patrick’s Day, Mother’s Day, etc). With eight holidays to cover, the films were pretty short—in fact it was like an evening going through horror shorts on YouTube (with the same wild variance in quality). A couple of the shorts were absolutely batshit crazy, some were fun. One was really, really good—the one inspired by Father’s Day. If you can track that one down then I highly recommend giving it a watch on its own.

But possibly not on your own.

Reading

After looking through my virtual to-read pile, I realised I’ve owned a copy of Bird Box for some time now. My interest in this was especially piqued after watching the trailer recently, so I started reading it. Several chapters in and I’m intrigued by the premise (if you’ve seen the trailer, you’ll get a perfect sense of the book so far). I am already wondering if the plot can be sustained long enough to remain interesting, but the book seems short enough that I’m willing to stay around long enough to find out.

Meanwhile, It is continuing to plod along in it’s amiable and expertly-crafted way. I marvel at Stephen King’s ability to drift wildly from the plot, and yet still retain the interest of his reader (listener). Equally, the energy which Steven Weber continues to bring to the narration is a delight.

Pathfinder board game

Week 45: Tiny moments

(November 5 – 11)

This week I’ve been thinking a lot about tiny actions, and the way they can change the course of our lives; a little bit like the butterfly effect. For example, randomly picking up a Doctor Who book in my primary school playground sparked a lifelong love of the show. Many years later, writing a letter to a video magazine, to see if I could write for them, proved to be the first step in a life/career path that indirectly led to me emigrating to Australia and starting a career in IT. Go figure.

Alongside those tiny actions are the coincidences: the confluences of unplanned events that steer our lives in seemingly unpredictable directions. You miss out on what you think is your dream job, only to get a job you really like a few months later. One apparent setback becomes the thing that you only realise later had left your life clear for much better things to happen.

How many times in our lives does this happen? We turn left instead of right? We say one thing instead of another, and those are the words that changes someone’s mind? We go out, instead of staying at home, and meet someone amazing?

And if you didn’t make one of those choices, sometimes years back, how different would your life be now?

Watching

Episode 5 of the new series of Doctor Who (“The Tsuranga Conundrum”), and the io9 review sums it up best for me: I’m ready for Doctor Who to stop proving that it’s still Doctor Who. This week we had the alien/base under siege story. This has followed from the obligatory monster story and the (very excellent) historical story. Once again, a perfectly good episode—gorgeous to look at, strong attention to characterisation. I just don’t think it’s going to be an especially memorable one. I’m ready for this season to throw off the restraints and *really* show us what the new production team are capable of. Five down; six to go!

Friday’s horror movie was A Quiet Place, which I’ve been waiting to watch for a long time (indeed, the bluray has been sitting on my shelf for months now). And it was pretty damn good. Very slow–a consequence of the [necessary] lack of dialogue, and the literal slow and measured pace of the characters. However, once it starts (and it starts pretty early on) it doesn’t let up. In fact, I was surprised when it ended.

But, I do love that last scene ….

Reading

Not much.

creepy halloween portrait

Week 44: Halloween

(October 29 – November 4)

Sometimes you meet new people, and sometimes they’re really, truly awesome. And that’s about all I have to say on that subject for now. So let’s talk about Halloween.

As you might know Halloween used to be my wedding anniversary, and also used to be the occasion of our annual Halloversary party. That, obviously, doesn’t happen now: I’ve bequeathed Halloween party responsibilities to my friends, and now I just enjoy Halloween for what it is (i.e. the best freakin’ ‘holiday’ of the year).

The kinderbesten are both old enough now to start properly getting into Halloween as well. I made sure to pick them up some costumes the other week, so they’d be appropriately attired. They both had much fun trying them on beforehand and deciding which combination of bits and pieces they wanted to wear for the night itself.

One of my favourite bits about Halloween is driving home and seeing all the families out trick or treating—kids dressed up and having the best time, while their parents hang back just far enough not to spoil the fun. I’m sure this is something that has happened only in the last few years; I don’t remember seeing it so much before last year.

By the time I got home from work, both kinderbesten had gone out. The Elderbeast had gone to do whatever he does with his friends. The Kinderbeast, meanwhile, was so determined to go trick or treating that his great grandmother ended up taking him. It’s a great image: an 83 year old trick or treating for the first time, accompanied by a six year old in a ghost face costume. He came back sometime later, beaming with an impressive haul of candy (which I subtly thinned out in the days afterwards, because that’s the kind of mean Dad that I am).

The Elderbeast did not come home quite so promptly, and once it got to 8pm I had to get a message to one his friends to tell him it was time to come home—which he did pretty quickly. I guess this is the dawn of the teenage years. Before long staying out late with his friends will be the norm.

Oh, fun.

Watching

The viewing week, as it will continue to do for the next month or so, kicked off with Doctor Who (“Arachnids In The UK”). This week’s episode featured giant spiders, which feels like a deliberate throwback to the classic show (even though the mechanics of the plot ended up being very much modern show). As with the last few episodes, the same pattern is showing: a high focus on the characterisation, but less so on the plot. I don’t have a huge problem with this. We’re here to enjoy the journey with these characters, not just for the journey itself. The most elaborately and carefully plotted story will fall completely flat if the characters aren’t engaging, but well written characters can usually help carry you through a wafer thin plot without realising.

For me, the only major misstep of the episode was Chris Noth’s character. I enjoyed his performance, but the writers seemed to be presenting him as a potentially new and terrible Presidential successor to Donald Trump. This utterly failed for me, as I can’t really imagine anyone worse than Donald Trump in the position.

On Friday I finally started watching The Haunting Of Hill House (just the first two episodes). Great stuff. Completely different story to the novel, but with a lot of the DNA in place. It was fun picking up the various references and callbacks to the book. I’m very keen to see where this one is going.

Saturday was an ‘easy viewing’ day, with repeat showings of Jurassic Park and Star Trek (the 2009 movie—and, wow, how was that nearly ten years ago now?!?)

Reading

I’m still plodding onwards with It. I haven’t picked up a new novel to read yet; I’ve continued to dip into my Humble Bundle short story horror collections. Nothing truly outstanding yet, but hopefully I’ll have a few good ones to talk about next week.

jason vorhees hockey masks

Week 43: Waiting

(October 22 – 28)

This week we had a follow-up appointment at the children’s hospital (kinderbesten krankenhausen!), to make sure everything was once again well with the Kinderbeast following his course of antibiotics. Typically this appointment fell on the same afternoon that the Elderbeast also had a thing on, which required me taking the afternoon off work for the hospital checkup, while the Elderbeast’s mother took him to his thing.

I left work super-early and picked up the Kinderbeast from school. Naturally, this meant I ended up arriving late to the hospital. We just about managed to park at a few minutes after the scheduled time, then raced into the hospital—with visions of having driven all that way only to lose our appointment to the next person and having to reschedule. I was praying that they were running late. And they were.

Two hours late.

We finally got in to see the doctor at 5pm and, since you’ll be wondering, everything was fine. Luckily the Kinderbeast found plenty of other kids to play with during this time, but my brain definitely turned into soup. Two things I don’t handle especially well are: having to wait around for things; and hospitals. Put them together and it’s as if someone peered inside my head and challenged themselves to find the worst thing they could do to me.

(Actually, no—the worst thing they could have done was if one of the doctors had come out and started sticking needles into my eyes while I was waiting).

In the end, what made it bearable was knowing already that the Kinderbeast was fine, and that the checkup—when it eventually happened—would confirm that.

And he was.

Watching

Amazing episode of Doctor Who this week (“Rosa”)—one of those that people will be talking about for years to come. I was fairly worried, going in, that the story would end up being about how the Doctor inspires Rosa Parks to make her world-changing stand, and thus completely rob her of her agency. Fortunately, I was dead wrong. This was one of the most raw representations of racism I’ve ever seen in the show, and far from showing the Doctor being the superhero, a large part of the episode’s power comes from her combined fury and helplessness over the institutional racism that she witnesses here.

The Kinderbeast watched the episode with me and the two responses he had made my day. Watching one of the scenes where the racism is on overt display, he asked with a mixture of outrage and puzzlement: “Why are they doing that?” Later, when the driver confronts Rosa Parks on the bus, he declared: “That man’s a jerk!!”

As I commented on twitter, it’s a reminder that racism is taught, not learned naturally, and we have a responsibility as parents not to darken our children’s outlook on life, and to help them grow up to be the best people they can be.

The week, as it so often is, was capped off by Fridate Horror. I’ve been wanted to start working through the surprisingly large list of horror films on my Netflix list, so this week’s choice was I Am The Pretty Thing That Lives In The House. It’s a sloooooow film. I wasn’t even sure if I liked it at first, but it grows on you, like a persistent fungal infection. Literally every scene looks like a work of art—you could freeze frame the film at almost any point, print it, and put it on your wall. Meanwhile, there’s a sense of dread that slowly builds up until you realise it’s tapping you right on the shoulder even though you never heard it coming.

Probably not a film for everyone, but up there with Suspiria as one of the most gorgeous films I’ve ever seen.

For Sunday night, the Elderbeast requested that we watch A Monster Calls, the book of which he read some months ago. It was really, really good, and also really, really sad. I don’t want to talk too much about it, for fear of spoiling it (it works best when you don’t really know what things are leading up to), but I think I’ll be watching it again soon. The only negative point was Sigourney Weaver’s English accent, but even the forced nature of that fitted well with her character.

Watch it, but be prepared for a few tears by the end.

Reading

I am continuing to listen to It, which is continuing to drag a little, but is also continuing to be thoroughly enjoyable—if that makes any sense.

I haven’t yet decided what novel to pick up next, so I’ve been dipping into a set of horror short story collections I picked up from Humble Bundle. So far there have been some memorable offerings from Clive Barker and George R R Martin. I’m looking forward to whatever comes up next.

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