Thursday, 23 November 2017

Story: 'Wordspace' Phase II, Part XV

( Part I , XIV , XVI )

Surprise, having recovered from his faint, and being unexpectedly resourceful on occasion, had rushed off to find a pot of t's, returning quickly. He and Dream enjoyed their snack, while Infinity looked on bemusedly. The crunching was a funny noise in the underground cavern.

"Where did you go, Dream?" Asked the indescribably curious Surprise. He had asked many times before, only to receive a confused and distracted answer.

Dream turned inward, and considered. "Wherever it was, it seemed as if the world was everywhere, or everywhere was here. Did you really all start dreaming while I was gone?"

"Yes. Mystery became quite confused by it all. You know how he is; always frustrated when he's not the one mystifying people."

Dream smiled fondly. "Yes, I know. He's probably out there right now, trying to reach the core of whatever's going on."

Surprise looked around at the word that made everyone feel small. "What about you, Infinity. What did you see while you were asleep?"

"I do not know. Neither of us knows?"

*    *    *

Fire, Earth, Water and Air surrounded the Invader. It looked down upon them and considered. Earth, Water and Air didn't look, or consider. They flowed over the Invader, and stiffened into a set of restraints. Then, the Invader rumbled over and fell onto the surface of the Wordspace. It was immobile, for now, and sheer Elemental stubbornness was something very difficult to overcome.

War approached, and stood over the captured giant. She looked grim, her syllables taut with tension.

"What in the Lexicon are we supposed to do now?"

There shall be more.

Tuesday, 21 November 2017

Boop Boop

Gargle. Gargle. Is this going to work? Are the words going to flow? After a couple of days of juggling ruined plans and barely sleeping due to dehydration, it seems almost impossible to focus long enough to make a blog post. We've already discussed how crazily error-strewn the first version of 'The Disappearance' was, and it seems redundant to have the similar discussion about the revised version of 'Wordspace'. Yes, version two of 'Wordspace' actually has conceptual errors and inconsistencies. It will have to be re-edited again, eventually, perhaps for the book release! Oh, what wishful thinking...

Oh, this is a hard one to write. I can't imagine what's going to finish off this post. Not the faintest idea. Perhaps moving away from the board game obsession is a useful topic? Books are regaining their prevalence once again. It's very difficult to find new books to read when you have some criteria to stick to, isn't it? Yes, as a slightly prudish person who enjoys story and characterisation, it's hard to find those novels which are interesting, funny and non-gratuitous in any of the relevant ways. It's actually really difficult! That's why the world of archive and vintage fiction is so appealing. There was a time when stories were the rulers over flash and substance, or at least it feels that way. This is what it feels like to be and old fogie, isn't it?

There must be modern authors to get interested in, but it's so hard to find them. Everything I touch feels like a soulless bestseller in its prose, and that is a terrible barrier to overcome. You can't turn up with plain bestseller writing when the reader has read Lord Dunsany, Arthur Conan Doyle, Woody Allen's prose, GK Chesterton, or even David Eddings. It's a fool's errand! There will be more on this in the future.


Sunday, 19 November 2017

In Retrospect

Looking over the draft version of 'The Disappearance', which will soon be revised into something much much better, it becomes clear the quality control on these serial stories is pretty low. In fact, there was no quality control at all! There are typos, grammatical flaws, odd vacancies, and plain inconsistencies. It's alarming, but somehow also reassuring. After several weeks of painting in short bursts, for example, it seems as if perfection is perennially unattainable. Yes, it's rather embarrassing to see just how much gibberish there was in 'The Disappearance', but at least the path of improvement is clear. It just needs to be rewritten a few times, have a few gaps filled in, have some consistency resettled into it, and be processed a few times through the editing mill in time for the thousandth post. So, that's easy! That was irony, folks!

The thousandth post is coming, and is becoming a bit scary. A thousand posts is a ridiculous number, signalling the passage of ludicrous lengths of time, and the madness of our current plane of reality. A thousand posts? Of this stuff? Is is possible? Is it feasible? Is it allowable by law? It has been ninety-nine-per-cent gibberish, after all. What a staggering number. Perhaps it has all been some kind of delusion, and in fact the whole Quirky Muffin is a metaphor for something on a different level of being. Perhaps all of reality is like the tip of an iceberg, and we're all just the smallest parts of the manifestations of utterly incomprehensible multi-dimensional beings. Perhaps they like broccoli, which is actually high entertainment in the multi-space? It all makes sense, if you close your eyes and think of dodos. Oh, dodos, what a shame it was that you vanished from the world we know. Sigh.

In any case, the next few weeks will be all about getting 'The Disappearance' into shape for the thousandth post, and in understanding just what on Earth has happened in 'Wordspace' to date, in the hopes of it actually continuing to completion. 'Wordspace' is by far the most interesting story to ever be attempted here, and it would be nice if it went somewhere. It would be very nice. Anything else would be a waste. The other stories could go either way, but this one needs to be finished. Perhaps the third year of OU study should be delayed in order to get some stories finished. Perhaps.

The new week is looming, and now it's time to get some sleep and prepare for a new set of teaching hours, a new set of studying challenges, and yet more corrective painting. Project Wood will finish this week. Hurrah!


Friday, 17 November 2017

Getting Back On Track

All of the stories here at the Quirky Muffin seem to have vanished, which is sad, but it does provide an opportunity. 'Wordspace', in particular, is now so stalled that it allows a re-read and re-assessment of what has come before. Has enough time passed to make it possible to go on? Of course, being exhausted all the time makes being creative very difficult, which is the main problem! There is no inspiration while sleepwalking around the world, nor is there energy to evaluate and re-evalute possible future directions.

So, we have an opportunity to get back on the story track, hopefully before the thousandth post hits the virtual printing press. This is good, isn't it? IT will be nice to know what on Earth is going on? It's very pleasant to now be almost finished with Christmas shopping and bookcase painting, leaving each day virtually free of ancillary projects. Thank goodness. It's nice to be able to focus on just three things instead of five, this weblog duelling with tutoring and studying for the majority of the week's useful hours.

Oh, Christmas shopping, why do you multiply so?! Why? Another idea just popped into my mind, blast it. Grumble grumble. I blame Barney Rubble.

What will happen with 'Wordspace'? I have no idea, as I don't even know what has happened so far at this point. There is just a bare shadow of events lingering in the memory, hidden behind the confusing clouds of the last few episodes of stalling, needlessly added to the end of the narrative. You wouldn't think that it would be difficult to continue, with so many things happening at once, but all those things were really just methods for not advancing the main plot. Something will have to give. The wood must be found amongst the trees. Somehow.

And now, we return you to your regular scheduled existences. Please return the curtains to their resting position and do not upset the apple carts on your ways to the exit.


Note: No apple carts featured in the making of this post. At all. Something is wrong with the world.

Wednesday, 15 November 2017

Television: 'The Man From UNCLE: The Neptune Affair' (1964) (Aired 1x11, Produced 1x04)

We will be up to date with the UNCLE Season 1 rewatch after this post, having skipped the oddly flat 'The Brain-Killer Affair', and so there will be space for other posts that aren't about Napoleon Solo! However, first we will chatter on about 'The Neptune Affair'. This is very much a return to basics, and a good return at that, as Solo is sent off to follow a tenuous trail in hopes of averting a horrific conflict with Ilya's home country. It seems that someone has been launching fungicidal attacks on Soviet crops, and launching them from American territory...

It was nice to see Ilya in Soviet uniform at the beginning, confirming that he is in fact a Soviet officer even while working for UNCLE (or undercover), and it was interesting to see that spilling over a little into his conference with Solo. We get very little Ilya early in the run as he was essentially a minor character until the audience warmed up to him very similarly to the way they did to Spock on 'Star Trek'. Anyway, we get more of him here, but it's still very definitely (and thankfully) the man from UNCLE and not the men from UNCLE that we're following at the moment. Robert Vaughn could easily carry episodes on his own, and with magnificent charm and swagger.

There are some very nice moments in this episode, including some nifty emergency conditioning so that Solo can resist drugged interrogation after muttering a code phrase, and a cute closing sequence on a beach after escaping from the scheme of this week's evil schemer. This time it was the ever wonderful Henry Jones, the prototypical memorable man with an unremarkable name. He had a scheme, and a team, bent on inciting a conflict and then cleaning up what was left of the world after the dust had settled. Presumably from his secret base under a marine oil rig? It's patently daft, but it does allow Robert Vaughn to get in a lot of very impressive and well-shot water work, and the introduction of the innocent's story is very natural and organic.

Hmm. Is there anything else of note? It's good to see Solo going undercover again. It shows an interesting level of deviousness to his abilities. This one will probably be remembered for all the lovely boat and water work, and some very interesting characterisation for Henry Jones' antagonist. It also looks spectacular. Some of these episodes look better than the movies of the time!


Monday, 13 November 2017

Long, Long Ago...

Practically every post of the Quirky Muffin will eventually be a rewrite of something I've written before and forgotten. It's inevitable. Does it matter? Maybe, and maybe not. Is this going to be a first? Who knows? The Great Bird Of The Galaxy? The Mighty Fruitloop?

We could waffle on forever, and even engage in imaginary persiflage (thank you, PG Wodehouse) with ourselves, or we could find some theme to bang on about for a few minutes. Or we could even just ramble on about the issues of the day. Anyone want to talk about Trump, Putin, frozen yogurt, the meaning of life or giant hamsters? No? Blast. Mutter mutter.

It has been a good day. Students are making progress, people are happy, the pressure is off on several fronts, and Christmas is approaching. Oh, Christmas, the season of restrained gifting and Christmas card sending. Christmas cards are pretty easy to buy if you just go to Oxfam or Barnardos and pick the nicest ones. If you're going to buy Christmas cards, then it's entirely fitting to have the proceeds go to charity, isn't it? (Other charity shops are available.)

Christmas is a funny time of year for the principled agnostic. You becomes a little put off by the core Christian aspects that get pushed at you from time to time, appalled by the hideous materialism exhibited by many people, and cheered by the good cheer and charitable moments which pop out naturally as a natural byproduct of it all. Christmas can be a great time of year, if it's taken in the right spirit, and if you avoid adverts as scrupulously as we do here at the Quirky Muffin. No mood will be spoilt by advertising here, mwahahahahah!

It's too early to say if it will be a nice Christmas or not, but the early indications are good. Does that mean disaster is coming?


Saturday, 11 November 2017

Television: 'The Man From UNCLE: The Iowa Scuba Affair' (1964) (Aired 1x02, Produced 1x02)

We won't do every episode of the first season of 'The Man From UNCLE' here at the Quirky Muffin, only the ones that are fun, interesting or just staggeringly well-made. We won't be talking about the next one made, for example, 'The Brain-Killer Affair', which was plain disappointing. Here we have something much better: 'The Iowa Scuba Affair' is a classic Napoleon episode, which begins with him facing down a motorcycle and gunning down the driver who's out to run him down, and then sees our sort-of hero posing as the driver's brother, intent on finding out the truth behind his death. It's double-dealings all the way to the bottom, including an encounter with a deadly explosive bath bomb. Yes! Another unlikely sentence printed in all innocence!

It's all go for the man from UNCLE. We also have one of the classical innocents in peril, which enlivens the proceedings, giving a very naive and pretty Katherine Crawford something to do as she gets pulled out of her backwater life into a world of danger and high adventure. The photography becomes less impressive later in the series, or so I remember, but here we get some of the best monochrome imagery, including a wonderful interlude in a grain silo. We can thank director Richard Donner for some of that. Yes, Richard 'Superman' Donner, who also gave us 'Ladyhawke', 'The Goonies', a particularly favourite episode of the 'Twilight Zone', and other works of legendary repute. He did a few for 'Gilligan's Island', to give some idea of his flexibility.

Now, you may be wondering why it's called 'The Iowa Scuba Affair'. This relates to the daft spy plot part of the episode, which involves Slim Pickens digging a tunnel to the nearby air base, using his new well as a secret entrance, which requires scuba gear to gain entry. The tunnel, in association with a deal with a rebel force looking to take over a foreign country and possible THRUSH involvement, means Solo has to get to grips with the mystery of the driver, who was not who he was claiming to be, as quickly as possible.

The genius of this original format is that the story of the 'innocent' character is often more involving than the official spy story. In this case, the lady in question is longing to get away from her lonely country life, and the consequences of being engaged to the dead man wearing the wrong name, and gets more than she bargained for from Napoleon Solo. At least she'll get to visit New York, and get the Solo tour, hopefully without a touch of heartbreak. He's a gent, that guy. The world is full of people who think they don't have choices, isn't it? Is it a happy ending? Maybe, and maybe not, but it's certainly a touching one.

Never take scuba gear to Iowa. Bad things will happen.